We are playing for fast dirt and firm turf in all three races. First post is 5:36 pm EDT.
We have four plays today, one from Belmont Park, and three from Churchill Downs. We are playing for fast dirt and firm turf in all three races. Let’s go.
$80,000 Flat Out Stakes, 1 ⅜ miles, Dirt, 4 & Up
The winner of last year’s Belmont Stakes, 4-Sir Winston, is entered here, and at first glance, he would seem to be a solid pick. He has run very well in his last three races on the main track, and his upset win in the Belmont proved that he can handle this marathon 11-furlong distance. His current form is good, he’s proven that he likes the going at Belmont, and he’s a classic winner: backing him would be a very logical play.
But we are against Sir Winston here, primarily because he’s going to be a miserly price, and we do not think this race will be a walkover for him. We like 9-Adventist, who can run all day, whose own recent form is good -- he won a similar stakes at Aqueduct on February 20 -- and who also won a graded stakes at a mile and a half last year, the Grade 3 Greenwood Cup at Parx Racing. His speed figures are comparable to Sir Winston’s, so close, in fact, that we think they’re very evenly matched -- but Adventist is going to be in the range of 4-1, whereas Sir Winston figures to be odds-on. That makes the pick a no-brainer: we will bet Adventist, and we will bet him to win. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 9-Adventist.
Eight sophomore colts line up for this first-level allowance race at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass. We like a Chad Brown runner, 6-Vintage Point. He is a regally bred colt, by Curlin out of a Ghostzapper mare, and he was an impressive enough specimen that he sold for an eye-popping $1.8 million as a yearling. With that breeding, his connections were probably thinking that he’d be a dirt horse, but he flopped in his two main-track efforts, finishing far back in maiden races on the New York circuit last fall. But after some time off, he returned to win quite smartly last out, in his first try on the grass, at Gulfstream Park, and he did so with the kind of effort that makes us think he might turn into a good, or even quite good, turf runner. He’s up against some pretty tough competition here, so he’ll have to improve off his maiden win to take this, but with the additional physical maturity he’s gained since winter, we think he should be up to the task. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 6, $40 to win on 6-Vintage Point.
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
Seven fillies go in this allowance. We like one who appears to have a bit more potential upside than the rest, 1-Aurelia Garland. She looked like a runner when she broke her maiden at first asking last May, as a juvenile, but something obviously went wrong physically, because she did not race again until May 16, at Churchill Downs, when she had an eventful trip, breaking a bit tardily and then having quite a bit of traffic trouble down the stretch, changing direction pretty drastically to try to find a clear lane. She quickened noticeably when she had room to run, finishing third, and we think that she is going to improve today, partly because she’ll get a better trip, but mostly because we expect her to move forward in her second start off that long layoff. There are two other changes that we think favor her: she’s stretching out to a mile and a sixteenth from the 7-furlong distance of her last race, and her blinkers come off. We think she’s sitting on a big race, so we will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Aurelia Garland.
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Ten go in the nightcap at Churchill, and we expect the pace to be fast, as there are a few runners with abundant early speed. That makes the pick a closer, and the one we like best is 6-Broadway Lady, a Mark Casse-trained 3-year-old filly. She’s winless in two career starts, both on turf, but she made up ground late in both of them, and we expect her to be the primary beneficiary of the way we expect this race to be run. Look for her to sit toward the rear early and be moving late. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $35 to win on 6-Broadway Lady.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe and, as always, good luck at the windows.