Keeneland Early Pick-5 Preview – 10/9/21 – By Eric Solomon

The Saturday card features five graded stakes, three of which are Grade 1 contests. Michael Domabyl and I have the late Pick-5 covered with analysis and wagering strategies for each of the graded stakes races over on ITM Plus. I think this sequence could be a good set of races to help build up your bankroll for the latter part of the card.

Race A B C Exotics Menu
1 2,6 5   DBL, PK3, PK5
2 5 3,4,10   DBL, PK3, PK4
3 1,3,8 4 6 DBL, PK3
4 1   6 DBL, PK3
5 3,5,6 8   DBL, PK3, PK6



Race 1: Top Pick: 6

$30K maiden claimers start the signature card of the fall meeting at Keeneland. Mo Heat (6) strikes me as interesting going back to two turns after sprinting for the first time in his five race career last month. He finished midpack that day, and now stretches out back to two turns. He strikes me as a horse that will do well with the shorter stretch of the 1 Mile and 1/16 main track races here. My Favorite Uncle (2) drops in for a tag for the first time for D. Wayne Lukas. He has been running in longer races on the grass with maiden allowance types in his last four starts. His Oaklawn form from the spring would play very well at this level today. Invisible War (5) will likely go into the starting gate as the favorite in this race, mostly due to his connections. John Velasquez and Wesley Ward were very successful together at the spring meet. He drops for a tag for the first time today while returning to the dirt.


Race 2: Top Pick: 5

This six furlong maiden special weight for two year olds has been split into two divisions that bookend the Early Pick-4. I think Kaely’s Brother (5) is the one to beat, making his second career start for Brad Cox. While he’s capable with first time starters, Cox really excels with horses in their second start, winning 30% of the time with 188 starters in that sample size. He’s had four works since his debut, including a five furlong bullet in the mud here on Sunday. On deeper tickets, I’ll use a trio of first time starters on the B line. The Judge and Jury (4) debuts for John Ennis, who had a fine meet with his two year olds here this spring. He’s been working steadily since July at the Thoroughbred Training Center in preparation for his debut. Asmussen and Santana team up with Combat Medal (3), who will likely generate some interest with bettors. He was based at Monmouth this summer where he had most of his workouts, however, he wasn’t quite ready to debut there. He shipped to Kentucky and worked well twice at Ellis to have him ready to go today. He’s bred to want to go a little further than this, but this race seems like a reasonable starting point. B Sudd (10) has a nice string of works for Dallas Stewart, who is certainly capable of having a horse ready to go at first asking. Most of his works have been on the Tapeta at Turfway, but his most recent drill on the training track at Churchill was solid.


Race 3: Top Pick: 8

This N1X allowance race at 1 Mile and 1/8 on the turf is run under the same conditions as the nightcap from yesterday’s card. The racing office brought it back to allow the four also-eligibles from yesterday to draw into the body of this race. There are three heavy hitters in this race from powerful connections; Kittansett (1) for Cox and Geroux, Orchestration (3) for Brown and Jose Ortiz, and Scarlet Fusion (8) for Mark Casse and Gaffalione. There’s also two wild cards here that could have some upside; the European invader, Modus Operandi (4) and second time starter, Monition (6). Anyone other than these five winning this race would be a surprise in my opinion. I ended up with Scarlet Fusion as my tepid top pick, thinking that he might get the best trip of the bunch. There isn’t a lot of speed signed on, so Gaffalione should be able to keep him close, but not have to use him too hard in the early stages of the race. He broke his maiden on this course back in April and followed that up with two solid tries at this level in May and June at Churchill. He’s been on the sidelines since, working regularly since the end of August for his return. Orchestration is in danger of being pace compromised here, but he was very good when breaking his maiden at the end of August at Saratoga. He handled the 1 Mile 3/16 distance with ease, drawing off easily to dominate that race by over three lengths. The water gets deeper here while facing solid strong opponents, but he looks like he has some ability. Kittansett tries the turf for the time for Brad Cox today after running twice in races that were taken off the grass. He was a handy maiden winner at the Fair Grounds on New Year’s Eve when making his first start in almost a year and a half. He;s run two credible races since on the dirt, hitting the board with allowance types at Fair Grounds and Ellis. He was a $1.4 million purchase who has been decent, but hasn’t quite lived up to expectations yet. He should get a favorable trip on or near the lead. From there’s, it’s a question of whether he’s good enough or not. I don’t love 3-1 and will be trying to beat him vertically, but I think he’s worth using on your multi-race tickets. Modus Operandi dominated a maiden field in Ireland by 11 lengths in his most recent start back in May. I have no clue what kind of horses he beat, but he was definitely competitive in Ireland. He has been moved from the Aidan O’Brien barn to Brendan Walsh’s barn for his North American debut, and his local drills on the dirt are respectable. Monition (6) is the longshot in here with the most upside for me. He rallied to win on debut at Ellis, going a mile over the turf course there. He’s certainly bred to be able to stretch out on the grass, so the added distance isn’t an issue for me. He’ll need to take a step forward, while facing a much deeper field today, so value will be imperative. He’s worth a look at 12-1 or better.


Race 4: Top Pick: 1

This is the second of three races for two year olds in the early Pick-5 sequence. This race is run at a mile on the main track and is for optional $80K claimers or N1X allowance types, but none of the seven are entered with the tag. I think Baladi (1) could be very tough in here and is worthy of being a single on your tickets. He ran well in his debut to break his maiden in a six furlong maiden allowance at Ellis in August. Twenty days later, he showed up at Arlington and ran a decent third when getting on the synthetic in the Arlington Washington Futurity at seven furlongs. His dam, Dancing House, was a multiple graded stakes winner at one turn dirt and a stakes winner at two turns on turf. Despite that, he has distance pedigree on both sides of the family, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he does his best running on the dirt. He gets a rail draw in race with a quick run into the first turn, which should be advantageous. I think he’s the one to beat in this race. On deeper tickets, Elusive Target (6) is the other one I would use when coverage would be afforded. He was a distant second to a next out stakes winner when going this distance last out in stakes company at Prairie Meadows. He’s from the very successful first crop sire, Gun Runner, whose horses figure to improve even more with added distance. Santana will have to work out a trip, as there’s decent speed posted inside of him.


Race 5: Top Pick: 5

The last leg of the early Pick-5 is the other division of the six furlong maiden special weight race that started the card. I’ll want coverage in this race too, as nine of the ten are making their debut. None are jumping off the page, so I’ll go with the horse with the best workouts (and the best name), Leslie Chow (5). Ben Colebrook does not typically do well with first time starters, winning only one time in 48 tries over the last two years. However, this son of Practical Joke (named after Ken Jeong’s character in the Hangover movies), has two very sharp workouts on this oval, which certainly generated some attention, as he’s 5-1 on the morning line. Switzer (6) looks like he could be a good one for Ron Moquett. He’s been working well in the mornings over at Churchill over the last month. John Velasquez, who hasn’t ridden much for Moquett, taking the mount is a positive sign. Strava (3) debuts for Dallas Stewart, who has some sneaky live mounts on the first few days of racing here. He worked all summer at Saratoga, but didn’t get to compete there. His works have improved since coming back to Kentucky. He’s sired by Into Mischief out of a Pioneerofthe Nile mare, so there’s reason to believe he can win early and continue to improve at longer distances. Stealth Fighter (8) was installed as the morning line favorite, most likely due to his connections. He debuts for Brad Cox and gets Florent Geroux to ride. His works aren’t as good as some of the others in here. His most recent drill here in the mud wasn’t bad though. Brad Cox doesn’t have great numbers with juveniles making their first start, so he’s likely to be overbet.


All A’s-B’s Ticket: ($0.50 Base wager – $93 Total)

2-5-6/3-4-5-10/1-3-4-8/1/3-5-6 ($72.00)

Four A’s/One C

2-6/5/1-3-8/6/3-5-6 ($9.00)

Four A’s/One C

2-6/5/1-3-6-8/1/3-5-6 ($12.00)


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