Updated to reflect early scratches, the biggest of which is Ticking Katie in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile …
Race 1 – 1. Geothermal, 2. Teniente Coronel, 3. Rocket Time. Comment: Top pick has two wins and a second in three starts over this oval.
Race 2 – 1. Divine Interventio, 2. Street Gray, 3. Unexplained. Comment: Divine Interventio figures to be able to improve after a winning debut, but this is wide open.
Race 3 – 1. Grand Candy, 2. Jimbo Fallon, 3. Jazzy Times. Comment: Grand Candy figures to improve in second off the layoff. Jimbo Fallon could do it, but likely won’t be 4-1.
Race 4 – 1. Havana Dream, 2. Res Ipsa, 3. Koala Lake. Comment: Havana Dream gets Lasix in the return to racing and looms large. Res Ipsa picks up jockey Julien Leparoux, which should be a plus.
Race 5 – 1. Bold Conquest, 2. Freestyler, 3. Hesinfront. Comment: Bold Conquest gets a slight edge here.
Race 6 | Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes | 1 mile turf
2. Isabella Sings
3. Rainha Da Bateria
Comment: With all due respect to the Kentucky Derby, the best horse racing Saturday is right here. Tepin may be the best horse in training right now, and she shouldn’t disappoint here. A single in multi-race bets.
Race 7 | Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes | 7 furlongs
1. Salutos Amigos
2. Kobe’s Back
Comment: This is a solid field that calls for using several in the multi-race bets. Salutos Amigos is consistent and gets the nod but is by no means a lock.
Race 8 | Grade I Humana Distaff | 7 furlongs
2. Wavell Avenue
3. Enchanting Lady
Comment: Giving the edge to Taris over Wavell Avenue on the belief that she might have beaten the other in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint last year with a better trip.
Race 9 | Grade II American Turf Stakes | 1 1/16 miles turf
3. Surgical Strike
Comment: The Transylvania Stakes winner has every chance to get back to the winner’s circle here after that 2016 debut. Would-be Kentucky Derby contender Airoforce returns to turf where he is a major threat. Surgical Strike and Azar both bettered Airoforce on synthetic in the Spiral and must be considered as well.
Race 10 | Grade III Pat Day Mile Stakes | 1 mile
1. American Freedom
3. Cocked and Loaded
Comment: American Freedom is a big threat at a little bit of a price in his second start in a tough race. Fellowship had been pointed to the Derby and comes off a bullet work. Cocked and Loaded won the Iroquois here and would be no surprise.
Race 11 | Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes | 1 1/8 miles turf
2. Big Blue Kitten
Comment: Slumber gets a slight edge but both he and Big Blue Kitten must be respected from top turf trainer Chad Brown. Tourist also has a great chance after a nice comeback effort in the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland. Divisidero won the American Turf here.
Race 12 | Grade I Kentucky Derby | 1 1/4 miles
1. Gun Runner
Comment: There’s not a ton of speed in this Derby but there’s enough that a front-runner won’t be my choice. By the same token, that could make it difficult for a from-the-clouds closer. Gun Runner is the most consistent forwardly placed horse and should get every chance to win the roses. Nyquist is a deserving favorite who would be no surprise and must be used in exotics. Outwork’s resume is much like Gun Runner’s and makes him a contender as well. Mohayman is the wildcard. If his Florida Derby was a fluke, and I’ll bet that it was. Still, a return to more consistent form may not be enough to win although it should be enough to hit the board.
Race 13 – 1. Sonoma Crush, 2. Smart Moon, 3. Mkubwa. Comment: Stats say Asmussen and Geroux combo with Sonoma Crush should be respected at 19 percent win rate. Smart Moon had a solid second in his 2016 debut and wouldn’t surprise. Mkubwa and Uncle Walter also have good shots in a wide-open affair.
Race 14 – 1. Virtual Machine, 2. Goats Town, 3. Race Me Home. Comment: Virtual Machine appears to appreciate a route of ground and drops in class. Goats Town comes in off an appearance in the Blue Grass Stakes and could be a big factor in a return to maiden company.