Memorial Day in the United States is usually a day for baseball, but horse racing is going to take the spotlight on Monday. That might be the case on the Fourth of July as well. If Major League Baseball can’t figure it out, and even if they do, it’s becoming increasingly likely that they won’t be able to begin play that early.
The player’s union seems to be dragging their feet on the issue, so who knows what’s going to come of baseball this summer. MLB is proposing an economic plan on Tuesday. That’s a step closer to playing baseball, but don’t expect the player’s union to jump all over it right away. They’ll likely scrutinize it some more.
It’s almost June. In other words, starting the season in early July seems unlikely. Horse racing is seeing record-breaking wagering handles across the country. That will likely continue to increase. Expect to see record-breaking numbers on the Belmont Stakes in June. Churchill Downs has been a cash cow for us since opening last weekend. We successfully hit a Pick 3 ticket last weekend, and on Saturday, a winner on the Pick 5.
One more horse and it would have been a monster day on the Pick 6. In any event, it was a good day, and could be another at Churchill Downs on Memorial Day. There are no graded events in Kentucky today, though there will be two big races next week. Head below for our free Churchill Downs Pick 3 and Pick 4 selections for May 25, 2020. The Pick 3 is for Race 2-4 and the Pick 4 Race 2-5.
Post Time: 1:30p.m. EST
Distance: 6 Furlongs
This isn’t a graded event, but the purse is still up there with a total of $83,000 on the line. It’s a 6-furlong race with a field of seven runners. Frank’s Rockette and Specially are going to be involved in this one, with Project Whiskey holding some solid upset potential. Project Whiskey has wins in 2 of 5 races in her career and won back-to-back races on September 21, 2019 and November 4, 2019.
However, she just didn’t have it in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship Stakes (Black Type) on December 7, 2019 at Lone Star. That was a tough race, and it showed, with Project Whiskey finishing 7th. This is going to be another tricky assignment, but if she’s in top form, Project Whiskey can make it interesting at +1500 as the biggest underdog in this race.
Specially and Frank’s Rockette both head into Memorial Day in better form. Specially has won 2 of 4 races in her career, and enters off two solid performances on January 26 and February 15 in the Dixie Belle Stakes. Specially placed behind the winner by a half length. In her poorest race of the season, Specially was nowhere to be found in the Rags to Riches Stakes on October 27, 2019. She finished 7th and was a non-factor down the stretch.
Frank’s Rockette has done nothing but finish up front in her career. In six career races, Frank’s Rockette has either placed or won. She has 2 wins in 6 races, while finishing just behind in four others. Five of those races were stakes races, so she’s experienced against tough competition and was still able to run well.
Frank’s Rockette won the Any Limit Stakes (Black Type) on February 22 by 7 lengths in a blowout. Her most impressive efforts might be 2nd in the Spinaway Stakes (Gr. 1) and Frizette Stakes (Gr. 1). Tough races that she had good form in. If she doesn’t regress since her most recent outing in April, Frank’s Rockette will be the horse to beat.
Post Time: 2:00 p.m. EST
Distance:6 ½ Furlongs
Race 3 features a $54,000 purse across 6 ½ furlongs of racing. It should be an entertaining affair in this eight-horse field. Nero, Hollis, and C Z Rocket are going to be on my shortlist in this race. Nero gets the call from the outside post position at No. 8. He has won 3 of 13 races in his career, but has been coming up short on the track recently. Nero has gone 4th, 3rd, 5th, 5th, in his previou four races, dating back to February. The most recent solid run he had was on May 25, 2019 in the Triple Bend Stakes (Gr. 2). Nero didn’t win, but it was a good run to finish 3rd. He has yet to win a stakes race in his career.
C Z Rocket is the favorite on the morning-line at +300. He’s dropping class significantly after getting nowhere since a win nearly two years ago on June 30, 2018 in the Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes (Black Type). In 11 races since, C Z Rocket has been in undesirable form. He has placed just once during that stretch and needs something easier. The Overnight Stakes is the only race he’s looked particularly good in a stakes race. In five other stakes races, C Z Rocket hasn’t finished in the top-3.
Hollis might be the horse with the most value in Race 4. He’s a winner in 50% of the races in his career with 3 wins in 6 performances. In 3 of his previous 5 races, Hollis has a win, and a fairly effective outing in the Turf Dash Stakes (Black Type) on December 1, 2018 for 4th. All of his other five races resulted in Hollis placing. In his lone race of 2020, Hollis placed for 2nd behind Factor It In by 3 ¾ lengths. He was one of the underdogs after coming back after a layoff, but Hollis didn’t race rusty at all. Good value on the No. 7 horse in Race 3.
Post Time: 2:32 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
15 runners will participate in Race 4 for a $25,000 purse. This event will take 1 1/16 miles to complete on the dirt. Metropol and Road Game are likely going to have good runs in this one. Eskendereyas Dream comes with nice value at +400 as well. Eskendereyas Dream was back in good form in his last performance, placing in 2nd behind Wrath by 1 ½ lengths.
Wrath was just too good as he won wire-to-wire. That stopped the bleeding for Eskendereyas Dream, though, who finished in the top-3 for the first time since a win on October 18, 2019 at Indiana Grand Race Course. He finished 5th, 5th, 5th, 6th thereafter.
Road Game is coming off a win on April 17 at Oaklawn Park. He got the win over Mr. Unusual by 2 ½ lengths as a favorite. Leading up to that win, Road Game was 3rd on March 21 at Oaklawn Park, finishing 1 ¾ lengths behind Rahaal for 2nd. Two solid efforts by Road Game after dropping a class.
He went five straight races without finishing in the top-3, prompting a drop in class to find an easier assignment. It worked out well for Road Game, and he isn’t going up in class again, but is going to have two horses to worry about in this event. Eskendereyas Dream, who I already mentioned above, and Metropol from the No. 3 post position.
Metropol drops closer to a class where he ran as a first-time starter on October 8, 2018. Metropol won that race by ¾ lengths over the competition. Since that win for Metropol, he’s struggled to compete at a higher level, going 4th, 6th, 7th in his previous three races. Now he’s back where he feels more comfortable and should benefit from that drop. It should be a close race, with a slight edge to Metropol.
Post Time: 3:04 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
Race 5 wraps up our Pick 4 at Churchill Downs on Memorial Day. This is a race between Kurilov and Street to Indy, or at least that’s the way I see it. Kurilov is looking for a response after two less than desirable results. He finished 4th in back-to-back outings after winning back-to-back races on February 1 and February 21. That was part of a four-race stretch where Kurilov finished in the top-2. He placed in back-to-back events and then won back-to-back. Overall, Kurilov is a winner in 9 of 27 races and could be a contender to win here.
Street to Indy was in top form in his most recent outing, finishing 1st on April 25 by 3 ¼ lengths. It was an impressive wire-to-wire win for Street to Indy, who responded nicely after failing to finish on March 19. Street to Indy won on February 8 by 2 ½ lengths over Franknjymme. However, he also finished 10th, 4th, and DNF in three other races in 2020. Overall, Street to Indy has 5 wins in 30 races in his career. It could go either way between Sweet to Indy and Kurilov. In that case, I’d side with the better price on Kurilov, who should enjoy racing against this company.