Hanson: 2024 Kentucky Derby Day spot plays

May 1st, 2024

You can find my selections for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and several other stakes on Saturday's Churchill Downs card in the TwinSpires Kentucky Derby Betting Guide. For this piece, I'll mention my firmest opinion on that selection grid plus thoughts on a couple other stakes earlier in the afternoon.

Race 4: Knicks Go S. (12:04 p.m. ET)

He hasn't yet won in six previous attempts over the Churchill Downs strip, but #7 Kupuna (6-1) ran two awfully big races here a year ago before tailing off. The first was a strong second-place effort to Zozos in this very same race, and the next was a similar finish to the classy Three Technique three weeks later in an allowance.

Kapuna was back on better form in last month's Evangeline Mile racing around two turns, which he won comfortably with a rail-skimming rally. But the one-turn configuration at Churchill is arguably his best game, and a little moisture in the track wouldn't hurt his chances at his attempt to improve on his runner-up finish from last year.

Race 5: Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2) (12:36 p.m. ET)

Although marooned in a wide post here, #14 Cogburn (8-1) might have the class and talent to overcome it. He readily took to the turf when trying it for the first time last summer, reeling off three consecutive wins. The third of those was the Troy (G3) at Saratoga, in which he ran down eventual Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Nobals, who had previously scored an upset in this race earlier in the season.

Cogburn didn't show the same punch over the trickier Kentucky Downs course when last seen in September, but is worth a long look here. As shown during his winning streak, he handles fast and slow ground.

Race 11: Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) (5:27 p.m. ET)

#6 I'm Very Busy (4-1) has established himself as one of the favorites to earn divisional honors as champion turf male this season after two solid performances to start the year. Held off by the now-retired Irish filly Warm Heart in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), I'm Very Busy then dazzled in the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) at Fair Grounds, overcoming post 13 to win by nearly four lengths.

He could prove every bit as good as last year's champion, Up to the Mark, with more performances like the one he showed in New Orleans. I'm Very Busy looks the one to beat here and probably goes off a tick or two shorter than the morning line price.