The Redboard: Churchill Downs–Saturday, September 15, 2018

Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress won the $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G3) by an eye-catching 19 and one half-lengths on Saturday, September 15 at Churchill Downs. Photo By: Coady Photography

“The Redboard” is a new feature that takes looks back at past race results and analyzes my picks for the Steam tip sheet–the good, the bad, and the ugly. While I may make some excuses, I won’t gloat on past scores after the fact, as the definition “red board” implies. This column is more of a handicapping exercise–to determine track biases, horses that had bad trips, overlays that ran deceptively well, and underlays that had no excuses for running poorly–with the goal of picking profitable winners in the future. So here it goes . . . the Redboard, issue two:

Churchill Downs, Saturday, September 15, 2018

The results for Steam‘s top-pick selections were as follows: three wins, three seconds, and two thirds on the 11-race program for a strike rate of 27 percent and in the money ratio of 73 percent. Return on investment (*ROI) was -19%, or -38 cents for each two dollars wagered on its top picks on the card.

RACE 1: Maiden special weight for two-year-olds. 6 furlongs on a FAST track. Weather CLEAR, 85 degrees.

Longshot Distorted Jimmy (11-1) broke running and took the field gate-to-wire in a quick 1:10 4/5 for jockey Robby Albarado and trainer Norm Casse. Steam‘s top pick, Ready and Rich (2-1), finished second, beaten a dirty head for the win.

RACE 2:  Claiming. $30,000 down to $25,000 for three-year-olds and upward which have never won three races. 6 furlongs on a FAST track.

Top selection True to Dixie (10-1) broke flat-footed from the one-hole and was a one-paced seventh of nine, beaten nearly nine lengths by Match Play (10-1), who got a dream trip stalking splits of :21 3/5, and :45 2/5 and held Beach Bum (4-5) at bay to win by a comfortable length.

sheeet_09_15_18_cdRACE 3: Maiden special weight for fillies and mares three-years-old and upward. 9 furlongs on FIRM turf.

Innocent (2-1)–the top selection–inherited the early lead when Rushingirl (37-1) blew the clubhouse turn and bolted to the outside rail. Jockey Edgar Morales then carved out a  moderate pace (:48 2/5, 1:13 2/5, and 1:38 2/5) and won comfortably by three lengths.

RACE 4: Maiden special weight for two-year-olds. 8 furlongs on a FAST track.

Johny’s Bobby (5-2), the top pick, broke last in the field of 11 under jockey Julien Leparoux, rallied into a moderate pace but was left with too much to do in the final stages finishing two lengths behind the winner, favored Borracho, who went off at odds of 9-5.

RACE 5: Open $40,000 claiming race for three-year-olds. 6 furlongs on a FAST track.

8-5 chalk and top pick Baffin was bumped around at the start by Turner Time (5-2), then got caught up in a protracted speed duel with eventual winner Land Battle (16-1) through opening splits of :22 1/5 and :45 3/5 before tiring in the stretch to finish fourth, beaten nearly six lengths for all the money.

steam_logo_cd_septemberRACE 6: Maiden special weight for two-year-olds. 8 furlongs on a FAST track.

Top selection Moonster (5-2)–a well-bred Medaglia d’Oro colt out of an Unbridled’s Song mare trained by Dale Romans–broke his maiden in a professional manner, clocking a moderate pace and drawing off to win by two and a half-lengths on the wire under jockey Robby Albarado. It’s worth noting that the first-time starter Twelfth Labour (6-1)–who took some action on the tote board–broke poorly, was sent into a speed duel, and hung around to finish fourth, beaten four lengths and change for the win; he should improve in his next start.

RACE 7: Maiden special weight. Fillies and mares three-years-old and upward. 6 furlongs on a FAST track.

This was a deep maiden allowance affair, replete with several well-bred, expensive first-time starters. The race was won by Preamble (5-2), a $225,000 Speightstown colt out of the multiple Grade 1 stakes-placed mare Beautician. This fellow broke his maiden out of the box like a seasoned veteran, stalking the first-timer Clench (13-1) for a quarter-mile then holding the late-charging Locally Owned (5-2)–a $250,000 son of Distorted Humor–at bay to win by a length and a half under jockey Corey Lanerie. Top pick Soap Bubble (8-1), one of two horses in the field with prior experience, ran well to be fourth, beaten three lengths for the win.

RACE 8: $100,000 Open Mind Stakes. Fillies and mares three-years-old and upward. 6 furlongs on FAST dirt.

Top selection Astrollinthepark (2-1) got a great trip under jockey Gabe Saez stalking Courtmewithcarats (69-1), who carved out a quick opening quarter-mile in :21 3/5, then took command in the stretch only to be run down late by favored Vertical Oak (1-1), who responded to off-the-pace tactics employed by her jockey, Ricardo Santana, Jr. It’s worth noting that she closed over a speed-favoring racetrack.

RACE 9: $100,000 Locust Grove Stakes (G3). Fillies and mares three-years-old and upward. 8.5 furlongs on a FAST track.

Blue Prize (Arg) delivered as the 4-5 favorite by a hard-fought nose over the razor-sharp Champagne Problems (7-2), covering the eight and one half-furlongs in 1:43 3/5 under jockey Julien Leparoux. The top selection–longshot Mannerly (18-1)–was a respectable third of nine despite bobbling at the start and was beaten six lengths and change for all the money.

RACE 10: $150,000 Iroquois Stakes (G3). Two-year-olds. 8.5 furlongs on FAST dirt.

Steam‘s top pick and “Play of the Day” Pole Setter (7-1) was a game third while six-wide in the stretch drive in his dirt debut, finishing three and three-quarter lengths behind 17-1 winner Cairo Cat, who was the recipient of a ground-saving trip under Brian Hernandez, Jr. The son of Cairo Prince made a bold middle-move at the half-mile pole, shifted out from the rail inside the eighth-pole, and kicked clear to best favored Tight Ten (1-1) by a half-length on the wire. Note that the Kenny McPeek-trained colt rallied against a speed-favoring track bias.


RACE 11: $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G2). Two-year-old fillies. 8.5 furlongs on FAST dirt.

Jockey Corey Lanerie put top pick and favored Serengeti Empress (4-5) right on the lead from the get-go in her two-turn debut, and doled-out splits of :23 flat, :46 4/5, and 1:12 flat before his mount drew off impressively in the lane to win by 19 and one half-lengths under a vigorous hand-ride. The daughter of Alternation covered the mile and a sixteenth in 1:45 2/5 while being geared-down late. “We are very excited about this filly, and for obvious reasons,” trainer Tom Amoss said after the race. “We know we have a nice filly and it’s great that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) is in our backyard. She’s such a pro with how she handles things in training. We’ll just let her be her until the Breeders’ Cup and I think we’ll be just fine.”

Card Takeaways

Early speed held better than it did on opening day, with front-running types winning the majority of races on the card. Only Vertical Oak and Cairo Cat rallied from off-the-pace against the track bias to win . . . Jockey Robby Albarado had a hat trick, winning three races on the card; Corey Lanerie had a pair of winners on the day . . . There was only one turf race on the card, and it was won by Innocent, who scored in front-running fashion. . .The September Meet will continue on a Thursday-Sunday schedule for the remaining two weeks of racing. Thursday, September 19 will be the first “Twilight Thursday” of the meet with a first post of 5:00 P.M. (Eastern).

There is a $12,800 carryover in the 20-cent Pick 6 Jackpot (races 3-8) on the Thursday, September 19 program.

*Return on investment (ROI) is calculated by dividing the net profit by the total amount invested.






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