In case Saturday’s 148th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs isn’t enough excitement or action for you, the undercard features Jackie’s Warrior against Aloha West in one Grade 1, Shirl’s Speight vs. Tribhuvan in a second Grade 1, Bells the One vs. Just One Time in a third Grade 1 and the return of one-time Kentucky Derby favorite Jack Christopher.
Churchill Downs would be the center of the racing universe on Saturday if for no other reason than its flagship race. But joining the Derby on the 14-race card are seven other stakes races, including three other Grade 1s and a salty Grade 2 featuring several one-time Derby trail contestants.
Many feature intriguing storylines with familiar names. Online Gambling takes a look at Saturday’s Derby undercard races:
Grade 1: $1 million Turf Classic (Race 11)
This 1 1/8-mile turf test for 4-year-olds and up pits Maker’s Mark Mile winner Shirl’s Speight against Chad Brown’s Tribhuvan. The winner of last year’s Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park is one of three Brown charges in the 10-horse field.
Shirl’s Speight comes in off a three-race winning streak capped with that Grade 1 win at Keeneland last month. He and the other Grade 1 winner in the field, Brazil’s Ivar, are the best hopes to snap Brown’s three-race winning streak in this event. He won with Bricks and Mortar in 2019, Digital Age in 2020, and Domestic Spending last year.
Grade 1: $750K Churchill Downs (Race 10)
Jackie’s Warrior and Aloha West renew their nascent rivalry from last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint in this seven-furlong race.
Aloha West captured that race in a photo finish over Dr. Schivel. Jackie’s Warrior finished a poor sixth, but still rode away with the Eclipse Award for Male Sprinter of the Year. He returned to action on April 16 with a tune-up victory in the Grade 3 Count Fleet at Oaklawn Park. And he returns to a Churchill Downs track where he’s undefeated in two races.
Aloha West makes his 2022 debut in this race, which features the likes of Cezanne, Mind Control, and Prevalence.
Grade 1: $750K Derby City Distaff (Race 8)
Bell’s the One runs for her second victory in three years in this seven-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares. The 6-year-old mare won half of her eight races at Churchill Downs (4-3-0), capturing this race in 2020 before finishing fourth to Gamine last year.
Waiting for her are familiar rivals Warriors Reward and Just One Time, who beat Bell’s the One in her last out in the Grade 1 Madison at Keeneland a month ago. Coming in from California is Edgeway, who finished second to Ce Ce in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. She’s unbeaten in two starts this year.
Grade 2: $500K Pat Day Mile (Race 7)
This one-mile trek for 3-year-olds is the race for one-time Derby dreamers who fell off the Derby trail due to distance issues, lack of points, or lack of success. That explains the presence of such familiar one-time Derby trail denizens such as Pappacap, Major General, Doppleganger, and Howling Time.
It also explains the presence of one-time Kentucky Derby future board favorite Jack Christopher. The Brown charge returns after a seven-month layoff due to a stress fracture suffered training for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He won his debut by 8 ¾ lengths and the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park by 2 ¾. He has yet to run at Churchill Downs.
Grade 2: $500K Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (Race 5)
Once again, Brown – who won this event last year with Blowout — looms large in this race for eight fillies and mares. He comes in with In Italian and Speak of the Devil. In Italian won the Grade 3 Honey Fox for her third victory in four starts. Speak of the Devil makes her US debut.
Waiting for them is Bill Mott’s Wakanaka, who returned off a nine-month break just in time to finish sixth in the Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf.