Churchill Downs has arranged a competitive afternoon of racing for Saturday, November 9, with the last half of the 11-race card especially appealing.
The late Pick 4 sequence starting in the eighth race could feature as many as 42 starters. That kind of sequence can trigger a big payoff, if you’re fortunate enough to uncover the winning combination.
Players on a budget will have options, too. The enticing late double starting in the 10th race could feature as many as 24 starters. That’s the sequence we’ll tackle today, though you can also play our double as the back end of a Pick 4, if you have opinions in the first two legs.
Race 10: Commonwealth Turf Stakes (G3)
#6 Spectacular Gem has crossed the wire first in three of his four turf tries and enters off a gate-to-wire victory in the 1 1/8-mile Jefferson Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs. With a 100 Brisnet speed figure in tow, he looms as the fastest horse on paper, but he has shown a tendency to drift out under pressure, which caused him to be disqualified from victory in the Caesars Stakes at Indiana Grand two starts back.
Can Spectacular Gem win the Commonwealth Turf? Absolutely. But this frontrunning speedster figures to face more pace pressure in this full field, which could favor the chances of Jefferson Cup runner-up #7 Tracksmith.
A stoutly bred son of Street Sense, out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare, Tracksmith was stakes-placed as a juvenile but has shown steady improvement this season. Two starts back he was compromised by an extremely slow pace in the Virginia Derby (G3), but with a better setup in the Jefferson Cup, he was gaining resolutely in the final furlong. An even quicker pace could be in the offing Saturday, which could set up Tracksmith for a career-best performance.
Race 11: $40,000 Maiden Claiming
#1 Not Fade Away ran OK to finish fifth for a $50,000 tag on debut at Keeneland. He’ll stick to six furlongs Saturday and take a slight drop in class for high-percentage trainer Brad Cox, a combination that could make this son of Maclean’s Music tough to beat.
But a couple other runners warrant inclusion in multi-race wagers. #7 Money On My Mind showed speed in a couple maiden special weight events at Ellis Park and is now stepping down to the claiming ranks for the first time. Trainer Randy Morse, normally a 6% winner, jumps his strike rate to 28% with runners making this class drop.
#8 New York State is jumping in class after he was claimed for $30,000 at Keeneland, but this well-bred $360,000 yearling purchase earned a competitive Brisnet speed figure, and new trainer Robertino Diodoro wins at a 25% rate with fresh claims and at a 27% rate with runners taking one step up in class.
With large, competitive fields, it is tempting to spread deep and cover lots of options. But doing so could hurt our return on investment, so let’s take a stand and single Tracksmith in the Commonwealth Turf. If he wins at a nice price, we’ll be looking to cash a solid payoff with Not Fade Away, Money On My Mind or New York State in the finale.
Race 10: $5 double, 7 with 1,7,8 ($15)