It’s closing day for the Keeneland fall meet which means one opportunity remains to take down this Turf Pick 3. However, the action at this Kentucky oasis only heats up after Saturday as the Breeders Cup comes to town next week.
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- Leg 1 (R5): 3-2-7-9
- Leg 2 (R8): 2-5-6-12
- Leg 3 (R10): 1-6-9-3
Leg 1 (3:08pm): Keeneland Race 5 – Allowance N1X 110k Purse
The all-turf pick 3 kicks off with a another allowance race for two-year-olds. I’m willing to take a bit of a wait and see approach with a few of the short prices on the morning line. Rarified Flair (#12) arguably has come out of the best races, but has had his form somewhat exposed and is drawn in an unfavorable position. I’m less against Mendel’s Secret (#10), but if I’m going to take a Kentucky Downs maiden breaker, I’d rather have Blamethegoodtimes (#7) who comes out of a faster race and is likely to be a bigger price. The one short price on the morning line I want to use prominently is General Jim (#2). His effort first time getting to this surface was an impressive one as he was never able to get to the inside which is often advantageous on the inner turf course at Saratoga. However, I’m getting a bit more creative with my top pick and going with Disdainful (Ire) (#3). Though he’s been running at some of the lesser tracks in England, these connections are very adept at knowing which runners within their European string to bring over since they are primarily based in the U.S. In a race where I’m not confident that any of those who broke their maiden on domestic soil are killers, I’m willing to take a shot with him.
Leg 2 (4:44pm): Keeneland Race 8 – G3-Bryan Station Stakes 300k Purse
The middle leg of the sequence is the final graded stakes event on the grass of the Keeneland fall meet. Classic Causeway (#5) is the horse to beat in this spot as he’s run well admirably since switching to the grass in the summer. Since he won the G1-Belmont Derby, his three subsequent efforts were impacted by being part of a fast pace in the Saratoga Derby, going a distance past his best in the Jockey Club Derby, and being matched against the best older turf milers in the country in the Coolmore Mile. This is a softer spot and I think the mile ultimately will be his best distance (on the grass that is), but am concerned the other speed will present a thorn in his side. The runner I like on top is likely to benefit id there’s competition for the lead. While, I usually don’t endorse west coast turf horses shipping east, there’s one barn I’m willing to give a pass to and that’s Phil D’Amato. Balnikhov (Ire) (#2) ran well when shipped east for the stakes on the Derby undercard and has proven to have a potent late kick when able to go this flat mile. That was on display when he took down the traditional opening day feature at Del Mar rallying to beat a field of 13 in the Oceanside Stakes. As far as the primary backups I’d use in this spot, Portfolio Company (#6) has always shown promise for the Chad Brown barn, Wit (#8) has gotten good on the grass for Todd Pletcher, and Play Action Pass (#12) is a likeable overachiever that unfortunately drew a tough post.
Leg 3 (5:48pm): Keeneland Race 10 – Allowance N4X 140k Purse
It’s another full field of turf sprinters to close out this sequence and it’s apparent that Wesley Ward holds the strongest of hands here. Of his two entrants I prefer the morning line favorite Illegal Smile (Ire) (#1) as she’s been facing the preeminent players in this division all year, so this represents a significant drop in class. She has the tactical speed to stay close in a race like this and is proven of this course and distance. However, I can’t completely discount the scenario playing out where Wesley’s other runner is able to wire the field. Spicy Marg (#6) is faster than the rest of these on pace figures and also owns a win over this course and distance last fall doing so in wire-to-wire fashion. The three other horses I want to include on the thinnest of backup lines are New Boss (#3) who could take a step forward in her second start this year, Violenza (#7) who could rally from off of it if there’s a duel on the front end, and Cheetara (Chi) (#9) whose dirt form is competitive enough if she can translate it to the turf.
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