PICKS: Gene’s Picks for Twilight Thursday at Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs

Race 1: 3-4-7-2 6-furlong, Maiden-Claiming $10,000

Key Little Bit Irish (3) in this spot. Drops in half from $20,000, and is by the little known, but very useful sire Bernstein (son of Storm Cat). Should last on the lead tonight. The Hans Sum One, by Hansen, sold for $60,000 to the owner of Hansen. But another one dropping dramatically. Once ran third to Bound for Nowhere, a good one. Live Round (7), who was nominated to the Triple Crown, drops from $40,000 all the way to $10,000 for trainer Wayne Catalano. Should fit here. Conquest Skedaddle (2) shifts barns to Matt Shirer, who has won 5 of 13 this year and does well with recent pick-ups. Son of Scat Daddy may find his groove here.

Race Two: 8-9-2-3 41/2 furlong MC-$50,000 for 2YO Fillies

Lullingstone (8) gets my key mark here. John Hancock, one of the funniest people in the biz, saddles this one and puts blinkers on. Also, picks up Lanerie after a tough first trip. If you can get ML 5-2, jump on it. Divorce (9) has some good works for a new trainer (1-for-4). Therighttobeararms (2) should run much better, after an initial out where she broke slow and was rushed up. That’s the one of the worst case scenarios for a youngster. Silver Merle (3) had a good work in the mud for trainer Carl Deville. Watch the track condition.

 

Race Three: 2-8-3-7-9 1 mile claiming, $17,000 Fillies & Mares

Yooou Den (2) gets the nod and the dot (horse to bet) here. Drops from $16,000 to $5,000 and gets a good mud mark. Should be tough here and may be closer to pace. Vanilla Score (8) also drops from $16,000, and should fit with these better. If she can run back to the race against Eqho (a very nice filly) three back, she may be tough, too. Eufaula (3) will come running at the end, and gets a good mud mark. May want to use the Cheyenne Blues (7) and Little Ariel (9), also, with the 2 over/under.

 

Race 4: 8-6-3-511/16-mile claiming, $16,000 Fillies & Mares

Quiet Score (8) gets the top spot here, but not a big fan of a trainer who sports a 2-for-33 record this year. Vunerable favorite. Can’t throw out, but I may side with others like Budget Cut (6), Salute the Warrior (3) and Princess Ember (5), who comes tumbling down the ranks from MSW. My bet is on the 6.

Race Five: 1 Mile Maiden Claiming, $10,000 for 3YO & Up…4-10-8-7-9

Chill Pill (4) gets the nod. Gets blinkers and drops in half. Picks up a little known apprentice to ride. The “dot” goes to Guilty Streak (10), who has five OTB finishes in 12 lifetime starts. Drops from $30,00 and huge jockey improvement with move to Lanerie. My choice. Use with Reydell (8), Tennertown Prince (7) and long, longshot Awesome Mil (9). Hope the pedigree shows up for that one here.

 

Race 6: 7 furlongs, $7,500 claiming for 4YOs Up…1-2-7-9-4-6

Ship Disturber (1) is top choice here after pickup for hot trainer JR Caldwell, who does well here. This one gets a very positive mud mark and could be very tough running from just off the pace tonight. Gets a strong “dot.” Got to use with several under/over, such as More Than Shirl (2), Goods Gone West (7), Highroller Dave (9), Arsenalofdemocracy (4), and Green Gold (6).

 

Race 7: 5 furlongs allowance on Turf for 3YO & Up…6-4-3-1

Very competitive field lines up for this affair, but the edge will go to Decent (6). Speedster, in a speed-laden race, is by War Front and has faced good horses coming into this one…Iron Mane (4) ran a solid, but fading third to Fact Finding at Keeneland. If that races improves conditioning, watch out. Hold Me Black (3) has been a Horse To Watch for me since facing Girvin this winter. Also ran a very game second to No Dozing, who came back with a solid second at Churchill. First time on the turf, but pedigree says that he should love it. Moving up from a Maiden-Claiming event is my only reservation. Pontifical (1) may be the only true closer in the field, and will get expert ride from Lanerie. Moves up after breaking his maiden at Fairgrounds in January. Working very well for this one and a must use.

 

Race 8: 7 furlongs, $8,000 claiming for 3YO & Up…3-1-8-11-5-4

Trainer David Vance has had a rough go to start this year, winning only 3 of 61 starts. But he should have a legit chance here with Cap’s Tale (3). Drops in class and gets huge jockey change to Julien Leparoux. Promise Me Freedom (1) gets a solid mud mark. Proper Decorum (8) may be the lone speed for another cold trainer. If you are playing pick 3s, 4s, 5s, you have to spread out here and probably should use Benediction (11), Big Commission (5) and Empire Taker (4), too. The last horse hasn’t made the races since 2014, but if the 8YO has anything left – he can beat these.

I was galloping. I moved too soon. When I asked him to go I said, ‘he can’t lose, there’s no reason to be cute.’ He went so fast from last to first that he couldn’t sustain that kick and the last hundred (yards) he faltered a little bit. I think that’s my fault, 100%.”

Kent Desormeaux, Rider of third-place finisher My Boy Jack, Louisiana Derby
  • 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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