By Dick Downey
TO BE REVISED FOR MONDAY, SEPT. 14, 2015
Dick's Picks focus mainly on exacta boxes. Four-horse exacta boxes are recommended except where indicated. Kentucky Downs has the lowest takeout on exacta wagers in the nation.
Scratched horses = strike through. Any additional selections after scratches are announced are shown in red.
Sept. 11 NOTE: I expect the track to have some moisture in it with either a good or yielding rating, depending on the weather after this is posted. Even if there is a firm rating, be assured there will be some cut to the ground. I sure hope the rain stays away on Saturday!
Sept. 11 NOTE: A couple of the exacta wagers are keyed rather than boxed.
Sept. 11 NOTE: Florent Geroux is not scheduled to ride at Kentucky Downs on Saturday.
Race 1. Maiden Special Weight, 2YO, $120,000, 1 Mile
1. SPACE MOUNTAIN (#10) adds Lasix for this, his second start, after finishing off the board at Saratoga.
2. CREATOR (#13) makes a case to win because Julien Leparoux gets off the top choice to ride this son of Tapit in its debut.
3. FU MANCHU (#6) was better in his debut, when he broke from post 4, went outside and came from off the pace, than he was in his second start, when he broke from the outside and went to the lead on the inside. Learn from experience.
4. GILES FAIR (#12), a Bill Mott trainee for Juddmonte, comes in off a sharp bullet workout.
If any of the above scratch, you might consider SAN DIMAS (#14), who just barely missed on a track rated good last time out.
Race 2. Maiden Special Weight, Fillies and Mares 3YO & up, $120,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
I am keying the 1 with 2-4-5-6-9-10-12-15 and 2-4-5-6-9-10-12-15 with the 1 and hoping a longshot runs second.
SAWSAN (#1) shortens up two races after running a good one through traffic going nine furlongs on a track rated good.
MIZ LEE (#2) gets Julien Leparoux after a couple of good efforts on ground rated firm and good, and
SPIRIT OF NIKE (#4) broke slowly and then went five wide in her debut -- and was beaten only 1 1/2 length. There's a chance she'll improve with a good ride by Rafael Hernandez, and
CONQUEST LUCKNLOVE (#5) has run very fast at Woodbine, where the turf course is often "super firm", and
BIGWAVEDAVE (#6) runs for trainer Ward, who has had great success at Kentucky Downs. Joel Rosario is named to ride. He is also named on eight mounts at Belmont Park, so we'll see what happens, and
SWEET MISS LOU (#9) ran the best race of her four-race career when switched to firm turf last time out, and
PURSE STRINGS (#10) has four seconds from six starts this year for trainer Catalano, who won the 2013 meet with 10 wins from 15 starts, and
SCATTER GUN (#12) gets first-time Lasix in this, her second career start. She ran well in her debut over a year ago, so she might run well this time too. NOTE: trainer Pessin's father, the late "Doc" Pessin, managed Dueling Grounds when it opened, and
JOKASA (#15) ran well while sporting front wraps in her March debut and has been off since. We'd like to see her without front wraps this time.
Race 3. Allowance N1X/N2L, Fillies and Mares 3YO & up, $125,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
1. FLASHAWAY (#1) was able to close on Woodbine's firm turf course to win last time out.
2. HOLY WHIRL WIND (#7) could not overcome the speed bias at Woodbine last time out, but she may find conditions more to her liking at Kentucky Downs under Julien Leparoux. Further, she's won at Woodbine on turf rated good.
3. MYAKKA PRINCE (#8) gets Robby and should be prominent in the early going, if not the late going.
4. PRIMA STORM (#4) has performed well on both firm and good turf for the legendary owner-trainer Louis Rousell III.
Should any of the above scratch, consider FULL HEART (#10), who ran a good stalking trip in her turf debut last time out.
Race 4. Maiden Special Weight, 3YO & up, $120,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
1. COME AS YOU ARE (#10) has Rafael Hernandez teaming up with trainer Ward after a second-place finish at Saratoga. This is his second career start and first on turf. Come As You Are was the name of a huge Nirvana hit, and Hernandez may want to heed the lyric, "Take your time, hurry up."
2. MACHO BREW (#12) ran evenly in his last race, gets first-time Lasix this race.
3. POWERFUL TANK WAR (#11) debuts for perennial successful trainer Maker under Julien Leparoux off a pair of bullet workouts.
4. TARASENKO (#2) ran by far his best career race in August after a six-month layoff.
If any of the above scratch, FERLIN HUSKY (#5), a Mott trainee, has shown good stalking speed and has five board hits in six starts this year. He's the second of two entries in this one with music in his name. Sources say that in the 1950s and 60s, Ferlin Husky's number one country hits included "Gone" and "Wings of a Dove".
Race 5. Optional Claiming $62,500 N2X/N3L, 3YO & up, $130,000, 1 Mile
1. HIGHBALL (#8) will be ridden by Channing Hill, who had six wins in nine starts at the 2013 meet. He rides for trainer Catalano, whose exploits that year are described above. Owners Gary and Mary West usually have good horses at this meet. All that said, this horse has been running well on firm and less-than-firm surfaces in grades stakes and won at this track in 2014. He's in for a tag.
2. SWEET PLATINUM (#12) is a versatile type that, in his only start at Kentucky Downs, led the field into the stretch before finishing third, beaten less than a length. Not in for a tag.
3. CALM PACIFIC (#13) was brought in from California to prepare and shows a quality race on good turf at Santa Anita. Not in for a tag.
4. ABTAAL (#3) was claimed for $50,000 out of his most recent race from Shadwell Stable at Saratoga, and trainer Sharp is 30% first off the claim, per Brisnet stats. PP's show all turf starts on firm ground. In for a tag.
In case of a scratch, MAGIC OF BELIEVING (#14) was ambitiously placed in the Spiral and ran up the track; makes his return in this race. Not in for a tag. SATURDAY LAUNCH (#16) was second in an allowance at KD on 9-18-13 in a closing effort that came up a neck short at 34-1. The following year he finished last in the More Than Ready Mile at 40-1. In for a tag.
Race 6. Maiden Special Weight, 2YO, $120,000, 1 Mile
1. ZULU TANGO (#9) has trainer Arnold, who led the 2012 meet. He gets first Lasix in his second start.
2. RAMSEY GRADUATE (#13) had a couple of slow gate works, then a really good one, in preparation for this.
3. MADTAP (#14) is a son of Tapit debuting for trainer Asmussen with Julien Leparoux named to ride.
4. SOLVE (#4) has trainer Mott and a bullet work among his credentials.
Should any of the above not go postward, we also think FRONT LINE PAIGE (#11) has things to offer, such as being out of a Dynaformer mare in this, his first start on turf. TRICK CITY (#3) has trainer Ward and Rafael Hernandez, who are 23% when teaming up, on his side. STARDUST MOON (#6) is here from California and is another one out of a Dynaformer mare making his turf debut.
Race 7. Dueling Grounds Derby, 3YO, $300,000, 1 5/16 Mile
I am keying the 4 with 2-3-5-6-8-11 and 2-3-5-6-8-11 with the 4.
CLOSING BELL (#4) finished second in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes.
WIRELESS FUTURE (#2) looked to have great potential earlier this year and may be ready to perform well following the May layoff.
CZAR (#3) is a maiden that ran eight races without Lasix and now gets it for the first time. He ran third at the track in his only start here and has been on the board six times. Two of his better efforts came on a track rated good.
MISSION DRIVEN (#5) has run well on both firm and good turf.
GIN RICKI (#6) is a stone closer, and that may work out very well for him on sod with moisture at Kentucky Downs. Trainer Drysdale was one-for-three at the track last year.
GOOD AND PROPER (#8) ships in from Florida and appears to be well-meant.
CONQUEST PACEMAKER (#11) may set the pace as he has often done on very firm turf at Woodbine. But can he stay on if the track is wet and tiring?
Race 8. Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes, Fillies and Mares 3YO & up, $300,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
1. SHRINKING VIOLET (#5) looks really tough here accompanied by trainer Ward and Kent Desormeaux, who has been victorious on her three of four starts with a second showing on the PP's. Ward bought her for $4,000, and she's earned $454,728. Of her two wins at the track, the most recent one came on 9-25-13 at this distance timed in 1:16.93 after being steadied on the turn on firm turf. That's a really good time on this course.
2. SKY TREASURE (#11) has run very good Brisnet figures on both firm and good turf and gets Julien Leparoux.
3. THEATRE STAR (#7) has European breeding and won nicely two races back on a track rated good at Del Mar.
4. SPRING INCLUDED (#10) has a win at the track and ran second in the Grade III Valley View at Keeneland on ground rated good. She is almost always around at the wire.
If any of these are scratched, THANK YOU MARY LOU (#6) should be considered. Or maybe she should be considered even if there are no scratches. She finished third in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Turf is not her preferred surface, though; she has only one turf race from 13 starts, but she did win that race.
SEEKING TREASURE (#3) was scratched from Thursday's card in favor of this race. She won at Kentucky Downs on 9-18-13 going seven furlongs in 1:22.85 on the lead on firm turf. Recently, she led to the furlong marker in a 1 3/16-mile grade III on a track rated good before giving way.
Race 9. Kentucky Downs Turf Dash, 3YO & up, $300,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
1. GREEN MASK (#9) was trainer Ward's "other horse" when he entered both this one and Undrafted in last Saturday's More Than Ready Mile. Green Mask was scratched. He's run worse than fourth only once and is capable of a terrific turn of foot late. Last time out, he was second in the $1,000,000 Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai. He's had plenty of time to rest since that long ship.
2. CHANNEL MARKER (#1) has two recent starts on good turf in grade III races with a win and a second to show for it.
3. MONGOL BULL (#4) finished second in a grade III at Keeneland on turf rated good.
4. HOLY LUTE (#5) should be close to the early going and has faced some tough horses this year.
MOSLER is there for me if any of the above scratch. He cost over $1,000,00 at the Keeneland September sale but so far has not realized his promise. One wonders if and when trainer Mott will find the key to success with Mosler.
Race 10. Grade III Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes, 3YO & up, $600,000, 1 1/2 Mile
Team Block won this race two of the last three years but is not represented this year.
1. I'm going with HYPER (#2). Trainer Chad Brown makes a rare appearance at Kentucky Downs for the Ramsey's. This horse has hit the board in five of his last seven starts, all graded stakes.
2. POWER PED won an allowance here at the track last September and ran fourth in a grade I at Del Mar on turf rated good in July. With Sadler's Wells his granddad, you'd think he can run well at this distance.
3. DA BIG HOSS (#7) has two wins in as many starts on his recent resume -- one of them on firm turf, one on good turf and both at Saratoga. One of the wins came via disqualification.
4. ROMAN APPROVAL (#9) has started eight times this year and has two wins, three seconds and a third. There's no question he can get the distance; the question is if he's fast enough.
Good luck everyone!!