Homeracing

Scully: Spot plays for Churchill Downs on June 19

Profile Picture: James Scully

June 18th, 2021

A trio of graded winners highlight Saturday’s $110,000 Roxelana Overnight S., the featured event on an 11-race program at Churchill Downs, and Sconsin will take some beating following her convincing win in the May 22 Winning Colors S. (G3).

A one-run closer last season, four-year-old Sconsin has shown more tractability in her last two outings. She likes the track, recording three of her four career wins under the Twin Spires, and the Greg Foley-trained filly will use the 6 1/2-furlong Roxelana as a prep for the Ballerina S. (G1) at Saratoga on August 28.

She has a lot going for her, but Sconsin may find herself at a pace disadvantage against a quality rival.

#4 Four Graces will need to be ready for her best following an eight-month layoff, but I’m intrigued by her chances on the front end. A first-out winner at Gulfstream in March 2020, the Ian Wilkes-trained filly appeared extremely promising when reeling off three consecutive wins in late spring/early summer, including romping scores in the Dogwood (G3) at Churchill and Beaumont (G3) at Keeneland.

She was burnt up on the pace in the Eight Belles (G2) last fall, dueling through an opening half-mile in :44 with Mundaye Call, who was exiting a track record-setting stakes win at Ellis Park, and Four Graces proved no match for Sconsin in the latter stages. The runner-up effort took the starch out of her, as the dark bay headed to the sidelines for a lengthy rest after only one more start.

Four Graces should improve as a four-year-old. There’s little margin for error off the bench against Sconsin, but she’s eligible to receive a favorable trip on the front end. I will side with Four Graces against her odds-on rival.

Other horses of interest

Ron Moquett is enjoying a fine spring meet, winning 4-of-18 starts (22% win) entering this week, and #5 Upstriker looks poised for a strong showing in Race 7.

After a couple of respectable starts last season, Upstriker ran into a buzzsaw (Mighty Mischief) when returning this season at Oaklawn in mid-April. He moved forward the second time out, crushing entry-level allowance foes, and netted a fine 96 Brisnet Speed rating for the six-length decision.

I’m expecting more on the front end Saturday. David Cabrera, the second-leading rider at Oaklawn this year, will be in from Lone Star Park to ride Upstriker, and the price won’t be too short on the 7-2 co-third choice on the morning line. Upstriker is my best bet of the day.

In Race 9, #7 Enjoyitwhilewecan draws a better post after experiencing wide trips in her last three starts. She certainly ran well every time, most recently finishing with good energy over the Churchill turf to be a neck third, and the Mike Maker-trained mare should receive a favorable setup from off the pace. With a ground-saving trip expected, Enjoyitwhilewecan will be keyed in all vertical wagers.

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