A pair of seven furlong stakes races anchor the Saturday afternoon program at Keeneland. Race 6 is the Perryville Stakes for three year olds and Rave 9 is the Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run Stakes for three year old fillies. First post is 1:00 (ET) with this Late Pick-5 sequence getting underway at 3:40 (ET).
Best Bet: Race10: #7 Push Button (4-1, ML)
Best Price Stab: Race 8: #3 Gate Runner (15-1 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|
|6||3||3,8||6||PK5, PK3, DBL|
|7||6||2,3,6||PK4, PK3, DBL|
Race 6, The $250K Perryville Stakes:
The first leg of the Late Pick-5 is a very good seven furlong sprint for three year olds, which drew two very strong runners in Artorius (#3) and Gunite (#8). There’s no doubt that Gunite is the more accomplished runner, earning a Grade 1 victory as a two year old when he won the Hopeful at this distance. He’s come back to run five strong races so far as a three year old, winning three stakes, including the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga. He was second to Jack Christopher in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens two starts back, in which was a very game effort behind a top quality opponent. He’s recorded three consecutive triple digit Beyer Speed Figures while none of his seven rivals in this spot have earned one. He’s clearly the one to beat, but don’t sleep on the up and coming Artorius, who will be my top pick. Juddmonte purchased his dam, Paulassilverlining, at the end of her four year old season with the intent of breeding her to their champion, Arrograte. Paulassilverlining was a stakes winner at two, three, four, and five. While racing as a five year old for Chad Brown, she broke through and won two Grade 1 stakes, the Madison at this distance on this course, and the Humana Distaff on Derby Day. She was an excellent sprinter that relished this seven furlong trip. Artorius was second here in his debut race at six furlongs in the spring. He broke his maiden next time out at Belmont going the one turn mile. He won the Curlin Stakes at nine furlongs and was 6th in the Grade 1 Travers in his last start. Brown cuts him back to a sprint here, which could be a bit short for him. However, I think he’s the type of horse that could be very good at these longer one turn races. On deeper tickets and underneath in the vertical exotics, B Dawk (#6) makes some sense here. I don’t think he’s as good as the top two, however, he does own a monster win at this distance on this course back in the spring. He tried two turns for the second time with a crowded field in the PA Derby last month, finishing 6th at 105-1. This is his best distance, and he could be primed for a better effort on the cutback today.
Fillies and mares sprint 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf in this N2X allowance race. I see a lot of early speed that might set the table for Sara Mia (#6), who has been very good in her last two tries. She cleared the N1X condition in a N2X allowance race at Kentucky Downs last month when going seven furlongs. Watching her turf and synthetic races back, I think that this could be her best distance. If she can get a clear run in the stretch, I think she can win again today. Empress Tigress (#2) is a three year old filly that is coming off two strong efforts in stakes races with her age group. She won the Coronation Cup in July and was second in the Galway in her last start. She is the class of the field and she is definitely fast enough to win these. My concern with this lightly raced filly is that she’ll be down inside of horses on race day for the first time today. She’s had some very cozy trips from her outside posts so far. There’s some other capable speed horses to her outside, so she’s going to have to prove that she can win outside of her comfort zone. I don’t doubt her talent, and she’ll be on my tickets, but if her price gets too low, I think it’s worth trying to take a swing against her. Wesley Ward sends out Storm Kiss (#3) for another turf sprint. She started her career with two synthetic sprints, a dirt sprint, and a one mile turf race before sprinting on the grass for the first time. She ran very well at Kentucky Downs, securing a victory at the N1X level. She moves up in class and cuts back to the shortest distance in her career yet. While I’d feel better if Ward had tried her sprinting on grass sooner, I still trust his decision making with just about any turf sprinter he sends out on this course.
This is an interesting N1X allowance race on the dirt for three year olds and upward going 1 mile and ⅛. There was a N2X allowance race carded exclusively for three year olds at this distance on Thursday, and many of the horses that came out of the Bourbon Trail Stakes used that race. War Campaign (#1), who is the morning line favorite, was closing well late to be third that day. He’s an improving three year old that should get a great setup in this race, as I think both Film Star (#6) and Strong Quality (#10) could be struggling in the final furlong, as they both want to run the same kind of race. My main concern about War Campaign is that the five runners from the Bourbon Trail Stakes were dull on Thursday. He ran a big race that day, so the question remains if he can run back to that. I’ll use him on the A line, but I’ll take a longshot on top. Todd Pletcher and Luis Saez team up with Gate Runner (#3) to face winners for the first time today. He’s been a bit slow to learn the game, having some issues in his maiden special weight races. He put it all together last time out in a ten furlong race, winning by open lengths. The distance will not be an issue for this son of Arrogate. Pletcher and Saez are winning at a 45% clip when pairing up at Keeneland since 2021. I believe he’ll get the right setup and take another step forward today. On deeper tickets, Kissalot (#13) will be drawing into this race today, after being excluded as an also-eligible the other day. He’s been sharp in his first two races since being claimed by Saffie Joseph for $50K at Churchill in June. He won with starter allowance company at this distance at Saratoga in July and then went on to finish second in the Smarty Jones for three year olds at Parx. While I prefer the top two, I do think he’s dangerous if he can work out a trip from his wide post.
Race 9, The $350K G2 Lexus Raven Run:
A field of nine three year old fillies are sprinting seven furlongs today. The question that will need to be answered here is if the morning line favorite, Smash Ticket (#2), can get the distance. She’s been very good so far, winning four of six career starts. She was dominant in the Weather Vane Stakes last month at Pimlico when going six furlongs. Her dam was a New Mexico bred win machine, who was a multiple stakes winner. She ended her career winning when going a two turn mile at Sunland in stakes company. If she’s not pushed, I think she’ll handle the added distance, but if she’s under pressure from the start, I think she’ll have to run a monster race to win, I’ll cover with her, but I’ll make Wicked Halo (#8) the top pick for Steve Asmussen. She comes into the race riding high on a three race win streak. She earned another Grade 2 victory when winning the Prioress last month at Saratoga. I think these longer sprint races are right in her wheelhouse. She has the ability to settle off the leaders and make her move going into the stretch. Last Leaf (#4) is a bit of an interesting longshot in this race. She had a three race win streak snapped last month when losing to a dominant Echo Zulu in the Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes. She was handily in front of Freedom Speaks (#7) in the Game Face Stakes this summer at Gulfstream. Her wide trip was less than ideal, and she was absolutely pace compromised behind an excellent filly in her last start. I think she’s a longshot candidate to improve here.
The Saturday nightcap is a nine furlong maiden special weight race on the turf for three year olds and up. Many of the horses in here seem like plodders that accumulate decent figures without ever looking like a winner on the track. That leads me to taking Push Button (#7) on top here, making his second career start. Both Inbound (#9) and Vintage Year (#13) finished in front of him that day, but he was less than two lengths behind the winner. While he tied a bit late, I’m expecting this Mike Maker gelding to move forward with another nice, forwardly placed trip. Pancake House (#12) ran a big time race off the bench when racing on this course during the Spring Meet. He was flat in his next start at Churchill before going back to the sidelines. He ran a big race when breaking from an outside stall that day, so I’ll trust that Edgar Morales will be able to get another decent trip despite the less than favorable post.
Pick-5, $36 Ticket:
I’ll go without a single in this sequence, which will feature a few short priced favorites. If we can beat some of them, we can likely get a solid return on this $36 investment. Gate Runner (#3, R8) and Last Leaf (#4, R9) are two longer priced horses that are facing some favorites that clearly have some question marks. I think both runners have a shot.