Jeff Siegel: National Best Plays | Friday, November 17, 2023

Seventh Race – Churchill Downs (4:01 ET)
2–Ghazaaly (3-1)

This California shipper arrives at Churchill Downs in good form following a pair or strong runner-up efforts in starter optional claiming company that produced superior speed figures for what is par for this level on this circuit.  The Vladimir Cerin-trained five year old finished more than four lengths clear of the rest in his most recent appearance, and a repeat of that race today in this middle distance, first level allowance affair should be more than good enough to handle this assignment.  Comfortably drawn in post three and assured a second flight, stalking trip, the son of Curlin has finished first or second in six of 11 lifetime starts and can be counted on for his typical honest effort. He’s 3-1 on the morning line and is a confident play at or near that price.  


Del Mar - Second Race (12:58 PT)
3-Antonsen (5/2)

A colt with plenty of talent but with his career long delayed due to a string of reoccurring ailments, this four year old colt came up short on debut when pressing the pace before fading late in a strong, productive five furlong turf dash at Del Mar in late August.  With that bit of experience behind him, the Carla Gaines-trainee should produce a significant forward move today in this five runner state-bred grass dash, and while he’s facing other speed we’re expecting the son of Smiling Tiger to shake off the other heat. He picks up top rider Juan Hernandez for a barn that has strong stats with the second time starter angle, so at 5/2 on the morning there’s plenty of wagering value to be found in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics.