Gene Makes his Picks for May 3 at Churchill

Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs. Photo Credit: Erin Pettigrew

Race 2: 2, Juliet Foxtrot (SCR)

Juliet Foxtrot gets a mud mark, and trainer Jack Frost is sneaky good with these types. Gets the drop to the same level that this filly won at with Mojica three races back and last time on the dirt. Choice. Por Favor, trained by the Derby-winning trainer Jack Van Berg, gets a big drop in class, too, and should be tough in this spot. This daughter is by Scat Daddy and won three back, when claimed by this barn. Romans figures to have a big week (hint, hint for later this week). He enters Kentucky Dancer here, and I would prefer to see her old rider – Lanerie – back in the saddle. But she is good enough to come rolling late to upset this cart.


Race 3: 3, Jury Wise

Jury Wise, another with a mud mark (in case it rains), is my pick here. Claimed by Chris Hartman two back at this level, the 7YO mare was no match in the starter allowance ranks in last. But with a clean break, the bug boy may be able to scoot to the lead and never look back. I’m Extraordinary, trained by my good friend Daniel Sanner, will get their pictures taken if she returns to her form two back at Turfway. Last dirt win came last May at Belterra, and that is concerning, but she gets a huge jockey improvement and could be OK today. Many of you may not know Karl Broberg, but the guy can train a horse. His 7YO filly, Dixie Lover, is an Ark-bred, but is all speed and loves the mud. Cherokee Callie is another that prefers the varnish and the wax (Polytrack), but may have an outside shot.


Race 4: 1, One True Kiss

One True Kiss gets the dot and the No. 1 selection. Gets a mud mark, as well. Ran a huge race last out and just couldn’t get through a traffic jam. The runner-up in that race, Rhodium, has come back to win twice. Asmussen picks up a huge jockey improvement with Frenchy Geroux, who is starting to get his “A” game back, after bumping heads with the top riders in the world all spring. Sea Cloud may be the best speed, although outside two can gun it, as well. Sea Cloud gets a mud mark after breaking her maiden in the slop at Keeneland. Lanerie’s best talent is the clock in his head and he could milk the most of this filly. Use the two top in exactas. Doxology won last on a fast-wet track in last. Improv had no chance in the Hurricane Bertie, but fits better here. Has a chance.


Race 5: 6, Beachtown Benny

I really hate betting maiden winners moving up in class, but Beachtown Benny gets the nod here any way. Got the blinkers for the first time in the last, and aired the field. Was picked out of the claiming box by Chris Hartman, a shrewd navigator of the claiming ranks who just so happens to win with .22 percent of his first time claimers. Pick. Running Back is another moving up after a maiden win, but seems to be getting better with each start right now. Take advantage of that timing. Greeley’s Charm drops back to his most comfortable level and can easily fit into any of the top three slots here. Have to use.


Race 6: 6, Shezaprado

Shezaprado had no run in the Gulfstream Parks Oaks, which was won by Salty (who will be exactly that on Friday in the Oaks; just saying). But for $50,000 claiming, Shezaprado could be the one. My selection. Sumertime Sky is another one who showed up in a race against one of the Oaks favorites. She ran fourth to her in the Silverbullet Stakes at The Fairgrounds in January. Not embarrassed at all in that one, and will be the horse to beat here. Fault drops into the claiming ranks for the first time for a top trainer. Do not ignore here. Brad Cox (is there a hotter trainer in the world right now?) on Rum Go. Love me some Malibu. Have to use this horse.


Race 7: 5, Fairybook

Fairybook gets the nod here in a wide, wide open affair. The 3YO Union Rags filly gets a mud mark with two seconds in two starts over the off going. Ran second to Farrell here at CD last October. She runs that race back and she is gone. Awesome Gal gets my reluctant pick for second choice. Not a fan of trainer/jockey combo and their win combination. So the horse must be really good for me to put here, right? Milady Rocks was disqualified in her last after rider Luis Saez nearly put Lanerie over the rail in last out at Keeneland. Jockey switch to Geroux helps and this filly has been right there since adding blinkers for D. Wayne. Cox’s I’m With Miller will run much better in this spot, and you can throw both Lady Kat and Gata Furiosa in the mix on the back end of exotics. The latter gets Lasix for first time.


Race 8: 5, Crooked as Can Be

Crooked as Can Be, winner in last, has been in the money 24 out of 33 tries. Cox trains and gets a mud mark with two wins, one second and one third in five tries on the off going. Pick here. Ring Necked has won five out of six at the distance and gets a wicked high number in this category. Dead closer may get there on one of the most fair racing surfaces in the world. Jack Tripp has finished in the money eight times out of 11 starts at this distance and is hot this year, too, with 2 wins in 3 starts. Trainer off to sensational start. Got to use. Lamu is one-for-one on wet track and is hotter than hades this year with three wins in five starts this year. Use. Rage Riot loves an off track. Have to use if wet.


Race 9: 6, Kasseopia

Kasseopia gets the blinkers for the first time and the GB-bred just may be ready to score for one of the top trainers in the country. (Bias note here: His assistant, Aimee Dollase, is one of my most favorite people in the whole wide world and she can train a horse like it is nobody’s business; more on that later). Speight Swiftly, a 4YO who didn’t make his first career start until March of this year, made the wait worth it for owner Live Oak Plantation. Won despite being green and beat a top field of horses – including a horse that I have been watching for a long time (he finished third). Will be tough to beat in here, while making the lead. Lucky Ramsey got a horrible trip in last out at Keeneland. Throw it out. Give another shot here. Lookin at Lucky can get a good one on the grass.


Race 10: 3, Tarpys Zip

Tarpys Zip had the worst trip that I’ve seen in a long time in last. Stumbled at the start. Five wide after that. Then, reasonably, got tired. My bet back special here. Wide open race though, and Chilling Secret could be tough in here for Van Berg. Because It’s Time gets my third slot selection, mainly due to trainer Tom Amoss. Gets Corey Lanerie here and that may be enough. The “dot” goes to McPherson. Please do not leave out of your exotic plays. This son of Stroll has run behind Multiplier and Excitations – two super horses. Excitations, who is owned by Churchill Downs’ racing club at The Fairgrounds, lost a head bob to Gervin in his first out and came back to kick some serious butt at Keeneland.

See you at Churchill Downs…

All the Best,


Ebben has been doing well,” Margolis said. “He worked :59 and 1 (on Saturday Dec. 30). We’ll work him a half-mile next weekend and get Corey (Lanerie) to ride him. He loved the way he worked so all is good. We got a little break after the allowance (at Churchill Downs on Nov.25) and it’s been about six or seven weeks so it’s perfect timing for him. We’re ready to go.”

Trainer Steve Margolis, is expected to enter Ebbed in the G3, $200,000 Lecomte Stakes — a qualifying race for the Kentucky Derby — at the Fair Grounds on Jan. 13
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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