This Saturday sees the running of the premier race of the Indiana Grand race schedule, with the running if the Grade 3 Indiana Derby.
$100,000 Cardinal Handicap Looks Wide Open
With a field of 13 set to contest the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap Saturday, November 21 at Churchill Downs, the mile and an eighth turf event shapes up to be one of the more contentious betting races of the weekend.
At the lukewarm odds of 7/2, Canadian invader Button Down is the morning line favorite as the four year-old filly gets a bit of class relief following a fifth-place effort in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes October 18 and runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes September 13 at Woodbine. The Josie Carroll trainee has recorded back to back Beyer Speed Figures of 97 and 98 - faster than any last-out number posted by her 12 rivals. Paco Lopez will be aboard breaking from post 11 as Button Down looks for just her third win in 13 starts after finishing second six times.
Tough spot to find second win
Wiener Valkyrie (5/1) acquitted herself well to North American racing in her last start, finishing a rallying second in the Grade 3 Athenia Stakes October 17 at Belmont in her first try outside of Europe. The three year-old daughter of Shamardal has just a maiden victory in 11 career starts, but earned a Beyer speed figure of 95 in the Athenia. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan may have this filly closer to the pace than usual in a race largely void of quality speed.
Kiss Moon well-credentialed
Kiss Moon (5/1) is a quality filly who fits in well at this level. It is quite likely the four year-old daughter of Malibu Moon simply hated the soft turf last out at Keeneland while finishing ninth behind eventual Breeders' Cup Mile winner Tepin. Kiss Moon is unproven at the distance, but likes Churchill and is training forwardly. Julien Leparoux will be aboard with the pair set to break from post 12.
Players looking to create betting value in the 2016 Preakness May 21 at Pimlico face a familiar dilemma in horse racing: create value underneath the heavy favorite or decide whether the heavy favorite is beatable for the top spot.
On Thursday at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby week festivities will begin with the $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile Stakes. The five-furlong contest has drawn a field of nine two-year-olds.
Likely a top three betting choice in the Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator is a bit of a puzzling case as handicappers begin the process of sorting out contenders in the weeks leading up to the big race.