Opportunities on the KY Oaks and KY Derby Undercards

By Art Parker

It will not be long before Kentucky Derby weekend is upon us. Derby Day and Oaks Day make up the big week at Churchill Downs. Naturally the talk on the Derby and the Oaks never stops but little is said about the undercards on both days, which are filled with great races and great opportunities.

On Oaks Day the big races on the undercard are the La Troiene for fillies and mares (8.5 furlongs); the Alysheba (8.5 furlongs); the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (5 furlongs on the turf), The Eight Belles for three year old fillies (7 furlongs); The Edgewood for three year old fillies (8.5 furlongs on the turf.)

On Derby Day the big races on the undercard are The Humana Distaff for fillies and mares (7 furlongs); The Churchill Downs Distaff Mile for fillies and mares (8 furlongs on the turf); The Pat Day Mile (8 furlongs); The American Turf (8.5 furlongs on the turf); The Churchill Downs Stakes (7 furlongs); The Old Forester (formally known as the Woodford Reserve at 9 furlongs on the turf.)

churchill downs ky derby dayWhat makes the undercards on these two days exciting is that a player can experience high quality racing with unusually good wagering opportunities. When examining these races over the last few years we find that favorites have won only 8 of 33 times for a subpar 24% win rate. Like so many big days at a race track, many novices and amateurs are in attendance and that usually means more money on the favorites.

Of these races the lowest price to win was Tepin in the 2016 Distaff Mile at odds of .30-1.00. The longest price was 18.70-1.00 by Camelot Kitten in the American Turf in 2016, oddly enough trained by Chad Brown (how many times do you get his horse at that price?)

The median of all winners is 5.30-1.00, which makes the median winner pay more than $12.00. That gets my attention.

Other than Todd Pletcher, no other winning trainer of the undercard races in the last three years has ever won the Derby.  Here are the trainers that have been in the Winner’s Circle after undercard races the last three year (multiple winners number of victories in parenthesis):

Todd Pletcher (4); Mark Casse (4); Buff Bradley (3); Brad Cox (3); Jorge Navarro (3); Chad Brown (2); Dale Romans; Brian Lynch; Bret Calhoun; Bill Mott; Vann Belvoir; Paul McGhee; Tom Amoss; Ian Wilkes; Peter Miller; Rusty Arnold; Ben Colebrook; Simon Callaghan.

I’ve always been told that horses that like the Matt Winn Turf Couse at Churchill Downs really, really like it. Upon examination of turf races we see some truth to that. Trainer Buff Bradley won three races on the turf course with the same horse, 2015-2017. Divisidero won the American Turf once and the Woodford Reserve twice. That happened to be three of his five lifetime wins. Trainer Mark Casse’s Tepin won back to back editions of the Distaff Mile in 2015 and 2016.

What isn’t true about the Matt Winn Turf Course is that far outside posts cannot win going short. The 2015 Twin Spires Turf Sprint at 5 furlongs was captured by Power Alert that broke from the 10 post. In the same race in 2017 Green Mask won the race from the 12 post.

The dirt sprints have experienced one gate-to-wire winner, which was Private Zone in 2015. All sprint winners have been in the top three runners when they get to the quarter pole. The Pat Day Mile, similar to an extended sprint, has had the same results. A horse needs to be close and in contention when running one turn on the dirt.

Where do winning horses come from for the undercards? Keeneland has produced almost half of the winners over the last three years (16 of 33). Gulfstream is next (7 of 33), then Oaklawn and Southern California (each with 4 of the 33 total), Tampa and Fairgrounds one each. Strangely New York has not been the sight of a last race for an undercard winner during these years.

The undercards at Churchill Downs on Oaks Day and Derby Day are always outstanding. There are plenty of opportunities with the undercard stakes races. Remember it is just as nice to win money on something other than the Oaks and the Derby.

Is Horse Racing Dead? Churchill Downs to Offer up nearly $9 Million in Purses

Churchill winner's circleThe 144th renewals of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) and the $1 million-guaranteed Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) headline a strong roster of 32 stakes races with total purses of $8.84 million scheduled for Churchill Downs Racetrack’s April 28-June 30 Spring Meet.

The schedule is headlined by a spectacular Kentucky Derby Day on Saturday, May 5 that features seven graded stakes races – including three Grade I events – with total stakes purses of $4.2 million. The Kentucky Oaks Day program one day earlier features six graded stakes with total stakes purses of $2.35 million. Another highlight is the “Downs After Dark” nighttime program on Saturday, June 16, featuring five graded stakes, topped by the 37th running of the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI), with total stakes purses of $1.1 million.

The Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks are among six Grade I races on the Spring Meet schedule that also features seven Grade II events, 10 Grade III contests, one listed $100,000 event, two additional $100,000 stakes and six overnight stakes races that offer purses of $65,000-added. The Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Stephen Foster Handicap programs are among seven racing days that will feature two or more stakes contests. Alongside the Derby, Oaks and Stephen Foster Handicap, Grade I events set for the 2018 meet are the $500,000 Old Forester Turf Classic and $300,000 Humana Distaff on Derby Day and the Oaks Day renewal of the $350,000 La Troienne.

Four events on the Spring Meet schedule will benefit from individual purse increases of $50,000. Those races are the $300,000 Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU(GIII) on Derby Day and the Oaks Day renewals of the $350,000 La Troienne, the $200,000 Edgewood Presented by Forcht Bank (GIII) and the $200,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII).

Along with the running of the Kentucky Derby, America’s greatest race and the nation’s oldest continuously-held sports event, a trio of Grade I events on the Derby Day racing program includes the 32nd running of the Old Forester Turf Classic (formerly known as the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic from 2000-17) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the grass; the 32nd renewal of the Humana Distaff, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares ages 4 and up. Completing the spectacular roster of seven Derby Day graded stakes events will be the $500,000 Churchill Downs (GII) for 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs; the $300,000 Longines Distaff Turf Mile (GII) for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up at one mile on turf; the Pat Day Mile for 3-year-olds at one mile on the main track; and the $300,000 American Turf Presented by Ram Trucks (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.

The 2017 Kentucky Derby was won by MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boyz, Theresa Viola, St Elias, Siena Farm and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Always Dreaming, while Gunpowder Farms LLC’s Divisidero earned his second consecutive victory in the Turf Classic. Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Paulassilverlining won the Humana Distaff.

The six stakes races on the Friday, May 4 Kentucky Oaks Day program are headed by the Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, which will be run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, and the La Troienne (GI), a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares ages 4 and up. The Oaks Day schedule also features the $400,000 Alysheba (GII) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles; the $200,000 Eight Belles Presented by Kentucky Trailer (GII) for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs; the Edgewood (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf; and the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs on turf.

China Horse Club International Ltd. and Clearsky Farm’s Abel Tasman rallied from last in a field of 14 to win the 2017 Kentucky Oaks, while Maggi Moss’ Big World took the La Troienne.

The Stephen Foster Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds and up, is the main even on the June 16 night racing program the features five stakes contests. Joining the Grade I headliner will be the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) for fillies and mares ages 3 and up at 1 1/8 miles; the $200,000 Wise Dan (GII) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf; the $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; and the $100,000 Regret (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

The Stephen Foster was won last year by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm LLC’s Gun Runner, who would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and the Champion Older Male of 2017.

Other multiple stakes programs include the Kentucky Derby Week Thurby program on Thursday, May 3 that includes the $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile for 2-year-olds at five furlongs and the Opening Verse Overnight Stakes for 3-year-olds and one mile on turf; the Saturday, May 26 card topped by the $100,000 Winning Colors (GIII) for fillies and mares 3 and up at six furlongs and the Keertana Overnight Stakes for fillies and mares 3 and up at 1 ½ miles on turf; the Saturday, June 2 “Downs After Dark” program topped by the $100,000 Aristides (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs and the Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs on turf; and the Saturday, June 30 closing day program with a trio of stakes races led by the $100,000 Bashford Manor (GIII) for 2-year-olds at six furlongs, the $100,000 Debutante (Listed) for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs, and the Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs.

The Spring Meet stales schedule kicks off under the lights during the Opening Night celebration on Saturday, April 28. The night’s racing program will be highlighted by the $100,000 William Walker, a race for 3-year-olds named for the pioneering African-American jockey and Kentucky Derby winner which will be run for the fourth time. The William Walker is the only race on the Spring Meet schedule that will undergo a change in racing surface or distance. The race will now be run on the turf at five furlongs after being run on the main track at six furlongs in its first three renewals.

Other graded stakes contests on the schedule include the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ½ miles on turf on May 19, and the Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap (GIII), a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares 3 and up on June 9. Two additional overnight stakes races complete the schedule: the May 12 Unbridled Sydney for fillies and mares 3 and up at five furlongs on turf, and the June 23 Roxelana, for fillies and mares 3 and up at six furlongs on the main track.

The Top Horse Races for the Beginning of 2018

by International Correspondent

Here with find the horse races that you need to know about for 2018. Horse racing is a pursuit which takes place all year-round, with millions of dollars at stake across the world. The calendar for horse racing, particularly the Flat season, offers many chances for both legendary horses like Winx and jockeys to lay claim to huge prizes and sporting immortality.

And, for those who take part in this sport thanks to the betting sites in Australia and the rest of the world, there is the chance to take some big money home as well!

pegasus world cup logoThe Preeminent Pegasus World Cup

The Pegasus World Cup took place on January 27th at Gulfstream Park, in Florida, in the USA. this is the world’s richest horse race, with a prize of US$16 million up for grabs. Each of the 12 owners put in US$1 million, and the fund is then topped up by the organiser, the Stronach Group. The 1 ⅛-mile, or 9 furlongs, race takes place on a dirt track, and it is open to horses aged 4-years and up.

The Dazzling Dubai World Cup

The Dubai World Cup takes place on the 31st of March in Meydan, Dubai. This stood as the world’s richest race until its mark was recently passed by the Pegasus World Cup. The winner takes home US$10 million from a total prize pot of $30 million, and it is the biggest social and sporting occasion on the Dubai calendar, ending the UAE racing season. This race is also run on dirt, and takes place over 2 000 meters, around 10 furlongs.

The Convivial Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is held on the 4th of May at Churchill Downs, and is known as The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sport, the Fastest Two Minutes in Sport, or The Run of the Roses, this last as a nod to the fact that the winner receives a blanket of flowers.

The Kentucky Derby has been run every year since 1875, and is the first leg of the US Triple Crown, along with the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

The Terrific 2 000 Guineas

The 2 000 Guineas is held on the 5th of May in Newmarket, in the United Kingdom, and stands as the first of the five English Classics during the season for Flat races. This Group 1 race is open to colts and fillies aged three-years, and takes place on a turf track extending for one mile.

Theoretically, the 2 000 Guineas is the first leg of the Triple Crown, alongside the Derby and the St Leger, but the endeavour of winning all three of these races has been attempted less frequently recently. The race was first run in 1809.

The Outstanding Oaks

The Oaks takes place on the 1st of June, in Epsom, in the United Kingdom, and is the third Classic of the season for that country. It is open to three-year old fillies only, and takes place over 1 mile, 4 furlongs, and 6 yards, on the grass track of Epsom Downs. The race began as far back as 1779!

Check out the Keeneland Fall Stakes Schedule

Jockey and trainer at Keeneland

Copyright agameofskill.com

Press Release

Keeneland’s 2017 Fall Meet, which covers 17 days from Oct. 6-28, will present six Grade 1 races among 17 graded stakes worth $5.325 million and will showcase many of the nation’s top contenders aiming for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships during its signature Fall Stars Weekend on the first three days of the season.

Among the most prestigious race meets in the country, Keeneland’s Fall Meet offers one of the richest purse structures in North America and attracts Thoroughbred racing’s equine and human stars.

Fall Stars Weekend will feature nine graded stakes, including five Grade 1 events anchored by the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) that are worth a total of $3.75 million. Eight of those stakes, including the $400,000 First Lady (G1) for the first time, are Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races that award the winners automatic berths in the Breeders’ Cup, to be held at Del Mar on Nov. 3-4.

“Keeneland is proud to once again offer an elite schedule of races that are key targets for the sport’s most accomplished horses and budding superstars,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “The level of competition between the nation’s leading owners, trainers and jockeys is unparalleled and is sure to thrill racing fans and handicappers alike.”

A total of nine Keeneland Fall Meet stakes are Breeders’ Cup Challenge events. The eight Breeders’ Cup Challenge stakes held over Fall Stars Weekend are the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1) (which awards the winner a berth in the Juvenile Fillies-G1) and $250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) (TwinSpires Sprint-G1) on Friday, Oct. 6; Shadwell Turf Mile (Mile-G1), $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) (Sentient Jet Juvenile-G1), First Lady (Filly and Mare Turf-G1) and $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) (Filly and Mare Sprint-G1) on Saturday, Oct. 7; and $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) (Distaff-G1) and $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon (G3) (Juvenile Turf-G1) on Sunday, Oct. 8.

The other graded stakes during Fall Stars Weekend, also being run Oct. 7, is the $200,000 Woodford (G2) Presented by Keeneland Select, upgraded for 2017 by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. Keeneland added $50,000 to the purse of the Woodford, formerly a Grade 3 race.

The ninth Breeders’ Cup Challenge race at Keeneland is the $150,000 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3) on Wednesday, Oct. 11. The race awards the winner a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

The Fall Meet’s sixth Grade 1 stakes, scheduled for Oct. 14, the second Saturday of the season, is the internationally prestigious $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

Nilsen’s Spot Plays & Stakes Analysis – Saturday, October 1st

 

Rich Nilsen handicapperSaturday is one of the biggest racing days of the year with major Breeders’ Cup races from coast to coast.  Tap into Rich Nilsen’s Spot Plays & Stakes Analysis for Saturday, October 1st and let an expert guide you through the day.  Nilsen has been on absolute fire with the few sheets he has put out this year for AGameofSkill.com visitors.  Top winners includes CREATOR in the Belmont Stakes and ARROGATE in the Travers!

The stakes sheet includes the following 7 races for Oct. 1, 2016:

Churchill Downs  – Jefferson Cup (spot play), Ack Ack

Belmont Park – all of the graded stakes, excluding the 4-horse Turf Classic that features a 1-9 favorite.

Santa Anita – Rodeo Drive S., (spot play) the best betting race on the card.

7 Graded stakes covered, along with 2 spot plays.

RECAP:  One race was taken off the turf, leaving 6 stakes to play.  Nilsen hit with 3 winners including 2 horses paying over $10 to Win – Joking and Tom’s Ready.

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Only $9.97 for the PDF – instant download to any device.

Nilsen, a 12 time qualifier to the NHC and a 5 time major tournament winner,  has been on absolute fire this year.  Top winners includes CREATOR in the Belmont Stakes and ARROGATE in the Travers!