If you’re probing for upset candidates to spice up the All-Stakes Pick 5 at Churchill Downs, or just to use in the vertical exotics, here’s a price horse worth a look in each of the Saturday stakes races.
Race 7 – Shawnee S.
While Dunbar Road ought to get the job done as the odds-on favorite, #6 Vault (10-1) brings an eye-catching stat. Trainer Brad Cox is 39% with the blinkers-off move. That equipment change should help since the Pennsylvania-bred was too on the muscle in the middle stages of her Oaklawn comeback, and first start for the barn, where she wound up fourth to Blamed in a messy trip. With a smoother passage and new rider Joel Rosario, this half to Grade 1 winner Mirth, and three-quarter sister to multiple Grade 1-placed Copper State, can outperform her odds. Note also her 6-5-1-0 mark at around this 1 1/16-mile trip.
Race 8 – Tepin S.
Beyond the obvious Sharing and Alms, European import #3 Walk in Marrakesh (10-1) still has appeal despite a pair of recent losses. As a beautifully bred daughter of Siyouni, from a terrific family, she doesn’t strike me as the type who peaked at two. She had smart form in 2019, including her third to leading French 1000 Guineas (G1) contender Tropbeau (and next-out Group 1 runner-up Marieta) in the Prix du Calvados (G2), and she can prosper with the right trip. In the Florida Oaks (G3), Walk in Marrakesh lost precious time having to come off the rail and still just missed to Outburst. In the Sanibel Island last out, she endured a tough trip, steadying at two key points while racing farther back than customary. If new pilot Jose Ortiz can help her use her stride more effectively, she might find it third time lucky for Ignacio Correas.
Race 9 – Blame S.
You can make a case for several in this contentious one-turn mile that figures to have plenty of pace, and I’m inclined to give #2 Bourbon Resolution (30-1) a shot at a big price. Maybe that’s my incorrigibility speaking after I made a similar stab with him on Florida Derby Day, without success. Yet he ran well enough in fourth, closing from so far out of it that he might as well have been coming from Gulfstream Park West, and earning a lofty 113 Brisnet Late Pace rating. The extra furlong promises to help the Ian Wilkes trainee, who is capable if circumstances align on his day. Bourbon Resolution sprang an 18-1 surprise in last year’s Ben Ali (G3), and he does own a first-past-the-post effort at this track (not reflected in his local mark since he was disqualified).
Race 10 – Matt Winn (G3)
Hoping for the star-quality Maxfield to advance his Kentucky Derby (G1) claims in his comeback, but was eager to see his Godolphin confrere Mystic Guide, whose 15-1 morning line wasn’t going to last. Unfortunately, with Mystic Guide set to scratch in favor of an allowance, I’ll look to #9 Shake Some Action (12-1) as a longshot of interest. The Cox pupil was way out of position early in a Louisiana Derby (G2) where it paid to race handy, putting his ultimate sixth in perspective. But two back, he put up a 105 Brisnet Late Pace rating to prevail in a Fair Grounds allowance that lacked much early pace. Considering that the Matt Winn is likely to offer a similar scenario, and the mastermind of that victory, Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, is now back aboard, Shake Some Action is eligible to turn in an improved performance. The son of leading sire Into Mischief has a strong pedigree too.
Race 11 – War Chant S.
Although #3 Bodecream (12-1) couldn’t catch controlling speed Hieronymus in either of their meetings at Fair Grounds, the change of venue and prospect of more pace both bode well for a form reversal. The Danny Pish pupil would prefer a faster tempo, such as he leveraged to his decisive victory in the Texas Turf Mile, but regardless he’s been ultra-reliable since switching to the lawn. The Bodemeister gelding is a half-brother to Sacred Oath who just won here on opening day. Their dam, by emerging broodmare sire Dixie Union, is a half to Albertus Maximus and hot young sire Daredevil.
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