Kentucky Derby Week Is Upon Us

Matt Stone/The Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
The Kentucky Horse Racing Scene shifts to Churchill Downs ahead of Derby 150.

LOUISVILLE — It’s Derby Week!

We’ve made it, gentle reader- tomorrow marks the start of the Spring Meeting at Churchill Downs, known colloquially as the Derby Meet.  As the kids say – it’s time, homies.

They’ll draw the fields for the Derby and Oaks tomorrow, between races as part of a nighttime card that features ten races.  I’ll post something on Monday ahead of Derby week with updates from what is said and heard at the draw itself.

If you’d like to take in some information on the Derby field, you can listen to (or watch) our podcast, The Horse Racing Happy Hour, here.  You can also find me live on ESPN Louisville 11a-2p ET on Derby Day.

First, let’s hit some bets tomorrow so we can start building a bankroll for Oaks and Derby days.

Race 9 Roxelana Overnight Stakes.  Six furlongs, dirt.  F&M 4+up.  $200,000 purse.

This has become a fun stakes to open the Churchill seasons each spring, and this field is no different.  I think 5 Zeitlos is the filly to beat here, four wins lifetime at the distance and a win previously at Churchill Downs.  She won the Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn at this distance in February, and got in a good work a week ago over this surface.  

I’ll also use 3 Speedy Traveler, who is 3-for-3 lifetime with all of those runs at this distance.  Trainer Phil Bauer wins 25% of his stakes starts, which is a strong percentage.

I’ll try to beat 6 Dazzling Blue, trained by Louisville native Brad Cox.  The horse is coming off a significant amount of time off, and I’m hoping she’ll take a lot of bets and give us better odds on our top runners.

My longshot here is 10 Current Climate, ridden by champion rider Tyler Gaffalione and trained by up-and-coming trainer Eric Foster.  8/1 is a fair price, and I think he’ll excel getting back to dirt.  2-for-7 at the distance, and he ran a good when his race was taken off the turf last time at Churchill.  I think she’s an include here.

Top Selections: 5, 3, 10.

The play for Saturday night is the Late Pick 4:

Race 7: 4, 2

Race 8: 11, 1, 5

Race 9: 5, 3, 10

Race 10: 3, 9, 4 Ticket: 2,4 / 1,5,11 / 3,5,10 / 3,4,9

$.50 base ticket = $27.

TST Horse Racing Mailbag

We had several emails come in at – here are two:

I’m one of those guys you wrote about who drops in on horse racing a couple times a year.  I’ve always wondered what the approach is to picking a winner for the Derby?  Do you concentrate on numbers, the races they ran in to qualify, their jockeys?

-Mark V, Spokane

My personal approach involves a ton of film study.  I try to obsess over how the horses have run, especially recently.  After that, I take into account their connections (trainer, jockey, owner).  The connections matter a great deal in horse racing; like other sports, experience matters, and having been there matters.  The Derby is no different in that way.  And, finally, if I need to break a tie or pick nits, I look at the horse’s breeding.  If his mom or dad could run long distances well, I generally think of them as horses who can win the Kentucky Derby.

Hey Louie, long time fan of the Horse Racing Happy Hour.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but three of the runners in the Derby – Encino (Nyquist), Just Steel (Justify), and Just a Touch (Justify)- all have sires who’ve won the Kentucky Derby.  Who of those three would you bet to finish top of that group?  Also, has there been a son of a Derby winner who has also won the Derby?

Trevor P., Greenville, S.C.

Trevor – first and foremost, thanks for hanging with the pod.  We appreciate it.  Of those three, give me Just A Touch – he finished a decent second in the Blue Grass, and reminded me a lot of Mage in last year’s Florida Derby.  As for your trivia question, the most recent son of a Derby winner to also win the Derby was Grindstone in 1996, a son of 1990 Derby winner Unbridled.

What’s Next

Our next installment of TST’s horse racing coverage will drop on Monday, when we know the post positions for the Derby, and I’ve spent the weekend at the track talking to all the connections.  We’ll see you then!