Homeracing

Churchill Downs pick of the day, May 23

Profile Picture: James Scully

May 23rd, 2020

Five stakes highlight Saturday’s 11-race card at Churchill Downs, and Kentucky Derby qualifying points will be on the line in the $150,000 Matt Winn (G3). The 1 1/16-mile race marks the return of Grade 1-winning juvenile Maxfield, who benefits from the Kentucky Derby being postponed to Sept. 5.

Maxfield must break better as a 3-year-old, overcoming slow starts to win both starts at age 2, and he can continue to mature for trainer Brendan Walsh. The well-regarded sophomore appears to have cranked up his training in recent weeks, posting a 5-furlong bullet work from the gate, and I expect Maxfield to get away much better under Jose Ortiz on Saturday.

He won’t offer much value as the favorite, but I won’t go against Maxfield in multi-race wagers.

Here are some other thoughts:

Race 5: #8 First Premio 

In the fifth race, #8 First Premio (12-1 morning line) looks primed for a good showing in his second start of the year. He recorded a pair of respectable efforts at Churchill last summer before improving down the stretch, missing by less than a length in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) and $750,000 Tourist Mile, and his rallying fifth against a stakes-quality allowance field last time could serve as a perfect tightener for today. The Mark Casse trainee stretches back out to his favorite 1 1/16-mile distance (3-for-4), and I like his chances from off the pace with Miguel Mena.

Race 9: #13 Mr. Money

In the ninth race, the $100,000 Blame S., #13 Mr. Money (5-1) finally returns to a one-turn mile distance. He was brilliant winning the Pat Day Mile (G3) last May, with the runner-up coming back to win a Grade 1 race, but Mr. Money has raced exclusively at two turns since. Churchill Downs is his favorite track (3-for-4), and Mr. Money has the speed to ensure a good trip from his outside post. He’s my best bet.

Race 11: #11 Pixelate

In the 11th race, the $100,000 War Chant S. a hot pace appears likely. #11 Pixelate (6-1) enters on the upswing for Michael Stidham, recording a fast-closing second in the Feb. 29 Black Gold S. at Fair Grounds, and the 3-year-old colt will receive a better setup for his late rally. The son of City Zip can finish fastest of all beneath Joel Rosario.


The Kentucky Derby returns to Churchill Downs on Saturday, Sept. 5.

Loading...