Saturday’s 10-race program at Churchill Downs features an entry-level turf allowance for fillies and mares (9TH race), and the Late Pick 5 sequence includes a couple of interesting maiden special weight events.
Here are some thoughts on horses I will incorporate into my wagers:
Race 6 – 3:16 p.m. ET
A full field of 2-year-old fillies is set for the 1 1/16-mile turf maiden test, and I like first-time starter #6 Saranya, who shows several nice 5-furlong works in preparation. Bred to run early, the daughter of The Factor is out of a turf stakes-winning dam, and Saranya is a half-sister to Francatelli, who established a new course record winning a turf stakes at Woodbine.
Brad Cox’s barn has been firing, winning six of the last 12 starts entering Thursday’s opening-day program, and his first-time starters were prolific during Churchill’s opening week earlier this month, with Aunt Pearl, Travel Column, and Essential Quality impressively winning 2-year-old maiden races. Saranya doesn’t appear to be facing an imposing cast of rivals, go-to rider Florent Geroux will be up, and the filly rates as a viable single in the first leg of the Late Pick 5.
Race 8 – 4:21 p.m. ET
The probable overwhelming favorite, #6 Patty H, looks tough after placing in a couple of maidens for Cox, but I will include second-time starter #2 Distorted Verve on my multi-race tickets.
Dallas Stewart isn’t opposed to giving horses a race, and Distorted Verve exits a salty maiden special weight on the Kentucky Oaks undercard in which she broke a step slow from a tough rail post and quickly dropped back after appearing to resent kickback. The Distorted Humor filly offered a middle move into a hot pace while racing greenly along the inside, and the chestnut finished with some interest after being guided a couple of paths out in midstretch. Brian Hernandez picks up the mount on the half-sister to Grade 3 winner Verve’s Tale, and Distorted Verve is eligible to deliver an improved effort.
Race 9 – 4:53 p.m. ET
#2 Golden Curl ran a big race when making her turf debut at Ellis Park, finishing a close third to a pair of in-form rivals, and I expect the 4-year-old filly to keep moving forward for Brian Lynch. She may not offer much value for straight bets, but Golden Curl remains the one to beat in the entry-level turf allowance.