Dan Liebman, one of the most artful writers to ever cover Thoroughbred racing and breeding, began his career in the industry working for The Daily Racing Form. That was many years ago, but Dan and I would huddle up in his little office in one of the historic little rooms underneath the Keeneland clubhouse with his former boss, Logan Bailey, and talk about races and horses. Those were very good days.

It was a bit later, but the very first horse I owned a part of was in a partnership with Dan Liebman and a couple of other friends.  We owned a son of The Bart — better known for his second place finish to John Henry in the first Arlington Million than his nondescript stud career.  I don’t think that horse ever won a race.  At least not for us.  But we had fun trying.

Dan Liebman has been a friend of mine ever since those days.  He is one of the best people I have ever known, and I am honored that he has helped me launch this site, and humbled by all of his efforts.  For the next week, he will pinch hit for me and do the handicapping at Churchill Downs.

In many ways, Dan Liebman is much better than I.  This is just one of the areas.

Here is a closer look at Dan’s selections for Churchill Downs card this Thursday — Sept. 21:

Race 1

5-3-4-6

In a short field, Delusional K K should have no problem getting the trip she needs and may prove best in this weak field. Five Star Nap is an honest sort, having hit the board in 12 of 16. The money always shows and she fits at this level. This is the right level for Crack Your Whip. Dustem Carolina may be the one they are running down in the lane.

Race 2

4-6-3

Having won his first start after the claim, Whole Lotta Luck returns to the proper level. Like the two works since his last start. When Ian Wilkes added blinkers for Handy Candy earlier this year it seemed to wake him up. His best effort puts him there. Whateverybodywants certainly has the back class and his best effort may be good enough.

Race 3

4-10-11-5

Trainers often have to study what changes they think will make their runner better. Brad Cox is trying it all with Grandpa Frank in this spot: turf to dirt; first time for a tag; new rider; blinkers on. The fact the money has shown in both his starts tells us they have liked the colt. The four works since his last start say he should be fit enough. The Babyson ran evenly his first start and now, like Grandpa Frank, takes the biggest class drop in racing, from open maiden to maiden claiming. Another dropper is Mosca, who appears the obvious choice in this heat; willing to take a stand against him. Takedown should show improvement.

Race 4

2-8-9

Love the work pattern for Queen Mum, with three straight moves from the gate, three quick works, followed by a maintenance move before running. Connections solid with first time starters. In the battle of fillies by Paynter, Bootsy’s Hadenough could complete the exacta. Ghosted is another with a solid string of works.

Race 5

6-8-4

James Graham is a good choice for Twilight Appeal, who second off the layoff should try to take them wire-to-wire. Another second off layoff is Dominant Class; improvement expected. Pistol Patti could clunk up and get part; she always tries.

Race 6

3-2-9

Handicappers like the only first-time starter in maiden races – they haven’t proven yet they can’t run. That aside, I have always liked high-priced juveniles who don’t start at 2. The works say Idonowidont is ready. Silver Soiree experienced trouble in her first start off the layoff and has worked well twice since that effort. Big improvement expected. True Boots, off since April, always tries hard.

Race 7

5-4-3

After two solid races, when the money showed both times, Mrs Rocco is ready to roll to an easy win. Take your pick for second – My Peeps and D’ Cat both fit.

Race 8

2-7-8

Obviously something happened to Thegreatgeneration in his last start. Takes big drop here. Works solid enough; blinkers on. If any money shows at all he could be ready to graduate. Crenshaw ran well first out, moved turf to dirt, where his trainer is quite solid. How’s My Bud ships in from Delaware and has a shot here.