Churchill Downs Picks: Bizzy Caroline Looks Devine in Cardinal Handicap

Nine fillies and mares do battle in Saturday's Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs

Nine fillies and mares will line up in the $100,000 Cardinal Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs on Saturday, led by Grade 1 winner Daisy Devine, who is the 9-5 morning line favorite.

The Andrew McKeever trainee won the Jenny Wiley (G1) back in April at Keeneland, but is winless in two starts since that score, last out running a game second in the First Lady (G1) at Keeneland.

Her main rival figures to be the Ken McPeek trained Bizzy Caroline, who tracked the early pace and weakened to finish sixth in the Flower Bowl Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park over yielding footing.

The filly has won three of her four starts over the Churchill Downs turf course and will catch firm ground on Saturday which she prefers.

The Churchill Downs card gets underway on Saturday at 12:40 ET.

The feature at Aqueduct on Saturday is the $150,000 Long Island Handicap (G3) at 1 ½ miles on the turf which drew a field of nine along with one main track only entrant.

Racing was canceled on Wednesday and Thursday due to the winter storm named Athena, which brought strong winds and wet snow to the area. The forecast calls for sunny skies on Friday and Saturday, which hopefully will dry out the turf.

Hit It Rich, who was seventh in the Flower Bowl is the 5-2 morning line favorite for the Long Island, which goes off as the eighth race on the nine race card.

The Shug McGaughey trainee won the Glen Falls (G3) in gate to wire fashion two back and is the defending champion in the race.

Her main foes figure to be Spinster (G1) runner up Mystical Star (3-1), E.P. Taylor (G1) fourth place finisher Kissable (4-1), and the European invader Aigue Marine (6-1).

Saturday’s Best Plays Report will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct and Churchill Downs.

Let’s head out to Churchill Downs for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Churchill Downs Race 9 The Cardinal Handicap (G3) Post time 4:37 ET

1 Bizzy Caroline   3-1

4 Daisy Devine   9-5

8 Fugitive Angel   5-1

2 La Cloche   6-1

Bizzy Caroline was a longshot in the Flower Bowl (G1) last out, tracking the early pace and weakening to finish fifth, beaten five lengths for the top spot over yielding footing. Three runners have come out of that race to win stakes next out including the runner up Zagora, who won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. The filly seems to like firmer footing which she should get today, and she likes the Churchill Downs turf course where she has won three of her four trips, her last start here coming back in June where she won the Mint Julep (G3). The cut back to nine furlongs and the class relief should suit, and the Ken McPeek barn is off to a quick start at the meeting here.

Daisy Devine is likely to go off as the favorite here off her game runner up finish to Tapitsfly in the First Lady (G2) last out at Keeneland going a mile. The filly prompted the early pace, took over the lead and could not match strides late with the winner while 3 ¼ lengths ahead of Hungry Island. Her effort was her first go off a five month layoff and she figures to be fitter second off the bench for the Andrew McKeever barn that is 26% winners (with a +ROI) with runners making their second start off a 45-180 day layoff. He has run very well since switching to turf, winning four of six starts including the Jenny Wiley (G1) three back at Keeneland. She is the controlling speed in here and will be really tough if she shakes loose early.

Fugitive Angel stalked the early pace while in between foes, got bottled up in traffic on the far turn and finished up with good energy when clear to finish fifth against optional claimers on the polytrack at Keeneland. Two back she came back off an 11 month layoff to beat Alw-3 optional claimers on the turf at Delaware Park. She has won 4 of 8 on turf in her career including the 2010 Valley View (G3) at Keeneland. She looks primed for a top effort here in her third start off the bench for the Jonathan Sheppard barn.


WIN: Bizzy Caroline to win at 5-2 or better.

EXACTA:  1,4 / 1,2,4,8

TRIFECTA: 1,4 / 1,2,4,8 / 1,2,4,8,9

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