Churchill Downs Racing Preview – 5/13/21 – By Eric Solomon

The Thursday card kicks off a new week of racing in Louisville at 5:00 EST. The maiden special weight race for two year old fillies is one worth paying attention to, as there could be some quality in that field. Both turf races, Race 4 (MSW) and Race 7 (N1X allowance) are also excellent contests this evening with deep fields.

Race A B C Exotics Menu
1 5,7   6 DBL, PK3, PK 5
2 3,7 4 1,1A,8 DBL, PK3, PK 4
3 5 8 1,2 DBL, PK3, PK 6
4 1,2 3,9 8 DBL, PK3, PK 5
5 3 1   DBL, PK3, PK 4
6 6 4,11   DBL, PK3
7 4,6 7   DBL
8 1,3,8 9    


Race 1: Top Pick: 5

The opener on the Thursday card is a $20K N2L claiming contest for fillies and mares, three years old and upward at 6 Furlongs. I like a pair of three year olds, and am making Tampa invader Grimhilde (5) my top choice on the drop in class. She was improving with maiden claiming company at the recently concluded Tampa meet, before breaking through three starts back. She was game against better in an optional claiming/starter allowance race two back, before faltering last out in a two turn turf race. She drops in class to restricted claiming company for her local debut and returns to a dirt sprint. Shades of Truth (7) didn’t run a step with N1X allowance foes at Indiana Grand last out when she was sent to post as the heavy favorite. She was in better form with Louisiana breds at the Fair Grounds this winter, most recently finishing a close second in an allowance spot. She looks to have the best early speed and is a candidate to take this group gate to wire if she can rebound from her last race. On deeper tickets, Ununderstandable (6) drops and returns to dirt after a dull effort with much better allowance foes on turf last time. She has some better races and is rounding back in to better form, but I have questions about this distance for her. She is classy enough to beat these though, so I’ll cover with her.


Race 2: Top Pick: 3

Two year old fillies sprint 5 Furlongs in this maiden special weight that looks fairly strong on paper. Wesley Ward sends out Anna and Mia (3) for the first time this evening. She has followed a typical work pattern of some of the other two year old horses that Ward has sent out and won with over the last month. She’s from the first crop of Cupid, out of a Valid Expectations mare that was a stakes winner with Texas breds at two. The main threat is Tizplenty (7) from the Asmussen barn. She drilled a 4F bullet work at Keeneland on the 27th in preparation for this race. Asmussen won with a Gun Runner baby on Sunday’s card, and this daughter of Speightstown has been faster in the AM than that one was. Both Burrow Down (4) and Pout (8) are exiting the same race at Keeneland, which has already produced a next out winner (Twilight Gleaming won at Belmont on the turf on 5/9). Burrow Down was further back and rallied well to close within 2 lengths of the winner, which is a decent amount of ground to make up in a 4 and ½ Furlong race. Pout looks to have been a private purchase by Mossarosa, who has transferred to her to the Nick Zito barn. She has two decent works in the interim. Both are playable, but I liked the race from Burrow Down a little more. Timothy Hamm has both Topsy Turvy (1) and Christmas (1A) entered with Corrales named on both. Both are Ohio bred daughters of Constitution, running for WinStar, with an identical work tab. Both worked well at Belterra if the workout notes are accurate, last out, and either could be a factor here.


Race 3: Top Pick: 5

The story of this race will be how to the two recent maiden claiming winners, Cornbread Hill (1) and Mr. Walsh (2) stack up against the veteran runners who have run solid races, but have failed to win their second start. Both horses ran at Keeneland last out, Cornbread Hill with $40 maiden claimers, and Mr. Walsh with $20K maiden claimers. Neither field that they beat was exceptional, so I’m leaning toward Hard Sting (5) to get the job done after coming close last out when cutting back to 7 Furlongs. He shortens up again to 6 and ½ Furlongs, but I think that should be okay for him. His best races have been at one turn, and he showed that he can sit in a good rating position and make a decent run at the leaders. Davidic Line (8) has also had several chances to get the elusive second win. He’s been second with similar twice, when facing runaway winners at Oaklawn. Toss his last where he dipped his toes in starter allowance company, and he fits well with this group. Cornbread Hill is worth covering with, although, his debut was fairly easy. The track was playing kindly to inside speed and he took advantage of that. He drops to $20K N2L company, which is a fair drop for this Ramsey homebred. Mr. Walsh certainly has a turf forward pedigree, but he looked very comfortable beating maidens last out in his dirt debut. If he takes as kindly to this course as he did to the dirt at Keeneland, he’ll be tough. I’ll cover with both of these on some deeper tickets.


Race 4: Top Pick: 2

A handful of these are back from the maiden special weight contest that was rained off the turf on 4/29. I’ve been trying to beat Dolder Grand (2) in his last two races on the dirt at the Fair Grounds against maiden special weight foes, running on the big race days in New Orleans. However, I think this is a smart time to get him back on the grass, where I think he will have more success. He ran well as a two year old when debuting at 7 Furlongs on the grass at Woodbine, and then following up that effort with a strong performance in the Summer Stakes, where he was third behind Gretzky The Great that day. He’s been on the main track ever since, trying to prove he can compete to get himself on the Derby Trail. However, the maiden score has eluded him, despite having some favorable trips on the dirt. He had a rough trip last out, and now comes back to the turf, where he gets a good post and should have a good trip with Leparoux aboard. I think he could have easily won the 4/29 that was on the dirt, but Casse opted to wait and get him back on the turf, which, I see as a positive. Win Worthy (1) ran a very strong race on debut when beaten by even money favorite, Hidden Enemy, on the undercard of the Louisiana Derby. Luis Saez rode him that day, getting him within a length and a half of pulling the big upset at 26-1, after drawing even with the big favorite at the top of the stretch. Brian Hernandez takes over today as he faces another quality field. Incitatus (3) is a price play that could be factor here. He made his three year old debut at Gulfstream in a maiden special weight race on the Florida Derby undercard. He was a solid 5th, while tiring a bit in the stretch. He tried the dirt in an off the turf maiden special weight race at Keeneland last month and faltered, finishing a distant 5th. He’s bred up and down for the grass, sired by Ironicus out of a Cozzene mare, and he’s one that could be overlooked in this deep race. Dance Some Mo (9) is another one to consider, racing for Graham Motion. He put forth a solid effort in his second career start and first race on turf last out at Tampa. This is definitely a step up in class, but he proved he liked the surface and that he looks like he has some ability. Nineeleventurbo (8) is the morning line favorite and has hit the board in his last seven races. He’s better on turf than on synthetic, but he has yet to break through, which is a concern for a short priced horse in a deep race. He’ll take money and will likely be close at the end, but I feel he’s more on an underneath horse in the vertical exotics. I’ll use him on the deeper horizontal tickets.


Race 5: Top Pick: 3

This is a multi-conditioned $20K claimer, however all seven entrants have entered under the N3L condition. I think Sacred Oath (3) is going to be the one to beat in this wide open race. He is in the third race off the layoff after an injury derailed him in 2020. He ran a monster race on this track and at this seven furlong distance last year. His return to the races this year at Oaklawn wasn’t bad, but he did falter last out at the favorite in starter allowance company. McKnight has been off to a hot start with a limited sample early on at the meet. I think he can rebound here. Major Attraction (1) has been popular at the claim box lately, being claimed in four of his last six starts. He’s fairly consistent, which is a plus in this race where some horses are trending in the wrong direction. I like the cutback from two turns to the one turn race here as I think the distance will suit him well.


Race 6: Top Pick: 6

$10K N2L claimers go one mile in the first leg of the last pick 3 of the day. Spin Rate (6) is going to be the one to beat, running three straight solid efforts with similar at Oaklawn. He cuts back from two turns to one turn, which should suit him well in here. This is not a very deep field and he looks to have an advantage over many of these. On deeper tickets, I think there’s some prices that are interesting. Magic Carpet (11) was a $385K purchase at the Keeneland September Sale of 2018, and it’s fair to say things haven’t gone as planned, as he was claimed for $15K in March at the Fair Grounds. He is stretching out to one mile, which according to his pedigree, should be welcomed. His best career speed figure came when he went seven furlongs in his second career start in 2019. He drops again, and I can forgive his last dud due to the sloppy track. I could give him one more shot at a big price here. She Love Me (4) has had several chances to get that second win, and while he hasn’t run poorly, he hasn’t really been close. However, his figures are competitive with this group and I think there are several that might not appreciate the distance here. He looks like the best candidate to come running late if this race falls apart.


Race 7: Top Pick: 6

The feature allowance is for three year olds and upward going 1 Mile and 1/16 on the turf course. The morning line favorite is Belichick (8), who broke his maiden in the Breeders Stakes at 12 Furlongs on the grass at Woodbine last fall, spoiling a Canadian Triple Crown for stablemate Mighty Heart. Josie Carroll is decent off the layoff, but this feels like more of a starting point for this colt, and he’s been better going longer distances. I’ll play against him here with a few that are sharp right now. News Break (6) has been very good since going to the grass. He’s worked his way through conditions nicely, most recently beating a good field of starter allowance horses at Keeneland last month. He dips in toes back into N1X allowance company after finishing third to two very nice horses at the Fair Grounds in March. I think he’s live in this race. The main danger will be Falkirk (4), who was a very game second last out to Gear Jockey in a loaded N1X allowance at Keeneland. He’s now second off the layoff, and has run big in his last five turf starts. He’s often close and could move forward today. Basquiat (7) makes his four year old debut for Chad Brown this afternoon. He was last seen finishing 5th in the Gio Ponti Stakes at Aqueduct in November. His three turf races have all been decent, and Brown is always dangerous off the layoff. Gaffalione and Brown have been very potent at Churchill since 2020, teaming up to win 34% of the time (only winning 17% of the time when teaming up at other tracks).


Race 8: Top Pick: 3

I think this $10K maiden claimer feels like a bit of a spread race to end the card. I’m going to try to hit with some longer priced horses and try Zebra Cake (3) on top at 6-1 on the morning line. She drops in class after a dull two turn race with better at Keeneland. Her two one turn races on the main track would likely make her competitive with these. Her race at Keeneland two back with $40K maiden claimers wasn’t bad. I think she rebounds after a non-effort last out. Sunset At Mallory (1) debuts for Jordan Blair and is 12-1 on the morning line. Blair doesn’t have a huge stable, but has done well with his first time starters, especially in maiden claiming races. Her works aren’t spectacular, but neither is this field. Life of Saturdays (8) is the favorite after just missing in her last two against Arkansas bred maiden claimers in the mud at Oaklawn. She’s been closer than many of these to winning, but the Arkansas bred maiden claiming races are the deepest races. I think she needs to be respected, but I don’t want to take shorter than her 3-1 morning line figure. On deeper tickets, I’ll add Vida Yellow (9) who was third at this level in the slop on Opening Night here. She was plummeting in class from maiden special weight company at Gulfstream. Perhaps the sloppy track hindered her a bit, so I can play her again after that effort, but I think others will offer more value.


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