We are back with another Turf Pick 3 offering during the penultimate weekend of racing at Keeneland before the fall meet concludes and attention shifts to the Breeders’ Cup.
- Follow me on Twitter: @mdomhokie
- Leg 1 (R4): 3-4-7-1
- Leg 2 (R7): 2-7-9-3
- Leg 3 (R10): 12-13-7-2
Leg 1 (2:36pm): Keeneland Race 4 – Allowance N4X 140k Purse
The all-turf pick 3 kicks off with a competitive allowance for older fillies and mares. New Keeneland morning line maker Nick Tammaro has made two fillies the clear first and second choices in this spot and I have my reservations about both of them. Park Avenue (#6) is projected to get a clear early lead and she’s shown to be dangerous when afforded that setup in the past. However, her last two efforts leave plenty to be desired and I’m hesitant to take a Sadler turf runner outside of California especially at a short price. I guess I prefer Pass the Plate (#1) to her, but she is not without drawbacks. This mare likes to drop well off of it and make one big run in the lane. She’s had success at Keeneland in the past, but I’m worried there won’t be a ton of pace in this event and some of her chief rivals will be able to get the jump on her. I have no problems with those who decide to back Curly Ruth (#4) in this spot and she will be featured prominently on my tickets as well. While some might be disappointed with her three consecutive off-the-board finishes, I believe the return to this Keeneland strip will be just what the doctor ordered. Both last fall and this spring she took a step forward when getting to this track including a win back in April over a field that included graded stakes winners Fluffy Socks and Temple City Terror. She also projects to get a perfect trip right behind the speed. My top pick is Flippant (#3) who I believe has a bit more hidden form than the mare drawn to her outside. I’m willing to give her a pass for not running well last time over an extended distance at a quirky track like Kentucky Downs in a race dominated on the front end. Two back, she got the wrong trip and ride against a solid rival in Going Global and I think her deadheat victory three-back stacks up favorably in this field. She’s by no means a speedster, but I think she’ll be closer to the front than Pass the Plate entering the lane and can produce a similar kick. The one other wildcard in this spot I’m willing to include is Madone (#7). This filly showed promise to start her career and was fortunate to take down a couple graded stakes last year. Her ’22 campaign has been a disaster at this point, but she’s been given some time off and might wake up for the new barn.
Leg 2 (4:12pm): Keeneland Race 7 – Allowance N2X 120k Purse
The middle leg of the sequence is a full field of turf sprinting fillies and mares and while these races are normally inscrutable, I see a tough time getting past the likely favorite Empress Tigress (#2). While this will be her first time facing her elders, she projects to get a great trip on or near the lead and there are few rivals in this field who have run the same type of numbers as she has despite their extra year(s) of maturity. There are several I’d use as distant backups in case my other two opinions are correct in this sequence. Storm Kiss (#3) and Alwayz Late (#12) are both logical, but the former has a similar running style as the favorite which could be tough to overcome and the latter might be better at the elongated turf sprint distances. Thunder Love (GB) (#11) is improving for an underrated barn in Paulo Lobo and overcame a pace disadvantage to win going six furlongs last time, but will have to make that run a half panel shorter this time. The two interesting longshots are Artos (Ire) (#7) and Touch of Class (#9). Rusty Arnold must have thought a lot of Artos to send her over to Ascot as a two-year-old where she certainly didn’t disgrace herself running 4th of 21 in the G2-Queen Mary just 2 lengths behind the talented Ward runner Twilight Gleaming. She’s been a bit in and out during her ’22 campaign, but when she gets the right trip like last time in the win at Horseshoe Indy, she can be dangerous. The main positive for Touch of Class (#9) is that she can be forwardly placed in route races, but also has shown to win stalking in turf sprints.
Leg 3 (5:48pm): Keeneland Race 10 – Maiden Special Wt 100k Purse
Just like Friday’s card, the Saturday nightcap is an oversubscribed field of 3+ turf routers trying to break their maidens. The only difference is this one is for the colts. The key race to breakdown is the September 10th maiden race from Kentucky Downs a few of these come out of. My opinion in that race is that the rail was the place to be and Push Button (#7) and Inbound (#9) rode it for most of their journey. The former I cannot be too much against because he has license to improve second time out for Maker as a half brother to BC Classic and Kentucky Derby winner Authentic. However, Inbound has significantly less upside and it took a flawless ride from Beschizza to get him second at 49-1. The horse I want out of that race is mired on the also-eligible list in Vintage Year (#13). He was never close to the inside during his journey and battled on well through the lane. Regardless of whether he gets in or not, my top pick is drawn directing to his inside. Pancake House (#12) comes in off a layoff, but ran so well over this course back in the spring. I’m not too concerned with the outside post since there’s a long run into the first turn and I’m willing to forgive his disappointing effort as the favorite last time as it came over the Churchill Downs turf course known to have had issues during that time. The bomb I think can hit the board is Monjid (#2). I’m willing to toss his poor effort over dirt and it appears his connections are as well as he returns on just two weeks rest. His debut effort was solid despite needing to weave in and out during the stretch run looking for a seam. He now has the potential to take a step forward on the stretch-out in his second turf start and the low profile barn ensures a price.