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Homeracing

Scully: Handicapping juveniles at Churchill Downs September 16

Profile Picture: James Scully

September 16th, 2017

The Iroquois (G3) and Pocahontas (G2), the opening points’ races in the Road to the Kentucky Derby & Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, take center stage and Saturday’s 11-race card at Churchill Downs also features four juvenile maiden races with full fields and an oversubscribed turf maiden. It’s a challenging program for handicappers.

In the 10-horse Iroquois, I am going with #10 Mo Diddley for a minor upset. A Churchill debut winner, the Uncle Mo colt was entered in the closing-day Bashford Manor (G3) in late June but wound up being scratched. He didn’t resurface until the August 13 Saratoga Special (G2), returning 87 days after his initial outing, and refused to settle from an inside post, winging his way on the lead through splits of :21 3/5 and :44 3/5 before retreating in the stretch.

Mo Diddley dearly needed the race and I expect much better today. Trainer Mark Casse has repeatedly praised the dark bay’s talents and with a stamina-infused pedigree, Mo Diddley is bred to relish the stretch out to two turns. I think the outside post will prove to be a benefit, allowing Corey Lanerie to track the speed before making his move, and Mo Diddley can step forward today.

#2 Hollywood Star will also be used prominently in multi-race wagers. The Dale Romans-trained colt offered an eye-catching move on the far turn when unveiled in late June, winning comfortably by a half-length, and offered a fine late kick to finish a clear second behind an impressive Copper Bullet in the Saratoga Special. By Malibu Moon, Hollywood Star is a threat to overpower foes from off the pace with Robby Albarado.

The 12-horse Pocahontas came up more competitive, with Debutante winner Sunny Skies a slight 4-1 favorite on the morning line and Ellis Park Debutante scorer Kelly’s Humor the 9-2 second choice. I will go a different direction with #7 Take Charge Paula, who invades for Kelly Breen off of a pair of convincing wins at Monmouth Park and Delaware Park.

From the first crop of Grade 1-winning millionaire Take Charge Indy, the dark bay filly hails from a Songandaprayer mare who won up to distances of 1 3/16 miles while relishing longer distances. The added ground shouldn’t be a concern and I like the way Take Charge Paula has drawn off smartly in the latter stages of both sprint starts, registering 81 and 83 BRIS Speed ratings that compare favorably to her main rivals. She will be prominent from the start.

#3 Snowfire did not look comfortable during the early stages and checked in a well-beaten fourth as the favorite in the Schuylerville (G3) at Saratoga, but she’s got a chance to rebound today. The gray daughter of Tapit posted a sharp debut score over the track for Casse and will look to pounce from just off the pace.

Here are a couple of other thoughts on the program:

In the 1st race, #5 Glass Bridge shipped into Saratoga to make his debut in a tough maiden race on the Travers undercard (watch out for runner-up Good Magic) and took early action before drifting up late. The Blame colt never had a chance after missing the break but still managed to register a respectable 98 BRIS Late Pace figure, and I expect him to move forward today with a better break. Graham picks up the mount for Breen and Glass Bridge is listed at an attractive 12-1 on the morning line.

The 5th race features a solid favorite in Tu Se Manques, who could be much shorter than her 3-1 morning line odds. The sophomore filly recorded an eye-catching maiden tally at Ellis Park in her lone outing, drawing off to a seven-length margin and recording a field-best last-out Speed rating, but she will be stepping up to face more seasoned foes.

Third in the Eight Belles (G2) three back, #5 Laney has caught wet tracks in her last three starts and should appreciate the return to fast conditions. And this allowance could not set up any better for the late runner, with six of her eight rivals eligible to show speed from the start. She’s run well at the distance and track for Eddie Kenneally and Julien Leparoux can offer another well-time ride for the win. I will single Laney in multi-race wagers.

My A-B-C grid for the card is below.

Good luck!

 

CHURCHILL DOWNS

September 16

Day 2

 

Race:

A:

B:

C:

TP:

1:

1,5

3

2,7

5

2:

3,7

4,10,11

1,11

3

3:

1,3

4

8

1

4:

5,9

3,7

1,8

9

5:

5

2,7

4,6,9

5

6:

2,5

3,7,9

8,12

5

7:

1,9,12

2,8,11

6,10

9

8:

2

1,3,5

7

2

9:

4

2,5

1

4

10:

2,10

 

1,4,7,9

10

11:

3,7

4,9

8,10,12

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

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