Keeneland All-Stakes Pick-5 Preview – 4/8/23 – By Eric Solomon

While I’ll normally be covering the Late Pick-5, I’ll be taking a stab at the All-Stakes Pick 5 this afternoon, featuring five graded stakes. The highlight is the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes where there are 11 runners, looking to establish themselves as legitimate contenders for the Kentucky Derby four weeks from today. We’ll also see the return of two Breeders’ Cup Champions in this sequence. Goodnight Olive, the winner of the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, returns in the Grade 1 Madison, which is the 7th race. Caravel beat the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, and she’ll be asked to do the same thing in the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes. The first race in this sequence, which is the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes, is set to go off at 2:50 (ET).


I’ll typically be covering the Late Pick-5 sequence from this exciting meet on the ITM Blog, along with posting some updates and thoughts from time to time on Twitter @EricSolomon718. Feel free to reach out!


Race Top Pick A B C Wagering Menu
5 7 7 2,5,9 PK5, PK3, DBL
6 2 2,4,7 3 PK4, PK3, DBL,

All Turf PK3

7 2 2 5 PK5, PK3, DBL
8 10 3,8,10 PK4, PK3, DBL
9 3 3 8 1,5 PK3, DBL

Race 5: The Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes:

The All-Stakes Pick-5 gets started with this Grade 3 seven furlong sprint. Wesley Ward, who has won or shared the title for five consecutive spring meets here (six if you included the 2020 abbreviated summer meet), sends out the favorite, Nakotomi (#2), who is a perfect 3-3 on this course. He’s coming off a third place finish in the Tom Fool Stakes at Aqueduct. Normally, I’d be a little curious as to why he’d be in this race as opposed to the Grade 1 Carter over at Aqueduct today. However, he’s a gelding, so the Grade 1 isn’t nearly as important for him. In addition, the purses of the two races are the same, so it’s not surprising at all to see Wesley Ward keep him home. However, I am a little bit concerned about the distance and the fact that he hasn’t been as zippy from the start as he used to be. It’s also worth noting that Hoist the Gold (#1) finished in front of him in the Grade 1 Malibu last December at this seven furlong distance. That one is 8-1 on the morning line and Nakatomi is 2-1. He’s a contender, but I don’t love him as the favorite. He’ll be a B line play for me. For a seven furlong sprint race, there’s not a lot speed signed on, so I think this could be a great spot for Run Classic (#7) to finally get that first career graded stakes victory. He might be quick enough to secure a comfortable early lead, while cutting back to a one turn race after four straight two turn efforts. He finished third in a strong stretch battle with Pioneer of Medina and Mr. Wireless in the Mineshaft Stakes at the Fair Grounds. His win at seven plus furlongs on the Beard Course here in October was sparkling. I think he’s a candidate to repeat that kind of effort here. In addition to Nakatomi, there’s a few interesting longshots in this race, both of which are coming out of races on synthetic surfaces. Legionnaire (#5) made his four year old debut at Turfway toward the end of February, finishing off the board as the favorite in a N3L allowance race. His last start on dirt going a one turn mile at Churchill was very good. He’s a half to Art Collector and a full to Classic Legacy, who was third in the Tampa Bay Derby last month. I like the cutback in distance for him in this spot and I think he’s capable of sitting a decent trip with Javier Castellano piloting him. Here Mi Song (#9) is another Turfway invader that has some better form on traditional dirt. He’s been very competitive in all three local starts, winning once and finishing second the other two times. I think the distance suits him well and I like when lesser known jockeys, such as Alex Achard, get their chances in spots like this. 


Race 6: The Grade 2 Appalachian Stakes Presented by Japan Racing Association:

Three year old fillies will go 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf in this evenly matched contest. The form from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf held true yesterday as the two best finishing American runners in that race finished 1-2 in the Transylvania Stakes. That would certainly bode well for Pleasant Passage (#7) and Cairo Consort (#3), who finished second and third respectively, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf race on this course back in November. Both fillies make sense here, but I’m going to use Papilio (#2) on top in this spot. Watching her North American debut in the Herecomesthebride Stakes last month at Gulfstream, it was evident that she was the best horse in that race. She was a little eager while Luis Saez was jockeying for position, then had to check hard while racing on the first turn. She came with a four wide sweep down the backstretch and into the second turn, where she drew even with the race winner, Danse Macabre, but she couldn’t quite get by. She was able to hold off Cairo Consort, who was rolling late in that spot. While I do fear a possible bounce, as we sometimes see with foreign horses in their second North American try, at 6-1 compared to the 3-1 on Cairo Consort, I’ll be willing to take my chances. Heavenly Sunday (#4) is also worth considering in this spot. She was very good when clearing the N1X condition by open lengths on this course back in October. She made her 2023 debut in the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream back in February. She was a close third behind Cairo Consort that day. Expect her to be more fit for her return to Keeneland. Pleasant Passage will be making her first start since her runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Fillies last fall. There’s not a ton of early speed signed on, so I’d expect her to be on or near the lead in a race where the pace shouldn’t be too taxing. She might need this race before she’s at her best, but if she runs back to her last, she’s going to be tough here. Cairo Consort will be one I’ll save for some deeper plays. She has a few quirks, not breaking well two starts back in the Sweetest Chant, a race which ended up winning. The early tempo was a little more aggressive that day, which played into her hands. When the pace was slower, she struggled to make up the necessary ground to get up in time. 


Race 7: The Grade 1 Madison Stakes:

Only four challengers have signed on to try to defeat the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner, Goodnight Olive (#2) in her five year old debut. She’s had a lot of stops and starts in her career, much like her sire, Ghostzapper. However, when she steps on the track, she is a force to be reckoned with. She’s won her last six starts, including a pair of Grade 1 victories and two wins on this oval. She can win by going to the front or she can win while coming from off the pace. She’s been training steadily for her return at Payson Park in Florida and she feels like the horse to beat. There’s no value playing her at 2-5, but I think she’s better than her four rivals. The filly that I’ll use as a backup will be Maryquitecontrary (#5) shipping here from Florida. She was last seen winning the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream on Pegasus World Cup Day. While not as accomplished, she has a record identical to Goodnight Olive’s, starting seven times with six wins. Luca Panici has been aboard for all six of her wins, but not her lone career loss. He travels to Keeneland with an opportunity on a live horse in a Grade 1 race. I think Society (#3) might be a little keen in her return, and Yuugiri (#4) is going to want the lead as well. If they battle hard on the front end, it will certainly leave the door open for her to get rolling late. 


Race 8: The Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes:

The 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner, Caravel (#8) is back in action, facing the boys once again in this Grade 2 contest, going 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf course. After finishing 12th and last in that race at Del Mar in 2021, she was transferred to Brad Cox’s barn. She came out swinging in the Queen Stakes at Turfway on the synthetic last spring, winning that race by open lengths. She would go on to win five stakes races in eight starts last year. She clearly has an affinity for this course, winning both starts here last year. She might just be better than these, but there’s definitely some other speed for her to contend with early, and I think some others might be gaining on her late. I’ll use her on the A line, but I’ll try Oceanic (#10) as the top pick in this spot. He was no match for Caravel in the Breeders’ Cup when he drew the outside stall in that 14 horse affair. He closed a ton of ground two starts back to make Golden Pal sweat a little bit in the Woodford last fall. He definitely needed his first race off the layoff last year, but I think he’s a better horse now than he was back then. Artemus Citylimits (#3) has inside position on Caravel, which may prove helpful here. He was quick enough to go with Golden Pal in the Woodford last fall, but he pressed the issue and stayed on well to be fourth that day. He was dead game in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint despite his wide post. He is the speed of the speed in this race, especially if the also-eligible runner, Nobody Listens (#13) is unable to draw in. I’ll try to get out of this race with this trio. 


Race 9: The Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass:

I wrote about this race much more in depth on the ITM Kentucky Derby Blog, which I’ll link below. I’m not convinced that the favorite, Tapit Trice (#1) is going to be able to get it done here. He needed to be coaxed along early and often in the Tampa Bay Derby last out. While  I think the added distance will only help his cause, I don’t like his post or the way that I see the pace scenario of this race setting up for him. I think Verifying (#3) should have every opportunity to score in this race. He struggled to find a place to run in the Rebel last out. I expect Tyler Gaffalione, who rides this course so well. Blazing Sevens (#8) is looking to rebound after a no-show effort behind Forte in the Fountain of Youth last out. He’s shown the ability to rebound off a poor effort in the past. Of the longer priced runners, I’ll use Hayes Strike (#5) after an impressive effort when winning the Private Terms Stakes a few weeks ago at Laurel.


Pick-5 – $48 Ticket

While I’ll have some back up tickets, my main ticket is going to be this $48 play. Goodnight Olive (#2, R7) feels pretty close to being a free square in the Madison. I will use a few extra dollars to back up with Maryquitecontrary (#5, R7), but I do think she’s going to need a perfect setup to beat the champ. I’m going to try to beat Tapit Trice (#1, R9) in the Blue Grass, as I’m concerned how long it takes this one to get going. Verifying (#3, R9) feels like the one to beat there. I do like Run Classic (#7, R5)  quite a bit in the opening leg, but I do think some of the prices in that race are live. 

Share this

Leave a Reply

Further reading