With the rail out 40 feet for the third consecutive day, the turf was noticeably worn on Thursday. The surface played truer to profile, with the four shorter races favoring forward runners and the seven events run over a mile or further tilted to off-the-pace types. Two of the winners paid off at double-digit odds, three were 5-2 or less and the other six fell between 7-2 and 8-1.

Halfway through the six-day meet, Tyler Gaffalione leads all riders with six wins from 22 starts. Wesley Ward is dominating the trainers’ race (5-for-17) and jockey Gerardo Corrales has benefitted with four of those wins. Mike Maker, who claims turf horses with this meet specifically in mind, has started 23 horses but has just two wins.

Much needed rain is in the forecast for Saturday, with a 40% chance at 10 a.m. up to 80% at 1 p.m. and decreasing thereafter. The rail will be back at home base for the weekend, so there will be fresh grass for the horses to run over in at least the first three paths. The inside posts could be quite favorable, and it will be important to monitor the situation closely.

With the top pick listed first, “A” horses are in order or preference. Remember, the takeout on Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers at Kentucky Downs is only 14%, so take advantage!

1st Race – Pick 5 starts here

With a fitting name for the state of the world, #4 Keep Your Distance looks like an absolute standout here. She’s in good form and likes to win. The alternative is #3 French Rose, who may have a tactical advantage.

  • A – 4
  • B — 3
  • C – 2

2nd Race – Pick 4 starts here

#7 Vasariano was cut out to be a good horse and he has shown signs of considerable improvement of late. He’s better since removing the blinkers and held his own in a recent allowance race. He’s back with maidens and may have tactical advantage. #1A Rochcambeau is the stronger half of a formidable entry. He’s fast enough and was compromised in his spring start at Churchill. The recently gelded #4 Summer Palace still has some upside and he should be forwardly placed in a slow-paced race. #8 Casanova Kitten is better than he looks on paper and his team has been red hot.

  • A – 7, 1A, 4, 8
  • B – 3, 1
  • C – 5, 6, 10

3rd Race

#1 Sharecropper ran big in his grass debut. Hung four-wide on the first turn, he made the lead and gave way late in a race he expected to need. He drew the rail here and should once again be forwardly place in a slow-paced race.

  • A – 1
  • B – 6, 7
  • C – 4, 8, 9, 11, 12

4th Race

#1 Scarabea closed well into slow pace on dirt on debut. She’s bred for turf on both sides of pedigree and should take a solid step forward in her second career start. #6 One Fast Orb has run well in both career starts and the addition of blinkers could help put him over the top.

  • A – 1, 6
  • B – 7, 8
  • C – 4, 5

5th Race

Three starts back, #6 Buy Me Candy was edged by Moon Over Miami, who won the Dueling Grounds Derby on Thursday. Since then, he’s been hung wide in consecutive starts. He fits great here. #9 Tide of the Sea has speed, is proven over distance and has an edge on figures. He’s the deserving favorite and there’s no reason to believe he won’t run a big race.

  • A – 6, 9
  • B – 8
  • C – 11, 12

6th Race

The Steve Asmussen-trained #1 Bluegrass Pharoah flashed speed and faded in his career debut. He’s bred to stretch out on turf and should take a solid step forward. The Ian Wilkes-trained duo of #2 Incitatus and #4 Private Island both have upside. I rate them equally but the former should offer a better price. #8 Wentru is bred to route and he does have some turf influences on the dam’s side of the family.

  • A – 1, 2, 4, 8
  • C – 6, 9

7th Race – Pick 5 starts here

Even though #6 Regal Glory is the 9-5 morning line favorite, I think #3 Tapit Today, Chad Brown’s other runner, may have a better chance to get the job done at a more inviting price. She has tactical speed and should benefit from the cutback. The 6-year-old mare #4 English Affair ran one of the best races of her career last out at Ellis. Perhaps she was aided by the soft turf, or maybe we can take it at face value.

  • A – 3, 4
  • B – 6, 1, 8
  • C – 2

8th Race — Pick 4 starts here

#8 Got Stormy is the unquestioned class of this field, but she’s been a route horse her entire career. It will be interesting to see how she handles the cutback. #9 Into Mystic has taken her game to a new level since moving over to the grass and she is deserving of much respect. #1 Intuicao is a wild card. She brings good Brazilian form into this one, and last time out she was narrowly defeated by a multiple group one winner who has since returned to score again. #6 Mentality finished a strong second behind the classy, late closing Dalika two back at Churchill, and she won her last race for fun. She enters the toughest ask of her career on the upswing for a hot team.

  • A – 8, 9, 1, 6
  • B – 7
  • C – 5, 11, 14

9th Race

#9 Outadore was awesome on debut, running a solid field of Saratoga maidens off their feet. #10 Fauci, Ward’s other runner, has more experience and he might be every bit as talented. If Ward doesn’t win this, #6 Bodenheimer is the most likely to get his picture taken. He won a minor stakes on dirt last out, but it’s the turf debut that’s most intriguing. There are turf sprint influences on the dam’s side of the family, so it’s not surprising that he would be better on that surface.

  • A – 9, 6, 10
  • C – 4

10th Race

#10 Zulu Alpha won this race for fun last year, and he might be even better now that he was then. Bothered at the start of the Elkhorn (G2) last out, he was out the back early and then raced in tight between foes. He made a steady advance while in hand into a slow pace, was hung seven-wide and was still able to unleash a serious late rally.

  • A – 10
  • B – 5, 6, 7
  • C – 12

11th Race

#2 Stubbins ran second in the Franklin Simpson (G3) over this course last year, his form since is better than he looks on paper and he’s done some of his best work with Ro$ario in the saddle. Defending champ #4 Totally Boss just missed to his stablemate Leinster in one of the toughest turf sprints you’ll see last out at Keeneland, and #12 Bound to Nowhere and #14 Fast Boat finished just behind him. All three horses are obvious contenders here. The latter had the toughest trip of that trio and he’ll easily off the best price of that group here.

  • A – 2, 4, 12, 14
  • C – 3, 6, 9, 16