Handicapping a Thanksgiving Day Pick 3 at Churchill Downs

November 22nd, 2023

Churchill Downs will offer a large feast of races on Thursday and throughout Thanksgiving weekend as the 2023 fall meet wraps up. The holiday card begins at 11:30 a.m. ET, and I'll be concentrating on a Pick 3 later in the program.

Race 8 — Allowance (2:47 p.m. ET)

This high-end allowance has several former graded stakes winners entered to go one mile, but I'll lean instead on a couple that haven't quite made that grade. #2 Twilight Blue (9-2) has never run a bad race over this track, with three wins and three second from six attempts. He took a step back second off the bench in the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland last time, but merits a long look returning his to his preferred surface.

#3 Injunction (6-1) has been running on turf exclusively since late August, when he returned from an extended break, but his prowess over this track and trip is well documented. Comeback form was solid until the Nov. 11 River City (G3), the ground for which he might not have fancied.

Race 9 — Allowance (3:16 p.m. ET)

A couple of three-year-olds returning from extended breaks might be good enough to win this second-level allowance over 6 1/2 furlongs. #4 Cyclone Mischief (5-1) overachieved to an extent when placing in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Florida Derby (G1), and then in the Kentucky Derby (G1) trailed home 18th. Work pattern suggests he's coming in fairly sharp.

#7 Invulnerable (8-1) was 2-for-2 around one turn for Joe Sharp last fall and winter, and likely comes blasting out of the gate here. One to catch if he sneaks away early and attempts to run them off their feet.

Race 10 — Cardinal (G3) (3:45 p.m. ET)

Hard to get a grip on how this will go as no guarantee it stays on the turf. Guessing #7 Saffron Moon (2-1) will not go off favored, despite the morning line price, but she's certainly ready for initial step up into stakes company after going 3-for-4 on the turf so far for Chad Brown. The form of her overnight wins have largely been flattered, and she wouldn't need a huge hike in improvement to beat this field.

Her dirt form isn't much, but did show speed the last time she tried it, and this race lacks much in the way of pace.

The $2 ticket: 2,3 with 4,7 with 7 = $8