If you were planning to take a rest day following the Nov. 6-7 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland, you might want to rethink your strategy. The Single 6 jackpot at Churchill Downs has grown to $81,671, and it’s slated for a mandatory dispersal on Sunday.
You can bet the sequence will attract plenty of betting attention. The six races drew 74 entries (an average of 12.3 per race including also-eligibles), and prior to scratches, a minimum of nine horses can be found in each field.
Here’s a rundown of each Single 6 leg:
A $10,000 claimer for fillies and mares who have never won two races, this 1-mile event looks like a beast to handicap. #5 Better Biz (7-2) is a slim favorite, but she finished last by a wide margin for a $30,000 tag at Keeneland last month, and it’s unclear whether dropping down the class ladder will suffice to trigger a winning effort.
#9 Lil’ Shopper (20-1), third over this class, track, and distance back in June, is an intriguing alternative after competing against tougher company in her last four starts. But the “ALL” button might be necessary to survive this leg.
The Brad Cox first-time starter #3 Fulsome (3-1) is a logical player in this 1-mile turf maiden special weight for 2-year-olds, but his pedigree hints dirt might his true forte. #6 Halfbarberbinge (8-1) is bred top and bottom to excel on turf, but trainer Brendan Walsh strikes at just a 7% rate with first-time starters.
Among the experienced runners, #4 Kitten’s Firstlove (9-2) is worth a look after finishing sixth by just three lengths in his debut racing a mile at Kentucky Downs. The son of Kitten’s Joy is a sibling to a pair of stakes winners and has hot jockey/trainer combo Ricardo Santana and Mike Maker in his corner.
This open $8,000 claiming sprint will see a dozen runners dash 6 1/2 furlongs. #4 Vivid Verse (7-2) showed improvement when transitioning from turf to dirt on Sept. 26 at Churchill Downs, tracking the pace in a 7-furlong sprint before taking command and holding on to win by a nose. The 90 Brisnet Speed rating he posted was solid, and a repeat can land him in the winner’s circle.
#12 Mine My Time (4-1), an allowance winner at Belterra Park, is also fast enough to challenge on his best day. But the 5-year-old gelding will have to overcome a very wide draw.
A $20,000 claiming race for non-winners of two races lifetime, this 6-furlong sprint looks wide-open at first glance. But dig a little deeper and #7 Soaring Bird (4-1) looks formidable. The 5-year-old gelding held his own against allowance company during the winter at Oaklawn Park, posting four straight Brisnet Speed ratings in the 85-92 range.
Soaring Bird is the fastest horse on paper and comes in fresh for trainer Al Stall, who strikes at a 23% rate with horses returning form layoffs of 90 days or more. If there’s a single in the Single 6 sequence, Soaring Bird might be the one.
A handful of capable stakes winners have been entered in this 1 1/16-mile grass allowance optional claiming race for 3-year-old fillies. Arguably the most intriguing is the stretch-running #3 Ask Bailey (5-2), who enters off a respectable sixth-place effort against tough stakes winners Micheline, Harvey’s Lil Goil, and Luck Money in the 1 5/16-mile Dueling Grounds Oaks.
The only concern is Ask Bailey’s complete lack of tactical speed. If a slow pace unfolds, Hilltop S. winner #8 Evil Lyn (3-1)—beaten just 1 1/2 lengths when setting the pace in the Appalachian (G2) during the summer—could enjoy a significant tactical advantage.
The finale is a 6-furlong maiden special weight for fillies and mares. #10 Silverbelle (5-2) will be a popular choice after finishing second by narrow margins in a pair of 6-furlong maiden sprints at Oaklawn, earning a field-best 96 Brisnet Speed rating in her second start. Silverbelle has been training sharply for her return from a seven-month layoff and will be tough to beat if she brings her A-game.
If there’s a longshot capable of challenging, it might be #1 My Mane Girl (8-1), who weakened to finish seventh after setting the pace in her debut at Churchill one year ago. The daughter of Fast Anna has been training up a storm for her return (clocking a half-mile in :45 3/5 on Sept. 28!), and trainer Kenny McPeek strikes at a 16% rate with second-time starters.