The $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby (Gr. 1) is only a day away from Oaklawn Park. This is one of a few big $1,000,000 prep races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby that get me excited. The Arkansas Derby, Florida Derby, and Blue Grass Stakes always field Kentucky Derby contenders. You are going to find a big contender in the Arkansas Derby with Concert Tour expected to run in Hot Springs.
You have to pay attention to Concert Tour if you are interested in betting on the Kentucky Derby. And if you like Concert Tour, it would be advised to make a future bet before the race. There won’t be as much value on Concert Tour if he romps in the Arkansas Derby. You can find three stakes races on Friday, with Keeneland having the main event of the day.
The $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (Gr. 1) is the biggest race on Saturday. Keeneland has ten races on Friday, with $930,000 in prize money available. Six races are on the dirty with four turf events. Head below for our free Keeneland selection and Maker’s Mark Mile pick for April 9, 2021.
Post Time: 1:05 p.m. EST
Race 1 is a $25,000 event covering 6 furlongs on the dirt. Seven horses are expected to participate, with Pi Yo Princess and Epicurean likely running close to the front in the stretch. Pi Yo Princess is winless in three races, finishing 2nd, 3rd, 8th in her career.
In her best effort, Pi Yo Princess placed 2nd behind Knight’s Honor by 3 ½ lengths in a $30,000 event. That was an impressive race as a first-time runner. However, Pi Yo Princess regressed to 3rd on February 3 in a $30,000 event.
She was well off the mark in her most recent attempt, finishing 8th in a $43,000 event. I’m not so sure jumping up to a $43,000 race was advised, but it was good experience. Pi Yo Princess moves all the way down to a $25,000 event on Friday.
Epicurean has gone 7th and 3rd in her career. It was a tough debut on September 15 to finish 7th for a $90,000 purse. She responded to show 3rd on March 10 in a $43,000 event. After gathering that experience, Epicurean shouldn’t have too many problems down to a $25,000 event.
Post Time: 3:51 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
Race 6 runs for 1 1/16 miles on the dirt for a $83,000 purse. Six horses will compete in this event on the main track. You have to give some consideration to Movie Moxy and Spice Is Nice to win Race 6. Movie Moxy has been in the top-3 in all seven races in her career.
She has two wins on October 14 and November 11. In those back-to-back outings, Movie Moxy beat Dovima by a half length in a $70,000 event. He followed up to cut down Sweet of Dreams by 6 ¾ lengths in a $87,000 event. That was incredibly encouraging.
However, Movie Moxy fell to 2nd and most recently 3rd in a $38,000 event at Tampa Bay Downs on March 6. From encouraging to disappointing in quick order. Her connections hope that the big effort in the $87,000 win didn’t wear her down too much. It’s possible with some horses after going too hard.
Spice Is Nice has graded experience with entries in the Davona Dale Stakes (Gr. 2), Gulfstream Park Oaks (Gr. 2), and Alabama Stakes (Gr. 1). Overall, she’s a two-time winner in five races, beating Say Moi by 2 ¾ lengths in a $66,000 race. This was after bobbling the start and still clearing in the stretch easily.
She finished 6th most recently in the $500,000 Alabama Stakes (Gr. 1) on August 15. That was too tough against Swiss Skydiver. Back down in class to a $83,000 race, expect Spice Is Nice to be close with a chance to win.
Race 9 – Maker’s Mark Mile
Post Time: 5:30 p.m. EST
The feature race of the day in the US is the running of the $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (Gr. 1). Nine horses are expected to participate in this race, with Hit the Road and Raging Bull on my watchlist in Race 9. Hit the Road is on fire currently with four straight wins, including a Grade 3 and most recently a Grade 1 win.
Hit the Road is coming off a win in the $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile. He beat a very talented Smooth Like Strait by a neck. That sets up a potential big run from Hit the Road in the Maker’s Mile. Hit the Road was a $200,000 purchase in September of 2018.
Raging Bull has much more experience in Grade 1 events. He has been running in 14 straight graded races, including a Breeders’ Cup event. Raging Bull is coming off the $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Mile on October 7, 2020. He’s been on a layoff since finishing 10th in that race. That was really tough, so it wasn’t the worst run. Raging Bull’s most recent win was five races back on May 25, 2020 in the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (Gr. 1) at Santa Anita.
He’s gone 3rd, 5th, 2nd, 10th since that win. His best effort since the win was on October 3, 2020 in the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (Gr. 1), placing 2nd behind Ivar by a length. I like Raging Bull, but the value on Hit the Road is likely too good to ignore. Hit the Road is primed for another big run after a strong performance in the Frank E. Kilroe.