It’s an early start to the Turf Pick 3 as we close out the first full week of the Keeneland spring meet. The sequence begins at 1:32 with the second race and like each offering so far this meet contains at least one stakes event.
- Leg 1 (R2): 5-4-3-7
- Leg 2 (R4): 2-5-6-4
- Leg 3 (R7): 11-4-8-6
Leg 1 (1:32pm): Keeneland Race 2 – AllowanceN1X 110k Purse
It’s only a field of seven to kick off the sequence as some fillies and mares go a marathon distance on the turf. Since both in this leg and the next there aren’t too many viable wagering alternatives, I’m willing to focus the majority of my play on a single runner in each race. I think Kiss You Later (Ire) (#5) is the filly most suited to handle this twelve furlong trip and while she certainly wasn’t part of Aiden O’Brien’s “A” team overseas, this still represents a distinct drop in class. Now under the tutelage of Christophe Clement whose barn has done well with these foreign shippers in the past plus Keeneland’s turf course has generally played kindly to runners coming from over the pond. The most interesting backup would be I’m So Sorry (#4) who looks to be the speed in a race lacking a clear pacesetter, but would have to take a step forward on the stretch out. The only others that I could see winning the race are Elle Est Forte (#3) and Sinfiltre (#7). The former is trained by Ian Wilkes whose barn has been hot to start the meet, but I’m not a fan of either her three-turn efforts. Sinfiltre is interesting going long for the first time, but her potent connections of Pletcher and Irad Ortiz Jr ensure that she won’t be a price.
Leg 2 (2:36pm): Keeneland Race 4 – AllowanceN4X 140k Purse
Another small field on tap in the middle leg of the turf pick three sequence and it’s another case where I will lean heavily on one runner in particular. I’ve long been a fan of Gam’s Mission (#2) and it’s always cool to see the Lazy F Ranch silks on display which were the colors of the venerable Forego. However, it’s not just the jockey’s threads that make be believe she’s a standout in this field. Her last race in the Hillsborough at Tampa featured a much tougher field than this one and she was given no chance with a wide journey. She ran well over this turf course last year when caught behind a slow pace and shows great determination when getting into a stretch battle. The main danger is Bubble Rock (#5) who is certainly a threat to wire this field and the flat mile works in her favor. However, she got a pretty soft lead over this course in the Valley View last fall and concerningly spit the bit in mid-stretch. I wonder if Freedom Speaks (#6) who scratched out of the G1-Jenny Wiley in favor of this spot might be a thorn in the side of the morning line favorite since she likely has some speed coming out of sprint races. Henrietta Topham (#4) also scratched out of yesterday’s feature to run here and is certainly a mare who was getting better with every start last year and is worth including.
Leg 3 (4:12pm): Keeneland Race 7 – Palisades Stakes $250k Purse
While the first two legs of the sequence appear relatively straightforward, there are plenty of ways to go in the closeout race. Of the shorter prices, I’m willing to completely leave off Damon’s Mound (#12) who has developed a reputation from the dominant performances in his first two starts last year, but those came on dirt at a time when he was likely more developed than his rivals and there’s no reason to think he’s going to move up switching to this surface. Both of the pair from Jorge Delgado look super live at their respective 8-1 morning lines. While I’m usually hesitant to take wire-to-wire winners of 5f Gulfstream turf sprints moving to the 5.5f configuration at Keeneland, both of these guys were finishing very strongly in the land and seem suited to a little stretch-out. Crispy Cat (GB) (#4) dueled a 4-5 Clement runner into submission when winning the Texas Glitter Stakes last time, but I sided with New York Thunder (#11) as the official top pick. I like that Morelos ends up here despite having ridden both and like that he’s had a couple local works. He’s coming off a bit of a layoff but was already running speed figures at the end of last year that would compete. The same can be said of No Nay Hudson (Ire) (#8) and his layoff qualifies him for the dangerous Wesley Ward stat that has been so productive the past few days. Both Twilight Gleaming and Love Reigns were coming off 120+ day layoffs and notched turf sprint wins over the Keeneland sod. I also think Private Creed (#6) is super dangerous getting back to turf sprinting as he possesses a devastating turn of foot in a race that could be quick early. Gaslight Dancer (#5) will be on my most backup of tickets because I wouldn’t put it past Mike Maker to have him ready off the bench.