Handicapping the first Pick 4 on Kentucky Derby Day

May 6th, 2023

The first Pick 4 offering on the Kentucky Derby Day program runs from races 2 through 5, encompassing two overnight events and two graded stakes. The sequence begins at approximately 11 a.m. ET, and I'll be leaning on a couple singles to finish out the wager.

Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles)

I highlighted the merits of #3 Harbour Bridge (10-1) elsewhere on the Edge, but #6 Quaternion (6-1) is another I feel compelled to use in this first leg. The son of Union Rags found himself in a couple of the toughest maiden races of the Fair Grounds winter meet, twice finishing behind First Mission, the eventual Lexington (G3) winner who is likely bound for the Preakness (G1) in two weeks. Quaternion, a Triple Crown nominee himself, should appreciate this seeming drop in class.

Race 3: $80,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (one mile)

I think the Todd Pletcher-trained Bright Future, who has only managed to squeeze in three starts in a little more than 13 months is potentially vulnerable as the morning line choice. Instead, I'll use a couple other logical contenders, the multiple Grade 3-placed stakes winner #5 King Ottoman (3-1) and the speedy type #14 Petulante (6-1). #4 Embrace (20-1), who was likely in need of his last start following a long break, could come on the scene late if the pace winds up hot and falls apart. Embrace has further room for improvement and might appreciate this extended one-turn mile.

Race 4: Derby City Distaff (G1, seven furlongs)

Although tempting to try and beat the heaviest favorite in the sequence with either Matareya or Wicked Halo, both of whom are stakes winners over this surface, champion female sprinter #2 Goodnight Olive (4-5) simply looks a slight cut above those younger rivals. She should come on from her win in last month's Madison (G1) at Keeneland, which she won by a length while likely not close to peak fitness.

Race 5: Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2, one mile on turf)

I will, however, stand against likely favorite Spendarella in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) and instead use #3 Haughty (4-1). Of the three Chad Brown trainees in the field, she appears to have the most upside while returning from a layoff equal in length to Spendarella's. Although the latter has a Grade 1 tally to her credit, as well as a placing last June at Royal Ascot, Haughty beat a quality rival in With the Moonlight when last seen in the Lake Placid (G2) and think her very best gives her a fighting chance against Spendarella.

  • $1 Pick 4: 3,6 with 4,5,14 with 2 with 3 ($6)