It’s a busy day on Thursday on the racetrack with at least 14 courses operating in North America. While there is a lot of racing, it’s a quiet day for stakes racing. There isn’t one stakes race with a purse for $100,000 or more. The $85,000 Union Avenue Handicap is the biggest race on the schedule today. We are only a few weeks away from the Kentucky Derby and the continuation of the Triple Crown, so big racing is on the horizon.
The committee at Kentucky Derby has settled on a resolution for fan access to Churchill Downs. General admission and infield tickets are out, but there will be 23,000 people allowed to go under strict protocols. That sounds like a lot of people. However, that’s only 14% of people that went to the record-breaking Derby in 2015.
I think the Kentucky Derby is doing it the right way. They’d love to allow more fans, but there has to be a concern for liability. Churchill Downs is a huge company now. They have more than just their namesake track. A company like them would likely err on the side of caution. In any event, giving the greenlight to have some fans there, in this case around 23,000, is a good Plan B. We have three picks at Presque Isle Downs on Thursday afternoon. Head below for our free Presque Isle Downs picks for August 13, 2020.
Post Time: 4:45 p.m. EST
Distance: 1 Mile 70 Yards
We get started at Presque Isle Downs with Race 1, a mile and 70 yards course on the all weather track. F F Rocket and Moonshine Steve are both on my shortlist for this one. Moonshine Steve is the betting favorite on the morning-line as a 8/5 favorite. Moonshine Steve is making the second race of his career after placing 2nd in his debut on July 29.
Two weeks later, Moonshine Steve lost by 4 ¾ lengths behind Life Mission in a $30,000 event. Not a bad debut for Moonshine Steve in the least. Life Mission was a heavy favorite in that race and took care of what he was expected to do. Following that productive performance, Moonshine Steve hit the workout trail with a 4-furlong assignment on August 2.
He completed 4 furlongs in 50 seconds, which is a turn in the opposite direction after a quick time leading up to his debut. Moonshine Steve was clocked at 47.60 seconds twice leading up to his debut. Nevertheless, we’re likely going to see Moonshine Steve with a strong bid on Thursday.
F F Rocket isn’t getting as much respect on the morning-line as I thought we’d see, but should carry some value by post time. He is going well down in class after struggling in the first three races of his career. He has finished 6th, 7th, 8th at much higher levels than this outing. Those three outings were for purses of $45,000, $85,000, and $60,000. This is well down the class scale for F F Rocket. He’s been consistent in workouts with times of 48.80, 49.20, 48.40, and 48.60 seconds in the morning. There should be some value to be had on F F Rocket from the No. 5 spot.
Post Time: 5:35 p.m. EST
Race 3, like all of the other races at Presque Isle, is on the all weather track. Big Affair and Passion’s Image should get into a tight battle in the stretch. Both are expected to run a strong race here. Passion’s Image is 1 for 13 in her career with a win on September 7, 2019. Since then, Passion’s Image has gone winless in seven straight performances.
She has been picking up a bit of momentum recently to get into the money in two straight outings. Passion’s Image finished 3rd on June 27 and did the same in her most recent race on July 18. Those were for purses of $20,000, so if you’re going by that count, this should be easier, right? Well, not really because a rival, Big Affair, is going to be lining up in the gate as well.
Big Affair was in both of those races against Passion’s Image, and in both instances, she finished ahead of Passion’s Image. Big Affair finished ¾ lengths ahead of Passion’s Image and behind the winner by a length on June 27, and then a 1 ¾ lead on Passion’s Image at the wire and a ¾ length loss behind Blues Mary.
Big Affair is 1 of 8 in her career, with 5 of 8 finishes in the top-3. One of her performances outside of the top-3 was in a stakes race on November 11, 2019 at Gulfstream Park. In her previous three races, Big Affair has gone 3rd, 2nd, 2nd since May. Big Affair and Passion’s Image both drop slightly in class to see each other yet again. The same story should repeat itself, with Big Affair having the edge at the wire.
Post Time: 7:40 p.m. EST
Distance:6 ½ Furlongs
Race 8 is the final race at Presque Isle Downs on Thursday in Erie. The Connector and Enjoy Baseball are on my shortlist in the last race of the day. Enjoy Baseball looks like a fancy upset at 10/1 after showing in 3rd in two straight performances. He finished 3rd on July 15 and then followed up for 3rd on July 27 in a $16,000 event.
In his previous four performances, Enjoy Baseball has finished in the top-3 in 3 of his previous 4 races. With that in mind, I’d give Enjoy Baseball a better opportunity to win this race than the odds indicate in the morning.
The Connector is back down in class today after finishing 9th on July 22. The three-time runner has finished 5th, 1st, 9th. In his debut on April 15 in Tampa Bay, The Connector raced in a $20,000 race to finish 5th. He followed up to win a month later in May for a $13,500 purse.
The Connector was stalking the rail throughout the race and jumped in the stretch to beat Empty Holster by a head at the wire. After that impressive effort, The Connector tried his luck in a $26,000 race and he got stomped out by the competition.
Not only is this an easier race, but The Connector faded at a mile in that outing. He was 3rd at the ½ pole and fell back. The Connector enters a 6-furlong race today and should be in better form at this distance. I’m on The Connector in the finale on Thursday at Presque Isle Downs.