The racing kicks off on Tuesday at Churchill Downs to commence Kentucky Derby week. A nine-race card is on the slate led by the $115,000 Champions Day S. I am intrigued by a sequence surrounding the feature, and here is how I will attack an early Pick 3 play.
Race 3 — Maiden Claiming
Juveniles will sprint 6 1/2 furlongs in a lackluster race. #8 Okudah (3-1) cuts back in distance, adds blinkers, and also moves from the special weight ranks into a soft claiming field. Desormeaux pupil has flashed early foot in the past, and the son of Texas Red could receive a great trip forcing the tempo from the outside post. Gabe Saez will be in the stirrups.
#3 Frosted Prayer (5-2) comes in fresh with a similar class drop for Asmussen. Son of Frosted has worked well and could take a big step forward beneath Santana.
Race 4 — Champions Day S.
The headliner will be contested on the main oval at 1 1/2 miles. 2019 Belmont S. (G1) hero #6 Sir Winston (8-5) is the one to beat for Mark Casse. Awesome Again colt never fired in the Suburban (G2) at Belmont most recently, but his previous two attempts of 2020 were very good efforts. Chestnut looms large beneath Gaffalione.
#1 Ry’s the Guy (9-5) has pace in a field lacking early speed for Wilkes. Distorted Humor colt has been marathoning on the lawn primarily, but two of his better lifetime showings came beneath the Twin Spires on the dirt. #3 Core Beliefs (5-1) is a mystery at 12 panels though the Grade 2 winner gives the impression of a horse who might thrive at the trip. Joe Talamo rides.
Race 5 — Maiden Special Weight
Juvenile fillies will travel one-mile on the green and I will spread in the closing leg. Bill Mott’s #8 Ice Queen (5-2) missed by a neck on debut over the Saratoga lawn and looms a big chance second time out. Gray Cairo Prince filly will not need much improvement to graduate on Tuesday.
If the obvious contender fails to fire, #7 Faith and Honor (8-1) as well as first-time starters #5 Aunt Pearl (2-1) and #10 Gathered Flowers (10-1) make sense to me.
$1 Pick 3: 3,8 with 1,3,6 with 5,7,8,10 ($24)