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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, April 29, 2021 – We’re well into our Derby weekend research, which is not quite close to completion, but one observation immediately came to mind as we surveyed two days of world class racing:

I had better have a good Oaks day because Derby Day, with only a few notable exceptions, is as challenging a big-event program as I’ve encountered in some time.

Yes, we all love wide open betting races because it provides a chance to make a score. However, if your wrong in a few spots that counts, fiscal disaster looms.

I had a different Derby horse on top for each of the last five days, and the Oaks is just as challenging. Indeed, both races have a cluster of about five horses at the top that loom the most likely winners. The problem, of course, is which one?

The tote board inevitably will decide on which horse I’ll bet my money and how much, also hinting about the best ways to maximize in the exotic pools.

As an aside, we prefer verticals to the multi-race pools. The degree of difficulty may be about the same. We just find vertical pools to be a little less trappy.

If you prefer your action straight, a word to the wise. Empirically, we’ve noted many place overlays in relation to win payouts. The size of the pools, even with limited live attendance, contains enough “square money” to account for both the pari-mutuel takeout and bad beats.

Today, we’ll provide snapshot of the Oaks and later betting matrices for the five races preceding the “Run for the Lilies.”

There are two most likely winners of the Oaks, favorites Malathaat (5-2) and Travel Column (3-1). Both appear in peak form and own forward-looking Thoro-Graph performance patterns.

Malathaat snatched victory from defeat’s jaws with an impossible rally to nail Pass the Champagne in the last jump of the G1 Ashland. Off her efforts as a juvenile of 2020, I sought to make a futures bet on her to win the Derby. Fortunately, I was unable to get down and saved a few dollars.

So, she rates to move forward on figures but had to dig down deep to win and she’s a filly back in 27 days. I’m sure Todd Pletcher wishes he had another week of time and preparation

Meanwhile, Travel Column has taken a more traditional route, never has taken a backward step, and is six weeks fresh. But this is more than a two-filly race.

Knowing exactly where the pace will come from and how fast is problematic. But the best riders in the world have mounts here and we’ll all know after the break. Best guess as to the logical speed: Travel Column, Pass the Champagne (15-1) and Millefeuille (20-1).

We have six fillies open as possible straight wagers: Those not mentioned above include Clairiere (5-1) and Search Results (3-1). At this very moment, based on early line and best-guess ante post odds, we project:


WIN VALUE:  Pass the Champagne

EXOTICA: Possible exacta box inclusions; Travel Column, Clairiere, Search Results, Millefeuille. Trifecta and Superfecta inclusions: Pauline’s Pearl (20-1), Crazy Beautiful (15-1).

G2 ALYSHEBA    Race 6

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  6-Maxfield (4-5)

WIN VALUE:  2-Sonneman (5-1)

EXOTICA: Exacta box 2-6.  Trifecta wheel 6-2-ALL


MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  6-Aunt Pearl (4-5)

WIN VALUE:  2-Gift List (7-2)

EXOTICA:  Exacta box 2-6


MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  3-Dunbar Road (5-2)

WIN VALUE:  3-Dunbar Road (5-2)

EXOTICA: Exacta Box 2-3-5 [including Shesdaresthedevil (8-5) and Paris Lights (8-1)].  Exacta Box 3-5. 


MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  8-Dayoutoftheoffice (3-1)

WIN VALUE:  9-Li’l Tootsie (8-1)

EXOTICA: Exacta Box 8-9.  Exacta Box 6-9-10-12 [including Slumber Party (6-1) and Caramel Swirl (12-1)].  Trifecta Key Box:  9 // [including Make Mischief (15-1)]


MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  8-Fast Boat (7-2)

WIN VALUE:  9-Diamond Oops (5-1)

EXOTICA:  Exacta Key-Box: 9 // 3.5.8 [including Fiya (4-1) and Just Might (8-1)].  Trifecta Key-Box 9 // 3.5.8

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14 Responses

  1. Oaks – Travel Column. 2 for 2 at CD. Strong recent workouts. Cox and Geroux got the job done with Shedaresthedevil last year in the Oaks (strange, it was September)

    La Troienne – Dunbar Road. Made up an enormous amount of ground to get 3rd in the BC Distaff.

    Best of luck to all.

    1. Thanks for the input Dan and won’t argue with either choice; I too like Dunbar Road. Best of luck to you as well and may everyone come home safe…

  2. Kentucky Oaks Day- Ya !

    8th race

    Paris Lights (5)- Bill Mott is on fire. He’s hitting almost 30% last 90 days. This filly paired tops in her first race at 4, The 7 furlong Grade 3 distaff was clearly a prep and now stretches out to a longer distance where she is 2/2 and 2/2 @ CD. She’s a little slow but has a forward moving pattern, Gaffalione back on and pulls 5 pounds from the favorite. (8-1) is huge value vs an 8/5 favorite and a very good horse off the layoff. Get’s the acid test. Play with the 1,2,3

    11th Race- I did like Malathaat to win this race earlier this year but as I looked closer I have some questions. Nobody’s won this race with one prep this century. She has Never raced in a field of more than 6 horses and get’s the 10 hole who like’s to come from behind, She is the favorite whose bred by Mr. Prospector in a race that’s mostly won by Northern Dancer/ Bold Ruler line’s. Which brings me to my choice in this race. Travel Column(3-1) who comes out of the 6 hole for Brad Cox who will be attempting to win this race for the 3rd time in 4 years. Regular rider Geroux up and figure’s to be in the top tier of horses around the first turn. A perfect forward moving pattern, today she should fire her best shot which is good enough to win. Pauline’s Pearl is a tad slow but her running line is excellent. Asmussen/Santana is formidable and at 20-1 you don’t want to lose her. Call it.
    1. Travel Column
    2. Malathaat
    3. Pauline’s Pearl
    4. Pass the Champagne
    5. Search Results
    Good luck and as always Let’s go get those bad guys,


    1. Cannot argue with your logic in either case and 8-1 on Paris Lights is more than enough award for the risk. The favorite will be a tough out but that’s what exacta boxes are for. Personally hoping at least 6-1 will be available but afraid she’s be lower than that. We’ll never get all the bad guys, Vin, but we can try. The main thing is that all the horses come home safe.

  3. Aunt Pearl flops at 1-5. 50-1 bomb runs 2nd to Javier and Gift List. To run this poorly AP had to not like Churchill turf course. What is your take, JP? An awful lot of horizontal wagers went up in smoke after this result. She had the lead into the stretch run and then nothing left in the tank. Tough game.

    1. Wrong guy to ask since I had a few dollars on Gift List, who at the end of the year might turn out to be the best in her division. AP was absolutely flat, blowing up my exacta box, and barring a physical issue she was just terribly flat. Then, not all horses transition well from 2 to 3. I have no idea what happened; it’s a wait and see…

  4. Thanks to all the HRI faithful for their input. I am going with Travel Column and Known Agenda in the Oaks Derby Double. Mixed several others mentioned in the mix, but those are my one and two rides. Safe journey to all. What a day, 18 in the wind at Bethpage and now settled in for the Oaks. Sweet. Like Agenda in the Derby. Tough post will add to the payout.

    1. Right now, thanks to Mattress Mack making EQ 4-5, KA is 19-1. What are we missing here, that’s cray?!

    1. It was all of that McD. Good on you! I didn’t play an Oaks-Derby DD this year; two many questions for me. Getting totally eliminated with Pass the Champagne, blowing up another exacta, was very disheartening. But that’s the game, isn’t it…

    1. Vin, It needs to get better tomorrow; had more than my share of tough trips today then that’s the game, too. The noise you hear is me turning the page… Need a cocktail first

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