Exotics Plays for the William Walker Stakes

May 12th, 2023

A talented and well-matched field of eight three-year-olds will go postward in the $225,000 William Walker S. at Churchill Downs on Saturday. The 5 1/2-furlong turf dash attracted the top-six finishers from the recent Palisades S. run at Keeneland, including post-time favorite #7 Private Creed (3-1), who made a belated run to finish fifth in the grassy dash.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, the son of Jimmy Creed had an excellent two-year-old campaign while solely sprinting on the green in compiling a 5-3-0-2 mark, led by stakes victories in the Juvenile Sprint S. at Kentucky Downs and the Indian Summer S. at Keeneland. In his two-year-old finale, the colt closed well in the stretch to register a third-place result in the deep Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1).

Private Creed missed by a head when trying to negotiate one mile over soft turf in the Texas Turf Mile S. to commence this campaign, prior to experimenting on the dirt but showing little in the Risen Star S. (G2) two back. The bay was left with too much to do over a "good" surface at Keeneland last time out but will endure a better voyage while closer to the tempo on Saturday. The Kentucky-bred colt will run them down in the lane with Brian Hernandez Jr. taking the reins for the initial time.

I will focus on a pair of runners beneath my top pick, including Al Stall’s #1 Gilcrease (15-1). The dark bay son of More Than Ready was a sharp first-out winner in a turf dash at Saratoga in his lone run of 2022, and he has given a solid account of himself in a pair of dirt sprints this season, too. The talented homebred will relish both the return to the sod, as well as the rail post, for his third try of the year with Corey Lanerie up.

Wesley Ward’s #5 No Nay Hudson (6-1) has speed and consistency as a logical inclusion in the contest. The No Nay Never colt disputed the pace prior to finishing sixth in the Palisades, but he will receive a more favorable pace scenario with which to work with on Saturday while making his second run of the year. The three-time stakes-placed colt will have James Graham in the stirrups.

Mike Maker’s #2 Gaslight Dancer (2-1) is obviously talented and drove clear in the lane to take the Palisades in kicking off his three-year-old season. The $260,000 son of City Light might have benefited from the "off" turf at Keeneland, however, and I will limit his usage to the lower rungs of the vertical gimmicks.

William Walker Exotics Wagers

$12 exacta: 7 with 1,5 ($24)

$1 trifecta: 7 with 1,2,5 with all ($18)

$.50-cent superfecta: 7 with 1,2,5 with 1,2,5 with all ($15)

$.50-cent superfecta: 7 with 1,2,5 with all with 1,2,5 ($15)