The last full week of the boutique Keeneland spring meet closes out on Sunday after which only Wednesday thru Friday cards remain before focus shifts away from the Lexington, KY landmark and over to Churchill Downs for the Derby festival.
- Leg 1 (R5): 12-8-1-2
- Leg 2 (R7): 6-7-3-1
- Leg 3 (R9): 3-12-9-2
Leg 1 (3:08pm): Keeneland Race 5 – AllowanceN1X 110k Purse
Quite the handicapping puzzle to kick off the Turf Pick 3 on Sunday with a field where a case can be made that any one of four or five horses might end up going off favored. Tequilera (#10) is the one listed as the shortest price on the morning line and I’d be hesitant to take a short price on this one. She’s been able to control on the front end in each of her last three starts, but other pace to her inside will make that a much more difficult task this afternoon. One of the other pace players is For the Flag (#2) and this Jimmy Toner trainee returned from a 15 month layoff with aplomb taking an allowance at Gulfstream off the bench. She did so employing enterprising tactics, so it remains to be seen if these two fillies will set it up for someone else late. Fast and Flirty (#1) and Breaker of Chains (#8) contested the same turf allowance at Gulfstream on the Pegasus World Cup undercard and both have had one start since that’s easily ignored. In that common affair, both fillies had minor excuses as Fast and Flirty was wide most of the way whereas Breaker of Chains did not get much pace to set up her potent late kick. I’ll use both in some capacity, but I’ll see if I can get home Lakota Spirit (#12) as my top pick. This filly flashed an impressive turn of foot in her maiden score running down a fellow Chad Brown trainee in a race where the pace mostly held together. Something obviously went amiss in her next start, the Wild Applause, necessitating the layoff. In stark contrast to the morning line favorite this one comes from a barn that is adept at having horses ready off a break like this and it’s encouraging to see that Irad Ortiz Jr lands here despite having other options. His job won’t be made easy with the twelve hole, but that could dissuade some backers and lead to a fair price.
Leg 2 (4:12pm): Keeneland Race 7 – AllowanceN2X 120k Purse
Your guess is as good as mine as to who will control the pace early in this race as there appears to be absolutely no speed on paper. Sometimes in cases like this it turns out to be the horse with the best finishing kick that wins the race as they’ll likely be quite bunched headed for home. If that is indeed the case, morning line favorite Limited Liability (#6) will be very tough to handle here. When he’s right, this colt displays a potent kick in the lane as evidenced by his maiden score as well as a win over this track one year ago. He was facing fields last summer that were light-years tougher than this one and he’s eligible to even be better this year as he kicks off his four-year-old campaign. In a race where it is tough to design how it will play out, I want to be open-minded about some others chances as well. Bakwena (#7) is likely not good enough to beat the favorite if he shows up, but I think he’s on par with the rest of this field and could be the longest shot on the board.
Leg 3 (5:16pm): Keeneland Race 9 – Maiden Special Wt 100k Purse
Plenty of options for places to go in this evenly matched field of maidens that closes out both this sequence and the Sunday card, but I’ll focus my play on three horses while leaving open plenty others as backups if my top picks hit in both the first two legs. Rosys Tomorrow (#12) was done no favors at the post draw, but ran admirably in her debut at Gulfstream and gets a big rider switch to Tyler Gaffalione. Boltoro (#9) has form that is plenty dirtied up, but focusing in on her two turf starts make her the horse to beat in my mind. She ran big races from off the pace both times and those figures she earned as a two-year-old already put her right in the mix. However, I’m going to give Astrila (#3) one more chance to wake up going long on the turf. The only time she’s gone this far before was her debut and that looks like an effort worth ignoring as she was as unsettled as they come in the early stages. Her dam was versatile over both sprint and route distances, but her progeny have had no trouble excelling at longer distances on the grass with this filly being a half sister to G2W/G1P Tell Your Daddy and Lure Stakes winner Dynadrive.