Churchill Downs

There’s ten races on the Thursday program at Churchill Downs, which begins at 1:00 PM EDT. You can catch the entire card on television on Fox Sports 2. I’ll highlight some of the best races on the card here.

RACE 6

This is a conditioned allowance race for older horses going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. A field of twelve will go here, with three alternates. Post time will be approximately 3:36 PM EDT.

TOP PICK: 3, Frost or Frippery. This hard-knocking 7-year-old was already pretty good over the winter. He’s been no worse than second in five starts in 2020, all of which were against similar horses to today. To top it all off, he was claimed out of his last race by Brad Cox, one of the top claiming trainers in the country. Cox hits at 29% with horses in their first start after he claimed them. If Cox’s record is any indication, Frost or Frippery should have an easy time with this one.

SECOND CHOICE: 12, Blue Steel. The extreme outside post position draw didn’t do him any favors, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s the only confirmed speed horse in the race. If jockey Mitchell Murrill is aggressive enough, he can send him right to the lead and to the inside, and try to go gate-to-wire. Speed horses did very well at Churchill on opening weekend, which plays to Blue Steel’s favor.

RACE 7

The seventh race is a conditioned allowance race for fillies & mares at five and a half furlongs, or 11/16ths of a mile, on the grass. It attracted a field of ten, plus four alternate runners who can go in the event of a scratch. The race is scheduled to go off at 4:08 PM EDT.

TOP PICK: 4, Mentality. It’s always a bit of a gamble taking horses who haven’t raced in a long time. In the case of Mentality, however, she’s earned my respect. She hasn’t raced since December 7, when she was seventh in a stakes race at Aqueduct. Last year, she was an excellent sprinter on the grass, winning twice from four starts, showing an abundance of early speed each time. Notably, she won a race on September 27 at Belmont Park under the same conditions as today: non-winners of two races other than maiden or claiming races. She’s the only horse in the field to do that. Look for her to be on or near the early pace.

SECOND CHOICE: 9, More. This is a wide-open race, so it’s worth taking a chance on a longshot sometimes. More’s making her first start on grass this afternoon, after two impressive wins in a row on dirt. She’s the only horse in the field who has never lost against winners, a major class advantage. Her speed ratings have been improving, running a figure of 85 in her last start. If that form transfers over to the grass, she could surprise. She should prompt the pace on the outside, and will be ready to pounce if the leaders tire. More isn’t the most likely winner, by any stretch, but if you can get between 10/1 and 15/1 on her, she’s worth a bet.

RACE 9

An excellent field of stakes-quality allowance horses take center stage in the feature race. It will be run at one mile on the grass. There’s ten horses ready to go, plus six alternates. Post time will be approximately 5:12 PM EDT.

TOP PICK: 9, Mr. Dumas. He returns to the place he loves most, a surface on which he won two races last year, including the Commonwealth Turf Stakes. He was disappointing in two stakes tries at Gulfstream Park over the winter, but his speed ratings were still very good, and should relish the drop in class he’ll get here.

SECOND CHOICE: 5, Front Run the Fed. Chad Brown is one of the top grass trainers in the country, and he may have yet another grass star here. This 4-year-old won the Better Talk Now Stakes at Saratoga last August, despite a brutal trip. He lost the English Channel Stakes next out, despite racing wide the whole way. This is his first start since that October jaunt, so it’s not likely he’ll be tuned up all the way for this race. Still, he showed enough promise as a 3-year-old to make me think he’ll be just as good at 4.

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