Keeneland $3 Min Turf Pick Three Analysis – April 15th, 2022 – By Michael Domabyl

After a two-card hiatus, the Turf Pick 3 is back in action on Friday and includes two stakes races with one being a very exciting rendition of the G1-Maker’s Mark Mile.

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  • Leg 1 (R5): 8-1-2-3
  • Leg 2 (R7): 6-2-10-9
  • Leg 3 (R9): 5-6-4-1

Leg 1 (3:08pm): Keeneland Race 5 – AllowanceN1X 110k Purse

The all-turf pick three kicks off with a solid allowance race for fillies and mares. Brendan Walsh holds a strong hand in this one with both the runners drawn to the inside two stalls rating a major chance. Ocean Road (Ire) (#1) will find the waters much more suitable here than she did when thrown to the wolves in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf last fall. While she did rally through the lane after a slow beginning, it’s fair to question how much running she really did as the pace set up for her and she finished well behind those vying for the major placings. I prefer her to Flown (#2) who had a tough turf trip when last seen in the fall at Aqueduct, but has always been known to find one or two better than her on the day. Therefore, I’ll take a flyer with Talking Book (#8) rather than default to one of the favorites. She got no pace to run into in her return at Gulfstream and I think that race sets her up well to move forward in her second start of the season. I’m willing to toss her only start over the Keeneland sod as she wasted too much energy being rank for much of the race at a distance a bit outside of her scope. Scarabea (#3) is cross-entered in the G1-Jenny Wiley on Saturday and it’s to be determined where she eventually shows up. This well-bred daughter of American Pharoah would be better served in this spot where she stacks up favorably with many of these.

Leg 2 (4:12pm): Keeneland Race 7 – Limestone Stakes 400k Purse

Some of the fastest three-year-old fillies in the country take to the sod for this quick 5.5f sprint and it features a very enticing matchup. Wesley Ward is poised with a three-pronged attack all lined up in the gate beside one another led by the scintillating Her World (Ire) (#2). She only made it to the races one time in 2021, but it was a dazzling debut over a next-out stakes winner. It remains to be seen how she’ll return off the layoff or if she was simply a precocious type, but if she translates that same talent to her three-year-old campaign she’ll be tough to stop. My top pick, however, is a runner with a tad fewer question marks. Derrynane (#6) makes a ton of sense for Christophe Clement who just scored with a similar looking returnee in Slipstream earlier in the meet. Derrynane is also returning out of the Breeders’ Cup and it could be argued she ran the best race on the day after being wrangled back shortly after the break and making an eye-catching run through traffic to just miss out on the trifecta. It will be interesting to see how much pace develops in this race since so much of the early foot is concentrated in the Ward barn, but give me Joel Rosario as the jockey on a closing turf sprinter any day of the week. The wild card in this race has to be Fast Corey (#9) for Brad Cox. She is the one filly that looks to have the speed to go with the Ward contingent early on, but she’s only proven it over the Turfway Park polytrack. Her sire Practical Joke hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire with his turf runners and I find it hard to imagine she’ll be able to put away the other speeds and hold of the closers. Another interesting runner is Gun Boat (#10) for Shug McGaughey. She gets back to a one-turn configuration which is similar to her maiden score and while she might not be able to get to the lead like she has in her first four starts, I think it will be a good test case for using her stamina-laden pedigree to finish the strongest. 

Leg 3 (5:16pm): Keeneland Race 9 – G1-Maker’s Mark Mile 600k Purse

The sequence concludes with a fantastic rendition of the G1-Maker’s Mark Mile. The morning line favorite is one that needs to be respected in Smooth Like Strait (#6). Unlike many west coast turf horses, he’s proven to have the ability to take his game on the road and show up with representative efforts on tracks east of the Mississippi. However, he’s tough to take on top at what figures to be a short number as he usually finds one or two that can run him down late. In today’s affair I’m hoping that horse will be Ivar (Brz) (#5). Paulo Lobo has had some major success at the Keeneland meet over the years with a lot of it coming with his two runners in the field today. Ivar won the G1-Shadwell Turf Mile here in 2020 then backed that effort up with a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup representing the best finish by an American-based runner in that race. His bid for a repeat in the Shadwell fell short to his stablemate In Love (Brz) (#1), but I think he ran an exceptional race in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and is the more talented of the two Lobo entrants. Masen (GB) (#4) is interesting, but his backers will have to hope he’s taken to the tutelage of Chad Brown since coming over from Europe. From watching his races at Leopardstown, he can be very goofy with his lead changes down the lane, and that is not something he can get away with against a field of this caliber. There are so many other viable alternatives in this race. Count Again (#7) has gotten really good for Phil D’Amato. Set Piece (GB) (#9) has some big wins over Kentucky turf courses. Mira Mission (#10) might just be getting better and better with every start and rates an upset chance. Finally, Public Sector (GB) (#11) has to overcome a tough post, but if he takes a step forward in his first start as a newly turned four-year-old, he’s dangerous as well. This is really just a fantastic race that signals the return of horses that will be vying for the major turf routes for the balance of the year.

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