by Eddie Olczyk
April 4, 2019
Three big races in California, Kentucky and New York will help set the Kentucky Derby picture today. Among those, the Santa Anita Derby and Blue Grass at Keeneland will be where I focus my wagering.
Santa Anita Derby (Santa Anita, Race 8, 6:30 pm ET)
Bob Baffert has the favorite in Game Winner, last year’s 2-year-old champion. But if he’s to win Saturday, he will have to run down his stablemate. Roadster comes off a huge March allowance victory vs. lesser competition, but it was a really good race for him. Pace-wise, Instagrand figures to go to the front and Roadster can sit just off him under Mike Smith. Roadster should get the jump on his barnmate Game Winner and should offer value as the second betting favorite in this short field.
Betting Strategy: Take #1 Roadster to win with #6 Game Winner and #5 Instagrand the likely underneath runners.
Blue Grass (Keeneland, Race 10, 6:23 pm ET)
With a 14-horse field and modest run to the first turn, I’m hoping for a pace meltdown in the Blue Grass and shooting for some prices. I don’t like the post, but I love the price and potential for widest-drawn Aquadini. If he can rate a bit like he did two starts back at Fair Grounds, that’s the upset recipe. At 30-1 in the morning line, we will get paid if we’re right. Dallas Stewart is a star 'longshot' trainer and his horses always seem to run well this time of the year at big odds. The other closers to watch come out of the Tampa Bay Derby, Win Win Win (7-2 morning line) and Sir Winston (15-1 morning line). There’s not as much separating those two as the morning line odds suggest. Finally, Vekoma is a very short price (9/5 ML) but he's never run a bad race and this is his second race off a layoff, which should set him up for a big effort. His inside post (#2) will ensure he doesn't lose a lot of ground, which can't be said for the rest of the field.
Betting Strategy: I’ll be playing #14 Aquadini to win, while boxing the Exacta with #14 Aquadini, #2 Vekoma, #8 Win Win Win and #9 Sir Winston.