Churchill Downs Opening Day Hits – RECAP – Super Screener
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Churchill Downs Opening Day Hits – RECAP

Photo: Churchill Downs

Which Track Surface Do You Like?

Hey, it was great to see Churchill Downs back in action. You can’t beat those full, contentious fields and we’ll be able to enjoy more of that kind of action over the next couple of months. 

On the long anticipated opening day, however, we were greeted with torrential down pours overnight that continued into the morning, requiring track maintenance to seal the surface in preparation for the first race. All turf races were moved to the dirt surface. On the day, there were 4 different track conditions to contend with:

  1. Sloppy/Sealed
  2. Wet/Fast
  3. Good
  4. Fast

This resulted in several scratches in each of our featured races, including a few additional scratches that occurred after our final Super Screener release and Saturday afternoon webcast. The track definitely was favoring speed when the surface was wet… but once it started drying out, it played fair. A tough handicapping challenge to be sure, but glad we were able to cash in half of the CD races and close with a nice hit on the final Super Screener race at Santa Anita.

Churchill Downs R8

This race came off the turf, and after we published the final release, there was yet another scratch allowing #17 Dinar into the race, and he went on to win it.  A Super Screener “A” horse Motogally, out of the Chad Brown barn, finished 2nd for a chalky favorite/favorite Exacta as the track was listed as fast with this race.

Churchill Downs R9

Our two “A” horses, Adhhar and Portrait were scratched from the race, leaving our top “B” horse, #9 Box of Chocolates, as the top-ranked horse in the race. The pace came up hotter and more pressured than projected resulting in the top three finishers all closing from the back half of the field. Our wagering strategy of using Box of Chocolates as a “single under” emphasizing 2nd and 3rd place paid off, yielding a $178 pay out when that one finished 2nd behind a “B” horse Sacred Oath.

The Super Screener doesn’t see any of the longest long shots in the field as board hitter prospects. However, if #9 Box of Chocolates goes off at odds of 10-1 or higher, that would yield more than fair value given his chances. While he has a small chance to win this race his prospects of hitting one of the “under” slots in your Exotic wagers are much better. It is hard to tell, but using the Super Screener Energy Reserve Index, he has actually progressed incrementally forward in each of his last 3 races. In addition, he is 3 for 4 in the Trifecta on the CD surface. Very reliable sort and a must include in your wagers.

Churchill R10

As we shared in the Super Screener and during our Thursday webcast, #5 Miss T Too was a heavy conviction horse and at final odds of 5-1, she offered plenty of value. She was good enough to complete the Exacta as our third choice (and top “B” horse), Four Graces pressed then pounced for the win, rebounding in the big way we had anticipated as cited below.

#5 Miss T Too – Presser – Inherited the lead last out due to the slow pace and won via the perfect trip. Other handicappers may not notice this but the 2nd and 3rd finishers in that race came back to run huge numbers in their next start. Cut back in distance is a major advantage.  Works leading up to this indicate readiness. Risk/reward value proposition is favorable!

#8 Four Graces – Presser – Nothing wrong with that debut effort in which this filly laid out those ideal 91+ BRIS Pace/Speed figures throughout while going 7 panels. A debut win is always a positive signal. Dueled routing and slipped back regressing off that huge debut performance. Rebounds here in a big way on the distance cut back.

The Super Screener suggested Trifecta paid nearly $200.

Churchill R11

This race really fell apart on a couple of levels.  First, it was taken off the turf and we lost 3 horses to scratches. Next, after our final Super Screener release, our Top Win pick, Chili Petin, became a late scratch which, by default, moved Ilchester Cheetah up to be the top choice. Unfortunately she lost the race at the gate rearing at the start and spotting the field 3 to 4 lengths, which is especially damaging in these abbreviated sprint races. She was lucky enough to get up for 4th in this race. We liked Reagan’s Edge noting that her last race was deceptively good but we would have only used her “under” with the scratch of Chili Petin.

Santa Anita – Evening Jewel Stakes

We saved the best for last as there was certainly nothing inconsistent with the Santa Anita surface. Our Top Win pick, #1 Smiling Shirlee, took advantage of the fast and pressured pace we projected sitting mid-pack and then was deftly weaved through traffic by Mike Smith as they were turning for home continuing on with strong energy, holding off late closers.

There will be plenty of pace pressure here as 3 pace horses have signed on along with 3 pressers so they’ll be cooking up front and that bodes well for a quality, mid-pack closer. #1 Smiling Shirlee may be the most advantaged of all because she’ll save ground on the rail while sitting 4 lengths off the wall of speed…in touch but not too close to the heat. This will leave plenty in the tank to pass tiring foes late while getting first run on the deeper closers that will circle wide. Her other advantage here is that it is very clear she prefers dirt while that is not the case for other contenders in here. In addition, Mike Smith picks up the mount as Rosario goes to Kentucky.

We correctly faded favorites Bulletproof One and Been Studying Her as they were compromised by the pace, distance or recent form.  

The suggested Super Screener winning Exacta paid over $300 to complete the day. 

Next Saturday features a stakes-rich card at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita with two graded stakes races as well. It’s really starting to feel like summer racing, isn’t it?  

Until this coming weekend, Go Fast, Stay Healthy and Win!

Mike