Opening weekend at Churchill Downs continues on Sunday with another super-competitive 11-race card featuring full fields and lots of great wagering opportunities.
The final three races of the afternoon are classy events with high-profile runners among the entries, so let’s put together a Pick 3 ticket and a couple of spot plays for the day-ending action:
Race 9: Allowance Optional Claiming
(7 furlongs, 5:12 p.m. ET)
#9 Toledo (5-2) is a potential standout while dropping in class out of the Holy Bull (G3), where he finished third behind future Florida Derby (G1) champion Tiz the Law and Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Ete Indien. But I also have some interest in #10 Art Collector (6-1), who crossed the wire first in two of his five starts last year while competing on both dirt and turf. Art Collector was particularly impressive in a 6-furlong allowance sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 30, rallying explosively from behind fast fractions to score by 7 1/2 lengths with a 96 Brisnet Speed rating.
Art Collector hasn’t run since, but trainer Thomas Drury wins at a 28% rate with runners returning from layoffs of three months or more, suggesting this Triple Crown-nominated son of Bernardini can fire a big shot in his first start of the season. We’ll box Toledo and Art Collector in the exacta while using both to kick off our Pick 3.
- $5 Exacta box: 9,10 ($10)
Race 10: Allowance
(5 1/2 furlongs, 5:44 p.m. ET)
The undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) winner #1 Four Wheel Drive (2-1) is clearly the horse to beat in this grass dash for 3-year-olds. The son of American Pharoah has tactical speed coupled with the versatility to rate off the lead if necessary, making him a threat regardless of how the pace unfolds.
But the late-charging #11 Chimney Rock (5-1) wasn’t beaten much by Four Wheel Drive in the Breeders’ Cup, and Four Wheel Drive’s own stablemate #8 Maven (5-1) showed significant talent while traveling to France and winning the Prix du Bois (G3) last summer. We’ll use all three in the Pick 3.
Race 11: Maiden Special Weight
(6 furlongs, 6:16 p.m. ET)
We’ll end the day with a large win bet on our single in the Pick 3. #10 Chasing Anna (3-1) showed speed and talent in his debut going 7 furlongs at Gulfstream last month, carving out quick fractions of :22.29 and :44.85 before fading to finish fourth.
Trainer Kenny McPeek rarely wins with debut runners, but he strikes at a 16% rate with second-time starters, suggesting Chasing Anna will be ready for an improved effort while cutting back slightly in distance. Outside posts can be advantageous in dirt sprints at Churchill, so with a little luck, Chasing Anna can win this race for fun.
$20 to Win on #10 Chasing Anna
Suggested Pick 3 Wager
- $5 Pick 3: 9,10 with 1,8,11 with 10 ($30)