Racing returns to Churchill Downs on Saturday with an 11-race card highlighted by classy horses and large, competitive fields.
If you’re looking for longshots on this exciting day, we’ve got a couple for you to consider:
Race 4: Allowance Optional Claiming (1 mile, 2:32 p.m. ET)
#2 Monomoy Girl (4-5) is absolutely the horse to beat if she runs back to her championship form from two years ago. The daughter of Tapizar crossed the wire first in all seven of her starts in 2018, counting victories in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) among her five Grade 1 wins for the season.
But various setbacks have kept Monomoy Girl on the sidelines for 18 1/2 months, and while she’s trained sharply for her return to action—cranking out a trio of :59-and-change 5-furlong workouts since mid-April—I’m not convinced Monomoy Girl will prove unbeatable off the layoff. Since she’ll be odds-on in this small field, there’s not much value in playing her on top.
An alternative to the overwhelming favorite is #6 Talk Veuve to Me (7-2), who finished just two lengths behind Monomoy Girl when second in the 2018 Acorn (G1). Talk Veuve to Me spent the entirety of 2019 sprinting with only modest success, but she carried her speed over a route of ground quite nicely as a sophomore and could be dangerous while stretching back out in distance for her 2020 debut.
At 7-2 on the morning line, Talk Veuve to Me is worth betting to win and including in multi-race wagers.
- $20 to Win on #6 Talk Veuve to Me
Race 9: $50,000 Claiming (7 furlongs, 5:12 p.m. ET)
The lightly-raced Triple Crown nominees #1 Patrol (8-1) and #10 Saratogian (12-1) might have some upside in this claiming sprint for horses that have never won two races.
Patrol won his debut going 6 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct for trainer Mark Casse before transitioning to turf and finishing off the board in a Gulfstream allowance race. Meanwhile, Saratogian showed a ton of grit to survive a speed duel in his debut traveling 6 1/2 furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs, a hard effort that may have contributed to his subsequent ninth-place effort in a mile allowance race at Gulfstream.
There are reasons to believe Patrol and Saratogian will rebound on Saturday. Patrol is switching back to dirt and fired off a sharp workout on May 9, clocking a half-mile in :47 4/5. Saratogian could improve while cutting back in distance and dropping down the class ladder; in addition, his workouts leading up to this race have been quicker than his moves heading into the allowance race at Gulfstream.
Update: Since Patrol has scratched, let’s just bet Saratogian to win:
- $10 to Win: 10
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The full Churchill Downs horse racing analyst crew is back and looking at the return of spring racing in Kentucky! Host Joe Kristufek asks Handicappers Ed DeRosa, Scott Shapiro and James Scully what they are looking for this weekend in racing from Louisville.