Kentucky Derby weekend is only half over, so let’s finish strong!
Race 1-$100,000 O/C, 1 1/16 miles, 3 year olds
#3 Afford drops out 2 graded stakes after drawing tough posts in both and encountering trouble. He retains jockey, Jimmy Graham and has a steady work pattern for this. #5 Politicallycorrect sports some of the best speed figures in the field, and does his best running on the lead in route races. With the appearance of #4, Politicallycorrect will have to work for the lead, but the way the track played yesterday should be to his liking. #2 Atigun also drops out of graded stakes in his last 2, but is a deep closer, and there doesn’t seem to be enough early pace to set up his late kick to land him in the winner’s circle.
Race 2-Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, 3 & up
#2 Big Ring was sent off at 3/5 in his career debut for a trainer that is 2% with his first time starters & checked in a respectable 2nd. Trainer Jimmy Baker is 16% with 2nd-time-starters, so expected another step forward. #4 Master Cip makes his debut for the Hess Jr./Desormeaux team, who has won many races over the years. He’s been working well for the debut and his dam has produced 4 winners from 7 offspring. #1 Rock N Glamour makes his career debut for John Terranova, who is more than capable of sending out a winner first out.
Race 3-$75,000 O/C, 1 1/16 miles, 3 year olds
#10 Windsurfer was on the Derby train when well back in the Louisiana Derby, but that step up proved to be too much, too fast. Today’s drop in class is just what he needs, and I totally expect him to be in the winner’s circle after laying just off the pace. #7 Z Dager also tried the Louisiana route to the Derby, but fell short. He’s been working steadily for this, and is an obvious contender as well. #3 Agent Di Nozzo stretches out for the first time but is bred to handle a route. There doesn’t appear to be an abundance of early speed, so I expect him forwarded placed and can get a piece at a price.
Race 4-$80,000 O/C, 1 1/16 miles turf, 3 & up
There is NO early speed in this race and yesterday’s turf course favored speed, though with overnight rains that could change. Therefore, let’s try to get #7 Night Party to take them coast to coast. #5 Vertiformer ran respectable when making his US debut, while running his last 3 furlongs in 33.8 off an 18-month layoff. #8 Souper Spectacular is a ½ to Zenyatta should be forwardly placed, has speed figures that fit with these and makes his debut for the Mott barn, who won yesterday with Dancinginherdreams when making her first start for the trainer.
Race 5-$75,000 O/C, 7 furlongs, 3 year olds
#3 Mile High Magic has been outworking Derby starter Liaison all week. With his combination of speed figures, tactical speed and workout pattern, he appears primed for a top effort today. #6 Thermal Cat ran a huge BRIS speed figure (105) in his career debut at Hawthorne. Though the competition is stiffer, a repeat of his last makes him an automatic contender. #5 Big Blue Nation returns to sprinting after a short layoff for the Pletcher/Velasquez team and won his career debut over the Churchill strip.
Race 6-$125,000 Grade III Turf Sprint Stakes, 5 furlongs turf, 4 & up
Honestly don’t have a strong opinion in this race. Its very difficult to win outside the 8 post going 5 furlongs on the Churchill turf, so Great Mills and Chamberlain Bridge are both throw outs. #2 Great Attack and #4 Bridgetown are horses to included on all exotic wagers, and #3 Cactus Son is improved after cutting back to turf sprinting.
Race 7-$400,000 Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes, 7 furlongs, 4 & up
#8 Will’s Wildcat only needs to out run #4 Shackleford to get the early lead. He loves CD (4-3-0-0) and today’s distance appears well within his scope. #1 Smiling Tiger returns off a long layoff, but sports the highest, most consistent speed figures. Also, he excels at 7 furlongs (8-3-1-2). The only problem is the post position, as Smiling Tiger has a pattern of breaking slowly.
Race 8-$200,000 Grade II Distaff Turf Mile, 1 mile turf, F & M, 4 & up
#3 Marketing Mix will be forwardly placed, always runs a quick final fraction and trainer Tom Proctor is 22% with horses 2nd off a layoff. #8 City to City invades for hall of famer, Jerry Hollendorfer while cutting back to her best distance. She’s a must use in all exotics and at a big price. #7 Aruna makes her 2nd start off a layoff, likes the CD strip and usually brings her ‘A’ game.
Race 9-$300,000 Grade I Humana Distaff Stakes, 7 furlongs, F & M, 4 & up
#4 Salty Strike loves CD (5-4-0-1), looks to sit a perfect trip with a lack of early speed signed on. Her best speed figures put her in the mix, and the way the race looks to setup, it appears she can deliver an optimum performance today. #6 Groupie Doll was much improved last out with the addition of blinkers when taking the Grade I Madison Stakes at Keeneland. She’s 1-for-1 at CD and fired a bullet over the track last week in preparation for this. #7 Switch has been off since last November’s BC F & M Sprint, but she seems on target for this as her workouts are evenly spaced and have gradually increased in distance over the last few months.
Race 10-$500,000 Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, 1 1/8 miles turf, 4 & up
In a very contentious race, #6 Doubles Partner was lengths best last out against some of these at Keeneland. He likes the CD turf course and today’s distance (3-2-0-1 for both). A repeat of his last, minus the trouble, lands him in the winner’s circle today. #2 Turallure was a nose from capturing last year’s BC mile at CD. He always runs his race, and today should be no different. #10 Brilliant Speed’s trainer, Tom Albertrani admitted his last race was a prep for today. Third in last year’s BC turf, Brilliant Speed appears to be at his best distance today.
Race 11-$2,000,000 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, 1 ¼ miles, 3 year olds
#4 Union Rags hasn’t missed a prep or a workout all spring and is on target to deliver a special performance today. He is also already proven on the CD strip and a wet surface. Aiden O’Brien brings foreign runners over in 2 conditions to a race: 1. As an afterthought after a long campaign (see Montjeu & So You Think) or 2. Primed to deliver a great performance. #1 Daddy Long Legs has raced only once this year, so he shouldn’t be ‘over the top’. He’s bred for dirt & has won at 1 3/16. The only concern is the ‘kiss of death’ rail draw. #15 Gemologist is attempting to be the first undefeated KY Derby winner since Smarty Jones. He’s looked good all week and appears to love the track during his morning gallops. I just question his ability to handle the last 1/8 when other challengers will be coming for him. Earlier this week, I selected Creative Cause 2nd, but after a poor appearance in the mornings, I dropped him from consideration.
Selections for the final 2 races will be provided later today.
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