Trying to build on the success from yesterday as we gave out the Turf Pick 3 in this space on our all “A” ticket. Friday’s sequence is another difficult one filled with big fields in all the legs.
- Leg 1 (R5): 1-4-3-13
- Leg 2 (R8): 2-6-4-1
- Leg 3 (R10): 5-4-1-9
Leg 1 (3:08pm): Keeneland Race 5 – AllowanceN1X 110k Purse
The morning line favorite is High Front (#7) and he’s one I think that’s worth taking a skeptical view on. He’s coming off nearly a year on the bench and has never quite run the speed figures others in this race have achieved plus the Jonathan Thomas barn underachieves at Keeneland compared to other places. In my opinion, the two most likely winners are Cadamosto (Ire) (#3) and Gregory’s Pride (#4). The former is also coming off a layoff, but his race two back against top turf sprinter Big Invasion is likely good enough to beat this field. He was keeping some good form overseas, but I can’t endorse him as a top pick seeing that he’ll be a short price and has to prove it off the break. Of the shorter priced horses I am most inclined to upgrade Gregory’s Pride as it appears that Phil D’Amato has meant business with the runners he’s bringing to Keeneland. Not only is his barn 2/2 at the current meet, but he’s also 5/21 (24%, $3.14 ROI) in turf races at this track in the last five years. This might be a case of finding the right configuration for this turf sprinter. The almost never offer 5.5f turf sprints on the Southern California circuit and that could be what suits this runner best. However, I’m going to get a bit wacky with my top pick and highlight the rail runner Detroit City (#1). While it’s worth noting that if this colt can get it done today it will be Jack Sisterson’s first win over the Keeneland turf in the last five years, but at least he’s going to be a price. He’s another one where 5.5f sprinting on the turf might hit him right between the eyes as he’s been bouncing around between synthetic races and other turf sprint configurations. One of his two lifetime wins came in at this distance on the turf and the only other time he ran it was a good fourth place finish in a stakes here at Keeneland. I also find it promising that Tyler Gaffalione ends up here despite having options on more fancied runners.
Leg 2 (4:44pm): Keeneland Race 8 – AllowanceN3X 130k Purse
While it looks like a competitive turf allowance is on tap in the middle leg, I think it’s likely that most of the betting action is focused on the three most inside drawn runners. Juncture (GB) (#1) and Viareggio (Ire) (#3) are intriguing new faces as they both make their first North American start for top barns. Of the two I prefer Juncture whose form evokes memories of the good older horse Set Piece that notched multiple graded stakes victories for this same owner-trainer-jockey combination of Juddmonte, Brad Cox, and Florent Geroux. However, I think the morning line favorite Fast as Flight (#2) will be tough to overcome as she likely will have a head start on his foreign-bred counterparts in a race that’s likely to feature a moderate if not glacial early pace. She was impressive in her win two back and wasn’t placed forwardly enough in her most recent stakes try to make up ground in the lane on a good one in Faith and Humanity. I’m hoping new rider Irad Ortiz Jr uses her best weapon and gets to the front early. I can make fringe cases for a couple longshots in Justify My Love (Brz) (#4) and Bipartisanship (GB) (#6) with the former having the look of one of those Paulo Lobo trainees that produce a big effort at Keeneland. The latter found the right field when notching a stakes victory at Del Mar last summer, but she was visually impressive in doing so. The fields in her two starts after that were much tougher than this one and it’s good to see a top rider in Luis Saez get the call.
Leg 3 (5:48pm): Keeneland Race 10 – AllowanceN1X 110k Purse
The finale is a big field of turf allowance horses, but I’m afraid I couldn’t find anyone to endorse against likely favorite Battle of Normandy (#5). This colt was unable to draw into the Transylvania earlier in the meet so he shows up in this easier spot where he’ll be tough to beat. Both of his races over firm turf were impressive efforts as he demolished a field on debut at Saratoga and in his most recent start ran a respectable 5th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf only narrowly missing the proverbial podium. I think the connections have always felt highly of this horse and this could be a stepping stone to bigger and better things in his division later this year. I’ll try to link some distant backups with my most clever opinions of the sequence and include horses like Moon Cat (#1), Twowaycrossing (#4), Reckoning Force (#7), and Our Dream Rye’d (#9) on my spreadier tickets.