Following a record-breaking Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1, Churchill Downs picks back up on Thursday with a solid eight-race card. 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 Thursday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Most Likely Winner: Golden Spoke (Race 2) - If Golden Spoke runs back to his last race he should have no trouble handling this field of bottom-level maiden claimers. It’s taken his connections a little to figure him out as he’s already run at a variety of different distances and surfaces, but his latest effort seemed to solidify that he’s best as a dirt sprinter. He sat just off a pretty quick pace in that spot at Keeneland and faded a little in the final furlong, so the turnback to six furlongs should be to his liking. He also adds blinkers for this race, which should allow him to utilize his ample early speed even more.
Best Value: Tango Charlie (Race 3) - I have no use for the runners who are coming out of April 15 race at Keeneland at this level, which I thought was a poor excuse for a turf-sprint allowance, so I’m going to give the 3-year-old Tango Charlie a try as he makes his first start on turf. This guy ran worlds better to break his maiden last out following a dismal debut at Oaklawn Park. It may have been the addition of blinkers or the wet track (or both), but whatever the cause of his sudden improvement I’m expecting him to at least maintain that good form as he tries turf, a surface he’s strongly bred for. With any additional progression Tango Charlie is going to be a major player in this spot, yet he could get ignored a bit as bettors gravitate to those who’ve run on turf already.
Other Races of Interest: Race 4 - Picking Solemn Oath (#1) in this race is partially due to her ability, which is adequate for this level, but mostly because I’m loath to take any other runner. The majority of this field is atrocious, so by comparison Solemn Oath’s recent races at Oaklawn look very good as she takes a rather significant drop in class to face 10k maiden claimers. There’s also the possibility that she takes a step forward on this track considering she ran the best race of her career here as a 2-year-old last fall. Even if there is no uptick in her form, however, she’s going to be very tough to beat.
Race 8 - Coming off significant trouble on April 17 at Gulfstream Park, Oceans Map (#1) feels a little bit like a trap since his trainer Greg Sacco has no history of success at this track, but I have to take the bait given the dearth of quality in this race and the rough trip Oceans Map endured last out. “Steadied 1 1/16” is the comment line putting it mildly, as he had zero chance to run in the stretch rallying along the inside. He appeared to have plenty of kick nonetheless, and if he gets a chance to really stretch his legs in this spot he should be able to beat this lackluster bunch.
*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*