As mentioned in yesterday’s bankroll blurb, in celebration of Kentucky Derby Day, J.D. Fox and I produced a special edition of “Champagne and J.D.” Joe Nevills joined us, and we reached out to our friends for videos about their Derby memories and their feelings on this year’s renewal.
The show went online Friday, and we’re thrilled with how it came out. J.D. and I are both incredibly grateful for the support we got from the racing community. You’ll see videos from some heavy hitters in handicapping and turf writing, and I’m confident in saying this isn’t something you’ll find most anywhere else. You won’t want to miss this, especially if you’re just starting to take a look at the Run for the Roses.
FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Raven Rocks ran well after stumbling out of the gate, but could do no better than a “bet him next time at this level” mid-pack finish. Meanwhile, at Churchill Downs, the first of my doubles connected, but the second one fizzled when Swiss Skydiver couldn’t get past Shedaresthedevil (in a stretch run that’ll be in my nightmares for a few months). After scratches, I dropped $28.
SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’m focusing entirely on the Kentucky Derby. If you watched the show, this will sound familiar, but I have two feelings: #17 TIZ THE LAW should not lose, and #3 ENFORCEABLE will hit the board. As such, I’m playing $1 17-ALL-3 and 17-3-ALL trifectas as my primary action. I’ll also box those two in $4 exactas and play a $4 win ticket using Enforceable just in case something insane happens.
TOTAL WAGERED: $40.
Best Bet: Sifting Sands, Race 7
Longshot: Regular Guy, Race 5
#3 TACKLE: Ran well when second in his debut despite rating behind a pretty slow pace early on. Bill Mott runners tend to improve with experience, and any sort of a step forward would make him tough in the Saturday opener; #1 KAZ’S BEACH: Exits a very fast race at Penn National, one where he ran second behind a next-out winner and thumped the third-place finisher by more than eight lengths. These waters are certainly deeper, but that race came back strong on figures and it wouldn’t be shocking if he was ready to go; #8 MAKE MOTIME: Comes back to the turf, but has shown some early zip and this race seems light on that elsewhere. I don’t think he can win, but hanging on for a piece at a big price doesn’t hit me as inconceivable.
REPOLE ENTRY: #1 WIN WITH PRIDE hasn’t run a clunker since 2018 and takes a big drop in class. That’s a red flag for some connections, but this is an aggressive owner/trainer combination, so it doesn’t scare me too much here; #4 VINEYARD SOUND: Ran too bad to be true last time out earlier in the meet and was claimed that day by Rob Atras, who does excellent work with new acquisitions. A repeat of his effort two back would give him a shot at a nice price; #6 DEEP SEA: Won here two back before catching a strong group for the level last time out. Orlando Noda claimed him out of that race, and his barn has been on fire all summer long.
#7 SILKY BLUE: Cuts back in distance and seems like a horse who should relish this route of ground. There’s a lot of speed signed on, and she seems likely to sit a stalking trip and be going in the right direction turning for home; #5 GRAETZ: Ran well in her first start against winners last time out. She was third in what seemed like a strong heat for the level, and Luis Saez sees fit to ride back for H. James Bond; #4 FRACTORZATION: Survived a lengthy inquiry last time out when she herded a foe in the stretch. I think she should’ve come down that day, but it did come back pretty fast on figures and Jose Ortiz returns to ride her here.
My Sister Nat
#4 MY SISTER NAT: Broke a long drought when winning the Grade 3 Waya earlier in the meet. That was her first victory in nearly two years, and she seems to have found the form she flashed overseas in 2018, when she raced against the best fillies in France; #5 ELIADE: Saw a big move fall short last time out, when she was beaten a neck at this route of ground. There should be more pace signed on here, and this one completes a powerful 1-2 punch for trainer Chad Brown; #1 CIVIL UNION: Has won two in a row, including a minor stakes race going long at Belmont Park. Jose Ortiz leaves to ride my top pick, but Joel Rosario is no downgrade and she could sit a strong stalking trip just off the early speed.
#1 MUNQAD: Is a reluctant top pick in a 2-year-old race that seems loaded with high-class horses. This one is a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Shagaf, who showed promise early in his career. The recent strong gate work also inspires confidence; #5 OLYMPIAD: Debuted with a third-place finish behind the ultra-impressive Reinvestment Risk last month. He’s bred to get better with experience and distance, so I’m expecting a step forward in this spot; #4 REGULAR GUY: Didn’t run well in his debut, but this barn’s runners almost always need their first races. He’s bred up and down to be very good, as his dam has thrown multiple Grade 1 winner Carpe Diem and multiple Grade 2 winner Farrell. Ignoring him at second asking seems like a mistake.
Pop a Choc
#5 TIMELY TRADITION: Suffered from a horrible trip last time out and could only manage a fourth-place finish after checking multiple times and making an aggressive middle move. She won three in a row prior to that race, and I’m banking on a clean trip and a return to that form; #4 POP A CHOC: Set a fast pace in her first start against winners, one where she tired a bit to finish third. She seems like the main early speed in here, and she’ll be dangerous if she gets left alone up front; #1 CARRIZO: Hasn’t won in a while but ran well to be second against similar early in the meet. That day’s winner came back to win at next asking, and this one has two wins and two seconds in four starts at the Spa.
#7 SIFTING SANDS: Is one of several 2-year-olds with monstrous turf pedigrees in the barn of trainer Chad Brown. His 407 turf Tomlinson is one of the highest you’ll ever see, and if he runs to his bloodlines, look out; #2 FULCO: Didn’t show much in his debut after a rough start but may benefit from experience and added distance. He’s by War Front, out of a Smart Strike mare, and runs for a barn whose horses often improve with experience; #9 HIDDEN ENEMY: Flattened out late after rallying in a race with a slow early pace. The outside post position isn’t ideal, but this son of all-world sire Galileo may be talented enough to overcome the draw.
Good Old Boy
#4 BARLEEWON: Runs as a gelding for the first time after a disappointing effort in his first start against winners. Perhaps he’s best at Belmont or around one turn, but I liked him last time and I’m willing to give him another shot at a bit of a price; #3 GOOD OLD BOY: Came back running off a very long layoff to top state-bred claimers earlier in the meet. He’s got three wins and two seconds in his last five starts, and while this is a slight jump in class, it seems like he’s figured things out; #2 MICROSECOND: Took to turf well when winning his first start on the grass last month. He sat a perfect stalking trip that day, but Jose Ortiz rides back for Todd Pletcher and he may have the speed to take advantage of the rail draw.
#6 DR POST: Wouldn’t have been too out of place had his connections opted to ship him to Churchill Downs. However, they opted to run here, and the runner-up in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes looms large in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy; #1 HAPPY SAVER: Completes a powerful 1-2 punch for trainer Todd Pletcher and takes an aggressive jump in class after a pair of impressive victories. He showed he could get two turns just fine in his first start against winners, and he may still have room to improve; #2 LIVEYOURBEASTLIFE: Ran a career-best race in his first start around two turns last time out. Perhaps he’s a cut below these, but Jorge Abreu’s enjoyed a lot of success this summer and maybe this one is getting a chance to run at the route he’s wanted all along.
#5 FRANK’S ROCKETTE: Has never finished worse than second and is a logical top pick in the Grade 2 Prioress. She had her hands full in the Grade 3 Victory Ride, but there’s plenty of back form to go off of here and she may be the speed of the speed; #7 CENTER AISLE: Adds blinkers for the first time and has been training well since coming to upstate New York. If she runs to the impressive work tab, she could be sitting on a career-best effort at a fair price; #1 KIMARI: Ran second in a Group 1 at Royal Ascot in June and comes back to the dirt here. She’s got tons of talent, and perhaps she’s good enough, but the rail draw is a concern given her late-running style and I think she’s better on turf. At her likely price, I’ll try to beat her.
#2 TACITUS: Put it all together with a big win in the Grade 2 Suburban on Independence Day and has trained consistently up to the Grade 1 Woodward. The 10-furlong distance won’t beat him, and while he’s found trouble several times in the past, it’s tough to envision him losing with a clean journey; #5 SPINOFF: Jumps up the class ladder after a solid win in the Alydar several weeks ago. He’s done his best running over this surface, and he goes like a horse that won’t be bothered by the extra furlong he’ll go here; #4 GLOBAL CAMPAIGN: Re-rallied to win a Grade 3 at Monmouth last time out and may be the main speed in this race. Top gate rider Luis Saez returns to the saddle here; the question is, how much gas will this front-runner have left in the tank turning for home?
Life On Top
#8 LIFE ON TOP: Takes a big class drop to run in this claiming event and merits respect given his prior form. He’ll race with blinkers for the first time, and I think he’ll relish the shallower waters in the Saturday finale; #1 OUR COUNTRY: Is another taking a huge drop, and it wasn’t long ago that I liked him a lot in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Perhaps he’s not the same horse he was a season ago, but he may not have to be to run well in this spot; #3 KID CHOCOLATE: Has run well at this level twice this meet after breaking his maiden three back at Belmont. He’s improved with every start since coming off the bench in June and should be rallying late at a bit of a price.