Ace handicapper Anthony Fontaine has delved into the Churchill Downs card for the 146th Kentucky Derby. He provides his thoughts and selections on the Kentucky Derby and some of the supporting stakes on the card.
American Turf Gr. II
Race 8 Selections: 4-5-8
#4 Field Pass gets the nod in this extremely competitive race chocked with lots of speed. This one has shown some ability to stalk and those tactics will be needed to prevail today. Tough race.
#5 Smooth Like Strait is strictly the one to beat as this runner has put up some speed numbers that may leave these running for second. The one reason I leave a window of an upset open is the amount of other speed signed on. If a duel develops or the early pace is hot it may leave a few of the favored runners vulnerable late. #8 Fancy Liquor is another that likes to run close and may be wide with today’s setup. I like this one to outrun the odds and if somehow the rider can manage to break sharply and save ground may be tough late.
Pat Day Mile Gr. II
Race Nine Selections: 9-2-1-4
#9 Rushie gets a bit of class relief albeit going against a salty group in this event. Horse has had success at this distance before and is working well for this event. Should be formidable in the lane.
#2 Echo Town has been a consistent runner that brings his A game every race. Comes into this contest off a nice stake score at the Spa and has shown an affinity for this surface in the past not to mention trainer and jockey have been red hot this week to start the Churchill meet. Strictly the one to deny. #1 Cezanne comes in for the white-haired wonder of the west off a tough race where he faced his toughest competition to date and was found wanting. Has worked well since and inclined to give this runner a big shot against this group today.
Iroquois Gr. III
Race Ten Selections: 4-10-11-2
#4 Ultimate Badger won his debut passing runners in the mud at Ellis. The waters are deeper today however this runner looks to have a promising future and may pull an upset with a game effort.
#10 Therideofalifetime has shown ability and has not run a bad race to date. This one will be tested today as well and will be a short price, could win however not convinced this one is head and shoulders above this field. A competitor for sure. #11 Notary appreciated the stretch out last time and prevailed at Ellis. Although this race is a one turn mile, if Franco can work out a good trip I feel this runner will outrun the odds. Do not ignore.
Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Gr. II
Race Eleven Selections: 4-6-3-7
# 4 Newspaperofrecord has certainly looked good in the two outings this year. Faces a good group however if this one is on her game should handle this field handily.
#6 Beau Recall will need a lively pace to close into as the most recent outing saw this runner severely compromised by a slow pace. With a better pace today can contend for a major slice. #3 Juliet Foxtrot tries hard each time and does seem to be a cut below the best lady turf runners. I have no doubt connections have this one primed for a good performance today and with some luck can get a share.
Derby City Distaff Gr. I
Race Twelve Selections: 1-9-8-10
#1 Mia Mischief has had a wonderful career and always runs her heart out each and every race. Gave Guarana all she could handle last time and has had plenty of time to recover from that gut wrenching effort. Looks formidable today against this group.
#9 Bellafina has been running some competitive races however makes very infrequent trips to the winner’s circle. Gets to go a distance she has ran well in the past and pace should set up for her late kick. One to deny late. #8 Serengeti Empress is another ultra-tough runner that comes off a great effort at the Spa. There appears to be enough pace pressure to keep this one going from the start and may be a bit vulnerable late. Then again, this one has surprised many a handicapper in the past with her tenacity and gameness.
Turf Classic Gr. I
Race Thirteen Selections: 8-2-3-1
#8 Sacred Life had a great prep race at Monmouth and catches a field with a good amount of speed signed on. If rider can work out a clean trip this one will be rolling late.
#2 Bowies Hero is another runner who would appreciate a lively pace. Horse has popped up with some particularly good efforts in the past and feel he can in this spot as well. #3 Rockemperor will be one of the more fancied runners based on the past performance lines and this one does deserve respect. Has been a consistent competitor and will be tough to deny if rider can work out a good trip today.
Race Seven Selections: 16-13-17-7
#16 Honor A.P. has been prepared for this race very patiently by the under rated Sheriffs. The post is no bargain however must believe that Big Money Mike albeit his tendency to go wide, will make a concerted effort to save some ground. That is my biggest concern with this runner. If he gets a good trip everyone else is running for second.
#13 Attachment Rate has the potential to light up the tote board if this runner can avoid trouble. His style tends to put him in difficult positions however today it may prove an asset. With the mad dash for the first turn this runner should be able to tuck in and watch the race unfold. At the top of the lane when many will be retreating for their showers and hay rack is when this one should be hitting his best stride. WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME IN THE LEAST. #17 Tiz the Law has been unstoppable with only one blemish on his stellar career. The post gives me some pause as rider will be forced to enter the thicket of a pace duel from out in Elvis country. EVERYONE wants to win the Derby and every opposing rider will do whatever they can to make it difficult for their opponent. If he gets a smooth trip, he waltzes into the winners circle.