Saturday’s card at Churchill Downs is a good one, with 11 races and an outstanding late Pick Four sequence. It’s highlighted by the Keertana Stakes for older turf distaffers and features several big fields.
I’ll look to take it down with a ticket that starts at $32. Here’s how I’ve put it together.
Three or four deep in the eighth
We’ll kick off the sequence with a maiden special weight event for older horses. It’s drawn an overflow field of 16, with 12 runners and four also-eligibles.
I’ll start off going four deep, though my ticket may scratch down. My top pick is No. 4 War Campaign. His debut was pretty sharp, as he rallied to be second at odds of 13-1. He’s put forth two strong workouts since that performance, and Corey Lanerie is staying aboard when he likely had several options. The pedigree says two turns shouldn’t be a problem, and I think he’s sitting on a step forward.
I’ll also use No. 10 Pioneering Spirit and No. 12 Scotland Yard. In addition, should No. 13 Gate Runner draw into the field, he hits me as a must-use. He was stretched out to 1 1/4 miles in just his second career start earlier this month, yet still stepped forward off of his unveiling.
A stakes-quality optional claimer
This race is light on quantity, with just six runners. However, it’s high on quality, as many of these horses carry plenty of experience competing at the highest level.
I’m going two deep, and my top pick is No. 6 Ebben. Toss the races at Fair Grounds, over a surface he probably didn’t care for, and his late 2021 and early 2022 form looks much, much better. He won a similar race at this distance at Keeneland last time out, and he’s done some of his best running here at Churchill.
No. 3 Gun It is on my ticket as well. He set a hot pace last time out in a stakes race on Kentucky Derby Day. This spot doesn’t seem to have much other early zip signed on. The 9-5 morning line hits me as a bit of an underlay, but if you subscribe to the notion that pace makes the race, I don’t think you can throw him out.
Wide-open Keertana headlines the Saturday program
This race, named for a classy mare who did her best work going long on turf, drew a very talented field. Nine older fillies and mares will go postward, and I’ll use almost half the field.
No. 5 Federalist Papers is bred to go long on the turf and took to that journey like a duck to water last month at Keeneland. She romped by more than three lengths that day, and when Chad Brown gets turf horses on the right track, they tend to stay there.
I’ll also use No. 2 Disappearing Act, No. 3 Go Big Blue Nation, and No. 7 Temple City Terror. Of the ones that are likely to take money, the one I’m most against is No. 8 Luck Money. She hasn’t won since October of 2020 and has burned a lot of money during that stretch. If she beats me, I’ll live with it.
Two deep to finish it off
We’ll end with an allowance race for 3-year-old fillies, and I don’t like the 5-2 morning-line favorite. No. 2 Ari Oakley ran very well to break her maiden last time out at Oaklawn Park. However, I don’t think she beat much that day, and it was a big enough improvement on speed figures that I think she’s likely to regress.
My top pick is No. 8 Ontheonesandtwos, who came off the bench to run a decent second a few weeks ago. She showed talent as a 2-year-old when she was second in a stakes race at this route of ground. The Norm Casse barn has been firing on all cylinders of late, and I think this filly is primed for a big effort.
I’ll also use No. 1 Static Fire, who hasn’t run since an impressive debut win at Saratoga last summer. She was an easy winner that day and has been working steadily for Brian Lynch ahead of her return. It’s possible she needs a race, but it’s also possible she’s a very talented filly.
The $32 late Pick Four ticket
R8: 4, 10, 12, 13
R9: 3, 6
R10: 2, 3, 5, 7
R11: 1, 8