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Ricky’s Rockets ?: Churchill Downs Picks for May 21, 2020
Credit: JennyPhoto

Ricky’s Rockets ?: Churchill Downs Picks for May 21, 2020

Opening weekend at Churchill Downs went as well as the thoroughbred racing world could’ve hoped. It was a sight for sore eyes watching horses battle it down the stretch in the great state of Kentucky. A new race week begins Thursday afternoon with a 10-race program, and the early Pick 5 is highlighted by a debuting group of 2-year-old fillies.

Best of luck!

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Race 1: Maiden Special Weight for 2-year-old fillies going 4 1/2 furlongs on the dirt. Purse $79,000

My two picks both hail from the legendary American Pharoah. #2 Mad Maddy is one of the shiny new fillies in Steve Asmussen’s barn and attracted his first-call jockey, Ricardo Santana, Jr. On paper, she will be tough to beat. #4 Tequila Queen has been working well at Keeneland for top juvenile trainer Wesley Ward leading up to her first start. This could be a match race to the wire.

Race 2: Starter Optional Claiming $20,000 for 4-year-olds and upward going 6 furlongs on the dirt. Purse $34,000

#5 T Loves a Fight is a well-known runner on the NYRA circuit making his Churchill Downs debut in his first start since January. This is also his first against non-stakes runners since last October, so he easily outclasses this group and should be able to beat this field. #7 Ruler of the Nile absolutely loves Churchill Downs, winning all four of his local starts. He takes a slight step up in class, but keeping him off of my ticket is a no-no due to the horse-for-course angle. #9 I’m Corfu makes my ticket purely due to his early speed, which dominated opening weekend. Corey Lanerie has a great chance of winning his first race at the meet when he hops aboard.

Race 3: Maiden Claiming $20,000 for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and upward going 1 mile (8 furlongs) on the dirt. Purse $28,000

#4 Revealing Quality has been much better since changing barns to Chris Hartman, looking like a completely different runner by showing early speed. She gets a major jockey upgrade in Jose Ortiz after missing by a neck last time out. #9 Gypsy Wife takes a slight drop in class for Al Stall, Jr., who has won 17% in 47 starts at the maiden claiming level. Jockey Miguel Mena has won 7 of 35 for this trainer in the past two years. #12 Drop Dead Gorgeous has failed to cross the wire first in 14 starts thus far, but she faces an incredibly soft group here. She also drops down to the lowest claiming level of her career.

Race 4: Claiming $8,000 for 4-year-olds and upward going 1 mile (8 furlongs) on the dirt. Purse $25,000

#2 Spikes Shirl takes a major drop in class for Dallas Stewart after running at the $50,000 claiming level. He has started only three times since November 2018, but if he can rediscover his best stride, then he should blow away this group. #6 Junior Gilliam almost won at Oaklawn Park while going five-wide at this level last time out. Oaklawn Park runners have historically had success at Churchill Downs, so expect him to perform well here. #8 Ernie Banks ran a clunker in a starter allowance while making his first appearance from the Robertino Diodoro barn, but he returns to the claiming level here and should be a major player. Expect Miguel Mena to get him on the front end from the start. #9 Summer Revolution dominated at the same level last time out at Oaklawn Park in a field that included Junior Gilliam. He is the horse to beat as he makes his first start off the claim for Diodoro.

Race 5: Claiming $10,000 for 3-year-olds and upward going 6 furlongs on the dirt. Purse $26,000

#4 Feeling It was on top with a furlong to go but gave in and finished seventh last time out. His early speed makes him a competitor in this group, and he beat fellow runner Southsider two starts out going gate-to-wire in the slop. #6 His Giant is in great form, having won last out at Oaklawn Park against non-winners of two lifetime while running for a higher-priced tag. This spot is perfect for the 4-year-old Tom Amoss trainee. The New York-bred #9 Quest for Fire makes his way to Kentucky for the first time with his home state’s circuit on pause. His best effort fits well against this group and his early speed makes him a worthy contender. #11 Vineyard is one of the most intriguing entries after facing starter/optional claiming runners in both starts last year. This is his first race since September and may need a race to find his groove, but he might just be quick enough to win off of the long layoff.


$.50 PICK 5 (Races 1-5): 2,4 / 5,7,9 / 4,9,12 / 2,6,8,9 / 4,6,9,11 – $144 

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