2023 Kentucky Derby: Meet the Horses & Their Unique Names!

Once May rolls around, every horse enthusiast has one question pop into their minds: what are the horses’ names in the Kentucky Derby?

I’m no different, as it’s always fun to see how creative or wacky the names are each year. This year’s crop certainly didn’t disappoint in this regard.

As a result, it’d be fun to discuss and try to make sense of them.

So read on, and learn what names will soon be yelled all over Churchill Downs.

Here’s a quick summary table featuring the 2023 Kentucky Derby contenders, complete with their names, trainers, jockeys, odds, and some entertaining insights. Enjoy this lighthearted glance at the horses that will be racing for glory!

Horse NameTrainerJockeyOddsComments
1. Hit ShowBrad CoxManny Franco30-1Packs a punch, bring pazazz
2. VerifyingBrad CoxTyler Gaffalione15-1Off-putting, lacks fun
3. Two Phil’sLarry RivelliJareth Loveberry12-1Named after two people, has history
4. Confidence GameKeith DesormeauxJames Graham20-1Slick, willing to win, named after con artists’ tactic
5. Tapit TriceTodd PletcherLuis Saez5-1Prestigious lineage, old-fashioned feel
6. KingsbarnsTodd PletcherJose Ortiz12-1Combines royalty and the common folk, reminds of Game of Thrones
7. ReincarnateTim YakteenJohn Velazquez50-1Magical, perfect for a long-shot
8. MageGustavo DelgadoJavier Castellano15-1Simple, memorable, stylish
9. SkinnerJohn ShirreffsJuan Hernandez20-1Named after a friend, unique
10. Practical MoveTim YakteenRamon Vazquez10-1Tempting fate, superstitious
11. DisarmSteve AsmussenJoel Rosario30-1Fierce, suited for a Western movie
12. Jace’s RoadBrad CoxFlorent Geroux50-1Rolls off the tongue, resilient
13. Sun ThunderKenny McPeekBrian Hernandez Jr50-1Nonsensical, intimidating
14. Angel of EmpireBrad CoxFlavien Prat8-1Impressive, ferocious
15. ForteTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz Jr.3-1Simple, strong
16. Raise CainBen ColebrookGerardo Corrales50-1Reminds of fast food chain, unremarkable
17. Derma SotogakeHidetaka OtonashiChristophe Lemaire10-1Unique, Japanese for “skin sprint”
18. Rocket CanBill MottJunior Alvarado30-1Outlandish, humorous
19. Lord MilesSaffie Joseph JrPaco Lopez30-1Reminds of LSU football coach Les Miles
20. ContinuarYoshito YahagiRyusei Sakai50-1Spanish for “continue,” straightforward, maybe good luck

What Are the Horses’ Names in the 2023 Kentucky Derby?

The first thing to know is each Kentucky Derby comes with a field of twenty horses. Therefore, it stands to reason each one will have a name that stands out among the pack.

So let’s not waste any more time and see 2023’s crop. I’ll also offer quick facts about each horse (trainer, jockey, and odds) for anyone who wants more info about them!

#1 Hit Show

Not the most original derby horse name out there for a horse. But it packs quite a punch and brings a certain level of pazazz.

I certainly could think of a lot worse names for a racing horse. You’ll find a few of them in this article.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Brad Cox
  • Jockey: Manny Franco
  • Odds: 30-1

#2 Verifying

Verifying is far from the top of my list regarding favorite horse names. Honestly, it’s pretty off-putting and not one I’d put my money on if I was at Churchill Downs.

There’s simply no fun or force in the name. Instead, it makes my mind wander to a task I forgot to verify as complete at my dull day job.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Brad Cox
  • Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
  • Odds: 15-1

#3 Two Phil’s

I can get behind Two Phil’s because it makes sense. This horse is named after two people named Phil, one being the co-owner and the other a family friend (1).

Of course, it’s a bit on the nose, but I’m a sucker for names with some history. So I’m willing to give them a pass for the lack of creativity.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Larry Rivelli
  • Jockey: Jareth Loveberry
  • Odds: 12-1

#4 Confidence Game

A horse named “Confidence Game” seems like a winner to me. It evokes a slickness and willingness to do whatever it takes to win.

On the downside, it’s named for what con artists do (2). So this horse may be setting you or me up for complete financial ruin.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
  • Jockey: James Graham
  • Odds: 20-1

#5 Tapit Trice

Tapit Trice is one of the favorites to win this Kentucky Derby. It makes sense because the name has been passed down from a well-renowned racehorse/sire (Tapit) (3).

The prestige alone gives it a mystic over these other names. Plus, it’s a fun name to say with its old-fashioned feel.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher
  • Jockey: Luis Saez
  • Odds: 5-1

#6 Kingsbarns

Royal names are difficult to mess up for me, but this one manages it. Mixing kings with barns (or common folk) is a combination that never seems like a good match.

It reminds me of Game of Thrones when King Robert Baratheon travels to Winterfell. We all know how badly that ends for everyone involved.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher
  • Jockey: Jose Ortiz
  • Odds: 12-1

#7 Reincarnate

I love the name Reincarnate for a long-shot horse. It just fits perfectly into something downright unexpected happening.

So if there were ever a 50-1 horse who would win, it’d be named something magical like Reincarnate.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Tim Yakteen
  • Jockey: John Velazquez
  • Odds: 50-1

#8 Mage

Staying in the magical realm with this next one is Mage. It’s an easy favorite of mine due to its simplicity and offering significant style points.

In other words, nobody will forget or not know how to pronounce a horse named Mage. I certainly won’t.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
  • Jockey: Javier Castellano
  • Odds: 15-1

#9 Skinner

At first, Skinner may seem like an odd name for a racing horse. But some historical context to this one makes it more than okay with me.

Skinner’s owner named the horse for a friend who was the best salesman in his industry (steel) (3). So it ends up a rather fitting and unique name.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: John Shirreffs
  • Jockey: Juan Hernandez
  • Odds: 20-1

#10 Practical Move

The name Practical Move appears too good to be true. It seems like you’re playing with fire and enticing the horse to do something irrational during the race.

As a superstitious person, I wouldn’t be so bold when naming my horse. I don’t want to tempt the fates.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Tim Yakteen
  • Jockey: Ramon Vazquez
  • Odds: 10-1

#11 Disarm

I’d have a hard time betting against a horse named Disarm. It feels like a name given to an animal ready to do whatever it takes for the win.

Disarm would also be a perfect name for a horse in any old Western movie, a genre I adore. So it’s an excellent option for what I wanted in a name.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Steve Asmussen
  • Jockey: Joel Rosario
  • Odds: 30-1

#12 Jace’s Road

I couldn’t find much info about where the owners Albaugh Family Stables LLC and West Point Thoroughbreds got this name. However, I do enjoy how it rolls off the tongue.

This one quality is more than enough to get approval from me. It seems like the name of a horse who’s overcome a lot to make it to Churchill Downs.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Brad Cox
  • Jockey: Florent Geroux
  • Odds: 50-1

#13 Sun Thunder

The name itself makes zero sense. After all, the sun and thunder have nothing to do with each other.

But regardless, this nonsensical name still sounds intimidating. So, the owners get a pass on this one.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Kenny McPeek
  • Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr
  • Odds: 50-1

#14 Angel of Empire

I couldn’t think of a more impressive name for a horse than Angel of Empire. If I were going to pick a winner based on name alone, this horse would be the one.

Other riders should be frightened if this horse has the same ferocity as its name. Churchill Downs isn’t going to know what’s coming when Angel of Empire arrives.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Brad Cox
  • Jockey: Flavien Prat
  • Odds:8-1

#15 Forte

There isn’t anything too unique or wacky about the supposed front-runner’s name. But it’s another one where I admire the simplicity because it’s a strong name.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher
  • Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
  • Odds: 3-1

#16 Raise Cain

Whenever I see this name, I can’t help but think of the fast food chain Raising Canes. However, I don’t think it was intentional on the owner’s part, as I couldn’t find any connection.

Nevertheless, it’s pretty funny to me and I bet many people reading this article think the same. But even with this intentional connection aside, I’d still consider it a rather unremarkable name choice.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Ben Colebrook
  • Jockey: Gerardo Corrales
  • Odds: 50-1

#17 Derma Sotogake

Derma Sotogake means “skin sprint” in Japanese (4). It’s a reference to the horse’s sire and its speed on the track.

The uniqueness alone makes it stand out among these other 20 names. I’ll never forget seeing it, especially if he crosses the finish line first.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Hidetaka Otonashi
  • Jockey: Christophe Lemaire
  • Odds:10-1

#18 Rocket Can

The winner of the most outlandish name goes to Rocket Can. It makes me giggle every time I see it, as there’s no way not to picture a horse with a rocket on its back.

As a result, it gets an A+ from me.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Bill Mott
  • Jockey: Junior Alvarado
  • Odds: 30-1

#19 Lord Miles

Only one thing comes to mind when I hear “Lord Miles.” I immediately see the old head coach of the LSU football team, Les Miles.

He’s known for being a relatively successful football coach and eating grass. So it’s hard for me to feel too confident about a horse with this name.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr
  • Jockey: Paco Lopez
  • Odds: 30-1

#20 Continuar

In Spanish, continuar means to continue. I don’t have much more to add here, as that couldn’t be more straightforward.

There are worse things for a horse to be named than a term meant for continuing. For instance, it’s better than a term for stopping. Maybe it’ll bring the horse some good luck.

Quick Facts:

  • Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi
  • Jockey: Ryusei Sakai
  • Odds: 50-1

Get ready for an exciting sneak peek as we introduce the Kentucky Derby 2023 Preview video, showcasing the top contenders, their trainers, and all the exhilarating anticipation surrounding the event!

What Date and Time Does the 2023 Kentucky Derby Take Place?

Since you now know what horses will be there, the next logical question is when does the derby take place?

The Kentucky Derby starts on May 6, 2023, at 9 am EST. But the primary race, the Run for the Roses, where these horses compete, starts at 6:57 pm EST.

It’s considered the first leg of the Triple Crown (followed by the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, respectively).


#1 Who are the favorites in the Kentucky Derby?

The favorites in 2023”s Kentucky Derby are Forte (3-1), Tapit Trice (5-1), and Angel of Empire (8-1).

#2 How many horses race in Kentucky Derby 2023?

The 2023 Kentucky Derby. has a 20-horse field. Barring injuries, every horse mentioned in this article will compete in the race.


So I’ve now answered the question of what are the horses’ names in the Kentucky Derby. It’s time for you to tell me which ones are your favorite!

Leave a post in our comment section with your answer. I’d love to continue this conversation, especially once the race is completed. 

kentucky derby names 2023


1. Petrunyak K. Two Phil’s Carries the Flag for His Chicago Home Team [Internet]. TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions. 2023 [cited 2023 May 5]. Available from: https://www.thoroughbreddailynews.com/two-phils-carries-the-flag-for-his-chicago-home-team/#:~:text=The%20first%20Phil%20that%20Two

2. Bloodhorse.com. 2023 [cited 2023 May 5]. Available from: https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/110783/tapits-stud-fee-doubles-for-2015-season

3. Lane’s End [Internet]. lanesend.com. [cited 2023 May 5]. Available from: https://lanesend.com/post-times/ownerbreeder-qa-lee-searing-crk-stables

4. Derma Sotogake Odds – Derma Sotogake to Win the Kentucky Derby? [Internet]. Wagertalk News. 2023 [cited 2023 May 5]. Available from: https://www.wagertalk.com/news/horse-racing/derma-sotogake-odds-prediction/

Ben R.
Ben R.

My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! I have three dogs and one old cat, plus experience with horses. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed. FIND HIM ON: TWITTER.
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