Keeneland Racing Preview – 4/21/23 – By Eric Solomon

There’s a very nice Grade 3 race that highlights another strong program at Keeneland. The Baird Doubledogdare features a rematch between Green Up and Interstatedaydream, the one-two finishers in the Cathryn Sophia Stakes at Parx last summer. Both fillies surely have grand plans for their four year old campaigns, that would hopefully put them in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar this November. First post for the Friday program 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 1 1,7 DBL, PK3, PK5
2 6 4,6,10 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 3 3 DBL, PK3
4 1 1 7 DBL, PK3
5 5 4,5 7,13 DBL, PK3, PK6

All-Turf PK3

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




Race in Focus – Race 1:

What do you do when there’s a horse taking a suspicious drop in class? That’s the question that handicappers need to ask themselves about the morning line favorite, Shadrack (#3) in the opener, which is an open $25K claiming race. He was claimed for $40K at Del Mar and has put up some big figures in much better races than this. He was moved to a lower percentage barn though and makes his first start since January. My general rule of thumb is to try to beat those horses. However, there has to be a runner or runners that make sense. If I can’t find a suitable alternative, my typical inclination is to sit that race out. If it’s a part of a sequence where I have some strong opinions in other races, I’ll usually turn it into a spread race. 


In this race, I do think there are a pair of quality alternatives. Code Runner (#1) is his stablemate, coming off a strong effort when going 10 furlongs on synthetic at Turfway. His two turn dirt form is solid, winning on this oval last season. My Bariley (#7) also has a nice effort on this course last fall. He’s coming here of a pair of in the money finishes in starter allowance company at the Fair Grounds. These consistent runners are both more appealing to be. I see this as a good race to try to hammer an exacta box, since I’m expecting the favorite to struggle. While I made Code Runner the top pick, I don’t think there’s much separating these two. As a result, the exacta box feels like a wise choice. This way if it comes in 1-7 or 7-1 I’ll still cash. 


The play: $5 exacta box 1-7 ($10 wager)


Late Pick-5 Analysis:


Race 6: 

The Late Pick-5 gets underway a $50K starter allowance race at 6 and ½ furlongs. I think both of the favorites, Morning Cup (#1) and Appeal Denied (#4) are a bit vulnerable in this spot. However, it doesn’t feel like there are a ton of other viable options. I do think Stand for Freedom (#3) is interesting enough to use on top in this spot though. He’ll face winners for the first time after breaking his maiden at this distance on the Tapeta at Turfway. He graduated with $50K-$40K maiden claimers when making his 9th career start. However, he has only race on the dirt in sprint races four times, and he showed steady improvement in those races, including a pair of narrow losses with $75K maiden claimers here and at Churchill in the fall. Ian Wilkes has brought several live runners to this meet and I think he has a chance to get back in the Winner’s Circle with this some of American Freedom. Appeal Denied is coming off a huge effort with conditioned $40K-$30K claimers at the Fair Grounds back in February. He was beaten by Button Boy, who came back to the clear the N1X allowance condition when making his next start. Foley gave him some extra time after that big race. Three of his six career starts have been absolute clunkers though. It’s hard to get too excited to take a short price on him, however, if he can duplicate his last start, this race is over. Morning Cup has been hanging around at this level in New Orleans, finishing 3rd and 4th in his last two. I like the cutback in distance for him, but I don’t love how he’s finished his last few races. His lone win came on this course last fall though. 


Race 7: 

We’ll stay at the 6 and ½ furlong distance for this maiden special weight race for three year old fillies. This is a spread race for me, as the runners with some experience haven’t set the world on fire. There are some five first time starters as well, one of which is my top pick, Sassy Walker (#6). Trainer Phil D’Amato doesn’t have great numbers with first time starters and this Munnings filly might be better on the turf. However, D’Amato is 2 for 7 in the last five years with first time starters making their first start on dirt outside of California. The work here five days ago was sharp, telling me that she can handle the local oval. Check Engine Light (#8) is cutting back to a sprint after a pair of one turn efforts at Aqueduct. She just missed two starts back and dabbled with stakes company last time out. Even though that was not the strongest field in the Busher Invitational Stakes last month, she is getting significant class relief here. Magical Lute (#5) makes her first start as a three year old after a pair of tries last summer and fall at Churchill. She cuts back to a sprint after faltering at one mile. Her debut was good enough to consider using her today. Under Advisement (#3) is another first time starter from another barn that doesn’t have great numbers with debut runners. However, the works are solid and the dam has produced one other runner that recently broke his maiden for Brad Cox. Despite needing several chances to do that, he was very competitive in his near misses. She’sasmalltowngirl (#9) is the lukewarm morning line favorite in this race after pairing her Beyers in her first two career starts. She’s faced a bunch of next out winners in both of those races at Oaklawn. She’s a player, but I would like to try to fish for some value in what feels like the most wide open race of the day. 


Race 8:

Fillies and mares go 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf in this N3X allowance race. I think the favorite, Fast as Flight (#2) is a different horse at Gulfstream than she is on other courses. Brad Cox sends out Juncture (#1), who is a first time import for Juddmonte. However, he has struggled with foreign shippers of late, losing with his last eight starters, where only one of which hit the board. As a result, I’m all in on Brendan Walsh in this race, as he sends out both Viareggio (#3) and Arm Candy (#10) today. Viareggio was three lengths better than Juncture when they met at the Curragh in August in the Group 3 Snow Fairy Fillies Stakes. Walsh has better numbers with first time imports and I love the way Tyler Gaffalione has been riding at this meet, winning with 25% of his mounts through Wednesday. Arm Candy is a two time winner on this course, dropping in class after a 9th place finish in the Sand Springs Stakes on the Florida Derby undercard. She had a wide journey that day against a stronger group. I thought her effort here in October at this level was better than it looks paper. On deeper tickets, Fancy Martini (#7) isn’t the craziest longshot play here. She was a 54-1 winner with N2X company here in October. Her last three races haven’t been that great, but I do see her getting a similar trip here to what she got in October. She’ll need to run back to that effort and hope that she’s catching some of these runners in a spot where they might not be fully cranked. 


Race 9, The Grade 3 Baird Doubledogdare Stakes:

This is a very good Grade 3 feature today, featuring the rematch from the 2022 Cathryn Sophia Stakes between Green Up (#2) and Interstatedaydream (#4). They hooked up in August with Green Up roaring by the favorite at the top of the stretch to win buy open lengths. Interstatedaydream went to the sidelines after that race and returned in a very salty edition of the Azeri Stakes last month at Oaklawn. She was third behind Secret Oath and Clairiere that day. Instead of trying the big girls again last week in the Apple Blossom, Cox brought her here for this race, which is no walkover. She did struggle on this course in the Ashland last year when she lost to Nest. I’ll use her, but I think she’s vulnerable in this spot. Green Up on the other hand went on to the Grade 1 Cotillion, where she was no match for Society. She’s been on the sidelines since. Her four wins were all ultra-impressive efforts, where she powered home in the stretch. She is a horse that likes to be in the clear, so drawing another inside post might not be ideal for the race she wants to run. She also might be a little keen in her first start off the bench this year. I think she has a higher ceiling than Interstatedaydream, and she has the head to head advantage, which is enough for me to use her on the A line. However, I’m going to try for an upset, making Frost Point (#3) the top pick for Bill Mott and Godolphin. She’s coming off a win in the Heavenly Prize Invitational Stakes at Aqueduct in February. She ran very well in the one turn mile races there, winning her last two starts by daylight margins. She’s sired by Frosted, who won the Grade 1 Met Mile and her dam Balletto, won the Grade 1 Frizette at the one turn mile. That may be the ideal for her, but I do think she can easily handle the two turn trip. She can win in multiple ways and I think she could be the one that is closing well late, as there are several that want to be forwardly placed here. She’s in career best form as a five year old, and I think she could move forward once again today. 


Race 10: 

The day ends with a N1X allowance race where I’m going to try to take a stand and use Twowaycrossing (#4) as my lone A at 12-1. Luis Saez rides this son of English Channel for Roger Attfield. He won on debut when going seven furlongs on the turf at Woodbine in the fall. He made a quick turnaround to take a shot in the Cup and Saucer Stakes for Ontario breds on the Tapeta. He came up empty that day and resurfaced at Gulfstream in February, getting back on the grass. He was a decent 5th in a paceless race there. I think he’s going to take a step forward in this race, running two strong efforts on the grass so far. I don’t think this is the deepest field for the condition and I think he’ll be a candidate to excel at the nine furlong distance. I’ll backup with a pair of shorter priced runners in this race. Battle of Normandy (#5) feels too short at 2-1 on the morning line. However, he did run a big race in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in his last start on this course last November. My gut tells me that he’s going to need this race before he starts to hit his best stride, however, he might be able to win this one on class alone. Our Dream Rye’d (#9) could be a candidate to improve when going nine furlongs for the first time today. He had no answers when making his first start of the year in the Colonel Liam Stakes at Gulfstream last month. He does his best work when making one sustained run, so the added distance could be key for him. 


The One and Done Ticket: $45 Wager

I think this is a sequence where several of the shorter priced runners are vulnerable. I wouldn’t be surprised if none of the favorites cross the wire first in these five races. I’m hoping to be alive to Twowaycrossing (#4, R10) at a price with Luis Saez in the nightcap. 



Multiple Plays:

With deeper pockets, comes different ways to attack a wager like this. My All-A play would be $12 with $1.00 as the base wager. I’d typically try to have that covered a few times. In addition to the All A/B ticket above, I’d look at playing the following, which adds up to a $126 investment. 


$2.00 Base Wager, All A: 3/5-6-8/3-10/2-3/4 ($24)


$0.50 Base Wager, BxAxAxAxA: 1-4/5-6-8/3-10/2-3/4 ($12)


$0.50 Base Wager, AxBxAxABxA: 3/3-9/3-10/2-3-4/4 ($6)


$0.50 Base Wager, ABxAxAxBxA: 1-3-4/5-6-8//3-10/4/4 ($9)


$0.50 Base Wager,: AxBxAxAxA: 1/3-6-7/2-3/7/1-3-7 ($9)


$0.50 Base Wager, AxAxCxAxA: 3/5-6-8/7/2-3/4 ($3)


$0.50 Base Wager, AxAxAxABxC: 3/5-6-8/3-10/2-3-4/5-9 ($18)


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. 

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