John Velazquez (2) rides Gamine to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint horse race at Keeneland Race Course, in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Nov. 7,2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
- Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs is much more than a single race
- The $1 Million Turf Classic features nine entrants and all can win
- Where can we find betting value Saturday in Louisville?
The first race on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs starts at 10:30 am EST. The last race is scheduled to begin at 8:30 pm. In other words, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Furthermore, it is a doozy of a day of high-end championship racing.
While the Run for the Roses gets a ton of attention, there are six other graded states race including the $1 million Turf Classic. Each is an opportunity to make money. Some are more obvious than others, while a couple feature very live longshots.
Horse racing sites give you a chance to play races in a wide variety of ways. Let’s peak at the card, and discuss some plays worth considering.
2021 Turf Classic Odds
|Smooth Like Strait||+400|
|Ride a Comet||+500|
Odds as of April 30
The final race before the Kentucky Derby is slated to begin at 5:27 pm EST. NBC has television coverage. This mile-and-an-eighth turf race features seven horses who have earned at least half a million dollars. That’s pretty good since only one entrant has run more than 15 times.
2021 Kentucky Derby Odds Tracker
Trainer Chad Brown has won this race in each of the last two years. He has two entrants in this edition of the Turf Classic, Domestic Spending and Digital Age. Four times in the last five years Brown has won the Eclipse Award for top trainer in the country.
In a race that is pretty wide open, Colonel Liam is a reasonable favorite because he has answered almost all legitimate questions. He is fresh, running well, and coming off a win.
With five wins in seven career races, the $1.2 million son of Liam’s Map has few weaknesses, though he is dependent on others to provide a reasonable pace to run into.
Ivar and Digital Age have not run since finishing fourth and eleventh in November’s Breeders Cup Mile.
Against a very strong and deep field, Ivar only missed by two lengths. He previously beat Raging Bull in a Grade 1 race at Keeneland. It is unclear whether he wants the extra eighth of a mile that he’ll need to complete today.
Digital Age got out of the gate awkwardly in the Breeders Cup but his previous two races were terrific including a Grade 1 win at Churchill Downs. He is two-for-two in Louisville.
Domestic Spending is making his four-year-old debut. While this will be his first race against older horses, he finished 2020 strong.
Winning at Saratoga and Del Mar last year is pretty impressive. Losing jockey Irad Ortiz to Colonel Liam is not ideal, but not the end of the world. Flavien Prat is an adequate replacement.
In a grade one race March 6, Count Again was coming hard down the stretch.
A big rally like that at a mile, and now stretching out and being a little bit stronger second off a layoff should put him in a good position. He’ll be rallying like crazy down the very long stretch at Churchill Downs
Turf Classic Best Bet
Every horse in this race can win. It is a quality and deep group. While Colonel Liam may have the best chance, when lots of contenders are viable, why not take a price?
Count Again should benefit from a longer race, he is in good form, and a little speed battle at any point in the event could help him motoring towards the finish line late.
Pick: Count Again (+1000)
Saturday’s Other Graded Stakes Races
Sprints, long distances, turf, dirt, girls, guys, whatever you like it is on the card Saturday. Let’s look at each of the graded stakes races.
Distaff Turf Mile
Got Stormy and Zofelle ran first and second in February’s Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park, and now they face each other in another mile test on the grass.
Got Stormy has earned more than $2 million but has not won in two tries at Churchill Downs. Zofelle will be coming from behind, which could be helpful since Got Stormy could encounter a speed duel with Blowout.
In 11 career races, Blowout has finished first or second in 10 of them. This is her five year old debut.
Pick: Got Stormy
Derby City Distaff
Only five rivals are signed up to face Gamine in this seven-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. The bottom line is nobody wants a piece of Gamine.
Gamine cost $1.8 million and has won six of seven races. Her only loss was trying the mile-and-an-eighth Kentucky Oaks last year. In one turn races she is a tough customer.
If you can beat an enormous favorite there will always be a nice price. Bell’s the One has a Grade 1 victory on her resume, and seven victories in 16 races. Her five-year-old debut came in April, and she ran a good second at Keeneland.
Pat Day Mile
This mile dirt race is for three-year-old boys who either haven’t proven strong enough to run in the Kentucky Derby, or just don’t want that extra quarter-of-a-mile.
Jackie’s Warrior was the early Derby favorite when he started his career with four straight victories.
After four wins, Jackie’s Warrior has not been nearly as good trying to run around two turns. Today he gets a turnback to one turn.
Defunded and Dream Shake ran against each other in April’s Santa Anita Derby. The winner, Rock Your World, and runner-up Medina Spirit, are in the Run for the Roses. Dream Shake was third and Defunded fourth, and they are both viable here.
A full field of 14 three year olds go a-mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf. While half of them could win, Annex is rock solid.
Annex is three-for-three and has been tested each time.
Bob Baffert’s Du Jour has won two straight and last time out showed really strong early speed.
Scarlett Sky beat Palazzi last time out, and just got clipped by Annex two starts back.
Winfromwithin and Next are two longshots who have an opportunity to steal the race early on.
Churchill Downs Stakes
Whitmore is a warhorse. The eight-year-old has made more than $4 million and this year has two second place efforts, both against the ultra-quick C Z Rocket. While this is a seven-furlong event for older boys, he won the Breeders Cup Sprint at six furlongs in September.
Winning the Breeders Cup at 18/1 is sweet. However. the extra furlong matters. He is one-for-five all-time at seven furlongs. Meanwhile, Flagstaff loves the distance.
Flagstaff has three wins in five tries going seven-eighths of a mile and motored by in the final furlong in a Grade 3 event at Keeneland in April. That said, he has exactly one win in his last seven races. Flagstaff is seven years old.
Looking at younger horses to find a price, Basin beat older horses in his first race as a four-year-old in March at Gulfstream Park. He is two-for-two at seven furlongs. Tap It To Win blew away five rivals in a state-bred stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs in March. Since moving into trainer Peter Miller’s barn, Shashashakemeup has two wins and two seconds and seems ready to face more accomplished horses.
Pick: Tap It To Win