We know who the favorites are going to be: Bellafina in the Oaks and Omaha Beach in the Derby. But maybe you don’t like to bet chalk or you’re working out who to play in exotics. Either way, you’re going to want to know who’s coming into the races hot and who is not.
Kentucky Derby: Who’s Hot
Look deep inside yourself and ask, “Would Mike Smith have spurned Roadster for any
other horse in the Derby but Omaha Beach?” I don’t think so. He was the Baffert “C” at age 2. At 3, he’s the Baffert “A” with a bullet. He is improving with distance. And sure, the Kentucky Derby is only Roadster’s fifth start — but this is Bob Baffert we’re talking about.
The Jason Servis trainee is the only undefeated horse in the Derby. Whether it’s the class of his foes or the slow Florida Derby pace, everyone loves to question his talent. But he comes from a perennially live prep, and this year’s pace setup looks great for forwardly-placed horses.
Kentucky Derby: Who’s Not
He won the Blue Grass by open lengths but didn’t finish a mile and an eighth like he wants a mile and a quarter. He might become a dynamite one-turn miler, but the Blue Grass is about as good as he’ll have it in a longer route race.
Long Range Toddy
The colt was consistent in Arkansas and won the Rebel like a horse who could go longer than your usual Take Charge Indy baby. But in the Arkansas Derby, he looked like the distance and a prep season that hasn’t abated since August had caught up to him.
Kentucky Oaks: Who’s Hot
Larry Jones’ up-and-comer Street Band has rounded into herself since switching to rider Sophie Doyle and stretching out. Jones seasoned her in the allowance ranks before she made her breakout in the Fair Grounds Oaks. That spur of the Oaks trail has been live in recent years.
She rested through most of the prep season, then came back to run second in the Ashland. Now Ken McPeek has her ready to do her best: second off the lay, back on her favorite track and facing foes who have run full prep seasons.
Kentucky Oaks: Who’s Not
Jaywalk has yet to match her dominant two-year-old form this year. She may have needed the Gulfstream race, but the Ashland was a red flag. There’s even more pace in the Oaks than the Ashland, so for a horse who needs the lead against this class of foes, this doesn’t look like an optimal spot for her to bounce back.
She either coasts by open lengths or comes home nowhere near the frame. The task with her is deciding whether she’ll bring fire or ice. Like Jaywalk, her best efforts have come when she has been able to get a clear lead, but with so much other speed to battle with and a post draw in the parking lot, the forecast is looking wintry.