Thoughts on the Stephen Foster Day Early Pick 5

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

June 15th, 2019

An all graded stakes version is one of three Pick 5s available to bettors on Saturday night's "Downs After Dark" program at Churchill Downs. That starts with Race 5, the Matt Winn (G3), which also happens to conclude an interesting Pick 5 sequence that starts on the evening opener. Here are thoughts on the early Pick 5. Race 1 #5 DECLINED (7-2) held on for second in his May 27 return from a long layoff and appears the one to catch. #6 HALF SHOT (12-1) made up ground late in his turf sprint debut when a close third to a subsequent stakes-placed type. Bumped early next out, and latest on the main track looks like a toss. #9 A. K. SAFARI (8-1) shows a pair of bullet works leading up to his debut for trainer Buff Bradley. Placed once in five starts last season for Ken McPeek. #12 SPIROGYRA (5-1) a credible second first out, albeit in a $50,000 maiden claimer on the main track. Gelded since then, adds Lasix, and has the pedigree to handle the surface switch. Race 2 #1 PRIVATE MESSAGE (7-2) a distant second to eventual Acorn (G1) romper Guarana last out at Keeneland. Not that much faster than some of these, yet, but is also far less exposed. #6 CHAMPAGNE TALE (5-1) a solid third to eventual Demoiselle (G2) winner Positive Spirit in a course-and-distance maiden here in November. Perhaps wasn't a fan of the Oaklawn strip in her last three. Race 3 #4 CUMMINGS (5-2) blitzed rivals in an Oaks Day allowance, and last time returned on short rest and finished a credible fourth in a two-turn turf allowance. Back to what he does best here and has to be caught. #3 PETE'S PLAY CALL (9-2) has been a consistent contender since being claimed by Diodoro for $50,000 two summers ago. Strong runs against graded stakes types in New York last season. Race 4 #2 DALIKA (4-1) did well stepping up from a minor graduation score in Dresden, Germany, to finish second in a Listed stakes at Chantilly. U.S. debut was okay, missing by only two lengths after hitting the gate. Better on the way for barn that's been clicking this meet. #3 NAPIER (3-1) perhaps too fresh in return when showing early foot, contrary to the style she employed winning on debut at Ellis last summer. Improvement expected second off the bench. Race 5 -- Matt Winn (G3) #2 SIGNALMAN (4-1) has run the best races of his career over this track. While he showed little in the Preakness (G1), Blue Grass (G2) effort two back more of a sign of him rounding back into best form. #3 NOLO CONTESTO (3-1) broke his maiden against Omaha Beach, perhaps the best three-year-old in training, and acquitted himself well against some relative heavyweights in two further runs at Santa Anita. Here's the 50-cent ticket: 5,6,9,12 with 1,6 with 3,4 with 2,3 with 2,3 = $32.   (c) Coady Photography