Kentucky Derby Contenders, Point Leaders & Top Horses to Watch in 2022

Race Events > Kentucky Derby > Contenders

Kentucky Derby banner

| Betting | Future Wager | Odds | Handicapping & Picks | Prep Races | Contenders | Winners | History | Results | Tickets |

Last updated: Nov. 28th, 2022

2023 Kentucky Derby Contenders

As horses enter the Derby trail, they get one shot to run in the Kentucky Derby in their lifetime.

Discover how horses earn the chance to run in the Kentucky Derby with information below; Information such as contender lists, race entries and point accumulation.

2022-2023 Kentucky Derby Contender Point Leaders

Check out the latest standings of contenders who are hopeful to start the 2023 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the Road to the Kentucky Derby trail and non-restricted stakes earnings.

PointsHorseNon-Restricted Stakes EarningsRTKO Races Won
40Forte$1,545,650Breeders' Futurity, Breeders' Cup Juvenile
17Curly Jack$348,120Iroquois Stakes
16Blazing Sevens$411,000Champagne Stakes
12Instant Coffee$265,065Kentucky Jockey Club
5Hayes Strike$91,750
5Red Route One$78,375
4Loggins$106,500
4Verifying$100,000
4Honed$58,200
3Gulfport$267,070
3Jace's Road$29,100
2Andiamo a Firenze$51,000
1Man Child$30,000
1Champions Dream$20,000
1Denington$11,610
1Confidence Game$8,730

*Horse trained by an individual suspended from the 2022 Kentucky Derby does not receive any qualification points. Cave Rock, National Treasure, Hejazi, Gandolfini and Newgate are trained by Bob Baffert who is suspended by Churchill Downs Inc. through 2023.

2022-2023 European Road to the Kentucky Derby Point Leaders

Check out the latest standings of contenders from the Euro series who are hopeful to start the 2023 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the European Road to the Kentucky Derby trail and non-restricted stakes earnings.

PointsHorseRTKO Races Won
10BelbekPrix Jean-Luc Lagardère
10Auguste RodinVertem Futurity Trophy
10The FoxesRoyal Lodge Stakes
10Crypto ForceBeresford Stakes
4Gamestop
4Epictetus
4Adelaide River
4Dubai Mile
3Holloway Boy
3Breizh Sky
3Flying Honours
3Young Ireland
2Shartash
2Dancing Magic
2Greenland
2Roaring Gallagher
1Vicious Harry
1Lakota Seven
1Salt Lake City

2022-2023 Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby Point Leaders

Check out the latest standings of contenders from the Japan series who are hopeful to start the 2023 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby trail and non-restricted stakes earnings.

PointsHorseRTKD Races Won
10ContinuarCattleya Stakes
4Mirror of Mind
3Jasri
2Plavi
1Francorchamps

Quick Kentucky Derby Contender Answers

  • Q: How many total horses can run in the Kentucky Derby?
    • A: 20 horses can be placed inside the Churchill Downs starting gate, which means 20 horses can run in the Kentucky Derby. There are typically two Also Eligible ‘AE’ horses who can find a chance to compete, if one of the original 20 horses scratches and cannot run in the race.
  • Q: How do horses get to run in the Kentucky Derby?
    • A: 18 entries are initially reserved for the top Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race point earners. These prep races are per-determined and if a horse is tied in points, then a specific type of purse earnings are used to assist.
    • A: 2 entries in the Kentucky Derby are ‘reserved’ for runners from the European Road to the Kentucky Derby and the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Derby Hopeful Point Accumulation Process

One of the fascinating things about the build-up to the Kentucky Derby is watching the development of young Thoroughbreds. Still babyish as two-year-olds, the Derby hopefuls begin to grow up as three-year-olds — a process often compared to junior high kids morphing into high school athletes.

Fans can track the horses’ progress during the “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” traditionally a series of 35 races that take place from the fall of their two-year-old campaign through the spring of their three-year-old year, culminating in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Horses earn their way into the Derby by scoring points in these races (the full schedule, along with the sliding scale of points available for a top-five finish in each race, is available here).

Just as major sports teams advance through playoffs, meeting stiffer competition as they get closer to the championship event, so do Derby aspirants aim to climb through each successive prep race. They might not have to win, but they do have to perform well enough — and stay healthy — to remain on the trail.

Because the competition gets tougher as the trail unfolds, the Derby points system awards the most points for the marquee preps in late March or April. The winners of the Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, UAE Derby (in Dubai), Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, and Arkansas Derby each bank 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby, clinching a spot in the field.

So hop onto the Derby trail — you might find a hot prospect!