Day Results 9-5-1-7
Churchill 111-35-37-53
Top Pick Win % 31.50%
Top Pick ITM % 63-102 61.80%
Top 3 Picks ITM % 37.50%
2018 Overall 681 Races 250-262-289
Win % of Top Pick 36.70%
ITM % of Top 3 Picks 39.20%

Really good day on Friday, with five winners on the tally sheet. After a horrendous start to the meet, which was compromised somewhat by some medical issues, we have rallied nicely to up our top selection win percentage to nearly .32%, and we are on the rise.

Here is a closer look at today’s card at Churchill Downs and some “bonus coverage” of some of the key races at Pimlico for Preakness Day:

1st: 3-1-4…Zip Van Winkle (3) has hit the board in 5 of the previous 11 tries — but 3 of those have been in the show slot. Will need to close with a bit more intensity to make the winner’s circle, but picks up one of this track’s best riders — who knows how to best time that rail closing move. Trainer hits with .21% of beaten favorites, which this qualifies for that category. And, he is eligible to improve in the third race off a layoff — when the trainer  scores at .10% lick. Not the toughest field in the world here, either. Cause to Action (1) will take another drop in class today after being claimed at this price two back when breaking the maiden. Had an extremely wide trip last time out and will need to break a little sharper to avoid, although the rail should help. This one loves the “off footing,” if you get that today. He moves up if the rains compromise. Producer (4) gets a huge drop in class off a ill-conceived grass try. Ran well on the dirt two and four races back in-between the sod tries. Gets a drop to what appears to be a career low level. Not impossible for this one to make noise in this spot. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

2nd: 3-4-6-2-1…I concentrate on the top two numbers in this sequence. Niigon’s Glory (3) goes for a trainer that few in these parts know or recognize. But this guy can flat get it done. His win percentage this year is a hefty .28% in 116 starts. He will knock the door down here soon. And, might be in this spot. This one drops significantly in class today and goes for a trainer that scores with .32% in the claiming ranks over the last 407 races. A perfect 2-for-2 on an “off track,” too. All Out of Aces (4) won the last time out at Keeneland, leading the field from gate to wire. The same rider is 0-for-27 here this meet, though, and is ice cold. Will step it up in class, and the trainer is 0-for-6 on repeaters at this level — despite the fact that this guy did win three in a row last year. Hardly a Secret (6) ran a good one two back against tougher and has 2 seconds in 4 starts here. Trainer scores with .25% in the claiming ranks. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the 3 over/under all the numbers in two more at a slightly reduced price.

3rd: 4-2-3-7-5-6…Once again, I will focus on the top 2 numbers in this grouping, led by Paddock Crasher (4). This one drops significantly in class and has had trouble in each of the first three races. Thus, the blinkers go on today for a trainer that knows how to win and hits with .27% of those making the third start off a layoff. Bwana Go (2) is another class dropper for a trainer that scores with .38% of those making the second start for this barn. This one cost $180,00 as a yearling and will be available for a $16,000 price tag today. Jockey selection is a mystery, but could be tough at this level. Distorted Ransom (3) goes for a trainer looking for his first win of 2018. Never close at this level last time out, but did score a couple of thirds recently. Underneath only. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed.

4th: 5-3-1-2-4-6…My first “dot” play of the day comes right here with Secret House (5). This 4YO son of Tiznow gets a nice class drop for a trainer that is sure to catch fire soon at his home town track. The jockey has hit with .44% for this barn in the last 9 mounts, and this one is training absolutely lights out. Big shot to score a winner’s photo in this spot. My Best Bet of the Day. Al Stall, Jr. is off to a great meet here, winning with .31% of his first 13 starters and scoring a sheet of 4-4-2 in the first 13 mounts. His Great Minds (3) figures to love the drop in class for this one, as well, and picks up a huge rider change. Nice work here on May 12 indicates this one is ready. Curlins Vow (1) loves this racetrack with a record of 2-2-0 in 7 starts. He doesn’t necessarily love this distance, though, with a 1-1-1 record in 9 starts. Trainer has 4 wins, 1 second and 1 third in just 10 mounts. Wow. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under all the other numbers listed.

5th: 1-7-10-2-12-5-6-11-3-9…Hope this one stays on the grass. If it does, I have another “dot” play in this spot, as well. I go solidly with First Spring (1), who hails from the barn of Mark Casse. He is off to a very slow start here with just 2 wins in the first 24 mounts. But this one looks primed for a big effort today, after running second in the first three career starts. Caught some real good ones in those, too, like Kilroy Was Here. Now, stretches out to 11/8 miles. Should be ready for that distance, as the trainer hits with .21% of those making the second route start. Love Nest (7) just got nipped in the last try going longer. Was favored that day and the trainer hits with .26% of those kind returning the next time. Gets Lanerie in the saddle and should be stalking from the get-go. The winner of the career debut is a super good one. No disgrace to run 4th to that one. Strike the Flag (10) is a horse I touted last time out at a price. Now gets back to the turf today, where I think he prefers. Super well bred gelding, who could be motoring late. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed, but in this progression: 1 with 7 higher. 1 with 10-2-12 next highest. I with 5-6 next. And, 1 with 11-3-9 last.

6th: 2-6-3-4-7-5…I center my attention on the top two numbers here. Special Relativity (2) goes from turf back to dirt and cuts back to sprinting again for the first time since she won three races back in the slop. Trainer is one of the best on the backside, and is truly an outstanding horseman. May have found the perfect spot for this one, and picks up a huge rider switch for today’s mount. Santino (6) gets a nice drop in class and goes from turf to dirt today, as well. Trainer hits with .14% with these surface switchers. He also scores with .24% with those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. Last time on dirt, this one nearly won going 5 furlongs. Broke the maiden on dirt, as well. Dial Me (3) is another class dropper for a young trainer off to a nice start to a career. Has this one for the Churchill Downs Racing Club, and looks like he has her trending the right way. Big rider switch for this one today. Take note. I bet the 2-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

7th: 5-2-6-9-3-1…I like the two top numbers in this spot, led by Economies of Scale (5). She ran a game second while extremely wide in the last effort at a distance that may have stretched her ability. Now, she shortens up and gets a nice class drop, as well. Trainer having a super meet, per usual. Odds-on favorite two starts back against much tougher. Look for better performance today. Wholehearted (2) is a filly that I have tried to like for a long time, and have put on my “Horses to Watch List,” and taken off on several occasions. She disappoints more than most, with 6 thirds and only 1 win in 15 lifetime starts. Really worth looking at claiming this one at this price, though. Love the breeding. Maybe today, after a game third when bothered in the last and a tough, nose beat two back. Moolamiss (6) goes for a good friend/trainer who is looking for his first win of 2018 after 26 starts. Rooting for him, and he has a shot with this one who has two seconds in a row. Drop in class can’t hurt. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 numbers solidly. I key those two over/under all the rest in smaller versions.

8th: 3-7-1-4-2-8-10-5-(11)…Wide open affair here in this one, but I will key on the top 3 numbers in this spot. Rahway (3) will be making her second start on the grass for a top conditioner who is starting to kick into high gear this meet. Won on the sod debut last time out and has two wins in the last three. Nice work at the Churchill Training Center on May 5, and looks good right now. Picks up a top colony rider. Stave (7) broke her maiden last time out, but this daughter of Ghostzapper looks like she may have a world of ability. Ran fourth in her first two career starts, but was troubled in both of those. When she got clear sailing in the last one, she ran off to a near 7-length win. Take serious note here. This could be a light’s out candidate. Hayworth (1) is another well-bred filly who looks like she can be OK. Won two back, and then was rallying on a yielding grass course in the last one before she ran out of ground. Extra distance today should not hurt her at all. I bet the 3-7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 3-7 over all the rest in a smaller version.

9th: 1-2-3-6-7-5-4…Thirstforlife (1) has hit the board in six in a row, and goes for a trainer that hits with .24% when starting a beaten favorite. The one has 2-2-0 record in six starts at this distance and is 1-1-1 in four starts here. Working nicely for this one, and figures tough to beat with a nice stalking position. If there is beating to be done, though, it may come from the horse to his immediate outside in Jess I Am (2), a front running type from the barn of Brad Cox. This one is coming off a nice win, but was beaten by the top choice five races back. This could develop into a really nice rider’s race between these two. While I like the top 2 numbers much the best, the “upsetter” could be Colonelsdarktemper (3). Didn’t take to the grass last time out “experiment.” But this one has a world of talent. Ran second to Irap in the G3 Indiana Derby last year and came right back to win the G3 West Virginia Derby. This could be the time he wakes up, and he does have a win and a second over this track in only three starts. I bet the 1-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers solidly.

10th: 7-1-4-5-2-8-3…G3 Louisville Handicap…Some in Tieme (7) appears to be the slight favorite for me in this race made up of mostly horses from the barns of Kenny McPeek and Mike Maker. This one is a McPeek pupil and comes in having made six straight starts against Graded company. Has a win in this same race a year ago and a second in a G3 at Sam Houston in that mix. Will be running late, and gets the same unknown rider who booted him home in this spot a year ago. Lightning in a bottle twice? The horse to beat, IMO, is Designed for War (1), a front running type that comes from the Maker clan. While he has not won a Graded Stakes event to date, he did run a very nice second to the highly accomplished Sadler’s Joy in the G2 Pan American at Gulfstream Park this April. The last two looked to be a bit too short for him, and he has already shown he detests the polytrack. Look for a big improvement in this one today. Bronson (4) is another from the Maker barn, and at 12-1 ML odds, I have to use. This one did put together a pretty productive 2017 season with a record of 2-1-1 in just 8 starts and earnings over $150,000. This is the third off a layoff, and Maker hits with .21% of these kind. My Upset Special. I bet the 1-4 (take note) across the board, and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 1-4 over/under all the numbers in two smaller versions.

11th: 4-9-1-7-3-2-5-10…Today’s finale is a wide open affair, with couple of nice claim prospects in the field. I finally land on Blitsig (4), who really came running late in the career debut at a much higher price. Deep drop today to near bargain basement price for a trainer who looks to be taking a shot at this trainer’s title. Working OK, too. Will need racing luck with this style, though. Time for War (9) is super well bred, but gets a huge class drop to career low level today. Trainer hits with .18% with those making this kind of plunge. Another closer type but gets a red hot rider to replace a guy switching to the top choice. The claim of the day, though, may be Operator (1), who goes for the barn of Bill Mott. Drops to a career low level after two long-distance thirds in a row. This one looks like he is begging for a set of blinkers and the grass. I bet the 4-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

Preakness Coverage:

5th. 6-9…J. W. Murphy Stakes…I like two horses in this 1 mile turf event. Say the Word (6) is coming in off a maiden win, but did it in style for a top breeding operation in Canada. Nearly won over a yielding track at Laurel, and has a top rider aboard. Since the addition of blinkers four back, this one has been ultra competitive. The definite horse to beat is Coltsandmississippi (9), who really took to the grass last time out of trainer Todd Pletcher. Should love the added distance today and will be running hard late. I box those two and play both across the board.

7th: 4-7-8-6…G2 Dixie Stakes: This one is 11/16-miles over a soft/slushy grass course. I like Frostmourne (4), who has relished these kind of courses in the past and comes off a nice run in the G1 Maker’s Mark 46 Mile at Keeneland. Iran Otiz, Jr. replaces his brother in the saddle. …How do you not like World Approval (7) — the Champ. He has a win over a yielding track at Saratoga. And, he has the best resume in the group. Divisadero (8) will make his first career start for new trainer Kelly Rubley — who is awful with newcomers to the barn. I don’t know what more buff Bradley could have done for these owners. He won a G1 event on Derby Day two years in a row with him. But this 6YO is talented and does run well fresh. I love the horse. Had the trainer move. Just Howard (6) comes back East after two tough runs in California. Maryland-bred did win over a yielding track before. Had four wins in a row before heading West. I bet the 4 in an upset and then box the 4-7-8.

8th: 7-6-5-3-9…Chick Lang Stakes…One of the top sprinters in the country will splash around the Pimlico track today by the name of Mitole (5). In three of the last four races, he has won by a total of 26 lengths. They were all on a dry track. The one time he ran on an “off track,” he lost by nearly 2. Today, he will get a very sloppy track. As a result, I try to beat him with both Curly’s Rocket (7) and Run Away (6). I bet the 7-6 across the board and then key them over/under the other three numbers. I box the 7-6 solidly, too.

9th: 6-3-8-5-2…G3 Gallorette Stakes…In this 11/16-mile Stakes event over the grass, I go to the European invader, who has experienced this type of surface many times over. Blessed Silence (6) has one start in this country, and ran a solid third all the way around the track for Christophe Clement. Should improve with that effort and this type of surface. Love the 12-1 ML odds. Upset Special. Ultra Brat (3) didn’t fire in the G1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, but has run very well before that for Graham option, who is at home base on the East Coast. This one gets a huge rider switch, and is an upset contender, as well. Elise’s World (8) and Cambodia (5) will be heavily favored and must uses underneath, but I think vulnerable on this type of track surface. I bet the 6-3 across the board and then box those two. I key the 6-3 over/under the rest of the numbers looking for prices.

10th: 5-9…G3 Mayland Sprint…I love Switzerland (5) in this spot. Undefeated since being switched to the barn of Steve Asmussen. Looks like a completely different horse. Likes the off going, too. A key play today for me. I bet the 5 to win/place and then box the with 9.

11th: 7-12-11-14-3…The Very One Stakes…Girls Know Best (7) ran super good over a yielding grass course at Keeneland and now gets Javier Castellano. Enough for me. (Plus, I own a Caleb’s Posse 2YO colt. Rooting interest.) I bet the 7 to win/place/show and key over/under all the other numbers.

12th: 2-11-6-10-1-8…Sir Barton Stakes…Pony Up (2) looks the best in this spot, having run over a variety of surfaces to date. Like the run against My Boy Jack in the last and was making a late move there. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the other numbers.

13th: 7-2-5-6-8…G1 Preakness Stakes…How do you not like Justify (7)? Really? He is the best 3YO in the country, trained by the best trainer in the world, and ridden by the best jockey of his generation. And, he just dominated the Kentucky Derby on a sloppy racetrack. I am going to key the 7 over/under these numbers in the exacta and trifecta. I am hoping to get a couple of the longer shots to hit the board.

 

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene