Let’s take a look at the daunting pick-4 sequence that ends on the Kentucky Derby.
The sequence includes Races 9 – 12 – the American Turf, Pat Day Mile, Turf Classic, and the Derby itself. Let’s go through the sequence.
Race 9 – American Turf (G2) – First off, #12 Rushing Fall will scratch after running in the Edgewood on Friday, but this is still a wide-open field of 14, with AE #15 Alternative Route drawing in. The favorite is likely #11 Untamed Domain (5-1), who flopped on dirt at Tampa Bay and didn’t run all that well at Gulfstream in his season debut. We’re a little concerned, but don’t want to overreact to a race at Gulfstream, where the turf can be a little unique and thin, and to a race that was his first start off the bench. That said, we’re only using as a backup.
#10 Maraud (6-1) is our top pick. He ran well to win the Palm Beach two-back, tracking the loose leader and last time moved up on the turn but never really got clear as Analyze It ran away on the yielding track. Plus, he has tactical speed so he won’t get disadvantaged by what could be a slow pace. We’re also using #9 Captivating Moon (6-1) as an A. He always fires and has faced some very good horses in his last two starts (especially last time). There are no such killers in here. The concern is the potential for a moderate pace. #7 Tigers Rule (15-1) lost all chance when he had to steady at the top of the lane last time but he tried to the wire. He might be too far back but he’ll be a bigger price than he should.
#6 River Boyne (5-1) has probably faced weaker but has won three straight and must be respected. And that leaves #3 Threeandfourpence (4-1). We don’t like that Aidan O’Brien ran him on dirt last time and synthetic before that, and that he ships this homebred over to the US (he almost certainly is just along for the wide with Mendelssohn). But if you go 3-4 and miss an O’Brien/Moore in a turf race, that would sting. We’re using as a backup.
A – 9, 10
B – 6, 7, 11
C – 3
Race 10 – Pat Day Mile (G2) – This race is a complete bear, but it should, as it usually does, feature a fast pace.
There is one horse we have to try today, and that’s #9 Givemeaminit (20-1). He’s been a favorite of ours and has a chance to be a talented one-run closer. He turns back today, should get pace, has been running in the wrong races, and is our bomber in here.
#5 Mississippi (10-1) won’t be that big of a price but is a major player after running pretty well last time in the Florida Derby. He tracked a supersonic pace and held well for third, albeit beaten 10 lengths. He turns back to a one-turn mile here and is poised for a big effort. The same can be said for #14 Greyvitos (6-1) who came off a four month layoff to run well and just get beaten in the Lexington three weeks ago while part of a fast pace. He’s also drawn well to stalk in the clear. I’m not quite sure how good he is, but he’s on our tickets.
We have to use #8 Mask (4-1) though he’ll be overbet off his Mucho Macho Man win when he set a very slow pace. His debut, however, was tremendous. He broke slowly, moved between horses, and crushed the field. This is a tough one off the bench but it’s Chad Brown and this horse is probably the most talented runner in the field.
Lastly, #11 Sporting Chance (8-1) has been going long and turns back to the one-turn mile here. He has a problem drifting out late in his races, which downgrades him, but he had some tougher trips (wide and out of position two-back, fast pace off the layoff three-back). We’re using.
A – 5, 8, 9
B – 11, 14
C – none
Race 11 – Turf Classic (G1) – We’ll have to narrow a little bit here. #10 Beach Patrol (5-2) is the logical one. He handles this distance and was probably best in this race last year. He’s off the bench, but he’s easily the one to beat. He’s definitely better than #1 Deauville (3-1) though that one drew better. Beach Patrol beat him in the Million last year with a much wider trip. #3 Kurilov (6-1) goes out, like Beach Patrol, for Chad Brown. He had a good trip in his turf US debut at Gulfstream but was wired by Heart to Heart, subsequent winner of the Makers Mark Mile at Keeneland. He’s got a big shot. We’re also tossing in #2 Shining Copper (15-1) since he is going to be loose on the lead.
A – 10
B – 1, 2, 3
C – none
Race 12 – Kentucky Derby (G1) – As we noted in our write-up, our top pick is #11 Bolt d’Oro (8-1). We think he’ll offer the best value among the main contenders, most of whom benefited from circumstance in their most recent prep races, while Bolt d’Oro was chasing Justify who wired the Santa Anita Derby. #7 Justify (3-1) is favored, and should be, and might be the most talented runner. He’ll stalk from up close. We’re also using #6 Good Magic (10-1), even if we’re a bit skeptical of him going 10 furlongs, and longshot #12 Enticed (30-1), who tracked a fast pace that collapsed in the Wood Memorial last time.
A – 7, 11
B – none
C – 6, 12
All 50-cent tickets and this is a $91 play.