Betting Longshot Bronson in the Louisville Handicap

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 17th, 2018

Saturday’s $100,000 Louisville Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs might not be the most prestigious race of the day from a class perspective—it’s only a Grade 3—but it is certainly shaping up to be a highly competitive event with plenty of options for bettors to consider.

The majority of horses entered in the 12-furlong turf event haven’t won a race in more than year and a few haven’t been in the winner’s circle since 2016, so suffice to say, the race looks wide-open on paper. With this in mind, I’m going to focus my attention on a longshot with the potential to produce a big payoff if he wins: #4 Bronson.

I’ll admit that at first glance, Bronson’s form isn’t very good. He hasn’t come close to winning in two starts this year, and his speed figures certainly aren’t eye-catching.

But upon further examination, Bronson becomes more interesting. His last defeat came on dirt, and two starts back he was beaten less than six lengths against a quality field in a slow-paced allowance race at Gulfstream that didn’t suit his late-running style. Last year, the son of Medaglia d’Oro was good enough to win the English Channel Stakes at Gulfstream, but more significantly, he finished a good third in the Dueling Grounds Derby going 10.5 furlongs, by far his longest race to date.

Trainer Mike Maker has done very well stretching turf horses out in distance and is now making that exact move with Bronson. Only time will tell how Bronson handles the extended distance of the Louisville Handicap, but there’s enough evidence in his record to suggest that he might relish the longer journey, and that possibility makes him intriguing as one on the longest shots on the morning line.

#7 Some in Tieme won the 2017 Louisville Handicap by three lengths with a decisive rally from last place, and while he’s gone 0-for-5 since then, he did finish a good second in the John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes (gr. III) in January and has been competing against top company in his recent defeats, so the drop in class to a Grade 3 could help him rebound. His Kenny McPeek-trained stablemate #3 Vettori Kin is also appealing; he finished a close third in an 8.5-furlong allowance race at Churchill Downs on May 13th and was a Group 1 winner going 12 furlongs on turf in Brazil, so the distance of the Louisville Handicap shouldn’t be an issue.

Let’s box those two in the exacta with Bronson while also betting Bronson to win and place:

$6 to win/place on #4 Bronson ($12) $2 exacta: 3,4,7 with 3,4,7 ($12)

Good luck!