Top Horse Racing Picks for Saturday, July 2, 2022

| July 1, 2022 11:41 am PDT

We’ve got nine stakes races among the eleven I found for my Saturday horse racing picks.

That includes five stakes runs at Churchill Downs, then two each at both Gulfstream Park and Laurel Park—with a couple of tightly contested allowance races tacked on for lagniappe.

Be sure to check out the full race cards from each track at one of our best sites for horse racing betting.

Good luck!

My Saturday Picks for Churchill Downs

Race six — Tepin Stakes

This is a $200,000 purse, one-mile run on the dirt track for three-year-old fillies. The morning-lone is definitely right about this one: Bet on the 9/5 favorite, Wicked Halo, ridden by veteran jockey Tyler Gaffalione.

Ever since acing her initial maiden run a year ago, this gray roan filly has been all about the stakes races. For the record, she finished in the money for six of her seven career starts, winning three.

Those wins include the Adirondack Stakes (Grade II) at Saratoga last August and the Leslie’s Lady Overnight Stakes (Black Type) here at Churchill Downs just last month. She’ll do.

Horse racing Hall of Famer Steven M. Asmussen trains Wicked Halo for owner-breeder Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Race seven — American Derby

This is a $200,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles run on the dirt track for three-year-olds. My money’s on the second-favored (at 4/1) McLaren Vale, with Luis Saez in the irons.

This bay colt moneyed four of his five career starts, winning two. He notably finished third in the San Vicente Stakes (Grade II) at Santa Anita in January, challenging the second-place Pinehurst all the way to the wire, posting a speed figure in the triple digits.

Rodolphe Brisset trains McLaren Vale for owners SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC, Catherine Donovan, Golconda Stable, and Siena Farm LLC.

Race eight — Fleur de Lis Stakes (Grade II)

This is a $350,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles dirt track run for fillies and mares four years old and upward. I have to agree with the morning line here: Bet the 9/5 favorite, Shedaresthedevil, piloted by Florent Geroux.

This five-year-old mare steals the spotlight in this short field of five with her record of 17 money finishes in 19 career starts, nine of those wins.

She’s aced seven graded stakes races, including the Honeybee Stakes (Grade III) at Oaklawn Park in March 2020 and the Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) later that same year to the more recent Locust Grove Stakes (Grade III) here at Churchill Downs last September.

Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup veteran Brad H. Cox trains Shedaresthedevil for owners Flurry Racing Stables LLC, Qatar Racing Limited, and Whisper Hill Farm, LLC.

Race nine — Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes

This is a $160,000 purse, 6-1/2 furlong dirt track race for three-year-olds and upward. While the morning-line favorite has a good record, he’s not done well in 2022, so I’m betting my two dollars on the third-favored Bob’s Edge, with Gabriel Saez aboard.

This four-year-old bay gelding moneyed11 of his 15 career starts, winning six. Those wins include the King Cotton Stakes (Listed) and the Whitmore Stakes (Grade III)—both earlier this year at Oaklawn Park.

Forty-year horse racing veteran J. Larry Jones trains Bob’s Edge for owners Michael Freeny, Patricia Freeny, and Jennifer Grayson Taylor.

Race ten — Stephen Foster Stakes (Grade II)

This is a $750,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles dirt track run for four-year-olds and upward. Despite his poor performance in the Saudi Cup (Grade I) at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Saudi Arabia in February, I still think Mandaloun, ridden by Florent Geroux, has the best of it for this race.

This four-year-old bay colt finished second in last year’s Kentucky Derby, and just to prove he still had the chops, he won the Louisiana Stakes (Grade III) at Fair Grounds Race Course in January 2022.

For the record, Mandaloun moneyed eight of his ten career starts, winning six.

Mandaloun will see some good competition in this race, but nothing he can’t handle. He’s got this.

Brad H. Cox trains Mandaloun for Juddmonte.

Saturday’s Horse Racing Picks for Gulfstream Park

Let’s start on the all-weather track with race five—a 5-1/2 furlong run for Florida-bred three-year-olds and upward. I’m betting my money on the 5/2 morning-line favorite, Grainger County, ridden by veteran jockey Edgar Perez.

This five-year-old chestnut gelding had a solid 2021 and is in the middle of an even better 2022. For the record, Grainger Country finished in the money 11 of his 18 career starts, winning five. Even better, he’s moneyed five of his six 2022 starts, two of those wins.

Twenty-year horse racing veteran Bobby S. Dibona trains Grainger County for owner Keith Johnston.

Race seven — Smile Sprint Invitational Stakes (Grade III)

This is a $100,000 purse, six-furlong run on the dirt track for three-year-olds and upward. I’m backing the second favored (at 5/2) Willy Boi, piloted by veteran jockey Chantal Sutherland.

Although the morning-line favorite has a slightly better statistical record, Willy Boi’s victories are more recent. For the record, the four-year-old bay gelding finished six of his 11 career starts in the money—five of them wins, the last two of which in 2022.

Notably, Willy Boi aced the Hutcheson Stakes (Listed) in March of 2021 as well as the Big Drama Stakes (Black Type) in May 2022—both here at Gulfstream.

Ranked among the top 100 in wins for 2021, Jorge Delgado trains Willy Boi for Lea Farms, LLC.

Race ten — Princess Rooney Invitational Stakes (Grade II)

This is a $300,000 purse seven-furlong dirt track race for fillies and mares three years old and upward. This is my no-brainer pick of the day: 4/5 morning-line favorite Ce Ce, with Victor Espinoza in the irons.

This six-year-old chestnut mare finished 15 of her 19 career starts in the money, winning nine. Those wins include the Princess Rooney Invitational Stakes (Grade II) here at Gulfstream last July, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (Grade I) at Del Mar in November, and the Azeri Stakes (Grade II) at Oaklawn in March.

Of her 19 career starts, Ce Ce missed posting a triple-digit speed figure once. Once.

Michael W. McCarthy trains Ce Ce for owner-breeder Bo Hirsch, LLC.

Saturday Horse Racing Picks for Laurel Park

Let’s start on the turf course with race seven, a 5-1/2 furlong run for fillies and mares three years old and upward.

If Jean C. Alvelo rides Eifs into the starting gate, bet the pair to win. Eifs is the second half of the 1/1A coupled entry, and the seven-year-old moneyed 13 of her 27 career starts, winning seven. Hugh I. McMahon trains Eifs for owner Larry E. Rabold.

If that doesn’t happen, then bet the morning-line favorite, Stony Point, ridden by Forest Boyce.

This four-year-old dark bay filly finished in the money two of her three career starts, winning one.

Hall of Famer Claude R. McGaughey III trains Stony Point for Allen Stable, Inc.

Race eight — Caesar’s Wish Stakes

This is a $100,000 purse, one-mile dirt track run for fillies and mares three years old and upward. I like the 12/1 underdog, Bess, with top jockey Julio A. Hernandez aboard.

Oddly enough, this six-year-old bay mare has a record that easily rivals that of the morning-line favorite, but in Bess’s case, she’s got quantity as well as quality. For the record, Bess finished in the money 22 of her 33 career starts, winning 14.

More importantly, Bess moneyed nine of her last ten races, and she won five of them. I like her chances.

Erin C. McClellan trains Bess for owner Roger A. Nickol.

Race nine — Concern Stakes

This is a $100,000 purse, seven-furlong. Dirt track run for three-year-olds. I’m betting on the 6/1 sleeper, Nimitz Class, ridden by veteran jockey Horacio Karamanos.

This dark bay colt finished in the money four of his six career starts, winning all four. His most recent win was in a field of ten at the Danzig Stakes (Black Type) at Penn National in early June.

With more than four decades in the horse racing business, Bruce M. Kravets trains Nimitz Class for owner Tom Coulter.

Already thinking about the Breeders’ Cup World Chambionships in November? We’ve got an early look at the contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Classic right here:

Early Odds and Analysis for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships will take place at Keeneland Racecourse this year. Fourteen races featuring the best thoroughbreds, jockeys, and trainers the world has produced will take place over two days—Friday, November 5, and Saturday,...

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J.W. Paine
J.W. Paine

J.W. Paine is one of the most experienced writers at He's written for television and the printed media, and is a published novelist (as Tom Elliott).

Paine loves writing about Las Vegas nearly as much he loves living here. An experienced gambler, he's especially familiar with thoroughbred horseracing, poker, blackjack, and slots.

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