After a one-day hiatus where Keeneland only carded two of turf races, the #TurfPick3 is back in action Friday with a graded stakes sprinting on the turf and a pair of allowances that have plenty of stakes-caliber entrants. As predicted in this space last time, it didn’t take long for this wager to return four figures as Wednesday’s edition eclipsed the $1000 mark driven by a 17-1 upset by California Angel in the Jessamine Stakes.
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- Leg 1 (R5): 1-2-7-4
- Leg 2 (R7): 4-7-9-11
- Leg 3 (R9): 4-7-5-12
Leg 1: Keeneland Race 5 – Restricted Allowance 90k Purse
A rare short field kicks off the sequence and the race features what is likely to be a heavy favorite in Into the Sunrise (#2) for Wesley Ward. He comes into this race off a couple of losses, but the last was probably at a distance a touch too far and the winner of the two back race at Saratoga was his stablemate that went on to win the Belmont Turf Sprint Championship. He makes a ton of sense for a barn that wins a lot with these types and is the most likely winner, but in a race where many will be singling the favorite I think there are a couple of other interesting players worth including. My top pick is going to be Bodenheimer (#1) breaking from the rail for Valerie Lund. At first glance, it looks like his form has tailed off this year, but I think he’s just been running in the wrong spots. This is his first true turf sprint since the spring and he’s shown in the past to be dangerous on or near the front end which is where he projects to be today. His crowning achievement came over this course and distance last year in the Indian Summer stakes in a race as a two-year-old that came back as fast as some of the best numbers in the field. The only backup I’d throw in would be Mama on Three (#7) who was wide last time in a race with a similar quality field and can get a good stalking trip for a high-percentage barn.
Leg 2: Keeneland Race 7 – AllowanceN3X 90k Purse
This N3X allowance features many stakes-faced runners and there are really there are a ton of ways to go. I guess the horse to beat is Sweet Melania (#5), but that’s really only if she shows up with her “A” game. To my eyes she hasn’t been as good this year as last, although she possesses a dominant win over this turf course it was a long time ago and there’s no huge edge on the face of her speed figures this year. The other short prices on the morning line don’t do much for me either. What’s so great about Alta’s Award’s (#10) that make her a short price in here? For me the only runner shorter than 8-1 on the morning line that will be on one of my tickets will be Market Rumor (#11) off the backs of her newly-found improved form over turf, but the tough post relegates her to a backup for me. I’m going to take a shot with Bacchanalia (#4) who goes first time out off the trainer switch to Brendan Walsh. It’s tough to make a case she’ll improve coming off the Chad Brown barn, but it’s not like that hasn’t ever happened before. Maybe the change of scenery is all that’s needed for a horse that has shown flashes of ability in her races and her speed figures are competitive. Walsh is also great with runners off these breaks hitting at a positive ROI. The other horse I’ll use prominently is Enola Gay (#7) who got a confidence-booster last time at Colonial Downs. It feels like forever ago, but it was just last summer this filly turned in a devastating kick to just get up to win the Appalachian over the Keeneland sod. If she’s rounding into her best form as a older filly, she could parlay this into a stakes try next out. I’d want a ton of coverage with other backups since I’m against the favorites. Joy Epifora (Arg) (#9) has a ton of races that make her competitive, but she never wins and Naval Laughter didn’t frank her form. Curly Ruth (#2) was solid in her win over the Kentucky Downs turf and could turn the tables on Market Rumor with the better post draw. Finally, I wouldn’t completely discount Winter Sunset (#1) who like the runner to her outside is a regally-bred mare who could have a ton of value as a broodmare, but they bring her back to the races off a break and she has back races that make her competitive. Why not throw in Breeze Rider (#3) who has really turned into a nice horse this year for Steve Manley.
Leg 3: Keeneland Race 9 – G3-Franklin County Stakes 150k
On the surface this looks like a wide-open turf sprint stakes where the morning line favorite is set at an inflated 7/2 and there could be plenty of interesting ways to go. However, I think that morning line favorite is actually a standout on paper and will be much shorter on the tote once the pools close. I’m talking, of course, about Campanelle (Ire) (#4) who is yet another fleet-footed Wesley Ward turf sprinter with European form that shows back up seemingly pointed to this spot at Keeneland. We saw what happened when Golden Pal turned away some solid older turf sprinters off a disappointing prior effort overseas and I think this filly comes in here with even more of an advantage over her rivals. Her last race is a complete throw-out after getting upset heading to the gate and rearing up at the start and almost losing Frankie Dettori. Her Commonweath Cup was a world-class effort and the only other race where she wasn’t entering the winner’s enclosure was in the Breeders’ Cup last year at a distance too longer than her best. The backups I’d want include Lead Guitar (#7) who had an impressive four-race winning streak last year and then split two talented sprinters while racing through a touch of trouble last out at Saratoga. She’s versatile to adjust to any race flow and I find it interesting George Weaver ships her down here versus staying home in New York. In Good Spirits (#5) is just in too good of form right now for Al Stall to leave off completely if my other opinions in the sequence hit.