The penultimate card of the year at Keeneland features a pair of stakes races, including a very deep renewal of the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes for three year old fillies. They were able to get all three races carded for the turf to go on the grass yesterday, as the rain didn’t start until after the card had commenced. The forecast for today and tomorrow is not ideal, so I’ll continue to prepare for both surfaces.
|6||8||1||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|12||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 6: Top Pick: 8
On paper, the two principal horses in this N1X allowance race are two well bred three year olds, both exiting a common race at this condition at Churchill. I give the advantage to Laughing Boy (8) today, as he appears to be the lone speed in this 1 Mile and 3/16 contest. He was dominating when he broke his maiden at Ellis two back under similar circumstances. He faced winners for the first time at the beginning of the month in that Churchill race, which drew a full and deep field of 12. He was used pretty hard in the early stages, but still fought gamely to be 4th, beaten three lengths that day. I don’t see anyone to force the issue with him here and speed was very good on this track early this week. Cheffy (1) is the main danger here, who finished in front of Laughing Boy last time out, while being wide all the way around after breaking from post 12. That was a very strong effort, and he gets a decent post advantage over his rival today. There’s no question that this son of Quality Road has some talent and I believe that he should get the distance. At similar odds, I think Laughing Boy is more desirable today from the pace scenario. If the odds disparity widens, I could be more inclined to use the longer price more prominently.
Race 7: Top Pick: 8 (Either Surface)
On either surface, I think this N2L allowance race for two year olds goes through the two favorites. I’ll give the slight edge to Lucky Boss (8) who had a miserable trip in the Grade 2 Bourbon Stakes at the start of this meet. He drew post 13 which was no bargain in that race. He had trouble at the break, being forced to be at the back of that large field. He had some run, but had a lot of traffic, which could be expected when coming from behind in field of 14. He showed enough to make me think that he’s capable on the grass with a better trip. He likes to be forwardly placed, which has been a good place to be on this course for the majority of this meet. On the main track, he broke his maiden going one mile at Ellis and ran a strong race to narrowly lose the Juvenile Stakes there, going 7 Furlongs. I have no concerns about him getting the distance today. Kiss the Sky (3) is the morning line favorite who was defeated by Lucky Boss when he made his debut in that off the turf race on the main track at Ellis in July. Since then, he broke his maiden at the Spa on the grass and came within less than a length of Bourbon winner, Tiz the Bomb, in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile. He’s been involved in all three races on both grass and dirt and he should be right in the mix again here. If this race stays on the turf, I’ll give another look to Martini’nmoonshine (12), who ran poorly in the Bourbon last out. Perhaps, he wasn’t a fan of the softer ground, and if that was the case for his poor effort, he might be up against it today. However, I just think he didn’t get a very good trip in that race, when some of the other runners were a little more aggressive towards going to the front. Colby Hernandez will likely have to send him early from his wide draw. If he’s left unchallenged, he could start to get brave, like he did two back.
Race 8: The $150K Myrtlewood Stakes: Top Pick: 7
This is a new stakes race to give two year old fillies a chance to sprint in stakes company at the end of the meet. This race drew a wide open eleven horse field in its inaugural edition. I ended up making Majestic d’Oro (7) my top pick, thinking that this race could be ripe for a pace meltdown. There’s a lot of speed signed on, and she looked very comfortable swinging wide and rallying from off the pace to win her debut at Indiana Grand, going 5 and ½ Furlongs. She jumped in class to run in the Grade 3 Pocahontas last month at Churchill, when she ran into a buzzsaw. She was 5th in that race, beaten 11 lengths by Hidden Connection, who is scheduled to make her next start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies next Friday at Del Mar. I didn’t hate that effort from Majestic d’Oro, as she was in the thick of it until a superior horse poured in on in the stretch, while she was taking a big step up in class, and going ⅜ of mile farther than she did in her debut. I think she’s dangerous on the cut back and she has the pedigree of a horse that could appreciate a little moisture in the track. Sweet Dani Girl (10) ran a monster race to break her maiden in her debut last month at Churchill, going to post at 45-1. She’s a homebred for the Vaccarezza family who fired a five furlong bullet on this course last week in preparation for this start. She looks like a horse that definitely has some ability. Chi Town Lady (9) was a debut winner on the main track here when going 4 and ½ Furlongs in the spring. She returns to the dirt in the afternoon for the first time since that race today. She won the Bolton Landing at the Spa this summer on the grass in August, but she came up empty when facing the boys in the Grade 3 Futurity three weeks ago. Wesley Ward has had another tremendous Keeneland meet, winning with 10 of his 29 starters thus far, so she is another one that merits respect here. Jester Calls Nojoy (1) is a shorter price that I’ll use as a back up today. She gets class relief after struggling in the Grade 1 Frizette, beaten by Echo Zulu, who also has a date scheduled in the Breeders’ Cup next week. Her maiden win at the end of the Saratoga meet was exceptional two starts ago. She cuts back to 6 Furlongs today, but with her front running style, and drawing the rail in this speed laden contest, I’m not sure this is the best spot for her.
Race 9: The Grade 3 Valley View Stakes: Top Pick: 7 (Turf) / 3 (Dirt)
This will be a very different race if this race comes off the turf. On the turf, it’s about as deep of a race in this division as we’ve seen this year. This is the last graded stakes race exclusively for three year old fillies in North America until the Grade 1 American Oaks at Santa Anita in December. I’m looking for some value if this race is on the turf, and I’ll start with Adventuring (7) as my top pick, thinking that she could be capable of wiring this field on a course that will likely be less than firm if the race does go off as carded. She’s a beautifully bred daughter of Pioneerof the Nile out of the multiple Grade 1 winning mare, Questing. She’s capable on the main track, despite a dismal effort in the Black Eyed Susan back in May, but she’s better on the grass. She’s coming off a win in the Dueling Grounds Oaks, where she controlled the pace on the yielding course. Despite having things her own way, she showed that she runs well when she can control the tempo. I think Geroux will be a little more aggressive with her, taking the blueprint from Rosario last out. Gam’s Mission (14) is another filly that has shown that she;s run her best races when there’s a little give in the ground. She won the Grade 3 Regret on a good course at Churchill in May and she followed that effort up with a very good 4th palace finish in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks. She found the ground a little too firm in the Saratoga Oaks Invitational in her last start in August. She reboots her three year old season in this spot, and is a contender despite her wide draw. Queenship (12) is a foreign invader for Joseph O’Brien who has been very good in four starts in Ireland. She’s won her last two races on soft courses, so there’s no concern about the condition for this daughter of Excelebration. Her Timeform figures are competitive for this field and this outfit is certainly prepared to ship and win races in North America. I’ll use the two shorter prices on the morning line on deeper tickets, on the C line. Toby’s Heart (4) is questionable to run if the course is too soft. She’s been very good at shorter distances, but is winless at longer distances. She is 2-2 on good courses, both of those races coming in sprint stakes races. I think she’s worth including as a cover, but I feel that 7-2 is very light for any horse in this race. The same could be said for the morning line favorite, Crazy Beautiful (3) who returns to the turf for the first time since breaking her maiden in her career debut at Ellis last July. Since that race, she’s been a multiple graded stakes winner on the dirt, so she’s been facing some salty competition. She was overmatched by Malathaat in the Grade 1 Alabama two back, but she recovered nicely to win the Seneca Overnight Stakes last month at Churchill. She’s absolutely the one to beat on the main track, but I’ll be a little more cautious with how I use her on the grass.
Race 10: Top Pick: 3
Speed was pretty good on the main track yesterday, and if there’s more rain in store, that might help the frontrunners even more. Breacher (3) showed improvement in three maiden special weight races in Ohio to start her career. She drops for a tag for the first time today, while moving to a much tougher circuit. However, she has very good early speed, and she drilled a 46:2 and bullet on this track two weeks ago in preparation for her first start since July. Horses coming in from softer circuits like those in Ohio, have been overlooked in the wagering this meet, but there have been some that have scored and paid well. Kolsch (9) is the one that I think that may pose the biggest threat, as he also likes to be forwardly placed. He was claimed for $10K at Churchill last out and now makes his first start for Shane Meyers. He has a good record with his starters that are running first off the claim. Brother Brad (8) ran two nice races with maiden special weight company in New Jersey and New York back in 2019 when he was two. He resurfaced in a $25K maiden claiming race on the grass after almost two full years away from the races. He makes his second start off that long layoff and returns to the main track. He’s worked well since that race, but I’m not 100% sure what type of effort we’ll see out of him. On deeper tickets, Tenor (1) and Bilko (4) are worth including. Tenor is beautifully bred, costing his connections $800K. He’s gone through a few trainers and now ends up with Diodoro, who spots him here. He is cutting back from two turns on the turf to a one turn dirt race. Bilko is also cutting back from two turns after making his dirt debut last out. He came up empty late against a tougher group that day, but there’s reason to believe that he can move forward at this lower level.
All A’s: (Turf only $1.00 Base Wager – $36 Ticket)
All A’s: (Dirt Only $2.00 Base Wager – $48 Ticket)
A’s/B’s – (Turf Only $0.50 Base Wager – $18 Ticket)
A’s/B’s – (Dirt Only 1.00 Base Wager – $24 Ticket)
4 A’s / 1 C (Turf Only – $0.50 Base Wager – $9 Ticket)
4 A’s / 1 C (Turf Only – $0.50 Base Wager – $6 Ticket)
4 A’s / 1 C (Dirt Only – $0.50 Base Wager – $4 Ticket)
4 A’s / 1 C (Turf Only – $0.50 Base Wager – $12 Ticket)
4 A’s / 1 C (Turf Only – $0.50 Base Wager – $18 Ticket)
4 A’s / 1 C (Dirt Only – $0.50 Base Wager – $12 Ticket)