HOW HE GOT HERE
LORD MILES got into the 2023 Kentucky Derby by earning 105 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in the three prep races that he’s taken part in this season: the Holy Bull, the Tampa Bay Derby, and the Wood Memorial.
He finished sixth in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream in early February to kick off his road to Louisville. While he didn’t earn any qualifying points for this race, he was bet down to 3-1 in the race and was a horse that bettors showed interest in. He broke a bit awkwardly in the race and was never able to get involved from off the pace.
He picked up his first Derby points with a fifth place finish in his next start in the Tampa Bay Derby while taking on the likes of TAPIT TRICE. He was bumped a bit at the start from his rail draw in the race, but recovered well and remained in the front half of the field throughout. He earned five Derby points from the Tampa Bay Derby for his fifth place finish.
Finally, his third Derby prep and most recent start came in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. He emerged victorious in the race and earned 100 of his 105 total Derby points from this race. He once again encountered a bit of trouble at the start, but established a forward position early and was always in touch. He was on the far outside of the leading group of four as they turned for home in the race and he was able to get past his rivals to win under right-handed urging through the stretch.
There was a lengthy inquiry after the race concerning the stretch run between the top few rivals as LORD MILES did appear to come in a bit and rubbed saddles with another rival. Ultimately, he remained as the upset 59-1 winner of the race and secured his place in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
HOW HE FITS HERE
LORD MILES earned a 100 Equibase speed figure for his victory in the Wood Memorial, which is his career-best speed figure so far. For comparison, horses like FORTE, TAPIT TRICE, and ANGEL OF EMPIRE have recently earned speed figures of 103-106, so LORD MILE’s numbers aren’t that far off of the top contenders on paper and he has shown a steady improvement in his speed figures in all six of his career races so far.
Can he take one more big step forward on the first Saturday in May? Well, he likely won’t be given a great chance to do so by the bettors. HIT SHOW and DREAMLIKE, the two favorites in the Wood Memorial, finished at odds of 30-1 and 143-1 in the final Derby Futures pool, which closed the week before the Wood Memorial was run. Needless to say, the bettors didn’t really expect a lot going forward from the top betting choices in the Wood Memorial, let alone a 59-1 longshot.
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PEDIGREE AND CONNECTIONS
LORD MILES is by CURLIN, who has obviously been a pretty prolific sire in his time, so the pedigree is solid enough. CURLIN has yet to sire a Kentucky Derby winner, but LORD MILES will have a chance to become the first. However, he was the grandsire of last year’s Derby winner, RICH STRIKE. The dam is LADY ESME, an unraced mare that is a half-sibling to CALEDONIA ROAD. LORD MILES is her first foal.
Saffie Joseph Jr. trains LORD MILES and this will be his third entrant in the Kentucky Derby. Previously, NY TRAFFIC finished eighth in 2020 and WHITE ABARRIO finished sixteenth last year. Both of those horses took semi-significant money in the Derby, so the bettors have respected Joseph Jr. and his Derby horses in the small sample size.
There’s no way to sugarcoat the obvious here: despite winning a 100-point Derby Prep, LORD MILES will still figure to be a big longshot in the 2023 Run for the Roses. However, the Kentucky Derby has now seen two of the longest shots on the board win in recent times with COUNTRY HOUSE winning in 2019 and RICH STRIKE winning just last year, so never say never.
Additionally, LORD MILES has been close to the pace in each of the last two and it’s always a tactical advantage to not have to worry about navigating traffic in a twenty-horse field. He’s also shown a nice improvement in his speed figures and overall progression in his career races so far, but it appears he would need to take another big step forward here to contend. While he certainly doesn’t have a great chance to win the Derby, you never know what can happen if everything goes his way on the first Saturday in May.
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