How to Bet the 2019 Louisville Handicap
A year ago a Brazilian-bred Group 1 winner by the name of Vettori Kin scored his first and so far only victory in North America, rallying to a decisive 2 1/2-length victory in the 1 1/2-mile Louisville Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs.On May 18 #6 Vettori Kin will seek to defend his title in the Louisville Handicap, and although he’s riding a five-race losing streak, there are reasons to believe Vettori Kin is be ready to rebound Saturday.
Let’s start by drawing a line through several of Vettori Kin’s recent defeats. He finished last in the Nijinsky Stakes (G2) in July, but that effort was followed by a long layoff, suggesting he came out of the race with an issue. And while he finished 10th of 11 in the Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) in March, that race was his first start back from the layoff, and a pedestrian early pace didn’t help his chances.
Toss those efforts and Vettori Kin’s record looks a bit better. He didn’t run badly at all in the 1 1/2-mile Elkhorn Stakes (G2) at Keeneland last month, when he rallied to finish fifth by 2 3/4 lengths against a quality field that included the graded stakes winners Bigger Picture and Zulu Alpha. The Elkhorn was also conducted over a yielding turf course, which doesn’t seem to be Vettori Kin’s preference. His best races have come over firm going.
The return to a dry course for the Louisville Handicap should help Vettori Kin’s chances, as should the subtle but significant drop in class he’s taking. The Louisville Handicap did not attract a particularly tough field, with #4 Shahroze looming as Vettori Kin’s greatest challenger. Shahroze showed a lot of promise last summer, when he produced a big finish to win the 1 1/2-mile Singspiel Stakes (G3) at Woodbine by two lengths, but he subsequently went to the sideline and has only run once since then, finishing second in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Keeneland last month.
There isn’t a ton of speed in the Louisville Handicap field, so Vettori Kin should be able to stay reasonably close to the early pace, just like last year, when he was never more than 4 1/2 lengths behind the leader. A modest pace would likewise benefit Shahroze, who generally employs pace-stalking tactics, and also the accomplished #1 Tiz a Slam, whose signature victory in the 1 ½-mile Nijinsky was achieved in frontrunning fashion.
I’ll key Vettori Kin in the exacta with Shahroze and Tiz a Slam, then box them all in a trifecta:
$5 exacta: 1,4 with 6 ($10) $4 exacta: 6 with 1,4 ($8) $2 trifecta: 1,4,6 with 1,4,6 with 1,4,6 ($12)