There’s a nine race card on tap at Keeneland this afternoon, anchored by some strong allowance races. The featured 8th race drew an overflow field of three year olds, with many familiar names going nine furlongs on the main track. As per usual, the first race goes to post at 1:00 (ET) and the Late Pick-5 will begin at 3:08 (ET) with the 5th race today.
Best Bet: Race 8: #8 Ice Orchid (5-1, ML)
Best Price Stab: Race 7: #3 Core Values (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|
|5||4||4,10,12||13||PK5, PK3, DBL,
|6||4||4,6,8||PK4, PK3, DBL|
This N3X allowance race is a significant race on the card for multi-race wagers. It concludes the Early Pick-4 and Pick-5 and it starts the Late Pick-5 and the $3 All-Turf Pick-3. I’m going to side with King Vega (#4) for Graham Motion and Joel Rosario in this race today. His first two starts in the spring since joining Motion’s barn from overseas were average. However, he has rounded into to some very good form over the summer. He won the Buckland Stakes at Colonial in August. He tried graded stakes company last month at Woodbine in the Grade 3 Singspiel at 11 furlongs. He was favored and he led at the top of the stretch, but that distance proved to be a little out of his range that day. He drops in class and cuts back in distance today for a barn that started off very hot at this meet. Mike Maker does such a good job with higher priced claimers, especially horses that he claims in the fall. He claimed Shadow Sphinx (#12) from Peter Miller at Kentucky Downs for $62,500 last out. That race proved to be a bit too short for him, and perhaps the quick turnaround was less than ideal as well. He was a game third on opening day at the Kentucky Downs meet in the Tapit Stakes. His Southern California form fits very well at this level. The post is tough, but he can run, and I think he’ll rebound in his first start for Maker. The heavy favorite on the morning line is Dark Shift (#10) with Vincent Cheminaud riding for Conor Murphy. Murphy has won with two of his last three horses making their first North American start, and is overall 25% (3-12) with his foreign shippers in the last five years. It is worth noting that two of those three winners did not finish first and were put up via disqualification. His most recent winner was a shipper from Dundalk who was scored in maiden claiming company in Indiana. This guy can definitely run, as he beat 28 other horses in a race at Royal Ascot back in June. While most of his races have come in longer sprints, he did win convincingly at Nottingham going 1 mile and 70 yards three back. I have some mixed feelings about him, but I’d have to think that he’s well-meant with a 9-5 morning line figure. If he draws in, he’ll have to navigate a wide draw, but Street Ready (#13) is definitely a player. He’ll want to be forwardly placed, so Saez may just try to put him on the front end and try to last the entire race. He’s been second in his last two tries at this level at Saratoga.
I’m not in love with the runners with experience in this maiden special weight contest for two year olds going 5 and ½ furlongs on the main track. I’ll use three first time starters, taking Cravensworth (#4) on top. He is bred to win early, being sired by Girvin, out of a Pulpit mare. The mare produced Run Away, who won his first three starts, including a win in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. Girvin has connected with 22% of his debut runners so far during his freshman season. Rosario takes the mount for Moquett today. More Than Five (#6) debuts for Bret Calhoun today. This son of More Than Ready has been working well in the morning for his debut. His dam, Five Star Momma was a stakes winner sprinting on the dirt and she won on her debut, Her only other foal to race has been based at Presque Isle, racing on synthetic. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her sprint on the turf at some point, but I think she can handle the main track. Time the Market (#8) is trained by Jason Barkley, who has already pulled off one big upset at this meet and has two wins with three starters. Not This Time is a tremendous debut sire and the dam won at first asking as well. The AM drills stack up well enough with the others in this race, so he looks like a viable longshot to use here.
Race 7, The $300K G3 Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes:
Keeneland cards two Grade 3 races at this 12 furlong distance each year. The Grade 3 Bewitch is in the spring and the Grade 3 Rood and Riddle Dowager is today. I’m going to try a longshot and take Core Values (#3) on top here. She’s coming off two poor races, but she had excuses in both. She was wide throughout while chasing a slower pacer in the Matchmaker in July, and she doesn’t seem to care for Kentucky Downs at all. She was crushed there last year in the Dueling Grounds Oaks and she looked like she wanted no part of that course in the Ladies Marathon there last month. She does seem like a horse that is at her best when running longer distances. She was a sharp 3rd in the Bewitch this spring and parlayed that effort to a nice effort when going 10 furlongs in the New York Stakes at Belmont. She was beaten by War Like Goddess in the Bewitch this spring and there’s no one of that caliber in this race today. Temple City Terror (#5) is another one that is at her best when running at these longer distances. She’s never finished off the board in four tries when going 12 furlongs. She’s won the Keertana Stakes twice at Churchill Downs, scoring this year and last year. She was sharp in the Glen Falls and the Flower Bowl at Saratoga, also finishing behind War Like Goddess both times. I think she’ll appreciate the class relief this time. Luck Money (#2) was second in this race last year, but she looked to be struggling this spring. However, she took a brief break after struggling on the soft course at Delaware in the Robert G. Dick Memorial and made her return in the Ladies Marathon last month at Kentucky Downs. She was much sharper that day, finishing a game third. Arnaud Delacour teams up with fellow Frenchman, Vincent Cheminaud today.
I really like Ice Orchid (#8) in this nine furlong N1X allowance race for fillies and mares. She was starting to improve while going two turns over the winter at Oaklawn. She ran well in her second career start, which was her first two turn test, narrowly missing the win that day. She came home with her lone victory in her next start, beating a solid maiden field, and running well enough to earn a spot in the gate in the Grade 3 Honeybee. She ran well enough that day to face eventual Kentucky Oaks winner, Secret Oath, who was absolutely awesome at Oaklawn this winter. She went on the shelf and returned last month in a one mile at this level at Churchill. She missed break, appearing to almost sit down on her hind legs when the gate opened. She spotted the field a few lengths while racing at the back of the pack, behind a hot tempo up front. She was stuck behind a wall of horses in the stretch and was pinballed around before finally getting some kind of lane. She finished well to be third that day, but she probably was good enough to beat that group with a clean trip. I prefer her at two turns and I think the nine furlong distance will suit her quite well. She’ll be a single for me in this race.
The week will wrap up with a N2X allowance race for three year olds and up, sprinting 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf course. Evan Sing (#10) gets the nod from me in his 6th career start. He’s a perfect 2-2 at this distance, clearing the N1X condition at Saratoga in impressive fashion two starts ago. He broke from the rail and was shuffled back to last at this level at Kentucky Downs last month. He was closing well late to get into 6th place that day. I fully expect him to sit a better trip and rebound from that effort today. Shug McGaughey cut Cloudy (#7) back to a sprint for the first time at this level at Kentucky Downs last month. He rallied nicely in between horses to get third, beaten 1 and ¼ lengths. He’s a perfect 2-2 at two turns on the turf, winning at Horseshoe Indianapolis and Ellis this summer. He’s an improving three year old whose figures are trending in the right direction. Sanctified (#2) was 4th in that same race at Kentucky Downs last month. Like Evan Sing, he boasts a perfect record at this 5 and ½ furlong distance on grass as well. His Colonial efforts this summer were strong and he backed up that form last time out. I can see him being a factor here as well. On deeper tickets, Call Me Midnight (#8) is a candidate to come from out of the clouds if this race melts down. We saw Aboukir Bay win at this distance with a similar kind of trip earlier in the week. Call Me Midnight is best known for shocking Epicenter in the Lecomte Stakes back in January. He’s idled since that race, but I thought he ran a very strong race in the Turf Sprint Stakes at Ellis in August. He didn’t seem to love being down on the rail in the Grade 2 Franklin Sampson Stakes at Kentucky Downs last month. If he can shake free, he could be flying down the crown of the track late.
Pick-5, $54 Ticket
This ticket will be built around Ice Orchid (#8, R8), who makes a lot of sense stretching out after an absolutely miserable run last out. She had every reason to throw in the towel at any point in that race, but she continued to try, closing late to get into 3rd. The other races in the sequence feel very wide open, so there are some definite spots to take some chances on some prices here.