Racing at historic Churchill Downs continues on Friday with a nine-race program featuring some intriguing races. As usual, our in-house handicapper has you covered with picks for the whole card and additional analysis of his strongest opinions throughout the day.
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Friday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Most Likely Winner: Happymac (Race 8) - There are a couple others who look like they could rival Happymac, but I don’t think their credentials are quite as solid as this recent maiden winner. In his 3-year-old debut at Oaklawn Park, Happymac fell victim to a monster from the barn of Bob Baffert, and away from the shadow of that one in his next start he broke his maiden by 10 ¼ lengths. Those two races are both very good, and although a horse like Mr Sippi can rival the speed figures Happymac has been earning, I don’t think his maiden win over this track was nearly as good. I think this is Happymac’s race to lose.
Best Value: Empress Eleanor (Race 7) - Family Way is likely going to be a decisive favorite in this race, but I thought she got a very good trip last out at Keeneland and was rather one-paced. I prefer the two fillies that dead-heated for the win in an April 3 allowance race at Keeneland, particularly Empress Eleanor, who is going to be a bigger price than Enjoyitwhilewecan. Empress Eleanor was absolutely flying late in that spot, which bodes well for her stretching out to 1 â miles, and ultimately I believe she’s just better than the horses she’s meeting today. There’s also the possibility she takes another step forward in her second start of the year.
Other Races of Interest: Race 3 - There are some very beatable favorites in this race in the form of Aye Aye Sir (#1) and Jack Van Berg (#5), so I have to take a shot with a complete bomb, Rivers of Lite (#4). He’s been a little disappointing this year, however Rivers of Life faced far better competition two back at Keeneland and last out was forced to chase a fast pace going a mile over this track. If he gets back to the races he was running at Churchill in 2020 he’s going to have a big chance at a massive price.
Race 4 - As always, the uncoupled entry trained by Wesley Ward is going to be tough to beat in this 2-year-old maiden race, however neither strikes me as having a big edge on this field. Instead, I’m going to take a chance with Tempo Madness (#9), who is bred strongly for turf and has been working steadily, and quite well, on the Keeneland main track. Those dirt works couldn’t possibly be showing the best he has to offer considering his abundant turf pedigree, and I’m expecting him to outrun his odds in his debut.
*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*