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Derby Prep Race Picks: Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial and the Blue Grass Stakes

Outside of the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup, today is the best day of horse racing in the calendar year. It’s win and you’re in with 100 Kentucky Derby points on the line in the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial and Blue Grass Stakes. If you have $20 and need a little help picking the ponies, I’m your man.

Santa Anita Derby

Post: 7:14 p.m. ET at Santa Anita Park
Bet: If you must, .50 trifecta with 1, 5 and 6.

To be frank, I have no idea why they’re still running this race. The killer track canceled the San Felipe Stakes and since they resumed racing last week, another horse has already died. The track’s conditions have scared many away, only six horses are in the field, but not Bob Baffert.

The two-time Triple Crown Champion has a pair of horses running today, Roadster and Game Winner. The former flopped in the Del Mar Futurity, falling to Game Winner and finishing third. Game Winner’s only loss was at the wire in the Rebel Stakes. Closing in on Omaha Beach, he fell by just a nose. The extra 1/16 is all this horse needs.

An objectively bad race to bet, Game Winner will probably be even money at post time. If you go exotic, use Instagrand. After this win Game Winner will be your Kentucky Derby favorite.

Wood Memorial

Post: 6:00 p.m. ET at Aqueduct
Bet: .50 trifecta on 1, 2, 4 and 7.

In recent years the Wood hasn’t produced elite Derby caliber horses, but this year they might have the most entertaining prep race to date.

Three stakes winning horses headline the field. Tax won the Grade III Withers by a head with a 102 speed rating. Haikal posted the same figure when he won the Grade III Gotham Stakes. Tacitus has the biggest win of the bunch in the Tampa Bay Derby. Final Jeopardy is a decent contender, but this will be a three-horse race.

I’m impartial to Tapit horses, in this case Tacitus, and “I know a guy” when it comes to Not That Brady. Aside from his last race, he has an impressive resume. If he hits the board it’ll be a nice payday.

Blue Grass Stakes

Post: 6:23 p.m. ET at Keeneland
Bet: $1 exacta on 1, 3, 8. 

Keeneland is typically chalky, but I don’t see it happening that way today. Vekoma has all of the buzz after falling to two future Derby runners, Code of Honor and Bourbon War, in the Fountain of Youth. Even though Signalman fell off the map in the Fountain of Youth, a friend of a friend’s friend told me it’s time for a bounce back. That’s why I’m throwing that favorite in my exacta.

The two I prefer are Win Win Win and Somelikeithotbrown. Not only does the latter have an incredible, Derby-worthy name, he’s one back-to-back races and consistently posts speed figures in the 90s. Win Win Win’s numbers are even better. If he didn’t get pushed five wide in the Tampa Bay, he’d already have a Grade II Stakes win.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR