2YO Maiden Special Weight ‘Picks, Plays and Pontification’ – Churchill Downs, 05/25/2023

May 23, 2023

Churchill Downs, Race 2 – Thursday, May 25, 2023

By 2YO EdgeMan

CD2:052523 – Five furlongs over the dirt track.  Nine strappin colts are set to go postward in this one – five will be having their first go at competition, two have started once, one has been out in the afternoon twice and one worldly dude has three previous runs under his belt.  We’ve got some really good sires including Bolt d’Oro, Run Happy, Classic Empire, Street Sense, Bernardini and the late Arrogate.  And you say that you’re also looking for quality trainers, too?  We’ve got a couple – Asmussen, Jack Hancock, and Riley Mott.  Let’s go deep and tackle six of these guys…

#1 – Go Otto Go (4/1) – Steve Asmussen draws the rail with this FTS Bolt d’Oro colt who demanded $180K at last year’s July Fasig-Tipton KY Yearling sale (24/60).  His dam finished first eight times in her racing career from the 37 starts that she made and brought home nearly a half million dollars.  Additionally, she was precocious, winning at first asking in August of her 2YO campaign at Saratoga while posting a shining 89 Equibase Speed Fig.  Pops is a Second-Crop Sire who had a strong year in 2022 as a debut sire going 8 of 52 (15.4%) with his babies that were starting for the first time at the MSW level at the ‘Top 11 Tracks’*.  Steve has sent this guy out for five morning drills with the first three at KEE and the most recent two over the Churchill strip.  His last in Lexington on 5/3/23, before shipping down I-64, was a dandy going four panels in 47.4 from the gate (1/47).  The talented Florent Geroux will manipulate the reins.

#3 – Beaudacious Colton (3/1) – The Morning Line favorite possesses the experience of two prior races – his first at KEE on opening day (4/7/23) when he ran a rather dull fifth at odds of 50/1 and one here at CD on 5/3/23, finishing third, beaten less than two lengths while hanging an impressive 81 EBSF.  This guy is a homebred whose mom ran 85 times and won 9 of those events, banking a relatively skinny $67,000.  His trainer is Jack Hancock who is 0 for 1 at CD in the spring with this level from 2018 thru 2022.  Curiously, he only shows a total of two workouts – both prior to his first race.  Walter Rodriguez will get the leg up.

#5 – Cassius (12/1) – Classic Empire sires this First-Time starter from the barn of Rey Hernandez (0/2 with FTS and 0/4 total at Spring CD with 2YO MSW from 2018 thru 2022).  He hammered for an even $100K as a yearling which makes him 9th highest in his class from his sire in 2022 (from 48 total).  His dam, by Tapit, never set foot on the racetrack in the afternoon and this is her first foal.  The Thoroughbred Center has been his home for training having worked there seven time – the first four at three panels and the most recent three at ½ mile.  More than half of his efforts (four) have been the third fastest of the day at the distance at TTC.  Rafael Bejarano will pilot this fella.

#6 – Fifth Avenue (7/2) – Trainer Riley Mott is one of my favorites and I’m pulling hard for his success, which I can nearly guarantee.  I have to think he’ll be quite patient with these babies and bring them along slowly since he learned at the feet of his uber successful father.  He’s 1 for 1 at CD with two-year-olds in Maiden Specials having won last fall (which I believe was his first ever winner after he hung out his own shingle).  Riley actually signed the ticket for this colt having gone to $350K to secure him from the Keeneland September Yearling sale last year.  That amount checks this colt in as the ninth highest priced yearling by Street Sense sold last year from the 52 that changed hands at public auction.  His dam won half of her six races (one being a stakes races) and banked $111K.  The Churchill Downs training complex has been where this guy has lived and worked five times, including a bullet back on 4/26/23 when he traveled 3f in 36 flat (1/8).  First-Call rider, Luis Saez gets the call.

#8 – Bernin Hot (5/1) – This FTS colt is by Bernardini out of a Rubiano mare who did not meet his reserve of $60,000 when offered as a yearling last fall.  Dad is only 20 for 276 (7.2%) as a sire in 2YO MSW races at the Top 11 Tracks from 2012 thru 2022.  Mom got her picture taken in the Winner’s Circle eight times in the 20 starts that she made and earned $139K.  One of his 12 half siblings was 4/8 (one win being a stakes race) on track with earnings $281K, including a win at first asking as a 2YO at Churchill in October (92 EBSF).  Trainer Christopher Davis has put seven morning moves into this guy at Keeneland with two being quite brisk – on 4/20/23 he went ½ mile in 47.6 (1/42) and on 5/6/23 he sped the same distance in 47.2 from the gate (2/77).  Brian Hernandez, Jr. has been named as the jockey.

#9 – Liberal Arts (4/1) – Robert Medina will toss the saddle across this Stephen and Evan Ferraro homebred, Arrogate colt who will be making his first start.  His dam was quite successful on track having gone 3 for 10 ($236K) with two stakes victories as well as a win first out in her 2YO year at DMR in August.  She threw a ½ sister to this guy who notched four wins from 15 starts and earned $205K.  Medina has only started one 2YO MSW at CD in the spring over the past five years and that one was not victorious.  This dude has been working in Lexington at The Thoroughbred Center and has put up two bullet works from the seven times he’s taken a morning spin, including his last one where he traveled four panels in 47.8 from the gate (1/36).  Jareth Loveberry will be in the irons.

Pick – #1 Go Otto Go – As much as I’d like to take Mott’s horse, I have to go with my head and not my heart.  Asmussen stands out and I very much like the fact that he’s worked very well and tested the CD surface twice.  Three Chimneys Farm is a terrific outfit and Florent Geroux is always a bonus.  I don’t love the rail, but see this colt overcoming that minor setback.  M/L odds of 4/1 seem generous – I don’t see him going off that high, but anything close to that seems like a solid play.

Good luck and have fun with this affair.  We’ll be back with you soon with ‘PP&Ps’ for Friday’s third race at Churchill and of course will do a post-race recap (‘Sum Up and Learnings’) on this one after it’s over.  This is fun stuff, my attentive Edgies – enjoy!

*- When I look at most statistics around sire performance, I want to make sure that we are only considering high quality 2YO MSW races.  Hence, I’ve determined what I believe to be the ‘Top 11 Tracks’ for our level of races.  Certainly, these could be debated, but they are what I use.  They are:  CD, KEE, KD, SAR, BEL, AQU, SA, DMR, GP, WO and OP (note: OP was just added this year to go from the Top 10 to Top 11).

Contributing Authors

The 2YO Edge Man, Past The Wire

The 2YO EdgeMan

The 2YO EdgeMan started following horse racing when his family moved to Louisville, KY when he was 9 years old.  The story goes that he...

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@jonathanstettin Your article re reading when a horse dead on board made me some $ just now. Untapable was, IMO, odds-on, but dead. TY!

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