Anyone who qualifies for the championship round of TwinSpires.com’s Kentucky Derby Dream Bet via the Risen Star Stakes on Saturday, February 20, at Fair Grounds, will have earned it, as the kickoff to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series features a well-matched group of established stakes horses and up-and-coming maiden winners.

It is from this latter group that I will bet $15 to win, as #4 Bistraya ships east from California after finally breaking his maiden in his fifth career start.

Normally I don’t love horses who need two turns to finally win, but the layoffs between starts as a two-year-old followed by the big three-year-old debut and five-week turn around into this give me hope that trainer Ricky Agarie has figured this one out, and Edwin Maldonado in for the ride gives confidence as well.

Sticking with that California shipper vibe (or maybe it’s just a #4 thing), I’ll also mention that Forever Darling is my pick in the TwinSpires.com Rachel Alexandra Stakes. The Santa Ynez was a strong three-year-old debut, and Congrats fillies do well at these shorter route distances.

Watch the video below to hear announcer John G. Dooley reminisce about Rachel Alexandra’s Fair Grounds appearance.