2023 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile – Hit Show


HIT SHOW, a son of CANDY RIDE, attracted plenty of attention in his career debut at Keeneland last October as he was sent off as the 6-5 favorite. The trip wasn’t the cleanest for him, but he was able to find clear sailing through the stretch to win by five lengths going away in the end. 

He finished off his two-year-old season with a pair of allowance tries. In the first, he had to settle for fourth in a race won by CONFIDENCE GAME. However, he was forced to take back at the start and was never really able to recover, but did rally a bit late. He had a much cleaner trip in his final start last season and he was able to kick clear in deep stretch to win by a few lengths.

The connections opted to debut him this year on the Kentucky Derby trail in the Withers at Aqueduct. He settled well off the pace in the race and responded well when asked to run. He took the lead around the final turn and took off to win by five and a half lengths in the end. He earned twenty points for his efforts in the Withers.

His most recent start came in the 100-point Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. He settled close to the pace and once again responded well when he was given his cue to go on around the far turn. He fought in a three-horse battle through the stretch and raced well while in tight quarters from between horses. 

Ultimately, LORD MILES prevailed at 59-1, but HIT SHOW wasn’t too disgraced in defeat. There was a lengthy inquiry surrounding the stretch run in the race, but ultimately the order remained unchanged despite some minor contact between the top trio.  He earned forty points for his second place finish in the Wood Memorial and his 60 total points is enough to get him in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. 


HIT SHOW earned a 99 Equibase speed figure for his most recent try in the Wood Memorial, which doesn’t stand as being too far off of the 103 to 106 speed figure range that the top Derby contenders have been earning in other major preps. He has shown a nice progression in his speed figures in his five starts so far, going from an 81 in his career debut all the way up to his career-best 99 last time out. 

In the final Kentucky Derby future wager pool, which closed the week before the Wood Memorial was run, HIT SHOW and DREAMLIKE, the two eventual favorites in the Wood Memorial, finished at odds of 30-1 and 143-1, respectively. The winner of the Wood Memorial, LORD MILES, was not a listed runner in the final Derby future pool. 

Needless to say, HIT SHOW is the horse coming out of the Wood Memorial that bettors want to bet the most, but he’ll still figure to be a price in the Kentucky Derby. However, he’s certainly not impossible if he can get things to go his way in the Run for the Roses. 

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HIT SHOW is by CANDY RIDE, who has been a solid sire so far, with his offspring including past Derby runner GAME WINNER, SHARED BELIEF, and GUN RUNNER. CANDY RIDE has yet to sire a Kentucky Derby winner, but HIT SHOW will have a chance to become the first. CONFIDENCE GAME, another likely participant in this year’s Kentucky Derby, is also by CANDY RIDE. The dam is ACTRESS and HIT SHOW is her second foal. The previous foal is a winner from just three lifetime starts. 

HIT SHOW’s trainer is Brad Cox, who will be participating in just his third Kentucky Derby. However, Cox had two runners in the 2021 edition of the race, three in 2022, and he figures to have several runners in this year’s race, including ANGEL OF EMPIRE, one of the likely favorites. 

He’s had success in the race already as Cox won the race with MANDALOUN in 2021 and finished third that year as well ESSENTIAL QUALITY. Obviously, that win came well after the fact when MEDINA SPIRIT was disqualified, so it would surely be special for Cox, a Louisville native that grew up near Churchill Downs, to win the Derby again this year and have a more conventional celebration. 


HIT SHOW comes from connections that have seen success in the race in recent times and has continued to show a solid progress from start-to-start in his five lifetime races so far. His speed figures aren’t quite at the level of the top contenders, but the jump he would need on the first Saturday in May is a fairly realistic jump we’ve seen horses make in the past. 

He certainly won’t be the favorite in the race and, in fact, he won’t even be the shortest price out of the Cox barn in the race. However, he can certainly provide some value in the race. He’s  been able to secure himself a good spot early in many of his races so far and that will be the key for him in the Derby as well. He’s shown a good turn of foot late when he’s asked for his best run, so if he’s allowed to produce that without too much traffic to navigate, he can certainly make some noise in the 2023 Kentucky Derby. 

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