God's Tipster's Saturday Churchill Downs Picks: 5 races with the Grade 2 Ack Ack and Grade 3 Lukas Classic
Friday’s Race Recap from Churchill Downs:
(All odds US)
Race 4: 5th@ 2.62/1
Race 8: 2nd@ 2.72/1
Race 10: 4th@ 10.20/1
In Race 4, Norwich had a tough trip on debut checking early. She ran on well to be fifth but in a five furlong race you can’t have any mishaps. In Race 8, Mo Fox Given raced near the back early and began to pick off horses one by one. On the far turn she passed a few more and had one horse to beat in the drive and fell a closing 1/2 head short at the wire. In Race 10 Anthonian raced in between horses early, tipped out for the drive, had dead aim on the leaders and flattened out late. We missed our opportunity for a win today with Mo Fox Given getting head-bobbed and intend to make up for it on Saturday!
We had a FUN double-decker edition of handicapping selections for Saturday as Churchill Downs and Belmont at Aqueduct both had Breeders’ Cup prep race programs BUT after the torrential rains New York experienced on Friday, Saturday’s Aqueduct card was cancelled moved to Sunday. That’ll let us focus exclusively on racing from Churchill Downs on Saturday!
I’m expecting fast and firm conditions at Churchill Downs Let’s get to work!
Race 5: My Favorite Girl - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 4/1)
Two-year-old maiden fillies race a mile on the main track and this is the time of year I wait for to play Ken McPeek runners here at Churchill Downs because he excels at these types of races. He actually runs two in here, but the mile distance isn’t always an easy one to navigate for debut runners so I’m opting for the only runner in the field to have raced this far already - My Favorite Girl. My Favorite Girl was well bet on debut and sat a perfect pocketed trip behind the early pace and lacked some room in the stretch but wasn’t going to beat the winner that day anyway. Here are the facts: with two-year-old dirt runners making their second career start at the mile distance in maiden special weight races, McPeek has won at a 30% clip over 5 years with an average payout that matches our 4/1 morning line ($10.45). The average speed figure for a runner from this sample was 66, which is far superior to the average speed figure for this type of race, especially when you consider the fact that half the field will be making their debut. My Favorite Girl is very much my favorite here.
Race 8: More Than Looks - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 5/2)
Don’t ya hate it when you invest a lot of time handicapping a race and end up on the favorite? Especially when it first looked like a wide open race with prices. I know I do. More Than Looks is a three-year-old son of More Than Ready who always runs his race. Last time out while finishing third, still might’ve been his best race to date. More Than Looks ran into the talented (and repeat winning) Carl Spackler who inhaled that field. More Than Looks ran on well to be second but Carl Spackler would be 4/5 facing these so 5/2 on More Than Looks seems fair. There’s a fair amount of pace to set up his closing kick and Cisco Torres already has a win aboard him. He’s worked well since his most recent start and looks strong here.
Race 9: Stage Raider - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 6/1)
The Grade 3 Ack Ack at a mile is next up on this stakes-laden card and it features an evenly matched field of Grade 3 runners. Zozos is the 6/5 morning line favorite and he’s the kind of horse I love to try to beat. Last time out he lost as the odds-on favorite in the Grade 3 Iselin and I’m looking forward to seeing him go down in flames again. Of course, he’ll need help from Caddo River, who’s most likely to press him from the outside. Stage Raider changed barns and geographies and woke up in a BIG way last time out. The steam on this half-brother to undefeated Triple Crown winner Justify was set-on-high from the start with lofty expectations pinned to him and he’s been just average to this point. His last race might’ve been the wake-up call we were waiting for. Facing an above-average field, Stage Raider stalked the pace and exploded in the lane showing a turn of foot he hadn’t shown in the past. Maybe it was the barn change or the move from NY to Kentucky, but something woke him up and I’m looking to continue to ride the wave if we can get 6/1 or higher on him today.
Race 10: Happy American - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 8/1)
The Grade 2 Lukas Classic came up a corker of a race pitting nine evenly matched runners against one another. Rattle N Roll is the 7/5 favorite as he looks to rebound after a weak showing in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga a month ago. At short odds I’ll be playing against. 5-2 second choice AmericanRevolution is one I want no part of. He was dreadful in his return and hopefully trainer Todd Pletcher turns things around for this runner but not with my money. I like the other American runner, Happy American, to spring the upset today. This five-year-old gelded son of Runhappy has proven to be a consistent sort, winning three of six starts over the Churchill Downs surface. His off the pace running style makes him pace dependent and he should get plenty of that today for a change. That’s something that’s been missing from his last few starts. Trainer Neil Pessin isn’t exactly going to have bettors running to the windows to bet his runners but he’s perfectly capable as he campaigned another ultra-consistent runner, Grade 1 winning Bell’s the One, to 13 wins in 27 starts. He likes the track, he’ll finally have the pace, he has the class, he just needs the right trip and I think he’ll be higher than his 8/1 morning line odds.
Race 11: Orbi One - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 8/1)
Maidens race a mile and a sixteenth on turf and Orbi One is my selection based on the 8/1 morning line odds. Orbi One is out of a stakes-winning dam and has two siblings to win on turf. He races for trainer John Ortiz, who’s winning at a strong 18% to start this short Churchill Downs meet. Orbi One has shown high speed in each of his starts and it’s that type of aggressive race I'm looking for to topple this field. Jockey Ricardo Santana wins at a 22% clip with John Ortiz runners from 66 starters. Ortiz has a high win percentage with this type of layoff runner, and I look for them to go gate to wire in this spot.
Best of luck to all our members playing Saturday’s races from Churchill Downs!