By Sean Morris

Churchill Downs All-Stakes Pick 5 Picks & Analysis on May 23

By Sean Morris
Churchill Downs has a cracking slate of Stakes races this Saturday
Churchill Downs has a cracking slate of Stakes races this Saturday

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Race 7

Dunbar Road (#4) is clearly the filly to beat as she makes her 4-year-old debut following a distant fifth-place finish in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff to close out a fruitful sophomore campaign. I don’t believe the layoff will pose her much trouble and she has the tactical speed to work out a good trip; my only issue with her is that she’s no superstar (at least not yet) and she’s going to be treated as such.

For this reason, my top pick is She’s a Julie (#8). This mare can be a little hit or miss, but when she’s on her game she’s every bit the equal of Dunbar Road. Some of her best races have come at Churchill Downs and the icing on the cake is that she should have the lead all to herself in this spot. If we get her ‘A’ game, it’s going to take a good deal of improvement from Dunbar Road to beat her.

Main:  4,8      Backup:  6

Order of preference:  8-4-6-3

 

Race 8

Two fillies in this race stand out as being head and shoulders above their competition: last year’s G1 Juvenile Fillies Turf victor Sharing (#9) and the undefeated Alms (#14). Alms was done no favors by the draw, but I really don’t have much of an argument against either one as both possess terrific tactical speed and are likely just better than their competition.

I have immense respect for the pair, however it’s hard not to notice the abundance of early speed signed on for this race, which should play right into the hand of Dominga (#4). I don’t believe this filly is as talented as Sharing or Alms, but she also never really got an honest pace to run at while wintering at the Fair Grounds and still won a pair of races impressively. There appears to be much parity among the bulk of the field, so if Sharing were to need a race off the layoff and Alms is compromised by her wide post, I believe Dominga is the most likely to capitalize.

Main:  4,9,14     Backup:  None

Order of preference:  4-9-14-5

 

Race 9

Global Campaign (#3) will probably end up favored in this race, and while it’s hard to argue with his chances I’m not sure he has any significant edge on this field. He ran well off the layoff in a loaded allowance race at Gulfstream, but he’s going to need to take another step forward to beat this group.

Owendale (#8) is probably going to attract a good deal of attention, too, but I’m even less bullish on him. I’ve actually been a big fan of his since his dominant win in the G3 Lexington last year, but he strikes me as a horse that wants as much ground as possible, so I doubt he’s going to be as effective at this configuration and is sure to be overbet.

Since nobody really scares me in this race, I settled on a pair of longshots as my top two picks, Diamond King (#14) and Bourbon Resolution (#2). The former is likely going to get bet down from his 10-1 morning line, but I still think he’s going to offer great value as he’s the most reliable option in this bunch. There’s not terribly much speed signed on, either, and with an uber-aggressive rider in Kendrick Carmouche he should be able to take full advantage of it.

Bourbon Resolution may look overmatched on paper, but I thought his last race was much better than it looks. The Gulfstream main track on March 28 was heavily tilted to inside runners and speed, of which Bourbon Resolution had neither, yet he still came with a good run in the stretch at a distance shorter than his best. It was around this time last year that he shipped up from Florida to Kentucky and exploded with a win in the G3 Ben Ali, and I think we could see a similar transformation this year.

I’d also be remiss to not include Mr. Money (#13) as a ‘main’ play. He didn’t run well in his 4-year-old debut, but he seems to really have an affinity for this track and should be given a chance to rebound.

Main:  2,3,13,14     Backup:  7,8

Order of preference:  14-2-3-13

 

Race 10

Maxfield (#10) finds himself in an ideal spot to make his long-awaited sophomore debut. This horse was sensational when last seen winning the G1 Breeders’ Futurity in runaway fashion, and if he comes back the same horse (or perhaps even better), this field should prove a piece of cake for him.

In a largely uninspiring bunch, however, there is one horse that appears to have a big future, and that’s Pneumatic (#2). He’s a perfect 2-for-2 in his career and was terrific last out in his two-turn debut showing push-button acceleration to run down a horse who got an easy lead. If he were to take another step forward on Saturday, it may not matter what kind of form Maxfield comes back in.

I also somewhat begrudgingly need to include Ny Traffic (#6). I’ve never been this horse’s biggest fan and generally avoid playing Saffie Joseph, Jr. outside of South Florida, but there’s no denying Ny Traffic ran very well in the G2 Louisiana Derby when re-equipped with blinkers. That race came going 1 3/16 miles, which is probably a bit farther than his best, so the turnback to 1 1/16 miles should be to his liking and he’s now proven he can ship and run well.

Main:  2,6,10     Backup (priority):  1,11

Order of preference:  2-10-6-1

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Race 11

All eyes will be on Hieronymus (#6) in this race as he goes for his fourth-straight victory on the turf, but I have a major issue with him as the favorite. For one, all of those wins came in wire-to-wire fashion and there is a ton of speed in this race to go with him, so he’s either going to have to come from off the pace or work very hard to make the lead. I also think the Beyer from his last race is a bit inflated as a few horses moved up dramatically (see Pixelate in this race), so he’s probably not as good as he looks on paper. I have no doubt he’s talented, but he’s purely a defensive play for me given what a massive underlay he figures to be.

At four or five times the price, I much prefer Bodecream (#2), who finished just behind Hieronymus in the Black Gold Stakes at the Fair Grounds and didn’t have the cleanest of trips. Bodecream has proven to be a very capable turf runner and will benefit immensely from the projected pace, which is what happened two back when he took the Texas Turf Mile at Sam Houston at a generous 9-1.

Field Pass (#5) may take a bit too much money for my liking based on his last race, which came on a synthetic surface, but I did also like his 3-year-old unveiling in the Dania Beach at Gulfstream, where he didn’t get a clear path until very late and showed good courage through the stretch. I think he’s come back a much improved horse as a sophomore and may very well have another step forward in him.

This isn’t a race I’d like to get too cute in as contenders are plentiful, but I really like the chances of Street Ready (#11). His last race needs to be seen to be believed as he went impossibly wide around both turns and still was able to run down a pair of talented runners from the Todd Pletcher barn. He was done no favors by the draw yet again, however I think he’s a rapidly improving horse who may be overlooked in the wagering.

Main:  2,5,6,11     Backup:  7,9,12

Order of preference:  11-2-5-6

 

Most Likely Winner:  She’s a Julie (Race 7)

Best Value:  Street Ready (Race 11)

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