Meet the Contenders: 2023 Louisiana Derby

March 20th, 2023

Meet the horses running in the 2023 Louisiana Derby over 1 3/16 miles on dirt at Fair Grounds in Louisiana. For each horse, we're listing a pro, a con, and a rating of potential. The star rating of 1 to 5 represents opportunity to perform well in the Louisiana Derby field.


Pro: Son of Tapit and BC Distaff (G1) winner bred to a nice one with maturity.

Con: Beaten in a not-especially-fast allowance at Oaklawn most recently.

INSTANT COFFEE          *****

Instant Coffee wins the Kentucky Jockey Club S. 2022 (Photo by Coady Photography/Churchill Downs)

Pro: Enters with best credentials having won Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), Lecomte (G3).

Con: Faces a potential slow pace scenario unless he gets help from stablemate Jace’s Road.

CURLY JACK           **

Curly Jack winning the Iroquois S. (G3) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

Pro: Second to Instant Coffee two back and capable of better than what he showed last time.

Con: Never was in contention in Risen Star (G2) and seemingly a cut or two below.

SUN THUNDER          ***

Sun Thunder wins at Oaklawn Park (Photo by Coady Photography)

Pro: Rallied nicely in Risen Star, though run down late after making the lead.

Con: Pace scenario potentially unfavorable for him and other closers.

DISARM          ***

Disarm breaking his maiden at Saratoga (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Pro: Decent try in return from 6 1/2-month layoff; bred to go farther.

Con: Lacks stakes experience and will need to improve a few lengths in a hurry.

KINGSBARNS          ****

Kingsbarns trains at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography/Churchill Downs)

Pro: Has looked good in both starts so far and barn has won this race four times.

Con: Wasn’t beating much in Tampa allowance and will be more severely tested here.

CAGLIOSTRO          **

Pro: Strong second in Risen Star Day allowance that was relatively fast.

Con: A possible candidate to bounce off such a significant step forward last time.

SINGLE RULER          *

Pro: Outran expectations when fifth in Risen Star, though never a serious factor.

Con: Doesn’t appear fast enough on paper and might be better suited to allowance company.

TAPIT’S CONQUEST          ***

Pro: Rallied wide for fourth in Risen Star and sure to improve as distances lengthen.

Con: Seemingly less versatile and more of a grinding type than stablemate Instant Coffee.

DENINGTON          ***

Pro: Upset allowance win last month compares favorably with Risen Star on same card.

Con: No major excuses for recent stakes losses by significant margins.

JACE’S ROAD          ***

Jace's Road winning the Gun Runner S. at Fair Grounds (Photo by Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.)

Pro: One of the few with early foot and likely avoids dreaded slop here.

Con: Form lines don’t quite stack up nor do speed figures aside from Gun Runner Stakes.


Pro: Deep closer only just broke maiden and will be at mercy of the pace.

Con: The least attractive entry on paper and would need race to completely full apart.