By Dick Downey
Updated with scratches 11:11 a.m. ET, late scratches 2:14 p.m. ET
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. 23 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. 23 NOTE: We have some entries running back after competing here earlier in the meet, and that's often a good thing.
Sept. 23 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 on Day 2, further drying things out. On Day 3 in the nine races going one turn, five winners led after a half-mile, and two more winners were in second position at that point. The post position distribution was even. On Day 4, front-runners weren't as dominant, but early speed was still an advantage. From nine winners going one turn, one winner led after a half-mile, and one was second at that point, but four more winners were 1 1/2 length or less off the lead after a half-mile, and another one was only 3 1/2 lengths off the lead at that point.
SEPT. 23 NOTE: Scratches are shown with a
strike-through, and betting changes resulting from scratches are described in red.
Race 1. Maiden Special Weight, 2YO, $90,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
1. BARBADOS (#7). I expect him to follow up well on his strong-finishing debut.
2. CROWN THE KITTEN (#10). Ward-Ramsey team up with Rafael Hernandez after failed attempt at Royal Ascot.
3. PROUD ROYAL (#3). Should get out of the gate better in his second start,
4. PEPON (#11). May appreciate his first start on firm turf.
As a matter of general interest, we note that HILLBILLY STYLE (#9) belongs to Willis Horton, owner of the recently-retired Will Take Charge. Horton has two entered on this card.
Race 2. Maiden Special Weight, Fillies 2YO, $90,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
I will single WATUSI over and under the others. 2 w/ 1-3-5-7-9; 1-3-5-7-9 w/ 2
1. WATUSI (#2). A bump at the start of her debut threw her 10 lengths off the lead.
2. MARKET APPEAL (#3). Trainer Kenneally is 100% on the board so far this meet.
3. SWEET TALKIN (#7). First Lasix with Brian Hernandez, Jr. aboard.
4. WHY WONDER (#1). Last time out, she improved when racing on turf for first time.
5. ANGEL HAZE (#5). Young trainer Colebrook has quietly amassed a 62% board hit percentage this meet and is 17% when debuting on turf.
6. HOT YANKEE (#9). Trainer Scherer is 40% (two-for-five) when debuting on turf.
Race 3. Claiming $25,000-$20,000, 3YO & up, $44,000, 1 Mile 70 Yards
I will single BELIEVE IN KITTEN over and under the others. 13 w/ 1-3-4-9; 1-3-4-9 w/ 13
1. BELIEVE IN KITTEN (#13). Second off the layoff after a poor off-the-turf effort, this one ran a good number winning here last year on a very firm track.
2. ALANANDTOM (#4). Yes he won at a lower level on Sept. 6, but he's doing well and loves this track.
3. CHALICE (#3). It's not showing on my PP's, but his show effort last year at KD was at this same distance at a higher level after making a strong move on the turn.
4. BAUERS GOT HOURS (#1). On the board his last five starts, some of those starts at a higher level.
Race 4. Maiden Special Weight, Fillies & Mares 3YO, $80,000, 1 Mile
1. ENGAGINGLEE (#2). Romans trainee has run well in five starts, came close to breaking through at Saratoga last outing, good workout on Sept. 16.
2. SILVERVILLE (#7). Proctor trainee gets bugboy Van Dyke after troubled but decent debut.
3. ENGLISH KISS (#3). Should improve going longer in her second start but needs to break better.
4. EMPRESS MAKER (#14). Expensive filly comes in for trainer Motion after a pair of third-place finishes.
5. COMFORT LEVEL (#4). First start was on turf. Second start was an improved one on dirt. Now she goes back to turf for the Kleins and trainer Margolis.
Scratch(es) from above selections would lead me to use, first, trainer Oliver's CIVILITY PLEDGE (#9)
and, second, Tom Amoss trainee and debuter PRINCESS ASPEN (#10).
Race 5. Allowance N2X/N3L, 3YO & up, $102,000, 6 Furlongs
1. HOLLYWOOD TALENT (#1). Ramsey and Ward again team up with Rafael Hernandez. First race off the bench for one that fired well in his debut.
2. TIGER BOURBON (#2). Should like the inner post. Ran second and beat our third choice on opening day after running forwardly when front speed wasn't holding up.
3. STRIKE THE NOTE (#3). Thinking he will carry his speed further after faltering on the lead opening day of the meet when the ground was much softer.
4. COZZETTI (#9). Former Derby Trail campaigner usually doesn't have much early speed, but he's seen some tough horses in his time.
Should any of the above scratch, I'll use WHISKEY BRAVO (#8). Has been on the board eight of 10 tries this year albeit at lower levels.
Race 6. Allowance N1X/N2L, Fillies & Mares 3YO & up, $100,000, 1 Mile 70 Yards
1. IN MY TIME (#9). This filly almost won on the lead here on opening day, and that wasn't easy to do. Trainer Amoss has been on the board all five starts this meet.
2. MORE THAN LESS (#11). Scratched on opening day, she looms large for trainer Asmussen and Rosie Napravnik after running well at Saratoga.
3. INDIA'S SONG (#7). Team West-Catalano-Hill comes in with filly that broke her maiden by 7 1/4 lengths at Churchill Downs last out.
4. VALEUSE (#6). She's been running better than her record indicates.
Race 7. Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon Stakes, Fillies & Mares 3YO & up, $200,000, 1 5/16 Mile (Div. I)
1. CAT'S CLAW (#11). Figs I am using show superior numbers, and trainer Sheppard cannot be overlooked going long on turf.
2. CUSTOMER BASE (#9). She's a veteran of several graded stakes and comes in off a really good effort at Del Mar.
3. SKY HIGH LADY (#4). She owns a win at the track and runs her best numbers going longer distances. Longshot.
4. WHITE ROSE (#5). Maybe it's time for Bill Mott to break his drought at this meet. This filly has decent figs at longer distances.
Race 8. Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon Stakes, Fillies & Mares 3YO & up, $200,000, 1 5/16 Mile (Div. II)
1. ANGEL TERRACE (#10). She's not showing any workouts since July 30, but if she shows up, I think we can assume trainer Sheppard has her ready.
2. TABREED (#6). Can't count out trainer Clement, who brings her in off a nice N3X effort at Saratoga that followed a better-than-it-looked eighth in the Modesty.
3. I O IRELAND (#5). This Team Block entry is a half-brother to Ioya Bigtime, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Downs Cup Turf, and she's out of Giant's Causeway. Eleven board hits in 14 races, and third race off the layoff.
4. AULD ALLIANCE (#9). Motion trainee gets Leparoux for owner Bobby Flay.
If any of the above scratch, I kind of like the improving SPARKLING REVIEW (#12) at long odds for trainer Colebrook. A son of Lemon Drop Kid out of a Pleasant Tap mare.
Race 9. Kentucky Downs Turf Dash, 3YO & up, $200,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
1. DIMENSION (#1). Ran fifth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last year and has competed in seven straight graded stakes with four board hits.
2. UNDRAFTED (#6). Has had time to rest since running in the Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket. Wes Welker is owner, and he likes to bet. Watch the board.
3. SOMETHING EXTRA (#12). Seven straight graded stakes races with five board hits to show for it.
4. STORMY GOING (#3). After leading for a considerable distance in the More Than Ready Mile 11 days ago, he finished second to Regally Ready and was three lengths clear of the third finisher.
Should any of the above scratch, the filly TO MY VALENTINE (#9) will be used. She has a win here but has an up-and-down resume -- but also has meet-leading trainer Ward in her corner.
Race 10. Starter Allowance $7,500, 3YO & up, $22,000, 1 1/2 Mile
1. COTURNIX (#1). Has hit the board in 10 of his last 11 races, including a win going 1 3/8 mile.
2. FEODOR (#9). Not sure I have ever seen a horse that won its last race by 49 lengths, but here he is.
3. EPRHAM S (#3). Stayed on to finish fourth here on opening day.
4. SNEAKIN AWAY (#2). Runs respectably when kept in the neighborhood of this level.
It's been a blast! Good luck everyone!!