The weekend of racing begins across North America as Tim Holland provides his racing picks for Churchill Downs, Belmont Park, Gulfstream Park, and Woodbine.
A couple of newcomers catch the eye in this maiden claimer over 6-furlongs. Trainer Corrigan won with just one of his last 21 first time starters but saddles #4 Flatten (15-1), who has a decent win early pedigree being by Flatter and out of a mare by Macho Uno. Dark bay cost $450K as a yearling and has posted two sharp 4-furlongs works recently for Corrigan, who has won with two of his 10 runners this year. #6 Booyakasha (8-1) debuts for trainer Casse, who won with three of his last 13 runners debuting in maiden claiming events. Son of 17% first out sire Kantharos is a half-brother to three winners and attracts the riding services of Gaffalione.
#5 America’s Surprise (8-1) has not been seen since finishing third in her debut at Del Mar in August, just behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Bast, and the daughter of American Pharoah is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning champion Songbird. She’s been working well for trainer Hollendorfer, who wins with 17% of his runners that have not raced for 90+ days, and dark bay can be in good position throughout under Garcia, who has won with one of his last three rides for the barn.
Chad Brown saddles several here including #4 Flop Shot (6-1), who has not been seen since finishing a close third in the Prix Guillaume (G2) at Chantilly last-August. Winner of that event finished a close fifth in the Irish Champion (G1) in his next outing and son of New Approach has been working well for Brown, who wins with 28% of his runners making their first outing for his barn. 4-year-old was purchased for just under $1 million last year and can be along late with Castellano in the irons.
#4 Payne (8-1) made it three wins in a row when easily taking his latest at Aqueduct over a mile in mid-March. 5-year-old has shown improvement in recent outings for trainer Brown, who wins with 29% of his runners following a win. Son of Paynter gets tested for class, but has a record of 3-1-2-0 on this oval and can be in good early position with Carmouche retaining the mount. Upset pick.
Maidens on turf include the likely favorite, #6 Lonesome Fugitive (5-2), who closed to finish second as the favorite in his debut at Gulfstream in January. By Zoffany, he is out of Take the Ribbon, who won the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G3), and trainer Brown wins with 29% of his second time starters. #10 Red Storm Risen (15-1) has been gelded since finishing last of six in his debut on the all-weather surface at Woodbine in early-August. Trainer Motion wins with 20% of his runners that have not raced for 90+ days, and dark bay should be suited to this distance and offer value under Velazquez, who has won with four of his last seven rides for the barn.
Trainer Pletcher wins with 20% of his runners second off a layoff and saddles #6 Bellera (3-1) for her turf debut. A closing third over 7-furlongs on the main track last month, her first outing since January, filly should take to grass being a half-sister to Life Imitates Art, who won the Dania Beach (G3) on turf at Gulfstream. Bellera has won four of eight starts for Pletcher, who wins with 15% of his runners first time on grass, and bay can be forwardly placed throughout with Zayas in the saddle.
A large purse of $123K attracted a full-field of maidens sprinting on grass, and #6 Cash Code (10-1) debuts for 15% first-out trainer Mike Trombetta. Daughter of good turf sprint sire City Zip is a half-sister to one winner and has been working well. Trombetta has won with 17% of his starters this year, and filly may be ready for a good first outing with blinkers and Boulanger riding.