The day after.  There always has to be a morning after. Turkey belly and foggy eyes. Yet, another great day to try the track. And, what a card Churchill Downs has put together for the day after Thanksgiving. We all should give thanks for this present, and we didn’t even have to battle the crowds for this “Black Friday” celebration.  Here is a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 4-3-7-1…Ma’am (4) will stretch out to a distance that she has never been able to win at, yet. But this daughter of Colonel John seems to be the best she has ever been and is coming off a near miss at Churchill Downs going a mile in her last. Takes a drop in class and picks up the meet’s top rider. The trainer/jockey duo are hitting at a .26% clip together over the past two years, too. Lady Soul (3) gets a class drop after a wide, tiring trip in the last out. Before that one, though, she had hit the board in 3 of the previous 4 tries. Ran a good one against Julerette three races back, and that one has gone on to win again and again. This daughter of Speightstown may be a decent purchase for the claim price, too. Holiday’s Angel (7) has a win and two thirds in 4 starts at Churchill, but has never hit the board at the distance. Troubling. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under all the other numbers listed in two exactas. 4-7-1-6…Hit the winner and the Exacta. Good start on a Great Friday.

2nd: 5-3-1-4…Toasted (5) is a deep closer who encountered some serious traffic issues in her last try over a fast Churchill Downs track on Nov. 1.  Before that, she had two seconds and a win in the four previous starts. She should get back to her customary and consistent ways today, if she runs the same races that she was peeling off for a rapidly improving jock. Blue Collar (3) is another dead closer who won her last out after losing the blinkers. Has come back to work well, as demonstrated at Keeneland on Nov. 10. Trainer/Jockey combo does well when teamed up, too. My Sweet Stella (1) has run some good ones in the past, like her back to back seconds in the Dixie Belle Stakes and the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn over the winter. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the three top choices in the exacta. 3-1-6-4…Miss the winner, but hit the exacta. Nice recovery. 

3rd: 6-2-8-5…Richie The Bull (6) was claimed for $16,000 in his last outing and gets a small bump up the class order for this affair today. New trainer scores with .29% of first timers under his care, though, and that figures to give this one an edge on the improve. He has a win, a second and a third in three career starts over the Churchill Downs dirt track, and has posted the same ij 6 starts at the distance. Gets a new rider, who has hit with .30% for this barn over the past two years. The pick. Fleet Gold Digger (2) has hit the board in his last four starts and this deep closer will need all the expert services that his new rider can muster, since he is 0-for-13 at The Downs. Imma Bling (8) has hit the board in five straight, with three wins in that mix. Jockey choice is a little shaky, and the distance record is not impressive either. But she drops in class after a summer in Indy and should be able to contend with these today. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. 6-8-4-2…Bam. Another win and a nice exacta payoff. Let’s keep it rolling. Today’s the day?

4th: 6-4-1-3…Pray for Kitten (6) drops to a career low price tag today for a barn that has put up 3 wins and 1 second in only 7 starts her this meet. This one has speed to burn, but will try to stretch that out over a full 61/2 furlongs today.  That will be a real test for new rider, Joel Rosario. Tiz too Much (4) gets blinkers for the first time today, and the trainer does hit with .26% with horses wearing the glasses for the first time. Won’t take much to compete in this group. Tiz Funny (1) is a speedster who has burned out in each of the last 5 starts. Will need to carry his speed even longer today. But drops to a career low level in here. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one small exacta. 4-7-6-8…#4 runs off to easy win, and we get split in the exacta for a non-player for me. Miss here, but hit the pick 3.  

5th: 2-11-9-1-5-3…Derby Champagne (2) has hit the board in 9 of 18 career starts, and has a win and 2 thirds in 4 starts over the Churchill Downs grass surface. This daughter of Pulpit appears to be heading in the right direction, too. Although fifth in her last start, she was beaten just a neck and before that she had posted 6 ITM placings in the last 9 starts with 2 wins in that mix. She will stalk and close and that should play well on this grass course today. The pick. High Noon Rider (11) will stretch out another 1/16-mile in today’s encounter and he is 0-4 with no placings at this distance. Still, he figures to have a chance in this group today, coming off back-to-back good works at CDI in the last month. Space Mountain (9) is another dead closer who could make an impact in this spot. Won the last time out at Keeneland for the same trainer who will saddle the top choice. This one has hit the board in 3 of the last 5 outs and seems to be getting better in each of those. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta. 9-2-11-3…Get nipped at the wire by the skinniest of noses, but did nail the top 3 and the $20 winner helps with the exacta box…Another monster hit here, guys. Get on board…

6th: 5-3-8-4…Pop Culture (5) gets a drop in class after contending for much of the time in the 6-furlong debut. Tired late in that one and now gets some class relief. Figures to be a short price in this spot today. Ryman (3) jus a first time starter for Brad Cox, who is hunting the Trainer’s Title for this Fall meet. This one has trained steadily for the debut and should make a solid threat. Spinning Serve (8) has run two seconds in his first two career starts. Faces the same level today and should be a real threat after missing by only 1/2-length in the last try. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta here. 8-5-1-3…Another head bob loss (have I ever won one?), but still hit the exacta…Roll on, big river…

7th: 1-7-6-2-9…Whole Lotta Luck (1) gets a nice drop in class for this encounter after running well against better ones over the last three months. Had significant trouble in each of the last three starts, and should get a better trip today. Gets back to the same level where he won a couple of times here back in May. Watch out here. Whateverybodywants (7) is an Illinois-bred who has done well in open company. Has finished second in each of the last two tries, and the meet’s leading rider sticks with him today, as well. Arch Revenge (6) is a true closer who has only one second in 5 previous starts here. Drops a bit in class and shortens up for this one, and he is now at a distance where he has posted a win in his only race at a mile. A real threat. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top three numbers in the exacta. 7-1-4-5…Another exacta box…Another winner.

8th: 3-4-11-8-10-6…Rompicapo (3) is a Brazilian-bred who has been awfully tough since the trainer added blinkers just two races back. Has posted a win and a near-win second in two races sent the equipment addition. Has worked very well over the last two months, too. The choice. Hay Listen Up (4) is dropping way down to a new low level for The Coach — trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Has some back class and if he can rediscover that kind of run in here, he would turn out to be tough again. Pontastic (11) goes for Steve Asmussen, one of the leading trainers here this Fall. He will be closing from off the pace, but with a clean trip could be dangerous at the wire. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in the exacta. 11-9-4-7…My choice was scratched…split in the exacta…alive in the horizontals, though…

9th: 9-4-3-8-11-10-6…The G2 Mrs. Revere Stakes…Daddys Lil Darling (9) is the prohibitive ML favorite at 7-5, and she is certainly the filly to beat in this spot.  This versatile girl ran second to Abel Tasman on the dirt here in the G1 Kentucky Oaks on the first Friday in May.  Now, she comes in off a fast-closing second in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup over at Keeneland on the grass. If she pulls off that kind of closing kick effort today, she will be awfully tough to beat. Lovely Bernadette (4) is coming in off back-to-back wins and three victories in the last five starts. She won the G3 Valley View on the grass over at Keeneland in her last out, closing in off a stalking run.  This filly, who is by Wilburn and out of a Bernstein mare, has really gotten good of late and already sports a win over the Churchill grass, too. Westit (3) will be making her second start in North America after shipping over from Europe to the barn of Graham Motion. She is 10-1 ML and worth a serious look in this spot. I bet the 3, getting Lasix for the first time, across the board and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta, and key the top 3 numbers over all the rest in one more. 4-8-9-10…Miss the bet on the 3, but hit one key exacta…

10th: 6-8-9-3-1…The Dream Supreme Stakes…Ivy Bell (6) has not run since Brian Hernandez tried to put her through the eye of a needle along the rail in the Open Mind Stakes here back in September. She clipped heels and fell that day. If she comes back not battled scared and mentally troubled, then she will be awfully tough in this spot. Mayla (8), the horse that nearly put Hernandez and Ivy Bell into the infield water feature, now has a new rider in Corey Lanerie. He certainly should help this one do the right thing when she makes the lead in this spot today. Auntjenn (9) and Kathballu (3) both have credentials and a shot in here, too. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under in the exactas. 10-6-9-7…Big upset winner here spoils a nice one…

11th: 9-7-8-1-2-4…The G1 Clark Handicap…Along with the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, this is the only Stakes race that has been run at Churchill Downs for the past 143 years. And, today’s version certainly lines up to be one of the best in recent memory, and, just a year ago, Gun Runner was here to win it. Today’s event features a top-class field of older colts, led by Diversify — who comes into this one off two seconds in a row and then three straight victories. The NY-bred, though, has never raced outside the Empire State and will face the toughest level that he has ever seen to date. But he can air it on the front end and will be the one to catch. My play is going to be The Player, the talented and personable 4YO colt trained by Buff Bradley.  He ran a huge one to win the G2 Fayette at Keeneland in his last start and he has been super tough since coming back from a rough run in the West Virginia Governor’s Stakes at Mountaineer. This stalker is my choice to run down the speedster and win the Clark. Honorable Duty (8) should catch a dry dirt track today and that will be more to his liking. Has either been first or second in 5 of 6 starts this year. And, the Clark Handicap winner of 2015, Hopportunity, will be back to try to win this Stakes for the second time. If he can pull it off, he will be the first horse to win two Clarks, but not win them in back to back years. Tough field, but I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then I key the 7 over/under all the numbers listed in two exactas. 2-3-1-9-7…Not today for The Player, who broke in a bit of a tangle, raced wide and then was bumped badly in the stretch. Next time…

12th: 9-1-10-8-3-4-2…Creative Courage (9) will get the saddle from trainer Ian Wilkes and will try to air this group on the front end in today’s finale, which will be contested at 1 mile on the grass course. This 3YO gelding may be able to do just that, too, as he shortens up a 1/16 of a mile off his last three tries and they have all been good ones. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under all the other numbers listed in two exactas.

Good Luck &

All the Best/Gene