Ready or not, here we go with 2 days of great racing!
Race 1-Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, F & M, 3 & up
#6 Wine Princess is out of 2 hall of fame, horses of the year (Ghostzapper/Azeri) and looks to improve when switching to the dirt while stretching out. #4 Haylie Brae’s dam, Dance Swiftly, never made it to the races, but is a full sister to super sire, Smart Strike and Canadian Triple Crown Winner, Dance Smartly. She has already produced 4 winners from 7 runners with 2 of those being stakes winners. Haylie Brae also looks to improve on the stretch out being out of Bernadini, for a trainer (Mark Casse) who is 16% with runners moving to a route & 17% with his 2nd time starters. #2 Finallyareallady looks to be forwardly placed in a race with not a lot of speed on paper, and the cutback to a 1-turn mile shouldn’t hurt.
Race 2-Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile turf, 3 & up
In a wide open race, I'll lean towards #7 Madris who really improved with a move to the grass last time, though racing wide throughout. Trainer, Steve Margolis is 29% with horses routing for the 2nd time. #9 Lockout & #10 Lord Tarzan both have very competitive speed figures again the rest of the field and should be included in all exotic bets.
Race 3-$75,000 O/C, 7 furlongs, F & M, 3 & up
In a race with a lack of early speed, #7 Delightful Magic should sit a very nice trip & is usually in the mix every time out. Her only off the board finish was in the 1-mile, grade-3 Delta Princess. #6 Ice Cream Silence improved greatly in her 3yo debut, has been working every 6 days for this and could easily return to the winner’s circle with a repeat of her last. #5 Queen Teuta is a little light on speed figures, but looks to get the early lead and can hang on for a piece at a price.
Race 4-$75,000 O/C, 1 1/16 miles, F & M, 3 & up
#6 Funny Proposition had been unlucky to draw the rail in both career efforts at sprint distances. She is bred to handle a route a ground, takes the blinkers off today to help her settle and retains jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who decides to stay on even though he won on #4 Uptown Bertie last out. #10 Woodford Lady ran a winning race at this level 2 races back at Gulfstream Park. There appears to be enough early speed in this race to help set up her late kick.
Race 5-$80,000 O/C, 1 mile turf, F & M, 3 & up
I found this race to be extremely difficult, but finally settled on #5 Zapparition, who cuts back from the 1 ½ miles grade-3 Orchid Stakes, to her most preferred distance (6-2-1-1). She also gains the services of red-hot jockey, Javier Castellano. With the presence of early pace coming from #1, 3, & 7, #8 Maggies Ransom looks to rally late to light up the tote board at a price. #10 Dancinginherdreams has come back to Earth after being dubbed racing’s next best thing as a 2-year-old in 2010. A barn switch to Mott may be just what she needs to wake up. The only other runner out of her dam was a turf winner.
Race 6-$300,000 Gd. II La Troienne Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, F & M, 4 & up
2011 Kentucky Oaks winner, #4 Plum Pretty lays over this field based on speed figures, but there are other front runners in the field (#5 & 6), so she’s either going to roll home or get softened up enough for closer to come and get her. I’ll side with the former and predict that she’ll win rather easily. She’s running at her optimal distance and is in peak form. #7 Maristar hasn’t been seen since an appearance on the Breeders’ Cup undercard last fall. Plenty of speed here to set up her late kick & has been working regularly for this. #2 St. John’s River, runner up in last year’s Oaks, looks like Maristar on paper, but will be half the price.
Race 7-$100,000 Gd. III Eight Belles Stakes, 7 furlongs, Fillies, 3 years old
#3 Good Deed appears to be quickest early and looks to steal this wire to wire. #4 Xunlei is undefeated when running on dirt and not coming off a layoff (career debut included). She fits that mold today, so a top effort is expected. #7 Contested hasn’t done anything wrong in 3 career efforts and ships in from California for Baffert, who is ultra-dangerous on big race days in undercard races.
Race 8-$150,000 Edgewood Stakes, 1 1/16 miles turf, Fillies, 3 years old
#3 Stephanie’s Kitten’s owners, Ken & Sarah Ramsey, love winning races at Churchill Downs, so her second last out at Keeneland, off a long layoff, should set her up perfectly for today. Having a speed figure edge & winning a Breeders’ Cup race over this course last fall doesn’t hurt matters either. #11 Anna Sophia is bred both sides for turf, trainer Bill Mott is subpar with first time starters, but yet she was able to win at first asking on dirt, going 5 furlongs at Belmont Park last summer, so she must be pretty talented, right?. In her last, a grass race at Gulfstream Park, Anna Sophia was far off a dawdling pace, in which she came flying home, but fell short. #8 Disposablepleasure ran well in her career debut on grass, but hasn’t been seen on the lawn since. This class drop, while going back to the turf should help Disposablepleasure be competitive.
Race 9-$300,000 Gd. II Alysheba Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, 4 & up
#2 Successful Dan loves Churchill and would be undefeated (4-for-4) if it weren’t for a disqualification in 2010 Clark Handicap. He’s on the same workout pattern that led him to the winner’s circle last out (even the same 3 furlong work 4 days before race day). Fan favorite #4 Mucho Macho Man has his own Twitter account and showed a liking for Churchill Downs when 3rd in last year’s Kentucky Derby. He’s been in career form this spring, and a victory would be no surprise. #7 Apart, hailing from the same connections as 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame, looks to pick up the pieces late in a race loaded with early speed.
Race 10-$200,000 Gd. II American Turf, 1 1/16 miles turf, 3 years old
Minus the Breeders’ Cup victory, see race 8 for an explanation of why I’m going with #2 Gung Ho. He was the only one within shouting range of Derby contenders, Dullahan and Hansen, last out in Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes. Keeneland’s main track is notorious for playing like a turf course, so this transition shouldn’t be a problem for Gung Ho. #10 Travel Advisory was unable to catch #13 Silver Max (who had things his own way on the front end) last out. With the addition of #4, 5, 7, 9 and 14 on the front end, there should be plenty of pace to help Travel Advisory turn the tables. #3 Star Channel is a versatile runner from the Pletcher barn that is undefeated with the addition of blinkers, and must be included in all exotics.
Race 11-$1,000,000 Gd. I Kentucky Oaks, 1 1/8 miles, Fillies, 3 years old
#2 Grace Hall is the fastest and most versatile runner in this field. She's been working steadily towards this race, has experience over the track, a win at today’s distance and a good post draw. I fully expect Grace Hall to be draped in lilies at day’s end. #5 Hard Not To Like has never ran on dirt, but is bred for it being out of Derby runner-up, Hard Spun. She is also a versatile sort that looks to improve off her last effort (2nd in Ashland Stakes at Keeneland). Jockey Robby Albarado sticks with her, rather than Oaks contender, #3 Summer Applause, who he’s rode all spring. #8 Jemima’s Pearl has been the workmate for Derby contender, Bodemeister all week and has kept up with him quite well. At Oaklawn Park last out, Jemima’s Pearl was compromised by a slow pace, but she should get plenty of pace to help her closing kick today. I also find it curious that Baffert trainee, Mamma Kimbo, who defeated Jemima’s Pearl last time is skipping this, more prestigious race in favor of the Black Eyed Susan in 2 weeks, but Baffert finds Jemima’s Pearl good enough to run in the greatest race for 3-year-old fillies…sneaky.
Race 12-Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, F & M, 3 & up
#9 Stellabymoonlight has been away for 10 months, but has been working out every 8 days for her return. Looks like Romans is pointing to this specific spot for her comeback and she doesn’t have to progress that much from 2 to 3 years old in order to find the winner’s circle. #8 That’s Me was well bet in her first start and ran well despite encountering many traffic troubles. A move forward off her debut would not be a surprise. #6 Vuitton defeated That’s Me when 2nd last out and is a logical contender.
Don’t forget to stick around for betting opinions, to share picks, ask questions or just to poke fun at me. I’ll be close to the action in the pressbox, so I’ll be providing up to minute commentary with the Horse Racing Nation during all of Friday’s action!
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