The final Thursday of the meet at Keeneland offers a nine race program, headed by a pair of wide open N1X allowance races at nine furlongs on the turf. The Breeders’ Cup, which will be held here on Friday and Saturday next week, drew the pre-entries for all 14 races yesterday, so the fields for thoroughbred racing’s Championship Weekend are starting to come into focus. Make sure to check back at In The Money over the next week for tons of great Breeders’ Cup related content. If you’re not a subscriber to ITM Plus, this is the time to sign up, as the additional content from some of the best handicapping minds in the game this week alone is well worth the price of the year long subscription. The first post for this afternoon’s card is 1:00 (ET) and the Late Pick-5 will begin at 3:08 (ET).
Best Bet: Race 7: #1 Centurion (5-2, ML)
Best Price Stab: Race 5: #6 Sister Nell (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|
|5||6||5,6,11||4||PK5, PK3, DBL|
|6||7||7,9||PK4, PK3, DBL|
Like yesterday, the N1X allowance race at about 1 mile and ⅛ was split into two divisions, with the second heat going as Race 8. On paper, I think the second division has more depth than the first. However, from a betting perspective, I think that this race is absolutely wide open. The shortest prices have had several chances at this level. The morning line favorite is Bravo Kitten (#11), who is coming off a narrow loss at this level last month at Kentucky Downs. She broke her maiden at Gulfstream this winter and was very strong at this level on this course in the spring. She typically runs credible races and is likely getting some form of class relief in this spot. I think her effort on this course six months back is a good enough reason to use her on the A line, however, I do believe we can do better from a value perspective. I’ll use a pair of runners coming off subpar efforts at Kentucky Downs on top. That course is demanding and not every horse is up to that challenge. I do believe that some horses rebound nicely when moving back to a more traditional oval, like we’re seeing from both Two Sixtyone (#5) and Sister Nell (#6) today. I’ll make Sister Nell, in her second start off the layoff, my top pick in this race. She looked very good in her lone turf at Gulfstream over the winter, scoring in her debut. She wasn’t interested in the Tapeta when making her second start, and then she went to the sidelines. She returned at Kentucky Downs, where she was never able to get involved in that race, fading toward the back of the pack. She actually finished in front of Bravo Kitten at first asking, and even though that one has more seasoning now, I think this Kitten’s Joy filly has a live look for top flight connections. I think getting 20-1 (ML) is a pipe dream, but I’d play her confidently at odds of 8-1 or better in this spot. Two Sixtyone is trying to clear the N1X condition in her 27th career start. However, she has won 6 of her 26 races, and she’s facing a field where 10 of her 11 rivals have only their maiden win on their respective resumes. She crushed a field of starter allowance foes at Churchill in June and she’s held her own in stakes races on the grass. She struggled in her last two, but one was in stakes company and the other was a sprint at Kentucky Downs. She knows how to win and she fits on figures, giving her an edge here. I’ll throw in Implosion (#4), a 30-1 bomb on the morning line, on some deeper plays. She has one career start on the turf, which came on a good course over the summer at Ellis. She was 7th that day, but she was making her first start since December there. She showed some early interest before backing out of the picture. Margolis brought her back to the main track for her second try off the bench, finishing a traffic-filled 5th. Ice Orchid came back out of that race to win the other day, so I’d venture a guess that her light Beyer Speed Figure would have been more inflated with a better trip. That suggests to me that she is trending upward and I think she deserves another shot on the grass. Francisco Arrieta rode some longshots very well yesterday, so getting him back in the saddle should be a plus.
I think the favorites are going to be tough to beat in this 5 and ½ furlong maiden special weight race for two year old fillies. Malibu Toast (#7) is making her second career start for Brad Cox and Florent Geroux will be getting the return call. She hit the front end at the top of the stretch, but she was nailed late. Brad Cox has great numbers with second time starters, so I would not be surprised to see this daughter of Tapwrit take a step forward here. Her dam, Blueeyesintherein, was a stakes winner at two and three, and all of her foals to race have been winners. Rarify (#9) is an interesting runner, being a half to Runhappy. Her connections paid $750K for her, hoping that this Justify filly can duplicate the success of her older brother. The dam wasn’t much on the track and hasn’t produced any other foal of note though. She was a two time beaten favorite at Saratoga this summer in her first two starts for Wesley Ward. Her two races there were faster than anything else that her rivals have produced, thus justifying the 6-5 morning line figure. She looms as the one to beat. Another pedigree play in here is Master Som (#1), making her second career start, and her first on dirt. She’s a half to Nashville, who like Runhappy, was a tremendous sprinter, who had a few huge races on this oval. Also like the dam of Runhappy and Rarify, the dam of Master Som (Veronique) hasn’t produced much of anything outside of Nashville. I do think if Asmussen thought she was going to be a serious runner, she would have debuted at Saratoga instead of making her first start on the grass at Kentucky Downs. Perhaps the tote will give me more clues, but I’d still be inclined to play against her in this spot.
I think this $50K N2L claiming race runs through the favorite, Centurion (#1). He was facing some salty optional claiming/N1X allowance foes at Monmouth over the summer. He was a fast closing third behind Awesome Aaron, who is a Chad Brown runner that threw down the gauntlet on the Haskell undercard in July. I think that effort might have taken a little starch out of him when he came back a few weeks later at the same condition and finished 4th with a wide run. He dropped to this level and was a decent second behind Icarus, who ran huge after walking early on the front end. Centurion was clearly second best in that race, as he fought hard to narrowly finish in front of the third place horse, despite dealing with another wide journey. He draws the rail today and he should be able to sit a nice trip just off the early speed. I think he’s going to be too tough for this group. On deeper tickets, I’ll look to Civics Class (#7), who might have the best early speed in this race. He dominated a field of $32K maiden claimers two starts back at Colonial. He shipped to Churchill and dropped to this level when going seven furlongs. He yielded late that day after setting moderate fractions. He’s sired by Street Sense out of a Birdstone mare, so despite his disappointing effort when sprinting, I’d think he’d be a candidate to improve at two turns. His lone two turn race on the main track was an off the board finish with maiden special weight types at Churchill in his second career try. It was a strong effort for only his second start, and at this point in his young career, this race feels like a more appropriate class level.
I liked the Todd Pletcher runner in the first division, and I’ll go right back to the same well in this heat, making Insatiable (#3) my top pick. This will be her first start for him after racing for Gregory Sacco and Red Oak Stable at Monmouth over the summer. This isn’t the first time Red Oak has sent a talented Sacco horse to Pletcher (Mind Control for one). She was very impressive when sprinting on debut, beating a strong field in New Jersey. She stumbled and lost the rider in her second start, but came back to run two quality races in sprints after that. She was 5th in her most recent start, when she was left with too much work to do after falling behind early. She is bred to go longer distances, and going from 5 and ½ furlong races to a nine furlong race is a big ask. However, I do think she will prove to be a better runner in route races and I’m expecting a strong showing from her today, Personal Best (#5) is the morning line favorite and a live runner here for Shug McGaughey. She was gradually improving before breaking through in a big way at Kentucky Downs last month. Tyler Gaffalione was able to wrap her up late after surging to the front, suggesting that there is more in the tank for this Tapit filly. He gets the return call for her first foray against winners. Thisnameisokay (#8) is an interesting three year old filly who came into the Virginia Oaks two starts ago, riding high off a three race win streak, where she obliterated her competition in two of those starts. She drew post 14 that afternoon and had to be used hard to get to the front. She did not corner well on the second turn (on the inner turf at Colonial), and ended up finishing 8th, beaten five lengths. She did dig in well late after conceding all of that ground. I thought she ran a credible race last out in the Rosenberger Memorial Stakes at Delaware, which was taken off the turf. Jhonatan Mendoza, who doesn’t ride a ton of horses, has ridden her very well, and he gets to follow her to Keeneland. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with Elle Est Forte (#1), who feels like a better fit at the bottom of the vertical exotics. She certainly has a shot, as she has run well in several N1X races. She’s been 2nd, four times in her career, including once on this course. She narrowly missed breaking her maiden at this distance that day. She definitely has a shot, but 7-2 (ML) feels light for my taste.
The day will conclude with a $30K maiden claiming race for two year olds, sprinting six furlongs. Mataro (#9) likely has the most accomplished dam in the field, as he was foaled by multiple Grade 1 winning sprinter, Lady Tak. Her best foal to race was Casual, who was multiple graded stakes placed. This colt doesn’t look like he has that kind of ability, or he wouldn’t be entered with a $30K claiming tag. However, he’s been freshened a bit and is cutting back to the main track. He appears to be quick enough to set the tempo in this race. Six furlongs may prove to be out of his range, but if he’s able to set a comfortable tempo, he could be hard to pass late. Salta (#6) ran two decent races in Southern California before shipping East. He was entered in a $75K maiden claiming race last time out at Churchill. He chased a hot pace that day and faded to finish off the board. He may have to tangle with Mataro early, but I do see this as a fairly soft field that he’s up against. On deeper tickets, Premium (#2) is worth using on the drop in class. His half sister, Park Avenue, is a stakes winner on the turf and a two time winner on the dirt. She’s better at two turn races though, so this one may want a little more ground. This Mastery colt will get an extra half furlong from his last start and may prove to be more effective at longer distances. However, I do think he can move forward with this group today.
Pick-5, $48 Ticket
I think Centurion (#1, R7) is the most likely winner in this sequence, so I’m going to build this ticket around him. The maiden special weight race for two year olds in Race 6 looks like the two shorter prices will have a significant advantage over their rivals there. I see the turf race races as being wide open contests, so both of those races will be spread races for me, where hopefully we can get a few prices to make this ticket pop.