Keying Divine Miss Grey in the Falls City Handicap

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 20th, 2018

From a BRIS speed figure perspective, it’s hard to look past #1 Divine Miss Grey in Saturday’s $200,000 Falls City Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs.

In a race that didn’t draw the toughest field for its grade, Divine Miss Grey appears to have an overwhelming advantage over her seven rivals. The four-year-old daughter of Divine Park won the Chilukki Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs on November 3rd and finished second in the Beldame Invitational (gr. I) at Belmont Park two starts back, so from a class perspective, she’s clearly the most accomplished horse in the race. She’s also a frequent winner, having crossed the wire first in 11 of her 22 starts.

Not surprisingly, Divine Miss Grey’s class edge is backed up by her BRIS speed figures. Divine Miss Grey has run a 96 or higher in each of her last ten starts, including a quartet of triple-digit figures. In contrast, only one of her rivals (#6 Prado’s Sweet Ride) has ever reached the 96 plateau, earning exactly that number over a sloppy track at Hawthorne last year.

In addition, there isn’t much speed on paper in the Falls City Handicap, so Divine Miss Grey’s excellent tactical speed and versatility should allow her to work out a perfect trip either carving out the fractions or stalking the pace if #7 Honor Ride—the only other clear front-runner in the field—gets aggressive. Throw in the fact that Divine Miss Grey is already a graded stakes winner at Churchill Downs, and I see no reason to oppose her on Saturday. She appears to be by far the most likely winner.

Of course, her apparent superiority will ensure that she starts at a short price, so rather than bet her to win I’ll try to boost my return on investment by playing her on top in the exacta and trifecta. For second and third place, I’ll use a few horses, including the above-mentioned Honor Ride, an improving daughter of To Honor and Serve who could get brave on the lead if the pace is slow. #8 Red Dane has spent the majority of her career racing on turf, but the Charlie LoPresti-trained filly has won her last two starts on dirt in fine fashion, including a late-running score in an 8.5-furlong allowance race at Keeneland last month. And Prado’s Sweet Ride—already the second-fastest horse in terms of BRIS speed figures—is worth including too off her third-place finish in the Illini Princess Handicap on turf at Hawthorne, in which she was compromised by a very slow early pace but nevertheless rallied to miss victory by just a neck.

Here’s how I would play the race:

$5 exacta: 1 with 6,8 ($10) $3 trifecta: 1 with 6,8 with 4,6,7,8 ($18) $1 trifecta: 1 with 6,8 with 2 ($2)

Good luck!