Festival of rich races await weekend bettors


There will be an embarrassment of rich races to bet on in our race books on Saturday. Three tracks — the Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park and Meydan in Dubai — will each host a festival of racing at their venue.

Our Las Vegas racing day will start early with a 6 a.m. simulcast from Dubai of nine stakes worth more than $27 million. The world’s richest race, the $10 million Dubai World Cup, will have a post time of 11:05 a.m. from Meydan.

Three U.S. horses, Dullahan (6-1), Royal Delta (4-1) and Animal Kingdom (5-1), will vie for the $6 million first prize. The deserving favorite is Hunter’s Light (7-2) from Godolphin. A price play that I like is Kassiano (12-1).

A number of casinos — including Boyd Gaming, Fiesta and Station, and Wynn Las Vegas -— will have betting windows open at 6 a.m.

Gulfstream Park has carded seven stakes and Fair Grounds six stakes for Saturday. They are incredible programs, but I will focus on three stakes offering Kentucky Derby points.

The $1 million Florida Derby, $1 million Louisiana Derby and $2 million UAE Derby could yield a minimum six Kentucky Derby starters. Each race winner will earn 100 points, 40 points to second. I suspect 40 is a sure thing to get into the Derby field. The actual cutoff will likely be lower.

In fact, John Avello at Wynn has posted an over/under prop bet on the cutoff for points needed to make the Kentucky Derby field at 29½.

Big long shots have won five of the eight first series preps. Large, competitive fields will help yield those kinds of results.

The Florida Derby on paper is dominated by 2-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby, Itsmyluckyday and Orb. Only Orb, with 50 points from a Fountain of Youth win, is a lock for the Derby.

The other two must finish in the money to secure a Derby spot. A price horse I like is Frac Daddy to rebound off a no-excuse loss in the Holy Bull.

The Louisiana Derby is wide open, though most public support will go to Revolutionary (3-1), Code West (9-2) and Palace Malice (5-1). Code West is the starter with the most Derby points, 20. My choice is Palace Malice who should sit a nice inside stalking trip from post 2.

The UAE Derby favorite, Secret Number (3-1), is undefeated in two starts. Two U.S. horses have shipped in, Dice Flavor (5-1) and He’s Had Enough (8-1). Bottomline, UAE Derby horses in past years have been no factor in the Kentucky Derby. With the new point system, if the top two finishers go to Churchill Downs, they will force two others onto the bubble.

■ TWIN QUINELLA — Each Saturday, through April 27, the Station and Fiesta race books will offer a $10,000 Twin Quinella wager. That’s double the usual jackpot of $5,000.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.