2023 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile – Raise Cain


Raise Cain won his second career start to break his maiden in October of 2022, confidently beating the bunch by over 5 lengths. He has since made six straight starts at the stakes level, with a win plus two placings in those outings. After his maiden win, he wheeled back in 20 days for the Bowman Mill Stakes at Keeneland where he finished a well beaten third. Given a few months until his next start, he was yet again a distant placer when second at a big price in the Gun Runner Stakes at Fair Grounds, losing to Jace’s Road. He finished up well enough for his first two turn start that day and shipped to Turfway to try the Tapeta and the Leonatus Stakes. Sitting a stalking trip, he had no excuses but failed to present a strong rally, suggesting he didn’t get along well with the synthetic surface.

He next turned up in New York, where he contested a full field while cutting back to one turn in the Gotham Stakes [G3]. Ridden by Jose Lezcano for the first time, he was taken well back while a brutal pace unfolded before him before sifting through horses on the rail, bursting through the stretch, and drawing away to a 7 1/2 length victory. Connections then opted to stay at their home base and chase a Grade 1 rather than go back to Aqueduct for the Wood Memorial. In the Blue Grass Stakes [G2], he was taken back to second last in a race devoid of early speed, and while he showed kick from the turn to the wire, he was unable to keep up with horses who were more forwardly placed. Nevertheless, he was less than a length from finishing third in that event. He accrued an essential automatic birth in the Derby with his 50-point win in the Gotham Stakes [G3] and then padded his count with 10 more in the Blue Grass [G1].


Raise Cain is likely to be one of the longest, if not THE longest, shot on the board in this year’s Derby. His biggest win came in the weakest prep of the season and also tripped out perfectly for this colt. Not only that, but it was over a one turn mile, and it is very hard to make a case for a horse to win the Kentucky Derby when their best experiences have come over shorter races. His running style could also be disadvantageous given this year’s Derby seems to lack a lot of early pace. Even if it were to develop more swiftly than we anticipate, there are certainly more proven closers on paper than this colt.

That being said, I felt like his Blue Grass performance was better than paper may suggest. As mentioned, he was the furthest back runner of those that performed well in that race, and still was not very far off of third. If he had been able to prep in a race that had a little more pace to it, it’s easy to envision he could have performed a lot better. It’s also worth noting that Raise Cain can be tactically versatile. He sat much closer to the front in his first five starts compared to his last two, so if his rider chooses to sit more forward it wouldn’t necessarily take him out of his comfort zone.

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This will be the first Kentucky Derby starter for all involved connections. Raise Cain’s Derby preparations have presented some slight dramatics as it relates to the rider carousel. Javier Castellano committed publicly to riding this colt in the Derby shortly after the final round of preps concluded. He even worked him in his first breeze back from the Blue Grass. However, once it became clear that Mage had no confirmed rider, Castellano jumped ship to ride for connections he is much more acquainted with. Raise Cain is currently left open, but it seems like Gerardo Corrales will be the one to pick up the mount. He rides often for Colebrook, rode Raise Cain in his first three starts, and worked him at Keeneland on the morning 0f 04/27. Corrales has proven to be one of the better riders at the non-elite Kentucky meets recently, winning titles at Turfway Park, and this would be his first Derby ride.

Kentucky-based trainer Ben Colebrook will look to take the Derby in his first try. His biggest accomplishment to date was training Knicks Go to his first career Grade 1 victory and then going on to run second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with that horse. He is based at Keeneland and has posted above average numbers at Churchill Downs over the years.

Raise Cain is by Violence and is one of two sons he has in this Kentucky Derby, the other being the favored Forte. Violence has historically been known for throwing quality sprinters but his two runners this year have good runs going longer. Raise Cain has finished up well in all of his dirt efforts at a mile or longer. The dam side likely contributes to that as well being out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare, Lemon Belle. She is a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic [G1] winner, Unrivaled Belle.


It’s hard to make a compelling case for Raise Cain. He has one standout run in a Derby prep, but that came with major caveats and doesn’t provide many, if any, positive indicators towards a strong performance upcoming from Raise Cain. If he can sit a slightly more tactical trip, perhaps it will show some new life and move him up slightly. However, even slight improvement won’t be enough to make this horse a board hitter, let alone a winner, of the 2023 Kentucky Derby.

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