Kentucky Derby undercard plays for turf racing on May 1

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

April 28th, 2021

In a previous piece I tabbed horses in the trio of graded stakes races on the dirt at Churchill Downs on Saturday, and this one focuses on the three grassy features on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

MUCCIOLO: Kentucky Derby undercard plays for dirt stakes on May 1

Race 6 -- Distaff Turf Mile S. (G2)

Fillies and mares will run one mile on the green in a fine event. Group 3 vixen #3 New York Girl has yet to receive an honest pace to rally into in her three starts since arriving in the U.S., but that will change on Saturday. New Approach chestnut comes in fresh for this affair and has trained well as of late for Bill Mott. The tactical four-year-old does step up in class some, but she looks well placed to make the grade in her local debut.

Race 9 -- American Turf S. (G2)

A massive field of 14 sophomores will contest the 1 1/16-mile turf fray. #12 Lucky Law might be a bit of a stretch to win the race against such a talented field, but I like what I have seen from the son of No Nay Never, and I consider him to be a top-three presence at a healthy number. Biancone trainee was a troubled fourth in the Cutler Bay S. most recently, and I expect the Irish-bred to improve second off the shelf. Picking up Geroux is always a good thing, as well.

Race 11 -- Turf Classic S. (G1)

A sensational field of turf performers will go postward in a difficult handicapping assignment. I am of the belief that #3 Colonel Liam can do just about anything on the turf, and he will be very tough to knock off if he runs his race. Pletcher pupil is a star who is proven from 1 1/16 miles to 1 3/16 miles, and he earned a robust 119 Brisnet Late Pace figure over a good turf strip at Fair Grounds most recently, proving that he can handle some moisture in the ground.

For value, I will dabble with California invader #7 Smooth Like Strait for McCarthy. Grade 2 victor has come close at the Grade 1 level on a pair of occasions, and while he still has to prove himself against a field of this stature, the Midnight Lute colt is the controlling speed in the event by a healthy margin. The four-year-old is a candidate to steal the race beneath Rispoli.