One final chance to take down the Turf Pick 3 as the Keeneland Spring meet comes to a close this afternoon. The card’s feature, the G3-Bewitch, highlights both this card and this sequence and includes the return of War Like Goddess who looks for her third consecutive victory in this race.
- Leg 1 (R6): 5-8-1-9
- Leg 2 (R8): 4-5-2-6
- Leg 3 (R10): 8-6-5-3
Leg 1 (3:40pm): Keeneland Race 6 – Maiden Special Wt 100k Purse
Like each of the races in this sequence the opening leg is likely to feature a heavy favorite, this time in the form of Sahlabiya (#8). This filly looked like a winner most of the way in her most recent start before being held at bay by For the Flag in the late stages. That form was flattered by the fact the winner came right back to take an allowance at Keeneland validating the speed figure which also works in the favor of possible upsetter Pure Country (#9). Sahlabiya will be adding blinkers for this start and while an equipment change isn’t necessarily a positive it could help this filly control the race on the front end and prevent her from waiting on other horses in the lane. Tawaret (#12) is the other main player in this spot and showed some talent in her debut with a quick rush up the rail mid-race. She flattened out in the lane and will have to deal with the outside post today. Christophe Clement is a great trainer, but he does better with debut turf runners than he does with them in his second start. I want to have a backup ticket with the rail horse Such Sounds (#1) who gets back to the grass for the first time since her debut. That was a fine effort last fall over this course in a race that’s proven to be somewhat live. Her synthetic form is nothing to write home about, but perhaps she can wake up well-drawn on what is likely her preferred surface. I’m going to take a flyer on Determined Gold (#5) hoping to blow up this pick three early on. This impeccably bred filly must deal with a layoff for a barn that struggles with that move, but she’s going to be a gigantic price and there are enough things to like. Her race over this course and distance last year was a very live effort as she made a wide bid around the turn and still held on for second. I can make excuses for each of her next four starts, so I’m willing to give her a chance to run back to improve off that effort from spring of last year and light up the tote.
Leg 2 (4:44pm): Keeneland Race 8 – G3-Bewitch Stakes 300k Purse
It’s always cool to see the stars of the sport stick around as War Like Goddess (#4) bids to join Royal Harmony (Fayette) as the second horse in Keeneland’s illustrious history to win the same stakes race three years running. I think her chances are similar to what her odds will be on the tote which is to suggest she’d win this race the majority of times they run. In addition to a proven affinity over this course and distance, this also represents a significant drop in class from the boys she was facing in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Her main competition is Personal Best (#5) who has really improved this year for a trainer that has made that his calling card in Shug McGaughey. She was gusty in victory in the G3-La Prevoyante, but was even more impressive in her more recent defeat where she launched a wide rally before ultimately being overhauled by another potential player in this division, Amazing Grace (Ger). She also shed some light on the relative form lines of Sopran Basilea (Ire) (#6) as Personal Best was able to handle Atomic Blonde in her last start whereas the overseas shipper suffered a defeat to that runner in Italy last fall. I’ll have her on tickets with my strongest opinions and will have an even skinnier backup line with Temple City Terror (#2) who might not be good enough, but gets back to the marathon distances she prefers.
Leg 3 (5:48pm): Keeneland Race 10 – AllowanceN1X 110k Purse
Another heavy favorite is likely as the sequence and the Keeneland meet closes out with a salty allowance race. Turf King (Ire) (#3) has all the makings of an overbet favorite going out for top connections in Chad Brown and Tyler Gaffalione and sporting a perfect 1/1 record. That race came over a synthetic surface down at Gulfstream where this colt was chilly on the board to go off 8-1. While the case can be made that his pedigree suggests he’ll eventually be better on grass (by top turf sire Kingman out of a dam that was MG3P on grass), it’s still curious as to why Chad started him where he did. I’m going to instead lean on a horse that has at lease answered one of those questions and posted a turf victory in Fearless Soldier (#8). This colt actually matched up with the favorite in their respective debuts and I thought this guy ran well as he got the worst of it from a trip standpoint. While the figures don’t necessarily suggest it, he looked better to my eye over the grass last time which was to be expected as City of Light is turning out to be a very solid turf influence. The two other runners I want to include on a few tickets are More Than Looks (#5) and Laver (#6). The former is mainly a play off the tote board as this runner has taken more money than expected in each of his two start potentially signaling a talented prospect for an underrated barn. The latter is more of a pedigree play as the creatively-named Laver is out of one of my turf mares of the past decade in Centre Court. While Bernardini isn’t the greatest turf influence, this mare’s best progeny have excelled on the grass and I’m willing to give him a chance dropping out of stakes company.
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