Tuley's Thoroughbred Takes for 2021 Kentucky Derby & undercard (and Oaks Day)

By Dave Tuley  (VSiN.com senior reporter) 

May 1, 2021 12:44 PM

Team Tuley continues to look for value from coast to coast, but this week’s focus is obviously on Churchill Downs in Louisville with the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, but also the Kentucky Oaks card on Friday.


On Friday’s card, I was excited to start with wins in the first two legs of my Pick 4 on Races 8-11 at Churchill Downs, including #7 Obligatory winning the 9th race, the Grade 2 Eight Belles Stakes, at 16-1. She paid $35 to Win and topped an $187.40 exacta for those who boxed my picks in that race. Unfortunately, my Pick 4 died in the 10th race as my #10 Sombeyay lost by half a length to #8 Fast Boat. But my handicapping buddy, Ed Sehon, had #8 Fast Boat on the first leg of his Pick 4 on Races 10-13 and went on to hit #10 Malathaat in Race 11, the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks; #2 Mintd in Race 12, an allowance optional claiming race; and #8 Portilla in the 13th race, a maiden special weight event, with Sehon’s Late Pick 4 returning a whopping $1,193.05!


Sehon is also live in the Oaks-Derby Double that he posted on Friday with Malathaat winning the Oaks to four horses in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (see his picks below).


We also have plays from our other handicapping friends, John Lauro and Rampart race & sports book manager Duane Colucci. We’ll start with the Derby and then run through our plays on the undercard.


Good luck today (and every day!).




Churchill Downs Race No. 12 (6:57 p.m. ET/3:57 p.m. PT)

Dave Tuley likes #12 Helium (50-1 morning line). “That’s right, he’s 50-1, but before you snicker, remember that Giacomo and Mine That Bird also won the Derby at 50-1 -- plus Country House won the 2019 Derby at 65-1 when Maximum Security was DQ’d, so anything can happen on Derby Day. For one thing, I’m not sold on the favorite, Essential Quality, as he’s not even in my top 6. Brent Musburger likes to tease me that I went against American Pharoah and Justify in their Triple Crown sweeps, but I don’t see Essential Quality in the same class and if he beats me, so be it. Helium is a late-developing 3-year-old that could hit peak on the First Saturday in May and shock the world. He’s been running under the radar for trainer Mark Casse with two wins on the tapeta track at Woodbine in Canada last fall and then won the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in his 2021 debut on March 8 off a 4.5-month layoff and his first time on dirt and in a route race. He’s a winner and still has the right to improve. I’m definitely betting across-the-board (Win, Place & Show) is Helium is anywhere near that 50-1 price. I’m still putting together my full betting portfolio, but the other five horses I have ahead of Essential Quality in terms of betting value are #1 Known Agenda (6-1), No. 8 Medina Spirit (15-1), No. 15 Rock Your World (5-1), No. 10 Midnight Bourbon (20-1) & No. 19 Soup and Sandwich (30-1), so I’ll be using those liberally throughout my tickets.”


Ed Sehon likes #1 Known Agenda (6-1 morning line). “One of the most exaggerated negatives in Triple Crown racing is the Kentucky Derby #1 post position draw. With the addition of space between the innermost stall and the rail in the new 20-spot gate, it has all but been eliminated. So, don’t sweat the small stuff. Pay attention to these absolute positives: 1) Best jockey in the game (Irad Ortiz Jr.); 2) Soon-to-be HOF trainer (Todd Pletcher); 3) Additional distance (1 1/4 mile) suits stretch-running style; 4) Focusing with blinkers; 5) Won deepest prep race (Florida Derby); 6) Son of super sire Curlin. They all add up to #1 Known Agenda. Wager: Win.”

Duane Colucci likes #17 Highly Motivated (10-1 morning line). “I love the Blue Grass prep for Highly Motivated, his speed figures keep improving and he is sitting on a monster race. Chad Brown is the best trainer in America in my opinion and should add a Kentucky Derby to his impressive resume. My top 3 are #17 Highly Motivated, #1 Known Agenda & #14 Essential Quality.”

John Lauro likes #4 Keepmeinmind (50-1 morning line). “His blowout in 46 and change on April 23 was a beautiful sight to see. Trainer Robertino Diodoro lost time with him due to snow at Oaklawn this winter, but he’s ready to improve on his third-place finish [behind Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie) in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Strong Win, Place & Show bet. Also including in trifecta box with #7 Mandaloun, #8 Medina Spirit, #10 Midnight Bourbon, No. 15 Rock Your World & No. 16 King Fury (scratched).”


MORE SATURDAY (Derby undercard)

Churchill Downs Race No. 4 (12:04 p.m. ET/9:40 a.m. PT)

Ed Sehon likes #7 Oak Hill (8-1 morning line). “Improving 4-year-old gelded son of Distorted Humor comes off two strong Place efforts sprinting in preparation for mile assignment in loaded allowance optional claiming event with $121,000 purse. Savvy trainer Al Stall Jr. and young jockey Colby Hernandez know way to the Twin Spires winner’s circle. Once he gets to front, he’ll never look back. Wager: Win & Place.”

Churchill Downs Race No. 6 (1:14 p.m. ET/10:14 a.m. PT)

Ed Sehon likes #3 New York Girl (8-1 morning line). “Superior horseman Bill Mott ships 4-year-old gal up from Tampa Bay Downs, cuts her back to mile and makes positive rider switch to Johnny Velasquez for Grade 2 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile. Solid four-furlong work over track says N.Y. gal is ready to disco in Kentucky. Wager: Win & four-horse exacta box of 3,4,5,6.”

Churchill Downs Races Nos. 9-12 (3:40 p.m. ET/12:40 p.m. PT)

Ed Sehon likes the following $0.50 Pick 4 (cost $96)

Race 9: 1,4,5,13

Race 10: 1,4,5,9

Race 11: 3,5,7

Race 12 (Derby): 1,10,14,17

Duane Colucci likes the following $0.50 Pick 4 (cost $120)

Race 9: 2,4,5,13,14

Race 10: 2,3,4,9

Race 11: 1,3,4,5,6,7

Race 12 (Derby): 1,17

Dave Tuley likes the following $0.50 Pick 4 (cost $72)

Race 9: 1,4,8,13

Race 10: 4,9

Race 11: 3,4,7

Race 12 (Derby): 1,8,10,12,15,19

Churchill Downs Race No. 9 (3:40 p.m. ET/12:40 p.m. PT)

John Lauro likes #2 Winfromwithin (8-1 morning line). “Winfromwithin set a track record in the Columbia Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on March 6 and is 8-1 in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes for 3-year-old colts. And we get jockey Luis Saez, who is riding Derby favorite Essential Quality.”


Dave Tuley likes #8 Barrister Tom (30-1 morning line). “Barrister Tom was outfinished in the Grade 3 Transylvania last time out against some others in here, but he was right there and with a little improvement should be in the mix again at a nice price. He just needs to return to the form we saw last fall. You’ll note I didn’t single Barrister Tom in my Pick 4 in case he doesn’t show that improvement, but he’s obviously my best-case scenario. Also wager Win & Place.”




Churchill Downs Races Nos. 8-11

Dave Tuley liked the following $.50 Pick 4 (cost $45...only hit 2-of-4)

Race 8: 1,2,3

Race 9: 7,9,10

Race 10: 9,10

Race 11 (Oaks): 3,4,6,13,14

Churchill Downs Race No. 8

Ed Sehon liked #3 Dunbar Road (5-2 morning line, went off as 2-1 second choice)...ran 5th of 7 through opening half-mile, rallied up in 2nd and within a length of front-runner (and eventual winner) Shedaresthedevil but weakened and finished 5th.

Churchill Downs Races Nos. 10-13

Ed Sehon liked the following $.50 Pick 4. (cost $48…$24 after scratches...paid $1,193.05)

Race 10: 5,8,9,10

Race 11: 5,6,10,11

Race 12: 2,12 (scratched)

Race 13: 2,8,10 

Churchill Downs Race No. 11

Ed Sehon liked the following $2 Oaks-Derby Daily Double (cost $24 with three fillies in Oaks to four colts in the Derby)

The Oaks

WIN: #10 Malathaat (5-2)

PLACE: #6 Travel Column (3-1)

SHOW: #11 Will’s Secret (30-1)

The Derby

WIN: #1 Known Agenda (6-1)...will pay $62.40

PLACE: #17 Highly Motivated (10-1)...will pay $86.80

SHOW: #10 Midnight Bourbon (20-1)...will pay 106.20

ALSO: #14 Essential Quality (2-1)...will pay $29.60

Churchill Downs Race No. 11 (5:51 p.m. ET/2:51 p.m. PT)

Dave Tuley liked #14 Millefeuille (20-1 morning line, went off 21-1) in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks...raced 8th of 13 as expected through opening half-mile...looked like a threat but only able to get up for 6th.



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