Today’s card at Keeneland kicks off a four day race week, as there’s no racing on Easter Sunday. This is a tough sequence with some wide open races. I do think there are a couple of horses that could pay well, making this a very intriguing wager today.
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||1||1,4||2,9,11||PK5, PK3, DBL|
|5||7||7||3,12||PK4, PK3, DBL|
The first leg of this Late Pick-5 sequence is a maiden special weight for fillies and mares three year olds and up at 6 and ½ furlongs. It feels like a definite spread race to me. The morning line favorite is Ride The Plan (#4) who has two strong efforts at the Fair Grounds, fading to be second behind a pair of runaway winners. Horses that have shipped up from New Orleans have fared well at this meet over the last few years, and there were a few that ran very well on opening weekend. She is the one to beat, but there’s other speed signed on and she’s adding an extra half furlong. I’m using her on the A line, but I’m going with Be Like Water (#1) as my top pick. She’s had several chances, mostly on the grass. Her best race to date might have been her debut when going seven furlongs on the main track. John Velazquez gets the mount for Victoria Oliver, and he could have her rolling late to pass some of the tiring frontrunners. On deeper tickets, I’ll use a pair of first time starters and a Turfway Park invader. West Love (#11) is the Turfway shipper who was second behind a runaway winner on synthetic for Ben Colebrook in her debut. She’s been working well over the local course and could be involved late. Charging Lady (#9) will draw some interest in this race, as her half brother, Charge It, is Derby bound right now. She’s a year older and just getting to the races now, so it clearly hasn’t been smooth sailing. However, I respect the pedigree and connections too much to ignore her. With her in the race, that may open up the value on a horse like One Full Moon (#2) debuting for Helen Pitts after a snappy drill at Churchill last week. Pitts has had success with the few firsters she’s unveiled in the last 15 months, and this Malibu Moon filly looks like she can run a bit.
I really liked the effort from Underhill’s Tab (#7) in the Sugar Bowl Stakes back in December at the Fair Grounds. He finished within a half length of a nice looking three year old sprinter, Chattalot, in that race. Underhill’s Tab was coming off his maiden win, while Chattalot, a now four time winner, was making his 5th career start. Al Stall tried two turns with him in a nice allowance race on the Lecomte undercard at the Fair Grounds, and he was no match for Pioneer of Medina, who appears to be on the Derby bubble, if not Derby bound after his third place finish behind Epicenter in the Louisiana Derby. Stall brought a nice filly sprinter here after a big maiden win in New Orleans last season (Carribean Caper), and she cleared her N1X allowance condition on the way to an undefeated three year old season. I feel he’s been pointing this one to a race like this, and while this field is deep, I think he’ll be very tough. On deeper tickets, I’ll use both Unpredictable Bay (#3) and Varatti (#12), two very different horses in search of their second career victories. Unpredictable Bay was gradually improving while racing with maiden allowance types on synthetic at Arlington, After a narrow defeat at Indiana on the grass, he tried the dirt and continued to improve at one turn, finally breaking through in a big way in a maiden race on the second Starts of Tomorrow card there in November. He returned in the Sam F. Davis, trying the Derby Trail at two turns. He didn’t run a step that day, however, I think he’s playable in this race, second off the layoff, and cutting back to one turn, which he seems to be best at. Varatti draws the outside for Pletcher after a smashing maiden score in his only career start, winning by 4+ lengths at Belmont at the end of September. He’s obviously a well meant horse, and he could just be better than these. He has been working well for his return at Pletcher’s Florida base at Palm Beach Downs. I think he’ll be well bet in this race, maybe reducing his value, but unless he doesn’t look the part in the paddock, I think you’ll need to cover with him.
There’s nine entered to run (Not including the two MTO runners) in this N1X allowance race at nine furlongs on the turf course. Aviano (#6) is the morning line favorite with Irad Ortiz aboard for Todd Pletcher. I’m torn as to what to do with this son of Medaglia d’Oro that cost his connections $775K back in 2019. He broke his maiden last year in his fourth career try, getting a little closer each time before breaking through. He ran a solid third behind Fulsome in an off the turf race here last April, before going on the shelf for over ten months. He returned in an optional claiming/N1X allowance race at Gulfstream at the end of February and was third behind a runaway winner, Mid Day Image. That horse is the kind of horse that is tailor made for a turf course like Gulfstream’s, and he ran like it for sure that day. I get nervous taking short priced horses who put up big speed figures, but are well-beaten. Ultimately, between his on track performance and his human connections, I put him on the A line, but I made Arabian Price (#5) the pick. He was narrowly defeated in two very different races at this condition over at the Fair Grounds in his last start. Although he hasn’t won on the lawn yet, he keeps improving. He’s comfortable at the nine furlong distance as well, which I feel is important. Cool Rags (#4) shipping in from Turfway is another one that could run a big race, as he keeps gradually getting better and better. His last two on the synthetic over at Turfway were very strong. He finally broke his maiden there earlier in the meet. He’s lost in a pair of photos at this level in his last two tries, so if he can get that top notch form to travel with him to the grass he’ll be a tough customer. I’ll also include the first time import on the B line, King Vega (#9) for Graham Motion. Motion is coming off one of his better career weekends at Keeneland, winning both the Transylvania and the Appalachian Stakes for three year olds and three year old fillies. He’s been away since October, but has been regularly working since the end of February. He’s another one to think about here as he has been reasonably close in some Group 3 races overseas.
I think this optional $62,500 claimer/N2X allowance race is a good spot to beat the favorite. Stage Raider (#4) was just beaten in his last start by Prevalence, who just came back to win the Commonwealth Stakes here on Saturday in impressive fashion. In addition, who absolutely embarrassed a maiden allowance field last May at Belmont. Those are usually angles that I’m all over, but I’m not as high on this lightly raced son of Pioneerof the Nile. He’s stretching out to two turns, which is a bit concerning to me, as he’s never done that before. I never like taking a short price on a horse doing something for the first time, and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t the favorite at post time. His best career effort came here, but it was in the slop. When you take away that race the other three races he’s run aren’t good enough to hit the board here. I’ll use him on the C line with some of the deepest plays, but I’m looking elsewhere. I ended up Militarist (#5) making his first start of the year after finishing a game 4th behind Maxfield in November in the Grade 1 Clark Stakes. His sire, Liam’s Map, won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on this oval. His only trip here was also in the slop, and he didn’t fare as well that day. His last two dirt races were very solid, and if he saved any of that form for this year, he’s going to be very tough. Winter Pool (#9) also deserved a look in this race after a powerful win at Aqueduct to clear the N1X condition. He’s been very sharp in two turn dirt races in his last several starts, and he looks like he’s going to have an impact here.
The nightcap is a $50K starter allowance race for three year old fillies at 7+ furlongs on the Beard Course. This feels like a good spot to take a stand against both Wesley Ward horses, Santa Elena (#8) and Magniloquent (#9). I’m not really sold on either at this level of competition and distance. I like Annagangsta (#1) quite a bit in here. She by far is coming out of the toughest race, losing to Interstatedaydream at in a two turn N1X allowance race at Oaklawn last month. She was a distant third behind the filly that came back to finish third in the Grade 1 Ashland on Friday. Her main track form isn’t bad and I like the cutback in distance for her in a race where many others are stretching out. I’m not sure I’ll get her morning line 20-1 figure, but I think she has a legitimate in this race. On deeper tickets, I’ll add a pair of recent maiden claimers that are coming out of some fast races. I’m not sure who Dream Music (#4) beat when she graduated from the maiden ranks while beating $50-$40K maiden claimers last out, but she looked good doing it. She was claimed by Tom Amoss from Brad Cox in that race, and she gets Tyler Gaffalione aboard. Mercy Warren (#7) is also coming off a nice maiden claiming victory at the same level of competition, in a race that was carded on the dirt. She’s had trouble at the break in her first two career starts, but her last was much better than her debut. I like that DeVaux is moving her back to a protected spot off her last effort.
This is a tough sequence with some big fields and wide open races. Ilike both Underhill’s Tab (#7, R5), and Annagangsta (#1, R8) a decent amount in this sequence. I’ll be singled to both in the main ticket. I’ll use three tickets, investing $62.
1-2-4-9-11 / 7 / 4-5-6-9 / 4-5-9 / 1 ($30, $0.50 Base Wager)
Back Up Tickets:
1-4 / 3-12 / 5-6 / 5-9 / 1-4-7 ($24, $0.50 Base Wager)
1-4 / 7 / 5-6 / 5-9 / 4-7 ($8, $0.50 Base Wager)