Spot Plays for "Downs After Dark"

Profile Picture: Scott Shapiro

June 1st, 2018

The first “Downs After Dark” card of 2018 is on Saturday in Louisville and the racing office at put together an extremely strong 11-race card that is headlined by the Grade 3 Aristides run at six panels over the main track.

There are several races that present excellent wagering opportunities throughout the evening that commences at 6PM local time, but here are a few horses that I hope will make it a winning night in the “Ville.”

Race 5

#3 Don’t Tell Marge did not run a step when she was sent off at 88-1 in her debut last September for veteran trainer Neil Howard, but that was a sprint over the main track. This three-year-old filly is bred on both sides to prefer the lawn and should appreciate the stretch out to two turns as well. Her sire Artie Schiller won the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile and earned over two-million dollars in 22 career starts for trainer James Jerkens and she is out of a Kingmambo mare that has produced four turf winners, including three-time grass victor Forever Thing.

I am not a fan of the “logicals” in this spot so I will take a chance with this second-time starter that should love the move to the green. The fact that leading rider Brian Hernandez, Jr. takes the call is an additional positive.

Race 6

#1 Don’t Stop Maria makes her second career start after breaking from the far outside and being wide throughout in a similar spot in her debut on May 12th for trainer . The $85,000 OBS April 2017 purchase for Steve Landers Racing moves to a more comfortable inside post after gaining invaluable racing experience last month. If veteran jockey Shaun Bridgmohan can avoid traffic issues along the rail his mount should be finishing full of run. At 6-1 I like her chances and upside against a solid, but unintimidating group of fillies.

Race 10: The Aristides, Grade 3

#3 Wilbo is the clear one to beat in the featured $100,000 Aristides off of four straight 96 plus BRIS speed ratings for trainer Chris Hartman, but I prefer the value that #6 Awesome Saturday will offer. The late running son of Any Given Saturday comes out of a strong rendition of the Grade 3 Commonwealth that included the top two finishers in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes presented by Twin Spires on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

Trainer W. Bret Calhoun has given Awesome Saturday nearly two months rest since that third place effort at Keeneland where he looked like a winner mid-stretch, but a wide voyage led to him tiring late. He should appreciate the turn back to six furlongs and getting back to a racetrack where he has finished in the top two in his only three starts. He will need a hot early pace to be at his best, but if he gets it I expect him to run this group down late.

Good luck on a great Saturday night card at legendary Churchill Downs!