Best Horse Racing Picks This Weekend: Kentucky Downs & Woodbine
If you like turf racing, Kentucky Downs is the place to watch and play this weekend. Led by the $1 million Calumet Turf Cup, there will be five consecutive graded stakes run on the grass-only track in southern Kentucky. The lucrative quintet offers a total of $3.95 million in total purses.
Full fields are the rule at Kentucky Downs, and this will be true once again on their biggest day of the season. Four of the five stakes races, which also include the Franklin-Simpson Stakes, Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, FanDuel Turf Sprint, and the Mint Ladies Sprint, will feature oversubscribed full fields. The big fields offer great wagering opportunities if you can pick out a winner.
This weekend we will focus on the huge day of turf at Kentucky Downs, making selections for all five graded stakes there, as well as the Grade 3 Seagram Cup from Woodbine, which features the popular Mighty Heart.
Calumet Turf Cup (G2), Kentucky Downs, 1 1/2 miles (turf), 3-year-olds and up
A “Win & You’re In” for the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Del Mar, the $1 million Calumet Turf Cup is topped by Arklow, who is seeking his third win in the race after taking both the 2018 and 2020 editions. The seven-year-old son of Arch has earned more than $2.7 million for owner Donegal Racing and trainer Brad Cox in a career that has seen him win at least one graded stakes race in each of the last five seasons. This will be his fourth start at Kentucky Downs, having also finished second in this race in 2019.
Chief among his foes will be Channel Cat. Also a millionaire, the English Channel runner earned the first Grade 1 victory of his career earlier this year when he took home the top prize in Belmont Park’s Man O’ War. His only previous start at Kentucky Downs came three years ago, but it was a victory in the 2018 edition of the Dueling Grounds Derby. The third choice on the morning line is Zula Alpha, who won this race in 2019 and is one of five in the race for trainer Mike Maker.
Our Pick: Arklow (3/1) – Old pro loves this course and should be tough to hold off down the long stretch at Kentucky Downs.
Bet on Arklow!
Franklin-Simpson Stakes (G2), Kentucky Downs, 6 1/2 furlongs (turf), 3-year-olds
Point Me By, winner of the Grade 1 Bruce D. last time, cuts back in distance and is the morning line choice among a dozen 3-year-olds set for the 6 1/2-furlong, $600,000 Franklin-Simpson Stakes at Kentucky Downs. The lightly-raced son of Point of Entry broke his maiden in his debut going 5 ½ furlongs at Churchill Downs in June, so should have little trouble with the trip on Saturday and looks to have a big future on the turf for trainer Eddie Kenneally.
Annex and Next are two other stakes winners in the field who will be cutting back in distance for the Franklin-Simpson. The former is trained by Bill Mott and won two stakes earlier this year at Gulfstream Park. Although he has lost four straight, he comes in off a nice second last time in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame going one mile at Saratoga. Next led much of the way in the Hall of Fame before fading to fourth. Before that, he was a decisive front running winner of the War Chant Stakes at Churchill Downs, also at a mile.
Our Pick: Point Me By (7/2) – This one should get the trip with a strong early pace setting up his late run.
Bet on Point Me By!
Mint Ladies Sprint (G3), Kentucky Downs, 6 1/2 furlongs (turf), 3-year-olds and up fillies and mares
The California-based fillies look tough as a full field of turf females are set to do battle in Saturday’s $600,000 Mint Ladies Sprint at Kentucky Downs. Leader among those invading from the West Coast is the classy Venetian Harbor. The Richard Baltas-trained 4-year-old daughter of Munnings has been a consistent player in graded stakes the past two seasons and demonstrated her ability to handle the turf with a sharp score in the Grade 2 Monrovia two starts back.
Chief among her competition will be two other fillies from California in Superstition and Constantia. The former hails from the Hall of Fame barn of Richard Mandella and has won sprint stakes on the grass this season at both Santa Anita and Del Mar. Meanwhile, her familiar foe, Constantia, is also a stakes winner this season and likes to come with one big late run.
Our Pick: Constantia (5/1) – With ample speed in here to set the table, look for this California-based filly to come flying for the win.
Bet on Constantia!
FanDuel Turf Sprint (G3), Kentucky Downs, 6 furlongs (turf), 3-year-olds and up
An impressive winner of the Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes two starts back, Casa Creed has been chosen as the 7/2 morning line favorite in a deep and talented field in Saturday’s $1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs. Most recently, the Bill Mott-trained late runner rallied wide and settled for the third last time out in the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga. The winner that day was the millionaire mare Got Stormy, who will also be running in Saturday’s stakes.
A two-time stakes winner this season, the 6-year-old daughter of Get Stormy counts last summer’s Grade 3 Ladies Sprint Stakes at Kentucky Downs among her 12 lifetime wins on the turf. In a field filled with stakes winners, Imprimis is another who should draw plenty of attention. The multiple graded stakes winner is the defending champion in the race, having bravely come again to score by a neck in the 2020 edition.
Our Pick: Got Stormy (9/2) – Classy mare is rounding into top form and returns to a course where she has had past success.
Bet on Got Stormy!
Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3), Kentucky Downs, one mile (turf), 3-year-olds and up fillies and mares
Princess Grace is the headliner in a field of nine older turf females set to go to the post in Saturday’s $750,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf. The daughter of Karakontie is a winner of three consecutive graded stakes races and a winner of a 5-of-6 lifetime. Most recently the Mike Stidham-trained filly scored impressively in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon at Del Mar.
Those looking to end her streak in this Grade 3 event include the Al Stall, Jr.-trained Dalika. The winner of the 2020 One Dreamer Stakes at Kentucky Downs last September, the German-bred 5-year-old mare has added two more stakes victories this season, including the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park two starts back. Abscond, a daughter of Blame, comes in off a strong runner-up finish last time in the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes at Woodbine and is right at home at the one-mile distance.
Our Pick: Abscond (4/1) – The Grade 1 winner ran big last time at Woodbine, and should make her presence known in here with a strong rally.
Bet on Abscond!
Seagram Cup (G3), Woodbine, 1 1/16 miles (all-weather), 3-year-olds, and up
Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2020, Mighty Heart is attempting to repeat the feat and will look to add another piece of the puzzle as the horse to beat in Saturday’s Grade 3 Seagram Cup at Woodbine. The 1 1/16-mile test on the Tapeta will be the son of Dramedy’s fifth race in 2021, and he’s already accounted for two stake wins. Undefeated on Woodbine’s main track, he took home the Grade 3 Dominion Day locally two starts back. He was second in his most recent start, the Grade 3 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes five weeks ago.
Others to consider in the $150,00 feature include the Grade 1 placed Tap It to Win. Second in the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial at Saratoga last summer, the speedy son of Tapit was a stakes winner at Tampa Bay Downs to begin the season but has not connected in his last three tries. Another Mystery visits Woodbine with good turf form for trainer Chris Block, having finished third in the Grade 2 Arlington Handicap before scoring in the Black Tie Affair last time
Our Pick: Mighty Heart (7/5) – The one-eyed colt returns to his favorite track and should prove tough to beat against this bunch.
Bet on Mighty Heart!
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Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
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