However, there are several talented runners in the field that with a strong outing would likely be heading to Baltimore for the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico on May 19.
The two obvious candidates to head to Old Hilltop are Bourbon Courage and Paynter, the two likely favorites in the Derby Trial.
Bourbon Courage has two starts under his belt sprinting at Fair Grounds and produced Beyer Speed Figures of 103 and 101 in the two victories.
Paynter checked in fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) off just a 5 ½ furlong sprint maiden victory.
Both of the colts appear to have plenty of upside potential and could be heard from in three weeks, but it does not look as if either is going to offer much betting value on Saturday night.
Churchill Downs kicks off its 39-day spring meeting under the lights, with a 6:00 ET post time.
There is no live racing on Sunday or Monday, with live racing returning on Tuesday leading up to Friday’s Kentucky Oaks Day card and Saturday’s Kentucky Derby card.
Belmont Park has a solid card on tap for their second day of their spring/summer meeting on Saturday, highlighted by the $150,000 Westchester (G3), a one mile test for older runners that drew a strong field.
There are seven in the field and three are Grade 1 winners: Boys At Tosconova, Jersey Town, and To Honor and Serve.
Rounding out the field are Ponzi Scheme, Goombada Guska, Marilyn’s Guy, and Bold Deed.
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Let’s head out to Churchill Downs for Saturday night’s featured race:
Churchill Downs Race 8 The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (G3) Post time 9:39 ET
- Motor City 15-1
- Bourbon Courage 5-2
- Paynter 2-1
- The Black 15-1
Motor City came up short last out in an eighth place finish in his three-year-old debut in the Swale (G3) but the outing was his first start off nearly a six month layoff. The winner of the race was Trinniberg, who came back to win the Bay Shore (G3) in his next outing on April 7 at Aqueduct. The fifth place finisher Good Morning Diva exited the Swale to win the Calder Derby in his next start on April 14. Our top pick won the Iroquois (G3) over the main track at Churchill Downs last fall. Third place finisher Mr. Bowling came out of the race to win the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds in his next outing. Our top pick ran a good third in the Arlington Washington Futurity (G3) over poly in his first start against winners, beaten 2 ½ lengths by eventual Florida Derby (G1) winner Take Charge Indy. The gelding is in good hands with the Ian Wilkes barn and this guy figures to show more here second off the bench and will be a generous price.
Bourbon Courage is perfect in two starts sprinting at Fair Grounds and earned triple digit Beyers in both starts. His 103 in his debut does not look fluky as three he beat came back to win next out including Cigar Street, who earned a 99 Beyer in his maiden score and then was fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2). The colt toyed with Alw-1 optional claimers in his second start, earning a 101 Beyer. The one turn mile is well within his scope although the price is going to be on the light side.
Paynter was an easy maiden winner in his debut over three overmatched foes, and then he may have been overmatched trying nine furlongs in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in just his second career start. He bobbled coming out of the gate and he was only beaten 3 ¾ lengths for the top spot. The colt still appears to have a ton of upside potential and a win here would likely send him to Baltimore for the Preakness (G1). The Bob Baffert trainee is the one to beat, but along with our second choice, this guy may end up getting too much attention at the betting windows.
WIN:Motor City to win at 8-1 or better.
EXACTA: 10,11 / 2,7,10,11
TRIFECTA: 10,11 / 2,7,10,11 / 2,3,7,10,11
Michael Dempsey provides his selections for Belmont Park and Churchill Downs each racing day. Mike’s Best Plays Report is available each weekend, with his strongest plays and selections including the top stakes races.
Check out Michael Dempsey’s Derby Watch Elite Eight at Fox Sports each Wednesday.