In typical fashion, another week of racing commences on Thursday at Churchill Downs with an eight-race program. As such, our in-house handicapper has you covered with picks for the whole card, as well as 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: Born Great (Race 6) - Born Great is coming off a bit of a layoff, but he’s doing so for trainer Brendan Walsh, who is having a sensational meet, and even his last race, which was a step down from his previous efforts at Fair Grounds, would make him awfully tough to beat here. Ultimately there’s just no one else I trust in this race and I fully expect Born Great to come with a top effort.
Best Value: Sweet Willemina (Race 7) - This is another race in which I find it impossible to trust many of the runners in the field, so I’m happy to take Sweet Willemina despite her low-profile connections and subpar record. Despite those obstacles, this filly is simply coming out of a far better race than most of her competition, and I thought she ran quite well in that 50k spot to get fourth with a 71 Beyer Speed Figure. All she likely needs to do to win is deliver a repeat of that effort, and at 8-1 on the morning-line that’s a very attractive proposition.
Other Races of Interest: Race 2 - Rising Seas (#3) and Cinnabunny (#4) are legitimate threats at this six-furlong distance, but I’m not enamored with either, especially at short prices. I’d rather take a shot with the dirtied up Headland (#1). While her last two races give the impression that she’s gone off form, I think she has major excuses for both of those efforts considering she took a horrendous stumble at the start of the G3 Winning Colors and two back she was going a distance much farther than her best. This filly really seemed to come alive with the removal of blinkers late last year, and if she’s able to recover the form she was in over the winter she should have no trouble taking down the favorites.
Race 8 - Runway Dreamer (#1) is unquestionably the one to beat as she drops in class precipitously to face 25k claimers, however I have to give the nod to Dutch Treat (#6) as she gets back on turf for the first time in a while. It seems the reason Dutch Treat has been campaigned on dirt so much is that she’s an Arkansas-bred, a state in which there is no turf racing, but in her few opportunities over this surface she’s been rock-solid, including a win at the 40k level over this course last year. It may just be that she can’t run anymore, but if turf does wake her up she’s going to have a big chance at a square price.
*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*