Churchill Downs Racing Preview – 4/27/21 – By Eric Solomon

The Tuesday afternoon card kicks off the weeklong celebration leading up to the 147th Kentucky Derby. The Oaks card was drawn yesterday, and that card looks fantastic. The field for the Derby will be drawn this morning. There are 9 races on the program this afternoon, highlighted by the Isaac Murphy Marathon Overnight Stakes presented by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, going 1 Mile and ½ on the main track.

Race A B C Exotics Menu
1 5 3   DBL, PK3, PK5
2 2,6 3   DBL, PK3, PK4
3 4,6 2   DBL, PK3
4 7   2 DBL, PK3, PK6
5 3,10   1,1A,6 DBL, PK3, PK5
6 2,8,9 6   DBL, PK3, PK4
7 8,9 3,6   DBL, PK3
8 2 3,5   DBL
9 5 2,4 9  


Race 1: Top Pick: 5

This busy week opens with a five horse field, going 1 Mile and 1/16, running with a claiming tag of $25,000. The 6-5 morning line favorite, Solomonic (1), who despite having a name that should sound like an easy hunch bet for me, seems like the kind of horse you want to try to beat. He is dropping in class after running decent races with starter allowance company at Oaklawn, however, he hasn’t won a race since October of 2019 (16 straight losses). He’s never won a two turn race on the main track either, as two of his three career wins were in sprints, and the other was when facing $16K claimers on the turf, going one mile at Ellis Park. I’m going to look elsewhere and try Charlie’sarchangel (5) on the outside, in hopes that he can revert back to his better form when returning to Churchill. He has three wins in nine starts on this track, and he won a race at this identical condition in November. He likes to be more forwardly placed, and he should have that opportunity today while dropping in class. He was dull last out with better, and the three times before that, the pace scenario really didn’t fit him like it does today. Colonelsdarktemper (3) makes his first start since July and since moving into the Al Stall barn. He may have lost a step or two and he may need this race, however, he is dropping to the lowest level of his career, and has joined a barn that has a significantly higher winning percentage. If he can run back to any of his last three dirt efforts today, that may be enough to get the job done.


Race 2: Top Pick: 2

We have a $40K claiming event for three year old fillies at 7 Furlongs in the second half of the early double. I don’t know if it was the slop or the two turn distance or a combination of both, but Sunny Isle Beach (2) wanted no part of any of that two weeks ago at Keeneland. She was claimed by Juan Cano that day, and he brings her right back 13 days later, while cutting back in distance. Her one turn mile races at Gulfstream with optional claiming/starter allowance fields, were good, hitting the board in all three. Rock Star Parking (6) was a winner on this track in her second career start, coming off a similar type of layoff that she’s coming back from today. Her last two starts have been at two turns at the Fair Grounds, with N1X or N2L allowance horses. She reunites with Gaffalione, who guided her to her lone career victory in November. It’sfiftyshadestime (3) cuts back after a decent effort at 1 Mile at Oaklawn with optional claiming/starter allowance foes, where she may have moved a bit prematurely that day. She proved that her big increase in speed figures two starts back in the mud with $30-$25K claimers, was not a fluke.


Race 3: Top Pick: 4

Fillies and mares, three year olds and up, go 1 Mile and 1/16 in a $20K maiden claiming contest. Right Trappe (4) is my top pick in hopes that she will appreciate the two turn trip that she’s getting for the first time this afternoon. Her last two races against better have been on the dull side while sprinting at Oaklawn. She drops to the maiden $20K level, which isn’t ideal, as she was claimed for $50K back in November. However, there are question marks up and down this field, and she ran a pretty solid race the one time she ran further than 6 Furlongs. Simply Beguiled (6) is the favorite on the morning line after running a decent second at this level two weeks ago at Keeneland. She did have some traffic issues on the first turn, which paired with the slow pace that was being established that day, was not a recipe a success. She still ran on well enough and seems to be the most consistent of an inconsistent bunch. Both Volnay (2) and Misty Veil (3) are coming out of the same race with $30K maiden claimers on synthetic at Turfway. Both have neither raced on traditional dirt and will be asked to do so for the first time today. Misty Veil finished five lengths in front of Volnay last out, however, I prefer Volnay more today. Misty Veil run considerably better last out than she did in her first three times at the track. Volnay has two respectable races in a row. I will typically side with consistency at this level over the flash in the pan, until a horse proves that they can run better races more than once.


Race 4: Top Pick: 7

Both Saturday races were taken off the turf, so this is set to be the first turf race of the young meet. This one is for maiden claimers, three and up, running with a $30K tag, going 1 Mile. I was high on Awesummer (7) in a few of his races this winter at the Fair Grounds, and this seems like a now or never race for this son of Summer Front. He was claimed for this price two back in February after running a 9th on debut in a 14 horse, talent laden, maiden special weight field. I’m not in love with the way he folded up after setting a reasonably tempo last month, however, that field of maiden $30K claimers looks far more talented than this group. He seems like the logical play in here. Perhaps Culture Icon (2) will show a little more in his second career start and his first on the grass. He debuted at two turns with maiden special weight company on the Tapeta at Turfway, and sat just off the pace before faltering badly in the stretch. He was given two and a half months and now he returns with a drop in class and a surface switch. Being sired by Temple City, I’d think the turf would be where he’d excel.


Race 5: Top Pick: 3

I thought this 1 Mile and ¼ maiden special weight race came up very strong on paper, and what makes this race a tricky puzzle is that two of the faster maidens, don’t appear to be really be bred to get this classic distance. Front end speed worked well for the filly and mare version of this race Saturday night in the slop, which would be a positive for Treasury (4), however, he’s had trouble relaxing on the front in his last few starts at the Fair Grounds, and I’m not sure that bodes well for a 10 Furlong race. I’m intrigued by two horses in here, Happy American (3) and There Goes Harvard (10). I gave the slight advantage to Fair Grounds shipper, Happy American, as I thought his last effort was very impressive with a strong field on the Louisiana Derby undercard. He has shown steady improvement while going longer distances, which is a little surprising as a son of Runhappy. He should get a reasonable pace to set up his late move, especially if Treasury continues to be keen on the lead. He has three nice works at Keeneland since coming back to Kentucky in preparation for this start. Southern California invader, There Goes Harvard, was a beaten second behind the highly touted Bezos last out. That one came back to run poorly in the slop in the Lexington, though. I thought his effort two starts back showed that he was capable of better races, and I think he has a strong pedigree to get the distance. On deeper tickets, I’m looking for horses that might step forward based on the pedigrees, especially when stretching out to this distance. The Calumet entry of Full Charge (1) and Country Captain (1A) could make things interesting as both horses seem suited for longer races. Full Charge is sired by Will Take Charge out of an A.P. Indy mare. He stretched out from 6 Furlongs to 9 Furlongs in his last race and got a little tired late. He makes his third career start today and certainly could continue to improve at longer distances. Country Captain is by Raison d’Etat out of a Cee’s Tizzy mare. He debuted on synthetic at Turfway and showed no early foot, but he closed well to get up for third. He may improve switching to dirt and getting some more ground to work with. Cross Check (6) is sired by Derby winner Nyquist out of an A.P. Indy mare, and is racing for Godolphin. I liked him last out in the same maiden special weight that Happy American was in at the Fair Grounds, and I was surprised to see him on the early lead that day. He faded late and did not run as I had hoped he would. I still think he has potential and could be an upset threat at a decent price.


Race 6: Top Pick: 9

This N1X allowance on the grass for three year olds and up is one of the more wide open races on the card this afternoon. I’m taking a shot with a price horse with Taranta (9) who is 15-1 on the morning line. She makes her first start since being moved into the barn of Eric Reed and her first start since last August. She showed some potential almost clearing this level at Louisiana Downs in her North American debut in June. She ran well next out at Saratoga against a better field, despite having a little trouble at the start. She was dull in her next try at the Spa before going on hiatus until now. I think there will be some pace in this contest to set up her late kick, and I don’t think there’s a lot of separation between her and some of the favorites in this race. Take Charge Ro (8) has been very good in her four career tries on the turf. She has won once, breaking her maiden in her last start in January at Gulfstream, and finished less than a length behind the winner in her other three tries. This will be a step up in class for her, but she clearly likes the grass and should be dangerous with these. Nope (2) was a little flat in her North American debut three starts ago, but she was given time off after that race. Since then, she’s run two improved efforts this winter at Gulfstream for Brendan Walsh. She too could benefit from a decent pace in front of her. Prairie Wings (6) is the morning line favorite and the likely favorite at post time, based upon her connections and her efforts last season. She hasn’t run since October when she was second to Blame Debbie at this level. That one went on to win the Dowager Stakes in her next start at Keeneland. She will likely be a part of the early pace, but there are a few others with similar running styles, so they may go a little too fast early on. I’ll slot her as a B horse, but I think there’s value trying to beat her.


Race 7: Top Pick: 9

This optional $62,500 claiming/N2X allowance contest feels like a race that will require some coverage. I like Sir Alfred James (9) on the cutback from two turns after running a solid race against a very good horse in Cowboy Diplomacy at this level. I didn’t love him last out, as I wasn’t sure about his ability at two turns, but he showed he was very game. He cuts back to 6 Furlongs here, and while I would prefer 6 and ½ or 7 Furlongs for him, I think he’s fits nicely with this group. After he cleared the N1X condition on Derby Day in September, he was competitive, but off the board in three starts at this level to end his 2020 campaign. He returned in a turf sprint at the Fair Grounds and was dull, but ran that nice race last out to finish in front of some quality horses. I think he’s getting back to his best form and will move forward again today to clear this condition. Noren (8) looks like a live longshot in this race, starting at 12-1 on the morning line. He faded at 7 Furlongs at this level last out at Keeneland, two weeks ago, but cutting back to 6 Furlongs, should be right in his wheelhouse. He looks like he has the best early foot in the race, and should benefit from his outer draw. He’s been steadily improving since coming to Kentucky in November. Straight Shot (6) was third at this level in his last two tries here in the fall meet, and he returns to start his five year old campaign today. He has shown an ability to improve off his prior effort in his first start off the layoff. If he can continue that pattern today, he will be tough. Coltonator (3) is a hard trier who has been third and second in his two starts at this level since clearing the N1X condition. He gets a rider upgrade to Luis Saez, who is making many horses better at the moment, and I think a strong finisher like him is a great fit for this one. He owns multiple wins at the track and at the distance, and he’s another one that is live in this wide open race. I’m trying to beat the lukewarm morning line favorite, Shoplifted (4) who has faced Grade 1 foes in three of his last four tries. He just missed two back in the slop at Oaklawn at this level, but he got a torrid pace to close into that day, and I’m not sure the race flow is going to develop the way he wants it to here.


Race 8: The Isaac Murphy Overnight Stakes, Presented by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance: Top Pick: 2

It’s not very clever, but Lone Rock (2) looks to have a class and a form advantage over the majority of this field. He just missed two back in the Temperence Hill at Oaklawn at the same 1 Mile and ½ distance. He returned two weeks ago in an optional claiming/allowance at the same distance and dominated that field by 6 and ¾ lengths. He’s been very sharp since the Diodoro claim and the longer distance races on dirt seem to be a revelation for him. Both Dack Janiel’s (3) and Ry’s The Guy (5) are making their seasonal debut today, and both are coming in off forgettable efforts in their last races. Dack Janiel’s was soundly defeated in the Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream, but when you see that Colonel Liam was the winner of that race, his effort doesn’t look as bad. He was in good form on the main track last fall, including a strong third place finish in the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes on the Breeders’ Cup undercard at Keeneland. Ry’s The Guy made his last start in that same race and lost all chance and interest after a bad stumble at the break. Two starts ago, he won this race as a part of the Derby Week festivities last September. Prior to that, he was best known for his turf ability. Both horses are at their best when they are forwardly placed, so if they are fit, they are live in this spot.


Race 9: Top Pick: 5

We’re back on the turf for the nightcap, which is a $40K N3L claimer for older horses or for three year olds. I think Uncapped (5) is very live in this race, running for the first time since being claimed by Diodoro. He ran well with lesser last out at the Fair Grounds and was claimed out of that race for $15K. He takes a jump up in class, but he has several quality efforts with better horses last year. He went off form a bit in two dirt races, but turf is where he does his best running. I think he’s better than many of these, and 6-1 would be great value. I don’t anticipate getting that number, as I think the morning line is a little off in this race, however, he feels like the most likely winner to me. Natural Power (2) is the morning line favorite and the one to beat in this spot. He faced better and was a little dull by his standards last out at the Fair Grounds, when making his first start since September. He drops in class to a level where he looks like he’s a good fit. Chantry Flats (4) seems to have become a boom or bust horse after running a big race two back at the Fair Grounds, before regressing last out. He was very wide that day and was unable to get the early lead. He’s drawn more inward today and there’s not a ton of competition signed on in the early stages, at least on paper. If he can get loose on the front end, he’ll be tough. Surf and Turf (9) is a longshot to consider for deeper tickets, as he gets back on grass for the first time since October. He’s run six times at Turfway and Keeneland, on synthetic and dirt. His form has been off a little bit, but he was definitely sharper when racing on the lawn last year. Perhaps he’s a candidate to wake up today.

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