By Sean Morris

Churchill Downs Picks & Late Pick 5 Analysis for November 28

By Sean Morris
Some big races at Churchill Downs this Saturday
Some big races at Churchill Downs this Saturday

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  • Churchill Downs Picks

Churchill Downs Picks

  • Race 1: 10-5-6-4
  • Race 2: 1-10-7-11
  • Race 3: 6-4-2-8
  • Race 4: 8-7-2-3
  • Race 5: 2-7-9-11
  • Race 6: 8-1-6-12
  • Race 7: 1-3-4-2
  • Race 8: 10-5-4-6
  • Race 9: 8-6-5-9
  • Race 10: 2-10-6-4
  • Race 11: 7-4-1-6
  • Race 12: 3-4-10-11
  • Most Likely Winner: Simply Ravishing (Race 9)
  • Best Value: Poca Mucha (Race 8)

Race 8

Since I don’t wholly trust any of the short-priced entrants, I think this is a race in which it’s safe to get a bit creative. The “clever” idea I came up with is Poca Mucha (#10), who may get ignored in the wagering because she broke her maiden on a sloppy track at Indiana Grand but is clearly fast enough to win. That really wasn’t a terrible field she just beat at Indiana considering the runner-up and third-place finisher came from the high-percentage barns of Tom Amoss and Brad Cox, respectively, and Poca Mucha did well to prevail after sitting off a slow early pace. Her trainer Paulo Lobo isn’t a household name, but he does a fine job on this circuit and is more than capable of sending out a winner. If Poca Mucha is anywhere near her 15-1 morning-line odds, she’s going to offer tremendous value.

There really isn’t much in this race. Minute Waltz (#4) looks like a standout on paper, however don’t let the margin of victory in her debut fool you as she wasn’t nearly as impressive as it looks. Furthermore, Minute Waltz is bred to sprint as a half-sister to the speedy turfer New York’s Finest, so she may not care for the additional ground of this race. I’m using her because she clearly has some ability, but I think she’s going to be a serious underlay.

Of the likely favorites I prefer Oliviaofthedesert (#5), who doesn’t appear to be as fast as Minute Waltz but is getting some serious class relief in this spot having recently contested the G1 Alcibiades and the ungraded Rags To Riches over this track. She didn’t do much running in those races, but a repeat of either performance would more than put her in the mix.

Main:  4,5,10     Backup:  2,6,9

Order of preference:  10-5-4-6

Race 9

I’m a little worried about a post-Breeders’ Cup hangover with Simply Ravishing (#8), but if she simply runs anything close to her race in the G2 Golden Rod she’s going to be impossible to beat. It’s not as if she ran poorly at all last out in the Juvenile Fillies, and in fact it may have been the best race of her career despite it being her first loss. Prior to that she was a dominant winner of the G1 Alcibiades at Keeneland, and even with a good deal of regression she’s still a very likely winner of this race.

Behind Simply Ravishing, there are a trio of secondary contenders led by second-time starter Clariere (#6). I’m giving this well-bred filly the nod to round out the exacta in part because of how impressive she was in her debut, but also because Travel Column (#5) was soundly beaten by Simply Ravishing in the Alcibiades. The needle is pointing up on both of these fillies, but I’d rather go with the one with more upside, which Clariere has in spades after she unleashed an eye-catching late run to get up in her unveiling. Princess Theorem (#9) is also fast enough to get involved, but she took advantage of a softer off-the-turf field in her maiden breaker.

Main:  8     Backup:  5,6,9

Order of preference:  8-6-5-9

Race 10

This is another race with a pair of favorites that aren’t very convincing. Founder (#6) and Mandaloun (#10) do have speed figures that make them imposing in this field, however those were accomplished at shorter distances and they’re going to take money primarily because they’re trained by Chad Brown and Brad Cox, respectively. Of these two I have a slight preference for Mandaloun, who has a turf-leaning pedigree but one that suggests more ground will be beneficial to him, but I think these two are beatable.

The horse I landed on with my top pick is Smokin’ Jay (#2). Ordinarily I would say this guy’s credentials are fraudulent since his best race came going five furlongs on synth at Arlington Park, a race he won wire-to-wire, and he regressed in his next start at Presque Isle, also on a synthetic track. For me, the main appeal of this horse is his pedigree, which is unquestionably well-suited to this surface considering his damside is entirely dirt and Cairo Prince is a fine dirt sire. Like Poca Mucha in Race 8, Smokin’ Jay is going to get dismissed because he isn’t trained by a top barn, yet Carlos Silva already has a pair of runner-up finishes at the meet. It may not take much improvement at all for Smokin’ Jay to eclipse the favorites, and he has a good shot to do it as he gets on what could be his preferred surface for the first time.

Main:  2,6,10     Backup:  3,4

Order of preference:  2-10-6-4

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Race 11

Coming off a fast-closing third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Keepmeinmind (#4) is a formidable favorite in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club. He did get an unbelievably great setup in the Juvenile, which featured a rapid and contested pace, but this son of Laobon stayed on well in the stretch to come within two lengths of victory. While I’m not sure he’s as good as the 92 Beyer he earned for the race, it’s not as if it came completely out of nowhere considering he entered the Juvenile off a runner-up finish in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity behind eventual winner Essential Quality. The Juvenile was also Keepmeinmind’s first race equipped with blinkers, and I don’t think he needs to come from as far out of it in this spot.

Keepmeinmind is a deserving favorite, but he’s going to be a very short price, which is why I’m going with King Fury (#7) as my top pick. King Fury finished well behind Keepmeinmind last out in the Juvenile, however he was much closer to that hot pace and had some trouble around the far turn. Two back he was an impressive winner of the Street Sense over this track, and I like that he’s adding blinkers for this race. With a clean trip and a bit of improvement, he’s capable of taking down the favorite at what should be fair odds.

Sittin On Go (#1) was a longshot selection of mine in the Juvenile, but he really didn’t do much running in that spot as he sat a similar trip to Keepmeinmind and lacked any kind of punch in the stretch. He was a dazzling winner of the G3 Iroquois two starts ago over this track, so it’s clear he does have some ability, and perhaps he just relishes the Churchill main track. He’s not without a chance here, though value figures to be scarce as he’s part of a coupled entry.

Main:  4,7     Backup (priority):  1

Order of preference:  7-4-1-6

Race 12

Featuring a trio of runners coming out of an October 25 heat here won in slow time by 26-1 longshot King’s Ovation, I think it’s safe to say this is not a good maiden race. Of that group I strongly prefer Runway Magic (#10), who was rank behind horses in the early going and blocked for much of the stretch. There’s no doubt he ran much better than his rivals that day, who had relatively clean trips, yet he may end up the highest price among them.

I’m using Runway Magic prominently, but it really wouldn’t take much to beat him even if he moves forward as anticipated. Repo Rocks (#4) intrigues me at a price as he gets back around one turn on dirt following a pair of races he was ill suited to. His last start at this distance came in an off-the-turf affair at Saratoga, and while even that effort looks too slow for him to compete here, he was up against a bias that day at Saratoga and finished just behind an impressive next-out winner.

Repo Rocks will likely offer value, however he’s no one’s idea of a world-beater, either, which is why I’m going with first-time starter Vancouver Moon (#3) as my top pick. Vancouver Moon’s pedigree definitely leans turf, but Vancouver is proving to be a capable dirt sire and this guy appears to be working well on the main track in advance of his debut. I like that he attracts a live rider in Tyler Gaffalione and his trainer Eddie Kenneally has been having a very good meet. If Vancouver Moon has any ability at all, he can beat this field.

Main:  3,4,10     Backup:  7,9,11

Order of preference:  3-4-10-11


Most Likely Winner:  Simply Ravishing (Race 9)

Best Value:  Poca Mucha (Race 8)

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Up to $200 in Sign-up Bonuses
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Up to $200 in Sign-up Bonuses
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