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Preview and Brisnet Nuggets for Wednesday and Thursday at Churchill.
With rain forecasted for the next few days, there is a good possibility that Wednesday's featured 9th race at Churchill Downs, a mile and a sixteenth optional claimer for fillies and mares scheduled for the turf, will be transferred to the main track. However, if it remains on the grass, the clear top ranked runner on the BRIS Prime Power Ratings is Sefroua. A stakes winner in France, Sefroua earned the highest BRIS Speed Rating by finishing a good third in the Grade 3 Noble Damsel H. at Belmont on soft ground last fall. A repeat of that effort will make the daughter of Kingmambo hard to beat but, while soft turf would favor Sefroua, it also will also help the chances of Happiness Is who owns the best early pace figures in the race as found in the BRIS Ultimate Past Performances. The five-year-old, who will be making her second start off a layoff (an angle at which trainer Tom Proctor wins at a 19 percent rate), successfully wired two decent allowance fields at Arlington on soft ground last year, and may try to do the same again here.
The most contentious race of the Wednesday card maybe race 10, a six furlong claiming event on which Churchill offers the Super Hi-5 wager. A full field of 12 (as well as four also-eligibles) is entered with the Joe Woodward trained Joe Six Pack being ranked top on the Prime Power Ratings. As seen in the BRIS Ultimate Race Summary, Joe Six Pack is also top in the Current Class category and he has a win over the track and two victories on off tracks. He must be respected, but attention should also be paid to Painted Forest and Fortune's Praise, who are joint second highest ranked Prime Power runners and own the best early pace figures. If those two engage in a speed duel, one who may benefit the most is Choctaw Bingo. Ranked fourth by Prime Power, Choctaw Bingo looks the best of the stalking types and is making his third start off a layoff in which situation his trainer, Joe Cain, has been winning at 20 percent.
Thursday's feature is the Kentucky Juvenile S. (G3) over five furlongs. Nine (four colts and five fillies) are entered headed by Jealous Again and Gator Prowl who both earned impressive 104 BRIS Speed Ratings in their debuts at Keeneland and Laurel respectively. These two fillies won their only starts unchallenged and are ranked as the two highest on the Prime Power Ratings, but favoritism may go to the Todd Pletcher trained colt, Mission Impazible who closed late to win at Keeneland earning easily the highest Late Pace Last Race rating. A look at the pedigree stats found in the Ultimate Past Performances reveals that not only is Mission Impazible by a very successful sire, Unbridled's Song who has a SPI of 3.08, but he is out of a mare, La Paz, with a high DPI of 3.81. This is because La Paz, a stakes winner herself, is also the dam of graded winners Forest Camp and Spanish Empire.
Perhaps the most interesting runner, pedigree wise, entered on Thursday's card is Fiesty Ex who will start from the inside post in the opener. A daughter of Exchange Rate, who has earned a good SPI of 1.87 (and whose offspring win on off tracks at a high rate of 18 percent), Fiesty Ex's dam scores a DPI of 9.19 through being the dam of the exceptional two-year-old Rated Fiesty, who won the Kentucky Breeders' Cup S. (G3) and the Debutant S. (G3) at Churchill in 2007.
BRIS reports for Saturday's card at Churchill Downs including the Kentucky Derby will be available online Wednesday evening.
Tim Holland 4-29-09