It's finally here, the two-day racing extravaganza located in Louisville, Kentucky. Friday is highlighted by the Kentucky Oaks, while Saturday's card is led by the Kentucky Derby, showcasing the top 3-year-olds of each sex currently in training. Here are previews for the weekend's Grade 1 races:
The La Troienne brings Paid Up Subscriber to Churchill Downs, but with a sloppy track in the forecast and the morning-line choice Finest City expected to scratch, the 1 1/16-mile contest for fillies and mares appears ripe for an upset.
In the Oaks, $1 million is on the line for an expected full field of sophomore fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Paradise Woods will likely be the favorite after her Santa Anita Oaks romp, but there are several other fillies in the field who have done little wrong in their brief careers. Farrell dominated the New Orleans racing scene all winter, Miss Sky Warrior put in a huge performance (over a relatively weak field) at Aqueduct last out, and Salty appear to have been training very sharply all week.
Saturday's action kicks off with the seven-furlong Humana Distaff for older fillies and mares. Breeders' Cup winner Finest City will likely be favored, but Paulassilverlining is primed for a big effort and may fare better if the track conditions do not improve. Carina Mia has always been quick, and the distance should suit her for a big performance.
The next G1 on the card is the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at nine furlongs on the grass. Divisidero is back to defend his title, but the Chad Brown-trained Beach Patrol was very tough in several outings last fall. If good enough, Bal A Bali has been on his toes all week and appears primed for a top effort, while the trio of Mark Casse trainees can't very well be left out of the exotics.
In the Kentucky Derby itself, the race appears to be anybody's game and will be a great betting event, if you get it right! Classic Empire has been on his best behavior all week, and will be tough to beat if that continues. Always Dreaming appears to be a bit too tightly wound, and may bounce off the Florida Derby effort, but a sloppy track may carry his speed beyond his ability. Thunder Snow has made a striking appearance on the track this week, as has Hence. McCraken appears to be peaking at the right time, and Irish War Cry is the hype horse right now. Gunnevera would benefit from a pace collapse, and Tapwrit appeared to really enjoy the sloppy going on Friday morning. Best of luck!
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