The all turf pick three gets a major upgrade on Saturday as it doubles as an all graded stakes pick three with three major prep races for the Breeders’ Cup next month at Del Mar. On opening day it paid $536 after three findable horses crossed the line first at odds of 5-2, 8-1, and 3-1.
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- Check out my analysis of the entire all-stakes pick five sequence on the In the Money Players’ Podcast where I was joined by Scotty McKeever from EquinEdge
- Leg 1 (R6): 6-4-2-3
- Leg 2 (R8): 3-8-5-9
- Leg 3 (R10): 13-10-4-6
Leg 1: Keeneland Race 6 – G2-Woodford Stakes 200k
When playing this sequence I think it’s important to figure out what you want to do with Golden Pal (#2) who returns to the scene of his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint triumph. Wesley Ward has always been high on this horse and he’s certainly shown the same type of turf sprint brilliance that his dam Lady Shipman displayed in her career for these same owners. However, he figures to be heavily overbet and actually needs to step forward from a figure standpoint to compete with his main rivals. From a pick five perspective, I’d hate to get completely knocked out if he wins, but in a bet like this special pick three, I’m willing to take my chance against him. Firecrow (#4) makes a lot of sense second off a bit of a freshening while wheeling back after a solid effort in the Turf Monster at Parx just two weeks ago when caught up in a bit of a fast pace though I would have liked to see him out finish the other pacesetter. Although he’s shown in front on the TimeFormUS pace projector, he showed at Pimlico two back the ability to stalk and pounce. However, my top pick would love to see a ding-dong battle up on the front end and that is Extravagant Kid (#6). How cool is this eight-year-old gelding?!? He really got back into his best form when switched back to turf early last year and that paid off with a popular victory for American racing fans in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan. He validated that run with a solid 3rd in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot. I’m willing to forgive his disappointing effort at Newmarket because that trip is more stamina-testing than the traditional turf sprint.
Leg 2: Keeneland Race 8 – G1-First Lady Stakes 400k
It’s worth noting that DRF’s Marcus Hersh is reporting that Princess Grace (#10) will scratch from the G1 First Lady which still drew a tremendous field both in terms of quantity and quality. This is a race that can provide these fillies and mares a springboard towards Breeders’ Cup races like the Mile or F&M Turf or just set them up really well for a four-year-old campaign. The race centers around Althiqa (GB) (#3) shapes like more of a turf miler so with another winning performance she could tackle males in the flat mile at Del Mar next out. I think she’s run really well in both of her U.S. starts while running down her stablemate Summer Romance both times. Charlie Appleby has been on a torrid raid of graded stakes across the country and I see no reason why it would stop here. However, there are other interesting players worth considering using alongside her. I want to throw in Harvey’s Lil Goil (#8) getting back to turf. She tried the Personal Ensign and divisional leader Letruska last time, but was caught wide on a track that favored runners along the rail. Two back in the Diana she didn’t get the right trip while positioned wide around both turns. Ultimately, I wonder if a mile is a bit too sharp for her, but the breakout win over this turf course last year leads me to want to include her on the backup line. Blowout (#9) could return to aggressive tactics under Flavien Prat and try to bottom out this field like she did in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill on Derby Day. If no one challenges her on the front end, she could wire this bunch. Finally, Empress Josephine (Ire) (#2) and Hendy Woods (#5) are both improving types who can take a step forward. The former is out of 2009 BC Juvenile Fillies Turf favorite Lillie Langtry making her a full sister to dual champion Minding. This filly is a classic winner herself taking the 1000 Guineas back in May over a heavy course and the Keeneland turf has also taken some rain recently. The latter might be just reaching the peak of her career and was an ultra impressive winner last time out at Kentucky Downs, though I question the overall quality of that field.
Leg 3: Keeneland Race 10 – G1-Keeneland Turf Mile 750k
A 13-horse turf affair is scheduled to close out this sequence and it drew an fascinating bunch. The conversation has to begin with Order of Australia (Ire) (#10) who sprung a 73-1 upset in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile over this same course and distance. It’s interesting that he appears to be coming into this race in even better form than he was in last year at this time, but I think that’s probably just due to the fact the connections finally figured out he’s best at the mile distance. He’s been knocking heads with some of the best turf milers in Europe, so I’d certainly be using him, but I went a different direction for my top pick. The post is not ideal for Somelikeithotbrown (#13), but maybe it takes some of the uncertainty out of what tactics they will employ. The quick run into the first turn forces Jose Ortiz to get his position moving forward in the opening stages and this admirable NY-bred has proven to be versatile enough to stalk outside of another runner or go on with it himself. He was defeated by today’s rival Pixelate (#7) last time out but I think race dynamics weren’t in his favor. He fended off all the other speeds and just got run down late. I like the projected setup today and he might float up off the 9-2 morning line. Space Traveller (GB) (#4) is interesting to include as well as he’s run well in both his domestic starts getting caught behind slow paces in races won wire-to-wire, but I wonder if his European form classes up to the favorite. Both Paulo Lobo runners deserve a look with Ivar (Brz) (#6) returning to defend his title in this race on a course where he also finished as the best American in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile and In Love (Brz) (#3) will be a huge price and has a similar pattern on his form as Ivar did when coming into this race last year. Finally, Diamond Oops (#11) has some hidden form over this course and distance when finishing second in this race in 2019 when last seen routing on turf.
Total = $130