Choosing a single in the Grade 3, $300,000 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs on Saturday looks challenging this time around with an evenly-matched field and a favorite carrying a losing streak. Perhaps the key to any multi-race wager surrounding this race comes one race before it.
First, here are thoughts on an earlier maiden special weight on the card.
Churchill Downs Race 7: Maiden special weight
Trial enters this race with impressive works for trainer Thomas Drury Jr.
As seen on kentuckybred.org, in Trial’s Oct. 26 workout in company with Sgt York, the exercise rider holds back Trial throughout the work to stop him from blowing his workmate away. Granted, Sgt York probably has limited ability, but the visual of Trial wanting to do more is notable.
In Trial’s Nov. 10 workout in company with Track Tyrant and Queen’s Notice, Trial meets the outside move from Track Tyrant and holds him at bay, before drawing clear of both workmates as they straighten out of the second turn and into the back side.
Playing maiden races with many first-timers always involves some guess work. But at the right odds, Trial is worth a closer look from bettors.
Win/place: 10 (at 8-1 or longer)
Churchill Downs Race 9: Allowance optional claimer
Strong Quality holds a class advantage over this field.
In two of his last three starts, this pacesetter has competed in high-level races such as the Manhattan (G1) at Belmont and Arlington Million (G1) at Colonial Downs. Strong Quality set fast fractions before fading in each of those starts, but he likely found both the company and distance in the two Grade 1 races too difficult.
Only two weeks after the Arlington Million, Strong Quality took a shot at the one mile and 70 yard Tapit Stakes at Kentucky Downs and set the pace before fading to fourth. However, Strong Quality deserves yet another pass because of the track configuration at Kentucky Downs.
Look back to Strong Quality's April 13 effort where he wins a 1 1/16-mile allowance turf race at Keeneland in gate-to-wire fashion. From start to finish, Strong Quality looks strong over this field.
If Strong Quality can repeat that effort in this optional claimer, he will win.
Although Strong Quality should take some money as the morning-line favorite, those last three losses on his record will scare bettors. He also might face another pacesetting-type in Gunton Roe, but that horse only owns modest early speed and Strong Quality could possibly sit off him.
Strong Quality's class and speed are strong enough to make him the key.
Win: 6 (at 2-1 or longer)
Double: 6 with 5,7
Churchill Downs Race 10: Chilukki Stakes (G3)
On paper, this is a wide open race with many possible winners.
From a value standpoint, She Can’t Sing fits the bill as she won this race last year and ran third in the Houston Ladies Classic (G3) at Sam Houston earlier this year before embarking on a strange turf campaign.
She Can’t Sing turned in decent efforts in those four turf races while never missing the superfecta, which only highlights this mare’s overall consistency. But, She Can’t Sing probably runs a little better on dirt.
With She Can’t Sing’s tactical speed, she can position herself in a nice spot while attempting to defend the crown. She is a value play at 8-1.
The second option to consider is Falconet, who threw a clunker in the local Locust Grove Stakes (G3) after suffering from a wide trip throughout. Given the poor trip, handicappers can cross that effort out.
Back in August, Falconet won the one-mile Groupie Doll Stakes at Ellis Park over Hidden Connection in second. In this race, Hidden Connection is listed as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line while Falconet is higher at 4-1. Yet, Falconet has proven capable of beating her before.
Falconet won the Groupie Doll with stalking tactics after sitting in fifth and usually sits within a length or two of the leader in most races. In terms of style, she is similar to She Can’t Sing with her tactical speed.
If Falconet receives a good trip, she can win too.