You may have handicapped this race for two weeks now and adjusted your picks because of post position, reports on workouts you have read, and a hunch you woke up with this morning. But with 20 horses in the 147th Kentucky Derby, a troubled trip is a real thing; so you may have smoked out the winner, the top three or four finishers, and now you just have to hope for a clean journey for your horse.
Today, in the 147th KENTUCKY OAKS (G1), the fillies will travel 1 1/8 miles and it is a good field with so many gals who have made great impressions in training in the last week. This includes the unbeaten MALATHAAT, CRAZY BEAUTIFUL, PAULINE’S PEARL and CLAIRIERE.
MALATHAAT (#10) is the favourite and trainer Todd Pletcher has already called her a star. She is a top-three must-use.
I like TRAVEL COLUMN (#6), a grey gal who has also been strutting her stuff at Churchill since early April. She won the Fair Grounds Oaks and won the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill last season. Brad Cox trains this Frosted filly.
My longshot play is MORAZ (#8), an Empire Maker filly from California who should enjoy the 1 1/8 mile distance although her races indicate she tends to lose ground. I will be looking for new rider Flavien Prat to have her in a stalking position with a chance to run back to her 86 Beyer in the Santa Ysabel (G3).
Canadian-born trainer Rob Atras saddles MARACUJA (Honor Code) who comes off her career best effort in the Grade 3 Gazelle when she was up for second behind a slow pace while wide. She put up an 88 Beyer Figure off her maiden win in her previous race which came at 6 1/2 furlongs with a 67 Beyer Figure. Atras is from Winnipeg and is a former assistant to Robertino Diodoro, the Calgary-born trainer who has Keepmeinmind in the Kentucky Derby.
Oaks picks: 1. TRAVEL COLUMN, 2. MALATHAAT, 3. MORAZ, 4. PAULINE’S PEARL
Fun facts for the Oaks from a Canadian standpoint:
Woodbine-based stakes performers in pedigrees of Kentucky Oaks starters, by lifetime earnings
1. Kimchi $519,047 (Half sister to the second dam of Search Results)
2. Synchronized $410,056 (Half sister to second dam of Crazy Beautiful)
3. Dargai $301,387 (Half brother to third dam of Search Results)
4. Deputy Jazz $269,334 (Half brother to second dam of Search Results)
5. Goose Green $234,654 (Half brother to third dam of Maracuja)
6. Charlemagne $207,861 (Half brother to third dam of Maracuja)
7. Mrs. Began $191,600 (Half sister to second dam of Coach)
8. A A Azula’s Arch $184,233 (Great granddaughter of second dam of Maracuja
9. Beauallis $179,650 (Dam is half sister to second dam of Crazy Beautiful)
10. Regal Pennant $162,412 (Second dam of Maracuja)
$3,000,000 KENTUCKY DERBY G1- Churchill Downs, 1 1/14 miles, dirt, Race 12
Post time 6:57 p.m.
Post position, horse, trainer, jockey, morning-line odds
1. Known Agenda, Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz Jr., 6-1
Added blinkers and is 2-for-2 with a strong win in the Florida Derby and a third new top Beyer Figure in succession. His workouts have been so-so from a visual standpoint. Rail post could mean he will have to do some mighty maneuvering.
2. Like the King, Wesley Ward, Drayden Van Dyke, 50-1
Trainer Ward runs his first horse in Derby amidst a typical spring in which he has won virtually every juvenile race run. This guy is a deep closer who reeled in faltering speed on Tapeta in the Turfway ‘Ruby’ Steaks but his Beyers are low.
3. Brooklyn Strong, Daniel Velazquez, Umberto Rispoli, 50-1
Last-minute entry posted a 94 Beyer Figure when he won the Remsen in the slop in New York last fall. He rode the rail in the slowly-run Wood Memorial and had a bit of traffic trouble.
4. Keepmeinmind, Robertino Diodoro, David Cohen, 50-1
Got into the field late but while he won the big 2-year-old race at Churchill last year, he has been dull in two starts this year.
5. Sainthood, Todd Pletcher, Corey Lanerie, 50-1
Was sent to Fair Grounds from Florida for a maiden race and won it, barely, over bridesmaid Dolder Grand. He had a troubled trip, really troubled, at Turfway on Tapeta but did well to be 2nd to Like the King; has impressed in the morning.
6. O Besos, Greg Foley, Marcelino Pedroza, 20-1
Two sprint wins to his credit but a good try in the Louisiana Derby when third to Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon. He is improving and is a Kentucky hometown representative.
7. Mandaloun, Brad Cox, Florent Geroux, 15-1
Loved his win in the Risen Star and he put up a huge 98 Beyer Figure. But his La. Derby run was awful and there has been no excuse reported. He has been stunning in his Churchill preps.
8. Medina Spirit, Bob Baffert, John Velazquez, 15-1
Bob Baffert is left with this guy, originally a $1,000 purchase. Was very wide in his second-place finish to Rock Your World in the Santa Anita Derby but still have not seen him do much passing.
9. Hot Rod Charlie, Doug O’Neill, Flavien Prat, 8-1
Lots of foundation here plus a strong win in the Louisiana Derby when he battled on the pace all the way. 99 Beyer and now third start off the layoff.
10. Midnight Bourbon, Steve Asmussen, Mike Smith, 20-1
Impressive-looking colt has been sharp and sometimes rank in Derby preps. He is another who likes to be close to the pace and he has not shown any passing moves in the stretch.
11. Dynamic One, Todd Pletcher, Jose Ortiz, 20-1
Led late in the Wood Memorial, got caught by his 70-to-1 stablemate Bourbonic. Improving and he has been a bear in Derby preps. He is going the right way.
12. Helium, Mark Casse, Julien Leparoux, 50-1
Unbeaten Woodbine stakes winner won the Tampa Bay Derby in March and then was trained to this monstrous task. Never been past 1 1/16 miles and best Beyer 84.
13. Hidden Stash, Vicki Oliver, Rafael Bejarano, 50-1
Trainer Oliver would be the first woman trainer to win the Derby. This colt has run well at Churchill Downs but he was 10 lengths back of Essential Quality in the Blue Grass and is in deep.
14. Essential Quality, Brad Cox, Luis Saez, 2-1
If he runs anything close to his two races this year, the 2-year-old champion of 2020 and unbeaten grey will be the likely winner (save for a poor journey). It is his third race off the layoff and he can race near the pace or off the pace and do well. Godolphin and Brad Cox seek first Derby wins.
15. Rock Your World, John Sadler, Joel Rosario, 5-1
He looks like the fastest horse in the race from a pace standpoint and this is an impressive-looking colt who is unbeaten from two grass races and the dirt when he won the Santa Anita Derby. He has a long, galloping reach and may be long gone. His rider from the SA Derby was replaced.
16. King Fury, Kenny McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr., 20-1
Beautiful mover, he had a super workout on his own Derby week. Lexington win was in the slop and he rode the rail all the way; did those two factors lead to an inflated 96 Beyer Speed Figure? He has never been past 1 1/16 miles and this is his second race of the year.
17. Highly Motivated, Chad Brown, Javier Castellano, 10-1
Gets the best marks from training in the last 2 weeks. He ended up having to set the pace with Essential Quality in the Blue Grass as there was no other pace and he ran hard. The distance remains a big question; his mum won the Jammed Lovely Stakes at Woodbine at 7 furlongs.
18. Super Stock, Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana Jr., 30-1
Very experienced colt just won Arkansas Derby with a stalking trip and a new top Beyer of 92. Nice-looking colt, would be a nice story if he won for the Asmussen family.
19. Soup and Sandwich, Mark Casse, Tyler Gaffalione, 30-1
Second of Mark Casse pair and he is also lightly raced. He held 2nd in the Florida Derby in his top effort but post and other speed to his inside are just two of his hurdles.
20. Bourbonic, Todd Pletcher, Kendrick Carmouche, 30-1
Could have claimed him for $50,000 in December. Won the Wood Memorial at 70-to-1 with new top Beyer of 89. Will like the distance anyway.
JENNIFER’S PICKS – These are the five horses that I will play in variety of orders:
1. MANDALOUN (7) – I may kick myself, as I don’t tend to pick horses in big races coming off a dull outing without an excuse, but this colt ran a 98 Beyer in the Risen Star, looks like a bear training these days (is he a morning glory?) and I have a future wager on him. So there’s that.
2. HOT ROD CHARLIE (9) – His Louisiana Derby win was one of the strongest, fastest prep wins by any horse in the field.
3. ESSENTIAL QUALITY (14) – Unbeaten and he can run any style and his 2 wins this year were very fast according to those who calculate ‘sheet’ numbers. But he cannot regress at all in this third race off the layoff.
4. SAINTHOOD (5) – Bombs away! Big workout during Derby week, one of 4 trained by ace Todd Pletcher, and his run in the Jeff Ruby Steaks was really good considering he was virtually eliminated into the stretch.
5. O BESOS (6) – Can pass some horses at the distance and his sire Orb won the Derby.
From our Thorograph sheets:
Thoro-Pattern chances of new ‘top’ effort in Derby
1. O Besos 43%
2. Sainthood 38%
2. Highly Motivated 38%
2. Midnight Bourbon 38%
2. Bourbonic 38%
2. Rock Your World 38%
2. Like The King 38%
9. King Fury 37%
10. Dynamic One 37%
Thorograph Index Routes for sires of Kentucky Derby contenders
1 Tapit (Essential Quality) 9.50
2 Curlin (Known Agenda, King Fury) 10.75
3 Street Sense (Concert Tour) 11.75
4 Candy Ride (Rock Your World) 12.00
4 Tiznow (Midnight Bourbon) 12.00
6 Hard Spun (Caddo River) 12.25
7 Bernardini (Bourbonic) 12.50
7 Into Mischief (Mandaloun, Highly Motivated, Soup and Sandwich) 12.50
9 Pioneerof the Nile (Hozier) 12.75
9 Constitution (Hidden Stash) 12.75
~with files from Neil Campbell