McLean’s Picks for Friday, May 12 at Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs

Race 1: 1-4-3-6

Dustem Carolina (1) gets the “dot” (must use) in this race. Despite trainer’s cold beginning to this year, he can train. And, top jockey Julien Leparoux takes the ride again. Beaten favorite in last out at Keeneland has a tendency to hang in the final yards (evidenced by his ITM record of 7-14-8 in 42 lifetime starts). But she is ultra consistent. Wheel over/under with Gingermore (4), Kate N Abs Reward (3) and Wilhelmina (6). Bet the 1 to win.

 

Race 2: 1-7-5-6-2

Bella Be Proud (1) gets a huge jockey change, with move to Corey Lanerie. If you toss out all the races on turf, synthetic and wet, she has only six starts on dirt. In those, her record is 1-0-1 with an “earnings per start” of about $3,000. Key race was two back when she beat a very nice field at Turfway, including Eqho. Pick here. Sugar Cube (7) could easily take this race. Was beaten favorite at odds-on at Keeneland in last. This horse loves this distance and this track. Any improvement at all, and she gallops here on the home course. Smelly Cat (5) gets a huge jock change, too, and gets my top number. Competitive race. I would box the top three and then wheel the 1 over/under the rest.

 

Race 3: 6-5-2-4

Baby race is wide open. I pick John Hancock and Lanerie with Tigerbeach (6). Made a nice run at Keeneland before tiring. Wesley Ward is the “king” of early 2-year-old races in Kentucky these days, like the late Tony Basile used to be for Bwamazon Farm (remember those days?). Zodacioius (5) is definitely the horse to beat at chalk prices. Hancock’s “other” horse entered is Crossfire (2) and he could have a shot.

 

Race 4: 3-1-4-5

Recount (3) gets the top number in another dandy race. The Illinois-bred has big numbers on synthetic and wet tracks, but loves this distance and is 2-for-2 at Churchill. Versatile type who can lay just off the pace and make a solid move in the stretch. Two-time winner since getting beat by Whitmore and that’s no disgrace these days. Wilbo (1) is the second choice and has a great “Z pattern” working over the last 3 races. Meaning, that he closed three back; showed speed two back; and then reverted to closing in last. Have to use this team. Bayered (4) and Black Bear (5) are not without their chances, too, but I am boxing the top two here.

 

Race 5: 8-4-1-2-5

Wide open race, but High Multiple (8) gets a huge jockey change and the nod. Beat Frontliner two back to break maiden and that has become a key race. Will go to the lead for new rider and may never look back. My “dot” in this race goes to Enduring Honor (4) with top team of trainer Tom Amoss and rider Corey Lanerie. Amoss takes the blinkers off today and his win percentage with this equipment change balloons to .36 percent. Elitch (1) has been better with addition of blinkers, and had trouble in last. I am betting 4 to win/place and then wheeling over/under the rest of the numbers above.

 

Race 6: 5-3-2-8-9

Ice Freeze (5), who is all speed, is a lukewarm pick here. Ben Colebrook gets a lot of good stock to work with and jumped started the meet with Limousine Liberal’s stakes win. This one doesn’t like to finish real strong, but drops from $20,000 to $10,000. That may help her courage at the end. Street Performer (3) switches from the turf to dirt for trainer Buff Bradley. Definitely could win here, with a little cleaner trip and a good ride from the apprentice job. My Sugar (2) is trained by Brad Cox, who has 4 wins, 1 second and 1 third in his first 14 starts this meet. Hasn’t shown a thing in first two starts, but drops from $40,000 to $10,000 and they spent $200,000 to purchase this filly as a yearling. Contender.

 

Race 7: 3-1-6-2

Gagaoveryou (3) gets a slight edge in a competitive field. This stalker finished ahead of Doxology two starts back, and the later came right back to win impressively. This is the chalk and should run like it. I wheel her over and under the rest.

 

Race 8: 10-2-8-9-6

What a nice race to highlight the Friday card. I pick Big Red Rocket (10), who has been on my Horse to Watch list for quite some time now. This son of Summer Bird sold for $500,000 at OBS April in 2015 and is ultra consistent. If not for a wide trip in the last, he would have won at Keeneland. A better trip today and could be a nice hit at 5-1 morning line. Kismet’s Heels (2) has only won the one time in 10 starts, but has 6 seconds and a third. Rider switch may help change things up, but likely to be close at the end – again. Dan the Go to Man (8) may be the post time favorite but has the same “seconditis” that the 2 has shown. He has one win and 8 seconds in 14 starts – including six straight runner-ups. Gray Sky (9) has tackled some nice horses in his career, including a second place finish to Gun Runner in the G3 Matt Winn here last June. Looks like he is rounding into form and could close into this bunch nicely. Have to use. I am betting the 10 across the board and wheeling both the 9 & 10 on top and under the rest.

 

Race 9: 2-7-4-5

Probably should hit the “All Button” here, but I am going to take a flyer with Drago’s Pearl (2). The gelding was purchased for $130,000 and soon nominated to this year’s Triple Crown by West Point Thoroughbreds – the same group that just so happens to own part of last week’s Derby winner. In his first out, he caught Multiplier – a nice one. Brian Hernandez stays aboard for this one and there aren’t in Multiplier’s in this race. The morning line is 8-1. I’m going to take it and wheel over and under the rest and bet across the board.

We broke a little slow, like always,” said Velazquez. “As soon as we went past the wire I looked for the position I wanted and I got it. Then I sat there and I saw Ryan Moore move on the outside on the backstretch and kind of pushed him out and he came in, and I kind of followed him from there. From the half-mile pole there was really one horse to beat so I put her right behind that one and when I asked her she responded really well.”

John Velazquez, Rider of the winner Sistercharlie
  • 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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