Goodnight Olive and Cody’s Wish, both of whom starred on Breeders’ Cup Day at Keeneland last fall, are odds-on to capture their respective Grade 1 appearances on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Day undercard at Churchill Downs.
The reigning champion female sprinter, Goodnight Olive faces five rivals in the $750,000 Derby City Distaff (G1) over seven furlongs. Trained by Chad Brown, Goodnight Olive has won seven in a row since dropping her career debut in early 2021, the most recent being a one-length decision in the April 8 Madison (G1) at Keeneland.
Her two main foes figure to be Wicked Halo and Matareya, one-two in the six-furlong Matron S. at Oaklawn in late March. Wicked Halo, a two-time stakes winner over the Churchill strip, was third by 3 1/2 lengths to Goodnight Olive when they last met in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1).
Matareya didn’t make the Breeders’ Cup, but was the outstanding force in her division last spring when taking the Beaumont (G3), Eight Belles (G2), and Acorn (G1) in comfortable fashion.
Cody’s Wish, who won a thriller over Cyberknife in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) when last seen, will put his four-race win streak on the line in the $750,000 Churchill Downs (G1), also over seven furlongs.
Trained by Bill Mott, Cody’s Wish is undefeated in four previous starts under the Twin Spires and is a multiple Grade 1 winner, having also upset 2022 Churchill Downs winner Jackie’s Warrior in the Forego (G1) last August.
The field of 11 also includes Endorsed, who enters off back-to-back wins in the Fred W. Hooper (G3) and Gulfstream Park Mile (G2), and Grade 1 veteran White Abbario, who was cross-entered in Friday’s one-mile Westchester (G3) at Belmont Park.
A more contentious race, on paper at least, is the $500,000 Pat Day Mile (G2) for three-year-olds. The field of 14 includes General Jim, who landed the Swale (G3) three months ago over multiple stakes winner Super Chow, and Damon’s Mound, impressive winner of the Saratoga Special (G2) last summer before sub-par showings going long and on turf.
Also likely to grab some support is the Tim Yakteen-trained pair of Kangaroo Court, who steps out of California-bred company for the first time, and the Grade 2-placed Fort Bragg.