Indiana Grand — Thursday:

Total Day Results 10 / 3-4-3
2021 Overall 728 728 / 264-268-302
Win % of Top Pick 36.26%
Payoff% of Top 3 Picks Overall 38.19%
2021 Top Pick in the Money Overall — 468-728 64.29%
2021 Top Selection ITM / CD 67-101 66.34%
2021 Top Selections Win / CD 43-101 42.57%
“Key Horses” @ CD 9 / 6-0-0 66.67% Win / 66.67% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2021 111 / 50-24-8 45.05% Win / 73.87% ITM

Churchill Downs — Thursday:

Total Day Results 8 / 2-1-6
2021 Overall 736 736 / 266-269-308
Win % of Top Pick 36.14%
Payoff% of Top 3 Picks Overall 38.18%
2021 Top Pick in the Money Overall — 473-736 64.27%
2021 Top Selection ITM / CD 72-109 66.06%
2021 Top Selections Win / CD 45-109 41.28%
“Key Horses” @ CD 10 / 6-1-0 60.00% Win / 70.00% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2021 112 / 50-25-8 44.64% Win / 74.11% ITM

Sorry we missed the card at Churchill Downs on Friday. But…

There’s always a “but,” right?

Well, there is a real big one in this case.

We won our race at Indiana Grand on Thursday. Diamond Solitaire was magnificent and we went to celebrate in Indy on  the night and for the night. Ended up spending the night. Ended up getting back to Louisville on Friday. Ended up missing the Friday card at Churchill Downs.

So much fun to be hand on Thursday. So much fun.

In addition to watching and wagering on our beautiful home-bred filly — who impressed with her 21/2-length victory — we hit exactas at Indy Grand that returned $1.90, $12.50, $178.20, $8.50, $71.80, $23.80 and $165.70 for each $1 played correctly.

Wow. Huge day.

At Churchill Downs on Thursday night, we had a couple of winners on the 8-race card and hit for exactas that paid $16.00, $87.80, $11.80 and $14.10 for each $1 played.

If you can’t make money on Thursday, then you are doing something seriously wrong.

We are back on Saturday, after our little headache vacation on Friday.

Here’s our looks at Churchill Downs and the Stakes races at Pimlico:

Churchill Downs:

1st: 6-3-7/1/2…Bold Minister (6) is my pick here. This 3YO son of Firing Line drops significantly for this one and could be haltered for $20,000. Barn wins with .57% when dropping this much at once. Could run much better than the last two, when he caught the turf and the slop. Fast dirt? Maybe a much better run. Musk (3) ran much better with the drop to this level last time out. Could improve even more here. New rider could be the difference. Draft Capital (7) drops into the MCL level for the first time. Barn wins with .12% on the second career start. Rider is winning at a .20% clip for this barn, too. Look for better here. I bet the 6-7 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the top 3 over/under the 1-2 in two smaller units.

2nd: 5-6/4-1/3-2…Drop Anchor (5) will be offered up for sale at the lowest price yet. Gets a new rider, who did win with this one last summer at Ellis Park. Look for much more here. Like the work last time out. Wicked Indeed (6) was claimed last time out and the new barn wins with .20% on the first try with the newcomers. Working well and gets a top rider up. Chance. I bet the 5-6 across the board and then box those two in the exactas. I will key the 5-6 over/under the rest of the numbers listed in two smaller units.

3rd: 5-6-4/12-8-3-2-1/7-10/9-(13)-(14)…This is the first turf event of the day at Churchill Downs, and it will be contested at the flat, 1-mile distance. I will go with Speightstown Shirl (5), who has run two outstanding 2nds to begin the career. Barn wins with .14% in the 2nd start off the layup, and the new rider can find the finish line. This one returns as a beaten favorite, too. Top pick. Love the sire line here, too. Natalies Charm (6) was beaten a dirty nose in the career debut at Turfway Park. Trainer is off to a terrific start this meet, winning with 3 of the first 7 starts here. This one could fit that mold, too, and is my first “Longshot Special of the Day” at the big oval. Don’t dismiss here. Flippant (4) has run two 2nds in a row, as well. Nearly pulled off the upset last time out, as well. Veteran rider gets the reins here, and the work on May 7 was spot on. I bet the 5-6 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the 5-6 over/under the 4-12-8-3-2-1 in two smaller units.

4th: 3-8/4-1-5/7/2…Prinecess Doir (3) drops all the way to the $20,000 level here. Massive drop for a barn that wins with .35% when going this far down the ladder at one time. Gets a new rider for this horse and one that normally doesn’t handle much for this barn, either. Interesting. Should fit nicely with this group. Walk Me Home (8) drops from the MSW ranks all the way to the $20,000 level here. Another from the barn of trainer Tom Amoss. When going from MSW to the MCL level, the barn wins with .30%. Gets a regular rider for the barn here. Shifts from the turf back to the dirt, and that should help here. Does have speed and the shorter distance could assist, as well. I bet the 3-8 across the board and then box those two in the exactas. I will key the 3-8 over/under the rest of the numbers listed in two smaller units.

5th: 7/1-3-4-5/2/6…The first “Key Play of the Day” at Churchill Downs comes here with Kaely’s Sister (7). This 3YO Maclean’s Music filly won the last time out by 10 lengths. Ten. That was against three other horses in the field, though. Barn wins with .26% this meet; .27% in the third start off the layoff; .28% when it wins the last time out. Gets an interesting rider choice here, but I like it a lot. This one looks to be a standout, even though she is moving up in class for this one. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under all the numbers listed.

6th: 5-9-12/8-11/2-3–10-14…Tayet (5) nearly won last time out when racing over at KEE on April 11. Lost by a skinny neck in just the second try over the sod. In the last 466 turf starts, this barn has won with .17%. The dam of this one has a turf winner from just two starters and this one could join that parade today. Interesting note: look at the DQ in the last that moved this one up to 2nd. Didn’t seem to impact this one, but traffic issues here are a concern. Cruz Bay (9) ran up against a salty bunch last time out and led the group nearly all the way to the wire. Tired late. Trainer has won two of the last four and this one has a very nice work on May 9. Dam of this one is a Stakes winner, and she has thrown a turf winner from 4 starters, as well. Big time shot here. Commanders Palace (12) was 2nd last time out at KEE on April 18. This will be the 2nd route race and the barn wins with .18% of those. Rider is hot with a 5-3-1 mark in the last 16 here and can get around the turf course in good stead — normally. This one will be coming late. Will need racing room. I bet the 5-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the top 3 over/under the 8-11 in two smaller units.

7th: 1-5/2-3/6-7/4…Claytnthelionheart (1) has one convoluted name, to be sure. But this one looks to be the one to beat in this 13/16-mile marathon event. Has been the distance before and was a tough-beat 2nd last time out at Oaklawn Park. Horse that edged him at the wire came right back to win the next time out, too. Key race. Gets a rider switch here, but the new jockey is 0-for-20 this meet. Hmmm. Southern Passage (5) has been up against it in the last two. Ran in the G1 Florida Derby just two starts ago. Split the field in that one, but now finds softer surroundings. Has a win and a second in four previous runs here. Could be a factor late. If the rail is open? I bet the 1-5 across the board and then box those two in the exactas. I will key the 1-5 over/under the rest of the numbers listed. More with the 2-3.

8th: 5-8-9/1-2-4/7-6-10-3…Time Leverage (5) will race with Lasix for the first time and the barn wins with .23% of those and this will be the 2021 debut for the 3YO son of Liam’s Map. Barn wins with .16% of those away from the gate this long. But the works are spot on. Look at the morning prep on May 8. Spot. On. Gets a top rider up. Can motor. Ran up against Highly Motivated in the career debut. Nearly beat him, and he was in the KY Derby and was 2nd in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. I go here. I go strong. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the 8-9-1-2-4-7-6 in two units. I will also box the 5-8-9 in the exactas.

9th: 8-7/4-5-10/9-2-1-3/6…Perfect Happiness (8) comes from the formidable barn of trainer Brad Cox and is a standout in this group, IMO. The 4YO daughter of Majesticperfection just ran out of gas in the 2021 debut at Oaklawn Park on April 25. Led the proceedings until the late going. Returns as a beaten favorite here and goes to the grass for the first time. Dam has produced a turf winner from 4 starters and the barn wins with .22% of those debuting on the sod. Look for more out of this one today. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the 8-7 in the exactas. I will key the 8-7 over/under the 4-5-10-9-2-1-3 in two smaller units.

10th: 7-3-1/9-2/6-8/4-5…Handy (7) nearly won the last time out for the new barn operation, which is very good with moving this types up after the claim purchase. Took this one just two starts ago. Ran for nearly twice the level and nearly won. Gets a new rider here, but the barn wins with .25% of those making the 2nd start after the claim. This is the 2nd start. Will be coming late. Will be coming, though. Aasr (3) drops into the claiming ranks for the first time and the barn wins with .26% of those kind. Gets back to the dirt today, too, and the barn wins with .18% when making this surface switch. Rider switch will certainly assist and looks like another that will love the new level of competition. Ekati’s Verve (1) drops into the claiming ranks here, as well. Barn wins with .21% of the last 62 to start in a claiming event. Fits better here and the rider is having a solid meet. Work on April 24 was good. Chance. I bet the 7-3 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 9-2 in two smaller units. I will also key the 3 — take note — over/under the 7-1-9-2-6-8 in two smaller units.

11th: 10-7-13/14-5/11-12-8-2/3-4-6…G3 Louisville Stakes…Arklow (10) will make the 2021 debut here today and this 7YO son of Arch is the only G1 winner in the race today. Accomplished that feat back in 2019 when he won the Turf Classic at Belmont Park. Made 7 starts last year with 2 wins and a second. Ran in this event last year after a long layup and nearly won that one, too, finishing 2nd by a skinny head. In 4 previous tries here, he has a win and a second. Will be a stalker in this group, and just needs to be fresh and fit enough to finish this job. One to beat. For sure. Red Knight (7) did not fire in the last try at KEE in the G2 Elkhorn Stakes. That was the 2021 debut fort this one. Should be more fit and more ready for this one. In 6 previous runs at this grass distance, this one has 2 wins and 2 seconds. Crafty rider takes the reins again. Look for more here. Crafty Daddy (13) does not get the best of post positions, but should have plenty of time to figure out a good route. Ran a very solid race in the G2 Elkhorn. Runner-up just came back to win a G1 in New York last weekend for trainer Jack Sisterson. This one was just a neck behind him. Work here on May 8 was spot on. Going good right now and the rider fits this one, to be sure. Has a win in only previous grass run here. Watch out. My “Longshot Play of the Day.” I bet the 10-13 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the top 3 over/under the 14-5 in two smaller units. I will also key the 10-13 over/under the 7-14-5-11-12-8-2 in two smaller units. 

Pimlico on Preakness Stakes Saturday:

1st: 3-1-5-6…Sir Barton Stakes…As you will find out, if you have not gotten the message from me already, I will refuse to bet any horse that is currently trained by Bob Baffert. The situation that occurred with Medina Spirit after the Kentucky Derby is a tragedy with major consequences for this industry and every single person attached thereto. No one; no entity; no organization should condone these types of actions or the continuation of these types of actions and accusations that have repeatedly and disgustingly occurred with the same barn and operation over, and over, and over the past few years. The Kentucky Derby is sacred ground. It is the lynchpin of this industry; of the Commonwealth of Kentucky; of the City of Louisville and so very important to the industry and sport, as a whole. There is simply no excuse to jeopardize this great game and this institution or any reason. Any. Reason. And, it is a shame that Pimlico and the Stronach racing institutions — by and through whatever new name they want to call themselves these days — did not immediately take the same course of action as did Churchill Downs and ban Baffert from the entry box. Truthfully, until such time as this matter is fully and finally adjudicated, the man should be banned from the grounds, altogether, IMO. It is more than a shame, truthfully. It is disgusting. That being said and now written, I will personally scratch Hozier (4) from any handicapping and betting strategy in this race. And, despite the fact that the 3YO of Pioneerof the Nile looks to be a standout in this very mediocre field for a Stakes race, I will not use. Therefore? I will bet Market Cap (3) across the board and then box the 3-1-5-6 in the exactas, trifectas and use in any horizontal plays. 

2nd: 10/5-3/12-6-8…Oceans Map (10) gets the nod in another very weak field for this turf event, scheduled to go 11/16-miles. This 4YO gelded son of Liam’s Map does come in with two nice runs in a row and does possess the speed to be dangerous. In 11 turf races to date, this one has a 3-2-2 mark and has 2 wins and a second in 5 tries at this distance. Jose Ortiz takes the mount. If he can avoid trouble, which he is prone to find from time to time, this one should be a tough out. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the 10-5-3 in one exacta. I will key the 10 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller units.

3rd: 4/6-2/3/1-5….G3 Chick Lang Stakes…This 6-furlong sprint event features a couple of top runners from the barn of HOF trainer Steve Asmussen. The top contender, though, is one that truly stands out by not standing at all — Jaxson Traveler (4). This 3YO son of Munnings has raced 5 times. Has 4 wins, and a second. At this distance, has 3 wins and a second in 4 starts. Comes into this one off a convincing win in the Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn Park on April 24. Only loss came in the 2021 debut on March 20. Was 2nd that day by a narrow head decision. Gets the world’s best jockey in the irons for the first time here. This barn dominated the G3 Pat Day Mile on KY Derby Day with Jackie’s Warrior. This one could be just as special at this distance. Look out. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed above. I go a lot more with the 6-2 than the rest.

4th: 12-13-6/2-11-9/1-7-5/3-4…This is a turf event that will be run over 11/16-miles on the sod. I will go to the far outside and saddle up with my top two selections in this event. Out of Sorts (12) will become my first “Longshot Special of the Night.” This one enters with a ML projection of 6-1 odds. Trainer is having a super beginning to the meet. Has gone 3-4-2 in the first 13 starts. This one has not started since Dec. 26. Has hit the board in each of the last three outings, and will get the Lasix for the first time. Barn wins with .23% of those kind. Barn is 0-for-17 with first timers over the grass. Hmmmm. This rider, though, has teamed up to win with .31% of the last 16 rides for this trainer. Big shot here. Deciding Vote (13) will make the 2021 debut here. Will be coming real late in the proceedings. Gets a new rider up, too. In 4 previous tries over the sod? Has a win and a second. Barns wins with .21% in the allowance ranks. Judi Blue Eyes (6) goes for a new trainer, who wins with .23% on “last chance results.” Rider has  captured the top spot in .35% of the last 17 rides for this barn, too. I bet the 12-13 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will box the top 3 in the exacta, too. I will key the 12-13 over/under the 6-2-11-9-1-7-5 in two weaker units.

5th: 2-4/3/10-7-6-5/1…Breaking News (2) has only one — single — win in the first 17 starts of the career. Not good. But this 5YO won of Mineshaft does have 5 seconds and 4 thirds. That adds up to 10 finishes in the top 10 so far. Is good. Should be close to the wire if not in front at closing time. Over the last 6 starts, this one has 4 finishes in the money. Other two were both 4ths. Gets a rider who was third on this one just two starts ago. Before that, this jockey had a 2nd in the books, too. This trainer wins with .25% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Barn does win with .14% in the third start off the layup. At this distance, this one has a single victory. But has 4 seconds and 3 thirds in this spot. Fire Sword (4) comes from the barn of Wesley Ward, who is winning with .33% of the 2021 starters. And, that is with a sample size of 178 horses. I bet the 2-4 across the board and then box those two . I will also key the 2-4 with the 3 in two smaller units.

6th: 3-5-6/2-1/4…G3 Gallorette Stakes…This is a turf Stakes event for the fillies and mares going 11/16-miles over the soggy sod. I will saddle up with Flighty Lady (3). This 4YO Irish-bred has run in NA only once, so far. Won that one easily and impressively at Aqueduct on April 3 this year. In 7 career starts now, this one has 2 wins, 1 second and 4 thirds. Never off the board. Handicappers love this consistency. Bettors love it even more. Rider has won with .32% of the last 37 mounts for this barn operation. Mean Mary (5) is a 5YO daughter of Scat Daddy and is a stone-cold runner who has 5 wins and 2 seconds in 9 starts. This will be the first start of the 2021 season, but this one has run well off a break before. Has speed to be very dangerous, and has a win in only previous try at this distance. Should like it here. Feel Glorious (6) has hit the board in the last three outings — all Stakes events. This one has raced this distance 7 times so far. Has 4 wins and a second. Rider has piloted .31% winners out of the last 13 for this barn. Look out. I bet the 3-5 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 2-1 in two smaller units.

7th: 10-2-5/6-8-9/4-7-3-1…This will be a 11/16-mile tour around the main track for the 3YOs & Up, and I will go to the outside and land on Mischief Afloot (10). This 4YO gelded son of Into Mischief returns as a beaten favorite here. Barn is 0-for-8 to hammer time with beaten favs, but this one gets a rider who won on him just four starts ago at Belmont Park. In 4 starts at this distance, this one has a win and 2 seconds. Mark sits at 2-3-1 in 12 gate appearances. Look out. Burning Bright (2) has made 5 lifetime starts over the past two years, and has a 2-win, 2-second record on the resume. Returns as a beaten favorite. Barn wins with .22% of these kind, and with .27% coming off a benching this long. Love this one. McElmore Avenue (5) has speed and some versatility to go along with it. In 4 turf tries, this one has no wins. Gets back to the main track here and has 3 wins and a second in 6 tries over a fast dirt track. Top rider takes the reins here for the first time. Watch out. I bet the 10-2 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the 10-2 over/under the 5-6-8-9-4-7 in two smaller units.

8th: 2-8/6-3/1/5-4…James W. Murphy Stakes…This will mark the return of one of the best 2YO turf colts of a year ago — Outadore (2). This 3YO son of Outwork cost a hefty $290,000 at the 2019 KEE September Yearling Sale. Won over $430,000 last year to easily cover the initial expense. Made the 2021 debut over the AW surface and the new Tapeta track at Turfway Park on March 27. Didn’t have an issue, making the lead from the get to the go as the odds-on favorite. Has speed. Will stretch out to the 1 mile distance here, and has a third in only previous try at the distance. Vunerable? Maybe. But, if so, the most likely candidate that could pull the upset is trainer Brad Cox’s colt T D Dance (8). This 3YO son of Can the Man was purchased for $75,000 at the OBS sale last year. Won the last time out over a “good” surface at the Fair Grounds on March 27. Came from a stalking position in the last try. Dam of this one had 3 turf winners from 4 starters. Gets a rider who has won .27% for this barn in the last 11 mounts. I bet the 2-8 across the board and then box those two in the exactas. I will key the 2-8 over (only) the 6-3-1-5-4 in a smaller unit.

9th: 5-2-8/1/4-7-6/3…Runhappy Skipat Stakes…Chub Wagon (5) is the “hot news” of late in the filly sprint division. In 5 career starts to date, this one has yet to finish anywhere but the winner’s circle. The Pennsylvania-bred has never even been close at the wire. In the 5 races so far, this one has won by a combined 32+ lengths. Has speed. Will use it early and often. Gets a top rider back in the saddle yet again. These two teamed up to win at Aqueduct just two races ago. Will face tougher here, but this one looks the toughest. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the 5 over/under the numbers listed. I will take another 5-1 exacta box, too.

10th: 4-13-1/5-2/11-12/8-7…Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes…The Critical Way (4) tired a bit in the G2 Shakertown at KEE on April 3. But that one was at 5.5 furlongs and this is a bit shorter. Also, this one should be a little better on a more firm turf, which he  could get here in this spot. In 11 tries at this distance, this one has a 4-3-2 record. In 16 turf efforts, he has a 5-4-2 record. Gets a top rider back in the bike, and the work on May 9 was super good. One to beat, for me. Completed Pass (13) has raced here 3 times previously. Has 2 wins and a second. Local hero is the horse for this course. Won this race back in October in the calendar-altered Preakness schedule. Barn wins with .23% when they won the last time out. I can’t dismiss here. Boldor (1) has raced over the sod just three times in the career and has a win and a second. Race last time out at KEE was solid, but must face tougher here. I bet the 4-13 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the top 3 over/under the 5-2 in two smaller units. I will also key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller units.

11th: 5-11/8-4/1-10-2/3-6-7…G3 Maryland Sprint Match Series Stakes…Strike Power (5) has been taking on the likes of C Z Rocket, who not only is the best sprinter in the world right now, but also one of the best horses in training Could not handle that group. But this ain’t that group. Race before down in Hot Springs was spot on and this one goes for a barn that knows how to ship and win. Go-to rider takes the reins again and fits this one nicely. Rider has won with .24% of the last 115 mounts for this barn. Seven Nation Army (11) ran behind the top pick two races ago. But this one ran a huge one in the King Cotton over the slop three races ago. At this distance, this one has a 6-5-2 record in 22 starts. Look for a top effort here. Special Reserve (8) and Frosted Grace (4) both have a chance here. The latter is our first “Longshot Special of the Day” here. This one could be a tough out here. I bet the 5-11 across the board and then box those two in the exactas. I will key the 5-11 over/under the 8-4 in two smaller units. I will bet the 4 across the board and then key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller units, as well.

12th: 5/3-8-1/2-6/4-7…G2 Dinner Party Stakes…The “Key Play of the Day” comes here with Sacred Life (5). This 6YO French-bred just ran a big one to be third to Raging Bull in the G1 Maker’s Mark at KEE on April 9. Before that, he drew Digital Age and came up 4th. None of those kind in this spot. In 5 trips at this distance, this one has 2 wins and 3 seconds. Has hit the board in 13 of 17 over the sod. Look out for a late run, but must get room and a good trip from a rider who can fall asleep in the pilot’s seat. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the numbers listed. More with the 3-8-1. Less with the 2-6. Even less with the 4-7.

13th: 10-3-5/4-6/9-8…G1 Preakness Stakes…I have already expressed my feelings — in frank terms — how I feel about the controversy that the Bob Baffert operation created at the 147th Kentucky Derby aftermath. I have already expressed my feelings — in very frank terms — my disappointment with the Stronach decision to allow Baffert and his horses to enter for the second leg of this year’s Triple Crown. Despite the fact that the first leg winner is still in jeopardy and question. I think Concert Tour (10) is the best horse in this rather lukewarm field of modest runners. Medina Springs (3) is likely the runner-up. I will play neither and root like hell that Midnight Bourbon (5) gets a cleaner break and runs these off their feet and into the absolute ground. Love the fact that Irad Ortiz, Jr. will get the mount. I think this horse will be a handful here. He could do it. Hoping. Praying. Betting. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under all the horses other than the 3 & 10.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene