Kentucky Derby Weekend officially begins with the fillies in the Kentucky Oaks. The run for the lillies caps of a six stakes day that gives us some amazing fillies & mares as well as some nice older horses and turf racing. All of it is an excellent prelude to the Kentucky Derby stakes slate – and some great opportunities to pad the bankroll.
Race 6 – Alysheba Stakes (G2)
1:26pm ET | $400,000 | 4YO and Up | 1 1/16 mi Dirt
(5) Roadster is the speed of the speed here – have blitzed out to an early lead last out in the New Orleans Classic. His drifting out cost him the win there, but I factor that to the time off. He should return to normal form now in his second start off the layoff. (3) Attachment Rate tried sprinting last out but gets back to a route and shows a lot of prowess competing with this class – running style fits well here. (4) Chess Chief offers some value after beating Roadster last out and being not too far from Maxfield two back; Luis Saez chooses him over Attachment Rate.
Race 7 – Edgewood Stakes (G2)
2:09pm ET | $300,000 | 3YO Fillies | 1 1/16 mi Turf
Going to play against the returning Breeders’ Cup winner Aunt Pearl with a horse making her second career North American start in (2) Gift List. Her second in the very tough Appalachian at Keeneland was the ideal prep for me – she should toughness, fought throughout, and just came up short while not letting anyone really pass her. She is eligible to improve in this start. Then comes (6) Aunt Pearl who is the clear class of the field. (5) Line Dancing stands as my longshot – the Sanibel Island looked to be a tough race for its class and one that could prove fruitful for her.
Race 8 – La Troienne Stakes (G1)
3:03pm ET | $500,000 | 4YO and Up Fillies & Mares | 1 1/16 mi Dirt
HAMMER TIME – through the whole world onto (2) Shedaresthedevil. Perfect prep in the Azeri and the second place finisher Letruska came back to upset Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver in the Apple Blossom Handicap. Shedaresthedevil has a chance to be an elite mare this year and winning here will put here right in that spot. (3) Dunbar Road is always a hard trier that seems to always get a piece of the money while (5) Paris Lights is hot right now and should improve returning to a route.
Race 9 – Eight Belles Stakes (G2)
4:04pm ET | $300,000 | 3YO Fillies | 7 Furlongs Dirt
There is a ton of speed here – which makes me think its time to go to someone who can rate, like (6) Slumber Party. Stepped up well last out in the Beaumont and chased a strong leader. Now gets a chance to rate a fast pace and should be one of the few fresh horses left late. (11) Abrogate will benefit from the quick pace and hot leaders while I’m very interested to see what Bill Mott has in (12) Caramel Swirl after that ten length romp last out.
Race 10 – Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes (G2)
4:55pm ET | $250,000 | 3YO and Up | 5.5 Furlongs Turf
Last year’s winner (9) Diamond Oops returns and gets a very similar spot with what looks to be an honest pace and what should be a ground saving trip; definitely the class of the field, although current form is the question. Love betting speed here and (11) Carotari is the speed of the pack – going gate to wire will be tough but without a lot of other front end speed, should be in the mix for a lone lead. (8) Fast Boat offers an interesting challenge if he can get back to older graded stakes form.
Race 11 – Kentucky Oaks (G1)
5:51pm ET | $1,250,000 | 3YO Fillies | 1 1/8 mi Dirt
The scratch of Ava’s Grace opens up this race for (6) Travel Column. Sitting as the only speed, the Fair Grounds Oaks winner should easily take them wire-to-wire here. This daughter of Tapit was ultra tough to beat last out and continues to be a high performing filly. As long as she gets the lead and can save ground on the turns, she should have no issue finishing up this start. As for (10) Malathaat, she enters 4 for 4 with a near miss in the Ashland, where she just got up. If she can stay a bit closer to the pace than she was there, she is a dangerous stalker that could pose issues for Travel Column. John Velazquez does get his mount back – having won on her last December in the Demoiselle at Aqueduct. Finally, looking for a price comes in the form of (4) Crazy Beautiful. A closing winner of the Gulfstream Park Oaks, she has been working out real well at Churchill Downs entering this race and has been one of the ones to watch in most of her starts. Her figures are trending in the right direction and if she shows her late burst that she did have last out, she is going to be very tough to beat.