One of the biggest events in the sport of horse racing will get underway this weekend as riders take to the track at the iconic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, for the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby. As jockeys, horses and spectators prepare for the hotly anticipated event, Weather forecasters say Mother Nature may shake up the odds this weekend.
The track at Churchill Downs is generally described as dirt, but it is actually a mixture of river sand, silt and clay. Despite this heartier mixture, it is still subject to the whims of wet weather.
The ground crews at Churchill Downs will certainly have their work cut out this weekend. Rain and even a few rumbles of thunder are forecast to begin as early as Thursday night and persist through much of Friday before tapering to showers late.
Practice on Tuesday for the event was rain-heavy, perhaps serving as a foreboding warning for Saturday’s conditions:
Derby horses only race a handful of times before getting to Churchill Downs, so it’s not always easy to see who will benefit from a wet track. In fact, 13 out of 20 of the horses in this year’s Derby have never raced on a wet track.
Important Note – Three of the horses have won on a wet track, including the two favorites, Epicenter and Zandon.
Race 11 — Longines Kentucky Oaks
Distance: 1 1/8 Miles
Post Time: 5:51 p.m. ET
#10 Kathleen O was very impressive in her last start and should improve even more with longer distance in this spot. She has been trained beautifully leading up to this race. #4 Nest has looked like a monster this year in her two starts. If that type of effort happens again today, she will be tough to beat.
#8 Venti Valentine 20/1 – This is too much value for me to pass up. Tyler Gaffalione will have the ride of his life aboard the Chestnut Filly trained by Jorge Abreu. Her only wet start resulted in a 3.5 length victory and I feel that is important heading into the Oaks with the weather forecast looking wet. I black booked her at Aqueduct after she bolted in over the mile and was still very green with lots of improvement. Was tightened up over the 1800 in the lead up to today’s main target and is the best each way bet for the 2022 Kentucky Oaks.
Kentucky Derby Best Bet
Race 12 — G1 Kentucky Derby Presented By Woodford Reserve
Post Time: 6.57 p.m. ET
Zandon (3-1) – The son of Upstart made an impressive move to win the Blue Grass Stakes and it looks like he just keeps improving. He’s trained well at Churchill Downs and I wasn’t going to pick him before watching him train for two weeks but now I just can’t not pick him to capture the Roses.
White Abarrio (10-1) – The son of Race Day has only one loss and it came at Churchill Downs last fall, but he won the Florida Derby and continues to get better. Has improvement in him.
Epicenter (7-2) – He’s the leader of the division, but I feel like he doesn’t get a lot of the buzz because he isn’t dazzling. He is a quintessential Derby horse: He has good prep races, is versatile, is winning the right way, has the speed to press and has top connections in
Joel Rosario for Steven Asmussen. Don’t complicate it, yes its been a while between runs, but if he breaks well from 3 he checks all the boxes.