Handicapper Ed DeRosa's expert picks for Derby Day races at Churchill Downs

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Through the first four days of Kentucky Derby week we’re 14 wins from 40 races (35%) and a flat bet profit (loss) of -8%. That’s not bad, but we can do better.

The only actionable observation I’ve made this week is that inside seems to be good on the main track, but with the weather expected Friday it’s hard to put stock into that as the complexion of things will change not only Friday but also on Saturday after the track has dried out.

All we can do is pick horses ready to run and demand a good price for the uncertainty.

RACE 1: 13-7

Looking to the outside right off the rip and hoping #13 Montauck Point draws in. Violence colt cut back to a one-turn mile last out and ran well chasing behind a slow pace but closing strong. #7 Warrior Johny would get one turn for the first time here.

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RACE 2: 8-4

Our first price play of the day is #8 Osbourne, who comes back second off the layoff freshly gelded and gets post relief with Tyler Gaffalione remaining loyal to the Moquett barn.

RACE 3: 7-10 (MTO)

#7 Final Belle has just missed both times against winners, but really like her getting to go 1 ⅛ miles again.

RACE 4:1A-1-4

Different trainers both naming Luis Saez to ride suggests one of these horses is scratching, but either part of the entry can stand alone as a top pick with preference to #1A Varatti off the also eligible list.

RACE 5: 8-2

Stakes action begins with the Distaff Turf Mile, and in Chad Brown we trust with 2-to-1 morning line favorite Speak of the Devil, who makes her five-year-old debut here off some big Class Ratings last year in Europe.

RACE 6: 2-8-7-1

Shared Sense looks to win the inaugural running of a race named for one of his trainer’s star pupils in Horse of the Year Knicks Go. That was a big race for him off the layoff and love the wins at this distance and track.

RACE 7: 5-2

#5 Jack Christopher makes his three-year-old debut here and I have to think the Grade 1 winner is ready to roll for Brown considering all the options throughout the late spring and early summer for 3-year-olds. #2 Trademark is interesting on the cutback.

RACE 8: 6-7

#1 Lady Rocket is scratching, which admittedly will likely make things more difficult for our top pick, but love the prep for Bell’s the One and just think this was the goal for a mare trainer Neil Pessin has shown he can train to the letter.

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RACE 9: 1-8-11-4

This is our longshot race of the day, as all four of our picks figure to be $20 horses, and I’m especially bullish on #1 Smokin T AKA Kathleen O’s workmate. You may remember her from such prognostications as My Kentucky Oaks Pick. Smokin T outworked her so why can’t he outrace these other 3 year olds?

RACE 10: 3-7-8

This is where the rubber meets the road for me on that Steve Asmussen stat. Through Thursday, the Racing Hall of Fame trainer who has won more races than anyone in North American history as well as in Churchill Downs history is on a 75-race losing streak in Kentucky, but the horses running at Turfway and spring Keeneland aren’t Jackie’s Warrior.

RACE 11: 2-5-1-6

Why not Bizzee Channel, who I picked to win the Mr. D. Stakes (formerly and once again known as the Arlington Million). Nice win last out and further improvement needed, but he’ll be every bit of 20-to-1 or more here. I like #5 Mira Mission stretching out.

RACE 12: 9-11-10-3-6-5-1

We all know the question surrounding #9 Tiz the Bomb: Dirt. It’s a fair question. At 25-to-1 I’m willing to pay the price to find out.

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RACE 13: 13-1-11

#13 in race 13? Why not?!! Soup And Sandwich is a 2021 Derby alum who gets back out to two turns second off the layoff here.

RACE 14: 12-13-11

We started this 14-race Derby day odyssey with an outside selection, and that’s where we end with #12 Bourbon Heist on top. He cuts back to 6 furlongs, and that might finally get him to the winner’s circle. Both #13 and #11 are interesting debut runners.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky Derby races picks from handicapper Ed DeRosa