Kentucky Derby 2023: How to watch the action, what you need to know

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You have questions about the 2023 Kentucky Derby? We've got answers.

When, where and how to watch the Kentucky Derby

The 149th running of the Kentucky Derby is the 12th of 14 races at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 6, with a scheduled post time of 6:57 p.m. ET.

Derby Day coverage will begin at noon ET on NBC and Peacock.

How did the horses get here?

Entry into the Kentucky Derby is determined by a point system that began in September and tracked horses in their 2- and 3-year-old seasons. Horses earned points by placing first, second, third or fourth in specified races in the year leading up to the Derby.

Select prep races in March and April provided the most points, and placing first or second in those races essentially guaranteed a spot into the Kentucky Derby field.

The horses with the most points were Forte (190), Practical Move (160), Angel of Empire (154), Tapit Trice (150) and Two Phil's (123).

The point system was created in 2012 to determine entry into the 20-horse field. The previous system was based on the amount of earnings horses won from any graded stakes race.

What are the stakes for the 2023 Kentucky Derby?

The Derby has a $3 million purse to be awarded to the connections of the top five horses. The winner will get $1.86 million. Second place earns $600,000, third $300,000, fourth $150,000 and fifth $90,000. Jockeys also receive a prize, with the winning rider earning $186,000.

What is the story with this year's race?

The Derby will likely run with 18 horses on Saturday after state veterinarians scratched morning line favorite Forte because if concerns over a bruised right foot. Because the scratch deadline was Friday and all three horses on the also-eligible list moved into the race, there will be no late additions. Cyclone Mischief (30-1), Mandarin Hero (20-1) and King Russell (50-1) all drew into the race Thursday after the scratches.

The Derby has not seen five scratches since the 1939 running, which went off with only 14 horses.

According to a news release, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who was scheduled to ride Forte, will now get the mount on Cyclone Mischief. The scratch of Forte comes after three scratches Thursday, and a fourth scratch on Friday when Skinner was withdrawn because of an elevated temperature.

Lord Miles was scratched after trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. was suspended by Churchill Downs because two of his trainees collapsed and died during workouts at the track earlier in the week. Practical Move, trained by Tim Yakteen, was scratched because of an elevated temperature Thursday. Continuar was scratched after trainer Yoshito Yahagi felt his colt's fitness level was not up to par.

In an interview with reporters Saturday morning, Forte's owner Mike Repole said it felt like déjà vu, likely referring to the scratch of Uncle Mo in 2011. Uncle Mo, also trained by Todd Pletcher, was the second choice in the 2011 race and was scratched one day before the race because of illness. Forte now joins Omaha Beach (2019) and I Want Revenge (2009) as the only morning-line favorites on modern record to be scratched the day of the race, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Repole told reporters at the race that the issue was a minor foot bruise that showed up earlier in the week. State vets were aware of the issue and the final decision was not made until after Forte's final gallop Saturday morning.

"You try to be as transparent about this sport as you can. There were rumors out there about an issue. There was a bruise. If this race was on Tuesday, I think he'd be running. If this race was next Saturday, I think he'd be running. But unfortunately, as I've said before ... you can only be a 3-year-old colt on the first Saturday in May one time."

For more on this year's field, check out Anita Marks' 2023 Kentucky Derby betting guide.

What are post positions and why do they matter?

The Derby is usually a 20-horse field, which is the biggest any horse will see in North American racing. That means the post position, or what gate a horse breaks from, makes a difference, even when the field is down to 18 horses.

Rich Strike won from post position 20 last year, a gate that has produced only one other winner (Big Brown in 2008).

The most dreaded post positions are usually on the inside of the track, with No. 1 and No. 2 typically being the toughest to navigate. The last winner produced from the first post was Ferdinand in 1986, with only 16 horses in the field. The last winner to break from post No. 2 was Triple Crown winner Affirmed in 1978, when only 11 horses were in the field.

The two post positions with the biggest win drought are No. 14, which hasn't produced a winner since Carry Back in 1961, and No. 17, which has never produced a winner.

The most successful post position is No. 5, which has produced 10 winners -- Always Dreaming being the last to do so in 2017.

What has happened since last year's Derby?

Rich Strike, who got into the Derby after a late scratch, shocked the world last year as an 80-1 winner, the second-largest upset in Derby history. Rich Strike skipped the Preakness, which was won by Epicenter, and finished sixth in the Belmont Stakes behind winner Mo Donegal.

Rich Strike has raced five times since the 2022 Derby without a win, and will make his 4-year-old debut in the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on Friday.

How often do a big upsets happen?

Rich Strike was the biggest upset since 91-1 shot Donerail won in 1913, but there have been quite a few upsets in modern times. Country House was placed first at 65-1 odds after Maximum Security was disqualified in 2019. Mine That Bird came streaking up the rail to win at 50-1 odds in 2009 (later inspiring the movie "50-1").

Giacomo (50-1) was a big upset in 2005 and Charismatic was a surprise in 1999 at 32-1 odds.

The points system has changed how often the favorite wins the race. Only two favorites won the race from 1980 to 2012 (Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000 and Big Brown in 2008). From 2013 to 2018, the favorites won five races: Orb in 2013, California Chrome in 2014, American Pharoah in 2015, Nyquist in 2016 and Justify in 2018.

Where is Bob Baffert?

Six-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert was a mainstay at the race until 2021. He won the Triple Crown with American Pharoah in 2015 and with Justify in 2018, and he won a COVID-19-postponed running of the Derby in 2020.

Baffert's horse Medina Spirit crossed the finish line of the 2021 Kentucky Derby first, but the colt was later disqualified after postrace testing came up positive for betamethasone, a banned substance.

Churchill Downs Inc., which owns Churchill Downs, the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and Turfway Park in Kentucky, among other tracks, banned Baffert from running horses at its tracks for two years in 2021.

The ban, which was recently upheld in court, also means that Baffert-trained horses cannot earn points toward the Kentucky Derby. This is why Reincarnate, a former Baffert trainee, was transferred to Baffert's former assistant Tim Yakteen in February.

Yakteen ran Taiba and Messier in the Derby last year before they were transferred back to Baffert's barn. Baffert is eligible to run horses in the Preakness and Belmont after his one-year ban from New York Racing Association tracks (including Belmont Park) expired in January.

More Kentucky Derby coverage: Updated odds, post positions, jockeys