Louisville, Ky. –The Kentucky Derby undercard has plenty of top flight horses running in six graded stakes leading up to the Run for the Roses. The NBC Sports Network broadcast starts at Noon. The graded races preceding the Derby will kickoff at 1:13 p.m. EDT with the Grade 1 Humana Distaff (Race 6). Race 11, the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf is scheduled to go to post at 5:25 p.m.
1-Local Hero (5-1), 21st on the Derby qualifying list, decided not to enter the Derby and will run in the Pat Day Mile (Race 8) instead. We’ll also see last year’s Queen’s Plate winner 5-Sir Dudley Digges (4-1) in an optional claimer in Race 5. Last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner 5-Finest City (8-5), is the morning line favorite in the Humana Distaff.
The flagship network NBC Sports will take over the undercard races at 2:30 p.m. They will telecast through the Derby, scheduled for approximately 6:46 p.m. Track conditions continue to be dicey with the amount of rain that has hit the track since Thursday.
Rain started back up around 8 a.m. this morning after a 10-hour hiatus overnight. This system should clear by mid-afternoon and while the patrons will be dry, the track will have only a few hours to dry out and will likely continue to be an off track.
Here’s a capsule look at the three graded races heading into the Derby, making up a Pick-4, ending in the Kentucky Derby (Race 12).
Race 9 – The American Turf (G3) – 1 1/16 miles (Turf) – 3:37 p.m. EDT
This race looks like one to spread in, especially with turf that will likely be yielding or soft. 10-Good Samaritan (5-1) only has one blemish on his resume and Bill Mott should have him ready in his 2017 debut. 4-Oscar Performance (4-1), last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner will use lasix for the first time and has a win on yielding turf at Belmont. Shipping in from the west coast is 7-Conquest Fahrenheit (5-1) is the lone speed angle play and should be included in multi-race wagersNever dismiss Javier Castellano on the grass, 2-Big Score (6-1) will provide nice value.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Good Samaritan; 2 – Oscar Performance; 3 –Conquest Fahrenheit; 4 –Big Score
Race 10 – The Churchill Downs (G2) – 7 Furlongs (Dirt) – 4:28 p.m. EDT
The 83rd running of the $500,000 Churchill Downs sprint has attracted a full field of 14. 2-Masochistic (5-2), Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up (prior to DQ for a meds violation) is the classiest horse entered, beware if the other speed horses in the race scratch. Millionaire 5-Clearly Now (6-1) has CD regular Corey Lanerie in the irons and ships in off a big allowance win. 8-El Kabeir (8-1) relishes a wet track in his second start with trainer Bill Mott. 1-Awesome Slew (4-1) comes out of an impressive win at Keeneland.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Masochistic; 2 –Clearly Now; 3 –El Kabeir; 4 –Awesome Slew
Race 11 – Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) – 1 1/8 miles (Turf) – 5:25 p.m. EDT
The $500,000 Turf Classic has 12 older horses pointed to the gates in the prelim to the Kentucky Derby. 6-Bal a Bali (6-1) ships in from California and trainer Richard Mandella keeps Hall of Fame-elect jockey Castellano in the irons. 4-Conquest Panthera (8-1) is interesting at a price for Casse, just missing in the Makers Mark Mile at Keeneland. 1-Kasaqui (10-1) was five-wide at the Fair Grounds, before just missing by a neck in the Grade 2 Muniz. 8-Beach Patrol should be ready to roll for trainer Chad Brown, and the World Approval scratch should help.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Bal a Bali; 2 –Conquest Panthera; 3 –Kasaqui; 4 – Beach Patrol
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.