We’re already almost halfway through the Keeneland fall season and the #TurfPick3 rolls on with another group of races featuring large fields. Although there’s a large number of runners in each of the races I think we’ll be able to narrow in and keep the ticket relatively inexpensive due to some favorites that look tough to beat.
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- Leg 1 (R3): 5-3-12-11
- Leg 2 (R6): 12-6-11-9
- Leg 3 (R8): 1-6-5-10
Leg 1: Keeneland Race 3 – Maiden Special Weight 84k Purse
While normally confusing and wide open affairs, I think this maiden race for juvenile fillies going long on the turf is going to prove super formful. Haughty (#5) looks like a standout on paper coming back to the maiden ranks despite crossing the wire first in her debut by over three lengths at Belmont first time out. I am a little surprised Chad Brown didn’t go straight to a stakes race with this filly off that impressive performance, but why pass up a chance to be 3-5 in an $84,000 race and bring the filly along slowly. She crushed that field of maidens coming off an impressive two-year-old sales work in the spring and an nice turf pedigree and was only disqualified because the runner she bumped at the top of the lane was nosed out for second. She looks really tough, but in case she doesn’t like turf with some give in it, I’ll include a few runners on a distant backup line. Azamana Empire (#12) ran well in her first start at Kentucky Downs over a turf with some give in it fending off a runner she dueled with in mid-stretch to just get run down late. I think those Kentucky Downs races really put some stamina into horses and bring them back better, so that’s why I’d be willing to include Candy Kick (#10) and Macadamia (Fr) (#11) off their debut efforts there. Missoni (#3) is an interesting firster for a trainer in Cherie DeVaux that I think does a great job with her turf routers and Adam Beschizza shows up here rather than the other runner for the barn.
Leg 2: Keeneland Race 6 – AllowanceN2X 88k Purse
This turf sprint has a few more ways to go in it than the maiden race that kicks off the sequence, but I still think it features a very formidable favorite in Competitive Saint (#12). He has tactical speed to sit up close and is proven at this 5.5 furlong trip. I think the fields he’s coming out of tower of this one in terms of quality as he was within a few lengths of Gear Jockey and Shekky Shebaz who would both be very short prices in here. The lack of a win since July of 2020 is a concern, but he should sit a perfect stalking trip perched outside other speeds. A runner that I’m very interested in seeing how he will perform off a bit of a break is League of Shadows (#11). Totally dismissed at 50-1 on the morning line, he actually owns the top turf Beyer in the field earned when finishing 3rd in a turf sprint at Canterbury last summer. Now his last three races albeit on dirt were abysmal, he’s been off since January and shows up for a new barn, so there are question marks for sure, but he appears to be working well and if you just look at his turf form there’s no reason he can’t compete with the shorter priced horses in this field. I also want to use Souper Dormy (#6) who is super logical as the “other” horse in this race. He has a little bit of hang in him, but he has figures and form that put him right at the top of this field. The other “fuzzy” worth including is Goalie (#9) coming east for the first time and showing up in a new barn with Robertino Diodoro. This is a sharp cutback to 5.5f and maybe it is being used as a prep, but he was running some pretty fast races before going on the break and if the leaders get leg-weary late, he could pick up the pieces.
Leg 3: Keeneland Race 8 – Restricted Allowance 90k Purse
The final race of the sequence appears to be the most wide open of all of them with almost every runner in the field topping out on the Beyer scale between 82-87. A large group of horses are coming out of the Music City Stakes won by Tobys Heart and I’m of the opinion that on that day at Kentucky Downs there was a pronounced rail bias that even track announcer Larry Collmus picked up on in his call of the race. That being said I’d move up the runs from Navratilova (#1) and Illegal Smile (Ire) (#6) and downgrade a bit the performances of New Boss (#3) and Risky Reward (#12). Navratilova will be my top pick and anything close to the 8-1 morning line would be good value. She was a little dressed up off her Tepin win three starts back when she was able to set a slow pace and wire that field, but I think that form has been dirtied up in her last two runs which both offer excuses. She now gets back to 5.5 furlongs which I think suits her well and like her venerable dam Centre Court, I think she’ll thrive on the Keeneland turf for these local connections. Illegal Smile (Ire) might end up going off favored in here and I think that would be deserved. She was against the bias last time and might get the right setup today rallying into some speed. I want to use Lady Edith (#5) by top turf sprint sire Street Boss since she defeated a few of these runners in the spring at Churchill. I think you can draw a line through her last race as that was a pace that fell apart late. The beneficiary of that was Bullseye Beauty (#10), but she is just in such great form right now and is undefeated around one turn.