Check back here for daily selections on some the best races from coast to coast provided by track handicapper, Jessica Paquette.
Friday, May 4th
CHURCHILL DOWNS – Race 11, KENTUCKY OAKS
#5 WONDER GADOT may not have turned out to be the star she looked like she may be as a juvenile but odds of upwards of 20-1 seem way too enticing here. She has been knocking on the door of a breakthrough victory all spring and while she has not won as a sophomore, she has been in the thick of things against some of the fillies who will likely be favorites here. She is very capable of holding her own here and she has proven that she can be effective on practically any surface. In a year with no true star filly, why not take a swing? #11 MY MISS LILLY is getting a stiff class test here but so far she has passed every test. She has shown that she is a really game, hard knocking filly and has run well despite some adversity in her recent starts. She seems to be improving with each race and could surprise here. #14 MONOMOY GIRL is the deserving favorite here after a strong showing to win the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. She has shown up in all five starts this year and has a sharp turn of foot.
Saturday, May 5th
Looking for some local rooting interest on the star-studded Kentucky Derby Day card? Look no further than #6 PROCTOR’S LEDGE in the 7th race, the $300,000 Distaff Turf Mile (G2). She needed more last time out but is better than that race may indicate and could surprise here – also an interesting rider change to John Velazquez,
#14 MENDELSSOHN has looked the part at Churchill since coming out of quarantine and has made his presence be known – he is a quirky colt who whinnies while he is galloping and when he comes on and off of the track. The sound effects do not seem to have hindered his performance on the track and he has two major wins to his credit – the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and the UAE Derby on dirt. Oh, did I mention he is a half brother to the spectacular champion, Beholder? #6 GOOD MAGIC is the type of horse that is getting so overlooked and could surprise and offer a real value. He has been the model of consistency and while he did win the Breeders’ Cup as a maiden last year, it’s not like his two prior starts were bad. Chad Brown has this horse clearly primed to peak when it matters this year and he has gotten stronger and sharper with each race. #18 VINO ROSSO wants to go a mile and a quarter and there are several top contenders here who may not. He seems to have really taken to the Churchill Downs track since shipping in and off the Todd Squad, he has the most upside to me. #9 HOFBURG is included simply out of trust and respect for Bill Mott. This is not the sort of trainer that would throw a horse to the wolves after only three starts and no stakes win to his credit. He has to think so highly of this horse’s ability and maturity and that is good enough for me. =