Churchill Downs Racing Preview – 5/8/21 – By Eric Solomon

The Saturday card is highlighted by the Mamzelle Overnight Stakes for three year old fillies sprinting 5 Furlongs on the turf course. That race drew a full and competitive field. There’s overflow fields in all four turf races on the card today, along with some competitive dirt races, making for a nice wagering card this afternoon.

Race A B C Exotics Menu
1 4   1,2 DBL, PK3, PK 5
2 1,5 4   DBL, PK3, PK 4
3 10 8,12   DBL, PK3
4 6,7 5   DBL, PK3, PK 5
5 3 2,5   DBL, PK3, PK4
6 2,10 4,8 7 DBL, PK3, PK 6
7 2     DBL, PK3, PK 5
8 3,12,13   8 DBL, PK3, PK4
9 1   3,10 DBL, PK3
10 4 2,3,12   DBL
11 5,7 3,4    


Race 1: Top Pick: 4

This is a tricky optional claiming/starter allowance race to kick off the Saturday afternoon card. Based off current form, Flat Lucky (2) looks like a very short priced favorite, as he was excellent with similar in his last four races at Oaklawn. However, I’m taking a very cautious approach on this guy, as he was in decent form at Oaklawn last year, then shipped here and ran a total dud of a race last May. He also may be pace compromised in here, as there is very little early speed in front of him. I’ll use him as a saver, but I think Ghostly Who (4) has a major tactical advantage as being the lone speed horse on paper. He was reclaimed by Robertino Diodoro for the fourth time two starts back at Oaklawn. Diodoro wheeled him back with time restricted $10K claimers, where he won easily in the slop. He protects him in this spot today, entering him under the starter allowance condition. Stay Home (1) is another one to think about as a saver on deeper tickets. He is a throwback horse, making his 8th start of the year already. He’s finished in the money in all seven starts in 2021 thus far, winning two of them. His figures are a little light, but after a 2020 season where he was off the board in all 10 starts, he certainly appears to finding his game again since being claimed by Jeff Hiles.


Race 2: Top Pick: 5

This is a $30K multi-conditioned claiming race at 1 Mile and 1/16 on the main track. There are lots of questions in here, but I’m leaning on Eskenforit (5) and Strike Me Down (1), hoping both will reverse form today. Eskenforit never looked comfortable in his two races on synthetic this year, but was in much better form on the main track last year, including a near miss with $50K claimers in November on this track. I’m hoping the surface switch will be the wake up call. Strike Me Down (1) has been primarily a turf and synthetic horse, but he ran second in a two turn race at Los Alamitos in December. He was sharp in a restricted stakes for turf sprinters in January, then resurfaced in a dirt sprint at Oaklawn against better. He didn’t run well that day in Arkansas, and he ships here and drops, while going back to two turns. He was in good form before, and should be dangerous here as he could be lone speed. Glory Road (4) ships in from Delta after clearing the N1X allowance condition there. He’s been solid in his last several tries and has been good on this course in the past. My only concern is that the pace flow is not ideal for him in this spot. He might be good enough and consistent enough to win anyway, but the price will likely be lower than I’d like.


Race 3: Top Pick: 10

The first turf contest of the day is for maiden claiming fillies and mares carrying a $30K tag. Runaway Mom (10) ran very well in her one turf try. She closed well into a slow pace to get into 4th, beaten less than two lengths with $40K maiden claimers two starts ago at Gulfstream. She moved up in class to maiden $50K claiming and was flat on a sloppy track at Keeneland. I think turf could be where this filly will run her best races as her dam sire is Dynaformer. She’s sired by Run Away and Hide, who was known for his dirt efforts, but his sire was City Zip, who has produced many strong turf horses. I like the 8-1 price on the drop in class in this wide open affair. Sweet Workout (8) is a tricky horse to ride, so Albin Jimenez is going to have to be on his game. She stepped up to maiden special weight company at Keeneland, which is a big jump from maiden claiming at the Fair Grounds. She was very eager from her outside post and pulled hard toward the front before tiring and fading. Her two races with $50K maiden claiming at the Fair Grounds would be very competitive at this level if she can run back to them. Take Charge Patti (12) drops and returns to the turf after a 5th place finish in the slop in the same maiden claiming race that Runaway Mom is coming out of. She has been given every chance, as she had 15 tries at the maiden special weight level before dropping in for a tag last out. This is her first start on turf with maiden claiming company, so there’s reason to believe she could be successful, but she gets a tough draw in this spot. I have mixed feelings, but I think she’s worth covering with.


Race 4: Top Pick: 6

We have more maiden claimers here, as three year olds and up, go one mile while running with a $30K tag. Enid (6) ships in from Oaklawn after three straight tries with maiden special weight company. His best race of the trio was at one turn in his debut. His struggled a bit with two turn racing, being beaten double digit lengths in both starts. He adds blinkers for this drop in class where he seems to fit quite nicely. Poirier (7) made his debut here in October, then ran in five races at the Fair Grounds before going on a brief hiatus. His first three races came on dirt, where he showed improvement each time. He came up empty with maiden special weights on the turf, but was more competitive in the maiden claiming ranks. He drops from $50K maiden claimers to $30K maiden claimers and comes back to the dirt, where he’s hit the board twice. Master of War (5) is a longshot that might be worth considering in this spot. He has six career starts, four on the synthetic, one turf, and one on dirt. His best race was on the main track in terms of speed figures, and that race came on this course. He’s been gelded since his last start, and might have the potential to wake up here.


Race 5: Top Pick: 3

I’m trying to beat the top two choices in the morning line in this maiden special weight race, which is carded for three year olds and upward, but only three year old fillies have entered. Chione (7) has been beaten by two nice horses in Euphoric and Illiogami in her two starts, but she never has really been involved in either race. She regressed at two turns last out, so the cut back to sprint makes sense, but I would have liked to have seen a better effort in that spot to be willing to bet her back at a short price today. Altered Shot (1) has been unraced since finishing third in her third consecutive start, all three on this course. She adds Lasix for her three year old debut, but hasn’t been spectacular in any of her starts. I’m passing on both and I made Fine Cotton (3) my top pick in her second career start. She ran into a buzzsaw in Caramel Swirl on debut at Keeneland last out. Neil Pessin has good numbers with second time starts, winning with three of seven in the last 17 months, with a gaudy ROI. The $50K daughter of Curlin showed interest making the front early, before being swallowed up by a superior horse with more experience last out. I think she’ll be more fit for this start today. Al Stall sends out Chastain (2) for her debut today after showing some solid works in the AM over the last several weeks. Stall’s first time starters have been live lately, having some big winners in New Orleans and Kentucky on debut. She doesn’t have the same foundation of some of his other debut winners, but she is bred to be a good one and should be considered, especially if she’s looking good in the paddock and on the track. Christmas Poem (5) is one to consider, although, I’m hoping for better odds than the 4-1 on the morning line. Ian Wilkes’ horses get better with experience, but he definitely outran his long odds in his debut, finishing 4th, beaten 4+ lengths at Keeneland. There’s reason to believe she can move forward in start number two.


Race 6: Top Pick: 2

Many of the horses that were entered in a maiden special weight on the grass last week that was washed off the turf are back for this full field maiden special weight race at 9 Furlongs. I’m taking Gulfstream invader, Mint Edition (2) on top here, thinking that she could inherit a slow pace in this paceless 9 Furlong turf contest. She was acting up a bit before the start last out, which may have affected her on track performance a bit. She was a game second behind a nice filly, Katama Moonlight, in her debut two back. She adds distance, but could get confident if Landeros can get her loose on the lead. Perhaps Tonight (10) struggled to rate a bit in the other division on the maiden special weight race carded at Keeneland on 4/7. However, once she was set down, she was closing well to get up for third, beaten less than a length. She’s 6-1 on the morning line in a wide open race, so the value, for now, is there with this wide open race, but she’s one of many with a legitimate chance. Mulsanne (8) had some issues in the first turn last out, but closed well to be a close third under the same conditions at Keeneland. She improved from her debut and probably has another forward move in her. However, looking at her pedigree and her running style, the 9 Furlong trip might be a little short for her, and could be one to watch for in longer distance races down the road. Laynlomakndough (4) improved a bit of her debut at Gulfstream when she faced maiden special weight company at Keenland last out, running right behind Mulsanne. She makes her second start since joining the McPeek barn and is another one that is eligible to improve here. On deeper tickets, My Sweet Story (7) ran second at long odds last month at Keeneland for Ignacio Correas. Horses from this barn usually need a few starts to get their legs underneath them, but this one was pretty sharp on debut. There’s reason to believe she can move forward, while maybe being overlooked again.

Race 7: Top Pick: 2

I got burned trying to beat Baffert on Derby Day, both in the American Turf and in the Derby itself, and as much as I’d like to take a swing against his filly, Himiko (2) in here, she just seems to outclass this group. She was progressing nicely this past fall in Southern California, and earned the right to go in the Grade 1 La Brea on opening day at Santa Anita. She was sent off at 4-1 that day and finished 7th to Fair Maiden. She was given a few months off and returned to face Grade 1 winner, Ce Ce, in optional claiming/allowance company last out. She was 3rd beaten five that day, rallying to get up for show. She leaves town, as she joined some of Baffert’s other runners in their trip East a few weeks back, and she finds a field with no one in the same league as Ce Ce. Himiko worked twice over the course and looks to have a class edge over this group. I’ll single her in the first leg of the late Pick-5 and hope to get value elsewhere.


Race 8: Top Pick: 3

I feel like this may be the best race in the late Pick 5 sequence to find some value, as the shorter priced horses are going to have to navigate outside posts. I’m taking Office Party (3) on top, hoping that she can rebound from a tough trip last out at Keeneland. She was well-positioned early, but was shuffled back coming off the first turn and down the backstretch. She as clearly uncomfortable, and never really was able to shake free until it was too late. She did finish with interest after exerting a lot of energy when she was unable to really settle into the race, making me think she has a better effort to give. Her Fair Grounds races this winter were strong, finishing third in January in a full field on the Lecomte undercard. She came back to beat a next out maiden winner in March, drawing away with Colby Hernandez aboard. He reunites with her here in her second try against winners. World Tour (13) is a must use if she draws in, after a decent effort with stakes company in the Sanibel Island on the Florida Derby undercard at Gulfstream. She was bet down to the favorite that day after a strong debut win in February. She didn’t have the easiest trip, but certainly got some education last out. She’ll need help to get in, and she’ll have to handle a wide post, but she is to be respected here. Flown (12) is one that should have a forward move this afternoon. She showed potential at two, finishing second against the boys in her debut and then second again in stakes company at Kentucky Downs. She ended her season with a maiden special weight score at Keeneland as the 7-5 favorite. She made her three year old debut for Brendan Walsh at Keeneland in the Grade 2 Appalachian, where she finished 5th at long odds, running a credible race in her first start off the layoff. She is drawn wide here, which is not ideal, but she should improve, while also adding Lasix for the first time. On deeper tickets, don’t completely discount 30-1 longshot, Core Values (8). She has one turf start, where she was 6th beaten three lengths when she went way wide in the stretch. She came back to dominate maiden special weight horses at Tampa before struggling against at very good N1X allowance field at Keeneland on dirt. She was very wide on the first turn in that spot as well. I like Bejarano picking up the mount here, and she’s a bit intriguing coming back on the turf after her dull try last out.


Race 9: Top Pick: 1

Another optional claiming allowance race and another heavy Baffert favorite that looks very tough to play against in this ten horse field. Crystal Ball (1) ran in one of the more exciting races of the year in 2020 when she dueled with Paris Lights for the majority of the race, before narrowly losing the CCA Oaks to her at Saratoga. She had nothing when she tried Swiss Skydiver in the Alabama as she faded badly and subsequently went on the shelf until last month. She returned to beat a decent optional claiming/N1X group at Santa Anita with a confident one length victory at one mile. She draws the rail here where she shouldn’t have to struggle too much to get the early lead. She’s proven to be a stubborn foe to pass, and I’m not sure if anyone in this group is up to the task. On deeper tickets, I’ll look for coverage with Funnybet (3) and Market Rumor (10). Funnybet knows how to win, winning four of her last five starts, clearing the N1X condition most recently at Gulfstream. She was a winner at the track and distance three starts ago in starter allowance company back in November. She keeps improving despite climbing up the class ladder and she should appreciate returning to two turns. Market Rumor is coming off a big effort, so she may be slightly overvalued. However, it’s possible that she has grown up from 3 to 4, as she ran many credible races last year, including a near miss in stakes company at Laurel. The 10 hole in this race is not ideal, but she is classier than a lot of her other rivals.


Race 10: The Mamzelle Overnight Stakes: Top Pick: 4

This is a strong stakes race with 13 three year old fillies entered to dash five furlongs on the turf. Wesley Ward sends out three and I think Wink (4) is the one they’ll have to catch. She’s undefeated in three North American starts at this distance, including stakes wins at Gulfstream and Monmouth. She shipped overseas and was a close second in a Group 3 race at Longchamp in September. She’s had one start since and looks very tough here. It’s interesting to note that James Graham gets the call for Wesley Ward, as he has not ridden for him recently. Graham was riding well in the two year old sprints at Keeneland, when racing against some of the Ward entrants. I’m expecting him to really give an extra effort on this ride, as a strong performance from him could lead to other opportunities for him riding for a high percentage trainer like Ward. Navratilova (12) is bred to be a good turf horse and she looked the part on debut at Ellis this summer. She was 6th at long odds in the Jessamine at Keeneland before taking the winter off and making her seasonal debut in the Limestone Turf Sprint last month at Keeneland. She ran a solid third that day, when she was a little keen off the freshening, and tired a bit late. She looked very good coming off the pace in her debut and I think she could be dangerous if she reverts to that style here. Goin Good (2) has been right there in all four career starts, finishing a close second to Toby’s Heart in the Limestone Turf Sprint. She has tactical speed and has been able to create good trips for herself in each career start. She’s definitely another one to use here. Illegal Smile (3) is another one of the trio that Ward is scheduled to send out. It should be noted that he has entered multiple horses in races throughout the Keeneland meet, but many have scratched out for a variety of reasons, So it’s possible that not all three will run today. This one has a similar front end running style to stablemate, Wink. She is making her three year old debut after taking a big step forward at 6 Furlongs on the grass to win the Stalwart Manor in November at Aqueduct, Her works have been on the slow side, but Gaffalione, who has ridden more consistently for Ward, gets the call on this one.  


Race 11: Top Pick: 5

The nightcap is a wide open $50K maiden claiming contest at 6 Furlongs. Gem Key (5) may make sense here at a decent price (8-1 morning line). Her debut at Ellis wasn’t horrible this summer and she was beaten by a next out winner. She was away until returning at Turfway on March 27th when she came up empty in a full field maiden special weight race on the Jeff Ruby Steaks undercard. That race was on synthetic and at two turns, so I can give her a pass for that race. She’s sired by Maclean’s Music, so one turn dirt racing is likely where she’ll have the most success. Muchacha (7) would likely be running at Woodbine if that were an option at the moment. She hasn’t been seen since running two respectable efforts on the Tapeta surface there last summer. She’s been working well on the main track at Keeneland for her four year old debut. She’s sired by Country Day who was a winner on dirt, but was better on turf, but her dam sire is Dixieland Band, so there’s reason to believe she can handle the main track. Mending (3) makes her second career start this afternoon after closing well to get up for place in her debut at Keeneland at the $30K maiden claiming level.  She’ll need to take a step forward, but I like the confidence shown by Morey to move her up in class. Love Enough (4) is the morning line favorite that is worth covering here. She had a pair of decent efforts with maiden special weight horses at the Fair Grounds this winter. Those races for maiden special weight older fillies and mares were not the deepest this winter there. The drop is logical for this filly who has been sidelined since the end of February.

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