McCraken a popular and worthy single to start All Stakes Pick 5

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

June 17th, 2017

The sequence of the all graded stakes Pick 5 for Stephen Foster Night at Churchill Downs is, on the surface, an ideal one with both single opportunities as well as contentious races that will seemingly requirement a bit of spreading. Here's how I'll be approaching the wager.

Race 5 -- Matt Winn (G3) -- Perhaps most people's single of the night will be McCraken (#2, 4-5), a rough trip eighth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) as one of the more highly-fancied choices. It was his only loss in four tries over this main track, and he stands out here on class.

Race 6 -- Wise Dan (G2) -- The top three from last year's renewal -- Pleuven (#7, 3-1), Kasaqui (#5, 6-1) and Thatcher Street (#3, 4-1) -- all deserve respect here, as does Conquest Panthera (#6, 6-1), who probably struggled with the testing ground in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1). Assuming Security Risk (#1) and Chocolate Ride (#4) keep each other honest, Bondurant (#2, 8-1) is eligible to improve after getting stuck behind a false pace set by Chocolate Ride in an allowance prep.

Race 7 -- Fleur de Lis (G2) -- Forever Unbridled (#1, 4-5) is the undisputed class of the field, but it would be no surprise to see her a fall a bit short in her return from a long spell going 1 1/8 miles. Carrumba (#3, 6-1) perhaps was up against it in a couple sprints to start the year and most recently proved second best to loose-on-the-lead Terra Promessa in the Allaire du Pont Distaff (G3). Romantic Vision (#6, 8-1) was a strong second in the La Troienne (G1) to Big World (#5), who is very good herself but was probably aided somewhat by an inside-favoring track. The former can close the gap tonight going longer.

Race 8 -- Stephen Foster (G1) -- Perfectly understand those who consider Gun Runner (#3, 4-5) a single off his fine second in the Dubai World Cup (G1) to Arrogate, but he'll probably be modifying his running style as there's a lot more speed here than in his last three appearances. Certainly capable from slightly off the pace, though that style hasn't produced a win for him since the 2016 Louisiana Derby (G2). Honorable Duty's (#4, 6-1) effort in the Alysheba (G2) was indeed honorable as he futilely attempted to rally off an inside-favoring track. He's been at the top of his game since being gelded late last year.

Race 9 -- Regret (G3) -- Lukewarm morning line favorite Proctor's Ledge (#4, 7-2) is logical after chasing division leader La Coronel in her last two. Sameeha (#9, 8-1) took to the grass just fine when upsetting a Keeneland allowance in late April. Fizzy Friday (#10, 10-1) was no match for the stakes-quality Sonic Boom over this course, but should be better for that U.S. debut. Starr Bear (#11, 8-1) goes for the productive trainer/jockey combo of Brad Cox and Javier Castellano. Stakes-placed filly a clear third to divisional monsters La Coronel and New Money Honey in a Saratoga maiden last summer. Chubby Star (#12, 5-1) outran expectations in the $100,000 James W. Murphy on the Preakness undercard, beating 10 males to the wire while behind the exciting Yoshida.

Here's the 50-cent ticket: 2 with 2,3,5,6,7 with 1,3,6 with 3,4 with 4,9,10,11,12 = $75.

(Coady Photography)