Churchill Downs opens Sunday with a pair of 1 1/16-miles stakes, the Street Sense and Rags to Riches, on its 11-race “Stars of Tomorrow I” program devoted exclusively to 2-year-olds. Both races are part of the Late Pick 4, and I will give some thoughts on the sequence.
Race 8 – Street Sense Stakes
Eucharist will scratch after running Saturday at Keeneland, and there’s little pace entered in the Street Sense. #7 Super Stock, who exits thirds in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Iroquois (G3), is eligible to receive an ideal up-close trip with his tactical speed and outside draw.
I expect an improved effort from #4 King Fury, a sharp debut winner under the Twin Spires on Sept. 3. The Curlin colt experienced a wide trip and never fired in the Breeders’ Futurity, but he shows a fast 5-furlong work in preparation and gets reunited with Brian Hernandez Jr.
Race 9 – Maiden Special Weight
A competitive field of 14 maidens, including a pair of also-eligibles, is set for the 1 1/16-mile test, and #9 Business Model will take some beating off a fine third in his first two-turn start at Keeneland. Corey Lanerie retains the mount, but I will spread four-deep in this spot.
#7 Floriform was bet down to 7-10 favoritism but never seriously challenged when making his first start at Churchill on Sept. 24. The Into Mischief colt can show more the second time around for Bill Mott. #8 Southern Passage exits an improved effort, missing by only a nose to a rival who came right back to win his next start by open lengths, and could factor here for Dale Romans. #12 Mystical Man, who adds blinkers and figures to show speed with Miguel Mena, will also be included.
Race 10 – Rags to Riches Stakes
#9 Midnight Ballerina makes her stakes bow following an impressive debut win over the track. Handicappers don’t expect to see Mineshaft’s offspring take money in their first start, but the word was out on Midnight Ballerina, who was bet down to favoritism for Mott.
The bay lass put her rivals away with an eye-catching turn of foot leaving the far turn, accelerating quickly to a clear lead while wide, and she cruised to the wire under Julien Leparoux. Midnight Ballerina was flattered when runner-up Littlestitious came back to win her next start at Keeneland, and I will single the promising filly.
Race 11 – Maiden Special Weight
It will be interesting to see the betting in the 12-horse field. #10 Outasite will take action for Brad Cox, but the Outwork colt is making his first start at a tricky 7-furlong distance. I will use the contender, but spread with five runners in the finale.
#3 Big Lake looks like a serious player with his speed. He makes his second start for Steve Asmussen following a respectable third over the track. #4 Foliage is intriguing switching from turf to dirt for Al Stall Jr., who is trying to turn things around following a slow Keeneland meet. #11 Trump Card is a candidate to keep improving in his second start for Larry Jones, and #12 Copa exits a solid second for Dallas Stewart.
Here is my 50-cent Late Pick 4 ticket:
4,7 with 7,8,9,12 with 9 with 3,4,10,11,12 = $20