Keeneland $3 Min Turf Pick Three Analysis – April 22nd, 2023 – By Michael Domabyl

It’s a little bit of the calm before the storm in racing this weekend as the Derby points preps have all concluded as we wait for the sport to take center stage on the first Saturday in May. However, a Saturday card at Keeneland rarely disappoints and will likely get the majority of eyeballs from racing fans this weekend. In addition to this analysis on the popular Turf Pick 3 wager, I also joined renowned handicapper and NYRA morning line maker David Aragona on his podcast, the TimeFormUS Forecast, which you can listen to on the Daily Racing Form’s YouTube channel here. David and I team up to cover the Late Pick 5 sequence that includes both the G2-Elkhorn and G3-Ben Ali.


  • Leg 1 (R5): 3-8-4-5
  • Leg 2 (R8): 10-7-5-8
  • Leg 3 (R10): 3-6-1-8

Leg 1 (3:08pm): Keeneland Race 5 – AllowanceN2X 120k Purse

I have some opinions on price horses later in the sequence, but I think the favorite looks tough to kick off Saturday’s Turf Pick 3. Mise En Scene (GB) (#3) has primarily raced overseas during her career, but has contested each of the last two Breeders’ Cups with the more recent effort being over this Keeneland turf course in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf last fall. Sent off as a forgotten longshot, beating half the field home in the premier race for this division represents an effort plenty good enough to beat this allowance field. The next grouping of horses behind her rate similar chances in this race, so I’ll use most of the other logicals as backups with my more clever opinions in the sequence.

Leg 2 (4:44pm): Keeneland Race 8 – G2-Elkhorn Stakes 350k Purse

The co-featured race on Saturday features a match-up of the “old guard” in the turf marathoner division against some fresh faces. The wily veterans that show up here include the venerable Channel Maker (#1) who looks to defend his title in this race. However, it’s worth asking whether this is finally the year this 9-year-old takes a precipitous step back in form plus to me this year’s Elkhorn came up tougher than last’s. I’m more afraid of the Mike Maker duo of Value Engineering (#2) and Red Knight (#5) who both seem to still be in career form at age 7 and 9 respectively. Both these horses did what Mike Maker trainees do in their last starts notching victories in graded stakes going three turns on the grass. It’s worth noting, however, top rider Irad Ortiz Jr opts to ride Highest Honors (#8) rather than sticking with Red Knight. They’ll be tough and a continuation of their current form could be good enough to win here, but I’m looking at honing in on a few others that might offer some upside. The one that falls into that category that I’m not as keen on, but can win, is Rising Empire (#3). This horse has found new life as a turf horse running well in all three of his starts over that surface this year and doing so with a variety of trips. The problem for me is that all those races came at the Fair Grounds which was a turf course this winter that some horses relished while others floundered over. He’s likely to try and employ front-running tactics as he stretches out in distance, but Channel Maker could be a thorn in his side if given an aggressive ride. The logical new face is Howe Street (#7) as he steps up to stakes company for the first time off two victories at Gulfstream. His last effort when stretched out to eleven furlongs was a dazzling effort as he was forced to race wide throughout, but still had the stamina to power away from that field in the lane. While on the whole that was a much weaker group he was beating, the fourth place finisher from that race came back to win a turf allowance at Keeneland last time with a much improved speed figure. He’ll be on the majority of my tickets, but I’m worried he’ll be bet down significantly from the 10-1 morning line. I’m going to go out on a limb and make Tiz the Bomb (#10) my top pick hoping that this new distance will unlock some of the talent he’s shown in bits and pieces throughout his career. This four-year-old colt put together a fine juvenile season winning the G2-Bourbon over this course and finishing 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. His three-year-old campaign was a tumultuous one as the Triple Crown trail was not friendly to a horse that showed no affinity for dirt. However, he did run a very fast speed figure in the productive Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway and there’s signs he’s rounding back into his best form. I’m willing to toss out his two Fair Grounds efforts as he ran too bad to be believed and it was a quirky course this winter. Last time out at Keeneland he ran into a very promising colt in Hurricane Dream, but would have finished second to that colt if it weren’t for a spot of trouble in the lane. That race came back in a very fast time, signaling this colt still has some ability. While the added distance is a question mark, his dam won going 10 furlongs on the turf and I’m hoping the wide post forces an aggressive ride to get position right behind the leaders.

Leg 3 (5:48pm): Keeneland Race 10 – AllowanceN3X 130k Purse

This sequence as well as the Saturday card closes out with a competitive turf sprint. The morning line favorite Just Might (#10) is a horse I’m willing to exclude from all of my tickets just thinking it would be foolish to take a short price on a seven-year-old who needs to conjure up his form from over a year ago to be competitive. I think Beer Can Man (#3) is squarely the horse to beat and while he might end up going off as the favorite, that honor would be a deserved one. I’ve said it a few times in this space, but Phil D’Amato has meant business with the runners he’s bringing to Keeneland. Not only has his barn had a fast start to the meet, but he’s also 5/21 (24%, $3.14 ROI) in turf races at this track in the last five years. Part of the reason for his cross-country journey could be the fact this 5.5f turf sprint configuration might be more suitable than the types of turf sprints offered in California. If, however, he’s not ready off the 14 month layoff, I want to include Nobals (#6) on a lot of my plays. This creatively named gelding hasn’t been given the chance to sprint on the turf very often, but beat a field at Churchill going this distance last year and received a passive ride in a subsequent stakes try. If he is to be effective in this spot, I’d like to see him get an aggressive ride from Gerardo Corrales and try to bottom out the field. That might be easier said than done with a runner like Nobody Listens (#11) in the field, but I wonder if his dirt sprint speed is entirely transferable when he switches to the grass. I thought Ice Chocolat (Ire) (#1) put forth a better effort than Angaston (#7) in their common race at the Fair Grounds last time as the rail on that turf course often acted as quicksand for the runners trying to rally up it. Mark of the Z (#8) didn’t have any sort of excuse for his 5th place finish in the Shakertown other than the fact that was a much tougher field. He’s run races at Keeneland that would put him in the mix here and this is a definite drop in class.

Ticket Construction

Leave a Reply

Further reading