Four-months late, but here we are. The Super Bowl of horse racing is the first Saturday of September in 2020. Normally, it’s the far more rhythmic first Saturday of May. We are talking about the 146th Kentucky Derby! While the headliner Derby caps off Saturday’s Churchill card, Friday is also stakes race loaded with the Kentucky Oaks showcasing the best three-year-old fillies (female horses) in the land.
Churchill Downs Friday Betting Picks
Race 8: Eight Belles Stakes
Race eight on Friday kicks-off stakes racing for the delayed Kentucky Oak/Kentucky Derby weekend with the Eight Belles Stakes. Here we have seven fillies racing 7 furlongs on Churchill Downs Main Track.
MUNDAYE CALL (PP: 1 ML 6/5) scored the best, last race speed figure in her last race and third in a row. She could be even better today in her third start following eight-months in the barn. Trainer Brad Cox wins after a win and third starts at a robust 29%.
FOUR GRACES (PP: 7 ML 7/5) has raced five times, winning four times. The lone miss came in her only race at 1 mile; otherwise, she’s run today distance, 7 furlongs, in the other four starts. For those keeping score, that means she’s undefeated at the distance, including two tries at Churchill.
PURRFECTLY CLAIRE (PP: 4 ML 15-1) was just ¾ lengths away from winning her first three races and appears to be getting better from race to race. She could take a step forward with today’s start, the best of her short career in the classic third start after a layoff, a 21% winning angle for trainer Phillip Bauer.
SCONSIN (PP: 5 ML 6-1) has tried her luck against the top two horses a combined three times across three races. She finished behind FOUR GRACES twice and third to MUNDAYE CALL in her last outing. She has a strong late kick and could be dangerous if jockey James Graham positions her closer to the front than usual by the mid-point of the race.
Win: #7 FOUR GRACES
Exacta: #7 FOUR GRACES to win with #1 MUNDAYE CALL, #4 PURRFECTLY CLAIRE or #5 SCONSIN to finish second and #1 MUNDAYE CALL, #4 PURRFECTLY CLAIRE or #5 SCONSIN to win and #7 FOUR GRACES to finish second.
Race 12: Kentucky Oaks
A field of nine will run 1 1/8 miles on Churchill Downs main track to put their names in the record book and for their share of the $1.25 million in prize money.
SWISS SKYDIVER (PP: 1 ML 8/5) will have to overcome the inside post-position draw. During the spring/summer meet, the horse leaving from gate number one failed to win any of the eight races at the distance and surface. However, SKYDIVER has the tools and ability to defy the disadvantage. The last time she rode the rail was at Santa Anita for the Santa Anita Oaks where she won, wire to wire by 4 lengths.
GAMINE (PP: 5 ML 1-1) is undefeated in four races and most of them weren’t close, winning by 7, 18, a neck and by 6 ¼ lengths, from most recent back. Despite making easy work of the competition she’s faced; GAMINE will need to answer some questions to become the Oaks champ. She hasn’t run past 1 1/16 miles and stalled late in that race. The Oaks is a 1/16 mile longer. She’s yet to try two turns and you never know how a horse will handle new challenges.
DONNA VELOCE (PP: 3 ML 15-1) is a ½ length and a neck away from being undefeated in four starts. Her odds would probably be considerably lower if her record line read 4-0-0 instead of 2-2-0. In her last race on March 8th, she stumbled at the start, recovered and ran past the field to win by 4 ¼ lengths. She’s a talented horse and a visit to the winners’ circle isn’t out of the question.
SPEECH (PP: 4 ML 5-1) ran a powerful race in winning the Ashland Staked in her last outing at Keeneland racetrack. She almost caught GAMINE at the wire three races ago, but was handily beaten by SWISS SKYDIVER and DONNA VELOCE, two and four races ago, respectively. She’s got talent but will likely need to run her best to get by the top two or three horses in this group.
Win: #1 SWISS SKYDIVER
Exacta Box: #1 SWISS SKYDIVER, #3 DONNA VELOCE and #5 GAMINE
Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Double:
#1 SWISS SKYDIVER, #3 DONNA VELOCE or #5 GAMINE to win the Kentucky Oaks on Friday and #16 HONOR A.P., #17 TIZ THE LAW or #18 AUTHENTIC to win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
Race 13: Turf Sprint Stakes
Race 13, the Turf Sprint Stakes probably offers horseplayers the most value of any of Friday’s Stakes races as the others look chalky on paper. In addition to being the best betting race, it could be the most fun too as there are a lot of horses, 14, running a short way, 5 ½ furlongs on turf.
BOUND FOR NOWHERE (PP: 4 ML 3-1) is this |—-| close to winning four of his last five races. He missed by inches in a third-place finish in his last, by a head bob in the race before that, won, misfired and got caught in a photo finish for second five races ago. He ran the top last, race speed figure and the same race could be enough to make up for a nose.
EXTRAVAGANT KID (PP: 5 ML 7/2) has raced three times on Churchill bluegrass, winning twice and finishing second in the other. He’s consistently challenging for the win with five wins in his last 10 starts. This will be hist first start since July 11th and he tends to run well after some rest with two wins and a second in his last three first races following a layoff.
WELLABLED (PP: 2 ML 10-1) finished third as the public’s top choice in his last effort. He held the lead late and coughed up the win on an all-weather track but moves back to turf, where he won two before failing as the favorite. Trainer Larry Rivelli rebounds at 33% with beaten favs the next time around the track.
TIGER BLOOD (PP: 13 ML 6-1) sounds like a predator and acts like a predator at the distance, winning nine of 12 races at 5 or 5 ½ furlongs on turf. He’s been training like an Olympic sprinter and should be close to the lead all the way around the track.
Win: #5 EXTRAVAGANT KID
Exacta Box: #2 WELLABLED, #4 BOUND FOR NOWHERE, #5 EXTRAVAGANT KID and #13 TIGER BLOOD
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