LOUISVILLE --- Good morning from Churchill Downs and Happy Derby Day to you! The weather is currently partly cloudy and the chance of thunderstorms later in the afternoon is 60 percent. The Garland of Roses just arrived at Gate 18 and will be on public display here at the Jockey Club Balcony for the next three hours.
Some early morning Derby notes, with the scratch of Uncle Mo yesterday, the two outside horses, Nehro and Watch Me Go will move inside one post each. After yesterday's advance wagering money is already pouring in on Calvin Borel and Twice the Appeal who is down to 7-1 from his 20-1 morning line.
We'll keep a live bankroll today and make a $2WPS wager on a horse in each race, so follow along and we'll pass on information as the day progresses.
Race 1: The opener is a 1 mile allowance race named after Genuine Risk, only the second filly to win the Kentucky Derby. We'll try and build our bankroll by taking a shot with #2 Wicked Dreams and the Leparoux/Maker combination who's drifting up on the board over his morning line.
Uncle Pink (no relation to Uncle Mo) going turf to dirt takes the opener going away, was considering but was scared off his trainers 0 percent turf/dirt angle. Wicked Dreams didn't fire at the eighth pole and finished in the back of the field. Bankroll: (-$6.00).
Race 2: The Funny Cide is a 1 1/16 mile allowance and this one's all about Bind with Rosie Napravnik up. He's the speed of the race for trainer Albert Stall Jr., who trained Breeders' Cup champ Blame. By the way, the undercard is being televised on VERSUS starting at 11am.
Bind couldn't negotiate traffic trouble and Worldly, a nice looking 4-year old out of A.P. Indy wouldn't let him get to him. We pick up $4.50 for the place and show, but bankroll is down $7.50.
Race 3: Baffert firster C J Russell taking the early money in the first sprint of the day. We'll jump on #2 Golden Triumph who should improve in his second start. The Garcia/McLaughlin combo is always dangerous.
Now we know why CJ was taking all the dough as he was much the best in the third, paying $3.80. Golden Triumph threatened coming up the rail, but much like his first race had nothing left in the stretch. Bankroll: (-$13.50). It's been fairly chalky so far, hopefully we can catch a price horse.
Weather update: It's has been getting gradually darker as the morning has progressed, I have a feeling we'll be getting wet before the day's over. Just said hello to Jim Gluckson from the Breeders' Cup who will be hosting the 2011 Championships here at Churchill in November.
Race 4: Taking a break to run down to the paddock, we like #7 Perfect Shirl here coming off a super sharp workout at Keeneland. I'm a big fan of Javier Castellano on the turf, and will box him with Persuading.
It's all about the chalk today, Shirl finished third paying $2.60 which will get you a cup of coffee and that's about it. Snow Top Mountain ($5.40) wins for trainer Thomas Proctor with Garret Gomez up, Persuading finished second. By the way, a couple of raindrops falling in the paddock area, which is already a mob scene. Bankroll: (-$16.90).
Race 5: It's as good a time as any to go bombing. We'll take a shot with #6 Lee Chapel and Julien Leparoux, a Ghostzapper colt whose lightly raced.
Wrong longshot! While Lee Chapel threatened in the stretch, he died on the rail in the final furlong. Goodtimehadbyall (well, not me) held off Fusa Code and paid a nice $22.60 to win. First double digit winner of the day. Bankroll (-$22.90)
Race 6: The Grade 3 Twin Spires Turf Sprint is next, run over 5 furlongs. Some very good horses in here, including Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint Champion Chamberlain Bridge who won over this turf course in November. Regally Ready should be a decent price and we'll try and get off the schneid by trying to beat the Bridge.
Ok, the maiden is broken. Regally Ready ($8.80, $4.40, $3.00) made a nice move to jump to the outside after cruising behind Bridgetown and passed him in the final 100 yards for a nice win at 3-1. We're alive on a side Pick-3 ticket that goes 4,6,7/1,2,7,8,11 over the next two races. Bankroll: (-$12.70)
Did you know that during this year’s Derby week, more than 120,000 Mint Juleps are expected to be served at Churchill Downs. Over the past 24 years, more than 2.5 million Mint Juleps have been served between Oaks and Derby Days at Churchill Downs. If I didn't hit that last race I was going to add to that total!
Race 7: Our first Grade 1 of the day, the Humana Distaff, a 7-furlong race for fillies and mares is up next. Hilda's Passion should be the odds-on favorite. Amen Hallelujah adds blinkers for new trainer Michael Nevin, and we'll see if that helps end her case of seconditis.
Wow! Big balloons in the Humana with Sassy Image ($34.20) pulling a major upset at 16-1. Amen Hallelujah got up for third paying $3 and getting half our investment back. Bankroll: (-$15.70).
Race 8: The Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile is next. We'll back Aviate, second start after shipping in from overseas and second time Lasix. Taking over Never Retreat who could get caught wide on the clubhouse turn breaking from the outside gate.
Still no rain and the sun seems to be trying to sneak out.
Boom goes the dynamite! Aviate comes charging down the four path and overtakes Aruna to win at 5-1! He pays $13.20, $6.40 and $5 to bringing the bankroll into the black. Bankroll: +$3.00.
Race 9: We're staying with the letter A and backing Apriority in the Churchill Stakes. A Grade 2 sprint going 7 furlongs. We'll wheel him in an exacta also with Smiling Tiger, Capt. Candyman and Here Comes Ben (who returns to his favored distance).
Dialed In is still the early Derby favorite at 5-1.
Ouch!! Apriority loses a photo to Aikenite who wins at 13-1, but still pays $7.80 to place and $6.20 to show which takes out bankroll to +$11 for the day, which ironically is the cost of a mint julep plus a buck tip! A tough beat, but how can folks let Pletcher/Velazquez go off at 13-1! Bankroll: +$11.00
Kentucky Derby update: Some real movers in the early odds, Master of Hounds is down to 13-1 and Midnight Interlude is getting some Baffert love, is down to 8-1.
Race 10: The Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, a 1 1/8 mile test on the weeds is up next. The selection is Smart Bid with Edgar Prado up. Prado was aboard Barbaro in my first live Derby so this is a sentimental pick for me. If you're looking for a long shot to recoup some losses, Rahystrada may be the pick.
Another second, but first you cash the ticket then you complain about how small it is. Smart Bid takes second and pays $7.80 and $5.20 to add $7 to our bankroll and assures that we'll end the day in the black. On a positive note I have Get Stormy on a $1 Daily Double ticket with Archarcharch, Dialed In, Mucho Macho Man, Midnight Interlude and Soldat. Bankroll: $18.00
The big one is up next.
Race 11 - The Kentucky Derby: The purse for the Derby is $2,171,800, with the winner taking home $1,411,800. The remaining purse disbursement is $400,000 for second; $200,000 for third; $100,000 for fourth and $60,000 for fifth. Chicago's Dave Flores will have an opportunity to bet $100,000 in a dream bet sweepstakes, we'll keep you posted on his selection. Last year, Glen Fullerton placed the $100K on Super Saver and cashed a ticket worth $900,000.
We've broken an attendance record that has stood for 37 years! Today's attendance figure at Churchill Downs is 164,858, besting the record set in 1974 that was 163,628.
As for the Derby, we're sticking with our selections from Friday's paper. We'll stay with Mucho Macho Man (currently at 9-1) for the win and we'll box him with Dialed In, Soldat, Archarcharch and Midnight Interlude. Good luck everyone!
Mr. Flores just made his selection and put the $100,000 on Mucho Macho Man! Hope I didn't jinx him!
Animal Kingdom ($43.80, $19.60, $13) wins the Derby off a six-week layoff and Johnny Velazquez put on this horse just yesterday wins his first Derby! Nehro finished second (again) and the Post Time selection, Mucho Macho Man finished third which paid $7 for the show. Final bankroll: +$19.
Thanks for following along all day and hope you cashed some winners.
--- Gene Kershner