The first day of the Churchill Downs’ September race meeting is today, and we look forward to an exciting 11 days of some of the best Thoroughbred racing in the country.  It is fortunate for everyone in the Thoroughbred industry that Churchill Downs stepped up to the plate and took over these 11 dates after Turfway Park decided to cut back a couple of years ago. It continues the year-round racing circuit in the Commonwealth. It is a much higher quality of racing. And, it gives all horsemen in the area the opportunity to run here — at home — where most of the horses are stabled.  Thanks, again, Churchill Downs.

Here’s a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 6-3-5-4-1…Myositis Mystique (6) gets the edge, with a class drop. Won 2 races back at C16K in lower condition, but closed OK on the turf in her last. Should appreciate the class drop and the return to dirt. Gets a huge rider switch for a top barn. My pick. Seeking Bull (3) has two seconds in the last three starts. Was claimed out of the last for a trainer who does well with first outs after the purchase. Worked very well before her last race and looks sharp right now.  Will be closing. Salute the Warrior (5) has raced the last two in Cincinnati, and will face tougher today.  Has only 2 thirds in 5 tries at Churchill. I bet the 6 to win/place and then box the 6-3 in one exacta and key the 6 over all the numbers in another. Comes in 6-3-5-2. Slam.  Winner pays $5, $3 & $2.20. Exacta returns $22.20 for $2. Nice start.

2nd: 2-1-4-3-7-5…Diamond Delight (2) is my first “dot” horse of the meet.  I have to use this 3YO son of First Dude, who ran second all the way around the track last November here.  Been off since then, but seems to be training well for the return and the trainer-jock combo have been deadly together all year. Summer O Fiftyfour (1) has a second and three thirds in just 7 lifetime starts, but has bombed in his last 2 tries. Loves Churchill Downs, though, with a second and a third in just 3 outs. Malibu at Midnight (4) looked to be making a winning move when he balked at the end in his last out.  Blinkers seemed to help. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key the 2 over/under all the rest of the numbers listed. 3-2-4-1…pays $2.60 and Exacta returns $16.20 for $2

3rd: 3-6-5-4-2…Cutacorner (3) won his last at Ellips Park on Aug. 26 and was claimed out of that event by a top conditioner, who does well with the first race after the buy. Was working very well going into the last out and seems to be at the top of his game right now. Woodman’s Luck (6) gets the drop for Michelle Lovell, who can get one to the winner’s circle. This old guy (he’s 9YO now) has hit the board in 40 races and has won 12 times in his career. Knows what turns to make. Jack Tripp (5) gets a slight move up in class, but has 2 wins in 7 starts this year. That is more than any other horse in the race. Take note. I bet the 3-5 to win/place/show and then box those two in one exacta and then key the 3-5 over/under the 6-4-2, as well. 6-4-3…Exacta pays $21.20 for $2…

4th: 3-5-6-1-11-9…Shakedown (3) gets the drop into the MC ranks for the firs time today for trainer Steve Asmussen. Made a nice run in the last and seemed to tire.  Should be fitter for this one. Bye Crazy Eyes (5) made a real nice run in his debut and then regressed in the last — which happens often. The third try, though, is usually the best. May be tough today with a return of the initial rider. Watch out. And, my first “Longshot Bet of the Day” comes in the form of Greeley Can Win (6), who is 20-1 ML.  Trainer has won only 1 of 57 this year, but teamed up with rider Calvin Borel on a good one at Ellis Park earlier this summer. This one is training well and can pop at first asking. I am betting the 3-6 to win/place/show and then boxing those in one exacta.  I key the same three over the 1-11-9, in another. 5-6-2-1…My “Longshot Bet of the Day” wins and we hit the exacta that pays, get this, $119.40 for $2…Boom…

5th: 8-9-10-6-4-2-5…Capriasca (8) comes into this one off an 81/2-length victory at Belterra, after shipping north from Gulfstream Park. Has hit the board in 8 of 19 starts and looks good right now.  Ultra Arumba (9) won her last out, too, but did it at Ellis Park in the slop — which is a tougher spot. Gets Lanerie back in the saddle for this one. Titfortat (10) ran second to “Ultra” in the last after making much of the pace. If she can conserve a little energy, she may get brave on the front end.  I bet the 8 to win/place and then box the 8-9-10 in one exacta and then key those three over (only) the rest of the numbers listed. 1-8-9-2…The 21-1 shot winner upset a real nice payday here.  #8 goes off at 9-1 and nearly pulls it off despite a wide trip…Place bet pays $11.60, though. 

6th: 11-12-4-5-6-8…Keep an eye out to see if the 15 draws into this one.  Doubtful, but a contender if she does.  If not, I land on Enrage (11), who caught a good field in her last out.  The show horse in that one has already come back to win, and this one has trained well since that debut effort. Could be ready to go in this spot. Silla Manila (12) comes from the barn of Tom Proctor, who was on fire at KY Downs. This one nearly closed to win in her career debut, and seldom does this top conditioner have them fully cranked for the first try. This is the one to beat, for sure. Dancing (4) was well beaten in her last out, but still beat six others handily. Cost $425,00 at Fasig-Tipton 2YO Sale this March and looks like she could be tough with a clean, stalking trip.  I bet the 11-12 to win/place/show and then box the 11-12-4 in one exacta and key those 3 over the others in a small one. 7-10-6-4…Upset here all the way around…#11 broke well and seemed to be in the mix, but backed away from the fray.

7th 7-1-2-10-5-6…Aircraft Carrier (7) was one of my “Best Bets of the Day” at KY Downs, before she flipped in the paddock and was scratched by trainer Paul McGee. Must be OK after that fit, and ready to use that energy on the track instead. I really like her, again, in this spot today.  So, I will try again and maker her one of my “Best Bets of the Day” — AGAIN.  Was beaten a neck and a nose in two of her last 3 outs.  The one in-between, she caught a monster field where all three of the top finishers have come back to win.  This one’s turn today. Anothertequilashot (1A) and Twisted Adage (1) go for trainer Phillip Bauer and both have legit shots to make noise in this one. Our Maria Celeste (2) has not been close in 3 tries yet, but gets blinkers a a good rider for the grass. Watch out at some odds. I bet the 7 to win/place and then key strong over the 1-2-10 and light over the 5-6. 7 doesn’t get the best of rides from one Corey Lanerie, and it finishes 5-1-10-8.  I don’t turn it around on the exacta, which cost me a $53.60 for $2 return.

8th: 8-6-1-3-2-7…Stonetacular (8) gets the nod in this one, after a tough trip in the Indiana Oaks.  She was carried way wide at the 7/8ths pole in that one and lost all chance.  Gets back to the allowance ranks today and she loves this surface. She has 2 wins and a third in 3 starts over the Churchill dirt. Improv (6) has faltered in each of the last two after making the lead in each. But she is capable of much better. She is Graded Stakes-placed, after all. Can’t dismiss. Toasted (1) goes for one of the best barn operations at any racetrack in the country. Top conditioner.  Won 2 back and caught a bear three back.  Could shake things up in here today. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the 8-6-1 in one exacta and then key those three over (only) the rest. My top choice was scratched. So, it comes 6-1-7-4.  Stone cold exacta and winner, which pays $5.60, $3 and $2.60. Exacta returns $21.40 for $2.  Good one.

9th: 2-1-4-3-8-10-5…Attribute (2) moves up after breaking his maiden by 141/2 lengths at Ellis Park on Aug. 5.  This one ran just behind Senior Investment in his career debut, and that one ran third in the Preakness Stakes.  Asmussen looks to be loaded in this spot. Secret House (1) gets his first test after being shifted to the barn of Brad Cox.  Picks up Lanerie, too. This one ran in 5 stakes races out of the 7 total when in the barn of Doug O’Neill. Watch out for this one at 6-1 ML odds. My second “Longshot Play of the Day.” Behavioral Bias (4) broke his maiden in the last out, but his best performance may have come last year when he ran third to Takeoff and Arklow.  Don’t dismiss Strong Yen (8), either.  This one could hit the board at some odds. I bet the 2-1 to win/place/show and then box them solidly in one exacta, and then key them over all the other numbers in another. My fourth selection, #3, wins at 34-1 odds. But I miss. 

10th: 11-12-8-3-2-5…Keep an eye out to see if the 13 draws in; I have to use if he does.  If not, I go to the far outside with Colonel Dan and Silent Decree. The former ran a huge one two back at Ellis Park and has 5 Top 3 finishes in 14 starts. Dropping down today for this one. The latter is making a huge drop, too, and he ran being McCraken twice last fall. Watch out for this one at 4-1 ML. Pontifical (8) will be closing late and may be good enough to get there — maybe. I bet the 11-12 to win/place/show and then box those two in one exacta and then key them both over the rest of the numbers in a smaller version. 4-12-11-5…Trainer Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage and jockey Joe Johnson somehow pull off a win. I never bet this duo.  (Why? Statistics).  12 does run very well and 11 runs third. No winning tickets.

Good Luck &

All the Best/Gene