Saturday’s $100,000 War Chant S. at Churchill Downs is more than just an ultra-competitive turf race with a full field. The 1-mile event for 3-year-olds is also the final leg of an all-stakes Pick 5 featuring a guaranteed pool of $500,000, so if you want a piece of the action, the War Chant is the key to cashing a big payoff.

Many handicappers will settle on #6 Hieronymus (9-2) as the most likely winner, and understandably so. Conditioned by hot trainer Brad Cox, this Godolphin homebred has compiled a 4-for-4 record with two stakes wins to his credit. In the 1 1/16-mile Black Gold S. at Fair Grounds three months ago, the son of Girolamo led all the way to score a gritty victory over stakes winners #12 Pixelate (6-1) and #2 Bodecream (12-1).

But Hieronymus was aided by setting slow fractions of :24.16, :50.42, and 1:15.62 in the Black Gold, which compromised the chances of Bodecream. The late-running son of Bodemeister was decidedly unsettled while racing inside and behind runners early on, fighting restraint while keen to advance. Despite this problematic journey and unfavorable pace scenario, Bodecream rallied resolutely through tight quarters down the stretch to finish third, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths.

Previously, Bodecream had demonstrated an explosive turn-of-foot in the Texas Turf Mile at Sam Houston, roaring from a dozen lengths behind a fast pace to dominate by 3 1/2 lengths. The 95 Brisnet Speed rating he posted is tied for the highest in the War Chant field, while his 104 Brisnet Late Pace rating is one of just two triple-digit numbers posted by any of the War Chant contestants.

There’s plenty of speed in Saturday’s field, so I’m optimistic Bodecream will receive a quick tempo to work with, which might be all he needs to turn the tables on Hieronymus. Since Bodecream is 12-1 on the morning line, I won’t get too creative playing the exotics. Instead, I’ll bet him heavily to win and key him under “ALL” in the exacta, covering for the possibility of a runner-up finish at a nice price:

$24 to Win on #2 Bodecream
$2 Exacta: ALL with 2 ($26)

Good luck!


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