Pedigree Handicapping With & Doug Salvatore: Race 6 Friday at Churchill

The sixth race on Friday at Churchill Downs (click for FREE Ultimate Past Performances) is a tough and interesting Maiden Special Weight event for two-year-olds going 4 ½ furlongs.

One interesting horse is #6 Stonebriar. This Two Punch colt debuts for trainer Al Stall, who has enjoyed a brilliant start to this Churchill Downs meeting with four wins from nine starts with all nine starters finishing in the top three.

Stonebriar won the fastest division of the Aiken Trial races in South Carolina earlier this year. In fact, his winning time was three-fifths of a second faster than any of the other three winners.

This is a familiar path for these connections, who in 2011 sent out Stonebriar’s full brother, Friscan, to a debut score going 4 ½ furlongs on Keeneland Polytrack before a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Bashford Manner at Churchill.

After reading all that you’re probably thinking Stonebriar is our pick, and normally, at 9-to-2, we’d love to take a shot with a clever horse like this, but this race came up tough, and other horses offer more appeal.

The three horses who interest me most are #4 Cinco Charlie, #7 Far Right, and #3 To Be Determined.

Cinco Charlie, a $75,000 September yearling, turned in a strong :10.20 workout at OBS March to help bring $190,000 at that sale.

Click here for a clip of Cinco Charlie’s OBS breeze, and note that he did not wear blinkers, which is somewhat of a rarity for under-tack shows nowadays. I’ve paid great attention to this angle over the years, and horses who drill fast without blinkers generally go on to be more successful in early races than horses who did wear blinkers.

Cinco Charlie is a son of the brilliant Indian Charlie, and Cinco Charlie’s dam, the Marquetry mare Ten Halos, was a confirmed sprinter. She won her career debut paying $11.60, and she won her second career start paying $13.60 with both races coming at 5 ½ furlongs.

There's less glamor associated with #7 Far Right, who sold for just $2,500 as a yearling. However, this horse has proven to be exceptionally speedy. He has an April 19 bullet workout at Keeneland from the gate that was the best of 117 to work that day.

In his career debut, Far Right ran off in the post parade. He still managed to make the early lead and finish second in what was the fastest of the four 2-year-old races at Keeneland this sprint meet. The addition of Lasix and the experience of having a race under him should benefit this inexpensive colt a great deal.

Finally, you can't get past any early season two-year-old race without discussing a Wesley Ward debuter, and he has two of them in here.

Of the two, Sarlef sports shorter morning line odds of 3-to-1. He is by the good dirt route sire Flatter and the first foal to race out of the unraced Giant’s Causeway mare Exit Three from the family of Tale of the Cat. But Sarlef just doesn't have anything close to the kind of precocious and sprint oriented pedigree that we like to look for in these type of races. Sure, if anyone can get him to run well, at this distance and so soon, it's Wesley Ward. However, we have to take a position against him in this tough spot.

The Ward debuter with the more interesting look is 5-to-1 morning line, #3 To Be Determined. Yes, To Be Determined only shows one published work on her tab, but fitness shouldn't be a huge issue since this Elusive Quality filly performed in the under-tack show at Keeneland April and surely was trained hard into that sale. Indeed, To Be Determined drilled a quarter mile in an almost unbelievable 20.20 seconds over a Polytrack surface that played like the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Here’s the video.

Obviously, Ward is eager to let her roll if he's debuting her against males, and that 5-to-1 morning line could turn out to be quite generous thanks in part to her virtually invisible worktab.

Betting Strategy: This race looks so tough, that we're going to toss the Aiken Trial winner right out. Our betting strategy will be to box To Be Determined, Cinco Charlie, and Far Right in exactas and trifectas. Most importantly however, study the replay of this race after it's run looking for tough trips and subtle trouble, as this race has the look of a potential key race.

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