Saturday spot plays for Churchill Downs

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 29th, 2019

Proving once again that there’s more to racing at Churchill Downs than the first Saturday in May, the Louisville racetrack has put together a solid evening of competitive events for Saturday.

The 11-race card kicks off at 6 p.m. ET and includes two stakes races, the $125,000 Aristides Stakes and the $120,000 Mighty Beau Stakes. Let’s go through the action and look for spot plays.

Race 3

In this small field of maiden claimers, #4 Rumandice should be an easy winner and a logical single in the multi-race wagers. He’s winless in nine starts, but he’s cracked the trifecta seven times against maiden special weight company at Churchill, Keeneland and Fair Grounds, so the drop in class to maiden claiming company could be all he needs to reach the winner’s circle. With seven 80+ Brisnet speed figures under his belt, Rumandice towers over this field on paper, and trainer Bret Calhoun wins at a 29% rate with horses dropping in class from maiden special weights to maiden claiming races.

In addition to singling Rumandice in any multi-race wagers, I recommend playing him in the exacta with the first-time starter #3 Hot Copy, who breezed a bullet half-mile from the starting gate in :46 4/5 May 23 at Keeneland. Jockey Corey Lanerie, one of the leading riders at Churchill Downs, has the mount.

$10 exacta: 4 with 3 $4 exacta: 3 with 4

Race 8

#1 Aquadini showed promise during the winter for trainer Dallas Stewart. He broke his maiden by 5 3/4 lengths going 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds, then finished a close second in a mile and 70-yard optional-claiming allowance over the same track. In that defeat, Aquadini pulled 13 3/4 lengths clear of the third-place finisher and posted a 93 Brisnet speed figure. But Aquadini completely failed to fire in his next two starts. He dropped far off the pace in both the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland and an optional-claiming allowance at Churchill to finish behind the winners by double-digit margins.

It would be hard to support Aquadini based off those uninspiring performances, but if you’re willing to forgive them, he fits well enough and could be an interesting longshot player. Maybe the class jump was too much in the Blue Grass, and maybe racing over a sloppy, sealed track last time out didn’t suit him. He’s drawn the rail for Saturday’s race, so a ground-saving trip should be on the horizon, especially with Lanerie (who isn’t afraid to ride the rail) in the saddle.

$10 to win on #1 Aquadini

Race 9: Mighty Beau Stakes

#10 Bobby’s Wicked One has never run on turf, but from a pedigree perspective, he might enjoy the switch. His sire, Speightstown, has already sired high-class turf horses Force the Pass, Seek Again and Lord Shanakill (all grade 1 winners). His dam, Wicked Charm, broke her maiden on grass and previously produced the three-time turf winner Abracadabra. True to his name, Bobby’s Wicked One has wicked early speed, and given how speed horses tend to dominate five-furlong turf sprints at Churchill, Bobby’s Wicked One might just sprint to the lead and never look back Saturday.

$10 to win on #10 Bobby’s Wicked One $5 double: 10 with 3

Race 10: Aristides Stakes

#3 Share the Upside has been on a roll, with three wins from his last four starts, including an easy victory in a Churchill allowance during the fall. His only defeat during this time frame came in the Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn Park, where he finished second against the classy Whitmore. With three straight triple-digit Brisnet speed figures under his belt, Share the Upside has an edge over his Aristides rivals, and he should get a perfect, forwardly placed trip in a small field that isn’t loaded with early speed. Let’s key him on top in the exotics, while emphasizing the consistent late runner #2 Control Stake underneath.

$3 trifecta: 3 with 2 with 1,6,7 ($9) $3 trifecta: 3 with 1,6,7 with 2 ($9) $1 superfecta: 3 with 2 with 1,6,7 with 1,6,7 ($6) $1 superfecta: 3 with 1,6,7 with 2 with 1,6,7 ($6) $1 superfecta: 3 with 1,6,7 with 1,6,7 with 2 ($6)

Total cost of all plays: $75

Good luck!