The first rule of wagering, whether it’s on a game, a race or at the table, is to stay within your means. When I’m picking ponies, I always leave myself a budget. I’m going to give myself $1,500 today. Remember, it’s not about how much you bet, it’s about picking winners.
I’ve got picks for six races, including the Derby, on Saturday. Let’s get to it!
If you need a quick refresher on how to bet horse racing, click here.
Race 6: The Humana Distaff
Besides the Derby horses, the buzz the whole week has been Ivy Bell (+500). She’s been working really well at Churchill in preparation for The Humana Distaff Grade 1.
After being privately purchased, she won easily in her first race under the care of Todd Pletcher. She has to step up here to get to the winner’s circle, but I think she will.
Pick: $100 No. 3 Ivy Bell to win.
Race 7: The Distaff Turf Mile
On Leave (+800), the No. 9, likes to win races. She’s 7-15 lifetime, and last time she was wide and handled with care. There is no pace in this race, and she has shown speed before. I think she has an amazing trip.
Pick: $100 No. 9 On Leave to Win/Place/Show.
Race 8: Churchill Downs Stakes
Unfortunately, this one looks too chalky for me. The No. 3, Imperial Hint (+180), proved that he was the real deal by almost winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and the No. 10, Awesome Slew (+250), never runs a bad race and should be flying late. I’m personally fading this race, but look for those two to finish in the top three or even top two when all is said and done.
Race 9: American Turf Stakes
The ninth race of the day is the 27th running of the American Turf. I’ve always loved No. 11 Untamed Domain (+500). He was probably best after a troubled trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last year when he lost to Mendelssohn. His 3-year-old debut at the Dania Beach at Gulfstream was just OK, but that course doesn’t fit his running style, as he ran a closing third. His trainer, H. Graham Motion, then attempted to get him Derby points by trying him on the dirt in the Tampa Bay Derby. It didn’t work out. Draw a line through that start. He’s the most talented of this group, and you should get a decent price on a way better turf horse.
Pick: $500 No. 11 Untamed Domain to win/place.
Race 10: Pat Day Mile Stakes
Besides the Derby, the Pat Day Mile may have the best field. You have to find value, because five or six of these horses can win this race. That value comes in the form of the No. 5 Mississippi (+1000). He was third in the Florida Derby, but I think the cut to one turn will help him big time. I do agree with the linemakers, however, that No. 1 National Flag (+400), No. 7 Madison’s Luna (+500), No. 8 Mask (+400), No. 11 Sporting Chance (+800) and No. 12 Restoring Hope (+450) are the top five choices. But I’m going with the No. 5 on top and bottom of those horses in an exacta.
Pick: $20 Exacta (total $100) No. 5 (to win) over 1,7,8,11,12 and $20 Exacta ($100 total) 1,7,8,11,12 with No. 5 finishing second.
Race 11: The Turf Classic
This year’s Turf Classic drew a field of 10, and No. 10 Beach Patrol (+250) is by far the horse to beat. The one thing to remember is that he hasn’t raced since finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Instead, I’m going with an up-and-comer, No. 7 Synchrony (+500). Since his trainer, Michael Stidham, put this son of Tapit on the turf, he’s responded well. He’s got three wins and two seconds in five starts. The last two wins were dominant. I’ll take a shot on him against Beach Patrol.
Pick: $100 on No. 7 Synchrony to win.
Race 12: The Kentucky Derby
Well, we are finally at the Kentucky Derby, and I’m sticking to my guns. I tweeted before the Arkansas Derby that Magnum Moon (+1300) would win that race and then he would win the Kentucky Derby.
I haven’t heard one expert who has picked him … yet his odds have stayed the same. They are all concerned about his drifting, which usually means a tired horse. Two things: Jockey Luis Saez has a great left-hand whip, and his horses tend to drift. The other factor is that Magnum Moon drifts only when he is in front. He’s won all of his races by open lengths. He’s just a goofball waiting for a challenger. He draws a great post in the auxiliary gate. The 16 spot is great because there’s no horse to his inside. He has great tactical speed, and I truly feel it will be him and Justify at the top of the lane. As track announcer Vic Stauffer said in the Arkansas Derby … hopefully there’s a “bad moon rising!!!!”
Pick: $500 on No. 16 Magnum Moon to win