The Keeneland Turf Pick Three took a couple of days off with no offering on either the Wednesday or Thursday card, but it’s back in action on Friday of the first time in week 2 of the fall meet. Unlike last weekend, where there were Breeders’ Cup implications aplenty, the races this weekend are less likely to produce anywhere near as many starters in the year-end championships. However, the feature on today’s card might produce an outsider or two for the BC Turf.
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- Leg 1 (R5): 8-9-11-10
- Leg 2 (R7): 2-1-9-5
- Leg 3 (R9): 10-7-2-5
Leg 1 (3:08pm): Keeneland Race 5 – Allowance N1X 110k Purse
The all-turf pick 3 kicks off with a competitive “one other than” allowance for turf milers. Of the short-priced favorites on the morning line, the only one I want to use in Herington Rocket (#9) who might end up going off favored against this bunch. As a lightly raced filly for Chad Brown, she’s been improving with every start and can tuck in and make one run. While she might’ve been fortunate to win last time since the fourth place finisher of that event found plenty of trouble, I still view her as the most likely winner against this field. My top pick is Isn’t She Lovely (#8) for the dangerous combination of Mike Maker and Gerardo Corrales. Last time out this filly showed a new dimension rallying from the back of the pack to win at Kentucky Downs. However, she’s shown to have good tactical speed in the past and that could prove advantageous versus many of her more fancied rivals. I think that was a strong field for the level at KD last out and can see her winning right back. Because I’m against some of the favorites, I’m willing to include a few longshots on my tickets. Duplicitous (#10) will certainly be overlooked with her low profile connections, but ran well enough in her prior two turf starts to contend. Chione (#11) might have to take a step forward to contend here, but she’s in the hands of a solid turf trainer in Cherie Devaux and didn’t get much of a pace setup in either of her most recent outings.
Leg 2 (4:12pm): Keeneland Race 7 – Maiden Special Wt 100k Purse
The middle leg of the sequence is an expensive maiden special weight for juvenile fillies and yet another oversubscribed field. Usually races like this are tough if they aren’t the first leg of the sequence, but there’s enough form on most of these runners from me to narrow it down to only three win candidates. Unfortunatly, they are likely to be the shortest prices on the tote, but hopefully we can gain some equity with others spreading. Self Confident (#2) ran almost too well to lose in her debut at Kentucky Downs after breaking a tad slow and rallying to just miss in the lane. Shug has fantastic numbers with second-time starting juveniles going long on turf and there’s no reason to think this impeccably bred Phipps runner won’t take a step forward here. However, my top pick will be Callie’s Grit (#1) just hoping some backers jump off her after the poor performance in a stakes race last out. However, that effort is completely forgivable as that field was forced to race through a driving rainstorm that ultimately forced the cancellation of the remaining races on the card. That field has proved to be strong as the fourth place finisher finished 2nd in the Jessamine and the winner just missed in the Alcibiades last weekend. This filly was favored over all of them last time, so the talent is assumed to be there. I’ll also include Boltoro (#9) on my tickets, but moreso as a backup. I liked her last time at over 11-1 for the reasons detailed in my blog post from that day and feel vindicated for that picked based on her solid effort losing by just a nose. However, I feel like that was the day to try and get the money with her as she was unexposed on turf and will now be bet down off the good race last out.
Leg 3 (5:16pm): Keeneland Race 9 – G3-Sycamore Stakes 300k Purse
Graded stakes action closes out this sequence and with the fact this race is run over the course and distance of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, it’s more than likely those who run well here might take their shot and wheel back in three weeks. I think the theme of this race is that many of the contenders with the best career resumes are coming off less than stellar outings. Horses like Arklow (#1), Admission Office (#3), Highland Chief (Ire) (#4), Channel Maker (#6), and Temple (#8) all fall into the camp of being able to win a race like this with their “A” effort, but based on their last running line, those days might be behind them. You can’t make that same claim about the morning line favorite Mira Mission (#7) who is squarely the horse to beat here. He handled the stretch out to twelve furlongs with aplomb last time in the Sword Dancer breaking the race open around the turn before getting nailed on the line. He’s been in great form all year for Ian Wilkes and should be in a perfect forward position to attack in the lane. Red Knight (#2) is another runner in raging form and the fact he’s doing so at eight years old is even more impressive. He took down many of these rivals in the Kentucky Turf Cup and while I don’t foresee any of those entrants turning the tables on him, he’s facing new rivals today that I see having a big chance. Off the win at 12-1 last time, he’ll likely be half that price today, so I’m willing to use him as my primary backup. My top pick is one of those aforementioned fresh faces in Balthus (Ire) (#10). This gelded son of Galileo has won all three of his starts at ten furlongs or longer this year in dominating fashion. Last time out at Saratoga, he seemed to really take to the three-turn configuration under a perfect ride by Manny Franco. While this does represent another distinct step up in class, it’s worth noting the horses in the field he beat last time were no slouches. The third and sixth place finishers came back to run 1-2 in a marathon allowance that closed out the Sunday card.