Churchill Downs Picks & Derby City-6 Analysis for Oaks Day
In addition to a thrilling renewal of the G1 Kentucky Oaks, a special all-graded stakes Derby City Pick 6 with a $0.20 minimum awaits bettors on Friday at Churchill Downs. Our turf-man is jazzed for this sequence, and he is ready to provide an in-depth analysis, as well as picks for the entire card. He also has a special Oaks-Derby double bet elsewhere on the site...
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Friday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
THE OAKS: Derby City All-Stakes PICK 6…, PLUS A BONUS WAGER . . .
LEG 1: (Race 6: Dirt, 1 1/16th, Alysheba Stakes (G2), $400k, 4+)
To start this good-looking sequence, which has major potential for some excellent value, the Alysheba (G2) begins with what promises to be a short field of 6. Most of the money is going to flow in a pair of directions. Maxfield #6 is going to be well-bet, and it is certain that Brendan Walsh will be looking to get him back on track after a miss in the Santa Anita Big ‘Cap (G1). Coming into this race, if you toss that one, he is going to be a likely deserving favorite.
I want to include him in the ticket, but I also like Chess Chief #4 and Roadster #5 for a number of reasons. The former loped down that long stretch at the Fair Grounds and won by a head last time out in the New Orleans Classic (G2). His class rising through the LA ranks was impressive, and even though he finished 3rd to "Max" #6 in the Mineshaft (G3), that was still a big jump compared to the Co. he was handling just before that. Clearly, he could be a different horse this time around.
The other selection will be known to many because he is one of Bob Baffert’s lone older males who is still competing. Roadster #5 didn’t acquit himself well last time in the NOC (G2), finishing off the board. However, he wasn’t that far behind Chess Chief #4, so he has the ability to do much better this time. He does have a go over the CD MT, but that was in the KYD145 in 2019, and we all know what the conditions were like that day. With Irad Ortiz aboard, he is looking more and more attractive. A 9/2 hovering price would be pretty sweet. You know Ortiz is going to try and hustle him out early.
A tough race, that for some might seem easy . . . I don’t . . .
Selections: 4/5/6 (3-Deep)
LEG 2: (Race 7: Turf, 1 1/16th, Edgewood Stakes (G2), $300k, 3F)
This year’s Edgewood S. (G2) begins and ends with Brad Cox’s Aunt Pearl #6. Her sire, Lope de Vega (IRE) is as hot as ever, burning up the soft and firm ground (when it can be found) in Europe. This offspring by him turned in a 2-yr-old campaign which resulted in nom for the Eclipse Award for Champion 2-yr-old filly. Though she didn’t best Vequist, she was still fabulous. Her only one weakness—the bench. Is she ready to begin her 3-yr-old campaign at what figures to be a very short price?
Last year, she burned up the turf for Cox, enroute to a perfect 3/3. The capstone was a typical frontrunning score in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). If she gets to the lead, she can be absolutely lethal. If that running style returns, then it is going to be over before the 1C. Florent Geroux is back to ride the rocket, and I am hoping that she does not miss the break. Big chance with America’s hottest trainer and the reigning Eclipse Award winner in her corner . . . If you can find someone in here that can challenge her, I am willing to listen . . .
Selection: 6 (Single)
LEG 3: (Race 8: Dirt, 1 1/16th, La Troienne Stakes (G1), $500k, F&M 4+)
This appears to be one of the saltiest races to handicap on this Derby City P6 lineup. If you can get a “Single” out of this 7, then you are a better player than I am. There are several paths to take here. Ultimately, I think I am sticking with Brad Cox’s Shedaresthedevil #2, since her early speed is her greatest weapon. I was impressed with what Florent Geroux did against Letruska in the Azeri (G2) last time out at Oaklawn Park. Hustling to the lead like he did that became a crucial choice early, since it was such a close finish.
I like a couple of others that draw into this spot. Don’t count out Paris Lights #5 for Bill Mott, since this filly comes in on a 4-race win streak. Tyler Gaffalione is going to have a formidable mount, and she has the ability to stretch out based on being the daughter of Curlin. Her price is excellent at possibly over 8/1. The other entry that looks pretty impressive will surprise you. Rohan Crichton has an up-and-comer in Bajan Girl #4, and she will be double-digit odds come post time for sure. Luis Saez rides in what will be a full slate of races coming his way on Friday and Saturday. Using her in a variety of wagers could prove profitable.
I like all 3 of these runners more than Chad Brown’s Dunbar Road #3, who I am betting is going to be a touch slow off the shelf for her conditioner. Sometimes mares do that when they hit 5-yrs-old, as they would rather be in the breeding shed. Irad Ortiz rides, and of course, he is dangerous. I am including her, along with the rest, just not on top.
Selections: 1-7 (ALL)
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LEG 4: (Race 9: Dirt, 7F, Eight Belles Stakes (G2), $300k, 3F)
Taking a quick glance through this field might illicit the proverbial “sigh” based on the size of it. Don’t be fooled, there are really only a pair of 1-turn entrants that I would consider wagering on here. The first is Bob Baffert’s Kalypso #8, who of course, is shipping in from SoCal. She is a specialist already at this distance, and to my eye, looks extremely difficult to beat. Her early foot, coupled with Joel Rosario’s aggressive tactics, give her some powerful weapons if she can make the lead. I am fine with the post draw too, since being wide and well-off the temp rail is great.
The only other speed in her that could be a threat is Dayoutoftheoffice #10, which if you are typing fast can be a major twister to spell. She has not been seen since the BC Juvenile Fillies (G1) when Vequist caught her down the lane at Keeneland. The pair of them were up for the Eclipse Award, and Vequist won that too. Trainer Chad Brown knows what this one can do, otherwise he would not have waited this long to enter her. Still, the layoff is an issue, and that is why “Singling” her doesn’t make sense with such a fighter on the engine like Baffert’s certainly will be. Include them both, and in that, we have some nice cover.
P.S. One other I considered was Abrogate #11 from the barn of Steve Asmussen . . . if you can afford it, she might be worth a look, since that win at Oaklawn Park in the Purple Martin 200k was so convincing. A Trifecta tik, with the 2 aforementioned, makes a ton of sense to me.
Selections: 8/10 (2-Deep)
LEG 5: (Race 10: Turf, 5½F, Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes (G2), $250k, 3+)
Nothing easy about a turf sprint that is sure to not come up firm once post time rolls around. Significant rainfall was the cause. In other spots around the world, that might not be much of an issue. But in America, the crabgrass frontier, most tracks will not run when it’s yielding, soft, or even sometimes, good. Today, a number of solid runners have drawn in from various barns and locales, and I think I have a major play that is sure to be a big price!
Last out at Keeneland in the Shakertown (G2), Michelle Lovell’s 5-yr-old gelding, Just Might #5, absolutely went to pieces as the races unfolded. I was left with a bunch of tickets to shred that would fill a couple of waste baskets. Now, the perfect price and spot arrives for this son of Justin Phillip, and this is no time to abandon ship. Never quit on one like this because Colby Hernandez is riding well this past week at Churchill, and he has major experience with this one. Making the lead will be significant, and coming out of that #5 gate should assist with the angle. Lovell has knocked on the door when it comes to “Graded” Co. in the past. It is time to kick it down with authority.
Just in case . . . wait . . . right . . . that doesn’t happen, I have made room for some backups which include Joe Sharp’s Fast Boat #8, Pat Biacone’s Diamond Oops #9, and Peter Miller’s Sombeyay #10. Each of these has the ability to win this race, and utilize the ability to exhibit a strong turn of foot. When you put the collective turf riding ability together of Irad Ortiz, Florent Geroux, and Flavien Prat, that is some lawn mowing ability to be sure. Use ‘em . . .
Selections: 5/8/9/10 (4-Deep)
LEG 6: (Race 11: Dirt, 1 1/8th, Kentucky Oaks (G1), $1.25M, 3F)
I am not sure that Coach #9, Brad Cox’s “other” KYO entrant deserves to be 50/1. I think that qualifies her as an overlay, and because of that, she is a bet in my book. Compared to her stablemate, Travel Column #6, or former foes like Asmussen’s Clairiere #3 and Willi’s Secret #11, her record does not appear all that impressive. Yet, I see potential, and probably so does Cox.
In most of her outings she is just one of those types that gets shuffled back each and every time. That makes it difficult on dirt to have the opportunity to score from behind. Maybe what she needs is a more aggressive rider and more territory to run in. She gets both of those in the Oaks. Luis Saez is going to help Cox (discussed elsewhere by this turfwriter), win the Kentucky Derby, so it reasons that he can do the same in this spot. The 1 1/8th length is going to be excellent for this daughter of Commissioner.
Singling her doesn’t make sense in such an accomplished field, so if she cannot get the job done from off the pace, then leaning on Cox’s All-Star filly Travel Column #6 is not a bad plan. She is tactical and can rate well. If she needs to press, then she can do that too. In her 5 lifetime races, she has won 3, and those were tough tests against some very good runners like Clairiere #3. I am through the roof when it comes to backing the offspring of Frosted, and I think these types can handle a distance problem like the KYO presents. Florent Geroux has been on board this one from the start, and he has the experience to help guide her home.
Cox’s pair should get the job done, either way . . .
Selections: 6/9 (2-Deep)
TICKET: .20 DCP6 COST: $67.20