Kentucky Derby Day Picks

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The main event and the day we’ve been waiting for since the start of the year. Maybe even since the horses hit the finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Kentucky Derby Day always packs a punch and this year’s eight-stakes card topped by the $3 million headliner is no exception. Everyone has an opinion for the Derby, which goes this year without Bob Baffert and with D. Wayne Lukas. Todd Pletcher, Brad Cox and Steve Asmussen are back with a strong contingent, while Japan’s Crown Pride and Dubai’s Summer Is Tomorrow add some international flavor to America’s great race.

The Saratoga Special and This Is Horse Racing handicappers returned to action for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks Day card.

Charles Bedard, John Shapazian, Sean Clancy and Rob Whitlock led the way with three winners apiece. Charles picked Olympiad in the Grade 2 Alysheba, Matareya in the Grade 2 Eight Belles and Arrest Me Red in the TwinSpires Turf Sprint. Sean tabbed Bleecker Street in the Grade 3 Modesty, Pauline’s Pearl in the Grade 1 La Troienne and Matareya in the Eight Belles. John picked Pauline’s Pearl, Olympiad and Arrest Me Red. Rob picked Pauline’s Pearl, New Year’s Eve in the Grade 2 Edgewood Stakes and Matareya. Joe Clancy, Tom Law and Jessica Paquette picked two winners apiece and Paul Halloran tabbed one winner. 

Here are the picks for Saturday, May 7. Be safe and good luck.

Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (G2). $500,000, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, 1 mile, turf. Post time 12:36 p.m. ET. One day removed from an 8-furlong turf stakes for fillies and mares here’s a 9-furlong version. Chad Brown went 1-2 in Friday’s and could do the same again here with French import Speak Of The Devil and Grade 3 winner In Italian for owner Peter Brant. Lady Speightspeare comes off good third in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland and Bill Mott tries to turn the tables on Brown with Wakanaka.

Tom: Speak Of The Devil, Lady Speightspeare, In Italian.
Sean: Speak Of The Devil, In Italian, Wakanaka.
John: In Italian, Speak Of The Devil, Flower Point.
Jessica: Lady Speightspeare, Flower Point, Speak Of The Devil.
Charles: Wakanaka, In Italian, Speak Of The Devil.
Joe: Speak Of The Devil, Wakanaka, In Italian.
Paul: Speak Of The Devil, Wakanaka, In Italian.
Rob: Wakanaka, Speak Of The Devil, Flower Point.

Knicks Go Overnight Stakes presented by L&N Federal Credit Union. $160,000, 4-year-olds and up, 1 mile. Post time 1:14 p.m. New addition to the Derby Day card honoring last year’s Horse of the Year. Bulky field of 12 features last-out winners Shared Sense, Dream Shake and Frosted Grace. Gun It breezed lately with one of the Derby favorites, Epicenter, and picks up Luis Saez. Take your pick.

Tom: Necker Island, Shared Sense, Gun It.
Sean: South Bend, Dream Shake, Shared Sense.
John: Dream Shake, Shared Sense, Gun It.
Jessica: South Bend, Gun It, Dream Shake.
Charles: Shared Sense, South Bend, Necker Island.
Joe: Shared Sense, Dream Shake, South Bend.
Paul: Necker Island, Gun It, Injunction.
Rob: Shared Sense, Major Fed, Frosted Grace.

Pat Day Mile Stakes presented by LG&E and KU (G2). $500,000, 3-year-olds, 1 mile. Post time 1:56 p.m. Another serious puzzler and big field. Last year’s Grade 1 Champagne winner Jack Christopher, scratched before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, makes his comeback against deep group that includes one-time classic aspirants Major General, Trademark, Pappacap, Ben Diesel, Howling Time, Kavod, Trafalgar, Doppelganger and O Captain. Deep group.

Tom: Major General, Pappacap, Jack Christopher.
Sean: Jack Christopher, Major General, My Prankster.
John: Jack Christopher, My Prankster, Major General.
Jessica: Major General, Jack Christopher, Doppleganger.
Charles: Jack Christopher, My Prankster, Pappacap.
Joe: Jack Christopher, My Prankster, Major General.
Paul: Jack Christopher, Papacap, My Prankster.
Rob: Trafalgar, Doppleganger, My Prankster.

Derby City Distaff Stakes presented by Kendall-Jackson Winery (G1). $750,000, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, 7 furlongs. Post time 2:48 p.m. Just One Time, Bell’s The One, Kimari and Lady Rocket, 1-2-3-4 in the Grade 1 Madison last time out at Keeneland, meet again with last year’s Eight Belles winner Obligatory, Southern California standout and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint runner-up Edgeway and a couple longshots.

Tom: Bell’s The One, Obligatory, Just One Time.
Sean. Just One Time, Obligatory, Kimari.
John: Lady Rocket, Edgeway, Kimari.
Jessica: Bell’s The One, Kimari, Obligatory.
Charles: Bell’s The One, Just One Time, Edgeway.
Joe: Obligatory, Bell’s The One, Just One Time.
Paul: Edgeway, Bell’s The One, Just One Time.
Rob: Just One Time, Lady Rocket, Obligatory.

American Turf Stakes presented by BMW (G2). $500,000, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, turf. Post time 3:40 p.m. Sy Dog improved to 3-for-3 last time in the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland and meets the New York-bred Coinage again here, along with the comebacking Portfolio Company, Dowagiac Chief, Balnikhov, Main Event and others.

Tom: Sy Dog, Coinage, Portfolio Company.
Sean: Sy Dog, Balnikhov, Red Danger.
John: Balnikhov, Sy Dog, Main Event.
Jessica: Sy Dog, Red Run, Stolen Base.
Charles: Coinage, Sy Dog, Portfolio Company.
Joe: Sy Dog, Coinage, Portfolio Company.
Paul: Portfolio Company, Sy Dog, Royal Spirit.
Rob: Balnikhov, Portfolio Company, Stolen Base.

Churchill Downs Stakes presented by Ford (G1). $750,000, 4-year-olds and up, 7 furlongs. Post time 4:31 p.m. Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Aloha West meets last year’s champion male sprinter Jackie’s Warrior in one of the best races of the weekend. The latter benefits a bit with a prep under his belt and he’s 2-for-2 in Louisville. Aloha West owns a win here, too, along with two wins in three starts at the demanding 7-furlong trip. Throw in Prevalence, Mind Control, Reinvestment Risk and Cezanne and call it an early Breeders’ Cup.

Tom: Aloha West, Reinvestment Risk, Jackie’s Warrior.
Sean: Cezanne, Jackie’s Warrior, Aloha West. 
John: Jackie’s Warrior, Prevalence, Reinvestment Risk.
Jessica: Jackie’s Warrior, Aloha West, Mind Control.
Charles: Jackie’s Warrior, Aloha West, Reinvestment Risk.
Joe: Aloha West, Reinvestment Risk, Jackie’s Warrior.
Paul: Cezanne, Jackie’s Warrior, Reinvestment Risk.
Rob: Reinvestment Risk, Aloha West, Jackie’s Warrior.

Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes (G1). $1 million, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles, turf. Post time 5:27 p.m. Definitely not the strongest renewal of this Derby Day fixture but a good handicapping puzzle nonetheless. Ivar scratched from the Maker’s Mark Mile to wait for this, his first start since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar. He’s the slight second choice behind Maker’s Mark Mile winner Shirl’s Speight, and ahead of multiple graded stakes winner Public Sector, Grade 1 winner Tribhuvan and Adhamo.

Tom: Public Sector, Shirl’s Speight, Ivar.
Sean: Adhamo, Shirl’s Speight, Ivar.
John: Shirl’s Girl, Ivar, Public Sector.
Jessica: Shirl’s Speight, Adhamo, Santin.
Charles: Mira Mission, Shirl’s Speight, Ivar.
Joe: Ivar, Tribhuvan, Cavalry Charge.
Paul: Adhamo, Santin, Public Sector.
Rob: Kentucky Ghost, Adhamo, Tribhuvan.

Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). $3 million, 3-year-olds, 1 ¼ miles. Post time 6:57. The gift that keeps giving, racing’s eternal puzzle pulls no punches in 2022. Full field of 20 led by – depending on who you ask – Epicenter or Zandon, with plenty of other major players in the mix. Zandon took on favorite’s role on the morning line after drawing post 10 off his victory in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass last time out for trainer Chad Brown, who seeks his first Derby win. Steve Asmussen also tries for his first with Epicenter, the 7-2 second choice come off back-to-back wins in the Grade 2 Risen Star and Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. The rest, well, they have credentials and question marks. Mo Donegal ran lights out winning the Grade 2 Wood Memorial but must overcome the dreaded post one. Messier and Taiba make their second starts away from Bob Baffert, off impressive runs in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. White Abarrio has drawn raves since his Florida Derby victory but will need to improve off his third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club here last fall. Take your pick, there’s something for everyone.

Tom: Zandon, Cyberknife, Messier, Classic Causeway.
Sean: Epicenter, Crown Pride, Zozos. 
John: Mo Donegal, Epicenter, Zandon.
Jessica: Barber Road, Zandon, Crown Pride.
Charles: Smile Happy, Zozos, Epicenter, Zandon.
Joe: Messier, Zandon, Simplification.
Paul: Zandon, Messier, Mo Donegal.
Rob: Crown Pride, Epicenter, White Abarrio.