Keeneland Late Pick-5 Preview – 4/29/22 – By Eric Solomon

This is the final chance to take a crack at this sequence at Keeneland until October, so we’ll need to make it count. The last stakes race of the meet is the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes, featuring last year’s winner, War Like Goddess, making her five year old debut. This Late Pick-5 sequence feels like it could be chalky, but there’s a 12-1 horse on the morning line in the nightcap that I feel strongly about. 

 

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

 

 

Race 6: 4-6-8

The first leg of the sequence is a N3L for three year olds going nine furlongs on the turf. I’m going to try to get out of this first leg using three runners, while trying to beat two of the shorter prices. Bochombo (#3) is bred to better at one turn, and despite his big time effort last month going six furlongs at Santa Anita, I’m not sure how effective he’ll be on the significant stretch out. Tommy Bee (#5) has been consistent for Brad Cox, but his most impressive effort came on the main track in an off the turf race. I prefer some of the others here. Xavey Dave (#8) was explosive in his last start, which was his first race at two turns on the turf. He’s bred to handle this surface and distance, and I like his progression from two to three. I think he can work out a good stalking trip from his outside draw. Bloodline (#6) is the morning line favorite and the other Brad Cox horse in here. His lone try on the grass was very impressive, finishing a close second in the Texas Turf Mile at Sam Houston back in January. He faltered on the synthetic in the John Battaglia Memorial back in March, so the drop and surface switch seem to be in order. Credibility (#4) is another class dropper in here. He was last seen switching tactics and setting the pace in the Grade 3 Transylvania on this course at the start of the meet. While that experiment was a failure, I do like his prospects on the drop in class and the rider switch to Tyler Gaffalione. I think he wants to stalk the early pace instead of setting it, and his effort in the Bourbon Stakes last year shows that he likes the local course.

Race 7: 

Maiden special weight three year olds go 6 and ½ furlongs on the main track here. The shorter prices seem to have an edge in this race. I ended up with Aswan (#5) on top, making his first start for Brad Cox. He unveiled a well-meant firster last week, Casa De Goat, who dominated her maiden allowance race. I like what I’ve seen from some of the Arrogate runners of late, and with the dam sire being Jimmy Creed, there’s definitely some speed in his pedigree as well. The works are solid and Prat taking the mount is a good sign. Sacred Samurai (#1) made his debut at Churchill back in October, and was second behind a runway winner that day. He’s been on the sidelines since that effort, but has been working steadily over the last five weeks for Joe Sharp. He has very good numbers with horses returning from the layoff, and Irad Ortiz on this one instead of Cynwyd (#8), is a bit interesting to me. He has ridden about four times as many races for Ward as he has for Sharp over the last year. Perhaps that means something, and perhaps it doesn’t. However, I suspect the odds will wind up being higher on Sacred Samurai, which definitely feels like better value. Cynwyd certainly looked the part in his Turfway debut for Wesley Ward, so I definitely want to cover with him. He led until the final strides that day, posting a strong debut Beyer. His pedigree suggests that he might be better on the turf, but I’m wondering if Ward feels that 5 and ½ furlongs sprints might be too short. Regardless, this first time gelding appears to be a player here.

 

Race 8: The Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes:

This race was the coming out party for War Like Goddess (#4) in 2021 when she put on a show, flying by her rivals in the stretch to win this race going away. She would go on to win a pair of graded stakes at Saratoga, including the Grade 1 Flower Bowl. She ended her four year old season with a game third place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf last year at Del Mar. Bill Mott campaigned her beautifully last year and made the decision to make the switch to Joel Rosario for this race. She is clearly the one to beat in this contest, however, I’m not entirely confident to single her at a short price off the layoff. While she is the top choice, I’ll also be using Family Way (#3), who is following a similar pattern that War Like Goddess used going into this race last year. She was a solid second in the The Very One Stakes and then she went on to win the Grade 2 Orchid Stakes going away a few weeks ago. She is in good current form, and she has more tactical speed than her rival in this short field. I think she’ll give the heavy favorite a strong challenge in this race.

Race 9: 

Optional $80K claimers/N3X allowance runners sprint 6 and ½ furlongs. Many here are coming off subpar efforts, so it’s difficult to predict who is going to bounce back. Surveillance (#1) on the other hand has been gradually improving and is coming off a solid 4th place at long odds in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes at the beginning of the meet. He was on a roll for Keith Desormeaux, winning three straight at the Fair Grounds, while going through his allowance conditions. There’s not a dedicated front runner in this group, so Prat may wind up in the catbird seat with Canadian Pride (#7). This may be his best distance, winning two times out of four chances, and finishing second another time. He tried to go all the way in the Grade 2 San Carlos last out, but Cezanne was simply too good for him that day. He pushed the pace two back, drawing off to easily clear the N2X condition at Santa Anita. He’s never started outside of California, but Peter Eurton has given him a few weeks to get accustomed to his situation out here. Although his last effort was a bit disappointing, I think he is the most likely horse to rebound here.

Race 10: 

The meet concludes with a 1 Mile and 3/16 N1X allowance race on the turf course. This final sequence has the potential to be very chalky, especially in the middle legs, so I’m hoping to get a bit of a price in this race. Don’t sleep on Spin Wheel (#10) coming back to the turf for George Arnold. He debuted on the grass at Saratoga, and ran a close up 6th despite a slow start. The intent was to get him on back on the turf at the fall meet here, but that race was washed off the turf. His 4th place finish here was good enough to merit another shot on the dirt at the end of the Churchill meet. He broke his maiden while closing into a fast pace in a maiden special weight race on the second Stars of Tomorrow card there. Arnold tried graded stakes races at Gulfstream and Tampa on the dirt, in order to try to sniff out if this son of Hard Spun was indeed Derby worthy. While he showed improvement from two to three, he was not up to the task when facing the likes of White Abarrio, Simplification, Mo Donegal, and Classic Causeway (all Derby bound). His dam, Zinzay, did her best work on the grass, finishing second in the 2013 Jessamine on this course. I think turf was where Arnold thought he was going to have the most success, and returning to the grass should be to his liking. I’d love to get 12-1 or better on him this afternoon. Rocket One (#12) wasn’t done any favors by the post position draw, but I think he offers some value after a rough race last out. He was his own worst enemy, breaking slow, then going wide on both turns. He was most effective settling off the pace and then making one run like he did when breaking his maiden at Kentucky Downs back in September. His effort in the Bourbon last fall wasn’t bad either, so I’m thinking his last race was an aberration. Speaking Scout (#9) is the one shorter price that I’ll use in this race, getting the services of Luis Saez. He just missed in the Pulpit Stakes at the start of the Championship Meet at Gulfstream back in December. He came back in the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy Stakes there and was a bit flat against a deeper group. He’s been gelded since his last start, and Graham Motion has sent many live runners out at this meet. On deeper tickets, I can see a forward move from Verstappen (#8), who after a dull debut, has been competitive in his last four turf starts. He’s shown a nice improvement pattern for Brendan Walsh, and he would definitely be flattered if Xavey Dave, my top pick in the first leg of the sequence, runs a strong race. He’s making his second start off a three month layoff and Brian Hernandez gets the return call. 

The Ticket:

If I had to make one ticket to end the Keeneland meet, I’d feel pretty good playing the all A/B ticket I laid out for $54. I like Spin Wheel (#10, R10) a good bit in the nightcap, and plan on playing him to win if I can get 12-1 or better in this race. I would consider singling him if I really wanted to pare down the ticket. I do like getting a little bit of coverage in that race as trips are so important on the turf. 

Race 6: 4,6,8

Race 7: 1,5,7

Race 8: 3,4

Race 9: 1,7

Race 10: 9,10,12

 

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