It’s the Super Bowl of horse racing! Happy Kentucky Derby Day, everyone! We are always excited for the first Saturday of May, but given the absence of the race from this weekend last year, and a very competitive field, we are beyond hyped for Derby 147. But before the main event, Churchill has put together a spicy undercard of fantastic stakes racing with tons of betting opportunities. So muddle some mint, crush your ice, and sit back and wager on an awesome day of racing. Good luck everyone!
Race 6—Churchill Distaff
Got Stormy is the horse to beat, but we like Blowout to get loose on the lead and never turn back. For value, we also like New York Girl and Abscond.
A’s: 6, 5, 3
B’s: 4, 7
Race 7—Derby City Distaff
Gamine figures to be very tough here, especially as lone speed. Singling her makes a lot of sense. If we try to beat her, it will be with Bell’s the One. If picking and choosing your betting spots, this is probably a good time to go refresh your julep.
A’s: 3, 4
Race 8—The Pat Day Mile
Jackie’s Warrior was the talk of his division last fall, but he failed to show promise at two turns. He returns to a one turn race and we expect him to be tough here. Other speed is signed on, which could make him vulnerable late. Defunded looses the blinkers, a winning move for Baffert, turns back in distance and figures to be closing fast late. If Gamine fires in race 7, we may key Defunded here.
Prevalence and Starrininmydreams offer some value underneath.
A’s: 3, 4
B’s: 5, 6, 8
Race 9—The America Turf
This is a very challenging race and one where you may want to spread wide on your Pick 4 ticket (unfortunately, all races in this sequence are challenging). If forced to pick a top horse, we choose Winfromwithin. The Pletcher trainee has come out firing in 2021. He’s second off the layoff for Todd. There is other speed in here and he’s yet to show the ability to win rating, but he has the fastest figures in the race and seems to still be improving. Annex, undefeated in three starts, and Dyn O Mite (with very strong turf numbers and turning back in distance), complete the A-Team. Royal Prince and the two outside horses (we are worried about their posts) complete the B team. If looking to hit a home run, Barrister Tom and Hidden Enemy (Smith and Asmussen are 2 for 2 when teaming up at Churchill) offer 30-1 values.
A’s: 2, 4, 7
B’s: 6, 13, 14
C’s: 8, 11
Race 10—The Churchill Downs
This is another tough race, yet we are likely to take a stance here and not spread as deep as other races in the Pick 4 sequence. Whitmore is obviously a threat every time he enters the gate. The Thorobros are famous for always missing Whitmore at the right time. We won’t let him beat us today.
But we also have a potential play of the day in here in Get the Prize. After five straight defeats, he has won two straight, including a career best effort at this distance last out. In sprints, the horse has improved his speed figure number each time. For a sprint race, there is not a lot of speed in here and we think he has a shot to get to the lead and not look back at 20-1. We know, keying a 20-1 horse seems questionable, but if you remember one thing from this post, it’s this: the horse doesn’t know his odds.
Beyond those two, we could go in a number of directions—1 (if he pairs his last effort he wins, but we expect a bounce), 2 (hasn’t won in a year), 7 (like’s Churchill and second off the layoff), 11 (some of his best numbers have been at CD) and 12 (who we like a lot underneath in exotcis but note he also hasn’t won in 8 starts).
B’s: 1, 2, 7, 11, 12
Race 11—Turf Classic
We are suckers for lone speed, and see lone speed potential here, so we are likely to key Smooth Like Strait, even though the pace figures suggest he may be a cut below these. The horse has shipped well to CD in the past and stands to improve in second start as a four year old. Colonel Liam joins the A team as a very consistent horse who we expect is only getting better. Domestic Spending will complete our A Team and we expect this horse will be flying late.
Leaving Ivar off the B team concerns us, but we wonder about the distance and the layoff for a horse who needed a race last year. Digital Age won the race last year but may not get the same pace today.
A’s: 3, 7, 5
B’s 1, 2, 4, 6
Race 12—The Kentucky Derby
The Derby is always an incredible handicapping challenge, but this year we find ourselves struggling for a strong opinion. We actually feel confident in some long shots to use underneath, but are having difficulty pinpointing our top selection. The below analysis shows that indecision, but we have landed on three tiers—our three horses we are using on top, logical horses that must be considered, and our long shots.
If forced to pick a winner, we would select Highly Motivated. This colt is improving in each start and was very game in the Blue Grass. We expect that effort helped with the horse’s fitness, and we like him to get first run (an often winning move in the Derby). If we like Highly Motivated, we have to like Essential Quality. The undefeated BC champ is a formidable favorite, but his workouts have not been impressive and some are questioning the toll the Bluegrass effort took on him. Finally, our third top tier horse is Midnight Bourbon. Mike Smith is not afraid to catch a flier and get a horse to the lead. We expect him to fight for the lead here. If he can do it without setting suicidal fractions, this horse has the breeding to wire the field (not an easy Derby task). All reports from the AM and the barn are that this horse is ready to fire.
Hot Rod Charlie (some distance concerns), Known Agenda (could move up to the top tier depending on how the rail fairs) and Rock Your World (another potential pace factor) are all logical and capable of winning this race. We will not likely use on top, but they should be sprinkled into tickets.
And now for the fun group. Our top bombers, in order of preference are Obesos (if the pace goes nuts, he could win), Helium (undefeated and lightly raced), and King Fury (another closer who figures to be flying late) all make sense.
A’s: 6, 10, 14, 17
B’s: 1, 9, 15, 12, 16