With a riding triple on Sunday, defending champ Jose Ortiz (eight wins from 24 starts) leads the jockey race by three wins over Florent Geroux, Adam Beschizza and Julien Leparoux, who bagged a double of his own. On the trainer’s side, Joe Sharp (four wins from 16 starts) is one up on Mike Maker, Wesley Ward and Ian Wilkes, who scored a pair of wins on Sunday.
Eight of the 10 Sunday races were run at distances of at least a mile. Two closers won, but most of the winners came from midpack or up close. And much like Saturday’s card, with the temporary rail down, it felt like the inside two-three paths were better.
Uncharacteristically, six of the 10 Sunday winners were favorites, including the last five, and four of those were even-money or less.
Thursday’s closing day card appears to have quite a few wide-open races. The forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 96 degrees. Expect the very firm turf to tilt towards forward types, especially in sprints. Off-the-pace runners should have a better shot at distances of a mile or more, particularly if they’re able to save some ground.
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
#9 Applicator looks like a bit of a standout to me here, so I wouldn’t expect to get 9-2. He wired a similar field two back and found a world of trouble in his last start. This isn’t the toughest field for the level.
A – 9
B – 3, 6, 10
C – 1
2ND RACE – Pick 4 starts here
Trainer Steve Asmussen has enjoyed much success with his juveniles this season, but the only race he won at the current Kentucky Downs stand came with an older horse. That should change here courtesy of #6 Finite, who appears to be a bit of a standout. Mr. Steve hasn’t enjoyed too much success with Jose Ortiz, but the rider has been on fire and he’s leaning on him today.
A – 6
B – 8
C – 11, 14, 1, 5, 7
Consistent the entirety of her young career over varying distances, #6 Brie’s Lucky Charm is arguably better than ever and she’s found her niche at distances in the one mile range. With a good amount of speed signed on, she should sit a sweet trip behind the embattled leaders.
A – 6
B – 7, 2
C – 5, 8
The Wesley Ward-trained first timer #8 Alfie Solomons has the look of a live first time starter. This $285K yearling is bred to sprint on both sides of the pedigree and a bullet work from the gate at Keeneland surely catches the eye.
A – 8
B – 16, 7, 5
C – 2, 3, 12, 4, 6, 10, 14
To show you just how contentious this race is, my three “A” horses are 15-1 on the morning line.
#8 Spun Beauty’s dam was perfect from two starts at age two and she has both turf and sprint influences in the pedigree. Larry Jones did win with a first timer earlier in the meet, albeit by DQ. #3 Urban Fairytale ran poorly in her debut, but that was a dirt sprint at Ellis. This $250,000 yearling buy is bred for turf on both sides of the pedigree, and trainer Ian Wilkes enjoying a fine Kentucky Downs meet. When you pay $210,000 for a daughter of Graydar ($7,500 stallion) as a 2-year-old in training, there must be something you like. Such is the case with #6 Miss Important, who has some sneaky works for trainer Kenny McPeek. The presence of the ice cold Robby Albarado, recently back from injury, will inflate the price, but he’s a good forward rider who may fit this filly well.
A – 8, 3, 6
B – 11, 5, 1, 7
C – 15, 14, 4, 2
6TH RACE — Pick 5 starts here
#3 Bird’s Eye View is just two for 26 lifetime, but he’s been knocking hard at the door of late and the seven furlong trip at Kentucky Downs may be just what the doctor ordered. #5 Gemonteer nearly pulled off a huge upset last out and did not give an inch late. He’s run some big races in the past, and I’m going to take that last start at face value. #10 Hierarchy stormed home to win his last over a mile. He may still have some upside and jockey Adam Beschizza has proven that he rides this course extremely well.
A – 3, 5, 10
B – 4, 9, 7, 14
C – 8, 11
7TH RACE — Pick 4 starts here
Off a pair of promising sprint runs, #14 Prosperity should take another step forward over this one mile trip. #2 Confessing has held her own in all three turf starts, and she gets some post relief in this one. #3 Saffira ran a sneaky good race in June at Churchill, but we haven’t seen her since. Looks like she might be live off the bench and the price should be square.
A – 14, 2, 3
B – 11, 6, 4, 16
C – 8
#6 Gentle Ruler has gotten the best of #1 Gaining in their last two encounters, but perhaps somewhat circumstantially. I have them rated equally today. The wild card is #5 Lemoona. She has yet to try 12 furlongs on grass, but her two career wins on the surface did come at nine and 10 panels, and the pedigree suggests she may relish it.
A – 1, 6, 5
His lone turf start wasn’t great, but #11 Nitrous is bred for the trip and he’s a better horse now. Since switching to turf sprints, #1 Archidust has taken his game to a new level. He appears to be as good as any here.
A – 11, 1
B – 15, 2, 4, 14, 5
C – 3, 10, 12
A four-time turf winner, #16 Tito Tonight enters this race in top form. The horse he got edged by last time out is a legit allowance type. #15 Jimmy D has really stepped up his game in recent starts. Last time out he finished second behind He’s Cheeky, who defeated tougher foes than this earlier in the meet. #5 El Bonito is sharp as a tack right now. Two and three starts back he was edged by Ransack, who was narrowly beaten by the heavy chalk here last week; and Sharm El Sheikh, who held his own against much better the other day. The big question with El Bonito is the marathon distance. #10 Good Ole Boy has two wins and two seconds from his last four starts and you must respect the team.
A – 16, 15, 5, 10
C – 7, 8