Six weeks after the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs will return to the spotlight with a terrific evening of racing Saturday.
The 11-race card features five consecutive graded stakes races, so fans of multi-race wagers will have plenty of all-stakes options to choose from.
My personal focus will be on the Pick 4, which kicks off in the sixth race. I’ve previewed each race separately for BetAmerica, but since intra-race and multi-race wagers require different strategies, here’s how I plan to approach the Pick 4 on a ~$50 budget.
Race 6: Wise Dan Stakes (G2)
#12 Admission Office is my top choice in this 1 1/16-mile turf test. He has unleashed powerful finishes in his two starts this season, most recently when he missed by a half-length against the classy Catholic Boy in the Dixie Stakes (G2). But his wide draw is a little concerning, so I’ll play backup tickets with #3 First Premio, #6 Siem Riep, #9 Inspector Lynley and #11 March to the Arch.
Race 7: Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2)
It’s tough to split #2 She’s a Julie, #3 Elate and #5 Blue Prize, the three grade 1 winners in this small but competitive field. For single-race bets I plan on emphasizing Blue Prize, but for multi-race wagers like the Pick 4, I’ll include all three.
Race 8: Stephen Foster Handicap (G2)
This is a deep race with plenty of options. I’m a fan of #9 Tom’s d’Etat, who fired off a big effort and finished second behind McKinzie in the Alysheba Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs last month. Tom’s d’Etat has shown a clear affinity for this track and has the tactical speed to work out a clean trip in a large field, but this is a competitive spot, so I’ll use him in equal strength with #6 Gift Box, who defeated McKinzie in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1). #4 Seeking the Soul, #10 Quip and #12 Yoshida are others I’ll include on backup tickets.
Race 9: Regret Stakes (G3)
I’ll strongly emphasize #4 Varenka, my top choice to win at a nice price. After performing admirably in graded stakes company last year, Varenka unleashed a powerful finish from behind a slow pace to break her maiden at Belmont last month, and I’m expecting this well-bred Graham Motion trainee to relish 1 1/8 miles and rally to an eye-catching victory Saturday.
I’ll also play one small backup ticket with #1 Winter Sunset, who finds easier company after facing Concrete Rose and Newspaperofrecord in the Edgewood Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs last month.
$1.50 Pick 4: 12 with 2,3,5 with 6,9 with 4 ($9)
$1.00 Pick 4: 12 with 2,3,5 with 4,10,12 with 4 ($9)
$0.50 Pick 4: 3,6,9,11 with 2,3,5 with 4,6,9,10,12 with 4 ($30)
$0.50 Pick 4: 12 with 2,3,5 with 6,9 with 1 ($3)