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After last year's improbable victory by 81-1 long shot, Rich Strike, everyone wants to try to find another big price to have on their tickets. Handicapper Matthew DeSantis gives you three horses to use at a high price on your Kentucky Derby tickets.
ANALYSIS

Kentucky Derby Long Shots 2023: Our Expert's Best Value Picks For The Run of the Roses

Everyone wants to hit a big long shot in the 149th Kentucky Derby, and after last year's thrilling victory by Rich Strike (81-1), there is even more pressure to find a big-priced winner. The good news is this year's Kentucky Derby is wide open and does not feature a dominant horse. Additionally, a rash of scratches in the last 24-48 hours has opened this race up even more. Below I make a case for three long shots you should include on all of your tickets.

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2023 Kentucky Derby Long Shots

1. Two Phil's (12-1)

One of the coolest horses in the race, Two Phil's is not only a great story but a great horse. He's trained by longtime horseman Larry Rivelli who is making his Kentucky Derby debut, along with jockey Jareth Loveberry. However, Two Phil's is a serious horse. He's coming off a dominant victory in the Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks, which is the same race that produced last year's winner Rich Strike. Before the Jeff Ruby, Two Phil's had shown his ability to hang with the best in the division with a second in the Lecomte Stakes and a third in the Grade II Risen Star. He's an extremely versatile horse that can sit near the lead, mid-pack, or close from off the pace. That sort of versatility makes him dangerous in a large field where many horses only have one way to win. Two Phil's has multiple ways to the winner's circle. His 101 Beyer Speed Figure in his last race is the best of any horse in the field during their three-year-old season. He's sitting on a big effort and should get a ground-saving trip.

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2. Skinner (20-1)

The John Shirreffs-trained colt seems to have come into his own as a three-year-old. Based out at Santa Anita, Skinner has taken a huge progression in the last three races where he has finished third in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes and the Grade I Santa Anita Derby. Skinner is more of a deep closer as he'll come from the back, but he's got two things going for him. First, the pace of the Kentucky Derby should be faster than we first expected, with several horses gunning for the early lead. The strong early pace will allow him to close into fatiguing horses in the front. Second, he has the pedigree to suggest that he can run for day. His sire, Curlin, was a champion at a 1 1/4 quarter distance and he's passed down his ability to run well at a longer distance to his progeny. The combination of pace and pedigree makes Skinner a very logical horse to include in your exacta and trifecta bets as he will be running late and get up on the board.

For the latest 2023 Kentucky Derby odds, click here

3. Mandarin Hero (20-1)

Mandarin Hero has had an improbable journey to the Kentucky Derby, but he absolutely deserves to be used as a potential win bet or as a horse to include in exactas and trifectas. He came over from Japan to run in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, and despite only getting there ten days before the race, he finished a very close second while making up ground late. However, he did not have enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, so he had to wait on the Also Eligible list. On Thursday, May 4, we saw Practical Move, Lord Miles, and Continuar all get scratched from the field, which allowed Mandarin Hero to draw into the race. All that said, he's a serious horse.

In Japan, he won four of his five career starts, with his only loss coming second by a nose. His second-place finish at Santa Anita was a great learning experience for running on North America tracks, and he's been training at Churchill Downs this entire time. Like Skinner, he will close from the back but has some tactical speed to mid-pack. He should get the right setup in the race in terms of pace, and the way he closed at the Santa Anita Derby showed me that he will craze the extra distance. While Derma Sotogake might have gotten the headlines as the top Japanese horse at the Kentucky Derby, Mandarin Hero is your best bet to cash big.

Article Author

Horse Racing

Matthew DeSantis is a horse racing handicapper with a fondness for lightly raced horses with improving speed figures. You can find him at the track playing surface changes and second off the layoff.

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