Hit Show – Kentucky Derby Context

April 24th, 2023

A stalker, Hit Show has raced within striking range in all three wins, including a sharp 5 1/2-length score in February’s Withers (G3) at Aqueduct two starts back, and he’ll seek to rebound after coming up a nose short as the favorite from just off the pace in the Wood Memorial (G2). The gray colt appears built for the 1 1/4 miles of the Kentucky Derby, and it’s possible to envision Hit Show being a factor with the right trip at Churchill Downs, but early positioning will be important. The grinding type probably doesn’t want to be too far back, and Hit Show faces a class check after taking the New York route, failing to earn a triple-digit Brisnet Speed rating from five starts.

Top Brisnet Speed: 99

Top Brisnet Late Pace: 96

Owner: Hit Show marks the sixth Kentucky Derby starter for Gary and Mary West, whose last appearance came in 2019 when Maximum Security finished first, but was disqualified to 17th for interference. Game Winner, who was elevated one spot to fifth in 2019, is the Wests' top result.

Trainer: Brad Cox, who was born and raised near Churchill Downs, finished first and third with his first two Kentucky Derby starters, Mandaloun and Essential Quality, who were elevated one spot via disqualification in 2021. The two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer brings a 5-1-0-1 record into his third Kentucky Derby appearance, and Hit Show is one of four Cox runners in the main body of the 20-horse field, along with Angel of Empire, Jace's Road, and Verifying.

Jockey: Manny Franco finished second aboard favored Tiz the Law in 2020, his top result from four previous Kentucky Derby starts. Tiz the Law provided Franco with his lone Triple Crown race win when taking the Belmont.

Breeder/Sales: Bred in Kentucky by the Wests, Hit Show will try to become the 12th homebred Kentucky Derby winner in the last 20 years.

Sire: Unbeaten from six starts, Candy Ride was named champion miler in Argentina after establishing a new world record at a mile on turf (1:31.01). The Argentinian-bred son of Ride the Rails won both U.S. starts, establishing a new track record when easily defeating odds-on Medaglia d’Oro in the 2003 Pacific Classic (G1) at 1 1/4 miles (1:59.11), before heading to stud. A top-class stallion, Candy Ride is best known for siring 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, the record-breaking leading freshman sire in 2021 and sire of 2022 Preakness winner Early Voting. Gun Runner’s third in the 2016 Kentucky Derby is the best result so far for Candy Ride, who will also have Confidence Game in the 2023 field. Candy Ride stands at Lane’s End in Versailles, Ky.

Dam: Hit Show became the first stakes winner for the Tapit mare Actress, winner of the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Comely (G3) in 2017. She’s out of Canadian champion Milwaukee Appeal. Tapit, a three-time leading sire, has produced four winners of the Belmont, and is responsible for undefeated 2022 Horse of the Year Flightline, but Tapit has yet to be represented by a Kentucky Derby winner as a sire or broodmare sire. His son, Tapit Trice, is a top contender this year, and Tapit also will be represented by Kingsbarns, Rocket Can, and Disarm as a broodmare sire.

Further Reading on Hit Show

Find expert analysis and overviews of all the contenders for the Kentucky Derby on our News & Notes page here on TwinSpires.com!