Churchill Downs Picks & Analysis for May 8

Churchill Downs hosts a robust 11-race card on Saturday
Churchill Downs hosts a robust 11-race card on Saturday

The racing at Churchill Downs is heating up again in the wake of the Kentucky Derby, with an 11-race card on tap for Saturday headlined by the Mamzelle for 3-year-old turf sprinters. As usual, our in-house handicapper has taken the liberty of making picks for the entire card, as well as providing analysis of his strongest opinions throughout the day.

If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Saturday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

Horse Racing Picks

Most Likely Winner:  Flown (Race 8) - A turf race with an overflow field isn’t typically where you’ll find the day’s most likely winner, but I see no one I like on this card more than the Flown. This filly looks like she merely fits with this group based on her recent speed figures, however I thought her 3-year-old debut in the G2 Appalachian at Keeneland was significantly better than it appears on paper. This filly does have a bit of tactical speed, so the fact she was so far behind a dawdling early pace in the Appalachian was mostly due to a rough beginning, which cost her any chance at making an impact in that race. She adds Lasix for the first time in this spot and should be able to work out a better trip from her wide post against this lackluster group.

Best Value:  Navratilova (Race 10) - I’m not a fan of any of the Wesley Ward-trained fillies in the Mamzelle, who are going to be dramatically overbet, and instead prefer those coming out of the Limestone Turf Sprint at Keeneland, chiefly Navratilova. Goin’ Good, the filly who finished just ahead of her that day, is the filly to beat, but I think Navratilova has more upside as she makes her second start of the year. Navratilova showed a surprising amount of early speed that day, and overall just looked like a completely different filly compared to her 2-year-old campaign. I’m expecting her to move forward with that race under her belt, and the slight cutback to 5 ½ furlong should also help.

Other Races of Interest:  Race 3 - This is a pretty confusing maiden claimer on the turf, but I believe Some Nights (#4) and Runaway Mom (#10) are standouts. If the public is just going to dismiss the former because she hails from a low-percentage outfit and has only sprinted to date, I think that would be a big mistake. Her last-out fifth-place finish at maiden special weights at Keeneland wasn’t just a suck-up kind of effort, she really ran that day, and while the stretch-out is a bit of a concern, she’s bred to handle the added ground. Runaway Mom, meanwhile, is my top pick given the strength of her two back performance at Gulfstream against a far better group. She doesn’t have to come from as far out of it as she did that day and she was really motoring in the stretch. Both of these fillies should be overlays in this spot.

Race 9 - The G1-placed Crystal Ball (#1) is undoubtedly the filly to beat as she ships east following a solid return at Santa Anita Park, but you have to wonder why her connections are aiming so low with this well-bred runner considering her back class. She can obviously win based on her last race and runner-up finish in the 2020 G1 CCA Oaks at Saratoga, however I think she could be a bit vulnerable as the heavy favorite. I prefer Market Rumor (#10), who also made a promising return to the races on April 9 at Keeneland, where she finished a game second to the very talented Spice Is Nice. It feels like that race could’ve come back even faster than it was given credit for, and Market Rumor certainly seemed to turn a corner in that spot, which should set her up for an improved performance here.

 

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