The Derby belongs to the world, but the Oaks is Louisville’s day at the races. Some of the best fillies in the world will battle at Churchill Downs in one of the best matched fields in years. So, grab your E-Z Win Forms, and get ready for one incredible weekend!
The most up-to-date forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 70 degrees, with a 20% chance of rain.
Race #1 – O.C. $75,000 – 1 1 /16 – 10:30 a.m. ET
#2 – Liberated (2-1) = Corey Lanerie in the irons for Victoria Oliver, and this daughter of Curlin is 2/2 ITM at Churchill. Makes her second off the layoff, and goes from poly to dirt.
Race #4 – O.C. $75,000 – 7f – 12:05 p.m. ET
#8 – Love Train (6-1) = Javier Castellano gets the nod for the Steve Klesaris barn. This daughter of Tapit makes her second start off a layoff, and was heavily bet at Gulfstream. She has been working well, and gets an extra furlong to play with today.
Race #6 – The (G-2) La Troienne Stakes – 1 1/16 – 1:26 p.m. ET
#5 – On Fire Baby (8-5) = Joe Johnson up for Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage. 2/3 ITM at CD, and she tired quite a bit in the Oaks last year. The Apple Blossom has me playing a rider who mainly boots-up for one trainer. With only 85 mounts this year, you can bet this rider will be ready for his close-up.
Race #7 – $150,000 Edgewood Stakes – 1 1/16 on the turf – 2:08 p.m. ET
#9 – Tokyo Time (3-1) = Javier Castellano in the saddle for Shug McGaughey, and this may be an appetizer for the “Shug” barn this weekend. She is bred for the turf, and her lightly raced record will allow her to bring the heat. I love the works at Belmont on the weeds as she cuts back in distance.
Race #9 – The (G-2) Alysheba Stakes – 1 1/16 – 3:52 p.m. ET
#8 – Bourbon Courage (4-1) = Javier Castellano in the irons for Kellyn Gorder. This son of Lion Heart makes his second off the shelf, and cuts back in distance. He faced some tough guys in the New Orleans Handicap, and I think he will be better for the test.
Race #10 – The (G-2) American Turf Stakes – 1 1/16 on the turf – 4:44 p.m.
#4 – Noble Tune (3-1) = Javier Castellano is the pilot for Chad Brown. This guy is lightly raced, and has an affinity for the turf. He was 6-wide on the turf at Tampa, and got up by a nose at the wire. You can bet he will be heard from in the stretch.
Race #11 – The (G-1) Kentucky Oaks – 1 1/8 – 5:45 p.m. ET
This race sets up as one of the best fields assembled in years. I don’t think we’ll be searching for added excitement, as this race should give us more than we expected.
#2 – Midnight Lucky (9-2) = Rafael Bejarano up for Bob Baffert. Team Baffert is without a Derby runner, and this may be his day. A lightly raced filly, and she has been working lights out at CD. She should lay right behind the speed and pounce if all systems are go…
#8 – Dreaming of Julia (3-1) = John Velasquez returns off a three week injury for Todd Pletcher. Third off the shelf, and won by an impressive 21 lengths last out. She was beaten by Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Fillies, but that was without lasix. Now, that is not an excuse as they all didn’t have it, but it may have been a distraction that kept her off her game.
#4 – Unlimited Budget (7-2) = Javier Castellano in the irons for Todd Pletcher. An undefeated daughter of Street Sense, and makes her third start off the layoff. She just keeps getting better, and today is the acid test.
#5 – Seaneen Girl (30-1) = Rosie “60-Minutes” Napravnik in the saddle for Bernie Flint. Ever since she made her way over from the poly, her efforts have shown good closing ability. Rosie took down this race, and became the first female rider to win the Kentucky Oaks. Her interview this week on “60 Minutes” gave the world a glimpse of what a true competitor she can be.
That is my plan for day #1 of the big weekend. Winning Ponies is always solid when it comes to finding runners, but on Derby weekend they really take it up a couple notches. Be sure to grab your E-Z Win Forms, and remember that if the weather turns on a dime. You are just one click away from getting a brand new set of E-Z Win Forms. “May your winners be many, and your photos be few.” Best of luck!