Scully: Handicapping Downs After Dark on May 22
Seven of the 11 races on Saturday’s Downs After Dark program at Churchill Downs, including a pair of stakes events, offer a six-figure purse, and I’ll highlight some horses of interest.
Race 5 -- Winning Colors (G3)
Following a good second in the Derby City Distaff (G1), #4 Sconsin will make her third start back for Greg Foley. The four-year-old filly loves Churchill Downs, posting a sharp tally in the Eight Belles S. (G2) last fall, and the cutback to six panels looks favorable after coming up a little short to Gamine at seven-eighths of a mile.
Late-running Sconsin has pace in Rising Seas, who should keep Frank’s Rockette from getting an easy early lead. I didn’t like Frank’s Rockette’s last performance – the classy filly didn’t show her usual speed from the gate and lacked the necessary finishing kick after almost drawing even in midstretch – and will try to beat the 6-5 morning line favorite.
After a troubled trip in her second start, #3 Shoshoni Moon is poised to offer more on the stretch out to two turns. The Malibu Moon filly has the pedigree for longer distances, with half-brother Bethlehem being a two-turn stakes winner. And the dark bay three-year-old ran well at first asking for Stephen Lyster, finishing a clear second to a Steve Asmussen-trained favorite at Oaklawn Park in mid-March.
Bet down to favoritism in a salty maiden on Keeneland's opening weekend, Shoshoni Moon was checked a few strides out of the starting gate and never appeared comfortable rushing up into traffic along the inside, finishing five lengths back in sixth eventually. The third-place finisher, Stand By You, came back to easily win her next outing, and Shoshoni Moon doesn’t appear to be facing the toughest competition here. She’s listed at an appealing 8-1 on the morning line.
The surface switch will benefit #10 Big Dreaming, who concluded his three-year-old season with a sharp allowance tally on the main track at Keeneland. The Declaration of War colt was too keen when returning from a near six-month layoff in a turf allowance on the Kentucky Oaks undercard, fighting the rider during the early stages, but the race served as a useful tightener. He should receive an optimal setup Saturday, sitting just off the speed before offering his best, and I will key Big Dreaming in my wagers.
Race 9 – Keertana S.
I’m against a couple of favorites in the 1 1/2-mile turf affair for fillies and mares. Delta’s Kingdom, the 5-2 second choice, is a threat to break through eventually, but she likes to finish close without being a serious threat to winner, recording six placings and no wins from her last 10 starts. Dalika, the 3-1 co-second choice, appears to prefer less ground.
#4 Temple City Terror is my top pick. Bred to appreciate the marathon distance, the five-year-old mare relishes the turf at Churchill (3-2-1-0), and she has been able to race closer when the pace is slow. In a field lacking frontrunners, Temple City Terror should be in position to pounce turning for home.
#5 Pass the Plate will take some beating. A stakes winner in late December, the four-year-old miss exits a strong showing in her first attempt at 12 furlongs, rallying for third in the Bewitch S. (G3), and she’s eligible to keep progressing in this spot for Paul McGee.
I will use Temple City Terror and Pass the Place in all multi-race bets.