LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- It couldn't have come at a much more convenient time for Churchill Downs and its customers. With Stephen Foster Day having gone into the record books last weekend, and with no other stakes races to be run here until June 30, a pick six carryover of $97,352 into Wednesday probably is just what fans need to sustain more than cursory interest.
Following two dark days, horseplayers typically come out firing, and with several of the pick six races sporting a wide-open look, another $200,000 or $300,000 is likely to be wagered into the pool. That means this week at Churchill could unfold in an eventful manner, depending largely on how favorites fare in pick six races.
As usual, the pick six will be conducted on the last six races of the card, which consists of just nine races on Wednesday.
Here is a brief rundown of those races:
Race 4: There is no clear-cut choice in this $15,000 conditioned-claiming route. Vast, with Robby Albarado to ride, should draw close attention, but everyone will notice he has run second at this level in each of his last four starts. There are a handful of candidates to put him in the runner-up spot again, including Precautionary and Hale Hearty, both claimed recently for this price, and Born Leader, a sharp maiden winner last out.
Race 5: Captive, with Julien Leparoux riding for Bernie Flint, won at these same $50,000 sprint conditions on May 10 but hasn't raced in nearly six weeks, and quite a few of her rivals appear capable of denying her a repeat. Boat's Ghost, taking the sizable class drop after running in three straight stakes, is also among the logical players. Three others won maiden races two starts back and could threaten - Yourrootsreshowin, Diboll's Slew, and Countmeasafriend.
Race 6: Lily's Place is the filly to beat if she repeats the 88 Beyer Speed Figure she earned in her May 18 debut, but otherwise, this maiden-special race is full of fringe possibilities and has "spread out," if not "carryover," written all over it. A handful of fillies already have flashed the ability to get the job done here, including Pure Silk, Ms. Sabbatical, Even Tempo, Elusive Melody, and Unforgotten. And then there are the first-timers from winning barns - Heavenly Surprise, Handlethetruth, and Swamp Willow.
Race 7: Mr. Rowdy and Steve's Double are the most logical winners in a race for which many pick six players might limit their options to just one or two horses. Mr. Rowdy, from the red-hot Steve Asmussen barn, was terrific in an opening-day maiden triumph, while Steve's Double came through with a career-best effort on May 24.
Race 8: Niagara Causeway, a close second already in two cracks at first-level allowances at this meet, is a deserving favorite for Leparoux and trainer Patrick Biancone, but there is nothing that says he absolutely has to win in what is otherwise a full and deep lineup. Gaelic Storm, beaten just a nose when returning from a 13-month layoff on June 2, looks like the most dangerous of a highly capable opposing cast.
Race 9: Most of the field drops from the maiden-special ranks to a $50,000 tag, giving the finale a highly unpredictable look. Maybe it will be Huffman, Please Include Me, or La Bala who most will appreciate the lower class level and wake up to run better than they already have. But if none of the droppers show themselves able, then Cat on the Line, who ran second at 3-1 at this level on June 1 for Albarado and trainer Dallas Stewart, is the most likely winner.