First post time is 2:06 pm EDT
Shoulda Woulda Coulda – yesterday, I should not have gone with Belmont due to the impending weather. As it turned out, my choice of Master Of Hope fared poorly in the mud and lagged far behind throughout. Of course, had he have won, I would have basked in the glory; such is gambling 😊
Today we’re heading back to Derby City - Churchill Downs - where the weather is sunny and mid 80’s. A nice summer day, though technically it’s still the vernal equinox.
$80K Optional Claimer for 3yo+ NWx or NW4 going 5f on turf
This is a very solid, very competitive race to handicap and SmartCap has #3 Smart Remark (6/1) as top overall speed and class. He has a 5:0-2-1 record at Churchill for $70K and is coming off the G3 Appleton Stakes at Gulfstream in late March that was a bad trip; steadied right away and just couldn’t get back in it. He shipped in and has had three 4f works since. He is a pressing type who will relish the cutback in distance.
1a Copper Town (7/2) has second best overall and class and best last. That was over a year ago and Wesley Ward tough to beat with horses returning, especially at a higher level like this $85K purse. This son of Speightstown has been working very well going 5f in the last five.
1 Bulletin (7/2) Asmussen trained son of City Zip is a lover of CD winning $559K in three races including the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Personally, I was there that day and bet him and his win was most impressive.
#5 Fast Boat (7/2) is 2:1-0-0 for $52K at CD and is coming off a tough, game trip in the Colonel Power Stakes. He has second best overall class and speed with second best race two back. Regular rider Adam Beschizza takes the reigns again today and he has had a steady diet of works since his last. Joe Sharp just 4% with horses off layoff and 10% with Beschizza.
2b Elusive Mischief (8/1) has second best overall class and speed as well. This is his third race this year and it appears his best work is suited for longer.
#6 Just Might (3/1) is going for three wins in a row with the last being The Colonel Power Stakes at The Fairgrounds in February. After three tries at Churchill, the best he has done here is showed. He’s going to grab the lead and may just run away with it.
My pick is #1 Bulletin. Asmussen closing in on Dale Romans record at CD and this guys record at the track, as well as racing back after only 13 days, make him a pure contender. The big concern is Asmussen 0-7 on the turf course and Santana just 9%.
$62.5K Optional Claimer for 3yo+ NWx or NW3 going one mile on turf
#8 Carom (8/1) has best overall class, best last two cumulatively and best race two back. He is coming off a win from the synthetic surface of Turfway and Mike Maker 15% off layoff, 18% from synthetic to dirt and 24% with Martin Garcia. Garcia is 8% on turf and a killer in routes – 31%. I like the fact that he has had three races this year and dislike the fact that he is in for a tag.
#7 Set Piece (7/5) in from the UK, he ran a Group 3 race and summarily was smacked down. Came back to The Prix de Tourgeville, a £100K stakes race, and improved yet ran seventh. In his last, the £58K British Stallion Studs E. B. F. Hyde Stakes, he won going away at 16/1. I’m not high on this horse for a few reasons: 1) running at high odds in his lifetime 2) long layoff, pedestrian works (other than the last), and most importantly, 3) Timeform numbers are typically higher than any other publication, so caveat emptor.
#3 Ballagh Rocks (7/5) has best overall speed and best last. In his last, the G3 $100K Appleton Stakes, jockey Edgar Zayas had an absolutely brutal trip. After positioning him for the drive, he hit bad traffic, was steadied at the 1/8 pole and then there was no hope. Had a recent freshening five days ago and Tyler Gafflione getting it done this meet with 16 wins. Bill Mott 31% with class down, 16% with the layoff and 20% with Tyler. He seems to fit here.
My choice for this is #8 Carom. I like him coming off the win, working well, and the Garcia/Maker tandem.
$50K Starter Allowance for 3yo+ NWX going six furlongs
#2 The Great Dansky (2/1) is first off the claim for Brad Cox (20%) and just beat NW2L $40K claimers. He’ll take a lot of money and deservedly so – 3:2-0-0 lifetime for $15.7K per race. His works have been solid, though not stellar and Cox opting for Florent Geroux instead of cold Joe Talamo are positive signs.
#6 Majestic West (8/1) has best overall class and that is purely based on MSW sized purses. The layoff and step up in competition will not produce a winner out of him today.
#7 He’s A Babe (15/1) has co best last and a trip over the track. I really do not see this is as his best place for this colt. Pass.
#3 Hidden Ruler (6/1) has best overall speed and best last. He just ran an $81K allowance at 6.5f and that last furlong did him in. He led throughout and gave way in the stretch. I like this horse as he beat $50K claimers, NW2L, three back in the slop at OP in 1:11 and this cutback, the last race experience facing tougher, and his rounding into great form make him my choice for the contest - $7/w $13/p
My pick: #3 Hidden Ruler.
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