2023 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile – Confidence Game


Confidence Game began his racing career in the summer of last year at Churchill Downs going 6 Furlongs, subsequently he competed in four more races as a two-year-old.  In the effort of time, we will focus on his races that helped to secure his spot in the starting gate for Kentucky Derby 149.  In his third start Confidence Game competed in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.  He left from the gate quickly, but was wide into the quick first turn leaving from post position eight.  Then he moved into a contentious pace up the back stretch.  He loomed five-wide into the far turn and was challenging to catch the tiring leaders when he was bumped in the stretch and unable to keep up; the traffic trouble was subtle and he was tiring but I think it did cost him a few spots; from the fifth-place finish he earned 1 point. 

Fast forwarding to his run in the Grade 3 Lecomte, he once again got away from the gate with the top flight and was able to secure a stalking position down the backstretch.  Into the far turn he made his move but was unable to sustain it as the closers came with their run and he finished a far back third.  Making a note that of the pace setters he was the only one to hit the board, the others finished at the back of the pack; from that third-place finish he earn 6 points.  Lastly, we take a look at the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes from Oaklawn Park, where the track was sloppy.    Confidence Game broke sharply from the gate but jockey James Graham was content to allow the speed to his inside to take the lead into the backstretch.  After a swift opening quarter of 22.3 he sat fifth, five lengths from the front.  Maintaining a constant 4 wide position, he confidently grinded past the front runners and held off a hard charging closer to capture the victory and 50 qualifying points.  

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He is a son of Candy Ride, who has produced multiple Graded Stakes winners including 2018 horse of the year Gun Runner.  Confidence Game is out of a mare named Eblouissante, who is a half-sister to Zenyatta.  With a pedigree such as that how in the world did this colt go for such a meager price of $25,000 at the Keenland September sale in 2021?  Apparently, there was some question marks about his X rays, nothing really wrong but was pointed out by the veterinarians, that caused him to be pushed into the fifth session of the 11-day sale; one buyer who was not bothered was trainer Keith Desormeaux.  Desormeaux has a keen eye for finding runners who excel on the track regardless of their sales price; he did it previously with Exaggerator who not only finished second in the Kentucky Derby in 2016 but also went on to win the Preakness Stakes.  A well-bred colt, purchased and trained by a true horseman of a trainer that knows how to get them ready for the big stage; ridden by a veteran jockey James Graham who has been on Confidence Game for all but one of his seven races. – Connections and Pedigree rating A+.


Confidence Game is a horse with talent and heart.  He has the experience, pedigree and a great team that will have him ready to be a major player in this year’s Run for the Roses.

He is not the flashiest of runners but he can pack a punch, most notable is his ability to always be in a good position regardless of pace or track condition. He as a strong foundation of races and has proven that he can get away from the gate in good order, which is very important for a Derby contender.  A few less than stellar points to consider are:  time since his last race coming into the Kentucky Derby and comments from his trainer regarding the horse’s mental temperament.  The Rebel Stakes took place on February 25th which will make it a total of 70 days between starts which is not the worst thing in the world, but far from ideal.  Also, trainer Kent Desormeaux spoke to Confidence Game as being somewhat volatile from a mental standpoint and he wanted to ensure that he was not only ready for the Derby but potentially all Triple Crown races; which could have led to him not running the derby hopeful in another prep before the first Saturday in May.

Based on the entrants and the projected pace, Confidence Game should be able to break from the gate sharply and sit a good stalking trip and come with his run into the far turn; will it be enough to cross the finish line first?   Personally, I think he does not have the prolong speed it will take in the stretch to win but should NOT be left off any vertical plays. 

– Let’s Make it Happen!!!

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