The Wednesday card kicks off closing week at Keeneland. After three weeks of decent weather for the most part, the forecast is not promising for this week. Today’s two turf races shouldn’t be affected, but rain in the forecast for the rest of the week is something to keep an eye on. The all-turf Pick 3 wager has been a big success at this meet, but it won’t be available today as there are only a pair of races carded for the turf on this eight race program. However, both turf races look like they are capable of producing some decent payouts.
|4||3,5||4||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|5||9,10,13||7,8||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 4: Top Pick: 3
This is a very good $20K starter allowance race that kicks off the late Pick-5 sequence. There are three short prices that all have similar running styles in this speed filled contest. I’m going to use two of them as A horses, making Machismo (3) my top pick. He was caught in the final strides at this level last out at Churchill when going 7 Furlongs, which broke his four race win streak. He has been in excellent form since being claimed by David Wolochuk at Thistledown back in June. He has some early speed, but can also press the pace, which might be the best way to attack this field. Beverly Park (5) was a winner ten days ago when facing a solid $10K starter allowance field here at this distance. He comes in after winning six races in a row. He broke second but quickly rushed up to take the lead last time, throwing down the gauntlet early and holding off the closers. This field is a little stronger and he’s being asked to run another huge race on relatively short rest. However, he has done that before and it’s hard to knock a horse that has that many wins strung together. There is a ton of speed signed on in this race, so I’m looking to add a little insurance in the form of a closer on the C line. Cave Run (4) was in better form back in the spring, however, he’s run some of his best career races when he’s had a sharp pace to close into. He hasn’t been as effective since he was claimed at Oaklawn back in April, however, he ran fairly well on the dirt two back at Ellis. He comes back to the main track after finishing a respectable third on the turf at Kentucky Downs. He may be better suited for underneath in the vertical exotics, but he looks like he is the best of closers in here. I’m going to try to beat the morning line favorite, Cove Blue (8) in this race, coming in off a huge effort with $16K claimers at Churchill last month. He was claimed out of that race by Juan Cano, who has been cold at the current meet. This one is capable of running big races, but he struggles to string them together whereas the other two shorter prices are more consistent. I think with the other speed signed on here, he is quite vulnerable.
Race 5: Top Pick: 10
The first turf race of the day is a maiden special weight for three year olds and upward on the grass. This is not the deepest field for the condition, so I think this race could be ripe for an upset. Sanctified (10) gets back on the grass after going in a very deep maiden special weight on the dirt last out at Churchill, in a race won by Cody’s Wish. Two back, this son of Point of Entry ran a credible race, finishing 7th, in a turf sprint, beaten less than 4 lengths. He didn’t have a ton of early foot that day and was forced to go widest of all in that race. He’s bred to be a two turn grass horse, and I think he has more upside than most here. I suspect that we won’t get 20-1 (ML) on him when they go to post, however, anything around 10-1 seems very fair. Rare Stripe (9) makes his 10th career start this afternoon, but only his third on the grass. He tried two turns on the turf at Ellis two starts back where he ran a strong second to a nice horse in Ginsburned. He went to Belmont and was 4th when sprinting 6 Furlongs on the grass last month. He comes back to Kentucky and stretches back out. He makes a lot of sense in this race. Mount Kenya (13) is the morning line favorite, but he’s stuck on the AE list. He hit the front at the top of the stretch in a deeper race when going 9 and ½ Furlongs here two weeks ago. He faded in the final furlong that day to finish third beaten four lengths. He was very good at the mile at Ellis three starts back and should be tough cutting back to the 8 and ½ Furlong distance in this spot. On deeper tickets, I’ll add Cronus (7) and Battle of Britain (8) to my tickets, especially in the event that Mount Kenya doesn’t get to run. Cronus will be making his turf debut for Jason Barkley. He was third in the slop here in April, when Stage Raider ran a monster race to break his maiden. He regressed next out at two turns at Churchill, but he went to the shelf after that race. As a son of Constitution, I’ll give him a look on the grass for the first time. Battle of Britain looks to be the most interesting firster in this spot. J. Reeve McGaughey has brought some live horses to the meet, but hasn’t had the best racing luck. This son of War Front is bred to take to the turf and his works are solid. He may be one to think about next time out, but for now, I’ll use him at 10-1 (ML) or greater.
Race 6: Top Pick: 2
There’s four logical contenders in this N2L allowance sprint. Of that group, I think Speitful Sam (2) is the one they’ll have to catch. He draws the rail and has the best early speed here. I think Edgar Morales will send him early and make him the target in this race. He was very good when breaking his maiden in an off the turf allowance race at Ellis two starts ago. He faced winners for the first time at Churchill in a very salty N1X allowance race. He’s been a different horse this year as a three year old, and I suspect he’ll be very tough for them to run down. Grandeur (5) ran in an super tough N1X allowance race here two weeks ago when two possibly stakes bound horses, Olympiad and Milliken ran away from the field. Grandeur duplicated his effort from two back at Delaware, proving that race was not a fluke. I think he is certainly eligible to move forward in this race, and if Name Rejected (7) ends up dueling with the top pick here, he may be the one that’s best suited to pick up the pieces. I’ll be playing against Name Rejected and also the morning line favorite, Ready to Answer (6) in this spot. Both have had several chances to break through and clear the N1X condition. Some of their races have been against better fields, but both strike me more as hit the board types, as opposed to win candidates today.
Race 7: Top Pick: 7
By staying skinny in some of the dirt races in this sequences, I’m able to spread in this leg, which, like the first turf race on the card, could set up nicely for a price horse. I ended up with Ask Bailey (7) as my top pick, hoping that she’ll get a quick enough pace on the front to set up her late charge. She was third, beaten only two lengths in a N2X allowance race going 1 Mile and ½ two weeks ago. She makes her second start off the layoff today, boasting some races in 2020 that would make her very competitive with this field today. I think 15-1 on the morning line is more than fair value on this daughter of Run Away and Hide. Elke Do Jaguarete (2) didn’t look like a horse that could be competitive on this circuit at a level like this last year in her four year old season. However, her first three races this year have been very good, clearing the N1X condition on a good course at Colonial two back and narrowly missing at this level there last out. She has some ability to flash some tactical speed if she needs to, but she’s also proven that she can be comfortable sitting toward the back of the field and making one run. More Than Unusual (1) was a horse that I was super impressed with this winter at the Fair Grounds when she embarrassed a field at the N1X level there in February. She ran a credible race here at this level in her next start, and then came back to be third at this level in a race on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. She makes her first start since that race today, and she’s certainly been working well at Indiana Grand to get ready for this. 5-2 feels a little light on her though. She’s run well enough to stay on the A line, but I’m hoping that her price will float up a bit. Three Flamingos (6) is another one that ran a strong race at the Fair Grounds during their winter/spring meet last year. She hasn’t been that close in her three races since, however, two of those races came in stakes company. The other race at this level was one where she was too close to a quick pace, which left her tank empty for the stretch run. She’s second off the layoff today and is another one with a big shot in this race. On deeper tickets, Bellagamba (9) is a total wild card. She makes her second North American start today at the N2X level despite winning three times, two of which came in Argentinian Group 1 races. She remains eligible for this race because of the value of those races (in American dollars) were on the light side. Ignacio Correras is more than capable of getting a foreign horse to improve after a few starts in his barn.
Race 8: Top Pick: 6
A full field of two year old maiden claiming fillies running with a hefty $150K tag, close the Wednesday afternoon program. I think Malibu Marie (6) is definitely the one to beat in this race, making her third career start for Brad Cox. She debuted at Ellis Park back in August and ran a decent third in her first start. She stretched out to a mile and caught a sloppy track in her next start at Churchill. She attended a hot pace and faded badly that day. Between the weather, the distance, and the pace scenario, that effort is a complete toss for me. Brad Cox’s horses tend improve in their second time, so in my mind, this race is as good as a second time start, assuming she gets a dryer track. Brain Hernandez, who doesn’t ride a lot for Cox, gets the call, as Geroux opts to ride the firster, Miss Remmia (2). Despite the smaller sample size over the last two years, when Hernandez and Cox team up, they’re winning 47% of the time. Miracle Mischief (11) makes her second career start and drops slightly into a high priced maiden claiming contest. She debuted on the turf at the Spa last month, and finished near the back of the pack. Arnold has good numbers with second time starters and horses dropping in from maiden special weight company into the maiden claiming ranks. I feel like we can get paid using this duo at the end of this sequence.
Note: Malibu Marie has scratched out of this race, along with a few others. With the defections, I’m comfortable replacing her with Triple P (7) on the A line and leaving Miracle Mischief (11) on the B line. Triple P makes her second career start after debuting with $50K maiden claimed last month at CD. While this move looks like a big jump in class, the defections in here make this more of a lateral move for her.
All A’s ($1 Base Wager – $24.00)
All A’s/B’s ($0.50 Base Wager – $48.00)
4 A’s/ 1 C ($0.50 Base Wager – $6.00)
4 A’s / 1 C ($0.50 Base Wager – $8.00)
4 A’s / 1 C ($0.50 Base Wager – $3.00)
Total Wagered: $89.00