Scully: Pick 3 play on Stars of Tomorrow program at Churchill Downs

November 24th, 2023

Juveniles take center stage at Churchill Downs Saturday, with 12 races devoted exclusively to two-year-olds. The second Stars of Tomorrow program of the fall meet, Saturday’s action includes a pair of qualifiers for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) hopefuls.

One of the most imposing favorites on the card, impressive debut winner Booth, will stick to sprints for the time being in the $255,000 Ed Brown S. at 6 1/2 furlongs. I’m not keen to take on the Steve Asmussen-trained colt, but will look to fade some favorites around Booth in a Pick 3 wager.

$5 Pick 3 wager (races 8-10): 1,5 with 9 with 5,6,7 ($30)

Race 8 – Maiden Special Weight

I will side with a pair of runners, #1 Stop the Press (10-1) and #5 D Day Sky (10-1), exiting an Oct. 26 maiden special weight at Keeneland. I liked the winner, Rocketeer, a Curlin colt who scored convincingly at first asking for Brad Cox, and wasn’t surprised to see the favorite, Stop the Press, come up short after a poor break.

One of my favorite handicapping angles surrounds fading horses with consecutive gate works in advance of their first start. Those horses wouldn’t need back-to-back gate works unless they had a problem. Stop the Press, a $1.5 million son of Uncle Mo, impressed onlookers with pre-race workouts, logging multiple bullet moves, but he was having an issues in the mornings, recording back-to-back works most recently and four of his last five drills from the starting gate.

He broke poorly at Keeneland, getting bumped around repeatedly, and Stop the Press was clearly frustrated during the early stages, far back in the pack taking kickback, eventually offering a moderate rally to split the field in sixth. We missed the burial, let’s make the most of the wedding on Saturday!

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey isn’t known for his work with firsters, his horses generally improve with experience, and Stop the Press received the perfect tutorial. Leading rider Tyler Gaffalione will pick up the mount, his people know Stop the Press has talent, and I will look for a big showing. 

D Day Sky, who ran well to be a clear second to Rocketeer switching turf to dirt for Ian Wilkes, will also be included in the Pick 3.

Race 9 – Ed Brown

#9 Booth (7-5) dominated an opening-day maiden on the lead and received an outstanding 98 Brisnet Speed rating for the 5 1/4-length decision. He was flattered when the runner-up, Nash, came back to break his maiden by 10+ lengths at Churchill Downs next out.

Race 10 – Golden Rod (G2)

Torpedo Anna has been installed as 8-5 morning line off a pair of convincing wins, but the Fast Anna filly must stretch to two turns and a pair of rivals have earned better Speed ratings. I will try to beat the expected favorite with #7 West Sunset (2-1) and #6 Gin Gin (8-1), the top two in the Rags the Riches S. earlier in the meet, and Frizette (G1) runner-up #5 Central Avenue (5-1).

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