The attention of all the racing world is on the Santa Anita this week, but we will take a break from handicapping the Breeders Cup cards to make a few plays today. And we will do so at Churchill Downs, which has the best card of the tracks running today.
Rain is expected in Kentucky today, so we are assuming that the turf races will be moved to the main track, and that the horses competing on the dirt will be running over a wet surface. Let's go.
Churchill Downs, Race 3, 2:00 pm ET
Starter Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, dirt, 3 & Up
This starter allowance drew seven runners. If they do end up running on a wet track, there's a strong play in here: 2-Candy Carlos. This 5-year-old gelding has everything you want in a wet-track runner: he's in good form overall, and he has proven wet-track form. This makes sense, as he's bred top and bottom for the slop. We will bet him to win at 3-1, and we will bet him on top in the exacta, with the other horse whose off-track form we like, 3-Animus, underneath. The bets: Churchill Downs, Race 3, $25 to win on 2-Candy Carlos; $10 exacta, 2 (Candy Carlos) with 3-Animus.
Churchill Downs, Race 5, 3:03 pm ET
$7,500 claiming, 6 1/2 furlongs, dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
We like another wet-track play here: it's 5-Para Vivir, a 5-year-old mare from the Vernon Obermeier barn. Her last race, a second-place finish in an $8,500 claimer at Hawthorne in Chicago, was strong, so we think she's in good form. We move her up on a wet track, more so than any of the other runners in the field. Her last win, in fact, was over a sloppy track at the Fonner Park in Nebraska in May; we think she will win in the slop again today. We will bet her to win at 5-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 5, $30 to win on 5-Para Vivir.
Churchill Downs, Race 6, 3:36 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies
This race is carded for the turf, but we are handicapping it on the assumption that it will be moved to dirt. Toss all of the following if it stays on grass.
We're going with a first-time starter, 9-Trapezium, who's trained by Bill Mott. This filly's morning workout line has two things we look for: a long series of evenly spaced drills, which suggest she possesses the fitness needed to win this; and a few of them were quite fast, which suggests she possesses enough speed to be competitive on wet dirt. We also like her breeding: she's by Hard Spun, who's a top wet-track sire; and her damsire (her mama's daddy) is A.P. Indy, who is merely one of the top off-track stallions of all time. That's top and bottom breeding for the slop; we will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 6, $40 to win on 9-Trapezium.
Churchill Downs, Race 7, 4:06 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, dirt, 3 & Up
Ten maidens line up for this race, a straight maiden race at 6 furlongs on the dirt. We are taking a stab here, and it's with the horse on the outside, 10-Mountain Air. This well-bred 3-year-old colt, by Speightstown out of a Successful Appeal mare, sold for $285,000 as a yearling, which is a nice chunk of change, enough to suggest that he has some ability. But what we like more than his sale price is his wet-track breeding: he's another runner who has wet-track influences on both sides of his pedigree. And he gets the coveted outside post in a one-turn race, which should give him a good stalking trip, and allow him to avoid the wet kickback, the water and mud and all of that, from the horses inside of him. We will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 7, $25 to win on 10-Mountain Air.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.