Saturday Racing Picks: Churchill Downs and Santa Anita

TVG racing expert Emily Shields is back and bringing us her predictions for Saturday at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita.
Emily Shields
Sat, May 23, 10:04 AM

Racing has returned across much of the United States, with Santa Anita and Churchill Downs hosting a myriad of stakes races on Saturday, May 23.

Churchill Downs

Race 8 - $100,000 Tepin Stakes

Best Bet: Sharing (3-1) The 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf heroine is back for more in her 2020 debut. She has been working well for trainer Graham Motion and looks to win her fourth race in five starts.

Longshot: Walk in Marrakesh (10-1) had a rough trip last out and only missed by a head in the Florida Oaks (G3) one start before that. She gets Jose Ortiz for the first time and could come running late. Jezebel’s Kitten (15-1) was a stakes winner last year and needed the race in her 2020 debut, where she finished fifth behind similar rivals. Brad Cox and Florent Geroux at 15-1 is dangerous.

Race 10 - $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3)

Best Bet: Maxfield (5-2) is unbeaten in two tries, is already a Grade 1 winner, and was one of the top choices for the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile before he was scratched days before the race. The son of Street Sense is a key player in the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail.

Longshot: Mystic Guide (15-1) drew the rail but is in good form after a smashing maiden win at the Fair Grounds March 21. He has run more recently than several of his rivals, is royally bred, and appreciated the stretch out last time for trainer Michael Stidham.

Race 11 - $100,000 War Chant Stakes

Best Bet: Hieronymus (9-2) is riding a three-race win streak for trainer Brad Cox and has been working well at Keeneland. The Godolphin runner is one bad trip away from being undefeated.

Longshot: Smooth Like Strait (5-1) is dangerous when he gets loose, having won in Grade 3 company at Del Mar last year and nearly did the same in the Pasadena at Santa Anita last out.

Santa Anita

Race 5 - $100,000 Daytona Stakes (G3)

Best Bet: Cistron (5-2) faces a tough field here but has run back to back enormous speed figures, is a Grade 1 winner, and has been top three in 11 of 14 starts over this course.

Longshot: Murad Khan (10-1) has never finished worse than third on this track, was a sharp winner over this trip February 23, and has been a hard knocking type while changing hands regularly in a long career.

Race 8 - $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2)

Best Bet: United (6-5) is the best bet of the weekend. He loves the course, has won over the trip, and missed by just a head behind 2019 Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar last year. Trainer Richard Mandella has the son of Giant’s Causeway primed for this.

Longshot: Rockemperor (5-2) ships in for trainer Chad Brown off a decent 2020 debut in a Grade 2 in Louisiana, where he ran third. He made his US debut last July with a sharp third in Grade 1 company after being a stakes horse in France. Irad Ortiz, Jr. makes a rare Southern California appearance just to ride this horse for Brown.

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