The third edition of Champions Day at Churchill Downs takes place on Tuesday at Churchill Downs. It isn’t too much of a special day with only one stakes race, but it serves as the first card of Kentucky Derby Week in Louisville.
The racing will heat up for Thurby on Thursday, and then Kentucky Oaks Day on Friday. I’m really excited for that race Friday, which features Swiss Skydiver and Gamine. Those are the two most exciting fillies in racing right now, and we’re going to get to see them go head-to-head in four days.
A familiar face will be in the backstretch at Churchill Downs this week. Calvin Borel after a brief warm up at Ellis Park in Henderson, will be scheduled to race in seven races this week, including two on Tuesday aboard Decision Maker in Race 2 and Red Blue and True in Race 6. He announced his retirement in 2016, but can’t seem to stay out of the saddle.
Borel is best known for piloting Street Sense and Mine That Bird. Street Sense was his biggest money maker, while Mine That Bird still stands as the biggest upset in Kentucky Derby history. He was also a Derby winner aboard Super Saver.
Jockeys who want to run in the Kentucky Derby must be at Churchill Downs by now. Some decided to stay at their home track instead of going through the inconvenience of getting to Kentucky early, testing, and then having to quarantine upon going back home.
Derby favorite, Tiz the Law, will have his usual rider, Manny Franco, at the reins. Franco isn’t going to miss out on a Triple Crown opportunity, naturally. Head below for our free Churchill Downs picks for September 1, 2020 on Champions Day.
Post Time: 1:32 p.m. EST
Distance: 1 ¼ Miles
In the second wealthiest race of the day at Churchill Downs, there is $97,000 available in Race 2. This event will take place on the dirt, covering 1 ¼ miles. Allege and Leading West should have a good run at the top prize in this one.
Allege will be making the third start of his career and showed improvement as a rookie to his second race. As a first-time runner at Keeneland, Allege finished 10th on July 9 in a $70,000 event. He was never involved in the race at any point.
Allege followed up with a better effort on August 2 at Ellis Park. He was in better form to finish 5th in a $37,000 event. However, that was a much easier assignment, as Allege got dropped in class. He’s back up again on Tuesday in Race 2. I think he might have an opportunity to surprise here. It isn’t like other runners entered have been racing and succeeding in big time events either.
Leading West has consistently ran in the $40,000-$60,000 range throughout his career, and has been able to get into the money often. Winning is a different story, but Leading West is coming close. Leading West has finished 2nd, 2nd, 6th, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd, 4th. He’s really the only runner in Race that has been up in the top-2 in his career. His steady work should pay off on Tuesday.
Race 4 – Champions Day Marathon
Post Time: 2:36 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/2 Miles
Race 4 is the feature race of the day at Churchill Downs. The Champions Day Marathon is the main event, with a purse of $115,000 on offer Tuesday. It will take a mile and a half to complete the race, which is scheduled to include six runners. Sir Winston and Ry’s the Guy should have a good chance of taking down the top prize.
Ry’s the Guy catching the inside rail out of the gate from the No. 1 post position. Ry’s the Guy was terrific to open his career with six straight performances in the top-3. Since moving over to a stakes schedule, Ry’s the Guy has had it more difficult, with just one top-3 outing in seven races. And that was seven races ago in the Extra Systems Dueling Grounds Derby on September 8, 2019.
Ry’s the Guy has gone 4th in the $100,000 Louisville Stakes (Gr. 3), 5th in the $175,000 Elkhorn Stakes (Gr. 3), and 4th in the $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup Stakes in his previous three races. His last outing was 4th on August 2 at Ellis Park in the Turf Cup Stakes. He was able to beat seven horses in that race, but unable to reach the top-3 for the sixth straight race.
Sir Winston is best known for winning the Belmont Stakes in 2019. He beat Tacitus by a length in an upset at Belmont Park last June. Since then, Sir Winston has finished 11th, 1st, 2nd, 6th. His most recent win was on January 31 in a $80,000 allowance race by 2 ¼ length. However, Sir Winston struggled in the $200,000 Suburban Stakes (Gr. 2) on July 4. He will be in much easier company today, and has looked good in the morning. Sir Winston completed 4 furlongs in 47.09 and 48.55 seconds in August.
Post Time: 3:40 p.m. EST
Race 6 is our final selection at Churchill Downs, which will be another dirt race on the main track. Knight Disruptor and El Asesino should be involved in the stretch. Based on recent form, Knight Disruptor is coming off a strong performance on July 24 at Prairie Meadows.
He beat Discreet Invasion by a half length in a $13,877 event to end a three-race losing streak. His win before then was at Fonner Park over Top of the Page by a length over Top of the Page in a $8,400 race. Knight Disruptor had a lot of success at Fonner Park in the spring, as he got into the money in 4 out of 5 races.
There was plenty of weak competition in the backstretch at Fonner Park and Prairie Meadows, though. Churchill Downs is a much different story. He’s up in class today to a $27,000 event. Knight Disruptor is coming off a 51.11 second workout at 4 furlongs on August 21.
El Asesino is fresh off a win on August 11 in a $20,500 event by 2 /12 lengths over D Two as a heavy favorite. Prior to that race, El Asesino was close on July 27 at Lone Star Park, losing by a head against Don’t Forget. It was a big duel versus the co-favorite, with El Asesino losing a race that could have gone in either direction. Don’t Forget got the head bob at the wire. El Asesino should run a competitive race against this company.