A fun opening weekend at Keeneland comes to a close on Sunday, but not before another exciting turf pick 3 sequence that includes two key preps for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup. To hear my opinons on this sequence in podcast form, head over to the In The Money Media home page to listen to me break it down with PTF.
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- Leg 1 (R6): 5-7-10-11
- Leg 2 (R8): 1-12-3-10
- Leg 3 (R10): 12-8-7-11
Leg 1 (3:57pm): Keeneland Race 6 – Indian Summer Stakes 250k Purse
The all-turf pick 3 kicks off with an important prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint which is traditionally run as the first Breeders’ Cup race during that weekend. I’d be shocked if Wesley Ward didn’t capture this event for the third time in four years and will be surprised if the winner isn’t his talented filly Love Reigns (Ire) (#5). She ticks all the boxes you want to see with a heavy favorite including a win over the course and distance on debut. After certainly not disgracing herself in the trip across the pond, she returned to toy with a field in the Bolton Landing Stakes at Saratoga that included next out stakes winner Danse Macabre. If she does stub her toe in this spot, the main danger could come from her stablemate No Nay Hudson (Ire) (#7). Like the favorite and many Ward trainees, he broke his maiden at the Keeneland spring meet albeit on dirt. He made a fine transition to grass last time out in the Skidmore, but ran into a talented rival in Oxymore.
Leg 2 (5:10pm): Keeneland Race 8 – G2-Bourbon Stakes 350k Purse
Another important Breeders’ Cup prep is presented as the middle leg of this sequence with the majority of the field exiting stakes races at three different circuits. Of those three, I’m willing to toss the runners coming out of the Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Colonial. While Gigante was impressive that day, I think the quality of that field overall was the weakest of the three. I rate the With Anticipation Stakes run up at Saratoga as the second best of the three, but am willing to fade Boppy O who got a great trip to score at 23-1 last time, but will be a fraction of that price today. I am willing to upgrade Andthewinneris (#12) from that same event. The Catalano barn has been heating up and this cleverly named son of Oscar Performance owns a win over this course from the spring. For my money the best stakes race any of these exit came at Kentucky Downs and all of the top three finishers are worth using in this spot. However, due to the fact some of them are poorly drawn, I decided to get a bit more creative with my top pick. B Minor (#1) lucked out in the post position department and is cozily drawn on the rail. Although he broke his maiden on dirt, this pedigree is more tilted towards grass as all of Mendelssohn’s best progeny in his first crop have been best on turf and the dam won multiple times over that surface. The trainer/jockey combination of McPeek/Hernandez Jr teamed up to win this race last year with Tiz the Bomb and I’m betting lightening can strike twice this time at a bigger price.
Leg 3 (6:20pm): Keeneland Race 10 – AllowanceN2X 120k Purse
The final race of opening weekend closes out this sequence and it is quite the inscrutable marathon event. On Friday, there was a similar event for fillies and mares run to close out the card and the 1-2 finishers exited a 12 furlong allowance at Saratoga. There are a few contenders in this spot who look very similar with and of those who raced in that August 21st event I want to use Offlee Naughty (#7) and Reigning Spirit (#10) as backups since they did have wide journeys, but ultimately flattened out in the lane. However, Mud Pie (#8) who also ran in that race came back to just miss at Kentucky Downs last time and must be featured prominently on my tickets. While some might argue he is best at the unique configuration of KD, he has also run some good races over this Keeneland strip. Always Above (#11) is a tad interesting exiting some stakes races against better, but he didn’t do quite enough running in those spots for me to elevate him to the top tier of my tickets. Ultimately, I landed on Onenightstandards (#12) as my top pick and this is really due to the fact I trust Mike Maker on the stretch out. Ever since this colt was claimed by these shrewd connections back in the fall of last year, it seems they’ve been trying to get him to these marathon distances. In his first start off the claim, he had no chance behind a dawdling pace and then was washed off at Gulfstream. Last time he delivered at 7-1 and proved he’s in fine form for this dangerous barn. While the 12 post is not ideal, I like having top jock Flavien Prat in our corner and would love to get that 15-1 he is on the ML.