We are back with another Turf Pick 3 offering as we enter the penultimate weekend of racing at Keeneland before the fall meet concludes and attention shifts to the Breeders’ Cup.
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- Leg 1 (R5): 7-1-6-10
- Leg 2 (R8): 5-6-8-10
- Leg 3 (R10): 5-2-10-7
Leg 1 (3:08pm): Keeneland Race 5 – Allowance N2X 120k Purse
The all-turf pick 3 kicks off with an oversubscribed field of allowance turf routers. The race is set to feature a heavy favorite drawn down on the inside in Eyes On Target (#1). He has run well in each of his five starts since being claimed by these sharp connections late last year. I have no problem calling him the most likely winner of this spot as this arguably is the weakest field he’s faced since his last win, but the three consecutive narrow defeats at a short price give me enough pause to look somewhere else on top. Samburu (GB) (#7) looks like the runner most likely to jump up and run a speed figure competitive with the favorite as he’s an unexposed foreign shipper. He’s a colt by one of the top sires in the world in Kingman and his dam is a full sister to the graded stakes winner Set Piece. He rattled off three wins to begin his career, but was a noticeable disappointment in his most recent effort. I like the fact he has a long string of consistent works for the new barn and Mott won with a similar looking import named Petricor at Keeneland in the spring for Juddmonte. The main backup I’d like to include is Dominican Pioneer (#6). While he’s a little light on speed figures and I normally don’t like to take a Ward trainee going long, he could be dangerous as the main speed and could duplicate the performance he put forth last time when first getting on the grass.
Leg 2 (4:44pm): Keeneland Race 8 – Allowance N3X 130k Purse
The middle leg of the sequence represents the Friday feature as a decent group of high-level allowance fillies take to the Keeneland lawn. While it remains to be seen who will go off favored in this event, I think the horse to beat is squarely Scotish Star (Arg) (#6). This mare came to the states with plenty of hype, but couldn’t manage to break through on the dirt out west for Richard Mandella. A full makeover seemed to do the trick last time as see shipped to the east coast, was admitted to the Todd Pletcher operation, and switched over to grass. Her victory last time was ultra-impressive as she was forced into the uncomfortable position of making the first move into a run-off leader. She was still able to sustain that run and draw off impressively over a decent group. Now she projects to be the controlling speed and could be afforded an easier journey. While she’ll be present on all my tickets, I went to a different runner for my top pick. Bellagamba (Arg) (#5) has slightly less obvious credentials but could be as talented as any runner in this field. She had no chance last time in a Grade 2 behind a dawdling pace, but when she got a decent setup in the Big Dreyfus Stakes at Pimlico back in July, she powered home to win by daylight over a solid bunch. Left in her wake that day were horses like the talented Petricor as well as In a Hurry and Alms who have come out of that race to win the All Along Stakes and One Dreamer Stakes respectively. In addition, Cheminaud sticks here despite having options and she’s proven to relish the Keeneland turf course as evidenced by her game second place finish over the course and distance last fall. The backups I want to use include Sunny One (#8) who has backed up her upset score over this course and distance in the spring with three solid efforts and Princess Fawzia (#10) whose recent form doesn’t inspire me, but I can’t ignore what these connections are capable of with new acquisitions.
Leg 3 (5:48pm): Keeneland Race 10 – Maiden Special Wt 100k Purse
While these turf pick threes have recently been closing with maiden races, more often they’ve been for juveniles. This sequence, however, is a 9f event for older maiden fillies. There are multiple runners coming out of a couple of Kentucky Downs maiden affairs that look competitive here. From the September 8th contest, I prefer Quality Star (#7) who made a wide bid at a distance perhaps a touch too long. The September 10th race featured a subpar break for Arroblue (#2) who ran on well and has upside for Juddmonte and Bill Mott. Both the firsters in this field are interesting as well. Tiana (#10) goes out for a barn in Jonathan Thomas that can win with this type and she sold for 600k a couple years back. Such Sounds (#12) has to overcome a wide draw, but the Bauer barn has been on fire recently. Speaking of trainers that have been on a good run, my top pick comes out of the barn of Graham Motion who has been red hot to start the Keeneland meet. Mesaoria (#5) is out of a dam in Rusty Slipper that was a multiple G3 winner and routinely ran 90+ Beyers routing on turf for these same connections. Furthermore, the Motion barn is 13/41 (32%, $3.77 ROI) with runners coming off 180+ day layoffs in maiden races going long on the grass.