The Road to the Kentucky Derby runs through Hallandale Beach, Florida, Arcadia, California, and New York City, New York, this Saturday.
Ten Kentucky Derby hopefuls will go at in the HOLY BULL STAKES at Gulfstream Park.
Six boys will battle it out in the ROBERT B. LEWIS STAKES at Santa Anita.
And, seven three-year-olds will find their way around Aqueduct's main track in the WITHERS STAKES.
The winner in each race will add 10 points to their 2019 Kentucky Derby qualifying total, second place gets 4 points, 2 points for third and 1 point for fourth.
The three biggest names hitting the track on their Road to the Kentucky Derby include MUCHO GUSTO and GUNMETAL GRAY in the ROBERT B. LEWIS STAKES and MAXIMUS MISCHIEF headlining the HOLY BULL STAKES.
MAXIMUS MISCHIEF is a horse that we and oddsmakers believe will make a lot of noise this weekend. Another dominating win in the Holy Bull Stakes and the Robert Reid, Jr trainee is likely to leap up the 2019 Kentucky Derby odds board.
MAXIMUS MISCHIEF won his first three race by a combined 17 lengths and never trailed another horse after the start in any of the races. He held the lead by the quarter-pole in his three races and did not look back. If he continues his domination at Gulfstream this Saturday, MAXIMUS MISCHIEF is likely to become an early favorite for the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
MIHOS (PP: 6 ML 5/2) is the horse that our handicapper believes has the best shot at taking out MAXIMUS MISCHIEF. Should MIHOS pull off the upset, it will be a major statement, putting him squarely into the serious contenders' bucket.
Make sure you get our HOLY BULL STAKES picks, analysis, and suggested wagers in our HOLY BULL Wagering Guide. It also includes our insights on the 2019 Kentucky Oaks prep race the Grade III FORWARD GAL STAKES and the Grade III SWALE STAKES.
Currently fifth on 2019 Kentucky Derby qualifying leaderboard, GUNMETAL GRAY takes on 12th ranked MUCHO GUSTO at the beautiful Santa Anita Race Track. The morning-line odds slightly favor MUCHO GUSTO at 8/5 versus 9/5 for GUNMETAL GRAY.
Our handicapper agrees with the oddsmakers in our pro-subscribers' bonus commentary,
"MUCHO GUSTO posted the highest, last race speed figure for this group, finishing second in a Grade I. GUNMETAL GRAY is making his second start off the bench. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer wins second starts at 20%. NOLO CONTESTO's jockey/trainer combo of Joel Rosario and John Sadler have won six of their last 18 (33%) together. MAGNIFICENT MCCOOL ran his highest speed figure following a layoff, a favorite angle."
The two horses running in the WITHERS STAKES with Kentucky Derby qualifying points are 13th ranked OUR BRAINTRUST and no. 29 TAX. Although he's down the leaderboard, TAX gets the nod as the 2-1 morning-line favorite from the rail, which wins at an impressive 21%. Meanwhile, OUR BRAINTRUST offers value at 6-1, the sixth favorite in a seven-horse field.
After the race, our handicapper believes OUR BRAINTRUST will maintain his Kentucky Derby points lead over TAX and the rest of the WITHERS' field.
"OUR BRAINTRUST is making his third start after a layoff. Trainer Mark Casse wins third starts at 18%. LUCKY LEE improved his fractions in his last race by almost three seconds. That's a major jump in performance. TAX ran the highest, last race speed figure and is making his second start for trainer Danny Gargan following a claim, a 36% angle. MORETTI broke his maiden in his last race. Trainer Todd Pletcher wins the next race at 26%."
While the trio of Kentucky Derby prep races might include some of the sport's biggest names to be, the biggest name racing on Saturday is MCKINZIE, the 4/5 morning-line favorite for Santa Anita's $200,000 SAN PASQUAL STAKES. He skipped last weekend's PEGASUS CUP for this spot; so, he better hit the tape first.