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The 143rd Kentucky Derby is May 6th at Churchill Downs in Kentucky and a 70% chance of rain is in the forecast.  Finding a good mudder in this group of 20 is nearly impossible.  We thank Mike Battaglia, the odds maker at Churchill Downs, for giving us a morning line favorite at 4-1, Classic Empire, but come race day his odds will plummet from that enticing 4-1.

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Mudders with potential:

Eduard 1 72 Model Kit 2127 Mikoyan MiG-21MF Dual Combo Limited EditionClassic Empire (4-1):  Broke his maiden on a wet surface at Churchill Downs in 2016. Veteran rider Julien Leparoux has been aboard for all of Classic Empire’s starts.

Tapwrit (20-1):  Also broke his maiden over a wet surface.  My concern with Tapwrit is that his head is not in the game.  He’s worth at look in a superfecta at this price and on Derby Day.

MacOne 1 35 Ruin Building (Base 9x6cm, height 16cm)Easy Model 1 72 Scale Il-2m3 25 Model Kit (yellow) - 172 25 Yellow Il2m3Gormley (15-1):  Also has a win on a wet surface in California, but a wet surface in Southern California is very different than a wet surface in Kentucky.  The only advantage for Gormley is his veteran jockey, Victor Espinoza.  Gormley races well in California but the ship to Kentucky is a mystery.

Battle of Midway (30-1):  Another California shipper who broke his maiden on a wet Santa Anita surface.  Finished second behind Gormley in the Santa Anita Derby, has always been in the money in all of his four races.  In a very scattered Derby, this horse deserves a look, especially at this price.

The Real Deals:

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Classic Empire has been on my radar (and everyone else’s) Italeri Models 1 72 Churchsince he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  He’s kind of a sassy horse.  He’s been known to train when he feels like it, but certainly shows up for the race.  With his veteran jockey, consistent money finishes on his resume, and can run on a wet surface, Classic Empire lands on the top of my list. Besides all that, he’s American Pharaoh’s little brother.  So the pedigree is perfect.

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McCracken (5-1):  McCracken finished third in his last race behind Practical Joke and Irap in the Bluegrass, but again, he didn’t need to win because he was already in with his win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes.  Until the Bluegrass, McCracken was undefeated, and veteran jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. has been with him from the first race.Fujimi 722962 F-35B Lightning II (VMFA-121) Special Ver. 1 72 Scale kit

Filling out the Superfecta:

Always Dreaming (5-1):  Three wins in a row for Always Dreaming since veteran jock Johnny Velazquez took over, but only one graded stakes win, the Florida Derby, which he needed to get to Churchill Downs.  A veteran rider, but little graded stakes experience and no races on a wet track.  However, he’s been training well at Churchill and has put in some impressive bullet works since he arrived.

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Thunder Snow (20-1):White Ensign Models 1 350 Konig Class Battleship Photo-etched parts for ICM kits  This is the European entry.  Entering the gates as a multiple graded stakes winner in Europe with extremely impressing speed figures, but has no American racing experience and has ran most of his races at sprint distances.  The check mark on this horse goes to the connections and that the fields in Europe are bigger than they are here.  The UAE Derby, which Thunder Snow won, had 15 entries.  He will not be shy of the 20 in the gate.

State of Honor (30-1):  I wanted to make this horse my superfecta filler, but he has one knock:  His jockey, Jose Lezcano.  Julien Leparoux has been on State of Honor for his last four races, which were stakes races, and in which State of Honor finished on the board all four times.  But, Leparoux is also the jockey for Classic Empire.  (What a choice?)  This Mark Casse trainee gets a definite look and will be taking superfecta money come post time.

Of Note:

Practical Joke (20-1) was doing fine until he got into races with the other Derby contenders then he couldn’t seem to get around Gunnevera, Classic Empire or Irap. He has no wet surface races, doesn’t like the distance or the crowds.

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Down the Stretch with Mike Mills

Another solid card at Canterbury Park this weekend.  On Sunday, we start the day with six quarter horse races including the QH Derby, the Northlands Futurity and Minnesota Stallion Breeders stakes. But let’s get to Saturday first!  Last weekend, we watched Alex Canchari pick up his 500 win.  This weekend, we wait for Orlando Mojica to get his 2,000 win.  He is only three away as of today.1 48 HIGH PLANES Bearcat Racer 'Rare Bear'

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Race 1:  Two-year old Quarter Horse will go 300 yards in the Saturday opener at Canterbury Park.  Top QH jockey Nik Goodwin draws the outside gate in both races but I’m heading to the middle with the 5 horse Ada Lida with leading trainer Jason Olmstead and the red-hot rider Brayan Velazquez. The pedigree on the 3 shows speed, La Mos Pyc and Nik Goodwin can stay clear on the 9 with Promise Me Bob.

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Race 3:  Coastal Breeze was in a tight spot when going long off the layoff, cuts back today and should plenty fit coming from just off the pace, Minnesota bred Chris Mars takes a drop in class and faces open company for the first time at Canterbury, he looks to be the quickest of the bunch and if he gets away from them early he will tough to catch late. Kill Shot runs second of the layoff and from this outside post should sit a great trip behind the speed, top connections always seem to fire.

Race 4: Ms. Bubbette never seemed comfortable in her last when chasing a wire to wire winner, Mojica takes the call today and with some different tactics she should be right there all the way around.  Classy Teacher didn’t much running last time out but she has run some nice turf races in the past, sharp turf connections will have her save all the ground and make one run, Kenna Mae is perfect over the turf facing Minnesota breds, she tries open company and with her natural speed she will take them as far as she can. Speed threat.Best Soldiers Crusader Knight 3 heads 75mm Model Unpainted Metal Kit

MENG MODEL 1 35 BRITISH HEAVY TANK Mk.V FEMALERace 5: Da Kleinen Shatzi faced winners for the first time last out and ran a respectable third, inside post will force Butler to get her in the race early today but that style suits her well and the slight cutback will work in her favor, Adorkable hasn’t faced this kind of company before, last year she was knocking at the door in the allowance ranks, a couple dull efforts to start the year and the logical drop is taken but at 1 for 23 is the drop coming to late? Renamed beaten chalk last out at the level gets a great attack post today, just like our top selection she should be involved from the start and should appreciate the cut back.

Tamiya 1 35 scale WW2 German Jagdtiger Early version tankRace 6: Many runners return from the June 18 race in which Bourbonnais won clear, Solamente was trapped down on the rain and never got to do much running until it was too late, with a better trip today he can make amends for that effort, Streaking Schiller tried turf for the first time last out, he was near a pace that collapsed after he made a brief bid towards the lead, if Keith can get him to relax early he should have more punch in the stretch, Moecaro ran into that collapsing pace on June 18 and got in some trouble in the stretch, with a clean trip he should be making noise late.

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Race 8: G Road returns the turf where he broke his maiden last summer, he hasn’t shown much of last but the slight drop in class should help with the turf wake up call, Leavinglosangeles is the speed of the speed, he has very consistent speed figures and made a good account of himself in his only other try on the lawn, Qahr is one that doesn’t win very often but he does show up with some nice efforts including a third place finish over slightly tougher last time out, could be the bomb in the exotics.

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