The beginning of the weekend card opens on Friday at BetOnline. I wish there was a big stakes race to discuss, but the only big stakes racing is overseas in Europe at Ascot Racecourse. The biggest race in North America coming up is five $150,000 events spread across Canada and the US. Santa Anita Park has two, Belmont two as well, while Woodbine in Toronto has a $150,000 Grade 3 event planned. For a Saturday, that’s a pretty small stakes lineup, but there is plenty of racing on the docket. There’s certainly enough racing to pick and choose which track to bet. BetOnline has 13 thoroughbred tracks operating on Friday.
For our first card, we’re going to Churchill Downs for the Friday afternoon card in Louisville. Churchill Downs has nine racecourses worth a total of $36,200 in prize money. Head below for our free Churchill Downs picks for June 18, 2021.
Post Time: 12:45 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
Race 1 is a $28,300 event covering 1 1/16 miles. Niangua and Poirier should be watched closely dropped in class on Friday. Niangua has appeared in two races and didn’t go as expected. He has finished 5th and most recently 8th on June 6.
As a first-time runner, the rookie finished 5th in a $56,500 event. Then Niangua fell to 8th a couple of weeks ago in a $38,000 race. That was incredibly disappointing. Niangua was purchased for $435,000 and expected to be a winner, especially in this class. A class drop to $28,300 should help nicely. Poirier is looking for greener pastures in an easier race as well.
He is winless in eight attempts, but will find this the easiest of his career. Poirier has finished 2nd, 6th, 3rd, 4th in his previous four outings. He showed 3rd on May 8 in a $35,000 assignment, and then 4th on May 20 for a $35,000 prize. Despite the slow start for Niangua, he is likely going to put it together soon. Eased down in class against a beatable field, look for the $475,000 Niangua to carry value on Friday afternoon.
Post Time: 2:13 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
Race 4 goes for 1 1/16 miles on the dirt for a $41,800 purse. Glory Road and Almashriq are going to be runners to watch in this race. Glory Road is 2 for 12 in his career, with his most recent win on March 30.
He’s gone 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 10th in his previous four attempts. Glory Road beat Giant Mesa by 2 lengths in a $41,000 assignment. That was a nice performance from Glory Road, and another effort like that would be perhaps enough for a win here.
Glory Road placed 2nd behind Sermononthemount by a half length in a $41,800 event on May 8, and then most recently fell right off to 10th in a $104,000 assignment. Back down to $41,800, expect Glory Road to go strong with a chance to win.
Almashriq is a two-time winner in 12 races. He has finished 11th, 2nd, 11th, 5th, 4th in his previous five races for some inconsistent results. Almashriq was a winner on February 22 in a $51,000 event on his US debut. Since then Almashriq hasn’t been to the winner’s circle. He finished 4th most recently in a $45,300 event on May 30. This looks like the winner.
Post Time: 3:50 p.m. EST
Distance:1 3/16 Miles
Race 7 covers 1 3/16 miles for a $63,300 purse on Friday afternoon. Hop Kat and Colonelsdarktemper should have a big chance for a win in this event. Hop Kat is a strong runner, but has gone winless in his last three following a hat-trick. He won from November 11 to January 9, most recently a 5 ½ length win for a $53,000 purse. Since then, Hop Kat has finished 2nd, 4th, 3rd.
He showed 3rd in his latest performance on May 23 in a $63,300 event. Given Hop Kat was the favorite there, it wasn’t what his connections were hoping for. In any case, it was a decent run and he was hot in a 5-furlong workout on June 11. Hop Kat was flying with a time of 59.40 seconds. He may be able to get back to his winning ways on Friday afternoon.
Colonelsdarktemper is 6 for 35 and sizing up a hat-trick bid today. He is 4th, 2nd, 6th, 1st, 1st in his last four assignments. Colonelsdarktemper defeated Solomonic by 4 lengths in a $52,000 event, then followed up for a 8 ½ length win for a blowout in a $63,300 race. That was mightily impressive. I anticipate Colonelsdarktemper facing resistance from Hop Kat, but he should be able to fend his foe off in the stretch.