Top handicapper Andrew Champagne runs through the meet at Churchill Downs on Saturday
Churchill Downs is trotting out a Saturday program filled with 2-year-old races, and its card is headlined by a pair of graded stakes events. The Grade 2 Golden Rod and Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club have attracted some of the most promising 2-year-olds in the country, and those two races make up half of the late Pick Four sequence.
I think this is a very fun bet, and I've got a “separator single” that could make this pay a bit. Let's take a look!
RACE #9: The Golden Rod features a filly that will likely be the shortest price in the sequence. That's #8 SIMPLY RAVISHING, a Grade 1 winner who was a close-up fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies despite a troubled trip. She's certainly the one to beat, but this isn't a field of lightweights, and I can't simply single her and move on.
I'll also use #3 COACH and #6 CLAIRIERE. The former is 3-for-3 and took to two turns with no issue when winning the Rags To Riches at this route last month. The latter, meanwhile, is bred to be a star and ran to the pedigree in winning her debut. She's by Curlin and out of Grade 1 winner Cavorting, and any improvement from her stellar unveiling could put her right there at a decent price.
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RACE #10: This is one of many races on the program labeled as an allowance race despite having a stakes-quality field. 11 juveniles will line up to go the seven-furlong distance, and I'm going two-deep.
#6 FOUNDER is the likely favorite, and I think he's well-meant. The son of Upstart hammered for $600,000 at auction earlier this year and ran to the purchase price by winning his debut at Saratoga. He then ran a flat fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, but the 1-2 finishers came back to run 1-3 in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile. I think Founder will appreciate both the class relief and the cutback to one turn.
I nearly singled him, but also felt the need to use #2 SMOKIN' JAY. He earned a 79 Beyer Speed Figure in an impressive debut win at Arlington before tiring to fifth in a minor stakes race at Presque Isle. That was a disappointing effort, to be sure, but he's worked steadily since then and Churchill's main track can occasionally play more like a synthetic or turf course than dirt at times. If he channels his first-out form, he's got a big shot at a big price.
RACE #11: The Kentucky Jockey Club houses my best bet of the sequence, and it's not the 9/5 morning line favorite. #4 KEEPMEINMIND has run second in two Grade 1 events, but while he's run a pair of strong races, I think it'll be tough for this late-running closer to replicate that form in a race without much early speed signed on.
#2 SWILL, however, figures to benefit from such a race shape. He stepped forward to break his maiden in his local debut, which he won in wire-to-wire fashion, and top gate rider Florent Geroux sees fit to ride back for trainer Brad Cox. I think he'll make the lead without too much trouble, and that he'll have every chance to conserve his energy for when the real running starts. If he does, I think he'll be tough to catch.
Swill is 6-1 on the morning line. I hope we get that price come post time, and he'll be a single for me in all multi-race exotics.
RACE #12: I have no such conviction, however, regarding the final race of the program. I was tempted to hit the “ALL” button in this race for maidens, but I eventually whittled this leg down to seven of this race's 12 runners.
If I had to make a top selection, it would probably be #4 REPO ROCKS, who cuts back to one turn. He was fourth behind a well-meant runner in his debut before running a close-up third at this distance in his next start. His subsequent two-turn efforts have been disappointing, but the last two workouts have been sharp and I think he could relish a return to a shorter distance.
I'm also going to use #1 SULLY'S BRO, #6 LAUGHING BOY, #7 OUTASITE, #9 SABUDA, #10 RUNWAY MAGIC, and #11 GROUP HUG. Outasite may very well go favored here, and he certainly showed lots of early speed in his debut. However, he tired pretty badly late, and while he may be a bit more mature at second asking, I can't help but wonder if the distance will get to him once again in this spot.
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