The final Sunday program of the meet offers a nine race card. There are no stakes on the program today, but, as always, there are large fields with competitive races. The jockey race is extremely competitive and worth paying attention to as we hit the final few days of this great meet. Tyler Gaffalione has 14 wins, Irad Ortiz has 13, and both Flavien Prat and Luis Saez have 12 wins. Saez started off a bit slow, but he’s had the hot hand as of late. Wesley Ward holds a two win lead over Chad Brown and Brad Cox on the trainer side.
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||5||5,6,8||PK5, PK3, DBL|
|6||7||7||1||PK4, PK3, DBL|
Today’s sequence starts with a N2X allowance race for fillies and mares on the turf. Sweet Serenade (#1) is the morning line favorite here for Tyler Gaffalione and Roger Attfield. She’s make her first start of the year after finishing off the board the first time in the 11 furlong Via Borghese Stakes at Gulfstream. Her only turf win came at one turn and she might be better suited for synthetics up North. I’m going to try to get out of this leg with a trio of 5-1 horses on the morning line, making the Brazilian bred, Vezpa (#5), my top choice. She blew up the toteboard at Churchill when making her North American debut last April. She followed that effort up with a respectable 5th palace finish in the Grade 3 Mint Julep Stakes. Paulo Lobo may be eyeing that stakes up again this year, using this race as a prep. Postnup (#6) should be near the front of the field in a race where there isn’t a ton of early foot. She makes her third start off the layoff after a pair of solid efforts at the Fair Grounds to start 2022. She just missed twice against some quality fields in New Orleans. Cherie DeVaux, who had a winner here on Friday, gets John Velasquez to ride in this race. Poca Mucha (#8) was in Paulo Lobo’s barn before being moved to Bill Mott’s barn. He’s sired by 2016 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner, Tourist, and his dam sire, Badge of Silver, was the third place finisher in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Mile. He only has one race in his career on the grass, but it was a strong performance. I think he could be a little sneaky here with the barn and surface switch.
Seven fillies and mares entered in this conditioned $50K claimer, where everyone is entered under the N3L condition. Fabricate (#7) feels like she could be a logical single, for high percentage, Florida based trainer, Jose D’Angelo. She’s coming out of a N1X allowance race where Tiz Splendid News crushed her competition. That Wesley Ward filly came back to clear the N2X condition on this course last week. She’s in good form and she ran a strong race on this course last year in N1X allowance company. Irad Ortiz will get the call in a race where she should sit a very nice trio from her outside draw, I’m not sold on the morning line favorite, Fire on Time (#2) coming off the three month layoff and dropping in class, so I’ll back up with Myeerah (#1) on deeper tickets. She ran okay in a pair of allowance races at Turfway to start her 2022 campaign. Her dirt form an Indiana Grand last year would make her very competitive if she can run back to those races here. She’s a consistent runner that could be sitting on one of her better efforts. I don’t love the rail for her and the seven furlong is a bit of a question mark, but if she gets overlooked in the wagering, and her odds float over her 5-1 morning line, I’d be inclined to get be more aggressive with her.
Michael Domabyl, who does a great job covering the All Turf Pick-3 Wager on the ITM Blog at Keeneland, pointed out a crazy Wesley Ward stat the other day when making the case for Lyrical Poet, who was a winner on 4/21. Ward is now 6 for 9 with horses that are coming off a layoff of 120 days or more, racing in a turf sprint at this current meet. The kicker with that stat is that two of the three losses came to another Ward horse who fit that profile. Maven (#2) in this race is the next horse up at this meet who fits that descriptor. He is a perfect 2-2 in actual races that count on this course. Draw a line through his October race where he was declared a nonstarter after a trouble filled start. He’s at his best when he’s on the lead, and his rail draw commits Johnny V. to put him there. He’ll have to contend with both Oceanic (#7) and Into the Sunrise (#12) for that early lead, but I think he’s better than both of them, especially on this course. His race in allowance company on this course last April was scintillating. If he runs back to that effort, this race will be over before it starts. Turned Aside (#6) was excellent as a three year old turf sprinter in New York, winning three stakes races that season. His four year old campaign clearly didn;t go as planned, as he was 0-5, with four very ordinary races in that group. He’s been gelded since his last start, which may prove to be helpful in his first start of the year. The talent was there before, and Luis Saez will be tasked with trying to find his best stride once again. Brad Cox isn;t much of a claiming trainer these days, so it’s interesting that his group dipped into their pockets and put up $50K for Seven Scents (#8) at the Fair Grounds in his last start. Cox has only started four horses off the claim since the start of 2021, winning one of them. Finding Maven in this spot is no picnic, but I think Cox has a fairly high opinion of this one, who could move forward off some nice efforts in New Orleans in this start of the next.
This looks like a deep maiden special weight race where there are as many as four horses that have shown potential to be very nice runners. They’ll travel seven furlongs plus, while racing on the Beard Course in this race. Ron Moquett, who lives across the street from Oaklawn, has started three horses at this Keeneland meet so far, finishing third with all three. He sends out Kingmaker (#3) here in his third start, and I like his chances this afternoon. He was third in his debut at Oaklawnin February behind Stratofortress, who was narrowly defeated in allowance company in his next start, and Life is Hard, who was a strong next out winner. He ran his next race at one mile, and was a close up 4th behind three solid runners that day. There was a six furlong maiden special weight for three year olds there yesterday, but I believe he was one of the horses that Moquett sent to Kentucky to run at longer one turn distances. Moquett has very strong numbers on the cutback in distance and Luis Saez is heating up after three wins on the Friday card. Anarchist (#7) is coming out of a very fast race at Tampa, won by Fluid Situation, who was making his third career start for John Terranova. The third place finisher, who was seven lengths behind Anarchist, came back to win a maiden claiming race at Gulfstream two weeks ago for Saffie Joseph. Trainer Christopher Davis is looking to build off a strong 2021 season, and this looks like a horse that could help him do so. Chad Brown and Flavien Prat team up with Exact Estimate (#2) who was installed as the 7-2 morning line favorite in this race. There are some talented runners that he’ll have to beat on debut, so if he’s able to win here, I think he’d be one to keep an eye on. He looks like the kind of runner that could be very talented at these longer one turn races, being sired by Into Mischief and the dam sire being Dixie Union. I’m always a little cautious with horses debuting a seven or eight furlongs, especially in one turn races, but if he gets hammered at the windows, the word might be out. We did see a monster winner, Casa de Goat, yesterday for Brad Cox in a race like this. I do think this field has more depth than yesterday’s race though. Guest Speaker (#11) is another well-regarded runner sired by Into Mischief. OXO Equine paid $625K for him at the Keeneland September Sale in 2020. He debuted at Ellis where he was up the track. Cox gave him some more time and he returned in an off the turf at the Fair Grounds where he finished a closing third. For a horse that cost this much, I’m always a little concerned when they don’t debut at one of the premier tracks. Cox had horses at Saratoga in August and he wasn’t one of them. I get the intent was to get him on the grass last out, but the maiden special weight races at Oaklawn, where Cox has a bunch of horses, have twice the purse of those at the Fair Grounds. Irad takes the call, which is a plus, and I like the outside post. He was flattered when Condemn, who beat him last out, won the nightcap yesterday. I’ll cover with him on some deeper tickets, but I still prefer the others in this spot.
A N2X allowance for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf will close the week in Lexington. My hope in this race is the Brian Hernandez is aggressive with Amiche (#10) from the outside gate, and tries to put this Malibu Moon filly on the lead. Her two wins in New Orleans were practically gate to wire victories and there isn’t much early speed for her to contend with in this spot. She was a game second in the Pago Hop in December at the Fair Grounds, fighting gamely despite being a part of a hot early pace. She faced older horses in stakes company for the first time in the Al Stall Memorial in her next start. She was bumped at the break and allowed two horses inside of her to get a better position going into the turf. She rated off the leaders that day and didn’t show her usual energy. The winner of that race, She Can’t Sing, came back to win the Tom Benson Memorial a month later. I think she can steal this race if she’s put in play early. Abscond (#9) is the one they’ll have to beat, dropping in from stakes company for the first time in a long time. In fact, the only time in her 16 start career where she didn’t race in a stakes race was when she won her debut in a sprint at Ellis with maiden special weight company. She won the Grade 1 Natalma as a two year old in 2019, but has not won since. Her efforts at the Fair Grounds haven’t been as strong as what she showed last year, which is a bit of a concern for a five year old mare. She did run a big race to be close 5th on this course in the Grade 1 First Lady, so we know she likes it here. She’ll be a short price, and she’ll be on my tickets, but I want a little bit of coverage and I’m not confident using her as a single. Lashara (#6) with Flavien Prat will be one that I’ll back up with. She ran an even 5th at Gulfstream last month when making her first start since June. She likely needed that race and I would guess that was a race designed to get her more fit for a race like this here. Brian Lynch has good numbers second off the layoff, and the jockey upgrade does make her more interesting.
If I had to put together a main ticket, Maven (#2, R7) would be where I’d single, based on what Wesley Ward does with sprinters on the grass at this meet. Singling there lets me use every other runner in the grid, while still staying on a budget. I’d come back and back up with the C runners in that race on a ticket with the other A’s.
Main Ticket: ($36, $0.50 Base Wager)
Race 5: 5,6,8
Race 6: 1,7
Race 7: 2
Race 8: 2,3,7,11
Race 9: 6,9,10
Back Up Ticket ($12, $0.50 Base Wager)
Race 5: 5,6,8
Race 6: 7
Race 7: 6,8
Race 8: 3,7
Race 9: 9,10