By Dick Downey
Updated after scratches @10:56 a.m. ET. Check back for possible late scratches.
Updated 2:26 p.m. ET -- Late scratch Sportscaster in Race 8.
Dick's Picks are focused mostly on exacta boxes. Four-horse exacta boxes are recommended except where indicated. Kentucky Downs has the lowest exacta take-out rate in the nation.
Sept. 16 NOTE: Four of the day's 10 races have multiple also-eligibles. No more than 12 will run in any race. We may list an also-eligible entry or entries in our selections. In such cases, unless otherwise noted below, we will bet the top four or fewer selections that show up on race day.
Sept. 16 NOTE: Last year, the track favored early speed on Day 1 and Day 2 of the meet when the turf was very firm, but closers fared much better on Day 3 after it rained. On Day 1 this year, the track had plenty of moisture in it -- and early speed and inside post positions didn't do well. Instead, outside posts were dominant, and not one winner led after a half-mile. From Day 1 to Day 2, no rain fell at Kentucky Downs and the course had dried out significantly. We wrote before Day 2 that "the track could play a bit more kindly to early inside speed than it did on Saturday." It did for sure. A constant wind blew Wednesday, further drying things out. On Day 3 in the nine races going a mile and 70 yards or less, five winners led after a half-mile, and two more winners were in second position at that point. The post position distribution of winners was prettty much even. As of this post, it looks like the track will be the drier said of firm on Day 4.
SEPT. 16 NOTE: Scratches are shown with a
strike-through, and betting changes resulting from scratches are described in red.
Race 1. Maiden Claiming $15,000-10,000, 3YO & up, $22,000, 1 Mile
I will single #13 over and under in the exacta. If #13 doesn't make the race, I'll box what's left. 13 w/ 3-10-
12; 3-10- 12 w/ 13.
1. MALIBU SPRINGS (#13). Since being switched to turf, this Wilkes trainee has been knocking at the door for four races.
2. BARLEY TWIST (#10). Romans charges drops way down in class after a long layoff.
3. NAPA VALLEY (#3). Trainer Cox dropped him a level last time, now jumps him up after he almost won; trainer is winning at a 27% clip.
4. SEND THE PAPERS (#12). A better break from the gate may be just what he needs for his 21% trainer Short.
Race 2. Claiming $15,000 N2L, Fillies & Mares 3YO & up, $25,000, 1 Mile
Using the #5 and #9 on the top with others and them on the bottom. 5-9 w/ 1-4-5-
1. SATURDAY STORMS (#5). Connections thought enough of her to try her in the KD Juvenile Fillies last year, albeit without success; she looks to be dropping to a comfortable level.
2. BOOK CLUB (#9). Class dropper has four board hits in eight tries this year.
3. POPPY'S DREAM (#1). Look for Robby to save ground while stalking the pace, then move in the stretch.
4. TENAHA (#12). Won here on opening day after being bet down, now tries winners for the first time.
5. SMART KIT (#8). She has no early speed, so thinking Calvin will drop to the rail. Has run some figs good enough to be competitive.
6. SUGAR CUBE (#4). Based on her limited form, she likes it on the inside. Her win came against lesser.
Race 3. Maiden Claiming $30,000-20,000, Fillies & Mares 3YO & up, $28,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
Boxing only the top three of these if #14 gets in. Otherwise, boxing what's left.
1. RADIANT (#2). This filly is versatile, and she gets Rosie on Ladies' Day after a layoff with 32% trainer Amoss. He's 23% with horses after a 90+ day layoff.
2. BROWN'S BABY (#14) Wilkes charge has good early speed and owns two board hits from four starts.
3. TRAWEE (#9). Class dropper shows figs better than almost all the others.
4. TORCIDA (#12). Drops in class and is capable of showing early foot.
Race 4. Claiming $15,000-$10,000, 3YO & up, $28,000, 6 Furlongs
1. J. PA (#7). Is always in the mix and has the figs to back it up compared to others.
2. SKYLANDER (#8). Trainer Ward must always be respected here; drops this one with what appears to be good intentions.
3. PENDING ASSET (#12). Another one that drops in class; has three board hits in five starts this year.
4. RAY'S AWAY (#4). For sale for $5K last time out; new connections saw what he did at KD this time last year on a very firm track and give this a shot.
Consider START UP (#14) if any of the above are a late scratch. Closer also drops in class and could get part of it
Race 5. Claiming $25,000-$20,000, Fillies & Mares 3YO & up, $44,000, 1 Mile 70 Yards
1. STAR PASSAGE (#9). There's not much early speed in this race; she adds blinkers and may get the lead.
2. FABULOUS MISS BEA (#1). Calvin will try to get good position early and of course save ground.
3. ROCK HARD CAT (#4). Marty's brother Paul McGee shows up with one that may be at home around this level after hitting the board four of seven times this year.
4. VENUS DE MILO (#5). Speaking of Ladies Day.... Maker and Rosie team up with this versatile mare that looks set to make one run.
Race 6. Allowance N1X/N2L, 3YO & up, $100,000, 6 Furlongs
1. PROSECUTION (#6). Trainer Cox brings that 27% win rate and a gelding that's been favored in his last five starts, winning three of them and running second twice. Decent early speed.
2. ROCKIN BOOGIE (#5). Todd Pletcher once famously said, "Layoffs are overrated." This one has been off for over a year but has been training forwardly and runs that way too.
3. PARTY TIME (#8). Another one that is a forward runner, he faces winners for the first time for Team Catalano-Hill-West.
4. INDIANO JONES (#10). Trainer Casse hopes the speed collapses and that Indiano Jones will take advantage of it.
NOTE: If he gets in, it'll be interesing to see how H Town Brown (#14) does moving way up in class after running so well here on opening day.
Race 7. Maiden Special Weight, Fillies 2YO, $90,000, 1 Mile
1. WALKING THE KITTEN (#3). Debuting daughter of Kitten's Joy will try to beat a group of maidens that doesn't appear to have an obvious standout.
2. WILD COVEY (#5). Trainer Oliver historically has good stats at KD; and this year she owns two board hits from four starters. Her filly ran a respectable debut and could improve.
3. LEAD THE LINE (#4). In her debut, she ran evenly while wide leaving the turn.
4. HEARTOFTHETEMPLE (#1). This one also had a wide trip last time and could benefit from the inside post in this, her third start.
Race 8. Allowance N1X/N2L, 3YO & up, $100,000, 1 5/16 Mile
1. ALAKAZAN ALAKAZAN (#8). Should be in contention early, and he ran well going longer than this last time out.
2. SPORTSCASTER (#1). He has some early speed but must get away from the gate in good order under Lanerie.
3. BINGO KITTEN (#3). Progeny of Kitten's Joy must always be respected. This one broke her maiden at KD last year and ran behind the top choice last time out. This is her third race off a layoff.
4. DYE FORE (#9). Kentucky-bred son of Giant's Causeway has been in France, makes first start on his native soil. Gets first Lasix. Probably won't break all that sharply.
Race 9. Allowance N2X/N3L, Fillies & Mares 3YO & up, $102,000, 6 Furlongs
1. CROOKEDPATHTOGLORY (#3). This longshot has good early speed and ran well at KD last year.
2. ELUSIVE FATE (#1). Has been on the board six of last seven starts and has run superior figs in last two synthetic starts.
3. ZUBI ZUBI ZU (#7). Is two-for-two at this distance on synthetic track. Hasn't run this distance on turf.
4. FRABSTER (#2). Has never run off the board, but eight of his 10 starts have been versus IL-breds.
Race 10. Maiden Special Weight, 3YO, $80,000, 1 Mile
1. ONE TOUCH (#7). Has been slowly improving
2. THUNDER MOON (#11). Son of Malibu Moon has shown more interest since adding blinkers.
3. WORLD CLASS KITTEN (#6). Couple of bullet works coming into this.
4. LUNE DE CARO (#1). On Day 1 of this meet, he stalked the pace on a day favoring late runners. That style might work better now, as well as the shorter distance.
If there's a scratch of one or more of the above, AWESOME SKY (#5) might be usable because his best finish was going one turn in his sole try on synthetic. His dirt form is poor, and he almost always seems to find trouble.
Good luck to all!