by Dustin Fabian
June 24, 2020
Talk about a weekend for watching horse racing’s shining stars.
On Saturday at Churchill, horses like Midnight Bisou, Tom’s d’Etat, By My Standards, Serengeti Empress and Owendale are among the entries. And Saturday’s Belmont slate includes Uni, Newspaperofrecord, Promises Fulfilled and Come Dancing.
And for the cherry on top, on Saturday just outside of Cleveland, Ohio the reigning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ, Storm the Court, takes on a full field in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby. Not a bad day to play the races, huh?
The Churchill All-Stakes Late Pick 4 jumped out to our team, so we have made it a 1 Million XB Rewards Point bet. What does that mean? Well, it’s simple. Hit that bet with your Xpressbet account and you’ll win a Split of XB Rewards Points. Rewards Points are a currency around here – think of them like airline miles – but instead of redeeming for magazine subscriptions, you can redeem for betting vouchers and past performances. The fewer people that hit the All-Stakes Pick 4, the most Points each winner receives.
The All-Stakes Pick 4 at Churchill covers Races 8 – 11 and gets underway at 4:43PM ET. Here’s my take on the sequence. Spoiler alert – if it’s ‘bombs away’ in any of the races, I won’t be a winner.
Race 8 (4:43PM ET) – Bashford Manor Stakes (G3, $100K)
On paper, this race is more of a coronation of Steve Asmussen’s #6 CAZADERO than it is a horse race. After all, the 81 Beyer Speed Figure he earned on debut at Churchill on May 29 is 20+ points higher than any other horse in the field has received (although, worth noting that Beyers are not assigned for the debuts of three of these horses). I’ll use him alongside #5 HERD IMMUNITY, who was, let’s say ‘professional’ on debut for Peter Miller at Santa Anita on June 6. Miller does extremely well with 2YO’s and he should move forward from that first race.
Pick 4 Use Horses: #5 HERD IMMUNITY (9/2), #6 CAZADERO (8/5)
Pick 4 ‘Bigger Budget’ Horses: #3 GATSBY (4/1), #5 HYPERFOCUS (4/1), #7 COUNTY FINAL (6/1)
Race 9 (5:15PM ET) – Fleur de Lis Stakes (G2, $200K)
Many handicappers will check the box next to #5 MIDNIGHT BISOU and go on to the next one. And it’s hard to blame them. She’s 12-for-20 in her career and is coming off a 3/4-length defeat behind Maximum Security in the Saudi Cup on February 29. I’m going to double my ticket cost and add in #4 SERENGETI EMPRESS as I think she has a legitimate shot to steal this race. She loves Churchill and there isn’t a lot of speed in here, which should pave her path to the front. And after her debacle in the G1 Apple Blossom (never made the lead and tired to 11th) you have to assume that Joe Talamo will push her hard out of the gate to establish the lead. Can Midnight Bisou reel her in? In her first start since February and her second in nearly eight months, it’s not impossible to believe she could need one.
Pick 4 Use Horses: #4 SERENGETI EMPRESS (2/1), #5 MIDNIGHT BISOU (3/5)
Pick 4 ‘Bigger Budget’ Horses: None
Race 10 (5:47PM ET) – Stephen Foster Handicap (G2, $500K)
Let’s treat this as a two horse race as well, using #5 TOM’S D’ETAT and #6 BY MY STANDARDS. TOM’S D’ETAT is the class of the bunch, having won 10-of-17 and three straight, including the Oaklawn Mile last out over Improbable. But if there’s one hitch in his giddyup, it’s that regular rider, Joel Rosario, isn’t in town to ride and he’s going to be chasing BY MY STANDARDS, who is certainly no slouch. He has won three straight races (and five of his last six) with the lone defeat since January 2019 coming in the ’19 KY Derby. He’s going to sit a phenomenal trip just off #2 PIRATE’S PUNCH and they’ll need to bring their running shoes to catch him.
Pick 4 Use Horses: #5 TOM’S D’ETAT (1/1), #6 BY MY STANDARDS (5/2)
Pick 4 ‘Bigger Budget’ Horses: #8 OWENDALE (4/1)
Race 11 (6:20PM ET) – Regret Stakes (G3, $100K)
With most of the horses in here coming out of Tepin Stakes (the race that produced Royal Ascot runner-up, Sharing) we have to ask – do you use all of them or look elsewhere? I lean toward the latter approach. I thought #5 CRYSTAL CLIFFS ran a great race in her US debut for Graham Motion on May 31 and she should jump forward off that performance. The only other horses I think I need are #6 MICHELINE, who ran huge at Gulfstream in the Honey Ryder Stakes on May 2, and #13 HENDY WOODS is stuck with a terrible post but has tactical speed and this is a field where she could work out a trip.
Pick 4 Use Horses: #5 CRYSTAL CLIFFS (3/1), #6 MICHELINE (8/1)
Pick 4 ‘Bigger Budget’ Horses: #1 DOMINGA (5/1), #4 IN GOOD SPIRITS (8/1), #9 EVE OF WAR (12/1), #13 HENDY WOODS (15/1)
Race 8: 5,6
Race 9: 4,5
Race 10: 5,6
Race 11: 5,6
Ticket Cost: $16 for $1.00 Base