Dan Liebman’s Selections for Churchill Downs — Sunday, Sept. 24

Despite his long-lost love for Farrell, who once again disappointed at Churchill Downs by fading in the Dogwood Stakes on Saturday night, Dan Liebman has been on fire this week at the Twin Spires.  Today, the former The Daily Racing Form scribe and former Editor-in-Chief of The Blood-Horse magazine takes a look at the track’s Sunday race card.

Here’s a closer look:

Churchill – Sunday, Sept. 24

Race 1


Diamonds for Leah may have been aided by the off track in last but her best makes her tough here. The other key contenders also want to be on the lead, which should make things interesting. Nod to Rose to Glory second over Baetykaty.

Race 2


Expect Forgotten Coast to be more involved in his second start. Like the two works since that effort. Burnside brought a nice price in the spring and closed well in his initial outing. Killeen appears best of the first-time starters.

Race 3


Polar Bear had trouble in his first start, goes turf to dirt. Willing to give Smoken Velvet another shot, agreeing back to dirt makes sense. American Ride finally got close last out. Indian Bull comes off layoff. Two more going turf to dirt.

Race 4


Because the distance might stop the favorites, hoping Black Bear has enough class, knowing he likes 6.5 furlongs. Same for Big Squeeze, though it is hard to fault Manhattan Mischief and Mesoma, who have done little wrong lately.

Race 5


The blinkers may be what it takes to get Tarpon Bay Road his graduation certificate. Teletap always gets close and a win would not be out of the question. All Day Trip will surely improve.

Race 6


Solid work pattern says this colt is ready. Turf should be no problem. Mr. Discretionary liked the switch to grass. Expect Shared Value to be more involved than his first outing.

Race 7


Not being that enamored with those that have started, willing to take a firster in Union Silk. Solid morning drills for stable that gets them ready. Having finally shown some early speed, blinkers should help On a Mission. With a better trip, Deauville Mist could be a contender.

Race 8


The two races at Ellis for Bud’s Bayonet were both solid, making him the one to beat here. Back to dirt will make The Last Prophet a contender. Should come running late. Oriental Crown cuts back to seven-eighths, which should help his chances.

Race 9


Not being totally sold on the favorites in here, taking a shot with I Remember Mama, who has done little wrong in her two starts except be wide in both. La Sola Ranger is clearly the one to beat. Like Lunar Lullaby, at a price, to clunk up for a share.

Race 10


Louisiana shipper Include Indycat sems to have gotten his act together lately. Should be the one to come running late down the lane. Rage Riot drops from 20 to 5 claiming, which should make him part of the picture. Stratocruiser due to bounce back.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Dan Liebman

    Dan Liebman

      Dan Liebman attended his first Kentucky Derby in 1973 when, from the infield, he saw a glimpse of Secretariat, still today the greatest horse he has seen race. He later worked full time in equine journalism for more than 25 years, his last full time position as Editor in Chief ...

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