Saturday Race Previews

Churchill Downs Graded Stakes Pick 4
Begins with Race 6, 8:30 pm ET Post 

All eyes will be on Churchill Downs this week for an all-Graded Stakes Pick 4. Surprisingly, three of the four races previewed in the Pick 4 wagering sequence are uninteresting betting races. However, the Matt Winn is a gem of a betting race.

cd-p4The Fluer De Lis Handicap kicks things off in race number six. At best, it looks like a two-horse race between the ultra-classy highweight Royal Delta and the extremely well bred Wine Princess, the latter being undefeated in four career starts on dirt surfaces labeled fast and getting 10 lb from Royal Delta.

The edge in the match-up obviously has to go to Royal Delta. She has been training fantastically since her flop in the Dubai World Cup, and she’s run some of her best races at Churchill Downs.


The Matt Winn is the second leg of the Pick 4 and, as mentioned above, the only good betting race of the four. One hopes this will be the race in which the lightly raced but very talented Abstraction comes of age.

After running second–despite significant trouble–over a sprint trip at the Fair Grounds in his debut, Abstraction was stretched out for career start number two and responded with a devastating maiden win by almost 10 lengths, posting a 109 speed figure. He resurfaced at Pimlico in the Federico Tesio last time out, and looked to be very uncomfortable through most of the race, boxed in behind a slow early pace. However, when some running room finally appeared, Abstraction drove through to ultimately win with a bit to spare.


Abstraction is a May foal in his three-year-old season. He has an intriguing pedigree: his dam, Andujar, was a maiden until age four, but that same year became a Grade 2 stakes winner and was placed in multiple Grade 1s. Abstraction won’t need such a big jump forward to win this; a mere repeat of his best form to date should do the trick. He also appears to be training extremely well for this, with a string of impressive published workouts over the Churchill surface.

The Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap is the third leg of the Pick 4 and has attracted only six starters. Fort Larned, Take Charge Indy, Successful Dan and Ron The Greek are the only genuine contenders, but the outcome is almost certain to be decided by riding tactics and trip.

The early tactics of Take Charge Indy are especially important to the race. He is the only horse in the Foster capable of pressuring Fort Larned early, but challenging Fort Larned early will soften both up, leaving them vulnerable to closers Successful Dan and Ron The Greek. However, not challenging Fort Larned early will also have major consequences, as he is a world-beater whenever he gets an uncontested lead.

The Grade 3 Regret is the final leg of the Pick 4. The 5/2 morning line favorite, Kitten’s Dumplings, looks a cut above her competition and looks set for a good trip under Joel Rosario. She is a good single in the Pick 4 sequence, but expect her to go off at unattractive odds.

Pick Four Betting strategy:
Race #6: Royal Delta, Wine Princess
Race #7: Abstraction
Race #8: Fort Larned, Take Charge Indy, Successful Dan, Ron The Greek
Race #9: Kitten’s Dumplings

Indiana Downs, Race 6, 8:05 pm ET
The Centaur, One Mile, Turf, Three-Year-Olds

The Centaur’s $200,000 purse has attracted nine entrants, but bettors should be aware that with Ruler of Love also entered on the same day in Kentucky and General Election’s connections making noises about scratching, this number is liable to shrink by race time.

Assuming an intact field, the race presents an interesting pace situation. The TimeformUS Pace Projector (see the TimeformUS Preview Page) projects Ruler of Love to be the early leader, with the habitual front runner Free World in second. These projections are based on pace figures and established running styles and they hold up over time. However, the human factor is capable of overriding the projections, and this race seems quite likely to be one such occasion. The trainer of Free World has gone on the record as saying that his plan is to make the early lead at all costs. This plan would leave Ruler of Love in the unenviable position of breaking from the outside post and trying to match a speedy frontrunner in a two-turn turf race. Given that Ruler of Love has proven he can rate off the pace, the feeling here is that he will not challenge Free World for the early lead.

Free World enters this race on a three-race winning streak, going wire to wire on each occasion. His most recent race came over this course and earned a speed figure of 103. That’s a number that would be tough to beat in this race. In addition, his trainer has a terrific record at this racetrack. At 3-1 on the morning line, Free World is the selection.


As far as the rest of the field is concerned, the aforementioned Ruler of Love isn’t to be ruled out despite his draw, especially at a morning line price of 8-1. The most interesting longshot, and a useful horse for exotic purposes, is Pataky Kid, provided his morning line odds of 15-1 hold up. War Dancer is an obvious contender, yet seems certain to go off at unappetizing odds.

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