How to Bet the Commonwealth Turf Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 7th, 2018

Seemingly every time we turn around, Ken and Sarah Ramsey have been named the leading owner at another Churchill Downs race meet, so it’s hardly surprising to see that they will start one of the favorites in Saturday’s $100,000 Commonwealth Turf Stakes (gr. III) at the Louisville racetrack.

Their entrant is #3 Sniper Kitten, a son of their wildly successful racehorse-turned-stallion Kitten’s Joy. After finishing fourth in his debut, Sniper Kitten rattled off three straight victories at Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, and Canterbury Park, including an impressive late-running score in the one-mile Mystic Lake Derby, in which Sniper Kitten rallied from eight lengths off the pace to win by a length against a quality field.

Sniper Kitten has been soundly beaten in his last two starts, but one was the prestigious Secretariat Stakes (gr. I) going 1 ¼ miles at Arlington—in which he was beaten less than seven lengths in a large field—and the other was the one-mile Caesars Stakes at Indiana Grand, in which Sniper Kitten was compromised by a slow pace and a wide trip that forced him to change running styles en route to a sixth-place finish.

A return to late-running tactics could help Sniper Kitten rebound in the Commonwealth Turf Stakes, though if he’s going to win he’ll have to catch the talented #7 Hot Springs, who is 3-for-3 over the Churchill Downs turf course. The son of Uncle Mo is experienced at the graded stakes level, having finished second in the Kent Stakes (gr. III) at Delaware Park and fourth in the Saranac Stakes (gr. III) at Saratoga, and following those excursions against high-class competition he won the Jefferson Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs with a rally from just off the pace.

Perhaps Hot Springs’ greatest weapon is his tactical speed; he likes to stay within a couple lengths of the early pace, which should allow him to get first run on Sniper Kitten.  In terms of BRIS speed figures, Hot Springs fits well against Sniper Kitten, and considering his affinity for the local turf course, he could be tough to run down.

#4 March to the Arch, third in the Saranac Stakes (gr. III) and a close fourth in Belmont Park’s Hill Prince Stakes (gr. II), is another very logical contender with classy form lines. I believe these three colts are a cut above their rivals in the Commonwealth Turf Stakes, so I’ll play all three in the exacta and trifecta while emphasizing Sniper Kitten and Hot Springs:

$2 exacta: 3,4,7 with 3,4,7 ($12) $1 exacta: 3,7 with 3,4,7 ($4) $2 trifecta: 3,4,7 with 3,4,7 with 3,4,7 ($12) $0.50 trifecta: 3,7 with 3,4,7 with 3,4,7 ($2)

Good luck!