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Saturday, May 1: Jeff Siegel's Kentucky Derby Day Picks

by Jeff Siegel

May 1, 2021

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. This race-by-race analysis zeroes in on the Saturday, May 1 2021 14-race card on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs.

The selections are posted at 6:00 a.m. and updated later in the morning to reflect late scratches and changes (approximately 10:30 a.m.). For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.

Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence; Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass; Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play.

RACE 1: Post: 10:30 ET Grade: B-
Use: 4-Cool Bobby; 5-Soros; 6-Sounion

Forecast: The opener is a challenging one-turn mile first-level allowance event for older horses that requires a spread in rolling exotic play. We will try to get by using just three. Soros, a former stakes winner at this distance but away for more than a year, returns as a first-time gelding and is protected in a sign of confidence. If the lightly-raced son of Commissioner returns with his best stuff he can act with these. The work tab looks pretty decent for new trainer M. McCarthy, whose record with layoff runners is quite good (20% with a massive ROI). Sounion, another making his first start since being gelded, has never been worse than second in three prior starts over the Churchill Downs main track, and in a race that projects to have a comfortable early pace the son of Liam’s Map should find himself favorably placed while on or near the lead. He is fast enough on speed figures to handle this assignment and is reunited with “win rider” J. Leparoux. Cool Bobby was a 10 length winner over this track and distance (albeit on a sloppy surface) last fall and could inherit the role as the controlling speed if aggressively sent from the bell. He is another with recent speed figures that make him dangerous.

RACE 2: Post: 11:01 ET Grade: B-
Use: 1-Cadencia; 7-Cerulean; 10-Elle Est Forte; 11-Anthropology

Forecast: This grass grab bag for older maiden fillies and mares is another that offers several possibilities, some at very good prices. The strategy is to spread deeply and hope for a blowout payoff. First-time starter Cerulean is listed at 15-1 on the morning line but we suspect she is much better than that. A $180,000 OBS March sale purchase last year after breezing a furlong in 10 1/5 seconds, she finally makes it to the post and is bred to do her best work going long on the lawn. From a capable outfit and with L. Saez in the saddle, the daughter of Air Force Blue recorded a bullet gate drill at Keeneland (47 2/5 seconds, fastest of 101 for the distance) two weeks ago that should have her fit and ready. Anthropology, pegged at 30-1 on the morning line, has the two-sprints-and-stretch-out angle on her resume, and after a couple of runs over the all-weather surface at Turfway Park finally gets a chance to perform on the surface for which she was bred (Karakontie). On pure speed figures she is fairly competitive, so we will definitely include her. The morning line favorite at 2-1 is Cadencia, second vs. similar foes in her last three starts, two of which came as a strongly backed favorite. She lacks tactical speed and therefore may not be able to take full advantage of her inside draw, but with good racing luck and some help up front the T. Pletcher-trained filly will be heard from late. Elle Est Forte likewise has good recent from under these conditions and her speed figures are improving with every start. With another forward move today, the daughter of Flintshire will be right there.

RACE 3: Post: 11:31 ET Grade: B+
Use: 5-Koolhaus; 7-Alejandro

Forecast: We will double this race in rolling exotic play, but the main push will be reserved for Koolhaus, a developing 3-year-old from the B. Cox barn. With two good sprints under his belt in stronger-the-par races for the level, the son of Nyquist should be much more comfortable with an extra furlong to work with today, and from a stable that hits at a remarkable 32% with stretch-out runners this 3-year-old colt projects to settle in the second flight before being turned loose from the quarter pole home. There is plenty of value to be found at or near his morning line of 9/2. Alejandro finished first in a maiden router at Fair Grounds last month and earned a good figure in doing so, but had his number taken down for causing interference, so he is back with maidens again today. He is a son of Curlin from a daughter of Rachel Alexandra, so much is expected, and this S. Asmussen-trained sophomore certainly appears headed in the right direction.

RACE 4: Post: 12:04 ET Grade: B
Use: 4-Salvator Mundi; 6-Hay Dakota; 9-Gun It

Forecast: This messy turf mile for second-level allowance older horses is another affair that offers several price chances. Gun It is listed at 10-1 on the morning line and offers a good gamble at that price. He has been winless since the fall of 2019 but has raced on grass only once in his career (a good third place finish in a similar allowance event at Kentucky Downs last September) and today picks up J. Rosario. The S. Asmussen-trained horse is solid on numbers and projects to enjoy a comfortable second flight trip. Hay Dakota, at 8-1 on the morning line, is another “must use.” A two=time winner over the local lawn, the veteran gelding does his best work from off the pace and should have plenty of pace today to set compliment his style. Salvator Mundi is a shipper from California with credentials to be competitive off his best race. The son of Artie Schiller goes for the always-potent P. D’Amato/F. Prat combo (31%) and will have every chance from a mid-pack early position to wear down the leaders in the final furlong.

RACE 5: Post: 12:36 ET Grade: B
Use: 2-Who Took the Money; 5-Ghazaaly

Forecast: Ghazaaly is a progressive Ghostzapper colt with improving speed figures and is fresh from a nice maiden score at Keeneland last month. This is not a particularly strong first-level allowance event so with continued progression the T. Pletcher-trained colt should be capable of winning right back. Who Took the Money is undefeated in three starts – each of his wins have come against Louisiana-bred competition - and today he gets tested in open company. The speed figure he earned two races back at Fair Grounds will make him a very strong fit and arguably the potential favorite and one to beat. We should be able to survive and advance just using these two in our rolling exotics.

RACE 6: Post: 1:14 ET Grade: B
Use: 5-Got Stormy; 6-Blowout

Forecast: Blowout has a history of firing fresh and the C. Brown barn hits at 27% with layoff runners so we are expecting this English-bred mare to fire a big shot in her first outing since being nosed out in the Matriarch S.-G1 last November. She has generally been a front-running type but can stalk and pounce if the pace flow dictates, so F. Prat has the option of taking her back early if he so chooses. Got Stormy made hard work of it to win the Honey Fox S.-G3 in her most recent appearance in February and at age six with 27 races behind her she is probably not quite as good as she once was. Still, the M. Casse-trained mare always has to be respected. The pace should be quick and perhaps contested so her projected second flight, stalking position should have her in the proper position when called upon in the final furlong. We will use both in our rolling exotics and then press a bit keying Blowout on top.

RACE 7: Post: 1:56 ET Grade: X
Single: 4-Gamine

Forecast: Gamine is listed as the 1/5 morning line favorite, and it will take something unforeseen for her to be upset in the Derby City Distaff S.-G1 at her preferred distance of seven furlongs. The B. Baffert-trained filly did not have to be anywhere near her best to win the Las Flores S.-G3 in her seasonal bow at Santa Anita last month by five lengths and should be expected to be even sharper and fitter today. She can easily establish the pace in a field that lacks another front-running type and then do what she pleases from there as a no value free bingo square for rolling exotic players.

RACE 8: Post: 2:48 ET Grade: B
Use: 4-Defunded; 5-Prevalence; 8-Dream Shake

Forecast: We are going to try to beat the 3-1 morning line favorite Jackie’s Warrior, who may not quite be the same colt that was so impressive and precocious last year. If you would feel more comfortable including him on your rolling exotic ticket, go ahead. Instead, we will focus on three talented 3-year-olds who are turning back from route races to a one-turn mile, a distance that they should be ideally suited for. Dream Shake should enjoy this shortened distance after finishing a willing but weakening third in the Santa Anita Derby. His debut sprint win was spectacular, so if he can duplicate that type of performance today he will be tough to beat. Recent workouts indicate the P. Eurton-trained colt is ready to bounce back in a big way. Defunded was highly impressive breaking his maiden two runs back and then wound up a distant fourth in the Santa Anita Derby-G1 in a race that he probably was not quite ready for. Back around one turn today, removing blinkers, and switching to I. Ortiz, Jr., the gelded son of Dialed In sports a bullet five furlong workout (:59 flat) since raced and looks capable of settling off the pace and then blasting home. Prevalence failed to stay nine furlongs when unplaced in the Wood Memorial S.-G2 last time out and was victimized by traffic most of the way, so we will toss that race out. If he can run back to either of his first two races, the B. Walsh-trained colt can act with these. He is 6-1 on the morning line and that seems about right.

RACE 9: Post: 3:40 ET Grade: B
Use: 4-Annex; 5-Du Jour; 13-Scarlett Sky

Forecast: Annex and Scarlett Sky know each other well – they were heads apart when Annex won the Cutler Bay S. at Gulfstream Park - and then ‘Sky returned to frank the form when winning the Transylvania S.-G3 at Keeneland last month. Both deserve to be well-backed again in this middle distance turf event restricted to 3-year-olds, with Scarlett Sky deserving a very slight nod on top in a race that has sufficient speed signed on to compliment his closing style. We will also toss in the B. Baffert-trained California invader Du Jour, a Temple City colt with rising numbers in each of four outings that include two recent dominating scores against lesser foes. Today we will find out what he is made of.

RACE 10: Post: 4:31 ET Grade: B+
Use: 2-Mind Control; 5-Tap It to Win; 4-Flagstaff

Forecast: We are going to approach this race under the assumption that Whitmore has lost a step or two at age eight with 40 races of wear and tear behind him. The popular gelding may vulnerable again after failing as the favorite when twice beaten by C Z Rocket at Oaklawn Park in his two most recent outings. The son of Pleasantly Perfect is listed at 7/2 in this year’s renewal of the Churchill Downs S.-G1, and while that seems like a square price if you can get it, we will look elsewhere. Tap It to Win got a confidence-building win at Tampa Bay Downs in his comeback in late March and should be able to build on that effort today. In a field without intense early speed, the M. Casse-trained colt should be close up throughout and have every chance from a stalker’s position or maybe even on the front end if the situation presents itself. He is reunited with regular pilot J. Velasquez and appears primed for a career top performance. Flagstaff, pegged as the morning line favorite at 3-1, always is most effective in extended sprints, and after winning the Commonwealth S.-G3 last month at Keeneland he should be a live item right back, though it is puzzling that J. Rosario jumps off to ride Endorsed (listed at 12-1). Mind Control offers good middle-price value at 6-1 and is worth including as well. Four of his seven career wins have been accomplished over this seven furlong distance and with the switch to I. Ortiz, Jr. the veteran son of Stay Thirsty projects to settle in the second flight and then be troublesome from the furlong pole to the wire.

RACE 11: Post: 5:27 ET Grade: B
Use: 3-Colonial Liam; 4-Ivar

Forecast: This year’s Turf Classic-G1 is highly contentious, but two appear to stick out in the field of nine. Colonial Liam seeks his fourth straight stakes win and this lightly-raced 4-year-old, with just seven career starts, has room for further improvement as he develops and matures. The T. Pletcher-trained colt prefers to settle in the second flight and then blast home, and with regular jockey I. Ortiz, Jr. remaining aboard – he could have opted for Hollywood Derby-G1 winner Domestic Spending - the son of Colonel Liam looks capable of continuing his winning ways. Ivar, highly-impressive winning the Shadwell Turf Mile-G1 at Keeneland last fall and then a respectable fourth (beaten two lengths) in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile-G1 in November, returns off the bench for low percentage connections at a distance (nine furlongs) that he has never tried before. However, the Brazilian import was bred on Southern Hemisphere time and will not actually turn five until October, so we suspect this winner of five races from eight starts has plenty of improvement still in him. There are others on paper look dangerous, but we will try to survive and advance using just these two, with preference on top to Colonial Liam.

RACE 12: Post: 6:57 PT Grade: B+
Use: 14-Essential Quality; 15-Rock Your World; 12-Helium

Forecast: Here is the bottom line. We very much like Rock Your World to win this year’s Kentucky Derby and this undefeated son of Candy Ride will receive the bulk of our play both in the win pool and in our rolling exotics. Perfect in three starts and the earner of a triple-digit Beyer speed figure when winning the Santa Anita Derby-G1 in his first try on dirt, the J. Sadler-trained colt should be prominent throughout and perhaps even on the lead, just as he was in his most recent victory. However, ‘World was victorious from slightly off the pace in both his maiden win and in the Pasadena S., so the options are there for jockey J. Rosario to adjust to whatever race flow comes his way. Rock Your World is listed at 5-1 on the morning line and we see sufficient wagering value at or near that price. There are two other undefeated colts in the race, and they are at opposite ends of the wagering spectrum. Essential Quality, the 2-1 morning line favorite, is genuine, dependable, versatile, and must be respected, though he is not particularly imposing on speed figures. Helium (50-1) is considerably more dangerous than what the bare form shows in his Tampa Bay Derby-G2 win in a race in which he was forced to lose a considerable amount of ground throughout yet found the type of reserve energy when challenged in the final furlong that only good colts have. You can use all three in exactas and trifectas if you would like, along with other reasonable contenders such as Known Agenda, Hot Rod Charlie, and perhaps even Dynamic One, who at 20-1 should run a career top and may be able sneak in for at least a piece of it.

RACE 13: Post: 7:55 PT Grade: B+
Use: 4-Prime Factor; 7-One Fast Cat

Forecast: This first-level allowance extended sprint for 3-year-olds looks very much like a stakes race and in fact most of these will be competing in added money events in the near future. Prime Factor broke his maiden like a future star sprinting in his debut but then disappointed in a pair subsequent graded stakes races around two turns. Freshened, backing up in trip and adding Lasix for the first time, the son of Quality Road still has a chance to be a decent sort and this race may confirm out suspicion that he is best suited to sprint at this stage of his career. If so, the T. Pletcher-trained colt will be tough to beat. One Fast Cat is progressing nicely for W. Ward, winning his debut over the all-weather surface at Turfway Park in good style and then finishing a close third (beaten less than a length) in a strong allowance sprint at Keeneland last month. The son of Fast Anna switches to J. Rosario, shows a bullet workout since raced, and seems likely to continue his improving pattern. At 5-1 on the morning line, he is a major player. These are the two we will be including in our rolling exotics with preference on top to Prime Factor.

RACE 14: Post: 4:25 PT Grade: B+
Single: 5-Happy Hepo

Forecast: Happy Hepo did not make it the races until June of his 3-year-old season, and after flashing excellent speed before fading to wind up a distant fourth the son of American Pharoah has taken almost a year to make it back to the post. His recent workouts at Santa Anita have been superb – he has been showing superior speed while proving best over some talented workmates - so whatever the issue he had in his debut at Los Alamitos appears to have been corrected. F. Prat taking the call (38% when he hooks up with this barn) and we highly doubt that the B. Baffert-trained colt was put on a plane to Kentucky to be given a race. At 6-1 on the morning line, he is a win play and rolling exotic single to close out a glorious afternoon of racing.