Churchill Downs Picks & Analysis for April 28
Place your first single bet on any race and get up to $200 back as wagering credit if your horse doesn’t win. T&Cs apply,21+
Racing action resumes on Wednesday at Churchill Downs as things ramp up with an eye toward the G1 Kentucky Derby on Saturday. As usual, our in-house handicapper has made picks for the whole card and has additionally provided analysis of his strongest opinions throughout the day.
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Saturday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Most Likely Winner: Tough Love (Race 5) - Tough Love presents a unique opportunity in that he’s a very likely winner (in fact, the most likely winner on the card, according to my calculations), but he should still be a decent price in this high-end optional claimer. That’s due primarily to the presence of the eminently beatable The Sound, who will likely still take some money despite disappointing recent results. Tough Love isn’t the most trustworthy himself, but he does appear to be rounding back into form after a third-place finish in an optional claimer at Oaklawn Park that was essentially a stakes race. Furthermore, this horse ran the best race of his life over this track on October 30 of last year, so I’m expecting him to take another step forward in this spot, which makes him a standout against this suspect bunch.
Best Value: Spheroid (Race 10) - Dale Romans appears to have a very strong hand in the finale. His Bear Alley is probably going to go off favored, and is indeed a legitimate contender as he switches back to the main track following a fine 4-year-old debut on the turf at Gulfstream last month, but it’s the other Romans horse I prefer. Spheroid is a curious addition to this field considering he’s been running for 50k and absolutely bombed in his last race on turf. The speed figures he’s been running on dirt seem to give him little chance, so you have to wonder why Romans would actually bump him up in class when he already has the favorite in this race. What that tells me is that his horse must be doing really well, and I also believe the field he faced two back at Gulfstream is much stronger than it appears on paper. Spheroid attracts a live rider in Ricardo Santana, Jr. and he’s going to fly completely under the radar here as his stablemate soaks up most of the attention; anywhere near his morning-line odds of 15-1 would represent excellent value.
Other Races of Interest: Race 4 - She may want to go a bit farther than this, but I think Joy of Treasure (#3) makes a lot of sense in this race as she gets back to doing what she does best: running on turf. Her races over the winter at Turfway Park were subpar, however it’s by no means a given that she should relish that synthetic surface, and while some may be scared off by the recent trainer change, consider that Eddie Kenneally has really been struggling lately, so it’s necessarily as big a downgrade as you might think. If Joy of Treasure can reclaim even the modest form we saw her in on the turf in 2020, she’s going to be a major player in this spot.
Race 9 - The Kentucky Juvenile is pretty much just a dart board considering the lack of meaningful information we have at our disposal, however based on early returns I’m siding with American Bound (#8) as my top pick. I think a lot of people are going to be spooked by the runner-up from his debut Bode by You (#1) coming back to finish a distant second behind Kaufymaker (#4), who is probably the lesser of the Wesley Ward entry in this race, but I just don’t think Bode by You ran a comparable race in her second start. American Bound ran a relatively fast race first out when nothing was expected of him, and I think he’s going to benefit from the tiny bit of added ground he gets here. He should also move forward in his second start, which may not be the case for the bulk of this field who were cranked up to win first out, and I like that he’s drawn the far outside, where he should be able to avoid trouble.
*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*