Betting a Cold Double on Churchill Downs' Opening Night

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 25th, 2019

You won’t need a news bulletin to know #1 Bulletin will be an overwhelming favorite in the $125,000 William Walker Stakes at Churchill Downs on April 27.

The eighth and featured race on opening night of the spring meet, the William Walker is a five-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds, and sprinting on grass is what Bulletin does best. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the son of City Zip is unbeaten in three starts (all stakes races) and has never been headed at any point of call. That streak of dominance includes a decisive victory in the inaugural , in which he powered clear down the homestretch to win by 2 3/4 lengths.
Firm, yielding, somewhere in between—it doesn’t matter for Bulletin, who can handle seemingly any type of turf course. There’s also no need to worry about his current form, because he had little difficulty beating 11 rivals in the 5 1/2-furlong Palisades Turf Sprint Stakes at Keeneland earlier this month.
Bulletin shouldn’t lose the William Walker, but identifying the most likely candidates to round out the exacta, trifecta or superfecta could be challenging. There’s little separating them, and spreading deep to ensure a winning ticket is a recipe for a meager payoff.

Instead I’ll focus on keying Bulletin in a double bet with #6 Historian, who runs in the seventh race of the night. The event in question is a $75,000 maiden claiming race going 1 1/16 miles on the main track, and the field doesn’t look too inspiring on paper. Four of the six entrants have never cracked the top three in a single race, and the two who have are 0-for-7 and 0-for-19 for win purposes.

Historian is among the four who have never triggered a successful show payoff, but he really didn’t run poorly when finishing fourth in a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Keeneland three weeks ago. He was beaten 11 3/4 lengths, but the winner ran off to score by eight lengths and Historian wasn’t far behind the rest.

Historian has enough stamina in his pedigree to suggest stretching out to 1 1/16 miles won’t be an issue, and dropping in for a $75,000 claiming tag should help him be more competitive for the high-profile team of trainer Rodolphe Brisset and owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing. The 91 BRIS speed figure he posted at Keeneland is the highest figure earned by any horse in this field, and the addition of blinkers could help him show speed in a race that’s packed with late runners.

Let’s bet Historian and Bulletin together in a cold $25 double:

$25 double: 6 with 1

Good luck!