Saturday’s 10-race card at Kentucky Downs features five stakes races worth a total of $3.2 million, and the five stakes races will all be part of an All-Stakes Late Pick 5 beginning with Race 6, the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint, and ending with the $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup (G3), and including the $700,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3), a six-furlong stakes for three-year-olds and up that is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win & You’re In” race. The races are worth betting as a Pick 5 sequence, and also individually with good exotics possibilities throughout the card in exactas and trifectas.
Here’s a closer look at the best races on what will be perhaps the best race day of the annual five-day Kentucky Downs boutique race meet this Saturday.
Race 6 – Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint
The All-Stakes Late Pick 5 begins in this race, a big wide open field of 12 horses with several legit contenders. Wesley Ward sends out Cambria (#4) (12-1), who is one of only two horses in the race with two wins. Both victories were on a synthetic track at Presque Isle Downs, but the horse has been drilling bullets on dirt at Keeneland and is also bred to be good on the grass. This 6 1/2-furlong distance should be right up his alley. The other multiple winner in the field is Axiomo (#12) (8-1), who began his career back in June with a very good turf sprint win at Churchill Downs over next-out winner Field Pass, and now gets back on the grass for the first time since then for lower-profile connections unlikely to get bet. Another horse with a chance is Prince of Thieves (#8) (10-1), who won at first asking in a turf sprint at Ellis Park with a strong run in a 5 1/2-furlong dash which indicates he’ll be even better at this 6 1/2-furlong distance. Mark Casse is one of Kentucky Downs’ top trainers.
Bet Cambria (#4) (12-1), Prince of Thieves (#8) (10-1) and Axiomo (#12) (8-1) in exacta boxes, and you will have a good mix of live longshots on your ticket. You can also start a Pick 5 ticket with these three contenders along with whoever ends up being the favorite.
Race 7 – Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3)
See the separate break-out story on Twinspires.com, “How to Bet the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint” for a detailed analysis of the field. Wet Your Whistle (#1) (8-1), White Flag (#6) (8-1) and the up-and-coming Rusty Arnold-trained pair of Leinster (#8) (3-1) and Totally Boss (#10) (6-1) all have great shots at knocking off Stormy Liberal (#9) (9-2).
Race 8 – Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3)
This race seems like to will be the most straightforward stakes on the Saturday card, with four horses in the field appearing to stand above the rest in terms of high quality and their chances to win or land in the exotics. Storm the Hill (#5) (3-1) ships in from California for trainer Phil D’Amato and should be the horse to beat in the third race of her 2019 campaign after returning from a long layoff with in-the-money finishes in a pair of SoCal graded stakes. Improvement was notable and obvious last out for Storm the Hill when she was second in the Yellow Ribbon (G2) at Del Mar where she finished ahead of Vasilika, a winner of multiple graded stakes in 2019. Another SoCal invader with a chance in this race is Ms Bad Behavior (#9) (8-1), who was nipping of the heels of Vasilika in graded stakes this past winter. She needs to overcome a layoff for trainer Richard Baltas, but is a threat to do so and gets Jose Ortiz aboard for the mount. The Mitchell Road (#7) (5-2) was riding high on a four-race winning streak until losing to heavyweights last time in the Diana (G1) at Saratoga, but she certainly can bounce back in this spot, and Simply Breathless (#2) (5-1) is also a threat to rebound in this spot at her preferred distance of one mile after disappointing at Arlington last out at the mid-matched distance of 1 3/16 in the Modesty Handicap (G3).
Play that quartet, Storm the Hill (#5) (3-1), Ms Bad Behavior (#9) (8-1), Mitchell Road (#7) (5-2) and Simply Breathless (#2) (5-1) in exactas, trifectas, and superfectas, and use all four in your Pick 5 sequences.
Race 9 – Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint (G3)
This 6 1/2-furlong race for fillies and mares will feature a full field of 12 runners and is one of those races where you can more or less make a case for almost all of them in one way or another. Still, three horses do stand out on paper as the primary contenders starting with Oleksandra (#3) (3-1), who has won three of her last four starts in New York for trainer Neil Drysdale, including a stakes win at Saratoga last out where she overcame traffic at 5 1/2 furlongs to win. Consistent, owns good BRIS Speed figures, and is already proven at 6 1/2 furlongs. Among the horses Oleksandra beat at Saratoga was Ruby Notion (#10) (6-1), who is back on this occasion. Ruby Notion will need to turn the tables obviously, but stands a chance to do so back on this Kentucky Downs course where she is the defending champ of this same race which she won last year. The other main contender in this field is Painting Corners (#6) (8-1), who is also proven at 6 1/2 furlongs for trainer Peter Miller that is capable of efforts and turf sprint speed figures that would be more than enough to come out on top versus these. The only question with Painting Corners is her consistency – sometimes she shows up with those big efforts and sometimes she doesn’t.
Play Oleksandra (#3) (3-1) to win and play three-horse exacta and trifecta boxes with Painting Corners (#6) (8-1) and Ruby Notion (#10) (6-1), and use all three horses in your Pick 5 if you can afford it.
Race 10 – Kentucky Turf Cup (G3)
The anchor leg of Saturday’s tremendous Kentucky Downs card is the $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup, which is only a Grade 3 race but nevertheless attracted a solid field, as you would expect with seven figures on the line. The favorites and most logical horses are the ones drawn outside, including Zulu Alpha (#9) (9-2), who exits a one-length loss in the Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga, Arklow (#10) (5-2), who has narrowly missed in three straight Grade 1 or Grade 2 spots and is the defending champion of this race (one year ago, his last victory), and Campaign (#11) (5-1) who has been competing is distance events on the dirt but now returns to the grass where she was last seen winning back-to-back races at or near this distance at Kentucky Downs last season. It’s always a mistake to overlook horses for the course at Kentucky Downs. One live longshot with a sneaky chance to post the upset in this spot is My Boy Jack (#2) (12-1). Remember him? He was bet down to 6-1 in the 2018 Kentucky Derby (G1) behind Justify. Most recently he finished a fast-closing third despite getting no pace to chase to lose by a neck in the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup. He can handle the grass and seems to be a horse screaming out for 1 1/2 miles.
Take a flyer in My Boy Jack (#2) (12-1) to win and play him with Zula Alpha (#9) (9-2), Arklow (#10) (5-2) and Campaign (#11) (5-1) in the exactas and trifectas. Use as many as you can afford to bring home your Pick 5.
Enjoy a loaded Sunday card of racing and wagering at Kentucky Downs! Best of luck, and I hope you win big.
PHOTO: Ruby Notion (c) Reed Palmer Photography