Breakthrough Horses in 2023

As the old racing season closes and the calendar prepares to turn, most racing fans naturally look to the next crop of Triple Crown hopefuls when discussing their thoughts for the next year.

While this is undoubtedly exciting, what can be equally thrilling is thinking about the established racehorses who, upon returning to the races in 2023, might become superstars in their divisions, as well.

And although we bid a sad farewell to Flightline, Life is Good, Olympiad, Jackie's Warrior, and Epicenter, there are many more horses who could take over their mantles in the coming months. If you enjoy pari-mutuel betting in horses you should have some of these names on the tip of your tongue.

Cody's Wish

One of the best stories of 2022 was the success of Cody's Wish, a 4-year-old colt by Curlin who was named for teenager Cody Dormund, with whom he has a special bond.

Cody Dormund has Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome and requires assistive technology to ambulate and communicate, but he has nonetheless traveled to cheer on his favorite horse -- and he joined Cody's Wish in the winners' circle after the colt won the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

Prior to the Breeders' Cup, Cody's Wish had won the Grade I Forego Stakes at seven furlongs. In doing so, he proved not only that he could run sprint distances, but also that he was capable of defeating top-class competition. In second place that day was none other than 2021 Eclipse Champion Sprinter Jackie's Warrior, who was previously undefeated at Saratoga. Without such luminaries lining up against him, it's not hard to imagine Cody's Wish dominating the shorter distances in 2023.


A 3-year-old son of Gun Runner, Cyberknife is a talented and versatile horse who, while likely not a 1¼ mile horse, is a serious threat at eight and nine furlongs.

After winning the Grade I Arkansas Derby, Cyberknife ran a disappointing race in the Kentucky Derby, but then came back to take the Grade III Matt Winn Stakes in June over 1 1/16 miles. He then defeated Taiba in the nine furlong Grade I Haskell Stakes, which produced not only one of the best stretch duels of the year, but also a new track record. A second try at ten furlongs was next, and while he didn't win the Grade I Travers Stakes, he held on long after Epicenter passed him and finished second, ahead of Grade I Blue Grass Stakes winner Zandon and Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike.

He lost a rematch to Taiba in the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby, and trainer Brad Cox decided that instead of stretching him out again for the Breeders' Cup Classic, he would shorten him up and point instead for the Dirt Mile.

That decision proved fruitful; in his first try at the distance and his first try against older horses, Cyberknife finished a close second to Cody's Wish.

Although Cox has yet to elaborate on 2023 plans for Cyberknife, what is known is that there are many good graded races for older horses that range in distance from one mile to 1⅛ miles. Cyberknife has his choice of targets and chances to shine.


Strange as it may seem, Taiba had not even begun his racing career until early spring of 2022. In that relatively short span of time, Taiba made his debut, won the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, attempted the Kentucky Derby, ran Cyberknife to a head in the Grade I Haskell Stakes, won the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby, and ran a distant, yet decent, third to Flightline and Olympiad in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

With no mention yet of retirement for the son of Gun Runner, one can assume that he will be sent to tear up the southwest circuits, trainer Bob Baffert's favored region. This area includes Santa Anita Park, site of Taiba's biggest career win as well as the 2023 Breeders' Cup races. Taiba has speed and the ability to carry it over a distance and looks to be a force for next year.

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