CHURCHILL DOWNSNOVEMBER 24, 2017
CLARK HANDICAP DAY
Pick 4 plays
Races 1-4:3,4,5,7 with 1,4 with 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 with 1,4,6 ($84)
Races 5-7:2,4,5,8,11 with 3,5 with 1,3,4,5,7 with 1,3,4,5,10($125)
Races 8-12:3,9 with 1,3,4,5,6,7 with 4,7,9 with 1,2,3,6,7,9,10,12($144)
Mr B picks: 7-5-4-3
#7 HOLIDAY’S ANGEL (3-1 ML) comes back on only two weeks rest after running 3rd off the turf last out. The short turnaround and the class drop likely reflect that we are at the end of the fall meet, and the connections are putting her in a claimable spot where she will get a season-ending win with less fear that somebody will claim her given the limited winter racing options.
#5 CINDER (12-1 ML) was claimed last out by Michael Thompson, and with Jon Court up today, I expect this filly to try to steal the race on the front end. She was a little bit more forwardly placed when her last race went off turf, and I like the move to try this regular turf horse on the dirt again.
#4 MA’AM (9-5 ML) represents the connections of Brad Cox and Corey Lanerie, which always must be considered. But she was a beaten favorite last out and isn’t worth a short price.
Mr B picks: 1-4-3-2
#1 MY SWEET STELLA (5-2 ML) experimented last time out with a turf sprint at Keeneland that ending up being a flop for Lukas, but today’s optional claiming dirt mile is a good reset to rebuild confidence in a better place spot. She has had some very nice workouts at Churchill this month indicating she is ready to go.
#4 CLASSIC BO (8-1 ML) is the clear early speed of the race. She tends to quit late and doesn’t necessarily fire fresh off of layoffs, but this is a short field.
#3 BLUE COLLAR (3-1 ML) ran a career best last out and is probably the one to beat with Lanerie aboard, but this is the first start under the Kenneally barn, so definitely a risk that the last race won’t be repeated.
Mr B picks: 4-8-7-6
#4 CANDY RUBY (4-1 ML) is a class dropper who can show early speed and with two bullet works at Churchill since his last start, all indications are that we can expect a sharp, quick effort today. Jack Van Berg has won 3 out of his last 6 when shipping from Kee to CD and has a 28% winning rate in 2nd off of the layoff.
#8 IMMA BLING (9-2 ML) is likely to handle the turf-to-dirt well given his sprinter’s breeding. I expect to see a just in his speed figures today.
#7 FISH TRAPPE ROAD (9-5 ML) is the certain favorite with nearly $600,000 in career earnings. But he has been steadily dropping in class all year and still hasn’t won a race. Maybe a Black Friday sale going on here today, but I am skeptical.
Mr B picks: 4-1-6-3
#4 TIZ TOO MUCH (7-2 ML) seems desperate for a win dropping in class again today to the bottom of the barrel $10k maiden claiming level. The colt has been well placed at the first calls, but fades badly in the stretch drive. Blinkers on today for the first time might be the confidence booster needed.
#1 TIZ FUNNY (7-2 ML) is another class dropper in here. He has been working very well in the morning, but has yet to bring that to his afternoon performances. Today’s class level seems like the last chance for this 4yr old maiden.
#6 PRAY FOR KITTEN (9-5 ML) is another favorite I am trying to beat. I don’t think this is a dirt horse, but with no bottom level turf maiden races being written, I guess the Ramseys are just wanting to dump this horse at the end of a meet.
Mr B picks: 5-8-2-11
#5 NILEATOR (10-1 ML) is a big time underlay if these morning line odds hold. It took him 17 races to break his maiden, even though he was picking up plenty of 2nd and 3rd places finishes. So he gets the reputation of not liking to win, but I like that Romans has stuck with him. Albarado is definitely the right jockey with a horse like this because he will be aggressive with him late and shake him to want to pass horses.
#8 COWBOY RHYTHM (10-1 ML) tries the turf for the first time, but has shown a nice late kick when on the dirt which should translate well to the grass. The horse is 2 for 2 on off tracks and his dam did produce a turf winner.
#2 DERBY CHAMPAGNE (4-1 ML) should run well off of the layoff.
Mr B picks: 5-3-7-6
#5 POP CULTURE (8-5 ML) is my BEST BET OF THE DAY and should cruise to an easy win on the front end. In his debut race, he held a contested lead through early fractions that were significantly faster than what he should have to deal with today. In fact, I’m surprised he is dropping down to the maiden claiming level after only one defeat in the maiden special weight ranks.
#3 RYMAN (6-1 ML) is a first-time starter by Street Sense. Not too often that you will see a 6-1 morning line on a Brad Cox/Corey Lanerie horse. While nothing suggests this horse will romp, you can expect it to have the ability to be competitive in this class.
#7 RAINING MOOLAH (12-1 ML) has some racing experience and I like that Geroux has stuck with him without too much to get excited about yet.
Mr B picks: 7-1-5-3
#7 WHATEVERYBODYWANTS (2-1 ML) represents some high winning percentage connections and pits perfectly at this $30k claiming level. He has picked up plenty of checks, but hasn’t punched through yet this year for a win. I expect he is cycling up to a peak effort today.
#1 WHOLE LOTTA LUCK (5-2 ML) seems equally capable, but given the less prolific jockey aboard, I would place him as second choice.
#5 MIKEANDCHICKDIDIT (12-1 ML) seems overmatched, but the horse has early speed and this unheralded barn is capable of popping a surprise longshot winner occasionally.
Mr B picks: 1-3-10-4
#1 SANTA MONICA BEACH (20-1 ML) is my LONGSHOT BET OF THE DAY and I think he can fire to the lead from the 1 hole and really relish the stretchout to two turns. The rest of the field has already tried and failed at two turns multiple times, but Tim Glyshaw tries the route for the first time with this one. I like lightly raced horse trying something new against a field of proven losers.
#3 ROMPICAPO (7-2 ML) comes back on only 12 days rest after a good 2nd place effort at this same level. I would expect something similar to that again for McPeek/Albarado.
#10 DR. PHILAN (10-1 ML) is a runner for a trainer that is 30% first off of the claim. Granted, that is often at lesser tracks in the southwest, but Karl Broberg has a good understanding of the claiming game.
Race 9 – Grade 2 Mrs. Revere
Mr B picks: 9-3-4-10
#9 DADDYS LIL DARLING (7-5 ML) ran a huge race last out at Keeneland to finish 2nd in the prestigious Grade 1 QE2 Cup, so today’s Grade 2 field is certainly an easier assignment. Two bullet works since then indicate that fitness is still sharp, so it would be a huge shock if this McPeek horse flounders here.
#3 WESTIT (10-1 ML) is a Euro shipper that showed nothing last month in her US debut off the plane at Belmont, but has been set up since with top North American connections in trainer Graham Motion and jockey John Velazquez for today’s race. She gets Lasix for the first time today. If an upset does occur today, this is the mystery horse that might do it.
#4 LOVELY BERNADETTE (4-1 ML) has really improved since moving to turf races this summer and comes in off of her first graded stakes win last out at Keeneland. If she continues that improvement, she might get a piece today.
Mr B picks: 6-1-3-5
#6 IVY BELL (3-1 ML) dumped jockey Brian Hernandez last out after clipping heels, but seems OK and both are back. They seem well suited for each other aside from that tumble, having won 3 in a row together prior. I expect a fresh, sharp horse today off of the layoff and see them jumping the leaders in the stretch.
#1 SOUTHERN RING (8-1 ML) is a Canadian shipper that is running under the care of Neil Howard now with Leparoux aboard. I have always loved Speightstown sprinters.
#3 KATHBALLU (4-1 ML) is a regular on the Kentucky circuit and has 3 wins in 12 starts at Churchill. I would throw out the last race – a bounce off of a big Keeneland effort and probably too high of a class level for her.
Race 11- Grade 1 Clark Handicap
Mr B picks: 7-4-9-6
#7 THE PLAYER (6-1 ML) really raced the race of his life last month at Keeneland, winning the Grade 2 Fayette in a very fast time. Today’s field does shape up as tougher and you could certainly make the case that this horse will bounce today or that the sloppy track helped him. But I will take the stance that the horse is improving with age and that the Fayette was just the start of a better, older horse. The 1 1/8 mile distance seems to his liking, Churchill seems to a good match (record of 5-2-1-1), and two bullet works since that big race suggest it was a big step forward, not a peak effort that will bounce. Buff Bradley and Calvin Borel are not high percentage day-to-day, but they know how to step up for the big races.
#4 DESTIN (10-1 ML) was the winner of the Breeders Cup Marathon just three weeks ago, and while it seems impossible to think that there would be gas left in the tank for a Grade 1 race like today’s, Pletcher isn’t a high percentage trainer for no reason. I have a lot of respect for the stamina of last year’s Belmont runner-up and expect him to be right in the mix.
#9 DIVERSIFY (5-2 ML) is certainly the logical favorite and the one that the others will have to beat. But considering that this horse has never left New York before, there is no way I would take a short price in hope that he likes the Churchill track and is ready to handle Grade 1 company again after a tough fought win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup which was his first try at graded stakes.
#6 MO TOM (20-1 ML) might be below the cut when comparing past performances with the rest of this field, but he has the home court advantage, gets a good Churchill jockey, and takes the blinkers off today. Some good angles here for the Tom Amoss runner.
Mr B picks: 2-9-10-7
#2 BENEFACTOR (8-1 ML) is my candidate for a nice ground saving trip in what I expect will be a very hot pace on the turf. I love that Irad Ortiz stays to race this colt for the first time. Since coming to the Maker barn, this horse has been challenged against good competition and has continued to work well in the mornings. I think he found a softer field today.
#9 CREATIVE COURAGE (4-1 ML) should be in the mix again and definitely fits with this group. It will be interesting to see if the short layoff helps or hurts.
#10 WATCH ME WHIP (9-2 ML) has shared the track this year with West Coast and Irap and could find it easier to catch the leader against this field.