They ran this one “under the lights” here tonight as Churchill Downs opened its Spring meet with the 87th running of the GIII Cliffs Edge Derby Trial Stakes, for non-Kentucky Derby bounded 3yo’s, going a 1-turn mile, for a purse of $200,000!
To our surprise (and I don’t know why anymore this 3yo season) Machen won in a photo over Dominus, with 3rd going to JJ’s Lucky Train and your super was filled out by the so/cal invader Indian Winter. The favorite here Travelin Man traveled a tired 6th tonight, after vying early with Dominus.
Machen finally lived up to all that “Fair Grounds” hype this winter as he came streaking down the center of the Churchill Downs stretch and caught Dominus right at the wire. We said show us and he did! We’d have to think he’ll get a shot in the Preakness in 3 weeks after this showing!
Dominus had this thing won and by the time his jockey Julian Leparoux saw Machen coming it was too late! Dominus too is now a big-time graded stakes runner, so perhaps a 1 3/16 mile Preakness run shouldn’t be rule out for him either!
Travelin Man and JJ’s Lucky Train both need to travel down to the depot and hop on the next express to the nearest big 7f 3yo’s graded stakes race, as a mile was too much for both here tonight! Perhaps the GI Kings Bishop at Saratoga this summer would be a good goal for both of them now. Lot’s of big dough in sprinting guys!
Indian Winter did come late here tonight, so maybe something a little longer for him next time!
So as to our picks,well, Machen and Dominus were both sitting in our super pool but by post time they were 6/1 & 5/1 along with JJ’s Lucky Train and Indian Winter at 7/1 and you know who was the 8/5 favorite.
So if you dumped the favorite here tonight (as it has seems to be a good idea for 3yo’s this year) these four paid $125.20 for your exacta, $829.80 for your trusty tri’s and $4,163.00 for the super!
So if this “opening night’s” graded stakes clash here at Churchill Downs is any indicator of a Kentucky Derby finish, any “Favorites” in that race will be in some deep-stuff here next Saturday! So what else would be new this 3yo season!
As it will be a slow weekend Graded Stakes-wise, there is one more pre-derby 3yo race to be run, in the GIII Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial Stakes for 3yo’s, going a 1-turn mile, for a purse of $200,000 on Churchill Downs opening day and all under the lights too!
No, a derby-contender hasn’t come out of this contest in a long while, but in times gone by this was the big derby prep of the season!
So lets look over these 9 charges who’ll be running in this year’s edition!
At 7/5 is Travelin Man, late of a big-time 7f sprint win at Gulfstream last month in the GII Swale Stake. He covered that ground in a very nice 1:21 and 4/5 for 7f’s but he will stretch out to the mile distance here for the first time! So he’s got the speed but will he carry the extra distance well, especially if the weather dampens an already wet Churchill Downs main track! He’s not a lock here but he’s real close, so exotics all around for him!
At 7/2 is JJ’s Lucky Train winner of the 7f, GIII Bayshore Stakes at Aqueduct on “Wood” day! He has an impressive 5 wins over an 8 race career with a pair of 2nd’s to boot! JJ’s Lucky Train will not knock you over with blinding speed but he grinds along until you realize he is going to hit the board again. A off-track just might suit him fine on Saturday, so tri’s and supers for him!
At 9/2 is Indiano, a Indian Charlie son, who finished a coming2nd in that Swale Stakes last month. If memory serves, he had a bit of stretch-traffic trouble that day, weaving his way to that 2nd place finish. Just liked the way he handled himself in that outing. So tri’s and supers make some sense here!
At 5/1 is the “Ragin Cajun”Machen who is coming off “2” less than stellar performances in the Fair Grounds two biggest Derby prep races. So perhaps, the shorter distance here will be more to his liking, but don’t trust to hope on this one. Supers only until he shows improvement!
At 8/1 is Indian Winter, another of Indian Charlie’s brats, this one didn’t fare well in the 1 1/8 mile Santa Anita Derby earlier this month, finishing 6th there, but in his outings previous to the S/A Derby they were all board hits with 2 wins, most notably a blazing fast 1:15.34 for 6 1/2 f’s in the San Pedro Stakes this last Jan. at Santa Anita! So he can go “toe to toe” with the best of them as long as they’re not going 2-turns! He could sneak-in for another board hit here on Saturday, so try him in your trifectas and supers too!
At 10/1 is Dominus, a Smart Strike child, has but 2 outings on his resume both board hits with a win at 7f’s in 1:22.61 over that very speedy Santa Anita main track last month! Don’t like his lack of racing experience here, especially over any slop and stepping up to the mile distance against this crowd gives us pause! So super him only!
At 20/1 are Beamer and Duca, and at 30/1 is B G Suavecito, all bringing up the rear here on Saturday’s card!
Beamer at 20/1 seems a bit off to us. He is out of the Seattle Slew and Unbridled lines, for starters, his connections are the “Street Sense” combo of Carl Nafzger, Jim Tafel and Mr. Calvin and with a pair of 4ths in Tampa Bay Downs 2 big derby prep’s, you’d think he would be getting, the Machen treatment, at least, here on Saturday. So super him up and do you really think Mr. Calvin isn’t going to try an make a “Derby Statement” with this one!
Duca was last seen running stride for stride with the ailing ? “Uncle Mo” on the clubhouse turn in the Wood Memorial earlier this month but then faded to 9th by the wire. He is a maiden only winner, so far, but he’s pedigree and connections are very good. Looking for that surprise upset for your supers, well if he is ready to run that big race, this is the place to do it!
B G Suavecito, son of Suave, is a two race lifetime runner. He did come 3rd to Archarcharch in the Sugar Bowl Stakes last Dec. and has an AOC win at 6f’s, both outings were at the Fairgrounds! Super him if you want but we won’t!
So we like Travelin Man to travel with JJ’s Lucky Train, Indiano and Indian Winter in our first-tier thinking of boxed exactas and tri’s and super up Dominus, Machen and Beamer!
So opening day at “The Downs” will actually be “opening night” as they will run this one, under the lights, and start off the meet with a good GIII, 1-mile, 3yo tussle that has much tradition to it. So if you are out and about at your favorite simulcasting outlet, check out this opening day/night tilt in Louisville!