05/08/2012 3:48PM

Churchill Downs: Carryover of $276K in super high five


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – On the vast majority of race days anywhere in America, the so-called feature race is the richest one, with exceptions granted depending on circumstance.

And after Churchill Downs goes dark for a few days after the Kentucky Derby, there always seems to be an exception granted to the first day back. In many prior years, a big pick six jackpot has been the main attraction when racing resumes post-Derby, but the pick six was hit Saturday, with each winning $2 ticket worth $675,148.

But wait – there was still a parting gift left behind by the Derby out-of-towners. With no winning tickets sold on the super high five wager on the Derby, a carryover jackpot of $276,914 awaits horseplayers when action resumes Thursday at Churchill. The super high five, a $1-minimum wager, is offered daily on the last race, which is the ninth race – and the true feature – here Thursday.

The subject race is an otherwise humdrum $8,000 claiming event with a condition of “never won two, lifetime.” From a field of 10 3-year-olds and upward, here follows a brief look at the main contenders in the seven-furlong race – although savvy players are well aware that pretty much anything can finish fifth, making the super high five a difficult play indeed.

◗ Hometown Legend (No. 1): This Jan Whitham homebred has developed a knack for finishing respectably without winning while competing at this same level all winter at Tampa Bay Downs for trainer Ian Wilkes. He might be a sage “under” key without spending the money to use him in the top slot.

◗ Sunday Missile (No. 2): There’s other speed in here (Roman Along, Laope), but he might be the fastest, especially when stretching out from 5 1/2 furlongs. Miguel Mena, who has the mount, figures to be one of the handful of jockeys to profit from the post-Derby departure of Julien Leparoux.

◗ Power Key (No. 7): This gray gelding might well have needed his latest at Keeneland, where he ran okay when apparently outclassed for $20,000. This $8,000 tag is a life’s-lowest, and jockey Leandro Goncalves might be able to work out a nice stalking trip.

◗ Valued Assets (No. 8): The 1-for-20 mark is an obvious turnoff, but he’s another one who tends to pick up small checks here and there, and he also has never been tried as low as this $8,000 level.

◗ Big Whiskey No Ice (No. 10): His form has been erratic, to be kind, but an effort to match his maiden win on the Tampa dirt in January would make him a major threat here under Calvin Borel. Plus, the Buff Bradley barn is flying high after winning the Grade 1 Humana Distaff with Groupie Doll.

For the record, the nominal Thursday feature is a $55,300, first-level allowance, which directly precedes the last race as the eighth. Neck ‘n Neck, exiting three straight graded races on the Triple Crown trail, figures to be favored for Wilkes and Goncalves.

The Thursday card starts at 12:45 p.m. Eastern, with the last race going at 4:59. The Friday card starts the track’s twilight series with 2:45 p.m. post times and paddock concerts following the races.