For this Weekend Handicapping, I’m going to take us back to Churchill Downs. There is an interesting turf race today, the 34th running of the River City Handicap, Grade 3. It’s for 3YO and upwards going a mile and an eighth for a purse of a $100,000. There is a good field of 8, and all different pace styles, a real mix back of older horses trying to find their class level and one or two moving up.
#8 Tajaaweed ML 9/5
I normally stay away from closers; they have broken my heart so many times especially in turf affairs. This time I believe the pace favors him, there are three horses here will go to the front and the speed will not be in the class of Gio Ponti, Cape Blanco et al. I find it interesting the Peitz makes a jockey change and puts Castanon aboard, I like those angles. He has the class for this group having won at this level and his Beyer’s are right up there. He just has to get into the mix a bit earlier and close them down.
#3 Gleam of Hope ML 6/1
I’ve been hitting some up and comers in the place hole the last couple of weeks and this is another one that looks he might find his way back. This will be this 4YO third race under Michael Stidham who does well on turf and graded stakes races. He has won at this level in the past and at a longer distance (dirt). Consistent Beyer’s and a good pace style for this group. They two past races coupled with nice work outs give me the impression Stidham might have this gelding in perfect form and ready to surprise.
#6 Blues Street ML 2/1
If this 7YO can find his 5YO level he will run away from this field. Proven winner at both the G3 and G2 levels has won easily at this distance and has shown top end Beyer’s that would dominate this field. Kenneally has him going for the second time since taking over from Pletcher and not quite sure of his form cycle. His last outing was a tough one and not sure if he is back in good form after that pounding in the Baruch. I could be way off here but think he needs some time away for freshening.
#4 Bergerac ML 12/1
I have a soft spot for the moving up in class play. This 4YO has had a decent season winning 2 of 9 and being on the board 5 other times. Won last out on dirt going a mile and sixteenth and will be go long for the first time. Breeding suggest this should be no problem, and his Beyer’s have been real consistent showing good form. He likes to race forwardly and if his stamina is there might take it. Baker is a good trainer in these situations, winning 12% at the graded stakes level, and he doesn’t enter many. Lastly, while I don’t normally look at this with much credence he does get a significant weight drop down to 114.
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