Biggest day of year when it comes to horse racing is upon us, the first Saturday in May, Kentucky Derby Day. This blog will be leaving from home early Saturday morning in order to get to Hollywood Park early enough to play the early races on the Churchill card. Here are some plays and thoughts for the card, including who this blog likes in the Kentucky Derby. Let's start with the second race on the card, a first level allowance going a mile and one-sixteenth on the main track (post time 11:00 AM ET). The horse to watch here is Bind. This son of Flatter comes from the Al Stall Jr. barn. He won his debut stylishly, then came home second after pulling his entire race. He runs against older the first time tomorrow, with his man danger coming from Wordly, a former fringe Derby trial runner who finished second in a couple of grade stakes. Many have touted Bind as "The Next Big Thing", and today's race will go a long way in determining whether he is or not.
Skipping ahead to the 6th race, which begins the stakes action with the Twin Spires Turf Sprint. The majority of the money figures to be spread around among four horses, each with different credentials. Chamberlain Bridge won the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint here last year, and is a neck away from being 5 for 5 on this course; Regally Ready, who won three straight races down the hill out here in Santa Anita and owns a win over this course; Bridgetown won the BC Juvenile Turf back in 2009, won his last two races, and has been competitive against some of these; and Custom for Carlos, who is the pick. His only turf start, he had a less then ideal trip while breaking from a wide post. C4C has speed but can rate just off and should fall into a good trip.
Moving on to the 5th stakes on the card, the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. This race was dramatically affected when Little Mike scratched out of the race Friday morning due to a fever. This has left Get Stormy with a strong chance to go gate to wire. He has win at the distance and one over the course, he had a solid work after his win in the Maker's Mark Mile last time out and the race set-up is extremely favorable to his chances, as he figures to be on or just off the lead. Value seekers could do worse than land on Rahystrada. This son of Rahy ran a good second last out, has won at the distance, and is no stranger to winning at long odds over this course, winning the 2009 River City Handicap at 56-1.
Now the big one, the Kentucky Derby. This blog makes a different between the pick for the Derby to win and the key to the exotics. The pick to win is used only on top, while the key is the horse most likely to hit the board, and is used in all three on the board spots. The pick to win is Derby Kitten. This son of Kitten's Joy out of the Menifee mare Blush has a pedigree that many who follow this blog is familiar with, and that is part of the reason he is the choice. He is blog favorite William's Kitten full brother. DK won his way into the Derby after winning the Lexington Stakes last time out. His only dirt try was awful, but it was on a track that favored those on or near the lead, and his brother WK handled the dirt just fine, including a second in the Kentucky Jockey Club to last year's Derby winner Super Saver. Now Derby Kitten will be a huge longshot, but he will relish the mile and a quarter, and this blog thinks he can avenge his brother's inability to make it here last year with a major upset.
The key to the exotics is Stay Thirsty. He takes the blinkers off after a disastrous effort in the Florida Derby. He had previously won the Gotham Stakes, defeating Wood Memorial winner Toby's Corner in the process. He has worked well without the blinkers since the Florida Derby, and will be a good price on the board. The main reason that Stay Thirsty is the key to this blog's exotics is his potential trip in the race. With three speed horses to the outside, and closers to his inside and outside the speed, Stay Thirsty looks to have the chance to set-up a perfect position quickly, before the rest of the field drops over from the outside. This will give him ever chance to run well and give his backers their money's worth.
So today is the big day, and big stakes are abound. Will the prices be enormous> Can Derby Kitten do what 'William' could not? Can the winner be the one to end the Triple Crown drought? We shall see, Good luck everybody!