It is another huge day of racing at Kentucky Downs, located just outside of Bowling Green, KY. The European-styled grass course will play host to four Stakes races (three of them G3 events), but when you have a purse of $130,000 for a MSW event, then really the entire card becomes Stakes races.  After all, the Stakes Feature at Belmont Park today is worth $30,000 less than the MSW race at KY Downs today.

Here is a closer look at today’s amazing card:

1st: 4-10-12-2-11-7-3-5…The top two choices are my keys in this one.  American Halo (4), who goes for the barn of Mark Casse, comes into this one off a near miss at Gulfstream Park on Aug. 17.  We have already seen this scenario play out well for the connections.  Julien Leparoux gets on board for the first time and he is having a super time over this course. Homebred of John Oxley is a deep closer and will need a path home, but is capable. Hills of Beverly (10) will be saddled by Tom Proctor, who has already got a win at this meet, too. This is a well-bred 2YO filly by Ghostzapper, and has been training smartly at Fair Hill.  HOF rider Gary Stevens comes in today for this, his only mount of the day.  Watch out. Starving Artist (12) is owned and trained by Joe Sharp. She had a wide trip in her only start on Aug. 18 at Ellis Park and should benefit from that effort, where she closed to be fourth after trailing throughout. Coach Rocks (2) had all kinds of issues in her first effort on Aug. 20 at Saratoga.  Gets Lasix for the first time today, and is out of an El Prado mare.  Should like the transition to the grass today.  I bet the 4-10 to win/place/show and then key those two over/under the rest of the field.  I take one smaller exacta box with the 4-10-12.

2nd: 3-4-2-6-9-12…Keep a sharp eye out to see if the 13-16 draw into this one from the AE list.  If so, they fall into the mix after the top two — especially the 13. If not, here is how I play it: Big Dollar Bill (3) is a key play, from the barn of Ian Wilkes. This barn has been solid all year, but has hit a couple here already. This one shined in his first start on grass on Aug. 11 at Ellis Park.  Came running late at 51/2Fs in that one and gets another furlong to negotiate today.  Ran a good one two back against Blind Ambition, who won a Stakes at Saratoga. Look out for this one. My first Bet of the Day. Shirl’s Ready (4) is by a top turf sire and really caught a monster in her last out at Churchill in May.  Has been working well for this return. Has 3 ITM finishes in first 5 career starts. Figures here. Fault Line (2) is 20-1 ML, but gets to the grass for the first time today, and like so many others in his stable, this one is very well bred for G. Watts Humphrey. Ran a nice stalking race in his last and could be tough if improves off the last effort. A “Longshot Bet of the Day,” in here, too. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-4-2 in one exacta and then key the 3-4-2 over/under all the other numbers listed above.

3rd: 2-1-4-7-11-9…Keep an eye out for the 14…If he draws in from the AE, he would figure prominently. If not, here is how we go…Perfect Partner (2) has never missed the board in 5 lifetime starts and now gets the grass for the first time for trainer Mark Casse. Ran a solid 3rd in a stakes race at Saratoga in his last and this son of Curlin is very well bred. Should adopt to the new surface well. Gets Tyler Gaffalione in the saddle today and that surely helps, too. Could be any kind. United Stand (1) is a deep closer from the barn of Chris Hartman. Picks up a huge rider switch for this one and had a superb training effort at Churchill Downs on Aug. 8.  Lost by less than a length to Tipsy Kitten three races back and that one has already come back to win.  All things are adding up for this one at a tidy 6-1 ML.  Nice. Richmond Street (4) has been facing tougher up North, and, actually, ran past St. Louie (a nice stakes caliber horse) three back.  Ran a solid second to Sadler’s Joy, another stakes competitor six back.  Can’t dismiss here. I bet the 2-1 to win/place/show and then box the 2-1-4 in one exacta and then key those three over the 7-11-9.

4th: 10-4-3-1-7-8-12-11-6…Keep an eye out for the 13-16, if they draw in.  This is a wide open affair, but I settle on Cuddle Kitten (10), who will try to break her maiden in her 12th career start.  The good news is that she has already finished second on 2 occasions and third on 4 others. Now, can she get by at the end? Good question. Makes her third start for new trainer Rany Morse, who has a very nice win percentage (.29) on the cut back from a route to a sprint.  She has never been this short, but on this track — going uphill throughout the stretch — you have to have the stamina.  I think she graduates today in a rather soft field. Graceland (4) gets her second try under William Van Meter, who was compromised by a ridiculously wide trip in her last.  Gets a new rider today. Dakota Diva (3) is a dead closer who will make her second start today. She made a huge late run in her only other start at Laurel on Aug. 11. Switches barns today. I bet the 10-3 to win/place/show and then box the 10-4-3 in one exacta and then play those 3 over/under all the rest.

5th: 3-1-2-11-8-5-7-4-9-12…I really like Flashy Chelsey (3) and General Macarthur (1) in this spot.  The former is getting blinkers for the first time and a class drop from a nice stakes race into a high-end claimer.  Got beat just 2 lengths by a good one in Flatlined, who came back to run a closing second in a Stakes here earlier this week. Cuts back to his best distance, where he has 3 wins, 1 second and 1 third in nay 6 career starts. This one is loaded and ready to fire. My second “Best Bet of the Day.” The latter will be making his first start in NA for trainer Wesley Ward, and will get Lasix for the first time. A son of War Front — who is undoubtedly one of the best turf sires in the world right now. A contender.  High Noon Rider (2) was claimed last out by Brad Cox, who is unreal with newbies to his barn (.37%) and he fired a bullet at Churchill just six days ago. Watch out.  I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-1-2 in one exacta, and then key the 3 over/under in two more.

6th: 2-1-6-7-12-4…Keep an eye out for both the 13 & 16 on the AE.  Both are “must use” for me if they draw in. Still, I go with Takeoff (2) in his first try on grass and the cutback to a sprint distance. As we have written before, stamina is a must here with a tiring stretch run uphill.  And, this one has enough early lick to stay in a stalking position for that late kick.  The keys to me are two things: a) look at the career debut last October at Keeneland; ran up against a real, real good one in Greely and Ben and close well at a sprint distance on dirt; b) gets Julien Leparoux back in the saddle. Watch out here at 5-1 ML. Keep Talking (1) is a horse that has been on my HTW list for a long time (dating back to last year). This son of Ghostzapper must have really pissed off his owner (Gov. Brereton C. Jones) to make him decide to cut this well-bred horse, but he goes as a gelding for the first time today. Wouldn’t take much to make him a contender in here and that might be the equipment change to do it. Dark Arden (6) is really good right now, which five finishes ITM in last 6 starts — with 3 wins. Gets a really nice rider switch and comes into this one off a solid effort despite a horrendously wide trip. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the 2-1 solidly in one exacta and then key those two over/under the rest of the numbers listed.

7th: 2-5-4-1…The G3 Ladies Turf Stakes…A really nice field lines up for this $350,000 Stakes — led by the former Champion Miss Temple City — which some have argued will be the best horse to ever run over this course.  And, there is merit to that claim.  After all, she enters today’s tilt having won nearly $1.5 million in an illustrious career that has seen her beat the colts in the G1 Shadwell Mile at Keeneland and the colts in the G1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland. But…I side against the even-money favorite in this spot.  Why?  I think she loves Keeneland. Yet, I don’t think she always brings her race surface with her, and this will be her first time over the KY Downs turf.  In her two tries overseas, at Royal Ascot, she has not been the same. And, Linda (2) is on my mind (to borrow a line from a Conway Twitty song!). Linda, trained by Ian Wilkes, is 5-1 ML and may drift up in the odds, and she is a perfect 1-for-1 over this track surface. She has hit the board in 10 of her 12 lifetime starts. She ran a really good one in her last out, despite having to angle out and losing ground. She is training super. My “Upset Special of the Day.” And, another one of my “Best Bets of the Day.” I have to use Miss Temple City, underneath. Zipessa (4), has run in 10 straight Graded Stakes races and cuts back to a distance today where she has 2 wins in 3 starts. Gets a positive rider switch from the heavily over-rated Frankie Dettori to Joe Bravo, who rode her so well two starts back. Beauly (1) is really good right now, but in tough. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the rest of the numbers.

8th: 5-1-2-8-10-4…The $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint…Lull (5), owned by Claiborne Farm & Adele Dilschneider, returns to KY Downs where she won the Juvenile Fillies Stakes here a year ago in very impressive fashion.  She has 2 seconds in 3 starts this year and comes into this one off a super run against Madam Dancelot in the G2 San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar. Very different surface than the West Coast turf, but she has shown to like it. Trained very well at Saratoga in preparation for this one. Sitting on go for the turn back in distance. A nice 5-1 ML. Mississippi Delta (1) comes into this one off a dull performance on a giving turf track at Saratoga. This track should be firmer today than it has been all week, but still will have a little cushion after torrid rains here a week ago. Huge rider switch to Leparoux for this outing. Contender. Fair Point (2) goes for the barn of Shug McGaughey, who does NOT ship unless he has a good reason. Or a good horse. He may have both for this one. Was way wide in the last effort at Saratoga, but her run in the Carees — where she thumped Mississippi Delta — may be good enough. Keep an eye on Sctatter Gun (8) — who is 15-1 ML and my second “Longshot Play of the Day.” This one may not be good enough to topple the first choice, but she has two wins at this distance and over this track. Cuts back from a flat mile to this tiring 61/2F event, but gets a top jock who knows her well and has been in the saddle both times she won here — in 2015 and 2016.  Take note. I bet the 5 & 8 to win/place/show and then box the 5-1-2 in one exacta and the 5-1-8 in another.  I also key the 5-8 over/under all the other numbers listed.

9th: 1-5-7-10-8-6…The G3, $400,000 Kentucky Downs Sprint…The male version of the previous stakes has a stellar field, too. Can Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider do a clean sweep? We will see, but I think they can. Commend (1) comes into the sprint with 2 wins in 3 starts this year.  Will be stepping up in class today, but this son of War Front looks to have the closing kick it takes to get the job done  Faced Green Mask — one of the best turf sprinters in the world — two back and ran a game one, for sure. Bondurant (5) is backing up in distance for trainer Ian Wilkes, but has been facing some real tough ones all year. Should fit better with this group and has two trips over this track — although he hasn’t hit the board yet. Undrafted (7) is now a 7YO, but the son of the ill-fated Purim still can kick it into high gear every now and then.  Has run a second and a third in 3 tries over this track.  Knows it well and run fourth in this spot last year, beaten only 21/2 lengths. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the 1-5-7 in one exacta and the 1-5-10 in another.  I key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed in two more.

10th: 7-11-4-1-12-9-3-8-6…G3, $600,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Cup…This race, sponsored by Calumet Farm, is a dandy with a field full of contenders — many of whom come from the barn of Mike Maker. Maker will saddle 4 horses in here, and my top 3 come from his contingency. My first choice is Enterprising (7), who ran a super effort in finishing fourth in the Arlington Million on Aug. 12 at Arlington Park.  Beaten only 3/4ths of a length in that one by Beach Patrol — perhaps the best that NA has to offer right now — and was in tight along the rail. If he can duplicate that effort today, he will be tough to beat. Taghleeb (11) is another one of the Maker clan who has a real shot. Ultra consistent type, who came from far back early to be second in the American St. Ledger Stakes at Arlington on Million Day. Has a win at this 11/2-mile distance and a third over this track. Oscar Nominated (4) was scratched out of another race here earlier this week to go in this spot for Maker. Has a second at this distance in only 1 start and a victory over this track, too. Lost to Beach Patrol in each of his last two outs, but a very close second and third to Enterprising in two efforts earlier this year. Not much separates those two. Postulaton (1) has been very tough since adding blinkers three races back and comes into this one with two wins in a row — including the American St. Ledger. And, keep a watchful eye on Nessy (12) who is 20-1 in the ML.  He comes into this one off a really good effort at Saratoga and may have designs on an upset. My last “Longshot Special of the Day.” I bet the 7 & 12 to win/place/show and then box the Maker trio of 7-11-4 in one exacta and then box the 7-11-4-1-12 in a trifecta. I take one exacta (at $2) with the 7-11-4-12 over the rest of the numbers, too.

Good luck &

All the Best/Gene