The final four days of the Keeneland Fall meet starts off with an eight race Wednesday afternoon card. A pair of N1X allowance races on the turf sandwich an optional $80K claiming/N2X sprint in Race 6. First post is at 1:00 PM (ET) with the Late Pick-5 starting at 2:36 (ET).
Best Bet: Race 6: #7: Magic Quest (6-1, ML)
Best Price Stab: Race 5 #8: Setna the Wise (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|
|4||6||3,4,6||5||PK5, PK3, DBL|
|5||8||8,10||4||2||PK4, PK3, DBL|
A field of nine three year olds will sprint 6 and ½ furlongs in this $50K claiming race that starts the Late Pick-5. This feels like a wide open race to me. I am playing against Double Thunder (#8), who is dropping in class for Todd Pletcher, after being on a steady diet of stakes races. He is a Grade 3 winner and cleared the N2X condition as a two year old. There’s not many options for a horse like him in the condition book, so the drop in class to claiming company makes sense. However, I don’t see him being his best at this distance, and I think some of his rivals are simply better at this point in their careers. I’ll make Totalizer (#6) my tepid top choice here. I would have a little more conviction with him if there were more early speed on, however, I do think at 10-1 (ML), he offers the best value in the field. He was pace compromised in his last two starts at Oaklawn before going on a three month hiatus. He returned with a solid effort in $50K N3L claiming company at Saratoga. He took a huge swing in the H. Allen Jerkens two starts back, and faltered most recently at Churchill against some salty starter allowance foes. He didn’t break well that day when breaking from the rail, which put him behind the eight ball early on. I do see him as a rebound candidate, since his efforts prior to that showed a steadily improving pattern. I’m not sure who’ll be setting the pace here, but I’m assuming it’s going to be either Overtaxed (#3), Cathedral Beach (#4), or Uptown Hustler (#5). Both Overtaxed and Cathedral Beach are more established runners that have had some success on the racetrack. Overtaxed cleared the N1X condition back in June, but proved to be no match for Gunite in the Maxfield Stakes in July. He came back in a salty N2X allowance race at Churchill in September where he finished 5th behind Kavod and next out winner, Tejano Twist. He’s not the most consistent runner, which is likely why he finds himself in for the tag for the first time today. Cathedral Beach on the other hand is making his fourth consecutive start for his fourth different trainer. He was popular at the claim box this summer at Saratoga, winning both of his starts in Upstate New York. He had a bit of a rough trip when facing starter allowance foes at Aqueduct last out. Tyler Gaffalione started slow at this meet, but he’s picked things up, finding himself in a familiar spot, atop the leaderboard at Keeneland. Uptown Hustler will make his first start against winners today and only his 4th overall start today. He was very good a few weeks ago, crushing a field of $20K maiden claimers while running for Wesley Ward. Jason Barkley, who has had a very productive meet, claimed him from that spot and wheels him back quickly in an effort to strike while the iron is hot. This is a big step up in class, but that forward move came in his first race when competing on dirt.
There’s two divisions of this N1X allowance race for three year olds and upward, traveling about 1 mile and ⅛ on the turf course. The second division will also be in the sequence, carded as the 7th race of the day. I’ll take a shot with Setna the Wise (#8) to upset this field at a decent price. Jason Barkley and James Graham have already connected twice together at this meet and four of Graham’s six wins at the meet have come on the turf. NBS Stables paid $335K at the Ocala Sales in April of 2021, so there have always been high hopes for this son of Cairo Prince. He won on debut at the Fair Grounds and was a respectable 6th here in his second career try. He improved over his next two starts, narrowly missing at this distance at Saratoga two starts back. He struggled last time out at Kentucky Downs, finishing a wide 9th at this level. I’d be willing to throw that race out, especially if that means getting him at or near his 15-1 morning line figure. I think Mount Rundle (#10) is the main danger and likely the one to beat in this race. He was very good in his first two tries in the spring. He’s run solid races in his last two tries in stakes company, most recently finishing third in the Grade 3 Dueling Grounds Derby. He drops in class to try to clear the N1X allowance condition and blinkers will go on for the first time today. I think his last two efforts stack up very well against his rivals here. Win Worthy (#4) is a horse for course play, after running very well here last fall and spring. He closed a ton last fall to break his maiden on a good course over this oval last October. He’s been winless since, but his best effort in that span was at this distance on this course back in April. He likely needed his last race last month, which was his first start since the end of May. Irad Ortiz taking the mount will upgrade his chances, but likely limit his value. Running Bee (#2) is the morning line favorite for Chad Brown. His maiden score was strong at Saratoga, winning at 1 mile and 3/16. However, he beat a field where many of the runners were interested in going longer distances. I’m concerned that he struggled over the softer course at Kentucky Downs last month, despite facing graded stakes foes. I’ll use him as a saver, but I think there’s better value plays in this race.
While Chad Brown trains a vulnerable favorite in the 5th, I see Zainalarab (#3), a horse he used to train, as also being vulnerable in this optional $80K claiming/N2X allowance sprint. She was a million dollar baby that has had some gaps in her running lines, especially early on in her career. She won on debut on the main track at Belmont in her only start as a two year old. She was second to a very nice Brad Cox horse, Australasia, when she made her three year old debut on the Kentucky Oaks undercard in 2021. She was off again until August of 2021 when she cleared the N1X condition at Saratoga. She’s been winless since then, running two very poor efforts on this course at seven furlongs before moving to the grass. She ran solid races in her last three starts on turf, but now Shadwell has moved her out of Brown’s barn and into Brendan Walsh’s. I don’t love the cutback to six furlongs and I don’t love the move back to the main track today. I’ll try to beat here, hoping that Magic Quest (#7) is back to her old self in her second start off the layoff. She was running much faster races last year than her rivals have been running lately. She was away from August of 2021 through September of 2022. She showed some aggressive speed before backpedaling in a similar race last time out. I thought she was very sharp early that day, but she probably needed that race. Horses sired by Nyquist have won at a 19% clip on the main track at Keeneland (where he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile). I think this filly gets to the front and proves to be too tough to catch today. I’d look at Ride the Plan (#4) as a saver here. He was very good in her last two dirt starts at Colonial and Hawthorne, breaking her maiden and clearing the N1X condition. She tried turf for the first time at Kentucky Downs in her most recent start, and she didn’t embarrass herself, finishing 5th that day. She comes back to a main track sprint, which has been her break and butter so far. I think she’s going to be tough, but I do see her needing to step forward to win.
The second division of this N1X allowance at about nine furlongs on the turf appears to be on par with the first leg. Al’s Rocket (#7) makes a lot of sense in this spot, coming off two very game off the board finishes where his combined margin of defeat was 1 and ¾ lengths. He has the look of a three year old that is starting to figure some things out on the track. Todd Pletcher has brought plenty of live runners to the meet, leading the trainer standings with nine wins from only 28 starters. Kitten Mischief (#1) is a horse that I’ve liked since his gutsy debut in a maiden special weight win at Aqueduct last November. He ran well in his second career start at this level at Gulfstream, but struggled when facing graded stakes company in the Sam F. Davis in February at Tampa. He tried the turf for the first time in the Columbia Stakes there in March. He finished 6th that day and went on a six month hiatus following that effort. Jonathan Thomas brought him back in a modest race at this level at the Meadowlands last month where he finished 3rd, while getting a wide trip. He can see him taking a step forward today at longer odds, while getting Vincent Cheminaud aboard. Brazillionaire (#4) is in search of his 4th straight victory, winning his first three races on the NYRA circuit. He’s coming up from claiming and starter allowance company, this will be a tough step up in class. However, he’s very consistent, hitting the board in 11 of 12 career starts on the turf, winning four of them. Englehart will try to ride the hot hand on the bump up in class for this five year old Candy Ride gelding. Verstappen (#6) will be one that I’ll cover with on some deeper plays. He was very sharp off the bench last month at Kentucky Downs, The horse that beat him that day, Time for Trouble, was a next out winner on the grass at Belterra. I do worry about a possible regression, but his last try was also his first as a gelding, which could have explained a spike in performance.
I see the $40K maiden claiming race to end the card as being on the chalky side. I’m leaning on Apollo Rising (#11) on to win in his second career start. He was grinding home well late when he debuted with $30K maiden claimers last month at Churchill. He’ll get the extra furlong, which could have benefited him last out. This is a slight bump up in class, but looking at the opponents, there’s not many in here I’d deem to be scary. Master Game (#3) is the morning favorite and the one they’ll have to beat. He tried the turf last month at Kentucky Downs where he finished up the track. Prior to that, he was running tough races against significantly better competition. His dirt speed figures stack up well here, so he’d definitely be a cover for me.
Late Pick-5 – $48 Ticket
This ticket is going to be centered around Magic Quest (#7, R6) hopefully finding her best form today. I like her chances in that race, while facing a favorite that I see as vulnerable. I’ve put together a $48 play.I see both Setna the Wise (#8, R5) and Kitten Mischief (#1, R7) as possible horses that could move the needle at longer odds.