Best bets for Saturday's races at Churchill Downs and Woodbine

By Mike Somich  ( handicapper) 

September 15, 2023 09:38 PM


Who’s ready for the Kentucky Derby?!? The points chase begins this weekend with Derby points up for grabs at Churchill Downs with the Grade 3 Iroquois on Saturday. Up north, Saturday also features one of the best cards of the year at Woodbine with three Grade 1 stakes concluding in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile featuring Euro shipper Master of the Seas. Make sure to check out the early Pick 4 at Canterbury Park in Minnesota as well!  It features an industry-low 10% takeout and a nice little $32,000 carryover.

Grade 3 Iroquois – Churchill Downs, Saturday, Race #9

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen will send two horses to the gate in the first Kentucky Derby points race of the season including #8 Risk It who is the morning line favorite at 2-1. He ships in from Saratoga where his debut was one of the more eye-catching performances of the meet. Right to his outside #9 Patriot Spirit ships in from Colonial where he rated and opened up easily to win at seven furlongs on first asking. 

Both Patriot Spirit and #7 Gettysburg Address are by super two-year-old sire Constitution who I love to bet in these races. Gettysburg Address is trained by Brad Cox who has consistently done well with younger horses in stakes races and Flavien Prat gets the mount. When Cox has called on Prat over the last two years, they have a 32% win rate over 78 starts. #3 Union Roll is also worth a look at 5-1 on the morning line. This Todd Pletcher runner would need to jump forward to compete with the outside three horses, but it’s not impossible for him to take a big step forward in his second start.

Picks: 7-9-8-3

Bets: I would always rather take a price in these younger races, so I’ll side with #7 Gettysburg Address at 12-1.  Let’s bet him to win and play a $5 ExB 7 / 8,9.


Grade 3 Vigil Stakes – Woodbine, Saturday, Race #7

This race made the write-ups simply because I am stone cold against the 7/5 morning line favorite #6 Patches O’Houlihan. He has ripped off five straight wins including the Grade 3 Bold Venture last time out, but the waters get a lot deeper today.  He will be pressed up front by both the #1 Rockcrest and #8 My Buddy B which should weaken him up for some horses to come from off the pace. One of those closers will be #7 Outlaw Kid who should love the switch to the synthetic track and sit right behind the pace. 

The two other horses I am interested in here are the Martin Drexler trainees. #2 Old Chestnut, 8-1 morning line, finally gets some pace to chase after running well in the last two races behind gate-to-wire winners.  He’s also getting class relief here after facing two of the horses who are in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile over his last four races. The other Drexler, #3 Souper Watson, also exits the Bold Venture where he never got a chance to close.  He will be one of the main benefactors of a hot pace today and offers good value at 12-1 on the morning line.

Picks: 7-2-3-6

Bets: I am going to key on the 7 here and try to nail a cold exacta and play some trifectas.  Let’s go with a $20 Exacta 7-2, a $10 trifecta 7 / 2,3 / 2,3 and a $10 trifecta 7-2-3.


Spot plays:

Saturday, Woodbine Race #9 – $20 Trifecta 1-2-4  

Saturday, Churchill Downs, Race #10 – Win #3, 3-1 or better



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