Eleven races are carded for Sunday at Churchill Downs, and I will avoid the three scheduled turf events due to the potential for wet weather.
Here are three plays for May 17:
Looking forward to betting: #1 Rockshaw in race 3. Gelding enters in good form and should be forward from the start with his tactical speed. Rockshaw returned from a freshening to post a nice win at Oaklawn Park two starts back and was claimed for $20,000. Stepping up in class in his first start for Cipriano Contreras, the 6-year-old showed good speed and registered a field-best 93 last-out Brisnet Speed rating finishing a clear second. Contreras wins at a 21% rate the second off the claim, and Rockshaw should be forward from the start with jockey Joseph Ramos.
Favorite I’m against: #4 Mo Zone in race 6. Drops in class following four consecutive unplaced finishes, and his lone win since 2018 came on turf. Favored at 7-2 on the morning line, Mo Zone will try to rally into contention behind an expected moderate pace.
Live longshot: #1 Queenofcatniphill in race 8. Favoritism is up for grabs in arguably the most contentious race on the card, and the $50,000 claiming race looks ripe for an upset. Queenofcatnip ran well in her last two dirt starts, breaking her maiden with a convincing wire-to-wire score at Keeneland and showing an affinity for the slop at Churchill when posting a rallying fourth after a disastrous break, and we can throw out the last couple of starts on turf and Polytrack. I expect the 3-year-old filly to be in the early mix from her inside post, and Queenofcatnip has some appeal at 12-1 on the morning line.
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