|Defending Champ Pleuven: Photo by Wendy Wooley/Equisport Photos|
Churchill Downs racing under the lights, especially when I can watch live, is something I find very enjoyable as a fan. It's late enough where the sun is setting, I can unwind with an adult beverage, perhaps a cigar, and bet the ponies without giving up a beautiful afternoon day. When you live in the Northern snow belt, each weekend when the temperature is above 70 degrees is treated like a perishable commodity and I don't have too many I can just give away to this sport, with its small fields, high takeout and lack of star talent. I'm a fan but this sport doesn't make it easy at all.
This race, at 1 1/16 miles on Stephen Foster Handicap day, has eight horses in it, average age 5.6 years old, with the top money earning, Blofeld, going over grass for the first time in his 5 years. We do have last year's edition Champion, Pleuven (FR) as well as Place and the Show horse from last year, Thatcher Street and Kasaqui (Arg), yes Kasaqui that gave the great Mondaliste everything he could handle in the Arlington Million.
Let's get after this!
I could make this blog post really short and just say the same finish from the 2016 edition but I don't think I'd be that wrong either.
Pleuven (Fr) is a six year old gelding, trained by Phillip Sims with Lanerie up. 4 of 4 in the money over CD turf, 5 of 6 in the money at the distance and 14 of 18 lifetime in the money over grass. He'll run just off the pace most likely and close late.
Thatcher Street is another local who will go late with one run. The six year old gelded son of Kentucky Derby Winner Street Sense, has Leparoux up for Trainer Ian Wilkes. 7 of 8 in the money at the distance, 15 of 18 lifetime in the money over grass and 8 of 8 lifetime in the money over CD grass.
Kasaqui (Arg) also has a late turn of foot. The 7 YO comes in off a nice effort in the Turf Classic with a very nice late move that fell short. He's a threat to win the race and at 6-1 or better he offers great value.
Chocolate Ride is a 7 Yo gelded son of the great sire Candy Ride (Arg). 4 wins in 7 starts at the distance and 9 wins in 18 starts over grass. Trainer Brad Cox wins 31% of the time on Won Last Start and he's 33% over Turf. He should be the pace with Security Risk.
Security Risk, a 5 YO War Front, trained by Shug McGaughey and with John Velazquez up, is a steady, front of the pack style horse. He will have a lot of closers after him and Chocolate Ride as they try to steal the race from the front. It happens, but i'm thinking not this race.
I'm tossing Bondurant, Conquest Panthera and Blofeld at my own peril. Bondurant isn't a bad play, but he's winless in 2017, winless at the distance, and I'm not sure how sharp he is. Blofeld tries dirt for the first time. Trainer George Arnold is 7% on First Time Turf. I love a Quality Road son but I'm passing. Conquest Panthera should be better than the 5 YO gelding is. Trained by Mark Casse for The Ramsey's.
I'm not going to overthink this too much. I'll be playing a card with 7-3 OVER 7-3-4-5-1 OVER 7-3-4-5-1. A $2 Tri would cost $48. A variation would be 7 OVER 3-4-5-1 OVER 3-4-5-, a $24 investment.
Whatever you do, bet responsibly and have fun. Turk Out!