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Horse Racing Tips: Your Best Bet for Saturday night’s Kentucky Derby

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The Kentucky Derby (23:57) looks set to be a cracker with a big field of 22 runners declared for the Churchill Downs extravaganza on Saturday night. Paddy’s paying up to 5 places online opening up an each-way play or two, but the market focuses on two main principles.

There should be a strong pace in the race and the Coolmore-owned Sierra Leone won the Blue Grass Stakes in Keeneland last time and will look to ‘close’ late on as he is usually held up off the pace. That won’t make it easy to overcome any traffic problems in such a competitive heat and his draw in stall two is not a help either. His market rival Fierceness runs from stall 17 and I’m not sure if there’s ever been a winner from that berth. It will take a lot of work for him to get to an ideal position behind the leaders and he will burn a lot of gas just getting into a challenging position. He has the best figures coming into the race and everyone has to match them – but that draw in box 17 is a killer.

The supposedly ‘retired’ Society Man from box 20 is the mount of Frankie Dettori and the trading room is dreading the ‘Frankie Factor’ if he wins. The UK-based Ben Curtis gets the leg up on Honor Marie from stall seven.

At the prices and with the extra places on offer, I will play Just A Touch (each-way) for trainer Brad Cox. He was second to Sierra Leone in the Blue Grass Stakes and likes to go forward in his races. A draw in stall eight shouldn’t be an impediment to him being near the pace and he’s recorded fast, early fractions, in previous races and that can help him being in the box seat the whole way round. A fast pace should also bring his stamina into play and two winners in the last six Kentucky Derbys have shown the winner can be a ‘lesser-raced’ type, which traditionally wasn’t the way.

This is just his fourth career start so he’s open to improvement here and throughout the rest of the season.

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