Keeneland Late Pick-5 Preview – 4/28/22 – By Eric Solomon

The Late Pick-5 sequence on Thursday is yet another excellent group of races, comprised of two maiden special weight races and three allowance contests. With two wins a piece yesterday, both Irad Ortiz and Flavien Prat are putting the pressure on leading rider Tyler Gafalione with only 19 races left in this Spring Meet.


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 2 2,9 7 8 PK5, PK3, DBL
6 11 6,11,12 1A,10 1,4 PK4, PK3, DBL
7 10 1,7,10 2 PK3, DBL
8 3 3 DBL
9 5 5,7 12



Race 5:

The Late Pick-5 sequence is also the start of the All Turf Pick-3 Sequence. We get under way with a N1X allowance for three year olds and upwards sprinting 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. Ten are entered, half of which are three year olds. Wesley Ward has two entered here, and I definitely prefer Castle Leoch (#2) with Joel Rosario riding. He was favored in all three career starts with maiden special weight company. He was second in his debut at Gulfstream going five furlongs in May. He came back in August at Saratoga and had a rough trip to be 4th there. He graduated in his next start at Kentucky Downs in September going 6 and ½ furlongs, before going to the sidelines until today. He might not have been as precocious as some of Ward’s other runners, however, I think expectations for him are high. There are some good horses in here coming from off a layoff, where I think they are using this race as a prep for something else, whereas I believe Ward targets these Keeneland races. Uber Kirk (#9) is a seven year old gelding that has never cleared this N1X condition, so that alone is a bit concerning. However, he is second off the layoff, and his winter form at Turfway on the synthetics was solid enough to compete in this race if that form will translate to the turf. Getting Bejarano to ride instead of the apprentice Canuto is a positive. Jura (#7) may be better in his next start, as is the case with many of JR McCaughey’s runners that are coming back off the layoff. However, he did run a strong race on debut at Ellis, and sprinting on grass seems to be what he does best. I think he’s playable with these on deeper tickets. American Starlet (#8) is the other Wesley Ward entrant, who is a three year old filly taking on the boys. I think this is a big test for this daughter of Twirling Candy who just missed in the Melody of Colors Stakes for three year old fillies only last month. She’s been running at Gulfstream, and I am not fond of playing horses that don’t finish strong on that course when they come here. However, she is in good current form and her late Timeform figures suggest that her late speed is better than it looks visually. I will cover with her on deeper tickets, but I will be trying to beat her in the vertical wagers.

Race 6:

This maiden special weight for three year old fillies going 6 and ½ furlongs, might be one of the most challenging races thus far at this meet. There are several strong pedigrees in this race, many of which are foaled by dams that have produced winners. You have horses coming from different circuits and surfaces to compete in a race where there really wouldn’t be any winner that would be shocking. I ended up with Ulikeapples (#11) shipping in from Hawthorne for Larry Rivelli. Rivelli has only sent out two starters at this meet, and both were winners. She turned in a strong performance in her debut 12 days ago, handling pressure on the front end while setting some quick fractions, before getting caught in the long stretch there. This Nyquist filly cost her owners $170K in October of 2020 which isn’t a shock as her dam has produced a stakes winning filly (Super Allison). I think the pace might be a little softer, and the price could be right on her here. Chad Brown sends out Beauxs Artes (#12) after a solid debut effort at Aqueduct last month. She was forwardly placed, and fought gamely through the stretch in a race where she was clearly second best. I thought it was interesting that Brown brought her here, but there are no maiden special weight races at Belmont for three year old fillies in their first condition book. That tells me that she’s in good form, and ready to run now, as opposed to waiting until the middle or end of May. There’s a pair of Turfway runners that turned in strong efforts in maiden special weight races there. While I think the effort from Quist and Shout (#10) was more impressive, I think the price will be better on Quaria Comet (#6). Quaria Comet rallied from off the pace on closing day to narrowly lose in a photo finish. I like that she made her late run along the rail, since there are definitely horses that shy away from running their best race when they are inside of horses. I think she’s bred to handle the dirt, and this distance should fit her well. She’s 10-1 on the morning line, and with the depth of this field, I suspect she’ll go off at longer odds than that. Quist and Shout had a disastrous break, and still rallied from last to get into second last month. She’s another Nyquist filly, and I think horses sired by the horse that won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on this course, tend to run strong races at Keeneland. I think she’ll be well backed at the windows because of her ability to overcome that trouble. I would have preferred to see Bejarano on her again though. He ends up on Alessia (#7), while James Graham, who was the leading riding again at the Fair Grounds but has struggled at this current meet, gets the call. Patna (#1) and Chaberton (#1A) are part of a Juddmonte coupled entry. Chad Brown sends out Chaberton, who would be making her first start if she can draw in off the also-eligible list. Patna debuted at the Fair Grounds and ran a troubled trip third that day. Brad Cox trains her, and typically his better dirt horses are based at Oaklawn in the winter. I like the works from Chaberton, and if both fillies run, they’ll almost definitely be favored in this race. I prefer Chaberton, and would use her on the B line if both go. If it’s just Patna, I’d move her to the C line, respecting that Brad Cox typically gets his horses to improve second time out. Pillbox (#4) is another first time starter that attracted some attention on the morning line (5-1). Tyler Gaffalione rides for Saffie Joseph here. I would think she might be better suited to the turf, but her drills on the dirt are strong. I’d cover with her here as well if it can be afforded. 

Race 7:

More three year old fillies go here, this time under N1X allowance conditions at 1 Mile and 3/16 on the turf. I ended up on Whenthedawnbreaks (#10) for Brad Cox and Florent Geroux. I liked both of her races at the Fair Grounds over the winter. She came from off the pace to win on debut in December, and then she overcame some trouble to fly home and finish 3rd in a three horse photo when taking on winners for the first time. She’s been on the shelf since that race and picks a tough spot for her return. However, she may be overlooked here, despite her top flight connections that teamed up for a win on yesterday’s program. Lavish Habits (#7) was a winner on this course at this distance when pulling the 21-1 upset to break her maiden in her third career start. She was dull in her debut, but her last two races have been sharp for Jeff Hiles. She’s sired by Flintshire, so longer turf races should be where she is most comfortable. She was James Graham’s first and only win of the meet thus far and he gets the return call today. Shad Nation (#1) made her seasonal debut in the Sanibel Island at Gulfstream where she had some mild traffic trouble in the early stages of that race. She finished 6th, in what seemed like a useful return to the track. She drops in class to face N1X allowance types, which should be welcome after her last two stakes efforts. Irad Ortiz won twice yesterday, and he gets the call today. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with the morning line favorite, Bravo Kitten (#2) for Saffie Joseph. She was a decent second earlier in the meet in a race at this same condition, going 1 Mile and 1/16. She’s sired by Kitten’s Joy out of a Dynaformer mare, so the added distance shouldn’t be an issue in her second race off a three month layoff. She’s been in the hunt in all three career races, but I’m not loving the value at 3-1 in this wide open race. I’ll use her as a saver, but I’m in the market for a better price here. 

Race 8:

I think that Red Ghost (#3) is worthy of being a single in this optional $80K claiming/N3X allowance race for fillies and mares going 6 and ½ furlongs on the main track. Her races on the main track have been very good, with her best effort being a win in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness last year. She beat some nice fillies that day, then went on to struggle against some high quality runners in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont. She returned to action at Turfway in December , narrowly missing in an optional claiming/conditional allowance there. She was off for another three months and struggled in her most recent race at Turfway, where she was done in by a hot pace up front. I think she’s best on the dirt, and she may have needed that race. She was a winner on this course last spring, and I think she can do it again this year.

Race 9:

I don’t typically like horses coming back to maiden special weight company after racing in maiden claiming company, but I think Lord Zed (#5) will be a case where I’ll make an exception. He was competitive in both career grass tries at the Fair Grounds this winter. I was surprised to see him show up in a $50K-$40K maiden claiming race, and I was also surprised to see that he stayed in the race when it was rained off the turf. He still ran well that day, finishing a close second, yielding the lead in the final stages. Mike Maker, who claimed him, has had a solid meet and this is the kind of high priced claiming horse that he so often gets improvement out of. At 5-1 or higher, I like his chances with this field. Polyglot (#7) is a Kitten’s Joy first time starter running for Godolphin. He’s trained by Chad Brown, who has excellent numbers with first time starters in two turn turf races. There’s no standout here, so he certainly stands a reasonable chance to get the job done in his first attempt. Simply Jack (#12) could be a runner that could make an impact in the outcome of this race. He took the lead on a good course here in the fall when making his debut, but tired late to finish 6th, less than three lengths behind the winner. He paired his first Beyer when running at Turfway on synthetic in his last start. He’s been away over four months now, but has been working well for Conoor Murphy. He has good numbers getting his mounts to fire fresh.

The Ticket: ($54, $0.50 Base Wager)

If I had to play one ticket, I’d be building it around Red Ghost (#3, R8). I just think she’s been facing better horses and fits very nicely in that race. I want a lot of coverage in Race 6, which I feel is a brutally tough maiden special weight on the main track. 

Race 5: 2,9

Race 6: 1,4,6,10,11,12

Race 7: 1,7,10

Race 8: 3

Race 9: 5,7,12


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