The 139th running of the Kentucky Derby highlights a big day of betting under the Twin Spires at historic Churchill Downs on Saturday, with the 13-race card getting underway at 10:30am eastern, and Mother Nature likely is going to stop by.
According to The Weather Channel there is a 90% chance of rain (as of Friday evening), but that number has fluctuated from 30% to 70% to 50% to 90% over the past 48 hours.
My advice for the day if you are in Louisville is to stick your head out the window, and if it gets wet there is a 100% chance of precipitation.
The marquee event on the afternoon is the Derby, which has a post time of 6:34 eastern time, and there certainly appears the possibility of there being an off track. The Churchill Downs racing surface does dry out rather quickly, and has a tendency to favor speed when wet, so we will need to keep an eye on the conditions as the day progresses.
I have handicapped today’s races for an off track and a less than firm turf course. Not only could the weather affect the Derby, it could affect the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1), the race preceding the Derby.
The race is one of the most intriguing races of the year, and I am looking forward to it just as much as the Derby, not from a betting standpoint, but to see who the king of the turf is.
Last year’s Horse of the Year Wise Dan takes on Point of Entry, and the duo combined to win seven Grade 1 races in 2012.
Wise Dan has won five straight races including taking the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) last fall. In his first start this year he won the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland on April 12.
Point of Entry won five races in a row last year including three Grade 1 wins before running second to Little Mike in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The five-year-old has one start this year, a good looking win in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G1) on Feb.9.
Wise Dan does his best work at one mile, while Point of Entry did most of his damage last year at 1 ½ miles.
They meet halfway on Saturday as the Woodford Reserve is at 1 1/8 miles.
Revolutionary Early Derby Favorite
With nearly $600,000 wagered on Friday in advanced betting for the Derby it was not Orb or Verrazano that took the most action. The Todd Pletcher trained Revolutionary was sitting at 5-1 with $73,955 in the betting pool, with Goldencents a close second with $71,010, also listed at 5-1.
Orb is third choice at 6-1 while Verrazano was rather chilly on the toteboard, sitting at odds of 11-1.
With the scratches of Black Onyx and Fear the Kitten, a field of 19 will head to the gate at 6:24 ET.
My Derby Day Report which includes selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire 13-race card is now available.
Let’s head out to Churchill Downs for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Churchill Downs Race 6 The Twin Spires Turf Sprint (1:19 ET)
2 Havelock 7-2
8 Icon Mike 3-1
6 Chamberlain Bridge 4-1
3 Regally Ready 4-1
Analysis: Havelock came off a 4 1/2 month layoff with a late running win in the Shakertown (G3) at Keeneland going 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass. The third place finisher Perfect Officer came out of the race to win the Dream Big at Atlantic City in his next outing on May 1.Our top pick has now won half of his dozen starts on the grass and figures to move forward in his second start off the bench for the Miller barn. His last start here on the grass was a 14th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G2) back in ’11 where he had a tough trip. If anything his price may drift up a bit from the 7-2 morning line and just needs a clean rip from Gomez and he should be coming late.
Icon Mike is coming off a sharp win the Col. Power last out at Fair Grounds, his seventh win on turf in 13 starts. The colt is coming into this race in the sharpest form of his career off matching career top speed figs in his last two outings. The colt has handled ground with some give to it and fits well in this spot.
Chamberlain Bridge has finished behind our second choice in each of his last two starts and looks as if he has lost a step or two from his younger days. The nine year old has won nearly $2 million in his career, a 17-time winner in turf sprints. The Calhoun barn tries taking the blinkers off. He has run well over the turf here winning 4 of 9 starts including winning this race back in ’09. He also won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G2) here in ’10.
WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,8 / 2,3,6,8
TRI: 2,8 / 2,3,6,8 / 2,3,4,6,8
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