Race Preview: River City Handicap - Churchill Downs, November 23, 2013

Matt Carter

November 22nd, 2013

The feature race on Saturday at Churchill Downs is the 36th running of the Grade 3 River City Handicap for three-year-olds and upward at nine furlongs on the turf. The Louisville area has taken some rain over the past couple of days and turf racing was abandoned for the Friday card so be sure to check the forecast and late changes.

On turf, the race is wide open with five horses between 7-2 and 6-1 on the morning line. Keep Up won an allowance race at Keeneland last month and was pegged as the morning line favorite. The six-year-old horse has won seven of 17 in his career including the River City Handicap last year. In that race Keep Up was 30-1, don't expect that price on Saturday.

Villandry is 5-1 on the line off his sixth place finish with trouble in the Grade 2 Fayette over the Keeneland polytrack on October 26. Last year he won three of four, but this year has only run twice. Now making his third start off a layoff, Villandry looks ready to roll for the team of Charles Lopresti and Julien Leparoux.

The race did seem to come up with a bit of good early pace so the closers will have every opportunity to get the job done late. Two of those closers are Coalport and Daddy Nose Best. Coalport has won four of his last six starts and four of his last five on turf. He is; however, winless in two starts on the turf at Churcihll. Daddy Nose Best does have a win on the grass at Churchill and has won his last three starts, two of them small stake races at Remington Park. Back in June, the Scat Daddy colt was fourth in the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap, beaten eight lengths by Wise Dan.

The long shot looks go to Set the Sail, three-for-five at Churchill, and Kalamos, a Juddmonte import that is 15-1 on the morning line. Set the Sail will be on the front early and could get brave if left alone. Kalamos is likely to go off shorter than his morning line after his eye catching run at Keeneland last month.

This is a definite spread race in the late pick-4. Post time for the River City on Saturday is 4:37 pm ET.