November 30, 2023

What’s winning at Churchill Downs

McKinzie and jockey Mike Smith win the Alysheba Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Friday, May 3, 2019 (c) Coady Photography/Churchill Downs

With 105 races in the books through the first 10 days of racing at Churchill Downs, now is a good time to reflect on some trends that can help us make money as the third week of the meet begins Thursday.

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Two things have struck me so far. Horses who raced at Fair Grounds have done very well (continuing a trend we saw play out last month at Keeneland), and there are some jockeys and trainers who are really struggling.

On the former point, Fair Grounds-based Serengeti Empress is the headliner given her Kentucky Oaks win, but bayou shippers are winning at all levels, including a few horses who did not break their maidens after several tries at Fair Grounds but have done so beneath the Twin Spires.

As for the latter, I hate to focus on the negative, but it’s impossible not to note the leading trainer of all time at Churchill Downs—Dale Romans—is winless in 18 starts there, amidst even more concerning 1/25 and 7/100 streaks. Other notable bagels among conditions are Anthony Quartarolo (0/14), Joe Sharp (0/13) and Michael Tomlinson (0/12). That Sharp number is particularly concerning, considering other Fair Grounds horses are doing well.

It’s no surprise, if Romans and Sharp aren’t doing well, then their regular riders—Robby Albarado (0/19) and Adam “the Biscuit” Beschizza (0/28)—are not either. Beschizza leads with his 28-race winless streak, but Edgar Morales (0/25) and Jack Gilligan (0/24) are struggling as well.

The leaders are Gabriel Saez, Ricardo Santana Jr. and James Graham. Their 10, 10 and 9 wins, respectively, not only lead the jockey colony, but all three have an overwhelming flat-bet profit.

Corey Lanerie and Tyler Gaffailione lead all riders with 51 starts each and are ranked fourth among jockeys with wins at eight, but they have not been good bets. Among the top eight riders by wins they are two of the three with a flat-bet negative ROI (Brian Hernandez Jr. [7/48] is the other).

Below is a list of all the winners, along with corresponding Brisnet proprietary ratings. McKinzie and Mitole have the top two speed ratings of the meeting and are among the top three class ratings (Mia Mischief’s Humana Distaff being the other). Excitingly, McKinzie and Mitole are set to meet in the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes Day.

And below the winner’s list is the at a glance for Churchill Downs.


Avg. Winning Odds: 6.80-1
Favorite Win%: 35%, Favorite Itm%: 69%
Exacta $125.34
Daily Double $175.43
Trifecta $942.94
Pick 3 $1,954.41
Superfecta $6,200.56
Pick 4 $14,655.33
Pick 5 $73,304.87
Pick 6 Jackpot $496,598.00
Super High Five $220,815.24


TRACK BIAS MEET (04/27 – 05/12)
Distance #
6f Dirt 16 31% E Rail
6.5f Dirt 9 0% E/P Middle
1 Mile Dirt 14 29% E/P Middle
1 1/16m Dirt 20 15% E/P Rail/Ins
Turf Sprint 7 14% P Middle
Turf Routes 18 22% E Middle