Three Road to the Kentucky Derby points races and the world’s richest race highlight a long and busy day of horse betting on Saturday.
Between 8:40am ET beginning with the first wagering race from Dubai until the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) is run at 6:48 ET, we have 10 hours of betting that will include more than two dozen graded stakes.
Now that is what I call March Madness, or maybe we will call it Meydan Madness.
California Chrome is the 8-5 morning line favorite for the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1), which has a post time of 1:00 ET and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 as part of the Jockey Club Tour on Fox.
The 2014 Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Horse of the Year makes his second start of 2015 after running second to Shared Belief in the San Antonio Invitational (G2) at Santa Anita on Feb. 7. Shared Belief returned to win the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) in his next outing on March 7.
The Art Sherman trainee will get a stern test from an international field that includes a couple of highly regarded Japan based runners in Japan Cup (G1) winner Epiphaneia and Hokko Tarumae, who is considered the top dirt horse in that country.
Lea ships in from the U.S. and is coming off a good effort in a runner up finish to Constitution in the Donn Handicap (G1), a race the Bill Mott trainee won last year.
Defending champion African Story is also in the field and is coming off a victory in the Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge (G1) on Super Saturday.
The $750,000 Louisiana Derby drew a field of nine including the top four finishers of the Risen Star (G2) which was won by International Star, who is seeking to sweep the Fair Grounds Derby preps, having also won the LeComte (G2) back in January.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out Stanford, who ran second to Materiality in the ungraded Islamorada Handicap in his last outing at Gulfstream Park on March 6.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas sends out Mr. Z, who has now landed in the money in seven stakes without picking up a win. The colt was a close-up third in the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park in his last outing.
Despite all the close finishes, the colt sits in 19th place in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings with 14 and needs a good finish to guarantee starting spot ion the gate in Louisville on the first Saturday of May.
The Florida Derby (G1) features a rematch of the top two finishers of the Fountain of Youth (G2) on Feb. 23. Upstart is the 8-5 morning line favorite and is 20-1 in early Kentucky Derby betting. The colt crossed the wire 2 ¾ lengths in front in the Fountain of Youth but was disqualified for drifting out in the stretch.
Itsaknockout had to check in deep stretch and although it did not look to me like he was going to go by Upstart, the stewards disqualified the winner and the Todd Pletcher trainee remained undefeated.
Pletcher also sends out the intriguing Materiality, who won the Islamorada Handicap in his last outing with a 104 Beyer Speed Figure.
There is not much early speed signed up and this colt appears to have the tactical edge over the more highly regarded runners in this field. Pletcher won the race last year with Constitution and won in 2007 with Scat Daddy.
The colt is a half-brother to My Miss Sophia ($418,300) who won the 2014 Gazelle (G2) and ran second in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
My Best Plays for Saturday will include the Derby points races and my strongest plays from Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park and Meydan.
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