I am super excited to cover Keeneland’s innovative wager that has plenty of aspects that handicappers have been crying out for. The $3 minimum base bet adds an extra layer of complexity when constructing tickets to stay within a manageable budget and the 15% takeout is much more attractive than that of regular pick three’s across the country. Add in the fact that the sequence consists of the best turf races on Keeneland’s card certain to feature large fields and it’s something horseplayers should be showing their support for with their wagering dollars. It’s worth noting that the wager will appear as a separate wagering event in your ADW as opposed to a part of the dropdown for the opening leg. In addition to providing analysis for each of the legs in the sequence, I thought it would also be interesting to flesh out some tickets around those opinions to get a feel for what it might take to be successful in this new venture.
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- Check out my coverage of the entire late Pick 5 Sequence on a special mid-week In the Money Podcast with colleague Eric Solomon.
- Leg 1 (R2): 4-1-9-12
- Leg 2 (R7): 4-13-1-7
- Leg 3 (R10): 8-1-9-2
Leg 1: Keeneland Race 2 – Maiden Special Wt 84k Purse
The inaugural special $3 minimum all turf pick three kicks off with a wide open maiden special weight for juveniles and it will be important to look to the toteboard and see if any clues present themselves on some of the debut runners. However, I’ll be centering a lot of my pick three play around runners who have a start under their belt. My top pick will be Star Shopping (#4) at a juicy 10-1 on the morning line. He ran well in his debut at Ellis Park to run second behind a Brad Cox runner in Ready to Purrform who came back to validate that race by taking a stakes race at Laurel last Saturday while vastly improving his speed figure. Furthermore, Star Shopping was the one who made the first move into the hottest part of a race that eventually saw the pacesetter cave late. The other runner with experience that is super interesting is Steinbeck (#1). This expensive two-year-old purchase took a good amount of money into the teeth of probably BC Juvenile favorite Jack Christopher in his debut and while he doesn’t have a ton of turf pedigree, the Pletcher barn has had success with this move in the past posting a 12/39 record (31%, $2.32 ROI) with juveniles going from a dirt sprint to a turf route. As far as backups in addition to some of the firsters, Gingrich (#5) is logical off his recent form and although he doesn’t have the same upside as some of the others, I wouldn’t want to be knocked completely out of the sequence if he wins. I’m willing to give Rum ‘n Tonic (#9) another chance for Rosario/Maker and Win for the Money (#12) will have to overcome a tough post but this pedigree screams turf as a half brother to the talented Price Talk and he got a race under his belt when his debut was taken off the turf.
Leg 2: Keeneland Race 7 – AllowanceN3X 90k Purse
It will be a casual three hour wait between legs of this sequence but the action picks back up in race 7 with a solid allowance field. With the high minimum base bet, it will be important to find a horse to lean heavily on in the wager and I think Kentucky Ghost (#4) can be just that. He’s been improving with each and every start this year and two back in a good rendition of the Buckland Stakes at Colonial Downs he ran well to just miss by a dirty bob. He actually had trouble entering the clubhouse turn and got shuffled back to nearly last entering the stretch, neither of which are noted in the short comment line. His failed as the favorite in his last race at Kentucky Downs, but I just don’t think he got the right trip that day being left with too much to do late. I like the fact he’s shown an affinity for the Keeneland turf course in his form earlier this year as this sand-based grass oval has shown in the past to not suit every horse that runs over it. Fighting Seabee (#13) is mired on the also eligible list, but if he draws in, I would be willing to use as my primary backup to the favorite. His best career races have come here including an 18-1 surprise in the spring meet. Valid Point (#1) would be worth a look if he’s anything close to his 10-1 morning line going second time out for Graham Motion looking to regain his best form that led to G1 success in the Secretariat at Arlington in 2019.
Leg 3: Keeneland Race 10 – AllowanceN1X 86k Purse
It’s an absolute war to close out the card at Keeneland on Friday as well as this turf pick three. While you could really make a case for well more than half of this field, I’ll try to get alive to three main runners here. News Break (#8) will be my tepid top selection trying to rebound off a disappointing defeat at Kentucky Downs last time. Although the running line doesn’t look pretty, I think it was the wrong trip down on the inside of a three-ply duel in a race where the winner eventually rallied from last early. He’s another who’s proven at Keeneland and it’s only a matter of time before the Mike Maker barn breaks out of this recent cold spell. Camp Hope (#1) seems like a new horse since the connections switched him to turf running a solid third at this distance at Saratoga two-back and ran a career best race at a distance maybe a touch too far last time at Kentucky Downs. Finally, Red Hornet (#9) drops back to allowance ranks after three consecutive stakes tries. The Dueling Grounds Derby was a race that was dominated on the front end and this runner was in and among foes in midpack throughout while today’s rival Modern Science (Ire) (#2) was more with the flow of the race.
$10 Pick Three (A A A): 1,4 / 4 / 1,8,9 = $60
$3 Pick Three (C A A): 2,3,5,9,11,12 / 4 / 1,8,9 = $54
$3 Pick Three (A C A): 1,4 / 1,3,7,11,13 / 1,8,9 = $90
$3 Pick Three (A A C): 1,4 / 4 / 2 = $6
Total = $210