Blue Grass Stakes Odds & Picks: Can Smile Happy Become the Kentucky Derby Favorite?

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  • Smile Happy heads up Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland
  • A Major Kentucky Derby qualifying race, the Blue Grass has Several Run for the Roses Contenders
  • How should we bet the biggest Derby prep in Kentucky this year?

In 2021 Essential Quality won the Eclipse Award as the top three-year-old horse. Essential Quality won the Blue Grass Stakes before finishing fourth at the Kentucky Derby. He went on to win the Belmont, Jim Dandy, and Travers Stakes before a third-place performance in the Breeders Cup Classic.

The Blue Grass has produced ten Kentucky Derby winners, but none since Strike the Gold took the Run for the Roses in 1991. This year’s Blue Grass crop has several horses featured prominently in the latest Kentucky Derby odds. If you think the Blue Grass has a reasonably likely Derby winner, you might want to make a futures wager now, before things in Lexington are decided and the price on the winner goes down.

Let’s examine Smile Happy, Zandon, Emmanuel, and the rest of the field. Where can we find betting value?

2022 Blue Grass Stakes Odds

Horse Odds
Smile Happy +180
Zandon +250
Emmanuel +450
Rattle N Roll +800
Commandperformance +1200
Fenwick +2000
Vokcanic +2000
Golden Glider +2000
Ethereal Road +2000
Blackadder +2000
Grantham +2000
Trademark +3000

Odds as of April 7

With a purse of $1 million, and 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points on the line (100 for the winner, 40 for second place, 20 for third, and 10 for fourth) it is no surprise the mile-and-an-eighth Blue Grass has attracted a top field. The race dates back more than 100 years, and this year cold temperatures are expected in Lexington. With a post time of 5:10 pm ET, weather forecasts call for the low 40s with rain possible. NBC will televise the race.

With a big field for the Blue Grass, understanding horse racing bet types is important because there are a lot of different ways to attack. Knowing your options, whether they are straight bets or exotics, how to play them, and which to utilize is helpful.

Let’s highlight some of the Blue Grass contenders and see if we can hone in on a wager.

If You Like Epicenter, Smile Happy and Zandon Must Be Respected

Right now Epicenter is the shortest price among Kentucky Derby contenders. Smile Happy has two wins, and his one loss came to Epicenter in February’s Risen Star Stakes.

While Epicenter was clearly better than Smile Happy two months ago, Smile Happy was half a length clear of Zandon, who might be the second choice on Saturday. Smile Happy didn’t have a perfect trip in the Risen Star and could improve second off the layoff.

Zandon is also second off a layoff. He just missed against Mo Donegal, one of the favorite’s in Saturday’s Wood Memorial last December, and didn’t get out of the gate great in the Risen Star.

Smile Happy and Zandon have very similar profiles, and both have a big shot in the Blue Grass.

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What About a Bigger Price Option?

Emmanuel began his career with impressive back-to-back wins but settled for fourth in last month’s Fountain of Youth Stakes.

He raced wide in Florida, but didn’t really seem to want the extra distance. It’ll be interesting if trainer Todd Pletcher changes tactics, and goes back to trying to be near the lead. That is the style Emmanuel used to start his career two-for-two.

While Rattle N Roll has finished sixth and fourth in two graded stakes this year, his best career effort came at Keeneland in October.

Rattle N Roll has faced top-tier competition this year and returning to a track that he excelled on can only be a good thing.

Ethereal Road needed four races to break his maiden, but sure made a big move in his first race against winners.

It is possible Ethereal Road just took a little extra time to mature. His last two races are strong, and at a big price he could be in the mix on Saturday particularly if the pace is quick, and he can come running late.

Blue Grass Stakes Best Bet

The two favorites are deserving, and the price isn’t ridiculous. While an upset is absolutely possible, Zandon went toe-to-toe with Mo Donegal to close out last year and was competitive despite a tardy start last time out. Chad Brown won this race in 2018 with Good Magic, and he will have Zandon ready to roll.

Pick: Zandon (+250)

The post Blue Grass Stakes Odds & Picks: Can Smile Happy Become the Kentucky Derby Favorite? appeared first on Sports Betting Dime.

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Author: Stacy Hoffman