Closing day at Keeneland is here with a ten race card, highlighted by three stakes races on the second half of the card. The Early Pick-5 is a challenging sequence for a variety of reasons. The three races carded for the dirt have some suspect favorites. The weather forecast keeps the two turf races, both for two year olds, up in the air as to which surface they’ll be running on. I’ll play this sequence conservatively, as I do think the potential for a decent payout is there. I’ll leave the grid here for tonight and I’ll start to formulate some tickets in the morning based on the track conditions and scratches. The late Pick-5 preview that Michael Domabyl and I team up for on Saturdays is available over at ITM Plus, along with a lot of other great content to get you ready for next weeks Breeders’ Cup Races.
12:30 Update: Races 2 and 5 are now off the turf, Race 8 stays on for now. Ticket structure is listed below.
|1||2,8||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|DBL, PK3, PK4,
|1,9||1,11||DBL, PK3, PK6|
Race 1: Top Pick: 8
$10K filly and mare claimers start the closing day card. I see this race as a potential merry-go-round race, where many of the runners want to be on or near the lead. I think the fastest two turn horse in the race is Social Circle (8) who was an allowance winner at Prairie Meadows two backs. She ran in a starter allowance race at Churchill last out and got away slowly when racing the one turn mile there. Her two turns races are significantly better than any of her one turn efforts. Angel of Verdun (2) comes in winning two of her last three when running at the $7,500 level at Belterra. She struggled two back in allowance company there, but she rebounded nicely in her most recent try. Bejarano holds the key to this race as he should be able to put her on the lead if she wants to. She has won with a stalking trip on grass in the past, so not making the lead wouldn’t be devastating.
Race 2: Top Pick: 9 (Turf) / 2 (Dirt)
The stakes race on yesterday’s card was run over the grass, but the other two races were taken off the turf and switched to the main track. The lone turf race was won on the front end yesterday as closers were struggling to gain late. If they go one the grass here, that style should be advantageous for Freedom Rose (9) who ships in from Arlington after a pair of second palace finishes when going a mile on the turf there. Javier Castellano getting the mount is a positive sign on this two year old daughter of Constitution. I think her foundation will certainly be beneficial in trying to get the 9 Furlong trip in this race. Poronui (2) is an interesting entrant on either surface for Kenny McPeek. She made her debut going 1 Mile and 1/16 on the main track here three weeks ago. She finished third beaten three that day in a field of six. Her dam, Dothraki Queen was a graded stakes winner at two on the main track, but she broke her maiden at two turns on the turf. She’s sired by Pioneerof the Nile, whose progeny can run on any surface. I think she’s a smart value play on the grass and the logical contender on dirt. Both daughters of Astern, Pearl Earring (3) and Bella Astern (4), are logical players in this race if it stays on the lawn. Pearl Earring improved in her second start on grass at Monmouth last out when beaten by a well meant Chad Brown filly in that start that was ridden by Paco Lopez, who was winning with just about everything he was riding at that time. She was clearly second best that day while working out a three wide trip all the way around. She should benefit from breaking closer to the rail here. Bella Astern ran a decent 4th in her debut on this course three weeks ago. She was overlooked in the wagering that day, but this field is a little bit softer and she’s another one that is eligible to improve in this race. On dirt, I’d upgrade Heavenly Hellos (8) who has a sharp race last out in the slop at Indiana Grand. She’s gotten better with each trip to the to the races, and she finds a field that doesn’t seem that deep if it were to be switched to the main track.
Race 3: Top Pick: 7
$20K maiden claimers go 1 Mile and 1/16 on the main track here. There’s not a lot of solid form to go off of here, as many of these have been trounced when facing maiden allowance foes. Countrified (7) makes her second career start after finishing a non-threatening 8th in a restricted maiden special weight race at Churchill. The winner of that contest came back to win the Louisiana Legacy Stakes at Delta Downs. She adds blinkers for the stretch out, while also also dropping in for a tag for the first time. Desormeaux has a strong ROI on this angle. Embodiment (4) and Illustrious (8) are two well bred horses that their connections are willing to part with after dull first tries. Embodiment was gelded since his last start, which was a last place finish on the grass at Arlington. That might offer a clue as to why Godolphin is willing to potentially part with this homebred son of Bernardini. Meanwhile Illustrious cost his owners $240K. He ran into a buzzsaw in his debut at Saratoga where Grade 1 Champagne winner, and possible Breeders’ Cup Juvenile favorite, Jack Christopher, made his career debut. Illustrious was a non-factor in that race. He too has since been gelded, but I’m not convinced that two turns will be where he thrives. I’ll save him for the deeper tickets.
Race 4: Top Pick: 3
This early sequence continues to be baffling, as several professional maidens run 7+ Furlongs on the Beard Course here. This was more of a process of elimination kind of race for me. Queen’s Table (6) hasn’t shown any inkling of being fast enough on turf to beat these. Dalida (4) makes only her 5th start, and makes her third race off the layoff, but she, too, feels too slow for this group. Surrealist (1) and Temper Time (8) have shown interest at times, but both feel like they’re better on the grass. Closet Shopper (7) has had many chances, and isn’t in the best form right now. She seems like she’s been more effective at two turns. That leaves me Upandcomingstar (2), Kizzy B (3), and Solarri (5) as the trio that I’ll be riding with in this spot. Kizzy B makes her 14th career start, which is never a trait I like in a maiden, let alone a top pick. However, she reunites with Michael Stidham, who has gotten her best efforts out of her. Her last was dull in the slop off the layoff, but I suspect she can rebound from that race. I have never seen Steve Asmussen’s barn so ice cold at a meet like this, but Upandcomingstar could be his best chance to get just his second win here this month. His regular rider, Ricardo Santana Jr., is trying to avoid going winless at this fall meet. This is a softer field that she’s up against from her last start at Churchill. She cost $500K, and while she hasn’t broken through yet, she has only made three starts. Solarri makes her debut for Phillip Sims, and like Upandcomingstar, her owners paid a half-million dollars for her at auction last April. She’s been working consistently since the end of August in preparation for this start. Sims is capable of winning with a first time starter, although, it’s a big ask to get a first time starter to win at this distance in their first race. 12-1 on the morning line feels like more than a fair proposition in race where many seem to lack that winning instinct.
Race 5: Top Pick: 10 (Either Surface)
I do like Bhoma (10) on either surface in this N2L allowance race for two year old fillies, carded for the grass. She tried the turf for the first time in the Jessamine earlier in the meet. She finished a close up 9th that day, tiring a bit in the stretch. From a speed figure perspective, she moved forward in her first try on turf and at two turns. Looking at her pedigree, it’s no surprise that she liked the longer distance, and she’s bred to be competitive on both turf and dirt. McPeek’s horses have been running very well, especially in the second part of this meet. Both Yin Yang (5) and Decree of Love (6) are win candidates in this race, especially with their abilities to be forwardly placed. Yin Yang was second in stakes company at Kentucky Downs going the one turn mile. Horses from Kentucky Downs have been live all meet long in the turf races here. Decree of Love broke her maiden a few days later at Kentucky Downs, improving off a respectable 4th place finish in her debut at Saratoga two starts back. That race at the Spa came on a yielding course, and while there’s no designated Beyer Speed Figure for that race, her effort was still competitive enough to consider her here. On deeper tickets, Graham Motion got his first win at the meet earlier this week when Zatzip broke his maiden handily here. He sends out Sparkle Blue (1) coming in off a decent try in the Selima Stakes at Laurel last out when facing winners for the first time. She won her debut in a compact field in an off the turf race at Colonial in her debut this summer. Her running style is not ideal for the way the course has been playing on turf, but she’s still worth considering, as I think she has some ability. I thought the race Roughly a Diamond (11) ran in the Jessamine off the two and half month layoff was solid. I don’t love the outer draw for her in this spot, but I think she could have an impact with the right trip on grass. On dirt, Zing (13), who is the lone MTO, is worth using on the A line. He broke his maiden last out with a strong performance with off the turf maiden special weight company at Indiana Grand. He’s really the only one in here that has run her best race on the main track. North County (9) ran a big race on grass to graduate at first asking at Indiana Grand. She’s sired by Not this Time out of a City Zip mare, so the pedigree tells me that this filly could run on anything. I’d give her a shot on the main track.
Pick 5 Tickets:
All A’s ($2.00 Base Wager – $12)
All A’s/B’s ($1.00 Base Wager – $24)
4 A’s / 1 C: ($1.00 Base Wager – $6)
Total Wagered: $42