Churchill: Singles for the mandatory-payout $150,260 Pick 6 carryover

October 1st, 2023

Sunday is closing day of the Churchill Downs September meet, which means the $150,260 jackpot carryover in the 20-cent “Derby City 6” Pick 6 is slated for a mandatory payout.

The sequence gets underway in Race 5 at 2:45 p.m. ET. Planning to play along, but not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered with a pair of suggested singles:

Race 7: Maiden Special Weight: #5 Stronghold (4-1)

Stronghold isn’t the morning line favorite to win this one-mile contest for juveniles; that honor goes to #11 Blown Cover (7-2), a first-time starter from the hot barn of Brad Cox. But while Cox’s 2-for-10 (20%) record debuting juveniles at Churchill Downs this meet is respectable, it does mean that 80% of Cox’s untested juveniles have been beaten.

That’s why we’re willing to single Stronghold, who has already proven he can hold his own at this class level. The son of Ghostzapper debuted in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Ellis Park and vied for the early lead before staying on to finish second by 2 3/4 lengths against Awesome Road, who is slated to compete in the upcoming Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland.

Stronghold pulled 10 lengths clear of the third-place finisher and earned a sharp 85 Brisnet Speed rating, only two points lower than the par winning number for Sunday’s conditions. Trainer Phil D’Amato wins at a 28% rate with horses running long for the first time, and Stronghold enters off sharp workouts (including a bullet five furlongs in :59 3/5 at Churchill Downs), so it’s going to take a big effort for anyone to beat him.

Race 8: $32,000 Starter Allowance: #5 Megan’s Clara (9-5)

Only six fillies and mares have entered this starter allowance sprint, and morning line favorite Megan’s Clara looks formidable. The five-year-old daughter of Munnings has won three of her four starts since being claimed by trainer Norm Casse, including a $30,000 starter allowance during the spring meet at Churchill Downs.

Megan’s Clara boasts a sharp series of Brisnet Speed ratings and enters off victory in a six-furlong allowance at Ellis Park. She hasn’t run since mid-July, but Casse wins at a 23% rate with horses running back in 46-90 days, so the freshening shouldn’t be a problem. Throw in the fact Megan’s Clara will be ridden by jockey Ricardo Santana (who has gone 7-for-14, 50% teaming up with Casse over the last two months), and we’ve found a second viable Pick 6 single.

Good luck!