Ellis Park Kentucky Downs Preview Pick 5
by JOE KRISTUFEK
Newly conceived for this year, Ellis Park’s “Kentucky Downs Preview Day” features four $100,000 turf stakes that feed right into the lucrative Kentucky Downs program in September.
All four stakes, and a really good second-level optional claiming seven furlong dirt allowance, comprise the Pick 5 sequence. The wager covers the last five races on the card and the minimum increment is .50. As always, I will structure my tickets based on budget (in this case $200) and opinion.
Race 5 – Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint
#3 Will Call (8-5) and #6 Angaston (3-1) forged one of the more memorable battles of the spring meet at Churchill Downs on June 28. Stalking from just off the pace, Angaston took over the lead in the deep stretch, only to be run over late by the high-flying Will Call. Neither has missed a beat in training since. Alternatives would be #8 Extravagant Kid (5-1), who is capable of running very fast, and #7 Maniacal (12-1), who was visually impressive during the late stages of the Churchill Downs spring meet.
A – 3, 6
B – 8
C – 7
Race 6 – The Kentucky Downs Preview Calumet Farm Turf Cup
The connections of #7 Arklow (9-5) had designs on next Saturday’s Arlington Million (G1), where he may have been competitive off a less than ideal trip in the Stars and Stripes (G3). He’s squarely the horse to beat here, but he can be pace dependent, and there’s not a lot of early steam signed on here. Mike “Money” Maker, who is salivates over the Kentucky Downs meet, has a pair of horses entered, but it’s #6 Tizzarunner (4-1), who ran a strong fourth in the Arlington Handicap (G3), that I’m interested in. Race winner Divisidero is prime for a run at the Million, while third-place finisher Synchrony recently returned to take down the Oceanport Stakes (G3) at Monmouth. Sir Dudley Digges has put together a fantastic career. His recent form falls short, but he’s tough to completely leave off the Pick 5 tickets. The bomb is #1 All Right (20-1). He’s class challenged and needs to run faster, but he takes on this assignment in the best form of his career and the pedigree suggests a potential affinity for the 10-furlong turf distance.
A – 7
B – 6
C – 1
The only non-stakes and dirt event in the sequence could offer some value. #6 Bordini (9-2) and #8 Forevamo (8-1) both exit a similarly conditioned seven-furlong race at Churchill Downs on June 23. Neither ran well, but both have excuses behind a razor-sharp winner in Majestic Affair, who has since returned to win the Good Lord Stakes at Ellis. #4 Crosswalk (3-1) has been visually impressive at times. He failed as the heavy chalk in each of his last two starts, but an “off” track can be used as an excuse for both. I like all three horses equally, and will use them that way in the Pick 5, hoping that the longest shot wins, of course.
A – 4, 6, 8
Race 8 – The Kentucky Downs Preview Tourist Mile
The winner of nine of 12 turf starts, #7 Mr. Misunderstood (1-1) has recently proved his merit in the graded stakes ranks. In his most recent start, he won the Wise Dan (G2) at Churchill, but one could make a case that fifth place (beaten only a length) finisher #4 Parlor (4-1), who runs as a gelding for the first time today, performed just as well. The winner should come from one of those two, but if you’re looking for a potential bomb or two to include, I’d consider #2 Siem Riep (8-1) and/or #1 One Mean Man (20-1), who finished second and third respectively in a recent turf stakes at Indiana Grand. Over a grass course that favored speed, Siem Riep set the pace before settling for second behind the favored Dot Matrix while One Mean Man, who enters today’s assignment on a 17-race losing streak, closed through traffic to gamely earn the show dough.
A – 4, 7
C – 1, 2
Race 9 – The Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf
This is the race where we can make some “hay”. With her A-game, #12 Lovely Bernadette (5-2) is the one to beat, BUT, she ran flat as a pancake last out at Indiana Grand and the extreme outside post doesn’t do her any favors here. #6 Res Ipsa (7-2) exits the same race. She ran a little better, but not much. I’m willing to leave both of them off the tickets. Off consecutive turf wins, the speedy #4 I’m Betty G (9-2) is the horse to beat here for Mike “Money” Maker. She’s actually the fourth choice in the morning line, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she went favored. #1 English Affair (20-1) has been running in some tough luck. She’s more talented than she looks on paper and is very well drawn on the rail. #3 Noted and Quoted (12-1) hasn’t raced since September, but she’s trained like a beast in recent weeks. Only one of her 10 lifetime starts has come on grass, but the pedigree suggests she should have been mowing the lawn all along. #9 Sailor’s Valentine is another who may have found her niche on turf. She finished a troubled third behind I’m Betty G last out over the Canterbury grass, and is just now rounding back into top form.
A – 1, 3, 4, 9
$1 Pick Five: 3, 6 with 7 with 4, 6, 8 with 4, 7 with 1, 3, 4, 9 = $48 (all A’s)
.50 Pick Five: 3, 6 with 6, 7 with 4, 6, 8 with 1, 2, 4, 7 with 1, 3, 4, 9 = $96 (strongest A’s with ABC)
.50 Pick Five 3, 6, 7, 8 with 1, 6, 7 with 6, 8 with 4, 7 with 1, 4 = $48 (ABC with ABC with top A’s)
.50 Pick Five 3 with 7 with 6, 8 with 4, 7 with 1, 3, 4, 9 = $8 (strongest opinions)