Saturday is the first big day of the Churchill Downs spring meet and it could prove a huge one for Godolphin, which has a number of leading contenders across several stakes on the program.
Here are a couple horses of interest on the undercard as well as a recommended Late Pick 4 play.
#8 CAROLINA AIRNESS (10-1) has room to improve second out for Al Stall. Half to G3-winning sprinter Prudhoe Bay flattened out a bit when angled out from the rail to the middle of the track in upper stretch on debut at Fair Grounds Mar. 13. He improved his position but was no match against a loose-on-the-lead Godolphin entrant. Working steadily in New Orleans since, with above average half-mile breeze last week once training resumed at Churchill.
This graded stakes-quality turf allowance could go any number of ways, but #8 FIRST PREMIO (12-1) looks live for a share if not more. Although he had little say in his season debut at Gulfstream facing two next-out winners (including the stakes-quality Halladay), he could improve for that run here and on a course he’s had some success over. Fell less than a length short in a pair of stakes on this circuit late last year and Mena returns for this one. Potential threat with a well-timed bid.
The Late Pick 4 runs from Races 8-11, and we’ll key on a couple Godolphin horses in the sequence.
Race 8 — Tepin S.
#9 Sharing might have won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), and with our support, but there’s an argument to be made that the best filly in the division last year might have been #14 ALMS (3-1), who was mightily impressive winning both the Jimmy Durante (G3) and Matron (G3).
Alms had no issues as the standout in the Shantel Lanerie Memorial in February, thus has had the benefit of a race this year unlike Sharing. She didn’t get the best draw here against a deep field, but this is a quality filly with loads more upside.
Race 9 — Blame S.
#8 Owendale arguably the best horse here long term, but concerned this race serving as more of a warm-up for next month’s Stephen Foster (G2). Both #3 GLOBAL CAMPAIGN (9-2) and #13 MR. MONEY (5-1) are highly-capable one-turn specialists and will take some beating. #9 EXTRAORDINARY JERRY (12-1) another who’ll love this trip and should get a favorable pace set-up, but enters off a lengthy spell and hasn’t met this class of horse before. Cross-entered at Gulfstream on Saturday.
Race 10 — Matt Winn (G3)
#10 MAXFIELD (5-2) seems fully recovered from off-season setback which prevented a tilt at the Breeders’ Cup following an impressive tally in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1). Legit Kentucky Derby (G1) prospect for Godolphin and trainer Brendan Walsh.
Race 11 — War Chant S.
#9 SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT (5-1) might be the speed of the speed here under Johnny V, and could prove difficult for the field to catch both he and #6 HIERONYMUS (9-2). The latter one of several Godolphin representatives in this, another being turf debuter #10 SHARED SENSE (15-1), who has enough distant turf blood in his pedigree to include at a square price with Geroux up.
The $1 Pick 4 ticket:
- 14 with 3,9,13 with 10 with 6,9,10 = $9
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