Good luck to anyone playing the stakes-packed Pick 4 ending with the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs this afternoon. It might require a big budget to hit.
The sequence is filled with deep and competitive races, starting with the $500,000 La Troienne Stakes (G1), the eighth race on the card. #2 Blue Prize loves Churchill Downs, but she’s making her first start of the season and didn’t fire off her winter layoff last year. A more appealing alternative is #1 She’s a Julie, who got her seasonal debut out of the way with a decisive victory in the Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park in February. She’s won twice at Churchill Downs and could still have room for improvement in her second start of the season.
#9 Secret Spice is another to consider off her easy win in the Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita Park, but she isn’t the most consistent filly and is shipping outside of California for the first time. At 5-2, I’ll play against her and back #4 Awe Emma instead. This speedy daughter of War Front has won three straight races at Oaklawn this winter by a combined 18 lengths, and she’s 20-1 on the morning line.
The second leg of the Pick 4 is a seven-furlong optional-claiming allowance that attracted a huge field. I’m rather interested in #11 Tiz Mischief, an inconsistent colt who seems to wake up whenever he runs at Churchill Downs, where he’s twice finished second at the graded stakes level while never running out of the exacta. But this race is so wide open you could practically hit the “ALL” button and still find a way to lose.
At least scratches have made the $250,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes (G2) an easier race to play. #6 World of Trouble has won five of his last six starts, with his lone defeat coming by a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) over this course in November, when he fired off a 118 Beyer speed figure. He has five triple-digit Beyers under his belt and should be tough to beat while switching back to turf after a series of dirt runs. But there’s an outside chance the wily old veteran #8 Undrafted could spring an upset if World of Trouble misfires. He might be 9 years old, and this is his seasonal debut, but Undrafted has never run badly at Churchill Downs and should enjoy the wet course.
We’ll be challenged again by the Kentucky Oaks, in which I’m not a huge fan of 2-1 morning-line favorite #4 Bellafina, who disappointed in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs. But sorting out the rest of the contenders is easier said than done, especially since the race is loaded with speed horses and a pace meltdown could be in the offing. In an effort to favor late runners and improving sorts, I’ll use #1 Out for a Spin, #3 Lady Apple, #5 Flor de La Mar, #7 Jaywalk, #12 Street Bend and #14 Restless Rider while excluding Bellafina entirely.
We’ll play two Pick 4 tickets, one singling World of Trouble in the Turf Sprint while using “ALL” in race nine, and a second using Undrafted in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint but just five horses in the ninth race:
$0.50 Race 8 Pick 4: 1,4 with ALL with 6 with 1,3,5,7,12,14 ($78)
$0.50 Race 8 Pick 4: 1,4 with 5,6,11,12,15 with 8 with 1,3,5,7,12,14 ($30)