Top Horse Racing Picks for Saturday, April 16, 2022
We’re assessing selected races at Aqueduct Racetrack, Keeneland Race Course, and Oaklawn Park for our Saturday horse racing picks.
One of those races—the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland—is the final qualifying race on the Road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby. A wildcard race, the Lexington gives some of the Derby hopefuls riding the bubble on the R2KD leaderboard one last chance to squeeze past competitors for a post position at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, May 7, 2022.
Before you dive into my prognostications, be sure to check the full race-cards for all three tracks at our top horse racing wagering sites.
Saturday’s Picks for Keeneland Race Course
If you’re looking to bet on horse races this weekend, the action at Keeneland Race Course gets us started.
Race eight is the Giant’s Causeway Stakes, a $200,000 purse,5-1/2 furlong run on the turf course for fillies and mares three years old and upward.
While Irish import Campanelle looks to be a serious contender, I’m betting my two dollars on the second-favorite (at 3/1) Elle Z, with veteran jockey Mitchell Murrill in the irons. He’s certainly someone worth backing based on his history.
Fair Grounds Jockeys— Racing Stats & Info (@GaryDougherty) March 29, 2022
James Graham @James_D_Graham finishes 10 wins ahead of Mitchell Murrill to claim his third straight Riding Title. Also led in purses.
Brian Hernandez, Jr. @b_hernandezjr had best W% at 22.0.
Reylu Gutierrez @ReyGutiJockey led in stakes victories with 7. pic.twitter.com/SXTTv97Zxt
This five-year-old mare finished 12 of her 18 career starts in the money, winning nine. Those nine wins include her most recent three Black Type runs: the Nelson J. Menard Memorial Stakes and the Frederick P. Aime Memorial Stakes in January, and the Mardi Gras Stakes in March.
Regularly ranked among the top 100 trainers in North America for the past 15 years, Chris A. Hartman trains Elle Z for M Bar O LLC.
Race nine puts us back on the dirt track for the Lexington Stakes (Grade III), a $400,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles race for three-year-olds. The Lexington Stakes is the final qualifying race on the Road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby. It awards R2KD leaderboard points to the top four finishers (20-8-4-2).
There are six among this eleven-horse field that could see their future brighten considerably with a win here. Tawny Port is on the bubble: He’s #20 on the R2KD leaderboard with 40 points. Even a fourth-place finish here could solidify his claim to a starting position in the Kentucky Derby.
Be that as it may, I’m calling this race for the second-favored In Due Time (at 3/1), ridden by ace jockey Paco Lopez.
At #29 on the R2KD leaderboard with 20 points, this chestnut colt could move into Derby territory with a win—and for my money, he’ll do it.
For the record, In Due Time moneyed all four of his career starts, winning two. He picked up his 20 R2KD points with a second-place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (Grade II) at Gulfstream Park last month.
Thirty-year horse racing veteran Kelly J. Breen trains In Due Time for owners Edge Racing, Medallion Racing, and Parkland Thoroughbreds.
Race ten brings us back to the turf course for the Jenny Wiley Stakes (Grade I), a $500,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles race for fillies and mares four years old and upward.
This six-year-old mare moneyed 14 of her 17 career starts, winning ten, including the Matriarch Stakes (Grade I) at Del Mar last November and the Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational Stakes (Grade III) in January at Gulfstream.
Multiple Eclipse Award winner Chad C. Brown trains Regal Glory for owner Peter M. Brant. Brown also trains this race’s 6/5 morning-line favorite, Shantisara.
My Saturday Picks for Laurel Park
The horse racing betting action doesn’t have to stop at Keeneland Race Course. You should also be able to find bets for Laurel Park this weekend.
We’ll start with race six the Weber City Miss Stakes, a $125,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles dirt track run for three-year-old fillies. This one’s my no-brainer pick of the day: 3/5 morning-line favorite Luna Belle, ridden by top jockey Denis Araujo.
For the record, Luna Belle moneyed eight of her ten career starts, winning five, including her most recent four.
Those four were all Black Type stakes races here at Laurel Park: the Maryland Juvenile Fillies Championship Stakes in December, the Xtra Heat Stakes in January, the Wide Country Stakes in February, and the Beyond The Wire Stakes in March.
Co-owner Hamilton A. Smith trains Luna Belle for Deborah S. Green and himself.
Race seven is the Frank Y. Whiteley Stakes, a $100,000 purse, seven-furlong dirt track race for three-year-olds and upward.
I don’t see any real standouts in this eight-horse field. However, the 3/1 morning-line favorite does have a very slight statistical edge, so let’s go with that: Bet on Sir Alfred James, piloted by veteran jockey John McKee.
The six-year-old gelding finished in the money 15 of his 23 career starts, winning seven, including the Holiday Cheer Stakes (Black Type) at Turfway Park this past New Year’s Day.
Norman L. Cash trains Sir Alfred James for Built Wright Stables, LLC.
Race eight is the Heavenly Cause Stakes, a $1000,000 purse, one-mile dirt track race for fillies and mares three years old and upward.
I’m betting my two dollars on the third-favored (at 5/1) Pennybaker, with jockey Jevian Toledo aboard.
This Kentucky-born filly has only recently returned to the States after her establishing her career with ten starts that included five money finishes—four of those wins.
Her most recent win was the Prix Miss Satamixa (Listed) at the Hippodrome Deauville-La Touques in Deauville, France.
With more than four decades in the horse racing business, Michael Stidham trains Pennybacker for Godolphin, LLC.
Race nine is the Federico Tesio Stakes, a $125,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles dirt track run for three-year-olds. The winner of this race automatically receives an invitation to the 2022 Preakness Stakes (provided the horse is nominated for the Triple Crown).
I’m calling this race for the 3/1 second-favorite, Shake Em Loose, ridden by veteran jockey Charlie Marquez.
Breaking his maiden in November (his sixth attempt), he went on to win the Heft Stakes (Black Type) in December, an allowance optional claiming race in February, and the Private Terms Stakes (Black Type) in March.
And notably, in the Private Terms Stakes, he forced this race’s favorite, Joe, to accept second-place by 1-3/4 lengths.
Rodolfo Sanchez-Salomon trains Shake Em Loose for J R Sanchez Racing Stable.
Saturday Horse Racing Picks for Oaklawn Park
Last, but certainly not least, are some races for Saturday at Oaklawn Park.
We’ll start on the dirt track with race four, a 1-1/16 miles allowance optional claiming run for three-year-olds.
I just can’t convince myself the 5/2 morning-line favorite, Happy Boy Rocket, has a win in him. Instead, I’m betting on the 9/2 underdog, Presidential, with Isaac Castillo aboard.
In any other six-horse field, this colt might not be a standout, but here, Presidential takes center stage.
It’s true that Presidential has a single money finish in his four career starts. Still, he showed his superiority over the morning-line favorite in this race with a fifth-place finish in the Lecomte Stakes (Grade III) at Fair Grounds in January.
In comparison, the favorite’s single stakes run—the Tampa Bay Derby (Grade II) in March—ended with a ninth-place finish.
Hall of Famer Steven M. Asmussen trains Presidential for Courtlandt Farms (Donald Adam).
Race nine is a one-mile allowance optional claiming race for three-year-olds and upward. This race is a almost a coin-flip between Hunka Burning Love, the 3/1 morning-line favorite, and Brice, the 8/1 sleeper.
I’m going with Brice, ridden by Isaac Castillo.
This five-year-old gelding moneyed eleven of his 21 career starts, winning nine, including his most recent starter allowance here at Oaklawn. He notably finished fourth in the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (Grade III) at Monmouth Park last August.
Jerry Hollendorfer trains Brice for Hollendorfer LLC, Tri-Star Racing LLC, and George Todaro.
Race eleven is the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (Grade III), a $500,000 purse, six-furlong dirt track race for four-year-olds and upward.
I have to agree with the morning-line on this one. Buy a win ticket on the 6/5 favorite, Jackie’s Warrior, with Joel Rosario in the irons.
This four-year-old bay colt finished in the money ten of his twelve career starts, winning eight. Those wins include the Amsterdam Stakes (Grade II) and the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes (Grade I) last August at Saratoga, and the Gallant Bob Stakes (Grade II) in September at Parx Racing.
Steven M. Asmussen trains Jackie’s Warrior for owners J. Kirk Robison and Judy Robison.
While this weekend’s races are exciting, one of the biggest races of the year is coming up. Get ready for the 2022 Kentucky Derby with updated odds and analysis below.