RACE 1: 1-2-6
David Vance — a talented trainer — has been cold as a mint julep on Derby Day, with only three wins in 57 starts this year. But he could grab one here with a bug boy rider. The 2 will be the toughest competition, while the 6 could add some value to the exotics.
RACE 2: 1-6-9-5-8
The 1 is my reluctant choice, due to the fact that the trainer has been ice cold all year — with only three wins in 66 starts. But this OK-bred could be salty at 6-1 in this spot. Maker’s 6-horse will be huge favorite to romp here, and she may. She has lost two in a row to Vendetta, who has been on my HTW list.
RACE 3: 6-3-4-5
The 6 should be ready to roll after just missing at Keeneland on April 9. Runner-up in start two back came back to win, too. She should be ready to win here. The 3 won this condition last fall at CD, but was disqualified from the purse money. That was a huge improvement, so one has to wonder if that was unusual or what. If she runs that race, they all will be watching.
RACE 4: 3-2-4-7
The 3 has been working very well for trainer Steve Asmussen and comes off a useful 2nd in first race of the year…any improvement here and she finds the circle. The 2 was claimed in her last start, which she won by 121/4 lengths. Have to use. French Geroux is starting to wake up in the saddle a bit and that won’t hurt the 4.
RACE 5: 3-7-5-4-1-6
… dot on the 7 and the 1…The 3 has tried maidens for 15 starts and has hit the board six — still without a win. Drops to Maiden-Claiming today, though, and gets a rider switch to the modern day Pat Day — Corey Lanerie. Pick here. The 7 will be very tough if her runs the same race back he did at Keeneland on April 7 and was steadied into the first turn that day. Gets the dot here. I look for big improvement from the 5 in his start for Al Stall. Gets the blinkers and that should sharpen him up some. If you are looking for a longer price, throw in the 1. Will run better today and the horse that finished 3rd in last out came back to win. Watch out for this one.
RACE 6: 7-8-4-3-1-2
A wide open race, but edge goes to the 7 with a massive drop in class for trainer Steve Margolis. Trainer doesn’t exceed with switch in races surfaces, but if this one likes the dirt, watch out at 8-1 ML. Brad Cox is hotter than any trainer in the world these days and is dropping from 50,000 claiming to 16,000 today. Will be tough. I throw the 4 in third. Gets the blinkers after two dull performances in a row. Needs to pick it up, but does drop in class, too.
RACE 7: 2-3-9-10-4
Another wide open race, but I give the edge to the 2, who has won 2 in a row and goes for the hat trick today. Likes to stalk the pace and should get a good trip in this one from Gabriel Saez. The 3 is ultra consistent and has a win in only start over Churchill grass. I look for big race today with third start off the layoff. Maker tries to overcome a soft Keeneland meet and will try a small bump up with the 9. Looks like last race may have this daughter of Kitten’s Joy ready now.
RACE 8: 4-1-5-6-2/3
Tough field to pick just one, but I give the edge to the 4. First time out since last November, but appears ready after a bullet work at Keeneland, and he loves this track. I give the second spot edge to Mott’s 1 horse. Will go to the front and hope to last. I give a dot to the 5, though. Throw out the stakes races and this Indiana-bred mare fits here.
RACE 9: 9-11-10-5-2
Kenny McPeek’s horses have been firing on all cylinders lately, and although this one has had 8 tries at breaking his maiden before, the trainer may have picked the right spot here with another drop. Gets a top rider, too, and if he runs the same race, should graduate. Have to use the 11,10, but I think you should include the 2 at 12-1 ML. The son of Ice Box gets blinkers, loses his manhood for the first time and gets a drop from a good barn. If you get 12-1 here, try under and over the ones above.