It’s that time of year again and Hello Race Fans, a superb racing education web site, has tapped me and others to help folks with our ‘expert’ picks for the graded stakes on Oaks and Derby Days. My picks can be found on their website but I thought I’d take the opportunity this year to give a little color on my picks with some narrative on why I chose who I chose.
Six starters and the outside four are very closely matched as indicated by the Morning Line odds spread between them of 2/1 – 7/2. I settled on Devil’s Cave purely because I think she can get an uncontested early lead and she’s proven she can hold it over the distance (as opposed to a mile and an eighth, where she could not).
PICK: Devil’s Cave
This was an odd little race. Several horses come into the race either having won (Marchman, Stormofthecentury) or hit the board (Positive Side) at huge odds or missed as beaten favorites (Sum of the Parts, Havelock). I had a tough time narrowing this down so I ended up going with an old fashioned method: my gut.
This is the first 3-year old start for would be Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies champ She’s A Tiger. She’s been working well since returning to the track and hasn’t finished less than 2nd in her six career starts. She may be the best in here but I’m going to bet on her needing a race to sharpen up against a group like this so I went with the 2nd choice on the morning line, Fiftyshadesofgold. She’s had two sharp 3-year old races, losing one to the amazing Untapable. Mike Smith is on board and she has been working well at Churchill.
Screw value, sometimes you just have to take a winner. As if Will Take Charge wasn’t going to be impressive enough, he now adds Gary Stevens.
PICK: Will Take Charge
Is Untapable unbeatable? She’s been beaten twice: once by a horrendous trip and interference and another by a synthetic surface. Real dirt and clean trip and she has been unstoppable. I don’t think she has even breathed heavy in her two starts at three. I initially took a stand against her but as I write this I find my reasoning faulty and that I’m more hoping the result than doping the result. She overcomes the post and doesn’t lose.