A stakes-laden card is on tap for Saturday in Lexington and the popular Turf Pick 3 wager contains two graded ones to tackle. There are quite a few entrants on the program looking to start building their campaigns to hopefully return to the Bluegrass state with a peak effort in the Breeders’ Cup.
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- Leg 1 (R6): 4-3-7-5
- Leg 2 (R8): 5-10-3-9
- Leg 3 (R11): 4-13-2-7 (ON DIRT: 9-10-11-2)
Leg 1 (3:20pm): Keeneland Race 6 – G2-Appalalachian Stakes 400k Purse
The Turf Pick 3 kicks off with one of the least interesting betting races on what otherwise is a fantastic card on Saturday. Spendarella (#3) looks like she has unlimited potential off two facile victories down at Gulfstream with the last coming in a G3 stakes race where she set a quick tempo and buried the field. Both her Beyer and TimeformUS figures came back strong to the point where she towers over her rivals on those metrics and holds a significant pace advantage in this spot. However, there are a couple factors to consider before blindly singling her and moving on. The first is the fact the Keeneland turf course is a completely different animal than the sod they have down in South Florida and with all the wet weather in the forecast, its likely to be nowhere near the firm surface she has skipped over in the past. Second, while both of his runners ran well yesterday, the macro-trend on the Motion barn at Keeneland has been rather poor. With all that said, the only other runner I could make a case for in this spot was her chief rival directly to her outside in Dolce Zel (Fr) (#4). Soft ground is of no concern to this runner as she handled some give in the ground in her North American debut at Tampa as well as has a win over a similar course rating as she’ll likely face on Saturday from October at Longchamp. She got a great trip and ride in her win in the G3-Florida Oaks, but I don’t see why that won’t be the case again today. This seems like a case where you can lock the race up with these two and hope the bigger price comes home.
Leg 2 (4:30pm): Keeneland Race 8 – G2-Shakertown Stakes 350k Purse
The story of the pick three sequence overall is what do you want to do with the heavy favorites that are likely to be on the majority of tickets. In the second leg, that distinction falls to reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion Golden Pal (#10) as he returns off a layoff to begin his 4yr old campaign. While it’s safe to say this does not represent the end goal, he has shown to be adept returning off this type of layoff before and the type of gate speed he possesses is something to behold. That being said he does have to contend with a rather significant pace rival directly to his outside in Just Might (#11). While his recent form and record is admirable, every time Just Might steps up to face a quality field like this one, he fades in the lane. With a classier rival with the same type of early foot to his inside, I foresee a similar occurrence this afternoon. The scenario I can envision for a rival to upset Golden Pal is if the pace battle ends up getting to him in the late stages and it sets up for someone who can stalk and pounce. There are quite a few runners that could fit that bill, but including the favorite forces me to be selective so I landed on Gear Jockey (#5) as my alternative. Once turned back to turf sprinting in the summer of last year, this hard-knocking sort rattled off three stellar performances that put him right in the mix including a smashing score at Kentucky Downs in September. That form led him to be bet down to one of the main choices in the Breeders’ Cup, but he could never get on track that day since the pace held together so well. Like the Breeders’ Cup his return race at Gulfstream was at a flat 5f and while he did not show up that day with any sort of effort, I’m willing to give him a chance to rebound on his return to Kentucky. He appears to be working forwardly and won’t get left with way too much to do in the lane like I project for some of the other players. Barraza (#3) is an interesting horse who has really taken a step forward for the high-percentage Vladimir Cerin barn, but I wonder if the 5.5f over a soft turf course will be to his liking. It makes sense for the connections to try this spot since it’s the site of the Breeders’ Cup, but I fear he’s more likely to like hearing his feet rattle down the hill at Santa Anita.
Leg 3 (6:20pm): Keeneland Race 11 – AllowanceN2X 120k Purse
Just like yesterday the sequence concludes with a 12-horse N2X turf sprint. While the purse of this event rivals that of an overnight stakes at Saratoga, the field certainly does not and with the favorites so hard to trust, so I’ll toss them both. I suppose Momos (#10) is the horse to beat dropping in class after a failed attempt shipping west to try the downhill turf course. While he will undoubtably be prominent early, he has a propensity for fading in the lane. Add that to the fact that it will likely be a tiring turf course and there are other potential pace challenges and he becomes a likely underlay. I prefer his rival Artemus Citylimits (#11), but he is certainly not without question marks either. I could argue the best piece of form coming into this race is this horse’s last turf start, but that came at 6f and it remains to be seen if he’ll be as successful going this short or over a course with some give in it. I’m going to try and wake up Infinite (#4) for the dangerous Wesley Ward barn. I’m not sure we’ll get the 15-1 on the ML especially with the scratch of the ML favorite, but this gelding has back races that make him competitive. Unfortunately those races came in the fall of 2020 and he’s been off since March of last year, but with the question marks surrounding the favorites I’d rather take a chance on one coming off a layoff for a potent barn that I know handles the distance and a soft turf course. City Drifter (#13) gets in off the AE list and has a race from last fall that makes him competitive and while on first pass it looks like A Rose for Raven (#2) is too cheap, his speed figures stack up and at 30-1 I’m willing to take a chance he handles the cutback. (ON DIRT) If this race happens to come off the turf, look for Savvy (#9). He’s 50-1 on the morning line but has races that should make him 7-2.