Less than a week to go before the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore. The final leg is always the Belmont Stakes, but if you haven’t been paying attention, the schedule has been altered to accommodate the coronavirus. Horse racing didn’t stop in the spring at the peak of the pandemic in the US, so they probably didn’t have to do what they did.
The Kentucky Derby was pushed back to May to September, and the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races were rescheduled. The idea was that fans would have been in the building for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but they gambled and failed in that regard. Unless the pandemic takes a turn for the worst with the virus mutating to a more virulent strain or something along those lines, the horse racing schedule will likely be more normal in 2021.
There are a slew of stakes races on the schedule Sunday. Santa Anita Park has three stakes races on offer, while it’s time for Remington Park to get some of the spotlight. Remington Park has eight, including the $200,000 Oklahoma Derby (Gr. 3). The $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (Gr. 2) and Zenyatta Stakes (Gr. 2) are the biggest events in Santa Anita on Sunday. Churchill Downs doesn’t have any stakes races on Sunday, but there are some horses that I like there. Head below for our free Churchill Downs picks for September 27, 2020.
Post Time: 1:14 p.m. EST
Distance:1 ⅛ Miles
Despite no stakes races at Churchill Downs on Sunday, there are still some fairly big events. Race 2 will run for a $75,000 purse on the turf. Six horses are scheduled to run 1 ⅛ miles on the grass in this event. We should be in for a tight duel between Mr Matuschek and Summer Palace in the stretch here.
Mr Matuschek has finished 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 2nd in his career. He started 2nd and most recently placed again. Mr Matuschek placed 2nd in his most recent showing on September 7 at Kentucky Downs. It was an impressive effort for a $90,000 purse. He takes a slight step down for a $75,000 purse on Sunday.
He was 6 ½ lengths behind the winner, Mud Pie, but ten horses including Paintsville and Criminal Defense. Criminal Defense finished two spots behind Mr Matuschek for 4th in the race. Expect Mr Matuschek to be close and will have to be on his best behavior to get past Summer Palace here.
Summer Palace has finished 5th, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd in his previous four performances. He’s been in the top-3 since finishing 5th as a rookie on September 24, 2019 overseas. His last two races Summer Palace has participated in have been tougher than what Mr Matuschek has seen and better suited for 1 ⅛ miles. Look for a close contest, with Summer Palace ultimately edging out Mr Matuschek in the stretch.
Post Time: 1:43 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
Our next stop at Churchill Downs is a $77,000 event on the dirt in Race 3. Major Fed and Coastal Defense are the most likely horses to be involved in the stretch. Coastal Defense is 1 for 6 in his career with a win on June 21 in a $79,000 event by 1 ¾ lengths. Since then, Coastal Defense has remained in good form to place in back-to-back races on August 8 and September 5.
In his most recent showing, Coastal Defense placed 2nd on September 5 in a $100,000 event. Coastal Defense came a half length away from winning that big purse. The $800,000 Coastal Defense should be ready to roll in this race. His workouts have been in nice form with times of 47.60 seconds and 48 seconds at 4 furlongs, while completing 1:01.00 at 5 furlongs.
Major Fed drops way down in class after finishing 10th in the Kentucky Derby. Even before then, Major Fed was competing in graded events. Major Fed finished 2nd, 4th, 10th, 2nd in those races. It was a nice effort by Major Fed in the $300,000 Indiana Derby (Gr. 3) to place 2nd behind Shared Sense by 3 lengths.
The Kentucky Derby was much too tough for Major Fed, but this is a huge drop in class. This is the easiest assignment for Major Fed since he won on January 1 at Fair Grounds in a $45,000 event. Major Fed edged away for a 4 ¼ length win in that race. Look for Major Fed to get back on the winning trail in a beatable race on Sunday.
Post Time: 2:45 p.m. EST
Distance:1 ⅛ Miles
Our final selection of the afternoon is Race 5, which is the smallest event of the day with $21,000 on offer at Churchill Downs. I give Lighthawk and Quicksilver solid chances of winning here. Quicksilver can be better than what we’ve seen recently out of him. He’s 4 for 21 in his career with finishes of 1st, 1st, 4th, 2nd, 5th, 3rd in his previous six outings.
Quicksilver was looking good at Will Rogers Downs earlier in the year, but has regressed since winning back-to-back events in March and April. He is coming off a 3rd place performance on July 27 in a $15,000 event. That was disappointing, especially considering that was a $15,000 race. More is expected out of Quicksilver at that level.
He’s sliding up slightly in class, so we’ll have to see if anything has changed for him since July. Note that Quicksilver was purchased for $400,000 in 2017. Struggling to win $15,000 races isn’t something his connections anticipated. In any case, Quicksilver has had some good workouts times at 48.60 twice, and 49.40 and 49.80 seconds at 4 furlongs in August.
Lighthawk is 3 for 13 in his career, with one of the strongest performances in his career most recently on July 29. He was a 6 ¾ length winner in a cakewalk at Lone Star Park in that outing. Lighthawk had a lead at the ¾ pole and then built on that and cleared the field easily. He was purchased for $300,000 in 2017, so this has been another disappointing horse. In any case, this competition should present another opportunity for a win.