Welcome to Kentucky Derby Day. This file has been updated with Team Tuley’s top plays in the 148th Run for the Roses, plus races on the stakes-rich undercard.
We hope many of our readers used Secret Oat (paid $10.80 to Win) as yours truly had her as my top pick in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday. Ed Sehon also bookended our coverage with Bleecker Street ($4) winning Churchill Downs’ Race 5.
Sehon and I are joined by regular Team Tuley contributors, John Lauro and Rampart race and sports book manager Duane Colucci, John Avello, DraftKings Director of Race and Sportsbook Operations and former head man at Bally’s and Wynn here in Las Vegas.
We have a chart below with our 1-2-3-Longshot picks in the Derby, plus writeups of our top picks.
Good luck today (and every day).
Churchill Downs Race No. 4 (12:04 p.m. ET/9:04 a.m. PT)
Ed Sehon likes #10 Money Supply (4-1 morning line). “What’s not to like — top trainer (Chad Brown), hot rider (Flavien Prat), adds blinkers and stretches out? Wager: Win and Place on #10, and box him in Exactas with 1,2,4.”
Churchill Downs Race No. 5 (12:36 p.m. ET/9:36 p.m. PT)
Ed Sehon likes #7 In Italian (3-1 morning line). “It’s beginning to look like a full-card party for the Chad Brown barn. Irad Ortiz Jr. returns in Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile as expensive filly seeks three-peat. How do you say big shot in Italian? Wager: Win and Place.”
Churchill Downs Races Nos. 5-8 (12:36 p.m. ET/12:36 p.m. PT)
Ed Sehon likes the following $.50 Pick 4 (cost $32)
Race 5: 5,6,7,8
Race 7: 5
Race 8: 2,3,4,5
Churchill Downs Races Nos. 9-12 (3:40 p.m. ET/12:40 p.m. PT)
Duane Colucci likes the following $.50 Pick 4 (cost $72)
Race 9: 1,2,5,6,7,10
Race 11: 3,4,8,10
Race 12: 6,10
Churchill Downs Race No. 9 (3:40 p.m. ET/12:40 p.m. PT)
Dave Tuley likes #3 Red Run (15-1 morning line) in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes. “This is an example of a quality horse that can get overlooked on a big day like today with so many quality horses running. We can certainly throw out his last race on the synthetic track at Turfway Park as he returns to the turf. He should be able to sit just off the pace in this race at a mile and a sixteenth and get first run on the other closers. I’ll be content as long as we get double-digit odds on this Steve Asmussen trainee. Note: Asmussen is also hitting 27 percent when using jockey Brian Hernandez. Wager: Win and Place.”
Churchill Race No. 10 (4:31 p.m. ET/1:31 p.m. PT)
Dave Tuley likes #7 Mind Control (5-1 morning line) in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Stakes. “With the scratch of #8 Cezzane (who I also liked), Todd Pletcher is left with Mind Control, who he had already put fellow Hall of Famer Johnny Velazquez on. Mind Control is 6 years old and has 9 nine career and has another one in him. barn. He should get a perfect stalking trip in this short field. Wager: Win.”
Churchill Race No. 11 (5:27 p.m. ET/2:27 p.m. PT)
Dave Tuley likes #9 Kentucky Ghost (20-1 morning line) in the Grade 1 Turf Classic Stakes. “Chad Brown owns this race with three straight wins, but we’re taking a flier on this 5-year-old gelding to pull a major upset (or finish second). Kentucky Ghost is outclassed by most of these, but we see big closers win these big turf races if they get the right trip. I’m encouraged that his last win was last May over this Churchill turf course, and if the turf doesn’t stay firm, he was second on a yielding turf course at Keeneland in October. He does have a case of seconditis (7 of 19 races in his career), so in addition to betting to Win, we’ll bet to Place and also use underneath in Exactas.”
148th KENTUCKY DERBY
Churchill Downs Race No. 12 (6:57 p.m. ET/3:57 p.m. PT)
Ed Sehon likes #10 Zandon (3-1 morning line) in the Grade 1, $3 million Kentucky Derby. “Within minutes of meeting then-youthful trainer Chad Brown a decade ago on the backstretch at Saratoga, I knew he was a winner. Confident, articulate, soft-spoken and sharp as a whip, he was destined to have an significant impact on racing for years, if not decades. Up until now he’s done it all — except win his first Kentucky Derby. Today is Chad’s day. Zandon became my probable ‘Derby horse’ at Aqueduct in December when he lost to Mo Donegal by a whisker after being bumped in the stretch. He sealed my Derby deal when I saw him circle the field with Flavien Prat aboard to capture the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland four weeks ago. Hear the cheer: Let’s Go Zandon! Win: #10 Zandon. My 1-2-3-Longshot picks were #6 Messier to Place, #16 Cyberknife to Show and Longshot #13 Simplification, so give me a 6-10-13-16 Exacta Box.”
Duane Colucci also likes #10 Zandon (3-1)
. “Chad Brown trainee was awesome in his last start at Keeneland and has been working fabulously over the Churchill surface. Brown and Prat are hitting at 30 percent this year when teaming up. Ragozin numbers are on a steady improvement cycle. My other picks for Tuley’s 1-2-3-Longshot list are #6 Messier (8-1) and #12 Taiba (12-1) in the 2nd and 3rd slots and longshot #19 Zozos (20-1). Messier is one of two previously trained by Bob Baffert. He was monstrous in the Robert B. Lewis and was just passed by his stablemate in the Santa Anita Derby. He’s looked awesome since arriving in Kentucky and Johnny Velazquez takes the mount. Taiba is the other Baffert colt now in the care of Tim Yakteen. He only has to improve slightly to win here as his Santa Anita Derby win was impressive. Keep in mind he has only 2 career starts. Zozos will have to show the ability to rate from his outside post, but can definitely improve off his 2nd-place finish to Epicenter. Trainer Brad Cox and jockey Manny Franco team up for a not-too-shabby 24 percent together. He’s working well and has great breeding if it happens to rain.”
John Avello likes #3 Epicenter (7-2 morning line)
. “In all his races, he’s proven to be very versatile, which should serve him well. He’ll be able to use his tactical speed to pick his spot from the start. You can’t win the race at the gate, but you can sure lose it. Steve Asmussen trusts Joel Rosario to capture his first Derby. If not, then #1 Mo Donegal (10-1) with Irad Ortiz Jr. up for HOF conditioner Todd Pletcher, has the proven stamina to handle the grueling 1 1/4-mile from an inside post. My third choice is #15 White Abarrio (10-1) for solid connections of Saffie Joseph Jr.’s barn and top young rider Tyler Gaffalione. Winner of the Holy Bull and Florida Derby at Gulfstream, he’s got what it takes to upset the field. Speaking of which, if you are looking for a longshot, then don’t overlook #9 Tiz the Bomb (30-1) for sneaky good Kenny McPeek in your exotic wagers.
John Lauro likes #13 Simplification (20-1)
. “Simplification looks awesome at Churchill this week. For my other horses in Tuley’s 1-2-3-Longshot list, #10 Zandon reminds me of [2007 Derby winner] Street Sense. #6 Messier and longshot #5 Smile Happy have been doing nothing worse than running 2nd in their entire careers. I will play these as a Trifecta and Superfecta box (5,6,10,13).”
Dave Tuley likes #8 Charge It (20-1 morning line)
. “We don’t have a superhorse this year, but this is a strong Derby field in my opinion with only 5 horses that would shock me if they won. My value bet to win is Charge It at 20-1. He only had a maiden win under his belt going into the Florida Derby and ran 2nd. He should be sitting off the pace and be in position to get first run on a lot of the closers behind him. Granted, he was outclosed at Gulfstream, but that’s why we’re getting such a fair price and I believe HOF trainer Todd Pletcher and regular rider Luis Saez will help Charge It learn from that experience. He certainly has the right to continue improving and peak on the First Saturday in May (which is ultimately what we’re looking for in a Derby longshot). As for the others in my 1-2-3 Longshot list, #1 Mo Donegal stepped up to win the Wood Memorial and #12 Taiba won the Santa Anita Derby and I like them best among the top contenders. Mo Donegal will need some racing luck to navigate traffic after dropping back from the dreaded #1 post, but I’ve always maintained the right colt can win from there and there’s no jinx. Taiba, one of the former Baffert horses that can’t be ignored, should also be in the stalking group with Charge It. My longshot is #13 Simplification (20-1), who will probably be near the back with Mo Donegal in the early running but could pull the upset with one big run. He didn’t fire in the Florida Derby, but he already had enough points to make the Derby field, so I really think that was a public workout as this was his connections’ real goal. I’ll probably be betting both Charge It (around 13-1 in early wagering) and Simplification (available at 40-1 early Saturday) to Win as well as boxing my picks and using in vertical wagers as well.”