Scully: Handicapping Churchill Downs stakes on May 29 including Derby City 6
Saturday’s 11-race Stephen Foster Preview Day program at Churchill Downs features seven stakes. A couple of Kentucky Derby (G1) contestants will be back for the $150,000 Matt Winn S. (G3), and the $150,000 Blame S. and $150,000 Shawnee S. serve as respective prep races for the Stephen Foster (G2) and Fleur de Lis (G2) on June 26.
Bettors can take advantage of the mandatory payout in the Derby City 6, which comprises six stakes (races 6-11). The pool is expected to top $500,000 if there isn’t a single winner on Friday.
Here are some thoughts on the stakes action.
Audubon S. – Race 5 (2:45 p.m. ET)
Several runners experienced less-than-favorable trips in the May 1 American Turf (G2), which had a hot early pace and a 14-horse field, but #8 Royal Prince took the absolute worst of it. The early presser was in a bad spot from the break, buried on the inside in early traffic, and forced to check multiple times before having a gap close on him in upper stretch, stopping once again to alter course. He still finished with good energy for sixth.
With a rider switch to Florent Geroux, the Brad Cox-trained colt should receive an optimal up-close trip on Saturday. And a better result appears likely for the multiple stakes winner.
Blame S. – Race 6 (3:18 p.m.)
The Derby City 6 kicks off with a seven-horse field in the 1 1/8-mile Blame, and I’m going with up-and-coming #2 Sprawl.
An outstanding allowance winner at Churchill Downs last spring, Sprawl made only two more starts before heading to the sidelines for the rest of the season. He opened his four-year-old campaign with a pair of respectable efforts at Fair Grounds and Keeneland, and returned to Churchill with a superb 7 1/4-length allowance triumph on May 9, garnering a career-best 102 Brisnet Speed rating. Sprawl will have more to offer on Saturday.
Shawnee S. – Race 7 (3:50 p.m.)
#7 Envoutante looks poised to carry her affinity for the track forward in the Shawnee. In terms of the vertical exotics, #5 High Regard is one to consider underneath. The horse-for-the-course is listed as the 15-1 co-sixth choice on the morning line, and while she didn’t fare well against graded rivals in the last two starts at Gulfstream and Keeneland, those races provided necessary fitness for an improved showing under the Twin Spires.
Regret S. (G3) – Race 8 (4:22 p.m.)
A competitive field of three-year-old fillies is set for the 1 1/8-mile turf affair, and #7 Gam’s Mission rates top billing following a sharp allowance tally in her first start against winners. I liked her professionalism, overcoming getting bumped around in upper stretch, and Cherie DeVaux wheels the lightly-raced filly back on a 21-day rest.
In multi-race wagers, I will include #8 Flown, who finished second to Gam’s Mission. The turf should have some give to it, and I’m against expected favorite Spanish Loveaffair, who has lacked a finishing kick in her last two outings on less-than-firm ground.
Matt Winn (G3) – Race 9 (4:55 p.m.)
Expected favorite #3 O Besos raced within striking range in an allowance win earlier this season and should appreciate the cutback to 1 1/16 miles. Fifth in the Kentucky Derby, the Greg Foley-trained colt will be included in multi-race wagers, but he won’t offer much value as the expected favorite.
#1 Ready to Pounce is intriguing at 15-1 on the morning line. Connections tried to run the More Than Ready colt on turf in his first two starts, but his last outing was switched to the main track at Keeneland. The Neil Pessin trainee delivered an eye-catching victory on the front end, scoring by an easy 4 3/4-length margin. The race came back fast (90 Speed rating), and Ready to Pounce is eligible to receive a favorable frontrunning trip here with Brian Hernandez Jr.
Aristides S. – Race 10 (5:26 p.m.)
Beaten only 2 1/2 lengths in sixth after establishing a wicked pace in the Churchill Downs S. (G1), #3 Bango should relish the cutback to six furlongs. His last two wins have come by open lengths over the track (7-4-1-1) and distance (6-4-0-0), and the four-year-old colt brings improving form to the Aristides for Foley. Bango should be prominent from the start with Marcelino Pedroza.
Douglas Park S. -- Race 11 (5:58 p.m.)
#2 Another Mystery has run well fresh for Team Block, and the five-year-old should receive the right setup with plenty of speed entered. I’ll use him on all multi-race tickets with fellow late runners #3 Parlor, #6 Split the Wickets, and #8 Set Piece.