Keeneland $3 Min Turf Pick Three Analysis – April 22nd, 2022 – By Michael Domabyl

It was a chalky start to the Turf Pick 3 offerings this week as three short-prices with an average win payoff of $5.60 combined to return just $87 for the $3 minimum wager. There is another likely short price in the sequence worth leaning on today, but hopefully we can pair her up with some prices in the other legs.

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  • Leg 1 (R5): 5-9-12-8
  • Leg 2 (R8): 9-11-2-6
  • Leg 3 (R10): 7-13-3-12

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

The all-turf pick 3 kicks off with a turf sprint allowance that doesn’t seem to have a definitive favorite. That is backed up by the fact there are five horses listed between 7-2 & 5-1 on the morning line. Of those, I’m most willing to fade Sand and Sea (#10) who steps up in class here off a maiden win on synthetic and while Joel Rosario is a significant jockey upgrade, I just can’t get past Bill Mott’s abysmal overall record in turf sprints. I’m more reluctantly willing to leave off Six Feet Apart (#11) only because Wesley Ward usually dominates these turf sprints. However, this runner is dressed up by two wins against subpar fields on synthetic at Gulfstream and I’d much rather spend my money using Nota Bene (#12) who will be 4x the price and defeated the Ward runner in their common race over course and distance last spring. However, most of my play will be going through Salvaje (#5) and Cruz Bay (#9). The former I’ve made my top selection on the basis of her suffering a less than ideal trip last time out where she broke slow, rushed up, was wide around the turn and still finished a clear second. As a lightly raced four-year-old, she still has upside and the win two back represents the fastest TimeFormUS Speed Figure for a turf sprint in the field. Cruz Bay’s best race came over Kentucky Downs which is always a bit of a cause for pause, but Joe Sharp has insane numbers with this type of move. Over the past 5 years, he’s 7/22 (32%) with a $5.52 ROI with turf sprinters returning from layoffs of more than 120 days. His win two back represents the second highest Beyer Speed Figure for a turf sprint in this race behind Salvaje’s last. Only Kidding (#8) doesn’t sport much turf lineage, but has speed figures on dirt that are competitive and I trust the connections.

Leg 2 (4:44pm): Keeneland Race 8 – AllowanceN2X 120k Purse

The second race of the sequence presents quite the handicapping puzzle with a bulky field of turf marathoners. The only aspect of the race I am confident is that I have to play against Risk Taking (#10). He’ll likely be over-bet based on the human connections of Flavien Prat and Chad Brown, but is a huge question mark on turf. While best known for his win in the Withers last year, he hasn’t taken any sort of step forward and this surface switch seems like a last ditch effort to wake him up. Once you get past him, you can make a case for almost any other runner in the field. I suppose the horse to beat is Offlee Naughty (#2) who has paired up 88 Beyers in his two starts around three turns. I question how strong those races were and don’t often like backing turf runners shipping east, but Michael McCarthy’s barn has come to Keeneland with success already at the meet. I want to use Jimmy Dan (#11) prominently as well as he handled the stretch out in distance to 11f nicely taking down an allowance race at the Fair Grounds last time and has the ability to move forward off that effort. However, I’ll try to get more creative with my top selection and landed on Fenwick Station (#9) who stretches all the way out for the first time for Eddie Kenneally. His dam was primarily a turf router while his sire Magician (Ire) won the Breeders’ Cup Turf and has shown the ability to sire turf marathoners. Furthermore, he was against the flow of his last race and I could argue the fields he’s been facing are the strongest. 

Leg 3 (5:48pm): Keeneland Race 10 – Maiden Special Wt 100k Purse

We try to get paid by nailing this last leg of the pick 3 and this is where I think the ticket can get skinny. It’s not often, I’d want to heavily back a horse stepping up from maiden claiming into a maiden special weight especially as the favorite. However, when you watch the debut of Musical Design (#7) it’s easy to understand why I believe she’s a likely winner here. She broke uncharacteristically slow for a Wesley Ward runner and spotted the field ~2L, then was changing paths throughout the backstretch before diving to the rail and making a bold run to just miss graduating from the maiden ranks. I expect her to break better today with the knowledge that this maiden special weight field is certainly not the strongest ever assembled. I find it interesting that Honorably (#13) draws into the race as her lone turf sprint makes her a significant player in this spot and I’m hoping she proves to be an overlay as an also-eligible. On the Rise (#3) also makes sense to include on backup tickets as she gets an extra half of a furlong coming off a race where she was put behind the eight-ball with a bump at the break. 

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