Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica Kentucky Derby 2023 Expert Picks & Predictions: Confidence Game, Rocket Can Provide Value

College GameDay - September 17, 2016

It’s the first Saturday in May, which means all eyes will be on Churchill Downs for the 149th edition of the Kentucky Derby. Which horse will win “The Run for the Roses?” Chris “The Bear” Fallica shared his expert picks and predictions for the 2023 Kentucky Derby.

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Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica Kentucky Derby 2023 Picks and Predictions

The big news out of Churchill Downs is the scratching of the morning line favorite, Forte. With Forte out of the race, Tapit Trice (+375) is the new favorite. Oddsmakers have Angel of Empire (+500), Derma Sotogake (+800), and Verifying (+1000) right behind Tapit Trice. Fallica’s win-place-show bet involves Confidence Game (+1600), Rocket Can (+4000), and Mandarin Hero (+1400).

Confidence Game (+1600)

Fallica’s first pick is Confidence Game, who will run out of position No. 4. During its two-year-old season, Confidence Game won twice at Churchill Downs, so the horse is quite familiar with the track. In 2023, Confidence Game is coming off a first-place finish in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

“He’s got two wins over the track and showed a different closing dimension in his most recent race, a win at 19-1 in the Rebel on a wet track back in February,” Fallica wrote. “At 20-1 or better, I’ll lay a couple of bucks to find out, despite the layoff.”

Rocket Can (+4000)

Fallica’s longshot pick is Rocket Can, trained by the legendary Bill Mott. Rocket Can raced twice during its two-year-old season, finishing with a second-place and first-place finish, respectively. In 2023, Rocket Can picked up a big win in the Holy Bull Stakes (Gr. 3) at Gulfstream to help secure his spot in the Kentucky Derby.

“He adds blinkers which might help him add some speed and get a better position from his outside post. He does remind me of Country House in the sense that he ran a bunch of solid races as a 3YO, was always bet, and then put forth his best effort on Derby Day,” Fallica wrote. “He’s a long shot I can get behind.”

Mandarin Hero (+1400)

There are two Japanese-bred horses in the field. Most of the attention is going toward Derma Sotogake, but Fallica prefers the other horse from Japan, Mandarin Hero. Unlike Derma Sotogake, Mandarin Hero has experience racing in the United States, as it came in second place at Santa Anita.

“His stalking/closing style is one that I like, especially with some more speed signed on,” Fallica wrote. “He’s basically a neck from being a perfect six-for-six lifetime, and his 100 Beyer on dirt matches Forte for the best Beyer on dirt. It’s also the best Beyer on dirt for any of these runners in their 3YO season. He’s absolutely in here with a chance.”

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