A trio of 100-point Kentucky Derby prep races is set for this Saturday. The top two finishers in each race will be all but assured spots in the field on the first Saturday in May.
These races include some of the top Derby prospects in the country, but the fields are very deep. There’s money to be made on these races, and that’s what we’ll look to do. Let’s dive into the Kentucky Derby prep races.
Figuring out the Florida Derby contender to toss
The highest-profile race of the day is probably the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. It features an 11-horse field, and four of them figure to take most of the betting money.
No. 2 Classic Causeway, No. 3 Simplification, No. 6 Charge It and No. 7 White Abarrio are all between 5-2 and 7-2 on the morning line. By comparison, no other horse in the race is below 10-1.
My strategy is to find a contender to throw out so as to minimize my investment. I’ve settled on tossing Simplification, the 5-2 morning line favorite. He won the Fountain of Youth but chased White Abarrio in the Holy Bull. White Abarrio, in turn, finished behind Classic Causeway in the Kentucky Jockey Club, and Charge It has been working exceptionally well for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
I’ll box the other three favorites in exactas and hope Simplification doesn’t fire. If he beats me, he beats me.
- $4 exacta box: 2, 6, 7 ($24)
Going against the filly in the Arkansas Derby
The Grade 1 Arkansas Derby features the most compelling storyline of the weekend. No. 6 Secret Oath is going to run against the boys. She’s campaigned by legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas, and she’s been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite.
If she wins, she’ll face males again in Kentucky. It’s a fun story, and she’s a very nice horse. However, I think she presents no value at or near her likely price and that there are two other more likely winners.
No. 9 We the People comes in off of two dominant wins here at Oaklawn. He’s got plenty of tactical speed, attracts top jockey Flavien Prat and comes in off of a very fast workout last week. I think he’s a very serious racehorse, and he’s my top pick.
I’ll also use No. 8 Cyberknife on top in exactas. His record looks far better if you toss the Grade 3 Lecomte, and the Brad Cox/Florent Geroux tag team merits plenty of respect. I’ll throw Secret Oath in underneath, and I’ll do the same with long shot No. 7 Ben Diesel. The Grade 2 Rebel hits me as a throwout for all horses involved. His third in the Grade 3 Southwest wasn’t bad, and he’ll likely be a very big price.
- $3 exactas: 8, 9 with 6, 7, 8, 9 ($18)
- $10 win: 9 ($10, $28)
Solving the synthetic surface in the Jeff Ruby Steaks
No, that’s not a typo. Named after the high-end restaurant chain, the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park has drawn a full field of 12, plus one also-eligible.
Unlike most of the races on the road to the Kentucky Derby, this one is run over a synthetic track, not conventional dirt. The race was upgraded in value after Churchill Downs purchased Turfway several years ago.
No. 7 Tiz the Bomb is the 2-1 morning-line favorite, and he makes sense. He won the local prep for this race over No. 2 Stolen Base, and it certainly seems like he prefers synthetic and turf to dirt. However, I don’t think he’s a cinch.
No. 12 Blackadder has shown he can get this distance over a synthetic track. He won the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields and has been shipped to Rodolphe Brisset in hopes of earning Kentucky Derby points (remember, Bob Baffert is banned). If he can save ground going into the first turn, I think he’ll come running late.
I’ll also use No. 3 Cabo Spirit, who should improve getting to a synthetic surface. His best races have come on turf, not dirt. If he channels that form, he’s got a chance to light up the tote board.
- $2 exacta box: 3, 7, 12 ($12)
- $2 exacta key: 3, 12 with 2, 3, 7, 12 ($12, $24)