With only two turf races run each day, there was no Turf Pick 3 opportunity on the Wednesday and Thursday cards. However, that just allows for the ones on offer to be even more jam-packed with stakes quality fields. Friday’s sequence includes an oversubscribed allowance, a full field sprinting in a stakes, and a G1 race featuring a two-time Breeders’ Cup winner. Let’s dive in and see how to construct a ticket here.
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- Leg 1 (R5): 3-8-6-1
- Leg 2 (R7): 2-6-7-11
- Leg 3 (R9): 7-3-5-2
Leg 1 (3:08pm): Keeneland Race 5 – AllowanceN1X 110k Purse
The all turf pick 3 kicks off with a competitive allowance for fillies going long on the grass. Keep an eye out in case any of the also eligibles draw in as they could be dangerous against this group. However when handicapping the body of the race one opinion sticks out to me immediately and it’s that I want no part of the morning line favorite Malleymoo (#10). Many might fall into the trap thinking that since she is dropping out of graded stakes company, this represents a significant drop in class, but I don’t see that she did much running in either of those races. Furthermore, Jack Sisterson is 0/31 with only 5 ITM in grass races at Keeneland over the past 5 years and Malleymoo’s prior two efforts came at a time when the barn was on fire at Gulfstream. Mrs. Astor (#1) and Mademoisellejackie (#2) make a good amount of sense and drew well, but I have enough question marks with those two to relegate them to backups. Mrs. Astor overwhelmed a field of maidens on the Pegasus undercard last time out, but I believe she looked that impressive because she was meeting a weak group as the field is a combined 0/8 since that late January affair. Medemoisellejackie possesses early foot and won her maiden with a facile front-running ride from Rosario, but could face more pace pressure here in a race coded red on TimeFormUS. Knockyoursocksoff (#8) has perhaps the best running line of the group with her 2nd place finish over the course last fall in the Jessamine behind wire-to-wire winner Delight. This filly broke horrendously that day and still was able to pass all but one horse behind a pace coded blue on TimeformUS in part due to a brilliant ride. Maybe her non-effort last time in an Oaks prep will dirty her form to some, but I’m wary of taking too short a price on anyone in a field this contentious. Wonderfull Lady (Fr) (#6) is the dangerous wildcard from a barn that does well with foreign shippers and she might appreciate some give in the ground, but there wasn’t much else for me to latch on to from her form overseas. The holes I can poke in many of the short prices on the line lead me to my top pick in the race which is Safeen (#3). This filly flashed a bit of talent in her juvenile season notably being bet pretty heavily in all her starts. Kenneally doesn’t have great numbers off layoffs, but it’s not as though he’s never had one ready to fire off the bench. It’s not as if this filly has too much to find on this field based on her two-year-old form and would be right there projecting routine improvement. While you never like to see the rider from the last opt to ride a rival, I couldn’t think of many more suitable replacements than William Buick. I’m hoping I can extract some value in this sequence by focusing a heavy portion of my play on a runner that’s 15-1 on the ML.
Leg 2 (4:12pm): Keeneland Race 7 – Limestone Stakes 250k Purse
The middle leg of the sequence is quite the inscrutable turf sprint. As often is the case in these grassy dashes at Keeneland, Wesley Ward comes loaded for bear. His main charge is Love Reigns (Ire) (#3), a filly that was the beaten favorite against boys in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint last fall. While she certainly was a disappointment that day, it’s worth noting that she wasn’t training forwardly coming into that race last year and also missed her scheduled prep. Ward has amazing numbers bringing horses off 120+ day layoffs in turf sprints at Keeneland hitting at 30% with a $2.61 ROI. That positive stat also applies to Ward’s other runner in this race as Lady Hollywood (GB) (#11) makes her first start off the trainer switch to this dangerous barn. This filly also exits the same Breeders’ Cup affair and ran well in the context of the race being as she was close to a pace that ultimately incinerated. I wonder if she gets a more patient ride from her outside draw in a race loaded with speed. While horses like Sassy Nature (#1) and Accomplished Girl (#4) certainly possess talent, I can’t imagine either will allow the other to get comfortable on the front end like they each did in their respective Gulfstream victories last out. If the pace does indeed heat up it would make the closers Just a Care (Ire) (#6) and Alluring Angel (GB) (#7) exceedingly more interesting. The former ran well at Gulfstream despite that being a place her trainer Rusty Arnold does not do well at. She displayed a potent turn of foot in each of her two starts this year with the last one coming after significant trouble in the early stages. Now she gets to stretch out another half furlong and race over a strip this barn does much better at (16%, $2.80 ROI @ KEE Turf L5Y). Alluring Angel is bound to be a huge price, but there are parts of her form that make her worth using. She finally gets back to the true sprint distance she was at in her debut and this race could set up in the same manner as her maiden score. She also owns the best TimeFormUS late pace rating in the race. While I’ll be using all five of these horses in equal strength for the pick five, I gave slight preference to My Sweet Affair (#2) in my listed picks. This filly took a ton of money for a Weaver first time starter and overcome a wide draw to win comfortably. A few runners have already come out of that race to validate the figure and 5th place finisher Stolen Future even improved her Beyer 19 points when winning an Aqueduct maiden race next out. Furthermore, it’s not often you see Irad Ortiz opt to ride a horse that’s 10-1 on the ML when he’s ridden the morning line favorite in each of her first four starts.
Leg 3 (5:16pm): Keeneland Race 9 – G1-Maker’s Mark Mile $600k Purse
It’s probably just a mindset thing, but for me it’s always preferable when a sequence ends with the featured race and that’s exactly what we get with one of the highlights of the Keeneland meet closing out Friday’s Turf Pick 3. You don’t need me to extol the virtues of Modern Games (Ire) (#7) as anyone could see that this horse lays over this field on paper. This runner is the equine representation of the tour de force Charlie Appleby has been on with his turf runners in North America. In the last two years, this barn is 17/35 (49%, $3.59 ROI) on this continent notching an absurd 14 Grade 1 wins in that span. Plus, a handful of those starters that didn’t win their race lost to one of their own stablemates. Modern Games is responsible for three of those victories including his popular Breeders’ Cup Mile triumph over this course and distance last fall. In that race he defeated the best milers the U.S. had to offer at the time plus some accomplished international runners and did so while encountering some trouble immediately after the start. While, some may be looking to take on the favorite with improving runners like Up to the Mark (#2). Emmanuel (#4), and Dr Zempf (#5), they employ similar wait and finish tactics as Modern Games and simply aren’t nearly of the same quality. I will, however, include one backup ticket that includes a runner who I think could get an aggressive ride and maybe catch the others sleeping. Chez Pierre (Fr) (#3) received an extremely passive ride in his start at Tampa last time and I’m thinking the jockey change to Flavien Prat might signal that he’ll be put on the front end. Like the others, he’s nowhere near as talented as the favorite, but if Modern Games is to get beat, its likely to be by someone who has a head start.