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Saturday's free horse racing picks from handicapper Andrew Champagne come to us as he breaks down his late Pick Four ticket from Churchill Downs

Saturday Free Horse Racing Picks: Late Pick Four at Churchill Downs

Saturday’s “Downs After Dark” program under the Twin Spires is a fun one. Churchill Downs will host an 11-race program featuring five stakes races. Three of those are graded events that come during the late Pick Four sequence, which begins in the eighth race. I’ve put together an $18 ticket, and here’s how I’ll attack the sequence.


We’ll kick things off with the Grade 3 Pocahontas for 2-year-old fillies. This could serve as a prep for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and I think it’s a great betting race because I’m against 5/2 morning line choice #4 ONTHEONESANDTWOS. There’s not a single thing about her that says she’ll want to go two turns, and if she beats me at her likely price, I’ll live with it.

I prefer #5 MAJESTIC D’ORO, who won her August unveiling at Indiana Grand impressively. She rallied from sixth to win by nearly six lengths, and that’s not easy to do at first asking. She’s out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare, so there’s plenty of reason to think she’ll go long effectively, and the 8-1 morning line price certainly looks attractive.

I’ll also use #6 MAXINE MACHINE and #9 HIDDEN CONNECTION. In both cases, I’m not quite sure what they beat in their debut victories. However, the former is a daughter of Pioneerof the Nile who’s bred to improve with experience and the latter has been training lights-out since putting up an 84 Beyer Speed Figure at first asking.


The “brother” race of the Pocahontas is the Grade 3 Iroquois, which also boasts a large field and, in my eyes, an underlaid morning line favorite. #6 STELLAR TAP is one of the ones that can win, but as impressive as he was in his debut, I feel he’ll be overbet because he was the horse that gave Steve Asmussen a record-breaking victory last time out.

I prefer the “other” Asmussen runner, #9 GUNTOWN. Offspring of Gun Runner have been winning everything in sight this season, and I love how he stepped forward when stretched out to a mile last time out. He was a $750,000 purchase last year at Keeneland, and he’s bred to run races at routes like this.

#8 MAJOR GENERAL and #10 HUSBAND MATERIAL are on my ticket as well. Major General was game in his debut victory at Saratoga and is another bred to go long, while Husband Material crushed a short field at Delaware in August and has been working unusually fast for Jimmy Toner, one of the most patient horsemen in the game.

RACE #10

One of the reasons I went against likely favorites in the first two legs is because I cannot get cute in this one. The Grade 3 Locust Grove has attracted one of the top distaffers in training, and I’m one of many that will be singling her.

#7 SHEDARESTHEDEVIL is 4/5 on the morning line, but she’ll almost certainly go off shorter than that. Last year’s Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner has since added two more Grade 1 scores, including the La Troienne here this past spring. She’d need to regress to lose, and even if she did, one of her opponents would likely need to fire a career-best shot. I simply don’t see that happening.

RACE #11

Things get considerably tougher in the Saturday nightcap. This is an allowance event for older horses, and I sincerely hope using four horses gives me enough coverage in this wide-open race.

The race seems a bit light on early zip, and that could play into the hands (hooves?) of #2 MOTAGALLY. He has one way of going, as he’ll try to go as fast as he can for as far as he can. He’s run well over this surface several times, and if he’s able to get comfortable on the front end, he could prove tough to run down.

I’ll also include #1 ARABIAN PRINCE, #6 FLINT RIDGE, and #9 RUNWAY MAGIC, and I’m most intrigued by the final horse I mentioned. He goes second off a long layoff for trainer Tom Drury, and he ran several pretty solid races here last fall. It’s logical to think he’s progressed since then, and if you draw a line through his clunker in the Grade 3 Sam Davis over Tampa’s quirky main track, his record looks far better.


R8: 5,6,9

R9: 8,9,10

R10: 7

R11: 1,2,6,9

Article Author

Horse Racing

Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.


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