Churchill Downs’ 14-race Kentucky Derby card is riddled with graded stakes, and we’ll discuss a couple of them here. If you’re looking for FanXT’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby itself, click here. Don’t forget to play FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game this weekend!
Churchill Race 7: The Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile
#9 ON LEAVE (8-1) may have needed her last start when she was third with a wide trip in the Honey Fox at Gulfstream. The one-mile specialist (4-for-7) has a knack for finding the winner’s circle (7-for-15 lifetime) and lures Jose Ortiz. Her speed figures are in line with the top contenders as well.
#3 DREAM AWHILE (7-2) goes for the always-dangerous Chad Brown outfit. She was run down late by stablemate Elysea’s World in the 1 1/8-mile Suwannee River last time out; the cutback should suit her fine. Irad Ortiz Jr. remains in the irons.
The play: $4 win 9, $3 exacta box 3/9 ($10)
Churchill Race 11: The Grade I Old Forester Turf Classic
#10 BEACH PATROL (5-2 morning-line favorite) is the class of the group, as he posted consecutive Grade I victories late last year before settling for second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. However, 1 1/8-miles seems a little short for him and he may need this race to shake the rust off.
#3 KURILOV (6-1) looks poised to spring the upset off a terrific outing in the Gulfstream Park Turf. He nearly reeled in Heart to Heart (who took the Maker’s 46 Mile next time out) while beating next-out stakes winner Hi Happy. He doesn’t project to get a strong pace to close into but he can lay close enough to put himself in the race early. Look for KURILOV and Irad Ortiz Jr. to get first run on the deep closers.
The play: $10 win 3
DFJ analysis: Irad Ortiz Jr. has accomplished a lot in just a few years, but he has yet to win a Kentucky Derby. HOFBURG gives him a realistic chance on Saturday. In addition to that mount, Ortiz Jr. has five stakes assignments on the undercard. Chief among them are the aforementioned DREAM AWHILE and KURILOV.
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