The Kentucky Derby may be the biggest Saturday of the year when it comes to horse racing fans, but when it comes to betting on the top three-year old thoroughbreds in the nation it is tough to top this Saturday’s race card at three of the top tracks for major graded stakes events.
Highlighting Saturday’s card at Aqueduct is the Wood Memorial and Keeneland is once again the host track for this year’s Blue Grass Stakes. Moving out to the West Coast, the Santa Anita Derby rounds-out a full day of racing action. The following is a look at my top choice for sports picks in each of these $1 million events.
Wood Memorial- Aqueduct Race Track
The Wood Memorial is a Grade 1 stakes race open to three-year old thoroughbreds. It will be contested on dirt over a distance of 1 1/8 miles and the total price purse for this year’s race has been set at $1 million.
The actual field for this Saturday’s Wood Memorial is still taking shape and there could be as many as 12 horses entered in this race. The three-year old at the top of my list is Outwork. This Kentucky-bred colt finished second to highly touted Kentucky Derby contender Destin in this year’s Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 12 over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, this pedigree of Uncle Mo comes into this race with the highest rating in the field by Horse Racing Nation at 6.87. He remains relatively untested with just three career races, but he did place first in two non-graded events as a juvenile.
Blue Grass Stakes- Keeneland Racecourse
This year’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes is another Grade 1 event with a $1 million prize purse. It is open to three-year old thoroughbreds and this stakes race will be contested on dirt over a distance of 1 1/8 mile.
It could be a wild ride at this year’s Blue Grass with 16 horses listed as entered for Saturday’s main event. Leading the pack in my book is three-year old Kentucky-bred colt Brody’s Cause. Trained by Dale Romans, he still has a solid 7.18 HRN rating despite a very disappointing seventh-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby and I have a good feeling that he is going to live up to expectations this time around.
Brody’s Cause was an early Kentucky Derby favorite following his victory in the Grade 1 Breeders Futurity at Keeneland over a distance of 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 3. Later that month at this same track, he posted a strong showing in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by finishing third behind Nyquist and Swipe.
Santa Anita Derby- Santa Anita Park
The Santa Anita Derby is the biggest of three Kentucky Derby prep races held at this fabled track each year. It is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year old thoroughbreds and it will be contested on the dirt track at Santa Anita over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. There will be $1 million up for grabs as the total prize purse.
Right now it appears that eight horses will fill the field for this year’s Santa Anita Derby. While there are some interesting choices at the top of the list, my top choice to win this race and upset the betting odds is Mor Spirit. This is another Kentucky-bred colt that immediately caught horse bettor’s eyes as a juvenile with a victory in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity over a distance of 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 19.
Trained by Bob Baffert, he opened-up his three-year old campaign in strong form with a victory in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 6 . Last month in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, he placed second to Danzing Candy and while both horses are expected to go head-to-head again this Saturday, I am going with Mor Spirit to finish first this time around.