July 18, 2024

Sprint champions Gamine, Whitmore among Derby Day attractions

Gamine and jockey John Velazquez win the Las Flores Stakes (Photo by Benoit Photo)

Derby City Distaff (G1) — Race 7 (1:56 p.m. ET)

Gamine looms as the shortest-priced favorite, and a widely used single in multi-race wagers, in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby undercard stakes as she heads a field of six in the $500,000 Derby City Distaff (G1) over seven furlongs. The reigning champion female sprinter, who has never lost around one turn, opened her 2021 account with a facile, five-length score in the Las Flores (G3) at Santa Anita on April 4 at odds of 1-20.

Bell’s the One, who captured this event last September, should come on from her dead-heat second with 50-1 longshot Estilo Talentoso in the April 3 Madison (G1) in her first outing of the year. Farther up the track in that Keeneland feature was Sconsin, who’s won two of three over the Churchill strip, including the Eight Belles (G2) last fall.

Churchill Downs S. (G1) — Race 10 (4:31 p.m. ET)

Reigning champion male sprinter Whitmore won’t be as heavily backed in the $500,000 Churchill Downs S. (G1), also over seven furlongs, but the eight-year-old fan favorite this time avoids C Z Rocket, his conqueror in pair of stakes at Oaklawn Park earlier this term.

The competitive field also features recent Commonwealth (G3) winner Flagstaff; graded veterans Mind Control and Basin; and horses-for-the-course such as Phat Man, Shashashakemeup, and Hog Creek Hustle.

Pat Day Mile (G2) — Race 8 (2:48 p.m. ET)

Jackie’s Warrior, one of last season’s top juveniles, takes a needed cutback in trip for the $500,000 Pat Day Mile (G2) after fading efforts in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Southwest (G3) in his last couple of starts. The Steve Asmussen trainee won the Champagne (G1) last fall over a one-turn mile and is undefeated from four starts around a single bend.

The salty field includes several that previously had Derby aspirations, including the Santa Anita Derby (G1) third Dream Shake, Godolphin’s Prevalence, and Lexington (G3) third Starrininmydreams.