Race Preview: Alysheba Stakes – Churchill Downs, May 3, 2013
On to leg two of the Kentucky Oaks pick-4, the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes for four-year-olds and upward and while a couple of the older handicap horses are waiting for the Grade 1 Stephen F. Foster Handicap in a couple of months contention still runs deep. We start with the lukewarm morning line favorite, Hymn Book.
Im all honesty, not sure why Hymn Book is the favorite even though he is a Grade 1 winner. The seven-year-old gelding has won eight of 21 career starts, but he only has one win in his last seven starts dating back to April 2012 and his last three wins have been on off-tracks. He won an $80,000 stakes race over a sloppy track at Belmont, the Grade 1 Donn over a good track at Gulfstream Park and another small stakes race over a muddy track at Belmont. He is the class of the field, but perhaps this is a stepping stone to bigger and better things down the road.
Cyber Secret is 7-2 on the line and he too has some questions. The Broken Vow colt has won four straight races, all of them at Oaklawn Park. Oaklawn has many horses for courses that just don’t run well outside of Hot Springs. If there was any time to try him on another surface, now is the time.
Take Charge Indy, Bourbon Courage, Macho Macho and Richard’s Kid are all between 4-1 and 5-1 on the morning line and each deserve a look, some more so than others. Take Charge Indy is likely to be the pace-setter in the Alysheba and he has been over the Churchill dirt before, last November he was second to Shackleford in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap. Bourbon Courage has had second and third-itis since his win in the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs last year, but there are no Graydars or Mark Valeskis in this field.
Macho Macho and Richard’s Kid are kind of on the outside looking in. It’s possible the Richard’s Kid entry is to get jockey Kevin Krigger used to the Churchill track as he will be on Goldencents in the Kentucky Derby while Macho Macho is only facing older horses for the second time. He does have a win at Churchill; however, a seven-furlong sprint almost one year ago.
As of now the pick-4 tickets looks like it’s three-deep in leg two with Take Charge Indy, Bourbon Courage and Cyber Secret. Most will use Hymn Book as well, but with the other races being wide open, some races need to be cut.
Post time for the Alysheba is 3:52 ET. Tomorrow we tackle the 13-horse American Turf.