The third week of the 17 day Keeneland Fall Meet starts with an eight race, Wednesday afternoon card. The featured race is a conditioned $140K allowance race which drew a seven horse field, headed by Prevalence, who won the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes here in the spring. As we move into the second half of the meet, the jockey race is wide open with Luis Saez and Tyler Gaffalione tied for the lead with eight winners a piece. Florent Geroux is right behind them in third place with seven wins. Todd Pletcher holds a two race advantage over Brad Cox, with a host of pursuers behind them a few wins of the pace. First post for the Wednesday program is 1:00 (ET) and the Late Pick-5 sequence, beginning with Race 4, is scheduled to go off at 2:36 (ET).
Best Bet: Race 7: #7: Prevalence (2-1, ML)
Best Price Stab: Race 6 #1: My Imagination (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|
|4||4||4,6,9||PK5, PK3, DBL|
|5||8||8||4||PK4, PK3, DBL|
The Late Pick-5 sequence gets underway with a $20K N2L claiming race which drew a field of ten runners going six furlongs. Oro de Moro Moro (#4) is an interesting runner making his 4th career start. He showed little in his debut with maiden special weight company at Ellis. He improved significantly to beat $30K maiden claimers in his second start, going this distance. He was overmatched again at Churchill when going seven furlongs with $50K N2L claimers, facing a better group than what he’s seeing here. He’s worked well in Louisville since that last race, firing a four furlong bullet last week. This is probably the right level for him. Zap Motion (#9) is taking a significant drop in class for Jonathon Thomas. He’s the morning line favorite who is coming off a dull outing on Opening Weekend here when facing N1X allowance foes. He’s made four starts for Thomas since being moved from Jerry Delhomme’s barn in Louisiana earlier this year. He hasn’t been as good, which explains the deep drop in class. I have mixed feelings about him, but playing against horses like this at this meet has not worked out well for me. I do believe the class relief will prove to be beneficial. Midaswellrun (#6) was claimed for $16K last out at Saratoga when he finished a solid second there in a seven furlong race. His form has been up and down, but the good version of himself is likely good enough to be right there with this group. I do wonder if the six furlong distance will prove to be too short for him. However, I think he stacks up well against the others in this one.
The morning line favorite for this N1X allowance race at 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf is Wesley Ward’s American Starlet (#8). While there are a few nice fillies in here, I don’t see anyone capable of challenging this Twirling Candy in the early stages of this contest. She faded late when going seven furlongs at this level last out at Kentucky Downs. She was cruising on the front end two starts back at Saratoga when next out winner, Freedom Speaks, proved to be the better animal. Her second place finish against the boys here in the spring was solid. I can make reasonable excuses for her two poor performances and this feels like the softest spot she’s been in since breaking her maiden at five furlongs at Gulfstream earlier in the year. Only Kidding (#4) would be the one that I’d back up with, knowing that she’d likely be the one that would be rolling late. She was very good in April at this level, losing by only a head. She struggled at five furlongs on the much-maligned new turf at Churchill. She’s been on the shelf since and many runners who didn’t fare well on that course have come back to run credible races elsewhere. I’m not as concerned about her making her first start since May as I am about her being pace compromised in this spot. I do know that American Starlet is likely better suited for five furlongs, but I don’t see her having to work on the front end. If there is a surprise duel or if the favorite isn’t sharp from the gate, Only Kidding becomes the logical alternative.
This maiden special weight race for two years olds going 1 mile and 1/16 on the main track, oversubscribed with 16 entered, where only 12 will run. However, the racing office added another race at this identical condition, carded as the 3rd race tomorrow. All four also-eligible horses in this race are in the body of tomorrow’s field, so I am under the assumption that all four will scratch out of this race even if there are other defections today. I haven’t been very impressed by those with experience that are running in this race, so I’ll take a shot with the Ken McPeek first time starter, Seeking Unity (#3) on top. His connections paid $210K for him, so he clearly made an impression at the sales. McPeek has hit with 7% of his first time starters over the last five years, when we talk about two year old first timers in route races, that number jumps up to 12%. He had two debut winners in route races at the Fall Meet at Keeneland last year, including future graded stakes winner, Smile Happy. This one doesn’t have a pedigree that screams two turns, as his sired Unified has not sired a debut route winner yet. However, both of the dam’s runners won early on, with one winning in the debut and the other winning in her second career start, which was her first two turn race. My Imagination (#1) is an interesting runner in this race, making his second career start for William Morey. He debuted in a sprint at Churchill where he didn’t show much. However, Morey’s horses tend to get better in their second career start. He has hit with 34% of his two year olds (11-34) making their second career start over the last five years. Horses sired by Lea also improve in their second start. He gets 7% debut winners, but 14% winners in start number two. My Imagination draws the rail in a race where there are some contenders stuck in tricky posts. He looks like a horse that could be flying under the radar here. Cyclone Mischief (#6) is the morning line favorite for Dale Romans, coming off a race where he faded in the late stages to finish a close up third. He was purchased for $450K at the Keeneland September Sale in 2021. He has three sharp works since his first try, so all signs are pointing toward a solid second career start. I’ll definitely use him, but this is a tricky race to take too short of a price on anyone. On deeper tickets, I’ll look to add Wicked Secret (#12), who is a longshot with a bad post in this race. He is also moving up in class after running with restricted maiden special weight company at Churchill last out. I thought his effort wasn’t bad while making his first start on the dirt, and he is bred to be able to handle two turns. He’ll definitely need to improve and he’ll need to work out a trip, but I see him as more appealing than some of the other horses that are listed at shorter odds on the morning line.
The featured race this afternoon is a conditioned $140K allowance race for three year olds and upward going 6 and ½ furlongs on the main track. I love Prevalence (#7) in this spot, making his first start since finishing up the track behind Jackie’s Warrior in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Stakes on the Derby undercard. Prior to that, he was the winner of the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes on this course on a wet track back in April. I believe that his big figure that day was not aided by the slop, as he paired his Beyer Speed Figure from his previous allowance score at Gulfstream. Besides being the class of this field, I think he’s going to get the dream setup today as there figures to be a solid pace set by some combination of Hollis (#3), Doc Amster (#4), and Chattalot (#6). I think all three of those horses are better suited for six furlongs or less. I see Prevalence stalking the early pace from his outside stall, and easily passing the frontrunners in the stretch. This feels like a race that could set him up for a shot in a Grade 1 race like the Cigar Mile at the beginning of December. If he is a little too keen on the front end and engages the pacesetters too soon, the one that I’ll use as a saver on the deepest tickets would be South Bend (#1). He’s likely better suited for underneath in the vertical exotics, however, he rallied into a moderate pace to be second at this distance last out over at Churchill. I think he could move forward by having a quicker early pace develop in front of him. I don’t think he’s as good as the top pick, but if he were going to beat him, it would likely be in a spot like this where he’s catching Prevalence off the layoff.
A field of eleven three and four year old fillies dash 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf in a N1X allowance race that will wrap up the Wednesday card. I’m interested to see Kant Believe It (#6) move on to the turf for the first time today. She was very good in her two races as a two year old, breaking her maiden on debut at Churchill, and coming within less than a length of winning the Myrtlewood Stakes on dirt here. She was on the sidelines for eleven months when James Divito had her come back in an allowance race on the main track at Churchill. She did not have a good break, which could have been caused by breaking from the outside stall in the starting gate that day. As a result, she was chasing an aggressive early pace and she ended up fading to last, as Tyler Gaffalione eased her up late. He gets off her in favor of the morning line favorite, Opening Buzz (#9), but Gabriel Saez has done well for Divito with limited opportunities. I think she’s bred to be a turf sprinter and I think 12-1 on the morning line is more than a fair proposition. I do think Opening Buzz could be a serious racehorse though and I’ll have her well covered on my tickets in this race. She looked special when she crushed a field of maiden special weight types on the synthetic at Golden Gate Fields in June. She didn’t seem to care for the dirt or the distance of the Fleet Treat Stakes in her second career try at Del Mar. She got on the turf there and was very smooth while clearing the state bred N1X allowance condition when going five furlongs. The added distance on the grass and the other early speed signed on is a bit of a question mark. However, being forward on this course has not been a bad thing at this meet, and she might just be too good for these. Shannon (#1) is the second choice on the morning line, and could get a good stalking trip if she’s able to get off the rail and find a lane in the stretch. She’s a track and distance winner, breaking her maiden here at long odds in the spring. Her last two efforts at Ellis and Kentucky Downs have shown that her big local effort was no fluke. On deeper tickets, Aboukir Bay (#4) and Arlyne’s Crown (#8) interest me a little bit. Aboukir Bay may want to go a little longer than the 5 and ½ furlongs that she’ll be getting today. However, there is a decent amount of early speed signed on and she closed a ton while going from last to first to break her maiden at Kentucky Downs last month. If there is a pace meltdown, I can see her getting involved late. Arlyne’s Crown is moving up in class from $50K starter allowance company at Ellis and Kentucky Downs. She’s been close in all five career starts, breaking her maiden at the Fair Grounds in maiden claiming company on the dirt. She’s bred to handle the turf and her first two turf tries weren’t bad. I think she’ll improve at one turn on grass if she’ll be content to stalk the pace. Jeff Hiles doesn’t start many turf sprinters, but he’s 4-7 since with them since 2021, boasting a huge ROI.
Pick-5 – $30 Ticket:
I see both American Starlet (#8, R5) and Prevalence (#7, R7) as logical singles in this sequence. Both horses are the class of their fields and they’re likely to get very favorable pace setups for the type of race that they want to run. I tried to sprinkle in some prices in the other three legs in order to try to manufacture some value.