Kentucky Derby Day undercard stakes plays: turf races

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

May 4th, 2022

A trio of graded stakes races will be contested on the lawn at Churchill Downs on Saturday, helping comprise a massive 14-race card.

Race 5: Distaff Turf Mile S. (G2)

Fillies and mares will travel one-mile in a very competitive tilt. Italian import #5 Wakanaka (6-1) closed with good energy to be runner-up to a nice one in the Honey Fox S. (G3) last time out, and I am tabbing her to go one better this time around. The Irish-bred showed marked improvement in her second start on U.S. grass, and I expect her to have a better pace scenario to rally into on Saturday. Jose Ortiz retains the mount atop the four-year-old.

#8 Speak of the Devil (2-1) cost in excess of $2.2 million in December, and the five-year-old is likely a serious player in this division for trainer Chad Brown. I often prefer European shippers second time out for this conditioner, but the mare is nonetheless something of a must-use in my opinion.

Race 9: American Turf S. (G2)

A deep field of 11 sophomores will go 1 1/16 grassy miles in this contest. George Weaver’s #2 Main Event (5-1) has improved his Brisnet Speed rating in each lifetime try to date, and I will side with the talented Bernardini colt. Cutler Bay S. romper has the gate presence to be in the hunt early, and I expect him to carve out a very good voyage with Jose Ortiz at the controls. The bay has come a long way in a short amount of time since moving to the lawn.

Race 11: Turf Classic S. (G1)

This important Grade 1 test attracted a field of 10. #1 Ivar (4-1) faced a much more difficult field in this race last season when he finished two lengths back, and I like his chances to take down the top prize on Saturday. Trained by Paulo Lobo, the Grade 1 victor has enjoyed prior success on this course, and the 1 1/8-mile distance is well within his scope. Last seen finishing a fine third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), the Agnes Gold six-year-old fires when fresh and will be saving ground throughout under Joe Talamo.