Kentucky Downs Selections for Saturday, August 31

Profile Picture: Joe Kristufek

August 30th, 2019

Saturday’s Franklin, Kentucky, forecast calls for sunny skies and high of 90 degrees. Historically when the Kentucky Downs turf course is bone dry, it can strongly favor speed, particularly in sprint races. “The turf course has never looked better,” said Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager Ted Nicholson. “We have just aerated more often, fertilized more, killed all of the weeds off – and watered, watered, watered. Our turf course superintendent is told to water the course every day in the summer, even if the forecast is for rain, short of when it is actually raining.” It will be interesting to see if the additional maintenance effects the way the turf plays. We won’t know until we see some races. With the top pick listed first, “A” horses are in order or preference. Remember, the takeout on Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers at Kentucky Downs is only 14%, so take advantage! 1ST RACE – Pick 5 starts here Antalya (#4) (7-2) has gotten really good of late, rattling off three consecutive turf wins at Arlington Park. She fits these starter allowance conditions to a tee. Royal Alexandra (#10) (3-1) and Sapphire Jubilee (#2) (4-1) are common opponents who have taken turns beating one another. Both are consistent lawnmowers who enter this race in excellent form. A – 4, 10, 2 B – 3, 7, 14 C – 9, 11, 15 2ND RACE – Pick 4 starts here Hellorhighwater (#7) (9-2) has been knocking on the door for quite a few months. He finished a very respectable third last out over 1 3/16 miles at Saratoga. Steadied two back at Ellis, he found his best stride too late and ran third behind a talented pair in Lady Nakuru, who we will see later in this card, and Pintxos (#11) (4-1), who also rates a big shot here. Pintxos was wrongfully dismissed at 40-1 in that career debut, enjoyed a perfect pressing trip and led late, only to be out-finished in the final strides by a horse he didn’t see. He galloped out in front and appears to have a bright future. The California invader Chewing Gum (#9) (3-1) will make his third start in a month. Hung wide at every call in his two-turn debut last out, he closed on the wrong lead until late stretch, but still managed to be third. He has some upside. A – 7, 11, 9 B – 1, 3 C – 5, 6, 8, 13, 15, 16 3RD RACE Marzon (#7) (4-1) is an even better horse on turf than it would appear. He’s either won, held his own against foes or has had an excuse. Nine of the 11 horses entered here exit routes, so yes, there is a serious lack of speed signed on. Adam Beschizza is notorious for taking advantage of such situations. Holiday Stone (#1) (3-1) has a class edge. He was cooked in a hot pace in the Wise Dan Stakes (G2) two back and ran big to just miss in the Kentucky Downs Preview Tourist Mile last out. He took should sit a sweet trip. Dragon Drew (#2) (8-1) has done all of his recent grassy dash work from off the pace, but those races were much sharper than this one. Should find himself more forwardly placed here and the long stretch could work to his advantage. A – 7, 1, 2 B – 6, 8 C – 10, 11 4TH RACE Listed at 15-1 on the morning line in what looks to be a wide-open race, Lake Nakuru (#7) (15-1) won even more impressively that it looks last out. He finished with a flourish, and split horses gamely. His arrow is pointing up and this doesn’t appear to be the strongest race for the level. Formidable on all surfaces, Morning Social (#5) (10-1) might actually be best on turf. He’s versatile, should love the trip and the price will be square. New Colossus (#6) (5-1) is talented, it’s the mental side of the game he’s still trying to grasp. Set up perfectly for this with a second place run in a turf sprint, he might be ready to run the best race of his career in this one. A – 7, 5, 6 B – 10, 2, 9, 11 C – 3, 4, 14 5TH RACE Somewhere, Scott Shapiro is reading this and shaking his head. Yes Scott, I picked Bridaled Temper (#8) (3-1) on top, but trust me, I won’t be leaning on her. With one win and six seconds, she usually finds a way to come up short or get herself beat, but she is the most accomplished of these and is a four-year-old against a field of mostly sophomores. In her three most recent turf starts, Call to Victory (#2) (8-1) was narrowly beaten by her talented stablemate (and galloped out in front), was eliminated at the start, and most recently she broke her maiden in a professional effort. She’s better than she looks. Delta’s Kingdom (#12) (9-2) is a consistent late runner who might relish Kentucky Downs and Enchanting Kitten (#14) (7-2) (also-eligible) finished second best behind the super-talented Wildlife last out. A – 8, 2, 12, 14 B – 11, 7 C – 3, 10, 16 6TH RACE – Late Pick 5 starts here This race has chaos written all over it. It’s tough for first timers to win at Kentucky Downs, yet in a race where those who have started haven’t impressed me, I’m gravitating towards two debuters. By the up-and-coming sire Declaration of War, the Larry Jones-trained Wexx (#1) (10-1) hails from a solid and precocious family with turf influences. Lady Jenneviere (#13) (4-1) (also-eligible) raced evenly in her career debut on dirt but, by millionaire turfer Mr. Speaker, she could easily move up on grass. The Peter Miller-trained A J Rock (#11) (7-2), a $150,000 two-year-old in training buy sired by $5,000 first-crop sire Conveyance, is out of a dam who won 14 races as a sprinter/miler. Miller has only started one horse at Kentucky Downs, but now that he has invaded Kentucky, you can expect some live ones moving forward. Of those who have started, Mom’s Pass (#16) (5-2) (also-eligible) is a bit of a standout, but even if she draws in, it might be worth playing against. A – 1, 16, 13 B – 11, 8 C – 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14 7TH RACE – Late Pick 4 starts here I was impressed with Hanalei Moon (#7) (8-1) this past winter at Fair Grounds, and she ran a monster race to finish second over a speed-favoring turf course in the Indiana General Assembly Distaff. Her form is darkened by a disappointing race last out at Ellis, but I’m willing to forgive it, particularly at a price. An upset winner at Churchill two back, Smart Emma (#10) (6-1) returned from a summer vacation to finish a late running third at Ellis. Her grinding style suits Kentucky Downs well. After winning four races in a row, Limari (#9) (5-2) has run into some tough luck in her last two outings. She’s the horse to beat once again, but the odds will be short. A – 7, 10, 9 B – 4 C – 2, 3 8TH RACE If there’s one horse in the sequence you can lean on, it might be Hembree (#4) (4-1). He won an allowance race as the odds-on favorite here last year, and has really proven his class in recent starts. He closed fast to just miss in a pair of Grade 3s in New York before running a respectable race in the Fourstardave (G1) last out. A – 4 B – 1, 2 C – 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 7 9TH RACE Claimed out of her debut for $50,000, Sunset Promise (#10) (5-1) looks like a bargain. She ran second sprinting in her follow-up start, and then dominated her two-turn debut last out. A well put together individual, she rated kindly on the lead and kicked away impressively late. Adam Beschizza looks like an excellent fit. Off her maiden breaker at Saratoga, Fly So Pretty (#12) (7-2) will be the defined favorite. Checked and shuffled back early on, she did overcome some adversity to win, but at the same time the horse she ran down was tired. A – 10, 12 B – 2, 6, 7, 15 C – 1, 9, 14 10TH RACE In his second career start at Saratoga, Our Country (#9) (7-2) enjoyed a comfortable trip before extending his stride in the stretch and dominating late. He galloped out way in front. Winning around two turns at first asking in a maiden special weight turf race at Saratoga is no easy task, but that’s exactly what Are You Kitten Me (#5) (4-1) did. He grinded home and survived and inquiry. Night Time (#4) (6-1) sprinted on dirt in his first two tries, dominating his debut on the front end and then finishing a respectable third behind the talented Rowdy Yates in the Ellis Park Juvenile. He’s bred for grass on the dam’s side. A – 9, 5, 4 C – 1, 7, 12, 13