2023 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile – Derma Sotogake


Few horses in the history of the Kentucky Derby have entered with more mystery, or intrigue, than the UAE Derby winner Derma Sotogake.  The Japanese wonder horse turned heads in that victory at Meydan, blitzing his competition from the start and never looking back.  

The story of the Japanese taking over the international scene goes back a few years now, including a two-win weekend at the 2021 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar.  Since then, Japanese-based runners have scored in a major way in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.  Their Kentucky Derby hopeful in 2022, Crown Pride, may not have won but certainly made his presence felt getting involved in a scorching early pace before weakening late.


In any other year, Derma Sotogake would be little more than an afterthought in the Kentucky Derby.  Once you combine the underwhelming group of runners in this field with his tremendous UAE Derby win as well as the overall Japanese success in recent international meetings, you have to consider him a great fit.  He is consistently the co-third choice in the antepost market along with Angel of Empire, with only Forte and Tapit Trice projected to be shorter prices.

From a tactical standpoint, Derma Sotogake is a tremendous fit.  He has a plethora of early speed and that is something that is severely lacking in this field.  If he is forwardly placed, especially with the strength of the fractions he set in the UAE Derby, he can be a major threat from start to finish.  His 3rd place effort in the Saudi Derby gives us a bit of a reference point with American horses, as the Bob Baffert-trained Havnameltdown was 2nd in that affair.  The pace was dominated by Havnameltdown and eventual winner Commissioner King, but Derma Sotogake never gave up chasing and was rapidly cutting into the margin at the finish.

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At the very least, you can count on this son of Mind Your Biscuits to be a major threat pace-wise.  If he draws a favorable post position, 4-16, he can be positioned just about anywhere in the vicinity of the lead by Christophe Lemaire.


For me, Derma Sotogake is a major player and a definite ‘A’ in any exotics.  The Japanese global domination is clearly afoot and this would be the crown jewel for them, and any other aspirant for that matter.

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