Day Results 9-3-3-5
Churchill 193-65-60-96
Top Pick Win % 33.70%
Top Pick ITM % 120-184 65.20%
Top 3 Picks ITM % 38.20%
2018 Overall 766 283-288-333
Win % of Top Pick 37%
ITM% of Top 3 Picks 39.30%

We had a wonderful time of it on Friday, hitting the Pick 6. It returned over $602 for a $25 play. Not bad. With a mandatory payoff of at least $300,000 tonight, you can bet that we will be giving it a run again. Here is a closer look at tonight’s card, with first post beginning at 6 p.m. ET. The 11-race card is dynamite. The venue is spectacular. And, the entertainment is the best in the land.

Why don’t you come out and have a good time tonight.

1st: 2-3-5-4…Shanghai Point (2) has not raced since September of 2017, and won that one to break the maiden before…he was disqualified for drifting out at the 1/16th-pole and causing interference…and,…before going to the sidelines for the last 8 months. Returns today for a new trainer, who will utilize Lasix for the first time, and off a strong series of nice works. Look at the move at Keeneland on May 15. This one also drops into the MC ranks for the first time. Trainer has put together a nice 4-3-1 record over the last 10 starts here. I would have preferred a rider with a little more success this meet…but…Hawk (3) drops down another notch in the MC ranks after running third last time out at 7 furlongs. Now, will make the second start off a long 14-month layup, and the trainer hits with .24% of those kind. Made a huge move from the get-go in the return visit, but tired late. Now, he shortens up a bit here. Top rider climbs up for the 9-5 ML favorite. News Box (5) has been installed at 2-1 ML odds, and was claimed two back. Trainer hits with .15% of those making the second start off that type of purchase, and he drops a notch after running third last time out, as well. He was bumped in the stretch of that one, and it could have compromised him a bit. Hot rider stays aboard. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

 

2nd: 1-7-3-6-5-4-2…No Funny Biz (1) drops significantly for this spot today. This will be the barn’s second start with this 6YO gelding after claiming at the Fair Grounds two starts back. Did not run much against much tougher last time out. Last time he was anywhere close to this level, he nearly won and has a win for $25,000. This is the cheapest he has ever been in a race for, and could be claimed today. Trainer hits with .22% on the second try after a claim, and with .25% overall with second-timers. Gets a new rider for this one, but these apprentice gets 7 pounds of weight allowance and that puts him in at 111. Could be noticeable late. Whateverybodywants (7) moves up a notch after winning the last time out at this same mile distance here. In 5 starts over this track, he has 2 wins and a second. Since losing the blinkers, he has run two strong races in a row. Trainer hits with .13% of those trying to win two in a row. Tonedaddy (3) was claimed off Buff Bradley two starts back, when he ran pretty well when motoring along the rail. Couldn’t compete at the much higher level last time out for the new connections, but comes right back at the claiming ranks where he was picked up. Has 2 wins and a third in three starts at this distance. Take note. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

 

3rd: 2-5-4-7-8…Just Old School (2) comes right back at this bargain basement price level after nearly pulling off the win last time out. Tired late in that one after setting silly fast fractions on the front end – including :21.3, :45.1 and :58. Ended up losing by a length as the heavy favorite. Trainer scores with .33% of beaten favorites next time out, and this one trained nicely over a muddy track here on May 27. Trainer is super hot, and is having a good meet here overall. Red Hot Rio (5) is another one from the barn of Eddie Kenneally, who looks good today. This one tired mightily in a 7-furlong event here on May 19. That was the first start in nearly 4 months, and he probably needed that race. Look for an improvement today, as trainer hits with .16% on second timers off a layup. Wild Will (4) will be a horse my beautiful wife plays tonight, for sure. We have a son by the name of Will. Enough written, right? But this one has a real chance, too. He ran second at this level last time out after leading late. Probably needed that race, coming off a layoff. Picks up top rider, who was up last time out. Could improve tonight. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 2 over/under all the numbers in two softer versions.

 

4th: 6-4-5-1-3-2-7…This is a wide open affair, and truly any of the group can make a case for stardom in this spot.  I finally settle on Nuclear Option (6), who goes for a trainer that has won .17% of her starts this year and does OK at this claiming game level (.16%). This one has not been out since running against much, much tougher at Oaklawn Park in March. Gets off the mud (hopefully) tonight, and drops all the way from a high-end Optional-Claimer to the $30,000 price  tag. Work here on May 10 indicates this guy could have his running shoes back on. Only time he shows up in a Claiming event was when he broke his maiden here last June by nearly 5 lengths. Mutajaded (4) was claimed off Shadwell Farm last time out by a trainer who has a win in just two starts here this meet. This one has two wins and a third in just 4 lifetime starts. Now, he comes into this one as a first time gelding, and off some super works. Look at the move here on May 11. The one on May 26 is not bad either. The “equipment change” may have woke this one up. Divine Desire (5) is another one that goes for the barn of J. Larry Jones. This one nearly won last time out at practically this same level. Couldn’t get enough room in that one to finish the job. Now stretches out another 1/2 –furlong, and comes into this one as a beaten favorite. Trainer hits with .33% of those – with a good sample size of 84 mounts. Super nice work here on May 28. Take note. I bet the 6-5 across the board, and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

 

5th: 4-1-5-2-7….This race had so many entries at the time of the draw that the smart, sharp, exceptional Racing Secretary, Ben Huffman, decided to split the race into two divisions. IMO this  one is the much easier of the two fields. Goes to figure, quite honestly. I own part of a filly that ended up in the “other” race. But I go with Pachinko (4), a 4YO Tapit filly trained by Brad Cox for Juddmonte Farms. This filly has made just one start in the United States – on May 4 here – after running exclusively in France the last two seasons. Got used to running over a softer ground there, and caught a very firm track here on the debut. Didn’t run much in that inaugural race state-side, but the ground may be much more forgiving tonight, and she gets blinkers for the first time, as well. The trainer hits with .20% with those getting the shades for the first time, and at a .29% clip with those running for this barn on the second occasion. Works just so-so since the race, but she has shown ability in the mornings before. Awe Emma (1) is a first timer for the barn of Steve Asmussen. This daughter of War Front cost $2 million in the 2015 Keeneland November Sale. Owner Willis Horton Racing has been waiting a long, long time to get a return on their significant investment. Trainer only hits with .08% of first timers on the grass. But the work here on May 225 was super nice. This one is obviously bred to be a world-beater. Holy Fort (5) has raced twice to date, without much fanfare or luck. She moves to the grass for the first time tonight, though, for a trainer having a really nice meet. The barn hits with only .07% of those making the first trip over the sod, but this one has been working very well, too. Look at the move on May 28 and May 22. Will be making the 2018 debut tonight. I bet the 4-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

 

6th: 2-4-3-6-1…Hollywood Handsome (2) is a talented son of Tapizar who hasn’t found the same kind of success as a 4YO as he did a year ago at the age of 3. Last year, he ran 4thto Girvin in the Louisiana Derby; and won two other races in just 7 trips. This year, he has managed only a second, and a third in this first 4 races. But the second was to Grade 1 SW Good Samaritan in the G2 New Orleans Handicap. Obviously, this one has faced some talented runners in the past, and put up a really solid work here on May 25. The drop back to allowance company may allow this one to get a confidence builder. Meet’s top rider gets up for the first time. Nice touch today. Irish Freedom (4) will be making his second career start for new trainer Brad Cox. After putting up some impressive numbers in Graded Stakes company for Bob Baffert, this pricey son of Pioneerof the Nile was flipped over to Cox recently. In his one race for the new connections, he ran third as the beaten favorite. But he brushed the gate leaving there and that may have been enough to cost him the race against the 2017 KY Derby runner-up Lookin at Lee. Definitely, the horse to beat here. Gets a top rider aboard. Big Dollar Bill (3) picked up his second career win last time out in an allowance race at Keeneland. Will move up to face much tougher in this spot today, but this one does hold a strong second place finish behind Hedge Fund down at Gulfstream Park earlier this year and the win last time out was super impressive. On top of his game right now for a top trainer/rider combo. Bullet move at Keeneland on the morn of May 27 indicates this one is ready for the challenge. I bet the 2-4 across the board and then box those two solidly. I key the 2-4 over the rest in a smaller version.

 

7th: 6-2-3-5-1-4…The Girl Factor (6) is one of two fillies that trainer Ron Moquett has in this race. This is the preferred one, on paper. This daughter of The Factor ran a really nice second two starts back, and then was way wide in the last one at Keeneland going 11/16-miles. Now, she cuts back to a 7-furlong distance, which might be ideal for this pedigree. The work over at the Churchill Down’s training facility here on May 13 was super nice. That’s a huge move over that track surface. I can make excuses in some of the other races, too. Lost to Salt Bae in the debut and run up against Eskimo Kisses in the next one. Caught a muddy surface in the third. Then ran a huge one. Looking for the right circumstances tonight. Complimenti (2) will get her first start ever for the new trainer, Brendan Walsh. He hits with .25% of the newcomers to his barn. She hasn’t shown much since coming to the States from Dubai, but showed some solid runs at the track in the desert. Super good work at Keeneland on May 15 and looks to be ready to show a bit more tonight. Thesweetesttaboo (3) is 8-1 ML, but could provide some real value to this exotic play if she can rev up the engines for her second career start. Ran third on debut here on May 13 while going only 5.5 furlongs. The stretch out in distance should help and this trainer is known to take his time with the youngsters. Had a sharp workout over this main track on May 29. Looks to show more tonight. I bet the 2-3 (Take Note) to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

 

8th: 3-7-4-2-5-1-6-8…This is the other division of the MSW event for fillies and mares on the grass. And, as a matter of disclaimer, I own part of First Kiss (5) with my great friend Mike Schnell and my part-time son Stephen Lyster. She didn’t show much in her last run here on May 4. But we feel like she is much better than that performance. And, she will have to show, prove it to be a factor in this tough field. I love the kid getting to ride her tonight, though, and I think we will see a little bit different filly – who is from Tiznow’s female family and by the late, great Smart Strike. If she is to win, though, she will have to contend with the likes of Flat Meadow (3). This War Chant filly has run two impressive seconds in each of her first two starts – when dismissed at high odds. She has worked super well at Keeneland since the April start and looks to be the one to beat. Victory Garden (7) has run two seconds in three career starts, but look to tire in the last one when he went 11/16-miles for the first time. Has worked well at Churchill Downs since the last race. HOF trainer scores with .15% on the grass. Bridaled Temper (4) is a third that has two seconds. She had those in the first two starts last year. Never fired in the 2018 debut here on May 4. Beat First Kiss by only a length that day. Obviously, I am going to root for and bet on First Kiss (5). Part my horse. All my money. But I will use her with, primarily, the 3-7-4; secondarily with the 2-1-6-8.

 

9th: 1A-1-3-8-4-11-5-7…What a nice race here, huh? Not often you see a couple of very nice 3YOs, who were on the Triple Crown Trail for most of the Spring, and, one of which, actually ran in the KY Derby show up in an allowance race during this meet. But that’s exactly what we have in this one. Solomini (1A) never missed the board in his first six career starts – which included second place finishes in the G1 Front Runner and the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year, before he won and was disqualified from the G1 Los Alamitos Cash Cal Futurity. This Spring, he ran second and third to Magnum Moon in the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby. After running 10thto stablemate Justify over the slop in the Kentucky Derby, Team Baffert drops him back into allowance company – which he has never run in before. Confidence builder time for this son of Curlin with a world of talent. The horse for him to beat – other than himself – is Mississippi (1).This part of the entry is trained by Mark Casse, and he ran third to Audible in the Florida Derby before splashing home 9thin the G3 Pat Day Mile here on Derby Day. He was bumped and steadied both in that troubled trip last time out, and now will get back to a fast track. He had hit the board in four previous runs, too. Both of these look formidable in this spot. If there is to be an upset of any kind, it may come from the far outside in the form of Tiz Mischief (3).  This one has had his struggles in four starts this year, but the Into Mischief colt has run two huge seconds over this track in the past. He lost one to Ezmosh, who just won a Stakes event, and the other to Enticed, who should have won the Wood Memorial and then faltered in the KY Derby. If he rebounds to his 2YO form on his favorite track, then he could wake up the top two. I bet the 1A-1 to win only and then single the entry over/under the 3-8-4 in one exacta and then over the 11-5-7 in a smaller version.

 

10th: 3-6-5-1-7…G3 Aristides Stakes…Wilbo (3) is the 9-5 ML choice, and the obvious horse to beat in this Graded Stakes event that will be contested at 6 furlongs on the dirt. The 6YO son of Candy Ride comes into this one off a huge effort against the grand Whitmore in the G3 Count Fleet Handicap at Oaklawn Park. He carried just 118 that day, when running second. Now, he will tote 4 pounds more and that could make a difference. But his trainer hits with .21% of those with this type of layup, and is having a solid meet here with 5 winners in 22 starters. The win three back was really good and this one has hit the board in 19 of 26 lifetime starts. Consistent sort.  That being written, by “Upset Special” is going to be Awesome Saturday (6). This one nearly won the G3 Commonwealth at Keeneland on April 7, when he came storming from off the pace and was just nipped at the wire. Limousine Liberal, a very nice one, ran second then and beat this one only a neck. He came back to win here on Derby Day. This one is trained by a super nice guy and solid trainer. My bet. Mr. Crow (5) is a stablemate of Limousine Liberal’s in the Ben Colebrook barn, and he has some solid credentials in his own right. Comes off a “going away” win here last time out and his 2018 debut. Has a very nice stalking run in him, and he will  get the first crack turning for home. Can’t fully dismiss. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under all the other numbers listed.

 

11th: 10-3-6-9-5-7…The Mighty Beau Stakes…This is a 5.5-furlong sprint over the turf course, and it will wrap up tonight’s wonderful card. The top two numbers in this Stakes event appear to be head, neck, shoulders, flank and girth ahead of the others – on paper. Hogy (10) comes into this one off a dismal 9thplace finish in the G1 Maker’s Mark 46 Stakes at Keeneland. He was wide throughout and never made his patented late rush. But that was going 1 mile; was against G1 veterans. Today, he drops back in class and back to the sprint distance where he has 17 finishes in the money out of 21 starts. He has 2 wins in 3 runs over this grass, too. Super work here on May 26. Looks ready for this one. His main competition would appear to come from Long On Value (3), who has not run this year and has never run fort his new trainer, Brad Cox. But he has been training lights out here, and he has 2 wins and 2 thirds in 5 lifetime tries at this distance. He is a deep closer, too, and will need some racing room and luck late. The Critical Way (6) and/or Kid Perfect (9) could add some real value to the exotics in this spot. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the 10-3 solidly in one exacta. I key the 10-3 over/under all the other numbers in two smaller versions.

The Churchill Downs’ “Single Pick 6” will have a mandatory payout of at least $300,000 tonight, and that’s if no one has a single ticket. We hit the Pick 6 on Friday, and will try to go back-to-back tonight with these numbers. It starts in Race 4. Don’t be shut out:

4-5-6/1-4-5/2-4/2-3-4-6/3-4-5-7/1

Note: For .20-cent ticket, that cost me $57.60.

Note 2: Solomini and Tiz Mischief have both been scratched out of the final leg — race #9. But I still settle on the single with Mississippi.

 Good Luck & All the Best/Gene