Thursday, May 2, 2024

Horses to Use in Derby Pick 5

It's hard enough picking one winner let alone the five (in a row) necessary to cash a lucrative Pick 5 wager, but it's always a fun handicapping challenge. The one time I was close to cashing, Maximum Security was DQ'd in the Derby and so I missed a $1,000+ score due to a judge's decision. The ticket cost was about the same as two movie tickets and is a fun way to play the five race all stakes sequence that culminates with the Kentucky Derby. 

For those not accustomed or never having played a Pick 5, in this case the base wager is 50 cents. A bettor can include more than one horse per "leg," resulting in a multiplier effect that determines total cost of the ticket. So if you pick 1 horse per lage, bet costs you two quarters. If you go two horses per race (2x2x2x2x2), cost is $16. You get the picture.

Below I've provided analysis of each of the races in that sequence. I generally budget $30-$50 and attempt to find one or two "singles" so that I can bulk up in less predictable races (or ones where I have less conviction) in hopes of surviving those legs.

Even if disinterested in the Pick 5, I've targeted a few prices horses below worth playing as win propositions or that could spice up your exacta or trifecta plays. Enjoy!

Race 8, Pat Day Mile (Grade 2, 2:46 p.m. ET): Ohio breeding aside, #7 Who Dey has a big shot and offers tremendous value at a morning line of 10-1. Jockey upgrade to Brian Hernandez after regular rider John McKee strangled the horse early in his 2024 debut on April 5 at Keeneland. Yet that second-place finish in the $400,000 Lafayette was impressive. Horse is clearly keen but once settled he advanced nicely late in the race without prompting. Never threatened for the win after being choked five lengths behind the leader but closed well and galloped out tremendously and gets an extra furlong on Saturday to gain ground and should be firing in the stretch. This son of Liam's Map has a win at Churchill (beat Derby runner Mystik Dan, who ran fifth that day) and weaved through traffic in that one and passes the eye test of a horse that can stalk what'll be a fierce pace and have enough late kick to win. In addition to win bet, will use in exacta with #12 Nash (3-1), who's trying a one-turn race for only the second time but ran gamely vs. Derby entrant Track Phantom. Will use both to start the Pick 5. 

Race 9, American Turf Stakes (Grade 2, 3:40 p.m. ET): The 14-horse field makes this incredibly difficult to handicap, particularly as the amount of speed signed on suggests closers should benefit. The one catching my eye most is #3 Lagynos (15-1), whose connections wasted time putting him on the Kentucky Derby trail but showed that he is clearly meant for turf. Won his debut at Kentucky Downs in mid-September, then had a few good dirt performances that I'm figuring inspired the owners to try preps to the Run for Roses. Once the 9th-place Rebel Stakes finish suggested dirt's not where money is to be made, they put Lagynos back on the lawn, where he ran a game third in the Grade 3 Transylvania on April 5. Christian Torres was the jockey in both turf tries and returns on Saturday. I sense this bettors could be chilly but 15-1 is certainly generous enough to take a shot. Expect a rail-skimming trip and hope something opens in the stretch as he's got good late kick on the two turf replays. Will use with #2 Trikari (15-1), European shipper and race favorite #5 Legend of Time (7/2), promising California entrant #7 Stay Hot (10-1), and #13 Can Group (15-1), who I might have picked as a winner if not for the wide post position and likelihood of a wide trip similar to his effort in the Transylvania. 

Race 10, Churchill Downs Stakes (Grade 1, 4:31 p.m. ET): Simply not a fan of race favorites #6 Zosos (3-1), #11 Hoist the Gold (7/2) and #2 Tejano Twist (4-1) and I'm always willing to play D. Wayne Lukas horses at 7/8 of a mile as he's one of the best when preparing middle-distance sprinters. Regardless of the big jump in class and switch to a greener rider, #7 Track Mate offers value at 12-1 and could go off higher than the morning line. The 4-year-old son of Union Rags is one of the least tested (9 starts) in an 11-horse field including a few that have banked more than $1 million. Yet the addition of blinkers has been a significant benefit the past two races with stylish wins albeit at 3/4 of a mile versus lesser foes. A bullet work on April 26 (best of 25 runners) tells me this one's sharp, and I really like the post just off #6 Zozos, a need-the-lead type that I'm not using off a 6-month layoff. I may single Track Mate on my "A" Pick 5 ticket and will wheel him in exacta and trifecta plays with #4 Mr. Wireless (6-1), who's been in the money in 9 of his last 10 starts dating to July 2022, and #3 Bo Cruz (10-1), who would be 2-for-2 to start 2024 without traffic troubles in his February 12 start at Fairgrounds.  

Race 11, Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes (Grade 1, 5:27 p.m. ET): Going with the favorite, #11 Naval Power (7/2), and won't overthink it. Frankie Dettori gets the mount and essentially swaps places with Tyler Gaffalione, who rides rail horse Integration (5-1). Naval Power was away for 13 months and exploded late to win a Grade 2 in Dubai on Feb. 23 before shipping to the U.S. and running a game second in the Grade 1 Makers Mark at Keeneland on April 12 behind Master of the Seas, maybe the best turf miler on the planet. Naval Power is betable both as a 7/2 win proposition and will be another single on my primary Pick 5 ticket. Will use in exacta with #4 Far Bridge (8-1), who had a great 3-year-old campaign in 2023 including getting nosed out by Webslinger in the American Turf and tuned up easily in Florida in late March for the Turf Classic. 

Race 12, Kentucky Derby (Grade 1, 6:57 p.m. ET): See Thursday's post for full rundown but in my primary Pick 5 I'm using #2 Sierra Leone (3-1), #4 Catching Freedom (8-1), #12 Track Phantom (20-1) and #17 Fierceness (5/2). 

Probably Pick 5 Ticket of $20: 7, 12 with 2, 3, 5, 7, 13 with 7 with 11 with 2, 4, 12, 17

No comments:

Post a Comment