Saturday’s Kentucky Derby betting bonanza at Churchill Downs also includes lucrative multi-race bets that end in the Run for the Roses. Last year’s similar pick 5 handled $4.6 million and paid $247K to its winners. The pick 4 ending in the Derby handled $3.3M and returned its backers $25K.
Let’s get to work.
Churchill Downs | Race 8 | Pat Day Mile
Deep field of 14 sprinters without much separating many of them. You can quickly get deep in this race if not making some tough decisions. #1 Kangaroo Court should be rail speed on the stretch-out and most effective among the front-runners. #9 General Jim was tenacious finishing in the Swale and comes in fresh for respected trainer Shug McGaughey. The longshot look is #3 Lugan Knight (20-1 ML), who has lost form a bit I his last pair, but showed a lot of promise prior and has some excuses lately to maybe overlook.
Churchill Downs | Race 9 | American Turf
Many outstanding options in this 14-horse affair where even also-eligible #15 Wadsworth offers a lot of interest. #4 Talk of the Nation and #5 Johannes have been perfect since moving to turf. #6 Behind Enemy Lines lived up to all the billing in his US debut at Gulfstream. #2 Far Bridge and #1 Major Dude are Todd Pletcher trainees drawn well with upside and proven credentials, respectively. #11 Carl Spackler hinted at stardom in his maiden breaker at Gulfstream and is freshened for this after scratching at Keeneland because of a poor post draw. He’s out wide again, unfortunately.
Churchill Downs | Race 10 | Churchill Downs Handicap
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner #7 Cody’s Wish will be a strong favorite and obviously the one to fend off late. He’s the most likely single in the sequence for a lot of horseplayers as well. #10 Endorsed is in raging career form and gets top local rider Tyler Gaffalione again. #8 Fortin Hill is a sprinter with more natural speed than most of these and he ran an absolutely fabulous race last time at Keeneland to reel in a lone speed horse he had no business beating. I love the confident class rise and Fortin Hill is the upset pick at 20-1 ML.
Churchill Downs | Race 11 | Turf Classic
#9 Spooky Channel may be 8 years old, but he continues to get better and better. His strong 2023 performances have been without a single bit of pace help. The six-furlong splits in his races were 1:16-2/5, 1:17-2/5 and 1:15-1/5, and yet he’s come with a strong run every time. He’ll get a faster pace to help his rally and he’s paired beautifully with finishing jockey Joel Rosario. #7 Hong Kong Harry should be strong in his second start off the layoff and also closing with energy, but I’m not willing to double the cost of the ticket to see that through. Single #9 Spooky Channel at 5-1 ML.
Churchill Downs | Race 12 | Kentucky Derby 149
The two best prep trail performances this year belonged to #17 Derma Sotogake in the UAE Derby and #14 Angel of Empire in the Arkansas Derby. This gives us a strong early and late combination in terms of pace, having a live wire no matter how it shakes up, slow or fast.
9,1,3 with 4,5,6,2,1,11,15(ae) with 8,7,10 with 9 with 17,14 = $63 if all runners start for $0.50 (or $54 if the also-eligible doesn't draw into Race 9)
Budget players: The pick 4 sequence can be had for $21 (or $18 if the also-eligible doesn’t draw into Race 9).