All I can write is that I am sorry for my selections on Oaks Day. Finally had a winner. Late.

But I do feel good today. Real good.

Here’s a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 6-5-2-3…The best horse that Bob Baffert may run today could come right here in the very first race. Seriously. I think he could be every bit as good as either Justify or Restoring Hope, who are likely favorites in two of the big races this afternoon. Once on Whiskey (6) is a deep closer by Bodemeister, who came running with a flurry in his career debut to just get nip by a good one and stablemate, Curley’s Rocket. Came back to win the second when stretched out to 7F. This guy should relish this configuration. If he likes it a bit off, he could air. Right off the bat with my first Bet of the Day. Crosswalk (5) is the likely favorite, having a win and three seconds in his career to date. Ran second by just a head to Quip – winner of the Tampa Bay Derby and likely candidate for this year’s Preakness. I have to use, too. Share the Upside (2) broke his maiden in serious manner down at Oaklawn Park for HOF trainer Steve Asmussen. Runner-up that day, beaten nearly 4, came back to win again. May split the exacta. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key over all the numbers in the exactas. I focus on the 6-5-2, with emphasis on the 6.

 

2nd: 2-6-7-1-3…Pretty weak field here for this one, and I finally settle on Summer Luck (2) in this spot. Sticks to the dirt, which is her preferred surface I think. Has only 1 win in 14 starts, but piles up the seconds and thirds. Trainer hits with .25% of those coming back from being the beaten favorite, and is eligible to move up with the third try off the layoff. Big Gray Rocket (6) should benefit from the race on March 30 at Oaklawn Park. Winners of the last two came right back to win. Switches to high % rider here. Training super good with a bullet move on April 29 here. Super Derecho (7) had a nice work on May 1 here. A stalker who had a close third on the slop before. Wide open affair here, but I go to the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

 

3rd: 4-6-5-2-8…Another open affair, but I really like Hollywood Handsome (4) in this spot. Bit off too much in the G3 Ben Ali when bumped at the start. But ran two really good ones before that when facing tougher. Has a win over this track and is perfect 1-for-1 in the mud. Irish Freedom (6) moves to the successful barn of Brad Cox after being conditioned by the great Bob Baffert. Has run three dull ones in a row, but against some really good ones, too. Only been on off-going once and didn’t fare too well then. But he has the talent and picks up Javier Castellano. New trainer hits with .43% of those taking the blinkers off. Nice work on April 29. Sonneteer (5) ran 16th in the KY Derby a year ago as a maiden. Came back to win for the first time on the grass at Del Mar in July. Can close with authority. I bet the 4-6 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key the 4-6 over the rest in a smaller version.

 

4th: 9-11-2-3-4-5-8-12…Irish Territory (9), an Irish-bred, had a tough go in the 2018 debut. Got into serious trouble in the first turn up at Keeneland and lost all chance that day. Look at the race two back. Ran a game second to Catholic Boy and beat Untamed Domain. Both of those have turned out to be real good ones. Untamed Domain ran second to Mendelssohn in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last Fall, and Catholic Boy was on top of my Derby Rankings for awhile this spring, after winning the Remsen Stakes and running second in the Sam F. Davis. The play. Really nice work here on April 29. Second Best Bet, if it stays on the grass. Believeinholidays (11) is 15-1 ML and worth a shot in your exotic plays her. Ran a real nice second in the debut on the grass at the Fair Grounds on March 22. The New Orleans horses are doing well. Trainer hits with .21% of those with back-to-back sprint races, followed by a route. Midnight Tea Time (2) was the beaten favorite last time out at Keeneland over a “good” grass course. Was bothered at the start and once again in the upper stretch of that one. Could be tough with a cleaner trip, and should close well here. Trainer scores with .17% of beaten favorites. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under the numbers listed. I focus on the 9-11-2-3-5.

 

5th: 8-2-6-5-9-1…McCraken (8) was my pick for the KY Derby a year ago. Got an ankle injury early in the season and never really got to 100%. Should have won the G1 Haskell Invitational, and then kind of regressed after that. Trainer is super good, and wants to focus on 1-mile races this year. This kick starts the year for this talented son of Ghostzapper who is 4-for-5 at Churchill Downs. I jump on board here. Cool Arrow (2) is a perfect 2-for-2 on a “wet” track, and has two seconds in three starts at this track. Comes in off a front-running win at the Fair Grounds. Trainer hits with .22% coming off a previous win. Behavioral Bias (6) is a “mudder” too, with a win and a second in two previous starts over a “wet” track. Stretches out to a mile for the first time, but has run well at 7 furlongs. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the 8 over/under all the numbers in two smaller versions.

 

6th: 1-8-5-4-3…G1 Humana Distaff…Finley’sluckycharm (1) is a perfect 6-for-6 at Churchill Downs and has run well over a “wet” track, too. This distance is a real stretch for her, as she wants no more. But with the rail and the speed, she should be able to last. Nice work on April 27. American Gal (8) is a speedy type, too, but tired late in the G1 Madison at Keeneland. Needed that one, for sure, since she was idle from August to April. If she is more fit for today’s affair and does not bounce, she could be tough on the lead. Wet track? No details. Lewis Bay (5) is solid on an “off track” and will be closing hard today. Beaten just a head in the Madison. I bet the 1-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

 

7th: 11-9-3-6-1-7-5…G2 Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile…La Coronel (11) should really benefit with the cut back in distance to a mile today. Pulled even in the G1 Jenny Wiley last time out and then weakened late – but that was at 11/16-miles. This one has a win in one try over this course, and won the Edgewood here last year on a “good” turf. On Leave (9) is 8-1 ML odds and could drift up in the odds by PT. Has a 4-1-2 record at 1-mile grass races, and was closing well in the last before time ran out. Consistent sort, and trainer hits with .24% of those returning after being defeated as the favorite. Jockey is super hot right now with record of 4-2-4 in last 7 days. Dream Awhile (3) is a Chad Brown entry, and has been mighty tough in three US starts since shipping over from France. Moves up in class today, but can’t dismiss these connections. I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest of the numbers in a smaller version.

 

8th: 7-10-3-5-4-1-6…The Churchill Downs Stakes, Presented by TwinSpires.com…Limousine Liberal (7) absolutely loves this race track. Has a record of 5 wins and a second in 7 tries here. Has hit the board in 6 of 8 lifetime starts at this distance, too. If he doesn’t bounce off that effort at Keeneland, he should be sitting on a good one. Perfect 2-for-2 on a “wet” track. Best Bet. Awesome Slew (10) has 4 seconds and a win at the distance; and has a win and a second here. Loves to run second. Trainer hits with .25% of those retuning after getting beat as the favorite. Imperial Hint (3) has 3 wins in 4 starts at this distance, but missed the board in only start here. Ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint two back, but that was at 6-furlongs. Has 6 wins and a second in last 7 starts. Tough to ignore. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

 

9th: 11-6-1-10-2-7-14-13-9…G2 American Turf…Untamed Domain (11) ran second to Mendelssohn (KY Derby later) in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar last November. Ran third on debut this year on a “good” turf at GP, and then tried the dirt in the Tampa Bay Derby. No match to Quip and Flameaway in that one, but gets back to grass today. Working well for the return to the sod. River Boyne (6) is an Irish-bred who started career overseas. Shifted here and has won three in a row going into today. Super nice work on April 28 at Santa Anita and looks really sharp. Has been good on a “good” grass course before. The one to beat. Speed Franco (1) beat Untamed Domain three back and has lost the last two by a neck each. Only major loss came to Flameway in January, but was only beaten a length in that one. I bet the 11-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

 

10th: 12-14-11-8-7-1-3-5…G3 Pat Day Mile…What a race. Might be as good as the KY Derby itself. Whew. I go with Restoring Hope (12), from the barn of Bob Baffert. Gets the blinkers for the first time today, and Baffert scores with 20% with the equipment addition Good work on April 28 and a high tout of Team Bob’s this year. Can’t ignore. Greyvitos (14) may have been in the Derby if not for a chip after the Springboard Mile last year. Desperately needed the race in the Lexington and should appreciate the cut back in distance for this one. Trainer hits with .50% in Graded Stakes races. Sporting Chance (11) is a troubled sort who likes to dart in any direction late – especially when shown the whip. But talented. Very talented. Sharp work on May 1. Mask could be a Preakness contender. Super talented. I bet the 12-14 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers. I key the top 3 numbers both over/under the rest in two smaller versions.

 

11th: 1-10-9-6-7-3-4…G1 Old Forester Turf Classic…Deauville (1) may be the best chance for a win that Aidan O’Brien ships to Churchill Downs for today. This son of Galileo ran second in the 2018 debut and nearly won the G1 Arlington Million a year ago. Has won over $1.2 million and loves a yielding grass course. Beach Patrol (10) is a super star with over $2.4 million in earnings. But looks to run second when coming off a layoff each time, and he will be making his first start today since running second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Classic at Del Mar last November. Second in last time on a “good” sod track. And, has a record of 1-3-1 in 5 starts at this distance. Looks like a strong second, to me. Yoshida (9) is making the 2018 debut, too, off a long layoff. Runs well fresh, though, and gets a huge rider switch to Jose Ortiz in the saddle. Love the 15-1 odds in a wide open affair. I bet the 1-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

 

12th: 6-19-10-11-7-4-5-16-14…144th Running of the Kentucky Derby…Good Magic (6) is the defending Champion and is coming into the biggest race of his life in, perhaps, the best shape of his life. His win in the Blue Grass Stakes was both thrilling and taxing. But he has bounced out of that and performed admirably in both his morning exercises since then – sending a strong message he really needed that race. Looks to be sitting on a monster performance, and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner certainly has the talent and the connections. Love the odds. Noble Indy (19) won the Louisiana Derby despite several miscues in the race, and appears to have the most upside of any of the Todd Pletcher horses. Wore the blinkers for the first time in the last and has tactical speed. Never been on a “wet” track before, but looks to have the speed, talent, and ability to run well at this distance. I love the odds and think he can bring real value to the exotics. My Boy Jack (10) may be the best closer in the race. And, he has won on a “wet track” before. Gets a dynamite rider when he is on his game, and he will be running late when others won’t. Super run in the Lexington Stakes. Watch out at some odds. But there are many, many others that figure to be tough to beat in maybe the toughest, deepest Derby in years. How do you not use Bolt d’Oro (11), Justify (7), Flameaway (4) Audible (5), Magnum Moon (16), or Mendelssohn (14). Well, I’m going to do my best to try. I’m going to bet 6-19-10 across the board and then box those 3 in one exacta. I am going to key the top 3 numbers both over/under the rest in two more exactas.

 

13th: 11-9-10-5-3-6… If you have any money left and are still around, I go to King Zachary (11). Love his three races prior to being stuck into the G2 Wood Memorial. Over-whelmed in that one, but gets back to more comfortable level today. Has won at the distance. Regal Quality (9) and Shadow Sphinx (10) both have shown some run-ability over the last few. Don’t dismiss the latter. He was claimed by a top trainer and could surprise. He has 2 wins already. I bet the 11-10 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta.

 

14th: 8-6-4-10-5-7…Elusive Hero (8) is trained by Ian Wilkes, one of the best on the grounds, and this one looks like he has a bright future. Two nice runs to begin the career, and cost a lot of money for the son of a Run Away and Hide. Keep an eye on this one. Don’t think you will get the 6-1 odds, but I love it. Best Bet. Limation (6) gets a mud mark, and Corot (4) has had two good runs to date with two thirds. Cost $925,000 as a yearling. Wow. Time to recoup? I bet the 8-4 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

 

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene