Keeneland Late Pick-5 Preview – 4/12/23 – By Eric Solomon

The first Wednesday program of the meet is an eight race program, highlighted by a few interesting allowance races on the turf. Flirting Bridge (#11, R7) will be a heavy favorite in Race 7, while making her first start since a game loss in a photo in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor last fall. She feels like a free square in this sequence this afternoon, which will get underway at 2:36 (ET).


Best Bet, Race 6: Street Swagg (#7, 9-2 ML)

Best Price Stab, Race 5: Maintainer (#9, 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
4 9 4,6,9 10 PK5, PK3, DBL
5 9 9,13,14 1,7 8 PK4, PK3, DBL
6 7 7 9 PK3, DBL
7 11 11 4,8 DBL
8 1 1 10

Race 4:

The first leg in this sequence is a $30K N2L claiming race for three year olds and upward, going six furlongs. I think both Don’t Wait Up (#1) and Headline Report (#5) are suspicious in this race, and at short odds, I’m going to be trying to beat them both. Tom Amoss has a pair of runners that interest me. I’ll give a slight preference to Color Field (#9) shipping in from Oaklawn. He was good two starts back when breaking his maiden with $30K maiden claimers in Hot Springs. He caught a muddy track when facing winners at a similar condition. He ran on late that day to get third, but seemed to struggle to find his best stride on the wet footing. His fast track efforts in one turn races show a pattern of improvement, so I could see this three year old Mastery colt taking another step forward here. His stablemate is Baby Quinn (#4) who makes his first start since June today. His maiden score came in the slop back in May. He would struggle in his next two starts before going to the sidelines for an extended period of time. He’s been working well in New Orleans and had a respectable work over this course for the first time last week. He’s an interesting price play in this race. Heartbreaker (#6) is the one shorter priced runner that I will be using on my tickets. He’s one that has had some significant gaps between starts. He was last seen on the turf in California last spring, running a pair of strong efforts in starter allowance company. He broke his maiden on dirt at Oaklawn, so the surface switch is a nonissue. If he’s right, he could be fast enough to run away and hide from this group. On deeper tickets, Keen Heir (#10) is where I’ll land. Consistency has not been a hallmark of his, so his last effort, which was a career top, isn’t one to get too excited about. However, he clearly went wrong two back, finishing up the track at Churchill in June. His sprint form is good enough to consider using him with this group.


Race 5:

Some of the shorter priced runners in this N1X allowance, going nine furlongs on the turf, don’t really seem like horses that want to win. To further compound the struggles I’m having with this race, I think there are two horses that are stuck on the also-eligible list that both have a big chance in this race. I’ll take a longshot on top and make Maintainer (#9) my top selection. His lone start on the turf came in a maiden special weight contest at Tampa last year, where he pulled away late to win by over a length. He went to the sidelines and resurfaced at Turfway Park over the winter. He ran some quality efforts in four N1X allowance races on the Tapeta surface there, however, looking at his pedigree, I would think that turf is where he’s going to excel. He’s cutting back in distance, and he’s one that I think will be at his best at this 1 mile and ⅛ trip. Maasai Warrior (#13) and Always Above (#14) are the two also-eligible runners in this race that are must uses for me if they draw in. Maasai Warrior started his career going 0-10 on the dirt. He was moved to the turf course two starts back and absolutely dominated a maiden allowance field at the Fair Grounds. He followed that up with a strong third place finish when facing winners for the first time, losing by only a neck that day. He’s clearly a better runner on the grass and should be right in the mix if he gets to compete. Always Above might be one of a few runners in this race that want more distance than they are getting today. However, this feels like a good starting point for his four year old campaign. Michelle Nihei does well with getting horses ready to fire off the bench, so I do see him as a serious contender in this spot. Spin Wheel (#1) is another longshot that is worth considering when making his four year old debut today. He often ambitiously placed in his races last year, sniffing the Triple Crown trail in Florida before redirecting himself back to the turf. He went off as a lukewarm favorite in a race at this condition, restricted to three year olds last April. He ran well to be a close up 6th, despite having a fairly tough trip. He seemed to go wrong in the Audubon Stakes last June when he made his last start. George Arnold starts his four year old campaign today in a wide open race with many chances. I think his inside post could be advantageous, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a big race at long odds. Solid Country Gold (#7) was right behind Maasai Warrior at this level last month at the Fair Grounds. He’s been competitive in all of his career starts on the turf. He looks to be making progress in his four year old season and he has a recency edge over some of his rivals that are going out for the first time this year. Dripping Gold (#8) is the morning line favorite in this spot that will start on the C line for me. I will upgrade him to at least the B line of neither of the two AE runners draw into the field. He came up empty when going 11 furlongs in his first start of the year at Gulfstream last month. He may have found a niche at that distance, running two very good races at Aqueduct at the same distance. He did run well at Saratoga when going 1 mile and 3/16 last summer, however, I’m not sure this is the kind of race where he’ll be most effective. Of the shorter priced runners, he is the most attractive though so I will cover with him. However, if this Pick-5 is going to pay well today, I think he’s one that we have to beat. 


Race 6: 

I’m against the two shorter prices in this $50K starter allowance race, restricted to three year olds. Money Run (#6) will be a heavy favorite after running two huge races in his last three starts. However, his effort in between those races was very ordinary, so I do worry about a bounce from a horse that isn’t the most consistent animal in the group. Asmussen also has struggled at Keeneland over the past year, winning only 7% of his races here in 2022. Counterspy (#8) is another horse whose odds feel like they’ll be inflated after a strong effort at the Fair Grounds last month. That race was going a two turn mile though, and his one turn form isn’t nearly as strong. I’ll make the lightly raced Street Swagg (#7) the pick here. He made his first start of the year at Gulfstream last month and ran well at 11-1, finishing a wide third that afternoon. I thought he really took a big step forward in his second career start, dominating a $50K maiden claiming field at Churchill by over seven lengths. If he can move forward a little bit off his last, I think he’ll be the one to beat. Fight Fiercely (#9) is coming out of the same race that Counterspy is exiting in New Orleans. He was very wide that afternoon, but was still gaining to get into third. He has better form in one turn races than his rival does, and Luis Saez picking up the mount certainly won’t hurt his chances. 


Race 7: 

The even money favorite in the featured N2X allowance race is a standout. Flirting Bridge (#11) was last seen taking the worst of a three horse photo in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine. She ran four times for Brenden Walsh in 2022, finishing in the money in graded stakes company three times. She began her season in allowance company at Churchill where she was a dominating five length winner. She towers over this field in class and barring any unforeseen circumstances, she should be the best one in here. The backup that feels the most logical is Sister Lou Ann (#8). She’s sired by Frosted out of the stakes winning mare, Granny Mc’s Kitten. She was a stakes winner herself, winning the Martha Washington at Gulfstream back in June. She was competitive despite finishing 6th in the Grade 3 Lake George at Saratoga last summer. She struggled a bt at Kentucky Downs, but was a solid 4th when facing older horses at this condition on this course when making her last start of 2022. This is a tough spot to make her first start as a four year old, but I do see her as the most likely one to upset the heavy favorite. Woohoo Jackie Blue (#4) is an interesting horse that might not be on many of my multi-race tickets, but she’s a runner that could help add some value to the bottom of the vertical exotics. She’s coming off a strong effort to beat a starter allowance field on the dirt at Oaklawn last month. She’s better on grass than dirt though, so I believe that she can move forward in her second start of the year. Her worst career race came on this course at this level in the fall, however, that was more of a function of a rough trip than her not showing up. 


Race 8:

It’s hard to build a case against Caramel Chip (#1) in the nightcap, which is a $10K starter allowance going seven furlongs. He’s been very good in his last four starts, winning twice and finishing second the other two times. His record at seven furlongs isn’t great, but he ran very well at this distance two starts back at Gulfstream. He was facing a saltier bunch that afternoon, so I see him performing very well as another short priced runner. The logical alternative is High Heater (#10), shipping in from Southern California for Roy Hess. This is probably his best distance, winning two of four starts at ⅞ of a mile. He;s been very consistent, finishing in the money in six of his last seven. Like Caramel Chip, I think he will find this field to be somewhat easier than the likes he was facing at Santa Anita. However, I do think Caramel Chip is in much better current form.


Late Pick-5 – $48 Ticket:

I’ll start off with this caveman ticket, which will likely need to be reconstructed a bit if there are some scratches, especially in the 5th race where I like two also-eligible runners. This ticket feels like it has a strong potential to be very chalky in the last two legs with a pair of horses that figure to go into the gate at or around even money. However, I do think there are vulnerable horses at shorter odds early on in this ticket today, which does make this sequence interesting to me. 

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