(Stats to Come After Friday’s races are completed)

It is here. Kentucky Derby Day 147.

Back on the first Saturday in May.

Back in front and behind fans in the stands.

Back in all of it’s glory.

Here’s our looks at the card for Saturday, May 1:

1st: 2-6-5/8-9-4/3-1A/7-1…Santos Dumont (2) returns for the 3rd start off the layoff, and this HOF trainer wins with .17% of those kind. But, more importantly, this one returns as a beaten favorite. In that circumstance, this barn operation wins at a .26% clip with the last 852 runners to fit that definition. Gets the barn’s go-to rider up and this one has run two good ones in a row. Sounion (6) is a 4YO gelding who returns to the dirt surface here after a failed experiment over the grass at KEE last time out. Barn wins with .14% of those that are making this surface switch. Will be a stalker, if all goes well, and this one has a win and two seconds in the first 3 starts here. Chance. Soros (5) has not run in over a year. That’s a long time to be away from the starter. But if this one can regain his former style, then he is a serious threat. Will make the first start for a new trainer, who wins with .09% of those that are newcomers. Last work was spot on. HOF rider up. Chance, too. All 3 of our top picks have a “S” to start their names. Interesting side note. I will bet the 2-6 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the 2-6 over/under the 5-8-9-4-3-1 in two smaller units.

2nd: 1/10-(14)-7/12-(13)-8-4/3-2-11-(16)/5-6…The first “Key Play of the Day” comes here in just the 2nd race and in a MSW event that will be contested at the flat 1-mile distance over the turf course. I will saddle up with Cadencia (1). This 3YO filly comes from the barn of Todd Pletcher, and has thrown up three 2nd place finishes in a row. Has come from the deep outfield to rally late and nearly pinch the winner at the wire. Goes a mile today, and has 2 seconds in 2 tries at this marker. Looks like this may be the day to pop the cork. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key the 1 over/under the numbers listed. More with the 10-14-7. A tad less with the 12-13-8-4. A little less with the 3-2-11-16.

3rd: 9-5/7-8/4-2/1-10/11-3…Another MSW event here, and I will go with my first “Upset Special of the Day” — Alexander Valley (9). This 3YO son of Medaglia d’Oro cost Godolphin Stables $2.15 million to purchase at the 2019 KEE September Yearling Sale. So far, he has not put a dent in that obstacle. But in the first 4 career starts, he does have 2 seconds and a third. In three turf tries, he has 2 seconds and a third. Now goes turf back to the dirt, and this barn wins with .14% of those making this surface switch. Likes to run on late. Needs a little help up front on the pace fractions. But if he can get clear sailing? Look out. Koolhaus (5) is the horse to beat here, IMO. this 3YO son of Nyquist cost $600,000 at the 2018 KEE November Sale as a weanling. A weanling. Cost: $600,000. Must have looked pretty good, right? Has made two starts so far. Both 3rds. But this is the first route effort and the barn wins with .29% of the last 175 to fit that category. I bet the 9-5 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 9-5 over/under the 7-8-4-2-1-10-11-3. More with the 7-8. A tad less with the 4-2. You get the idea. LOL.

4th: 12-(13)-1/3-4/6-7-9/8-11-2/10…This is a 1-mile turf event and I will saddle up with Gear Jockey (12) in this spot. This 4YO son of Twirling Candy has made 8 turf starts so far. Has a resume of 2 wins, 2 seconds and 4 thirds. Has a nice stalking style and has run very, very well over a “good” sod course in the past. This grass has had a lot of rain the past few days and will have some give to it. My pick. Bodecream (13) will get some of my action if he can draw in from the AE List. But that’s a bit to ask. If not, I revert to the insider Invader (1). This 4YO son of War Front has the pedigree, to be sure. By one of the best stallions in the world today, and out of the Stakes-winning mare. She has produced 2 turf winners form the first three starters and had 3 Stakes winners. Wow. I bet the 12-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 12-1 over/under the 3-4-6-7-9-8-11-2. More with the 3-4. 

5th: 5-8/7-11-2-3-6/10-1-4/9…Ghazaaly (5) is a 3YO son of Curlin, and he was nominated to the Triple Crown races. Could show up a bit farther down the road in some serious Graded Stakes events, but just broke the maiden last time out at KEE on April 3. Connections paid $1.05 million for this one at the 2019 KEE September Yearling Sale, and he’s on the improve, no doubt. Likes to flash speed; stalk and, hopefully, finish. I like this one in this spot. A lot. A whole lot. Smiley Sobotka (8) is my second “Upset Special of the Day.” This 3YO son of Brody’s Cause is trained by Dale Romans, who also conditioned this one’s sire. Ran well in the first three races of the career, and was a close 2nd to Keepmeinmind in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes here last November. It has been rough sledding since then. Off the board and beaten a total of 42 lengths in the past two outings. But? But, this one gets Lasix for the first time here. But, this one gets back home. I bet the 5 to win/place/show. Strong. I box the 5-8 in the exactas. And, then I key the 5-8 over/under the rest of the numbers listed. I also key the 5 over/under the “all button” in a couple exactas with smaller units.

6th: 5-6-4/3/2-7/1…G2 Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile…Got Stormy (5) is truly one of the best turf racing mares to travel the U.S. in the past few years. A year ago, the connections cut back and went the sprint distance. Now, this 6YO mare — who just sold for $2.75 million last November — is back to racing at the 1-mile route distance again. And? She won the G3 Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park last time out and first time out in 2021. She may not be as good as she once was, but she is still pretty darn good. Looks like she’s in a good spot here. Blowout (6) comes out of the barn of Chad Brown, and if it is a Graded Stakes turf event, then you have to consider anything from this barn. This one is a speedster and will try to carry them gate to wire. Has 6 starts at this distance. Two wins. Four seconds. Zofelle (4) was beaten a skinny nose by the top pick last time out. This one was coming hard and fast at the wire, too. In 7 races at this distance? She has a 3-2-1 record. Consider. I bet the 5-4 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exactas. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 3 in two smaller units.

7th: 4-3/2-1/5-6…G1 Derby City Distaff Stakes…What a race and what a field. This may be one of the most exciting events of the entire weekend. This marks the return of the mucho talented Gamine (4) to Churchill Downs. She ran 3rd in the 2020 KY Oaks, but she will cut back to the one-turn, 7-furlong distance in this event. And, this distance suits her to a tee. In 2 starts at this distance? She has 2 wins. She is fast. She is tough. And, she is very, very good. The “Champ” will be a tough out. But? It won’t be easy. Bell’s the One (3) has raced here 4 times. She has 2 wins and 2 seconds. She also has Stakes wins over the grass, dirt and AW. Comes into this one off a tremendous effort at KEE last time out. Tremendous. This filly beat Serengeti Empress at this distance here last September. That’s salty. I bet the 4-3 across the board and then pound them in an exacta box. I will key the 4-3 over the 2-1-5-6 in a smaller unit. Only over. Only small.

8th: 3-5/8-7-6/4/2-11-12/1-10…G2 Pat Day Mile…Full field has been assembled here, and there are a lot of options. Some with nice odds, too. But I will give the edge to Jackie’s Warrior (3). This son of Maclean’s Music won the first four starts of the career, and three of those were Stakes. Two of those were G1 Stakes. Ran into a wall and a monster in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Found the same problem in the 2021 debut. Now, this one is off the Triple Crown trip and cut back to a better distance. Working very well. Look out here. This one is 3-1 in the ML. If he is anything close to that? I’m all in. Prevalence (5) isa well-bred, home-bred for the Godolphin Racing Stables. And, he is a very talented son-of-a-gun, too. Won the first two by a combined 131/2 lengths. Ran into a buzz when stretched out to a longer distance in the G2 Wood Memorial. Now, this one is back at the mile distance. Should prefer this grouping. Will push the button early and often. And, he is listed at 6-1 in the ML? Are you kidding me? Let the games begin. I bet the 3-5 across the board and then box these two in the exactas. I will key the 3-5 over/under the 8-7-6-4-2 in two smaller units.

9th: 13-4-6/3-2-7/5-12-11/14-1/10-8-9…G2 American Turf Stakes…A very talented group of 3YOs have been entered for this grass event, that will be contested at the two-turn distance of 11/16-miles. I will go to the extreme outside and pony up with Scarlett Sky (13) in this event. This 3YO is trained by a good friend and HOFer. Comes in off an impressive, fast-closing win in the G3 Transylvania Stakes at KEE last time out. Before that, this one ran very well in the Palm Beach Stakes at GP. Very good right now and has won without Lasix. Gets a top rider back in the irons. Love this one. Love. Annex (4) owns a win over our top pick just two races back. And, this one is still undefeated. Has nice stalking ability, or can rumble late, too. Gets a top rider for the first time and the trainer is 3-1-1 in the last 7 saddle jobs. Have to use here, IMO. Royal Prince (6) has 3 wins; a second; and a third in the first 6 starts for trainer Brad Cox. Chance at a big number to spice up the odds rack. I bet the 13-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the top 3 over/under the 3-2 in two smaller. I will also key the 13-4 over/under the 6-3-2-7-5-12-11 in two smaller units, as well.

10th: 9-4-3/10-5-7-2/11/8-6-12/1-13…G1 Churchill Downs Stakes…The grand Whitmore (9) — who has won over $4.387 million in his career — returns to Churchill Downs, where he once ran in a Kentucky Derby, too. In 5 starts here, he has a win and a second. But the “old man” is off to a grand start this year. He has two very nice 2nds to, perhaps, the best horse in training today — C Z Rocket. This one gets his regular rider back in the saddle. Training very well. Love the old man. Flagstaff (4) won last time out at KEE, after he got away from C Z Rocket and Whitmore. Likely to run another really good one here. Barn wins with .21% when the connections won the last time out. Basin (3) could spice up this odds rack. Has a win and a second in the last two and in the only other race here, he finished 2nd by a skinny nose to By Your Side. At this distance? Perfect. I bet the 9-4 across the board and then box there top 3 in the exactas. I will key the 9-4 over/under the 3-10-5-7-2-11 in two more smaller units.

11th 3/5-6-7-4/9/8-2-1…G1 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Stakes…I will go with my next “Key Play of the Day” here. It is very unusual for me to do a “Key Play” in a G1 Turf race. They are too tough. They are too stacked. They are too dependent on pace and on a late, clean run. They are prospects for upsets. But? Well, I just love Colonel Liam (3). This 4YO colt is really, really good and especially so right now. Has won three in a row. Can come late. Can stalk. Can win. In 5 turf races, this one has 4 wins. In only try at this distance, he has a win. I think he can be real value here, too. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed. More with the 5-6-7-4-9.

12th: 14-17/9-10/6-7/18-15-1-16/8/2-5-4-19…G1 Kentucky Derby…The best horse race in the history of horse racing. This is the 147th version of the “Run for the Roses.” We are back in the stands. We shall sing “My Old Kentucky Home” in unison again. And, we shall rise up and raise our hands once again. And, in this moment why shouldn’t we have a potential “Super Horse” to help lead us out of this damned pandemic and back to normalcy? Essential Quality (14) has all the “Essential Qualities” to win this race. He has all the “Essential Qualities” to win the Triple Crown. He has all the “Essential Qualities” to go down in history as one of the best ever. Ever. And, he’s off to a grand start. Undefeated Champ a year ago. Undefeated and headed for potential greatness this year. His win in the G2 Blue Grass showed his grit and gut in a race that he did NOT have to win to get in the KY Derby. But he won anyway. Special day. Special horse. Makes sense. Highly Motivated (17) ran his eyeballs out and nearly won the G2 Blue Grass. And, that wasn’t even his best race, IMO. This could be his best race. Ever. It will be his 3rd start off the layoff, and the barn wins with .16% of those. And, IMO, this one is better than Good Magic, who won the Blue Grass and was 2nd in the Derby for this same barn operation. This one will stalk today. And, he may win today, too. He is no slouch. Hot Rod Charlie (9) has been a remarkable transition since getting the blinkers four races ago. Since those shades were added to his equipment list, this one broke his maiden; ran a huge 2nd to Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 95-1 odds; nearly won the G3 Robert B Lewis off a two month layoff; and then won the G2 Louisiana Derby in style. This trainer knows how to win KY Derbies. Has done it twice before. And, this may be his best horse yet. Consider. Midnight Bourbon (10) may be the best looking horse I have ever seen. Ever. As in? Ever. He is big. He is strong. He is athletic. He is evasive (since he got loose in the barn area and it took several peeps to finally reign him in.) He is super talented. And, he could be sitting on a huge effort. But? But this one is rather emotional and likes to wear that on his sleeve. If he can hold it together until the gate opens? Wow. He could be right in the mix. If he does not? Wow. He could be right in your lap. On the 3rd floor of the clubhouse. LOL. Bezos (6) is a 3YO son of KY Derby winner Orb, and he comes into this race as one of the most rapidly-improving horses in the entire field. His 3rd in the Louisiana Derby was super impressive and this one can offer a real late challenger here. This is his home base. He is training well. He is a potential upset candidate. Mandaloun (7) is a mystery horse here, for me. He has the talent to win or be rather closer to his stablemate — our top pick. Yet, his run in the G2 Louisiana Derby was awful. Spit the bit and retreated when the real running began. It makes you wonder if he flipped his pallet or had a breathing issue that day. Happens. Because something strange happened that day. In his other 4 races, he has 3 wins and a third. This race was too bad to be normal. I toss it. And, I use this one. I think the way he has trained indicates that he is breathing just perfectly going in, and he could be breathing fire coming out. Take note. Super Stock (18) won the G1 Arkansas Derby last time out for a HOF trainer and his HOF owners — that includes the trainer’s dad and mom. Great storyline. Maybe will be the lyrics to a new George Strait song some day. LOL. But this one has a record of 2-2-2 in 8 starts. The misses are a troubled 4th and an awful 10th when debuting on the turf and going short. This one needs running room. And, he needs some luck. But he is not without a shot of hitting the board. A superfecta inclusion for me. Rock Your World (15) rocked a lot of worlds in winning the G1 Santa Anita Derby and whipping Medina Spirit in the process. But the truth is that this one is a turf horse. With some speed. And, those just don’t make KY Derby winners. Not for me. Known Agenda (1) is another one who has improved remarkably since he was equipped with the blinkers. Won the last two with the addition of the shades. Impressive in those efforts, too. But let’s review. Who did he beat in the last one? Greatest Honour exited the race with an apparent injury that took him off the Kentucky Derby Trail. And, the runner-up? He is a Florida-bred who won an allowance at Tampa the race before. Not for me. Over-hyped, IMO. My only regret? He drew the #1 post. That hurt his odds. I was hoping this one would take some money at the windows. King Fury (16) jumped back into the KY Derby picture when he won the G3 Lexington Stakes over a sloppy track and there was a series of defections from this prospective 20-horse field. A nice horse. But not a KY Derby contender, IMO. Medina Spirit (8) is a very nice horse, but I just don’t see him fitting this model. Even with the wizard, Bob Baffert, at the helm. This one is by some stallion called Protonico. I never heard of him. And, he is a Florida-bred, too. Serious pedigree and distance limitations, IMO. Could be a superfecta or Super High 5 potential candidate. Other than that? Nope. Like the King (2) is 50-1 in the odds and should slide up to closer to 100-1 by PT. I think I may use this guy. Former great jockey Gary Stevens is now the agent for Drayden Van Dyke and they fit this one. He can close. He can offer value. Here’s an idea…why don’t we toss this one into our trifecta, superfecta mix? I am. Sainthood (5) is being touted by Todd Shrump of TVG. That’s enough for me to toss. Keepmeinmind (4) has not been the same this year, since winning a nice Stakes event here last November. Tosses the blinkers, and the barn wins with .15% of those that lose the shades. But for me? Nope. Soup and Sandwich (19) has a nice name, but I think he is salad dressing in this group. Nope. I bet the top two numbers across the board and I hit them hard. I will be Highly Motivated across the board again. And, again. And, again. I’m serious. Loading up here. And, I will box the top two numbers hard in the exacta. I will key the top two over/under the 9-10-6-7-18-15-1-16 in two more exactas, just smaller units. I will key the top two numbers over that list in the trifecta. I will key the 9-10-6-7-18-15-1-16 over the top two in the trifecta, as well. And, in the superfecta. I go 14-17/14-17-9-10/14-17-9-10-6-7-18-15-2/14-17-9-10-6-7-18-15-16-2

13th: To Come

14th: To Come

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene