The August 31 opening day card at Kentucky Downs ran to profile.

The rail was out 30 feet. Eight races were run over at least a mile of ground, with five being won by closers; two by stalkers; and one by a presser. There were only two sprints, with one going to a horse on the front end and the other to a stalker.

Florent Geroux scored three times, two for Brad Cox, and that team was also DQ’ed from an additional win. James Graham and Mark Casse both enjoyed Thursday doubles.

The only winning favorite on the 10-race card was disqualified. Seven of the 10 winners fell between the odds of 4-1 and 9-1 while the other three were 10-1 or higher.

The early Pick 5 returned $59,787 on a 50-cent ticket, while the Late Pick 5 returned $10,670.

The Pick 4s and 5s are tough to hit on a small budget. If playing with limited funds, given the full fields and the across the board value to be had, you might be better off just playing horses.

If you’re firing bigger tickets and missed both Pick 5s on Thursday (like I did), don’t be afraid to stay the course. It only takes a hit or two to show a profit for the entire five-day meet.

The Thursday forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 84 degrees.

With the top pick listed first, “A” horses are in order or preference. Remember, the takeout on Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers at Kentucky Downs is only 14%, so take advantage!

1ST RACE – Pick 5 starts here

He’s winless from eight starts and usually finds a way to get himself beat, but #1 Big Beautiful Wall is a maiden special weight talent dropping in for a claiming tag for the first time. He’s a finisher, but the rail post is no picnic. And while he’s listed as the lone “A”, the level of confidence does not match the ranking. #7 Candizar ran one of the best races of his career at Kentucky Downs and #2 New York Style has a tough team behind him and the right to improve.

A – 1
B – 7, 2, 3, 8, 13, 14
C – 5

2ND RACE – Pick 4 starts here

#7 Fareeq has improved massively since moving back over to the turf. Razor sharp in consecutive wire jobs at Ellis and Arlington respectively, he looms squarely as the horse to beat. #6 Brerry does everything well, problem is he’s 0-for-9 this year. He likes to hang, but this trip may suit him best and he appears on edge to fire fresh.

A – 7
B – 6
C – 4, 9, 11, 12, 13

3RD RACE

Second behind a sharp winner on debut sprinting on the Saratoga turf, #9 Art Collector is the most logical of contenders. The runner-up in the first two starts of his career, #7 We’re Still Here didn’t disgrace himself when stepped up into the Best Pal (G2) as a maiden last. California 2-year-old invades with purpose. He tries turf for the first time, but the early speed should play well. #14 Gold Czar is an intriguing first timer for Steve Asmussen, who is cleaning up with his two-year-olds this summer. Part owner Ron Winchell is one of the new managing partners of Kentucky Downs, and you know he’d love to win a race here. Bet down to 2-1 against nine foes sprinting on the grass at Belmont, #16 Invader was hung wide and raced evenly. He returns off a two-month break and might show marked improvement.

A – 9, 7, 14, 16
B – 2, 3, 15
C – 10, 4, 5

4TH RACE

#3 Esfera has shown some talent in limited tries, and patience may pay off here. Fourth beaten only two lengths in a solid race for the level off nearly a seven-month layoff, she should take a solid step forward here. #9 Vanilla Cat’s lone win came right here at Kentucky Downs and she’s run better than it looks in recent starts. Handled the distance well in the past and is likely to fly under the radar here.

A – 3, 9
B – 10, 12, 7, 11, 4
C – 1, 5

5TH RACE

I own an interest in #5 Templet with Brilliant Racing, therefore I am unable to provide selections for this race.

6TH RACE – Pick 5 starts here

#8 Bohemian Bourbon held her own in a pair of turf sprint stakes at Saratoga, and now she drops into a second-level allowance race. Consistent throughout her career, California invader #12 Storming Lady has never been better and the trip should suit her to a tee.

A – 8, 12
B – 3, 2, 10
C – 4, 5 6, 14, 9

7TH RACE – Pick 4 starts here

For formidable connections, #6 Sequin might be the most likely winner of the day. Bet down to 2-1 favoritism on debut against nine rivals in a turf sprint at Saratoga, she broke alertly and led every step of the way, except the last one. She takes the blinkers off and trainer Wesley Ward has huge stats when doing so. The Asmussen debuter #12 Fashionably could be dangerous. She’s bred for grass, has sneaky good works, and Julien Leparoux has been named to pilot. By the $25,000 stallion Declaration of War, the Mike Maker-trained #14 Craft Woods cost nearly 10 times that at auction. She too has some intriguing works and Jose Ortiz to pilot.

A – 6
B – 12, 14
C – 8, 16, 7, 4, 1, 5, 11, 15

8TH RACE

#7 Untamed Domain has earned over $455K in his career, but he may still have some upside. He’s run into tough luck in some races and has been a disappointment in others. Taking the blinkers off may allow him to settle better. I like him at a price, and he is the only A, but there isn’t even a fleeting thought to single him. The old timer #1 Cammack and enigmatic #13 Tigers Rule both have a Kentucky Downs win on his resume and #3 Combatant will be running late.

A – 7
B – 1, 3, 13
C – 2, 5, 9, 11, 6, 12

9TH RACE

#5 Catapult, who finished second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), is the class of this field and he fits this “non-winners of a sweepstakes in 2019” like a glove. If he gets in, I love #14 Zero Gravity at a price. He owns a serious late kick, and raced against the flow in his last two turf outings.  

A – 5, 14
B – 2, 4
C – 8, 3, 12, 13, 1

10TH RACE

Knocking on the door of late over the Presque Isle synthetic main track, #5 Dancensing returns to the turf here. A half to the multiple graded stakes winner Good Samaritan, she may relish the added distance. #8 Cambeliza has run two decent races, but the addition of blinkers could help big time. Her trainer wins with 20% of his starters and she’s bred to run all day. #10 Coilean Bawn just missed over 10 furlongs on turf last out, problem is it was two months ago and chances are she will be an underlay.

A – 5, 8, 10
B – 6, 1, 15, 2
C – 3, 7, 12, 13