Another warm and gorgeous afternoon is forecasted in Lexington, Kentucky. There’s another 10 race card on the books for today. Speed was good on the main track yesterday, so we’ll see if that is becoming a trend to keep an eye on. First post for the Thursday card is 1:00 (ET).
I’ll be covering 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||Exotics Menu|
|1||3||1,3||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||6||6,9||3||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||5||5,7,9||DBL, PK3, PK6, All-Turf PK3|
|6||5||5||7||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||5||2,5||4,12||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The day begins with a half dozen runners competing in a $50K starter allowance race going six furlongs. To be eligible for this race, horses must also qualify for the N1X allowance condition. There are three shorter prices in this race and of that trio, I’m not convinced that six furlongs is the right distance for Forrest City (#5). I’ll try Kattath (#3) on top, coming off a dull third place finish as the heavy favorite at this level at Churchill last out. He likely bounced off a big effort two back when posting a 90 Beyer Figure at Monmouth when facing a solid group of $40K-$30K N3L claimers. He ended up being in chase mode last out, but there’s less early speed signed on today. I think Francisco Arrieta can put him on the lead and let the others do the chasing today. One Giant Leap (#1) is the main danger for Wesley Ward. He was last seen beating up on a $50K N2L field here in April where he was a voided claim. He’s been on the sidelines since, but I see it as a positive sign that Ward runs him back in a protected spot. He’s been gelded since his last start and has been working well for his return. I do think the price will be shorter than what I deem to be fair value, but there’s still too much to like to try to beat him outright.
$50K maiden claimers are going to sprint six furlongs in the first leg of the Early Pick-4. Pass Line (#6) seems to have righted the ship after a pair of dull efforts at Ellis when facing maiden allowance types. He was a solid third at this level two back, making the lead and before yielding in the stretch. His first two races were strong, and there are some excuses for his two dull efforts. One of those races came on the turf and the other race there was some trouble down the backside. This level seems to be the sweet spot for him, so I’ll be expecting a step forward here. Smoke Wagon (#9) drops in for a tag for the first time while making his 6th career start. He ran poorly in his last two tries, one on synthetic and the other on turf. It appears that experiment is over for now, so the drop in class and return to his preferred surface makes him desirable in this spot. The morning line favorite is Off the Clock (#3) shipping in from a pair of respectable efforts at the Spa this summer. He had mild trouble in an off the turf race for his debut in August when facing $40K maiden claimers. He moved up in class to face open maiden allowance types on the turf where he ran 7th, beaten five lengths. He’s paired his Beyers in his first two starts, so there’s reason to believe that he can move forward in this spot. His trainer, Timothy Hamm is only 1-23 with the horses that he’s brought to Keeneland over the last five years, so taking too short of a price on this one is not something that I’d prefer to do.
Fillies and mares will go just over seven furlongs on the Beard Course in this $30K N2L claiming race. I’m not loving the shorter prices in this race, so I’m going value hunting here. I think Lotsandlotsofgold (#3) is an interesting longshot play in this race. She was progressing nicely in the spring, culminating with a maiden breaking win with $30K maiden claimers at Churchill three starts back. That race came in a one turn mile there, which was her only career effort with a middle distance, one turn sprint. She struggled in her next start at Ellis when facing $50K starter allowance types there. She was last of seven in Indiana when trying the turf for the first time with a $30K starter allowance field. She might be the best fit at this distance in this race and that two turn turf effort should play well when cutting back to the one turn dirt race. I think she’ll be overlooked in the wagering and has a very legitimate chance to beat this group today. Miss Tappy Tone (#6) was a debut winner for Chris Hartman at the Fair Grounds over the winter, coming from off the pace to beat $50K maiden claimers. She tried allowance company in a route there where she was overmatched. She came here to face starter allowance foes where she never got involved. Something may gone amiss that day as she was well-beaten and put on the shelf for the rest of the spring and summer before resurfacing here. I think the distance will suit her and I trust Hartman’s ability to have her fit enough for a race like this in her first start off a six month break. Royal Laughter (#4) also makes a bit of sense in this one. She’s making her first start for McLean Robertson after faltering in allowance company when going one mile last time out at Canterbury. She showed enough in her maiden breaking effort in the mud to make me believe that there’s more to her than meets the eye. I like the trainer switch and I like how Arrieta has been riding in the first few days of this meet.
The first of three two year old races is a restricted maiden special weight for fillies that were sold for $50K or RNA at their latest auction. I don’t typically like young first time starters at this seven furlong distance, but I do think Mixer (#10) is well spotted for her first attempt. She’s sired by Vino Rosso, who was a winner at this seven furlong distance when he debuted in November of his two year old. His dam was unraced, but she’s foaled some useful horses, including one that was a winner on debut at Santa Anita. Wayne Catalno has gotten off to a slow start at this meet, but he’s capable of getting a horse ready at first asking. Promisemeanempire (#1) is the deserving morning line favorite, coming to town after a solid third place effort when going a one turn mile at Churchill at this level last out. She’ll be forwardly placed with her rail draw, which was a good thing on the main track yesterday. I think the cutback in distance will be welcome in a race where there are several horses stretching out and making their first starts. Mysidehustle (#8) is one of those horses stretching out after debuting at seven furlongs. She was moving well late to get into second at 31-1. You wanted to be close to the front end on the main track yesterday, and if it looks like that trend is continuing in the first three races today, I’ll likely downgrade her a little bit. However, her first start was good enough to still consider her.
The first of two maiden special weight races for two year olds on the turf starts here. There are some nice pedigrees in this race and some horses that have some solid efforts to speak of. However, I think this could be a spot to take a swing with a bomb. Agapee Mou (#5) is coming out of one of the more productive maiden special weight races at Colonial Downs this summer. The winner was a dominant winner of the Laurel Futurity on the grass last out and the runner up broke his maiden and finished in a three horse photo in the Indian Summer Stakes here last week. In that race, Agapee Mou was well beaten, but Correas’ horses typically need a race under their belts before they’re at their best. His few starters at this meet have been live and Cheminaud has won at a 17% clip when riding for Correas. I’m expecting a better effort in her second career start and she should be a juicy price, starting off at 30-1 on the ML. He has the feeling of a horse that will be running a much more credible effort in start number two. Radio Liberty (#7) is a half to Grade 2 turf winners Major Dude. His sire, Audible, has been off to a slow start with winners on the turf, however there is enough talent on the dam side to use him. His debut came in an off the turf race at the Spa, where he ran an even 4th. I expect an improved effort here. Thomas Aquinas (#9) is the morning line favorite after a strong effort on the grass last out at Churchill. Foundation can be important in these turf races for two year olds, and this will be his 4th try to break his maiden. His first two starts were rained off the turf. Ian Wilkes had a winner yesterday and he’ll be well-spotted for another one with.
The Late Pick-5 begins with a $40K beaten claiming race for horses that have never won three times or three year olds. The two shortest prices on the morning line are Good Heart (#5) and Money Run (#1), both of which are three year olds with three career wins. Good Heart looks awfully tough while dropping back in for a tag and getting back on the dirt. He ran two big races with $50K claimers and with $50K starter allowance types this summer. He struggled in his last two on the grass while facing tougher foes there and at Kentucky Downs. He’s been gelded since his last start and could be a threat to take this field all the way. I worry about the lack of consistent efforts from Money Run to use him on the A or B line, especially at short odds. Even though he’ll likely be the favorite when the gates open , he makes sense as a single to me. Indulge (#7) will be where I’ll back up, making his first start since being moved into Bret Calhoun’s barn. He ran a strong race at Santa Anita three starts back, coming from off the pace to win at this seven furlong distance. His last two races in starter allowance and allowance company weren’t nearly as good, so perhaps the change in scenery and trainer, coupled with e the drop in class, will be a spark plug.
The second division of this maiden allowance race on the turf for two year olds is even more perplexing than the first heat. Tireless (#12) is the morning line favorite after a strong debut performance when going a one turn mile at Kentucky Downs last month. Drawing the 12 hole is no picnic though for these one mile races,. He’s definitely a threat after his strong debut, but post 12 is no joke here. I’ll use him as a back up here. Let’s start with All About Tonite (#5) on top. He ran okay in both turf races, including an effort at Kentucky Downs against restricted allowance types. I can see this one taking a step forward. The same could be said for Frontline Warrior (#3), who is a half to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint a few years back. He was competitive behind some game runners in both of his career tries. He’s another one that has every right to get better in this race. Edgartown (#4) was second behind Can Group in his debut at Churchill last month. That filly would go one to win the Bourbon Stakes here over the weekend. I think a lot of people will see that in his running lines (which were incomplete prior to the morning line being set), and hammer him losing to a next out stakes winner who appears to be Breeders’ Cup Bound.
It’s never easy to clearing through your first three allowance conditions (maiden, N1X, and N2X), but that’s what the even money morning line favorite, Little Prankster (#7) is going to be attempting to do today.She ran well in her first two sprint races at the beginning of her career, but she struggled a bit when going nine furlongs in her third career start. Phil Bauer cut her back to sprint races where she broke through at 5 and 1/12 furlongs in an off the turf maiden special weight race at the Spa. She backed up that win with a strong, hard fought, victory in N1X company, going 6 and ½ furlongs there. She’s been better since they’ve put her on the front end, but she’s likely going to have to work to make the early lead, as there are some other quality speed horses slotted inside of her. I’ll be using her in this spot, but I think she is vulnerable, especially at short odds. I would consider using Magical Lute (#2) as a single if this race were at 7 furlongs. I’ll still make her the top pick, thinking that she’ll be flying late at the end of this six furlong test. She came up empty at this condition last out after a pair of decent efforts at Ellis. She was 5th in stakes company there two starts back and she came with a furious late rally three back to win by open lengths when going 6 and ½ furlongs in N1X company. I think she’s capable of rebounding and she’ll get a good pace to set up her late rally. It’s been a struggle to make up this much ground in sprint races early on at the meet, but I do think the ingredients are there for her and at longer odds, I’d be willing to take the chance that she can get home. Past success on this course is typically a good thing and Aunt Becca (#4) ran a monster race on this course two back, easily putting away an overmatched N2L allowance field. That effort was good enough to put her in the Jersey Girl Stakes at Belmont. She’s been on the sidelines since struggling in that race and she’s been working well for her return. She’ll have other speed to contend with, but she feels dangerous as well.
A full field has been assembled for this N1X allowance race going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf. Gatlinburg (#6) was overlooked in his first try at this level on the grass last time out at Kentucky Downs. He went to post at 30-1 where he gave his backers quite a thrill. He’s versatile enough to set the pace or sit a little farther off the front end speed. Kentucky Downs runners continue to do well at this meet. Tall Boy (#3) lHe got on grass for the first time last July and he’s handled himself quite nicely since then. He lost by a narrow margin that afternoon and then finished a reasonable 5th in stakes company last out. This is a significant drop in class while remaining protected from being claimed. Mr. McGregor (#1) was aggressive early and had enough left in the tank to keep finding late. The rail position certainly won’t hurt his chances. There;s reasons to believe he can run back to that big effort. On deeper tickets, don’t completely exclude Soybean Man (#9), at 20-1 on the morning line. His two career turf races were both solid efforts, winning one and narrowly missing in the other. Her trainer, Ron Moquett, is primarily based at Oaklawn, so his runners don’t get to run on grass much. However, a big effort from him in this spot might help him change his winter plans for him.
Form is all over the palace in the nightcap, which is a $50K maiden claiming sprint for fillies and mares going six furlongs. Five of the ten runners entered in this one are coming out of races that were contested on the turf. I want a horse that is going to be forwardly placed in this race, since there isn’t a lot of speed signed on. Unless one of the firsters comes out loaded, I think Rosario will have her right in the thick of things in the early stages. Others might have a higher ceiling, but I do think she’ll improve with the soft competition that she’ll be facing in this race. Oh My Gawd (#10) is a firster that has enough speed influences to keep me interested Her full sister was a winner on debut at Keeneland in a two year old race. The dam was a winner on debut as well, so seeing her go to the front from her wide draw wouldn’t be shocking. I would have liked to see her once in a maiden allowance race before dropping to this level, so that is a concern for me. However, the positives are outweighing the negatives here. Be Miss Hatte (#8) has three starts in maiden allowance, all of which came on the grass. She’s improved in her last twp starts and her pedigree suggests that she be okay here. She has a runner that was a fast closing third here in a two year old allowance race last week. St. Benedicts Prep (#9) is the morning line favorite for Chad Brown. I respect the human connections enough to trust them, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one-paced filly isn’t gaining ground as fast as she could be in the stretch.
How to Read the Picks-Grid:
This grid has become my favorite tool for helping to handicap a race card in advance. Keep in mind that these designations for me are flexible and may change depending on how the value in the betting market shifts leading up to post time.
The “Top Pick” Column is fairly self-explanatory, meaning that it’s the horse that I think will win the race.
The “A” Column is reserved for the horses that I feel have the best chances of winning. The more horses that are in this column per race, the more wide open I think the race might be. For multi-race wagers, these horses will be on the bulk of my tickets. If I’m betting on the vertical wagers (exactas, trifectas, superfectas), these horses would likely be candidates to be keyed on top.
The “B” Column are horses that I think have a chance of winning, but I don’t like them as much as the runners on the A line. If I put a morning line favorite in this column, I’m trying to find ways to beat them. For me, favorites on the B line typically will either be used underneath in the vertical exotics, or perhaps not at all. They’ll typically be used on some back up tickets in the multi-race wagers, especially in races where the other options aren’t as strong. I might also relegate a horse to the B line if I don’t think there’s good value on that horse with their morning line odds or how I think the race will be bet. For example, If I think a horse should be closer to 5-1, and their morning line odds are 3-1, he might start on the B line for me. If the betting public moves the line closer to the odds that I feel are fair, and I like the horse’s chances, I could move them up when I’m playing the race.
The “C” Column is reserved as a deep backup for me. Again, if a favorite is on the C line, that’s me telling you that I don’t like them that much in this race. I definitely won’t be using them on top in any vertical wager, as I’ll be trying to beat them with most of my tickets. Sometimes this spot will be reserved for a crazy longshot that checks one of the boxes I might be looking for when playing horses at long odds.