Betting With, and Against, Rockemperor in the River City Stakes

November 9th, 2023

The Chad Brown-trained #4 Rockempror (4-1) is the lukewarm morning-line choice in Saturday’s $300,000 River City S. (G3) at Churchill Downs. An overflow field of 15 has been entered for the 1 1/8-mile turf event, and the race looks to be wide open in my opinion. 

Rockemperor – With

  • $10 exacta 4 with 3,6,8 ($30)
  • $.50-cent trifecta 4 with 3,6,8 with all ($15)
  • $.50-cent trifecta 4 with all with 3,6,8 ($15)

Rockemperor – Against

  • $15 win and place #6 Smokin’ T ($30)
  • $.50-cent trifecta 6,8 with 3,4,6,8 with all ($30)

Rockemperor has banked more than $1.2 million in his lifetime, and the seven-year-old comes off of a very good second in the Singspiel S. (G3) at Woodbine in his most recent appearance. By Holy Roman Emperor, the gelding has kept some pretty fine company over the past few seasons and looks to have landed in a spot where he fits quite well. The seven-year-old has been solid at the distance and was third in his lone local showing to date, so his best run will put him squarely in the mix with Tyler Gaffalione in the stirrups

For those hoping to upend the favorite, #6 Smokin’ T (6-1) seems like a logical option with John Velazquez taking the reins. The Shug McGaughey charge has hit the board in each of his seven outings in 2023, led by a score in the Lure S. at Saratoga as well as a fine allowance victory beneath the TwinSpires. The War Front homebred has bagged his last pair of races when running off of the bench as he will do on Saturday, and his forwardly placed running style will be an asset in a sizable field too. The four-year-old has been training in strong fashion in advance of his return to Louisville. 

Todd Pletcher’s #8 Grand Sonata (6-1) has been a little uneven in his career but the dark bay is more than capable on his best day. This Medaglia d’Oro colt was stakes placed on the course in his lone prior try locally and he gets a pass for his latest when trying 1 1/2 miles over yielding turf at Keeneland last time out. The Whisper Hill homebred has enough tactical foot to keep touch early before being asked for his best late. Luis Saez has the assignment. 

#3 Red Run (12-1) has a fine turn of foot in a field with a lot of speed, so I will use the Mike Maker pupil in this spot at a square price. The Gun Runner chestnut was a smart allowance winner here two back, which preceded a solid fourth-place result in the Sycamore S. (G3) most recently. The Kentucky-bred will presumably make one run in the lane with Ricardo Santana, Jr. in the silks.