Churchill Downs Stakes Picks: Sean Endorses...Endorsed
The GI Churchill Downs Stakes is Race 10 on the Kentucky Derby card at Churchill Downs. Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Whitmore is a fan favorite but can he still win at the top level at eight-years-old?
Our in-house handicapper is here with his full preview of the race. Our Race Card is at the bottom of the page where you can bet on the race with any of our betting partners and get all the Morning Line Odds.
The team here have all made selections for the full card at Churchill Downs. You can see them below and for Free Horse Racing Picks from all tracks across the United States then please click on the Gold Button below.
Ok time to pass it over to Sean - our in-house handicapper - for his full preview of the Churchill Downs Stakes...
The G1 Churchill Downs is easily one of the most wide-open races on the card, due in large part to my feeling that this could be the beginning of the end for Whitmore (#9). Take nothing away from this horse, he’s pure class and his longevity is the stuff of legend, however he took forever to load in his last race, which is not a great sign for such an old pro, then proceeded to get a very good trip and fail to capitalize over his favorite track. Losing to C Z Rocket is certainly no disgrace, but I’m not getting good vibes from him coming out of the G3 Count Fleet, and he also must race without Lasix for the first time in his career in this spot. It pains me to say this because I have nothing but admiration for him, but I think he’s a toss.
If Whitmore does indeed regress further then there are a bunch of different ways to go. The one I landed on is Endorsed (#12). He may have finished behind Phat Man (#1) in his last race at Gulfstream Park, but he did so with a less-than-ideal trip, while Phat Man appears to be dependent on Lasix to perform at this best, which he won’t have the luxury of here. Endorsed, meanwhile, is in the process of reclaiming his career, which veered off course in late 2020 but has been revived thanks to a diet of one-turn dirt races, a configuration that seems to be his forte, though his recent uptick in form could also be due to the addition of blinkers, which were added two starts ago. Another reason for his sudden turnaround could be the general potency of Bill Mott horses at Gulfstream this winter, but while I was initially dubious of Mott runners as they ventured away from South Florida in the spring, there’s been no such drop off. Whatever the case may be, I believe the new and improved Endorsed is here to stay, and at a juicy 12-1 on the morning line I think he’s a reliable contender in this chaotic race.
If Endorsed is my rock, then things are really going to get wacky with the horses I like next most in the Churchill Downs. That honor would go to extreme longshots Bango (#10) and Lexitonian (#13). The former looks hopelessly overmatched in this race (and if it were a true G1 he probably would be), however I think he’s a sneaky player here given his affinity for this track. The horse-for-course angle is a tired one and typically offers little real insight, however in the case of Bango, who has done all of his best running at Churchill and virtually nothing at any other venue, I think it’s certainly applicable. The 97 Beyer Speed Figure he last earned on this track puts him in the mix, and it’s possible he’s improved since then following a decent showing in the G3 Commonwealth at Keeneland. In a race this wide open, that’s enough for me to bite.
I’ve long had a soft spot for Lexitonian, who isn’t the fastest but is your classic overachiever. He has a habit of popping up with a big effort when least expect it, and I think he’s primed to do so once again in this race. Just look at the progression he showed last year from his first to second start, going from a complete non-effort at Oaklawn to winning a quality optional claimer over this track, and it’s clear that his upside is immense here. On his best day he’s absolutely capable of beating a field like this, and I’m fully expecting him to show up with a top effort as he makes his second start of the year for a cagey trainer in Jack Sisterson.
*You can bet on the Churchill Downs Stakes with any of our betting partners via the Race Card below...