Longshots and value plays for Churchill Downs racing on June 1

May 31st, 2024

Churchill Downs will host the 11-race Stephen Foster Preview Day card on Saturday, featuring the $275,000 Blame (G3), the local prep for the $1 million Stephen Foster (G1) on June 29.

Below we look at a couple of longshots and value plays to consider for horizontal or vertical wagers throughout Saturday's card.

TwinSpires is also offering a Selected Races Money Back offer, where you can get up to $10 back on your first win bet if your horses finishes second or third in select races every Friday through Sunday. On Saturday’s card, Races 7, 8, 9, and 10 are eligible if you opt in to the promo at TwinSpires.com or on the TwinSpires app by signing in.

Race 9: Regret S. (G3), 1 1/8 miles (turf), 3yo fillies

#6 Buchu (5-2) won two back in the one-mile Appalachian (G2) over a Keeneland track labeled good but came home sixth last out in the 1 1/16-mile Edgewood (G2) over yielding turf at Churchill. She may improve third start off the layoff and looked sharp in her recent work at Churchill. She and second choice on the morning line #1 Way to Be Marie (3-1) are tough, but a longshot worth considering for horizontal wagers is #8 Sassy Princess (8-1). The Oscar Performance filly won two back at today’s distance in a maiden special weight at Gulfstream, then had the lead through the stretch before she was bested late to finish a neck fourth in a 1 3/16-mile allowance at Keeneland. Brendan Walsh is a 14% winner this meet and a 12% winner with graded stakes. Flavien Prat, a 19% winner on turf, will retain the mount.

Another value play to consider is #4 Dancing N Dixie (7-2), who’s 0-for-4 on turf but finished third in her last three racing between eight and 8 1/2 furlongs. The late closer may improve with the added distance, and she put in a bullet work on May 22 at Churchill. Jose Ortiz will stay in the saddle.

Race 10: Blame S. (G3), 1 1/8 miles, 4yos and up

The morning line favorite, #2 Highland Falls (5-2), is 0-for-2 since stretching out beyond 1 1/16 miles, and while facing stakes company. We’ll try to beat the Brad Cox pupil with #6 Dreamlike (4-1), who clocked a career-best 108 Brisnet figure three back when a half-length second in the 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby (G1) over a sloppy Parx track. The late runner out of Todd Pletcher’s barn was last seen finishing a neck second in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Keeneland and may improve second start off the layoff. He’ll keep rider Irad Ortiz Jr., a 21% winner this meet and a 23% winner with routes.

Dreamlike’s stablemate, #5 Tapit Trice (3-1), is the second choice on the morning line and will make his four-year-old debut off a layoff of more than nine months. While he’s been training sharply at Churchill, he had a tendency to break poorly from the gate as a three-year-old and his lack of consistency is cause for concern.

One other note about the Blame field — three runners, all longshots with early speed, are potential scratches after they raced at Churchill on May 27. #4 Uncle Jake (30-1), #7 Classic Causeway (30-1), and #10 Five Star General (30-1) are all coming off short rest. If any of them scratch, it could shake up the pace scenario and could potentially leave #1 Frosted Departure (15-1) alone on the early lead. The Frosted colt has won two straight, including a gate-to-wire victory in the Lake Ouachita S., and will move back up in class here for Kenny McPeek, a 19% winner at Churchill. Julien Leparoux will retain the mount and is winning at a 33% clip paired with McPeek the last 60 days.

One other longshot to watch is horse-for-the-course #11 Trademark (12-1), who is 4-for-7 at Churchill and owns a 6-2-1-0 record from today’s distance. The Vicki Oliver trainee won three back in the 1 1/8-mile Clark (G2) at Churchill with a career-best 103 Brisnet figure, but has since fallen out of form, finishing far back in 10th in the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus World Cup (G1) and a distant seventh in 1 1/16-mile Alysheba (G2) on May 3. He may improve second start off the layoff (an 18% winning move for Oliver), and the Upstart gelding put in a bullet four-furlong workout at Keeneland on May 25. Martin Garcia, a 22% winner this meet, will regain the mount.

Race 11, Audubon S., 1 1/8 miles (turf), 3yos

#2 Cugino (7-2) is a lukewarm morning line favorite in the finale and has yet to win since breaking his maiden on debut five starts back at Aqueduct in November. The Twirling Candy colt was last seen finishing fourth by 3 1/2 lengths in the American Turf (G2) while facing a handful of today’s rivals, and I like those runners’ chances better in this spot.

#5 Formidable Man (5-1) finished second in the American Turf after leading through the stretch before getting caught near the final sixteenth and will drop down in class today for Michael McCarthy. The City of Light colt won two back in an allowance optional claimer at Santa Anita, and he put in a bullet five-furlong workout at Churchill on May 25. His last-out 96 Brisnet Speed figure is the highest last race speed figure among the field, and he’s second in Brisnet Prime Power.

The third-place finisher from the American Turf may also improve with the added distance here. #9 Lagynos (5-1) was beaten a half-length two back in the 1 1/16-mile Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland, then finished two lengths third in the American Turf when rallying late. Steve Asmussen is an 18% winner in non-graded stakes and a 20% winner at Churchill this meet. Cristian Torres (19% at Churchill) will retain the mount.

One other runner to watch for is #3 Cameo Performance (6-1), who’s coming off a win in his U.S. debut for Brendan Walsh. The Oscar Performance colt finished a neck second racing seven furlongs on Dundalk’s synthetic track, then tried turf for the first time at Keeneland last out and beat 11 rivals in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight. Walsh is a 19% winner with horses coming off a maiden win, and Tyler Gaffalione is a 19% winner paired up with Walsh over the last two months.