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Ricky’s Rockets ?: Churchill Downs Picks for May 23, 2020
Credit: JennyPhoto

Ricky’s Rockets ?: Churchill Downs Picks for May 23, 2020

Saturday’s card is one of the best of the meet here at Churchill Downs. There are five stakes races highlighted by the Matt Winn (G3) in Race 10. The horse racing world gets to see Maxfield for the first time since his Breeders’ Cup Futurity (G1) victory last year. Will Maxfield return with a bang or will another 3-year-old have something to say about it?

Best of luck!

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Race 1: Maiden Claiming $50,000 for 3-year-olds and upward going 7 furlongs on the dirt. Purse $35,000

#9 Golden Notion takes a massive class drop after hitting the board in four of five maiden special weight starts. None of the other experienced runners pose much of a threat on paper, and four horses that he faced prior won their next respective starts.

Race 2: Starter Optional Claiming $20,000 for 4-year-olds and upward going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the dirt. Purse $34,000 

#4 Charlie’sarchangel has been favored in his last three starts, winning once, and has finished in the money in 11 of his 19 starts. #6 Slick Silver is my top choice. He won six in a row prior to trying the Oaklawn Mile, where he finished a distant fifth. He takes a big class drop and should have no problem getting to the front end in this group.

Race 3: Maiden Special Weight for 3-year-olds and upward going 6 1/2 furlongs on the dirt. Purse $79,000

#4 Bubba Caballo debuted for a $50k tag at the end of March and finished a well-contested second. An improvement puts him in a prime position to win here, and the extra 1/2-furlong should help. #7 Fugitive makes his Churchill Downs debut in his fourth career start. His early speed matches up well with the current track trend and makes him a dangerous runner. #10 Verb has gotten as close as possible without crossing the wire first, finishing second or third in all six starts. He figures to be on top early, so it will be up to Mitch Murrill to save enough in the tank for the stretch drive. #11 Runyon is unveiled for the Laura Wohlers barn, which only has five starters so far in 2020. Runyon posted back-to-back bullet works in his last two morning efforts, and four of his last six, so expect him to come firing.

Race 4: Maiden Special Weight for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and upward going 1 mile (8 furlongs) on the dirt. Purse $79,000

#1 Valletta returns to the dirt for the first time since her career debut, where she finished sixth. She showed speed in her two turf starts while also getting more distance and a second turn. She has a good opportunity to show her dirt routing ability against a relatively weak maiden special weight field. #9 Altaf had a miserable trip in her debut, a turf maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park, but this group lacks early pace, so don’t be surprised to see Joel Rosario put her closer to the early lead. The one filly who has shown consistent speed is #11 Bobby’s Goldengirl. She ran a valiant third, considering Al Brown won at 1/2. Manny Franco is looking for his first win at the meet and has a great chance to do so with this daughter of Shanghai Bobby.

Race 5: Allowance Optional Claiming $150,000 for 3-year-olds and upward going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the turf. Purse $88,000

For what it’s worth, this is one of the strongest AOC fields that I’ve ever seen. All of the scheduled runners in this field have stakes experience and each has a chance to win. I went seven-deep while trying to find ways to keep horses off the ticket. My top choice is #5 Parlor, returns to the track after winning at the Fair Grounds by open lengths. Look for Jose Ortiz to get him toward the lead early on. Other Runners: #1 Spooky Channel, #3 Caribou Club, #8 First Premio, #9 Mr. Misunderstood, #10 Hembree #12 English Bee.


$.50 PICK 5 (Races 1-5) 9 / 4,6 / 4,7,10,11 / 1,9,11 / 1,3,5,8,9,10,12 – $84

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