Shapiro: Handicapping the Late Pick 5 on Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Day
An outstanding week of racing at Keeneland Race Course continues on Saturday afternoon. The 10-race card in Lexington is headlined by the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S. (G1). The 9-furlong event over the lawn makes up the fourth leg of a late Pick 5 sequence that also includes the Fayette S. (G2).
I like the chances of second-time starter #11 Empress Eleanor in this two-turn maiden special weight over the grass. The Empire Maker filly did not get off to a great start in her debut at Kentucky Downs, but showed some serious ability in the lane making up significant ground to finish fourth beaten less than a length. The Merriebelle Stable runner should improve with the racing experience under her belt and the increase in ground.
If my top choice fails to fire or gets caught wide throughout, #2 Better With Age, #5 Broadway Lady, #8 Conoloway, and first-time starter #10 Red Light Racer are intriguing alternatives.
#4 Binge Watch took a lot of support in her initial start at Ellis Park for trainer Rodolphe Brisset. The daughter of Into Mischief broke slowly from the rail and struggled to relax inside rivals, but showed some ability in spots. The experience and the move off the inside should lead to a much-improved effort on Saturday afternoon. At anything near her 10-1-morning line price, she provides great value.
If Binge Watch disappoints, first-time starters #2 Delta Traveler, #5 Peace Broker, and #12 Equal Pay are the likeliest to hit the wire first.
Race 8: Fayette S. (G2)
#8 Tax makes his first start since a fifth-place finish in the Oaklawn H. (G2) in early May. The 4-year-old gelding has not hit the wire first since his victory in the Jim Dandy (G2) in July of 2019, but holds a class edge over this field. He has a win in his only local try and should sit a perfect stalking trip under Tyler Gaffalione. The Danny Gargan trainee handles this group if ready to fire off the bench.
#10 Auerlius Maximus makes his second start off the layoff after a 1 1/2-length victory over lesser on Derby Day. The Steve Asmussen trainee has put in two maintenance works at Churchill Downs since his win in early September and appears to be doing as well as ever. He is capable of springing the upset.
Race 9: Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S. (G1)
I am all in on Lael Stables’ #4 Magic Attitude. The classy Galileo filly overcame a slow pace in the Belmont Oaks (G1) to impressively win her first start in the states last month. She cuts back in distance on Saturday and should get an honest pace to run at given the presence of #2 Sweet Melania and #3 Antoinette. She will be extremely tough to deny with a clean trip under Javier Castellano.
#3 Copley ran into a buzz saw in Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Essential Quality last time out. The son of Air Force Blue drops in class, as does #5 Outlier. Both runners have struggled to finish with energy in their first two starts, but the drop into the claiming ranks benefits them greatly. #1 Hillbilly did not run a step in his debut at Kentucky Downs for Mike Maker, but should run much better in his second career try. #2 Love My Jimmy needs to move forward off of his 68 Brisnet Speed rating on debut, but is worth including as Corey Lanerie picks up the mount for trainer William Morey. I will include all four in hopes of closing out the late Pick 5.
Suggested Wagers: (50-cent Pick 5)
- Ticket 1:
Ticket Cost: $16
- Ticket 2:
Ticket Cost: $20
Total Budget: $36