The day kicks off with the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs. It may not make you rich, but you will enjoy what you see: A match within a race featuring two brilliantly fast fillies and both figure to bring it!
RACE 7: G3 WINNING COLORS
Break Even (9-5) is a bullet from the gate, is drawn inside with Rosario and gets a couple of pounds from slight favorite Mia Mischief (8-5). She’s 1-for-1 at The Downs and owns a (5) 4-1-0 slate at the trip.
Mia Mischief has the Grade 1 Humana Distaff among her five Churchill victories. She’s also 7-for-13 at six furlongs. Figure that Ricardo Santana will not allow Break Even to get too comfortable up front.
The tote will dictate: If it’s 2-1 vs. 3-5, a win bet on the second choice would be in order. But the MOTO play is a 2-8 exacta box, with #8 the most probable winner. Even money would be fair odds.
RACE 11: G3 MINT JULEP
In contrast to the Winning Colors, a full field of fillies and mares will go a mile and a sixteenth on the Winn turf course and handicappers can make a case for half this field. We’ll narrow our focus to four: Juliet Foxtrot (5-2); Beau Recall (5-1); Nay Lady Nay (4-1) and Verenka (12-1).
The first two are trained by Brian Cox, both have a modicum of tactical speed in a race without a clear-cut pace scenario and both are coming off layups.
They are drawn well and have the best performance figures in the group and have done so consistently. ‘Juliet’ on the improve and ‘Beau’ is a proven graded performer. It’s a jump ball. The lean would be toward the better price.
Nay Lady Nay comes off a layup and if there’s anyone better with lengthy layups on turf than Chad Brown, we’re not sure who that might be. She’s won two stakes, including the G2 Revere on this course last fall. Jose Ortiz, who had a big holiday weekend, gets the call.
Verenka is yet another making her season’s debut. Some would argue that trainer Graham Motion is in the same top-returnee class as Brown, myself included. She was third in the G3 Regret here last year, but the late runner will need some pace up front for her best go.
We’re thinking a three-filly exacta box and the win decision will come down to post time odds. We will use Verenka somewhere in the exotics. If bettors get this one right, they will be rewarded.
RACE 10: No added money is available at Gulfstream today but there is a NX1 optional claiming allowances for three-year-olds going nine furlongs on the turf.
Todd Pletcher has two here but what’s confusing is the possibility that the longer one on the line might wind up favorite because of the inside draw and presence of Irad Ortiz Jr. The shorter of the uncoupled duo, Mystic Lancelot (5-2), had a strong blowout at Palm Beach Downs for this.
We’ll concentrate on Our Country (5-1), sure to benefit from his season’s debut at Tampa Bay and today’s longer trip. Picking up Paco doesn’t hurt either, and trainer George Weaver has been en fuego.
The problem is that Unconquered Lea (3-1) is a bet-back for us following his dominant maiden score and good second to the talented Gufo at today’s trip last time out. Experience at this route matters.
We’ll bet one of the latter two to win, make a three-way exacta box including Mystic Lancelot, and use the blinker-improved Sunsation (20-1) in the super-exotics mix for a good ship-in barn and picking up turf ace Bravo.
RACE 7: G3 HONEYMOON
With three-year-old fillies going nine furlongs on turf, we’ll be making a pedigree play–or should we say anti-pedigree play. There is a lot of support for the streaking Peter Miller/Abel Cedill0-connected Laura’s Light (5-2). We agree she’s good but posit her breeding is light on the bottom side.
We’ll try to out-wise-guy the wise guys and concentrate on two fillies. The legitimate favorite, Stela Star (2-1), will be a very tough out for Team Sadler/Prat. She was probably best when second after a very rough go in the Cinema, her U.S. debut. She’s bred to run up the side of a mountain.
But we’re going for the straight gusto with Guitty (8-1) who is developing very nicely, showing incremental improvement in all starts even though she has lost her last three runs.
Exiting the same race as Sadler’s filly, she was 11th of 13 at headstretch but beat half the field, losing the whole thing by less than three lengths. She’s slow early but there’s lots of speed signed on, Brice Blanc got to know her last time out and trainer Leonard Powell is profitable in graded events.
We will box the exacta, key both fillies in vertical wagers that will include money horses Laura’s Light and Parkour (7-2), for Team Mandella/Smith. We’ll take Guitty to win but will require close to 8-1 early odds to do so.