Churchill Downs Picks & Analysis for May 20
CHURCHILL DOWNS Picks
Another week of racing commences at Churchill Downs on Thursday with an intriguing eight-race program. As usual, our in-house handicapper has you covered with picks for the whole card and analysis of his strongest opinions throughout the day.
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Thursday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Most Likely Winner: High Tide (Race 8) - There is a severe lack of quality in the finale, a 1 ½-mile marathon on the lawn, so who better than turf marathon guru Mike Maker to send out a winner. High Tide himself doesn’t exactly stand out among this uninspiring bunch, but he’s run well enough in his turf starts for Maker and even ran pretty well last out on the main track at Keeneland going a similar distance. I think he’s going to improve big time off that effort since he may have been against a bias that day, and he should be able to beat this group at a decent price.
Best Value: Hard to Be Good (Race 6) - Lamartine is a little bit interesting coming off a poor run on the synth at Turfway Park, however he’s not going to be a big price and it’s not a great sign he shows up for a tag. Hard to Be Good, meanwhile, is a salty 12-time winner who appears to find himself in a good spot here. His latest races at Oaklawn Park aren’t anything special at first blush, but he had to press some rather fast pace in each of his last two. He should have a much easier time of it in this race, and I believe he’s a distinct threat to wire this field for the underrated Wesley Hawley.
Other Races of Interest: Race 3 - The uncoupled pair of Welsey Ward runners are obviously going to be tough to beat in this 2-year-old maiden race on turf, however from the limited information we have at our disposal neither of these runners look all that imposing. Instead, I’m going to take a shot with Awesome Hope (#3). As a daughter of Maclean’s Music out of a Galileo mare, this filly is well bred for this trip. Her worktab seems to suggest she has some ability, and her trainer Pavel Matejka has surprisingly strong numbers with first-time starters. All of these signs point to a live debuter.
Race 7 - Coming off a sharp 88 Beyer Speed Figure in an allowance race at Keeneland, Mischiefful (#6) is no doubt the filly to beat in the day’s feature, but I’m not just going to concede this race to her. I actually prefer a filly that finished well behind her last out, Dealing Justice (#8), who should improve in her second start in Kentucky. Dealing Justice showed a lot of ability over the winter at Aqueduct, including a third-place finish behind Miss Brazil and Caramel Swirl in her debut and a strong, next-out maiden win, and I have a feeling she’s going to get back to those races here. If she does, she should be able to give the favorite a run for her money.
*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*