Churchill Downs, Horse racing, Kentucky, Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs opinions for Friday, May 4 (Kentucky Oaks Day)

Preview: Check the track conditions because rain is forecast for Friday and Derby Day on Saturday. Races might come off the turf so check the changes. I handicapped just the stakes races. For the other you are on your own but check out West Coast jockeys who get mounts in other races.

FIFTH RACE (Eight Belles, Grade II): 1. Mia Mischief, 2. Gas Station Sushi, 3. Amy’s Challenge, 4. Salt Bae. LONG SHOT: Talk Veuve to Me.

SIXTH RACE (La Troienne, Grade I): 1. Abel Tasman, 2. Salty, 3. Martini Glass, 4. Apologynotaccepted. LONG SHOT: Streamline.

SEVENTH RACE (Turf Sprint, Grade III): 1. Vision Perfect, 2. Bucchero, 3. Will Call, 4. Delectation. LONG SHOT: Latent Revenge.

EIGHTH RACE (Alysheba, Grade II): 1. Good Samaritan, 2. Always Dreaming, 3. Backyard Heaven, 4. Hoppertunity. LONG SHOT: Awesome Slew.

10TH RACE (Edgewood, Grade III): 1. Altea, 2. Rushing Fall, 3. Beyond Blame, 4. Daddy Is a Legend. LONG SHOT: Figarella’s Queen.
Rushing Fall (4-5) is a monster and should win but I’ll go with the longer price of the uncoupled Chad Brown entry. Rushing Fall is entered against the boys on Saturday in case it comes down in buckets Friday, but I think she’ll run here.

11TH RACE (Kentucky Oaks, Grade I): 1. Midnight Bisou, 2. Rayya, 3. Classy Act, 4. Monomoy Girl. LONG SHOT: Wonder Gadot.
This is a tough race for me because Midnight Bisou (5-2) is owned in part by Oceanside’s Jeff Bloom, one of my best friends in the sport and I guarantee a lot of people in the industry are pulling for Jeff and his group. And with good reason, the 3-year-old filly is two noses away from being undefeated. She lost twice to the Bob Baffert-trained Dream Tree, who is injured and out of this race. Midnight Bisou’s last race was visually impressive as jockey Mike Smith let her loop the field on the turn. She didn’t beat much but it was the way she did it. Look for a similar style in this race and if it rains, she has a victory on a wet/fast track at Santa Anita. Rayya, at 12-1 on the morning-line, is the filly to watch. She just finished second to Mendlessohn, who is one of the favorites in the Derby, in the UAE Derby. She came from off the pace on a speed-favoring track. She is in the Bob Baffert barn and is adding Lasix for the first time, a move Baffert is 30 percent with. Classy Act (15-1) has a second over this track and horses coming from the Fair Grounds have been tearing it up across the country since the end of that meet. Monomoy Girl (2-1) is favored, but that post (No. 14) is horrible.

Good luck.

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Churchill Downs, Horse racing

Churchill Downs opinions for Friday, May 5 (Oaks Day)

Preview: Check the track conditions because the rain is suppose to continue. It will be interesting if CDI takes the races off the turf. I hope not.

RACE 5 (Grade I La Troienne): 1. #1 Eskenformoney (8-1), 2. #8 Finest City (6-5), 3. #4 Paid Up Subscriber (2-1). LONG SHOT: #9 Go Maggie Go (8-1).
Yes, I know I’m trying to beat the SoCal in Finest City, but Eskenformoneydhould like a wet track and Javier Castellano should have cozy run from the inside. Long shot Go Maggie Go is coming out of a key race that has produced four winners for far.

RACE 6 (Grade II Alysheba): 1. #1 Bird Song (9-2), 2. #3 El Huerfano (15-1), 3. #9 American Freedom (3-1). LONG SHOT: #6 International Star.
Interesting race even if American Freedom, second to Arrogate in the Travers last year, will never be 3-1. Could be a big weekend for trainer Ian Wilkes and Bird Song is 2-for-3 on this track. Trainer Peter Miller ships from SoCal with El Huerfano and don’t think he is shipping for the heck of it.

RACE 7 (Grade III Twin Spires Turf Sprint): 1. #3 Holding Gold (4-1), 2. #4 Why Two (5-1), 3. #8 Pure Sensation (5-2). LONG SHOT: #5 Maniacal (12-1).
Hope this doesn’t come off the grass. A lot of these have never run of a soft course. Pure Sensation has with success. Why Two ships from SoCal for Mike Machsky, who is trying to find out how good this gelding for a try later in the year in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar, where he is 2-for-2 on the grass.

RACE 8 (Grade II The Eight Belles): 1. #3 Union Strike (3-1), 2. #9 Florida Fabulous (9-2), 3. #1 Benner Island (10-1). LONG SHOT: #7 Golden Mischief (12-1).
OK, let me say I’m not a big fan of “trainer” Mick Ruis and what he has done with his horses, but this filly is the real deal and we saw that last year when she won the Grade I Del Mar Debutante. I think she is a single in this spot with the track being the only question. Best bet of the day.

Race 10 (Grade III Edgewood): 1. #1A La Coronel (8-5), 2. #6 Stallion Heiress (6-1), 3. #11 Emphatically (15-1). LONG SHOT: #2 Bernadiva.
Another race I hope doesn’t come off. La Coronel is also entered on Saturday against the boys so it will be interesting to see what trainer Mark Casse does. Stallion Heiress is a perfect 3-for-3 on grass.

RACE 11 (Grade I Kentucky Oaks): 1. #7 Farrell (5-1), 2. #2 Lockdown (20-1), 3. #4 Paradise Woods (5-2), 4. #13 Abel Tasman (5-1). LONG SHOT: #11 Tequilita (20-1).
There is no doubt Paradise Woods, trained by Richard Mandella, was sensational in the Santa Anita Oaks, but will she regress off that effort and how will she take to the likely muddy track? Abel Tasman, trained by Bob Baffert, finished second to Paradise Woods and drew a brutal post here. I end up on Farrell, who has proven she loves the mud, and was sensational this winter at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Lockdown also would like an off track and she’s trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the draw is great and the price is right.

Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Horse racing

Churchill Downs opinions for Wednesday, Nov. 23

Preview: There is a rollover of $139,275 in the Single Six wager and there is also rain in the forecast so don’t expect the turf races to stay on the green.

Race 6: #8 Teenertown Prince (6-1)
This 3-year-old drops to his lowest level ever and comes out of a key race that has produced three next out winners. Trainer Forest Kaelin is 29% with horses off a 46- to 90-day layoff and he gets Calvin Borel to ride. The sire Speightstown gets 21% winners on a wet track.

Race 9: #12 Takeittotheedge (8-1)
Our Eyes: This 3-year-old is making his second race start off the layoff and look who he lost to in some of his past races: Cupid, Forevamo and Nyquist. Trainer Dale Romans is 23% with beaten favorites. Faces several he lost to in return and could like the mud as sire Broken Vow is 18% on off-tracks.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Churchill Downs, Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown

Churchill Downs opinions for Saturday, May 2

Race 3: #5 Gandono (15-1)

This son of Lemon Drop Kid, a 14% turf sired, got rained off the turf in his last but showed marked improvement. Trainer David Carroll puts blinkers on today and jockey F. Geroux (a 20% turf rider) takes over.

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Race 8: #11 Water Hole (12-1)

Trainer Chad Brown puts this 4-year-old filly in a graded stakes for her U.S. debut, which says a lot. Jockey Gary Stevens (22% turf rider) and should have her in the right position turning for home.

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Race 13: #5 Imslopokerodriguez (15-1)

Certainly New York-based trained Rudy Rodriguez could have found a spot at Belmont to run this son of Tae of the Cat (16% sire first time out), but he decides to run here and puts in a huge work over the track to boot. NY’s Irad Ortiz rides and is 24% with Rodriguez.

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Jeff Nahill’s Kentucky Derby top four

 #10 Firing Line

#18 American Pharoah

#8 Dortmund

#15 Frosted

 LONG SHOTS: International Star and Mubtaahij

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Churchill Downs, Horse racing

Churchill Downs opinions for Friday, May 1

Race 2: #11 Vouch for Kitten (8-1)

Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey like to go to the winner’s circle during Derby week and this 3-year-old filly makes her debut for trainer Wesley Ward and jockey Joel Rosario. Offspring of Kitten’s Joy are 17% first time turf.

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Race 4: #5 Counterfactual (9-2)

This 3-year-old filly had a ton of trouble in her debut at the Fair Grounds. Trainer Tom Amoss has good numbers in all areas and makes a key jockey switch to James Graham as they are 28% together.

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Race 9: #10 Power Alert (5-1)

The favorite in the Shakertown at Keeneland tired in second race off the layoff for trainer Brian Lynch, who is 26% in turf sprints. There is a ton of speed in here so we think jockey Julien Leparoux will come from off the pace and nail them at the wire. The sire Alert is 32% on the turf.

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Race 12: #4 Lunar Gaze (8-1)

Trainer Tom Amoss and jockey James Graham are looking to have a big Oaks Day. This filly pressed the pace in her debut, but had to wait at the quarter pole and lost all chance. Amoss is 31% with second-time starters.

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Jeff Nahill’s Kentucky Oaks top four

#4 Eskenformoney

#12 Stellar Wind

#1 Forever Unbridled

#10 Oceanwave

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Churchill Downs, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Thursday, April 30

Race 4: #1 Simplicityizegnius (6-1)

This 3-year-old turned in a even effort in debut at 6 ½ furlongs. Trainer Phil D’Amato now goes long second time out (26%) and puts blinkers on (35%). There’s a good blow out work showing from earlier in the week and Joe Talamo stays aboard .

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Race 8: #8 Sir Irish Danny (8-1)

Trainer John Sadler loves to claim young horses and then turn them around. Here he has a $50K claim by Unusual Heat making his first turf start (12%) and Sadler is 24% first off the claim.

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Bonus Churchill Downs pick

Race 8: #3 Nileator (4-1)

This 3-year-old must beat an even-money favorite in this spot, but he comes out of a Gulfstream Park race that has produced four next out winners . Trainer Dale Romans is 21% turf to dirt and all-world jockey Javier Castellano takes the mount.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown

Churchill Downs selections for Kentucky Derby Day, May 3

Kentucky Derby

11TH RACE: 20 Wicked Strong, 5 California Chrome, 15 Tapiture, 17 Commanding Curve. LONG SHOT: 14 Medal Count.

I liked HOPPERTUNITY until he was scratched. WICKED STRONG was impressive in winning the Wood Memorial. CALIFORNIA CHROME deserves favoritism. TAPITURE might be ready to rebound. COMMANDING CURVE had a horrible trip in Louisiana Derby, but was running at the end. MEDAL COUNT is bred to get the distance.

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Race 4: #10 Kyriaki (3-1)

There is a ton of speed in this grass race. This filly ships in from Santa Anita for trainer Peter Eurton and appears to be the only true closer in the bunch. Jockey Mike Smith takes the mound and should be flying down the lane.

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SIXTH RACE (Churchill Distaff Turf Mile): 1. I’m Ready Sexy, 2. Centre Court, 3. Miz Ida, 4. Effie Trinket. LONG SHOT: Ready Signal.

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SEVENTH RACE (Humana Distaff): 1. Midnight Lucky, 2. Judy the Beauty, 3. Scherzinger, 4. Iotapa. LONG SHOT: Speedinthruthecity.

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EIGHTH RACE (American Turf): 1. Cleburne (30-1), 2. Chief Barker, 3. Woodfield Springs, 4. Global View. LONG SHOT: Craftsman.

This running of the American Turf is wide open so why not go with a long shot which has a Hall of Fame jockey aboard (Mike Smith). CLEBURNE, a son of Dixie Union, broke his maiden on the grass and then won on the dirt at Churchill before going to sidelines in September. After finishing third in the Calder Derby last month, he returns to the grass and looks like he will be moving turning for home.

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NINTH RACE (Churchill Downs): 1. Delaunay, 2. Shakin It Up, 3. Sahara Sky, 4. Clearly Now. LONG SHOT: Broadway Empire.

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10TH RACE (Woodford Reserve Turf Classic): 1. Wise Dan (best bet), 2. Seek Again, 3. Guys Reward, 4. Bright Thought. LONG SHOT: Boisterous.

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Race 13: #8 Rocket Time (15-1)

This is a first-time starter sired by Tiz Wonderful, who is good first time out. Trainer Al Stall is 16% with first-timers and 27% with first-timers going a route plus jockey Joel Rosario takes the mount and they are a 33% proposition the last two years.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Friday’s top choice winners: 1 (Fiftyshadesofgold $6.20, eighth race)

Friday’s second choice winners: 2 (On Fire baby $5.20, fifth; Untapable $4, 11th)

Friday’s third and long show winners: 0

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