The first weekend in May is normally the time most people start paying attention to horse racing with the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. Thanks to COVID-19, the most exciting two minutes in sports moved to the first weekend in September, and we have you covered for the big race over here. However, there are plenty of other exciting races on the card at Churchill Downs those two days that can earn you some money as well.
My job is to look at the undercard on Kentucky Oaks Day on Sept. 4 and help you identify some winners for the other major stakes races on the docket. We’ll look at the other five stakes races going off in Louisville, Ky. on Friday and help you pocket some cash. If you need a reminder on how to bet on horse racing and the associated terminology, feel free to check out our guide here.
Check out the AwesemoOdds home page for more sports betting content, including more picks and predictions.
Kentucky Oaks Betting Picks + Horse Racing Odds
Eight Belles Stakes (Grade II)
The No. 7 horse, Four Graces, is surprisingly not the favorite on the morning line despite having two graded stakes wins to her credit. She’ll likely go off as the favorite, however, as she has won all four of her races at the seven-furlong distance and has graded stakes experience — never mind the fact she won both of those races. Only three horses in the seven-horse field have raced in graded stakes company before, and Four Graces actually beat No. 5 Sconsin in the Grade III Beaumont Stakes in July.
Four Graces hasn’t raced since winning the Beaumont, but Sconsin came back and finished third behind morning-line-favorite, No. 1 Mundaye Call, in the Audubon Oaks in August at Ellis Park. Mundaye Call previously ran a year ago in the Grade I Spinaway Stakes and was creamed by the competition to finish in last out of seven horses. She is deemed a favorite in this race with her impressive 108 Beyer Speed Figure in that race in August, where she never really was challenged.
The three horses I mentioned are the clear class in this Grade II stakes race. Mundaye Call and Four Graces will set the early pace and battle for the lead, which will produce an exciting dash to the wire in the homestretch. I like Four Graces to win the race due to her experience and comfort with Churchill Downs, but I’d bet the exacta box on these two favorites because I can’t see Sconsin being close enough to nip either of them with her closing speed.
There’s no reason to spend too long on this race because it’s No. 3 Sharing’s to lose. The three-year-old trained by Graham Motion has won her last four races in the United States and finished second over in England in the Grade I Coronation Stakes in June. This field is more dignified than the one in the Eight Belles Stakes, but no one can come close to matching Sharing’s pedigree or results.
This race might be the highlight of the Kentucky Oaks undercard with a deep field of eight horses. No. 6 By My Standards is the morning-line favorite with three wins and two second-place finishes in five races this year, but he’s been going 1 1/8 miles his last four times out, and this race is 1 1/16 miles. He ran a career-best 118 Beyer Speed Figure while finishing as the runner-up in the Whitney Stakes on 8-1 odds, but Gabriel Saez, who has won in his last three trips aboard By My Standards, returns as the jockey for this race.
No. 2 McKinzie struggled in the Metropolitan Handicap on Independence Day in his last start, but he had finished first or second in his last nine starts in the United States. He’s technically the defending champion in this race, which is also the last time he ran the mile and 1/16 distance. McKinzie has two wins and a second place in three starts at this distance, and I’m tempted to write off the Metropolitan Handicap as just a poor race for the 2019 Breeder’s Cup Classic runner-up.
The No. 3 Owendale and No. 5 Mr. Freeze are both intriguing options as well, but they have not been in great form recently. Owendale hasn’t raced since finishing fifth in the Stephen Foster Stakes back in June, but he won the Blame Stakes in his first start of 2020 in May. Mr. Freeze finished sixth in the Metropolitan and third in the Oaklawn Handicap in his past two starts, but he had a stretch from September 2019 to February 2020 with two wins and two seconds in graded stakes races.
I think By My Standards is going to head to the front in this race and try to set a decent pace, and I expect McKinzie will try to sit right behind him early. However, I like Owendale’s closing speed at Churchill Downs to run down McKinzie in the stretch, so I’m going to bet an exacta with By My Standards on top then use Owendale as the second horse.
La Troienne Stakes
I’ll keep this one brief as well: No. 8 Monomoy Girl has won 11 times in 13 starts and finished second in her other two races. She has five Grade I stakes victories — including the 2018 Kentucky Oaks — and was back to her normal self in her last race, the Grade II Ruffian Stakes in June, after shaking out the cobwebs in an allowance race in May after an 18-month layoff. She’s too good for the other horses in this race, and she will romp with ease.
Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes
If you are looking for a good race to make a few bucks, your best bet is the race immediately following the Kentucky Oaks. This stakes race has no clear favorite unlike the other stakes races on the card, and there are a few long shots who I think have a real chance at making some noise. No. 4 Bound for Nowhere is the morning-line favorite with a third-place showing in the Grade II Shakertown Stakes in July and a second-place finish in March’s San Simeon Stakes. What concerns me about those two races is that he was caught in the final few hundred yards of both races after taking an advantage at the homestretch.
I’m looking at two other horses to add to my ticket, the No. 2 Wellabled and No. 14 Chief Cicatriz. These two battled it out in July in the Honor the Hero Stakes with Wellabled setting a track record to win the battle by half a length. Wellabled came back about a month later to run in the Karl Boyes Stakes and sprinted out to the lead but then faded to third. Chief Cicatriz has exclusively run in stakes races for the last 18 months and has five wins to show for it in 11 races. He hasn’t run a graded stakes race in that stretch, but he has three wins in three starts at this distance of 5 1/2 furlongs over his career.
This is definitely a three-horse exacta box for me with Wellabled, Bound for Nowhere and Chief Cicatriz. I think all three horses will be competing for the lead, and that battle will take them too far ahead of the rest of the pack for anyone to catch them. As for how the race will play out in the homestretch, I always like horses who know how to win, and Chief Cicatriz checks that box for me. But I’ll still play it safe by just boxing all three horses into my exacta.