The second week of racing at the Keeneland Spring Meet concludes with a nine race program, headed by a pair of stakes races. The Grade 3 Beaumont is the 8th race of the day for three year old fillies going about seven furlongs on the main track. Three year old turf sprinters will dash 5 and ½ furlongs in the previous race, the $250K Palisades. Post time for the Sunday 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||5||3,5||1||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||5||5||3||DBL, PK3, PK4,
|4||4||2,4||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|5||8||8||2||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||9||1,9||10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race In Focus, Race 5:
When playing multi-race tickets, there are times where it can be beneficial to take a stand in a wide open race, especially if you have a strong opinion. If the money is well spread throughout several entrants, the value on your horse should be there.
The 5th race today has several horses that could easily win this race on their best day, however, consistency is not a hallmark with some of the runners here. I think Under Oath (#8) for Todd Pletcher and Flavien Prat is the one to beat while making his second start off the layoff today. This is where I’m going to take a stand in the Late Pick-5.
If you’re not a multi-race player, I see this as a great spot to make a decent win bet, assuming the field stays intact and the board generally resembles the morning line odds. Under Oath is listed at 9-2 on the morning line. I think that’s a very fair price, so as long as he stays at 4-1, I’d be willing to dive in.
The play: $20 Win on #8.
Late Pick-5 Analysis:
As I indicated earlier, Under Oath (#8) is going to be a single for me in this optional claiming/N2X allowance race. He’s making his 6th career start and his second off the layoff. He was very good in his first two races last spring, finishing third at Gulfstream and breaking his maiden here in April. He struggled in his return at Saratoga in July, but then easily cleared the N1X condition in August. He went away until March when he came back in a turf sprint, where he finished a dull 9th. I think Prat coming back aboard is a huge deal. Watching replays of his five starts, it’s apparent that he can be a tricky horse to ride. It’s almost as if he’s a different horse when Prat is on his back though. He was able to have him settle comfortably off the dueling leaders last year when he broke his maiden going six furlongs here, and I think that’s exactly the kind of trip that will win this race. My backup plan will be Top of the Charts (#2) for Brian Lynch. Lynch has great numbers with horses off long layoffs, winning with 37% of those runners since 2022. He showed a lot of talent in his first two races, but he faltered when stretching out to a mile in stakes company at Ellis in his last start in August. He might be the speed of the speed in this race with a lot of horses that want to be on the front end. I’d like him more if this race were six furlongs instead of six and a half, but I respect his ability and think he’s going to fire today.
I’m going to try the second time starter, Wild Thinker (#9), on top for Eddie Keneally. He’s coming up from the Fair Grounds and the maiden special weight contests there this meet were generally above average. The winner of his first start came back to win in his first try against winners, beating an allowance field here last Saturday. He’s worked four times since his debut effort, so I think he’ll have a fitness edge over several of his rivals here. Malibu Springs (#1) is the first time starter that I feel has the best shot to win this race. He’s been working well at Palm Beach Downs for Pletcher, with consistent works going back to January. He’s the first foal to race from the dam Marquee Miss, who was a very versatile runner. She was a stakes winner on dirt and synthetic and also won an allowance race turf in her 34 race career. She made her debut in a stakes race on synthetic at Arlington and was a winner that day. I expect this Quality Road colt to fire. Briterdayzahead (#10) makes his second career start and his first start since fading late in his debut at Saratoga. He faced some pretty good horses in that race, losing to Instant Coffee and Arthur’s Ride. Instant Coffee went on to win a pair of graded stakes races, and Arthur’s Ride came back to beat Dreamlike to break his maiden in his next start. I think debuting a seven furlongs was asking a lot of this Girvin colt. He’s been given some time off and has been working well for Joe Sharp. I think he’s an interesting horse at longer odds in this race.
Race 7, The $250K Palisades Stakes:
This is going to be a spread race for me, as I think there are many different ways to go. Wesley Ward has won all the turf sprint stakes at the meet so far, so it’s hard for me to leave of No Nay Hudson (#8). On paper, he’s not quite as good as some of the others though. I know Ward has all of his runners cranked for this meet, so I’ll back up with him, because I am not going let myself be knocked out completely if he’s able to make it a clean sweep. Gaslight Dancer (#5) is going to be the top pick for me, making his first start since breaking from post 14 in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf here in November. Despite the wide draw, I thought his 6th place finish in that race was a strong effort. Prior to that, he just missed in the Grade 3 Futurity, sprinting on the turf at Aqueduct. He has some tactical speed, but I think he can sit just off the pacesetters and finish stronger than many of the others in this race. While this might be a tad shorter than his best distance, I’m expecting a big effort from off the bench. Paco Lopez will be in town today to ride Crispy Cat (#4) Jorge Delgado. He came over from Europe where he was Group 2 placed at five furlongs as a two year old. He ran well in his stateside debut and followed that effort up with a win in the Texas Glitter Stakes there fifteen days later. He should be up close here and his foundation and recency should be plus. Private Creed (#6) was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on this course last fall. He just missed when making his seasonal debut in the Texas Turf Mile at Sam Houston. I thought it was an odd choice to enter him in the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds when he made his most recent start. That was his first try on the dirt and it didn’t go well. Drawing Post 14 that day did him no favors, but he wasn’t up to the task. He cuts back to a sprint in hopes to give Asmussen his first winner of this meet. Bushido (#7) may be the speed of the speed in this race, winning both of his career starts at Woodbine by open lengths. His second start was a win in the Ontario Racing Association Stakes. Five furlongs and five and a half furlongs are two very different turf sprints though. That being said, I respect that no one has been able to challenge him yet.
Race 8, The Grade 3 Beaumont Stakes:
This seven plus furlong feature today is run on the Beard Course here at Keeneland, traveling an additional 124 feet from the traditional seven furlong race. Interpolate (#4)is my top pick for Chad Brown today. She was last seen winning the Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct at seven furlongs in February. She was very good in her two tries at the Big A, with her two losses coming at Parx and Saratoga. The Parx race was on a sloppy course on a cold and windy day there in stakes company, for a race that was rescheduled for a week later than it was supposed to be run. That was a toss effort for me. She met some very good fillies in her debut at Saratoga, which has already turned out to be one of the more productive races for fillies at that meet last season. Brown’s horses have been live at this meet, and he’s already scored a win with Goodnight Olive going seven furlongs on the dirt last week in the Madison Stakes. Key of Life (#7) is the even money play on the morning line for Brad Cox. She’s a two time winner on this course, winning the Myrtlewood Stakes here at the end of October. She went off form for a bit, but she sure looked like her old self when handily winning the Purple Martin Stakes at Oaklawn last month. I am slightly concerned about her getting the distance here though. Her only start at 6 and ½ furlongs was not her best. She should be able to get a good stalking trip from her outside draw, so I will use her, but I think there’s value in trying to beat her.
The week will wrap up with a conditioned $30K claiming race for fillies and mares going six furlongs. The dirt form is all over the place in this one, so my hope is that Solid Tune (#4) can duplicate her effort from November at Churchill. She was forwardly placed with a better field that day, finishing second to Sue Ellen Mishkin, who was an allowance winner against a good group this winter at Oaklawn. Blinkers will go on for the first time and she’s facing the softest field that she’s seen since breaking her maiden. Fabricate (#2) gets Irad Ortiz to ride for Megan Fadlovich. She’s making her first start since she was claimed for this price back in September at Churchill. She’s eligible to run with a waiver in this race, which makes me a little nervous sometimes. When horses get to run with the waiver, sometimes trainers will use that race as an afternoon workout. However, the presence of Irad Ortiz in this spot hints to me that this race is going to be more than that. Knowing Glance (#1) is the morning line favorite after running a monster effort in her first race off the bench at Oaklawn last out. She’s been right there in her last three starts, but her 6-5 morning line figure indicates that she’ll likely enter the starting gate at odds lower than that. She’s the one to beat, but I worry about her entering bounce territory, especially at a level like this.
Late Pick-5, One and Done Ticket, $45 Wager:
My strategy for this tick is to use Under Oath (#8, R5) as the single in the opening leg. Despite coming from high profile connections, I think there will be enough value where she won’t be the betting favorite. I’ll spread underneath, hoping to get a few prices involved to end the week on a high note.
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.