The week of racing in Lexington wraps up with a nine race card, highlighted by a very good edition of the Grade 3 Franklin Stakes for fillies and mares sprinting on the turf. There’s also a maiden special weight race in this sequence featuring a full sister to champion filly, Malathaat. First post for the Sunday program is 1:00 (ET), with the Late Pick-5 getting started at 3:08 (ET).
Best Bet: Race 6: #4 Julia Shining (4-1, ML)
Best Price Stab: Race 5: #10 Switzer (20-1 ML)
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||12||4,10,12||6||PK5, PK3, DBL,
All Turf PK3
|6||4||4||7||PK4, PK3, DBL|
On the nine race programs at Keeneland, the end of the Early Pick-5 is also the beginning of the Late Pick-5. This sequence begins with an absolutely wide open N1X allowance race for three year olds and up, sprinting 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. Kaufymaker (#6) is the morning line favorite for Wesley Ward. Ward won eight races with turf sprinters at the spring meet and has won 34% of his turf sprint races at Keeneland in the last year. Ward is one for three with turf sprinters so far at this meet, winning with Golden Pal in the Woodford on opening weekend. Kaufymaker is making his first start in almost a year, most recently finishing third behind his stablemate, Twilight Gleaming (who is scheduled to run in Race 7 today), in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. He won his debut on the dirt in a 4 and ½ furlong maiden special weight here in the spring of 2021. Since then, he’s run four times on the turf, hitting the board in three of them. He’s been in challenging races, but he doesn’t jump off the page as a standout. I’ll cover with him on some deeper tickets, strictly from a connections standpoint, however, I’ll be trying to beat him. Willtorun (#12) has one career start, which was a very nice score at Ellis, coming from off the pace to earn the debut victory. Lasix is added for his second career start, and he’s drawn nicely for his first tilt with winners. His dam broke her maiden on synthetic and won her first three career starts. Her only other foal to race is a two year old filly that broke her maiden last month on the dirt at Churchill in her second career try. I think she stands a big chance with this group. Switzer (#10) is an interesting longshot in this race that has the look of a horse with a chance. He ran four dull races to start his career on dirt before breaking his maiden in an off the turf sprint at Sam Houston in start number five. He sprinted here on the turf with N1X allowance company in the spring and ran a big race to be 3rd that afternoon. He was off the board in the Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury, but he ran well again sprinting at Ellis. The 6 and ½ furlongs might have been a bit too far in his last start at Kentucky Downs, but his effort wasn’t terrible that day. He’ll likely need to move forward a little bit, but he’s definitely upped his game since moving to the grass, and at or near his 20-1 price, I see him as one of the better value plays in the race. Just Say When (#4) has never finished worse than second in five career starts, four of which came on the turf. He was transferred from Wesley Ward to Mike Maker’s barn prior to his last start, which was a win with $50K starter allowance company at Kentucky Downs. He moves back up the class ladder, and gets Gaffalione to pilot him for the first time.
Very quietly, Todd Pletcher is sending out Julia Shining (#4) for her career debut in this seven furlong plus race on the Beard Course. She is a full sister to Malathaat, who loves this course, winning the Grade 1 Spinster, Grade 1 Ashland, and Grade 3 Doubledogdare here. Malathaat was an emphatic winner at Belmont at this distance in her career debut around this same time of year in 2020. Her dam, Dreaming of Julia, decimated a maiden special weight field in a 6 and ½ furlong race at Saratoga when she debuted. My only concern is that she is listed at 4-1 on the morning line, suggesting that her works are indicating that she might not be of the same class as her mother or sister. However, I don’t see this race as a particularly deep contest, so based on pedigree and connections, I’ll use her as a single in the Pick-5. If she’s cold on the board when it comes time for the Pick-4, I’d definitely upgrade the morning line favorite, Ghostly Girl (#7) in this spot. She ran a solid race at seven furlongs in her debut at Churchill last month for Ken McPeek. She should improve in start number two and the extra 184 feet that she’ll get on the Beard Course should be beneficial. She’s clearly the main danger to spoiling the debut of a blue-blooded filly with a championship pedigree.
Race 7, The $300K Grade 3 Franklin Stakes:
This filly and mare turf sprint stakes race is absolutely loaded this afternoon. There’s several live runners with reasonable chances. The morning line favorite is Twilight Gleaming (#6), who most notably beat the boys to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar last year. I think she had an edge with that race being contested at five furlongs instead of 5 and ½ furlongs. That’s probably one of the reasons that Ward shipped her to Del Mar this summer to face older foes in the Daisycutter Stakes last time out. Most of the best races for turf sprinters are now at 5 and ½ furlongs in the Eastern part of the country, and she doesn’t appear to have the stamina for Kentucky Downs. That decision paid dividends as she was a winner that day. She came up just short in the Palisades on this course in the spring when facing the boys, however I didn’t think that race was very deep. This is a much tougher bunch for her, and she’ll likely be a short price when doing so. I think Caravel (#2), Creative Credit (#4), and Elle Z (#12) are going to keep her from shaking free on the front end. I’m going to look elsewhere in terms of the multi-race wagers. Change of Control (#10) won this race in 2021 and she’s back to try to reclaim her crown. She’s had a solid six year old campaign, despite only winning once at Colonial. She’s been right there in all of her races, including a big effort against the boys in the Grade 1 Jaipur. I think she can rebound from a dull effort in her first effort on synthetic at Presque Isle and sit the right trip with this group today. Bout TIme (#8) was so good two starts ago when dominating the Goldwood Stakes at Monmouth in July. She easily defeated a field which featured next out stakes winner, Robin Sparkles. That one turned the tables on her in the Caress, when Luis Saez, who was riding her for the first time, had her too close to a hot pace early on. Brian Hernandez, who rode her very well in New Orleans and Louisville earlier in the season, reunites with her this afternoon. She’s a lightly raced four year old that has a higher ceiling than many others in here. Illegal Smile (#13) is on the outside looking in for Wesley Ward, but he certainly could opt to scratch Twilight Gleaming and run this four year old filly in her place, as she is the first to draw in off the AE list. Caravel and Change of Control were slightly in front of her at Saratoga when they met in the Smart N Fancy Stakes in August. She was coming from a little further off the pace than usual that afternoon. She’s a perfect 2-2 on this course, and if she does draw in, she’ll likely be in the outside stall, which should allow Corrales to stalk and pounce. Star Devine (#1) is in search of her first win as a four year old. She ended her three year old season with a win in the Galway Stakes at Saratoga last year. She ran very well in the Giant’s Causeway to be second behind Wesley Ward’s, Campanelle. Like Bout Time, she was chasing the hot pace at Saratoga in the Caress, likely sitting a little too close to run her best race. I don’t love the rail for her, but I think she can contend with this group. If Illegal Smile does not get to run, I’d likely replace her with Brooke Marie (#11) thinking that it’s more likely that there will be a pace meltdown in this race, as opposed to a gate to wire winner. Her best races have been when the front end speed backs up to her. That was the winning formula at the Fair Grounds earlier in the year when she won the Pan Zareta Stakes. She makes her third start off the layoff, so I’m expecting her best effort. I do wonder if her best will leave her a little bit short with this group though.
I’m not feeling the two favorites in this optional $80K claiming/N2X allowance race going seven furlongs plus on the Beard Course. Uber Kirk (#7) is the morning line favorite after a very good N1X win at Churchill last month. He’s a seven year old gelding that is in good form, but that win was his first in over three years. He’s moving up in class and he’ll likely go off at short odds. That’s not a formula I’d like to wager on. Hidden Scroll (#1) resurfaced last month at Churchill for Wesley Ward and finished 5th with optional claiming/N3X company. He’s not very consistent and has never fully lived up to his potential. On top of that, he will likely be overbet as he’s been in just about every one of his starts. I’ll make Run Classic (#3) my top choice in his 5th career start. He was very good at the Fair Grounds last year, running well on debut, then breaking his maiden in his second career start. He tried the Louisiana Derby and was overmatched by Hot Rod Charlie that day. He was on the sidelines from that day in March back in 2021 until September 2022, when he returned with a sparkling performance to clear the N1X condition at Churchill. I think he’ll be better at longer distances, but at this point, in his second race off the layoff, the extended seven furlong distance should suit him well. On deeper tickets, both Spankster (#2) and AC Expressway (#8) are horses that are worth giving looks to. For as many miles as I’ve logged on the Atlantic City Expressway in my lifetime, you’d think I’d have a better read on the horse with it’s namesake. However, he’s one that I can’t seem to get right, meaning that he runs well when I don’t expect him to and he disappoints when I do back him. However, I do see this as a race that would fit him well in his second start off the layoff for Norm Casse. He was very good at this distance at Churchill in the Spring/Summer Meet there. He returned in stakes company where he was in over his head last month. Prior to his break, he had won or placed second in five of six races. I think he’ll rebound on the class drop here. Spankster is another one that is looking to regroup after a dull effort in his last start at Churchill. He’s best when he can use his early speed to be right on the early pace. I think that’s a weapon that he can employ effectively with this group, where there really isn’t a true frontrunner. I do think he’s another candidate to turn it around here.
I see the nightcap, which is a maiden special weight for two year old fillies going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf, as a two horse race, assuming none of the AE’s can draw in. Stay Lost (#5) is the top pick, making her third career start after pairing her Beyer figures in her first two. She faced a loaded field in her debut at Saratoga, losing to Pink Hue, Xigera, and Delight. She closed well to get into third in her second try at Kentucky Downs when she finished third. Deep closers have not had the best of luck at this meet, but she showed enough early foot in her debut to think that she’ll be closer to the early pace than she was last time out. John Velasquez is riding very well at this meet, taking home two more wins yesterday. Words of Praise (#7) is the other filly that I’ll be using in this spot. She tried to take a maiden allowance field gate to wire in her debut at Kentucky Downs last month. She tired a bit when climbing uphill in the stretch, finishing third, beaten four lengths that day. Unless one of the firsters is dead set for the lead, I would expect her to be the pacesetter in her second time out. Being near the front end on this course has been a plus for most of this meet, so that should give her an added boost as well. Safeen (#15) was a very good second place in that same race. She’s going to need some definite help to draw into this one and if she does, she’ll likely be marooned in post 12. However, she showed some definite ability at first asking and appears to be too good to ignore if she does get to compete with this group.
Pick-5, $48 Main Ticket
I’m going to get skinny with the two year olds in this sequence today, using the blue-blooded first time starter, Julia Shining (#4, R6) as a single. She was foaled by a champion who won on debut and her full sister is a champion that won on debut and loves this course. I will back up on some some smaller tickets with Ghostly Girl (#7, R6) in that race, and will likely use her more prominently in the Late Pick-4 sequence if I see that Julia Shining is cold on the board. There’s two also-eligibles in this sequence that should be considered, Illegal Smile (#13, R7) and Safeen (#15, R9). I left Safeen off this ticket, thinking that she’ll need a lot of luck to make it into the body of this field. However, she’s going to be covered if she does run. If Ward doesn’t get to run Illegal Smile in the Franklin Stakes, I’d likely replace her with Brooke Marie (#11, R7).