Vegas Whispers: The Three Biggest Kentucky Derby Prep Races Of The Season

Horse whisperer and racing guru Frankie Fantasy breaks down Saturday's three biggest pre-Kentucky Derby races to help you make some cash money!

We have had a monster start to the Kentucky Derby Prep trail here at Vegas Whispers so far as we scored by hitting on two value longshot plays: Promises Fulfilled at 18/1 in the Fountain of Youth Stakes followed by 19-1 Quip in the Tampa Bay Derby . We cashed nice in the FOY Stakes when we gave out a whopping 115 -1 exacta but we were only getting started as we returned 3 weeks ago with a 151-1 Exacta and a whopping 455-1 Trifecta in the Tampa Bay Derby! Last week we returned with a 154-1 trifecta in the Florida Derby. If the PGA Masters isn’t your thing—your in luck–as this weekend we are set for a trio of Derby Prep races that will most likely leave us with three of the biggest favorites for the Run for the Roses next month. Lets saddle up and analyze!

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***Be sure to look for weather/track—updates/changes in the #ScoutArmy Group Slack Chat w/ the chance for ‘Snow’ at the BlueGrass & chance for ‘Rain’ at Santa Anita.***

What: $750,000 G2 Wood Memorial Stakes
Where: Aqueduct Park, New York
Race: Race 10 Post Time: 5:55 EST/ 2:55 PST
When: Saturday April 7, 2018

We faded Vino Rosso on our way to a huge score in the Tampa Bay Derby several weeks back. I envision he should be more of a price in this spot, as many ‘cappers will not be so quick to back him after his lackluster effort when our numbers said he was vulnerable at a short price. This son of Curlin now returns to the same track where he broke his maiden so the surface should be quite familiar to him. One important angle to consider is that he being sent out by trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won four of the last eight Wood Memorial Stakes and joins forces with John Velazquez who is often a cashing combo to find the winners circle.

We also have Gotham Stakes winner Enticed who boasts that significant win here at Aqueduct for respected trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. He handled the Aqueduct surface outstanding last out in his Gotham victory and he should have no excuses in this one. Although that was only a one-turn mile endeavor, the stretch out to a mile and an eighth makes this boy easily the favorite—as he should love the added distance.

By the numbers, the formula says that Heartfullofstars, Old Time Revival & Restoring Hope should be sent to the lead and be the speed of the race. Enticed should have a great pace—if not a highly contested one up front— to rally into late in the lane if he is ready to fire. As long as Enticed does not bounce from his strong Gotham effort, I envision he will hit the board for a piece at minimum and is a must use in all exotics.

Now Restoring Hope is a newbie to the New York scene and is taking the step up into stakes company for the first time. In his third career start he finally broke his maiden at Santa Anita back in February and now he finds himself in the Wood for HOF trainer Bob Baffert & if he is willing to put this lightly raced colt in this spot something tells me this will be the wise guy horse who will be primed and ready.

My longshot play here is King Zachary who is also a son of Curlin being sent out by Dale Romans. This three year old has perhaps the biggest upside and seems to be improving at the right time. At odds of 20-1 this guy is a must-use for me on all tickets to get us the prices we love here at Vegas Whispers.


Top Contenders:

# 5 Enticed (6/5) | #9 Vino Rosso (7/2) | #8 Restoring Hope (4/1) | #4 Old Time Revival (6/1)


#7 King Zachary (20/1)

Bomb Play:

#3 Evaluator (20/1)


Exacta Box: ($1 wager costs $20)


Exacta P/W Play: ($1 wager costs $12)


Trifecta Box: ($1 wager costs $24)


Trifecta P/W Play: ($1 wager costs $26)


Wood Memorial Field: (Morning Line Odds)

  1. Heartfullofstars – 20-1
  2. Firenze Fire – 6-1
  3. Evaluator – 20-1
  4. Old Time Revival – 6-1
  5. Enticed – 6/5
  6. Catch Twenty Two– 50-1
  7. King Zachary – 20-1
  8. Restoring Hope – 4-1
  9. Vino Rosso – 9/2

What: $1,000,000 G2 Blue Grass Stakes
Where: Keeneland Park, Kentucky
Race: Race 10 Post Time: 6:23 EST/ 3:23 PST
When: Saturday April 7, 2018

This is perhaps the best betting race of the trio but there could be snow in the forecast and the tracks conditions will need to be monitored for sure. The form tells us this race will have plenty of horses looking to take the lead out of the gate. California Night from the inside,Machismo likely gunning from his bad outside draw trying to avoid traffic joined by the speedy Sporting Chance who should be instructed by trainer D. Wayne Lukas to be forwardly placed as well. (Sporting Chance rates highly by the formula should we see an ‘off’ track due to the weather)

Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Futurity winner Free Drop Billy drew outside post 10—but showed last fall that even when he drew outside he still found a lane in the stretch and closed to find paydirt–that could very well be the repeat we see here on Saturday. Now this colt will not only be trying a mile and an eighth for the first time but he is also adding a rider who has never been on him before—one of the best in the industry today– Irad Ortiz. As all of us horse players know the Ortiz / Dale Romans combo has been a cash cow in recent months and this guy must be respected.

We advised fading Good Magic when he was a well-beaten third in the Fountain of Youth to our longshot play Promises Fulfilled. However, the Blue Grass seemingly sets up nicely for Chad Brown’s reigning 2 year old Champion, especially with the late announcement of the scratch of our longshot winner of the Tampa Bay Derby–Quip–who would have been our top play here again. His recent works have been sharp and I envision he should be the post time favorite to rebound into top form.

Marc Casse’s Flameaway has strong appeal here as he came in second behind Quip in the Tampa Bay Derby helping return our 151-1 exacta . He is arguably the most consistent horse in this field, if not this year in all of the Derby preps. He has hit the board in six of eight career starts and owns a victory over the Keeneland track and I like him underneath in all exotic tickets.

My longshot play here Blended Citizen at 15-1 is the only horse in the field who has already demonstrated that he can win at a mile and an eighth and he ships in here for trainer Doug O’Neil who sent out Irap to upset the Blue Grass field in 2017 at odds of 30-1.

Analysis / Plays

Top Contenders:

#11 Good Magic (2/1) #10 Free Drop Billy (5/1) #2 Sporting Chance (10/1)–(Off Track) #12 Flameaway (6/1)


#7 Blended Citizen (15/1)

Bomb Play:

#3 California Night (30/1)


Exacta Box: ($1 wager costs $20)


Exacta P/W Play: ($1 wager costs $18)

2,3,7 / 2,3,7,10,11,12

Trifecta Box: ($1 wager costs $24)


Trifecta P/W Play:

1st Play: ($1 wager costs $24)

2nd Play: ($1 wager costs $24)

  • 10,11 / 7,10, 11,/ 2,3,4,7,9,10,11,12
  • 2,7 / 2,7,10,11/ 2,3,7,10,11,12

Blue Grass Stakes Field: (Morning Line Odds)

  1. Zing Zang – 30-1
  2. Sporting Chance – 10-1
  3. California Night – 30-1
  4. Kanthaka – 10-1
  5. Quip – SCRATCHED
  6. Marconi– 15-1
  7. Blended Citizen – 15-1
  8. Gotta Go – 30-1
  9. Tiz Mizchief – 30-1
  10. Free Drop Billy – 5-1
  11. Good Magic – 2-1
  12. Flameawday – 6-1
  13. Machismo– 20-1
  14. Arawak – 30-1
  15. Determinant – 20-1

What: $1,000,000 G1 Santa Anita Derby
Where: Santa Anita Park, CA
Race: Race 9 Post Time: 6:30 EST/ 3:30 PST
When: Saturday April 7, 2018

This race breaks down to one angle on paper: Experience vs Potential.

Justify seriously lacks experience when compared to his main rival here but he makes up for it with seemingly boundless potential. His numbers in the form tells us he is the speed of the field come Saturday and he will need to come in either 1st or 2nd to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Now his superior speed figures rate him a solid contender—its just whether he can handle the stretch out in distance. The son of Scat Daddy opened his career with a pair of blowout victories at Santa Anita, winning a seven-furlong maiden race by 9 ½ lengths before stepping up in the ranks to a mile and winning 6 ½ lengths next time out. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has tapped highly regarded Mike Smith for this mount and we could very well have our Kentucky Derby favorite right here when its all said and done in May.

Now the other hyped contender is Bolt d’Oro, who finds himself atop many Derby futures here in Vegas–beat us in the San Felipe via a disqualification for what track officials believed to be too much bumping in the lane by Mckinzie (who is now sidelined due to a training injury). Bolt has shown in his previous races that he is capable of laying mid-pack or racing right up front with the leaders and still finding the winners circle. Basically, he has shown that he can adapt to whatever he is facing and always seems to deliver strong late in the lane when its all on the line.

My longshot play here is Core Beliefs who stretched out to two turns here at Santa Anita and seemed to eat up the added distance drawing off by three lengths with a triple digit speed figure. His figures put him right there with the numbers earned by both Justifyand Bolt d’Oro. The formula says this colt has potential to improve even more off that effort by using his early speed right up front with Justify and if things break right he could wire the field if the other two highlighted above are not on their A-game. At odds of 20-1 he is must use for us on all exotics and if he can even just grab 2nd the payouts would increase nicely.


Top Contenders:

#6 Justify (4/5) | #3 Bolt d’Oro (6/5) | #1 Instilled Regard (5/1)


#7 Core Beliefs (20/1)

Bomb Play:

#5 Pepe Tono (20/1)


Exacta Box: ($1 wager costs $20)


Exacta P/W Play: ($1 wager costs $10)

5,7 / 1,3,5,6, 7

Trifecta Box: ($1 wager costs $24)

6 – 3 -7-1

Trifecta P/W Play: ($1 wager costs $24)


Santa Anita Derby Field: (Morning Line Odds)

  1. Instilled Regard – 5-1
  2. Orbit Rain – 50-1
  3. Bolt d’Oro – 6/5
  4. Jimmy Chila – 30-1
  5. Pepe Tono – 20-1
  6. Justify– 4/5
  7. Core Beliefs – 20-1

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About Frank Taddeo 53 Articles
Frankie is a Villanova alumni who created the first Casino Fantasy Sports program in Vegas book. He was the 2019 FFWC 10K Top Gun Champion & 2017 + 2018 Back-to-Back Top 100 Players in World Invit. Champ! He is a sports fanatic, a Vegas whisperer, and a horse racing expert handicapper!