All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately, we’ve hit the end of the road for the 2023 Keeneland Spring Meet. Luis Saez is coming off a big day to move into a tie with Tyler Gaffalione for the leading rider title for the meet. Both riders have some live runners on this card. On the trainer side, Wesley Ward holds a one race lead over Brad Cox. However, Ward sends out five runners today, where Cox only has one. The featured race is the Grade 3 Bewitch where War Like Goddess will be looking for her third consecutive victory in this race. First post for the final card of the meet 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||2||2,5,7||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||1||1,2||4,7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||6||6||3||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|6||8||8||10||DBL, PK3, PK5,
|7||9||3,9||5||6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race in Focus – Race 1:
Longshot Need Some Money (#2) and morning line favorite Beautiful and Bold (#7) are coming out of common races at Oaklawn. I’m more interested in the 2/4 race where Need Some Money was a shade more than two lengths behind Beautiful and Bold, and she had a much more difficult trip. She didn’t break well and was then steadied going into the first turn. She still finished with interest though to get up for 4th. They met again in a much deeper allowance race where both finished off the board. Need Some Money missed a race in between, so that last race felt like more of a necessity from a fitness standpoint.
When they meet again today, I do see Need Some Money as a horse that could be in position to make up those few lengths. She likes to come from off the pace, and the five fillies that start outside of her, all want to be forwardly placed. With Beautiful and Bold starting on the outside, she has the potential to take the worst of the early pace battle. While I respect the fact that Beautiful and Bold is the better horse right now, I think this spot might set up better for her rival.
The Play: $10 Win 2
Late Pick-5 Analysis:
I think that Sahlbiya (#8) is a single-worthy pick in the first leg of this Pick-5 sequence. She’ll get an extra 3/16 of a mile today, and should be able to do it rather easily. She ran well when making her first start off the layoff last month at Gulfstream going one mile at this level. She was beaten by two very good fillies in her two nine furlong races last season, and I don’t see anyone in this field as talented as Contemporary Art or Moira. I think she’s better than her opponents in this race. Seldom Seen (#10) is an interesting backup play here. She debuted on synthetic, but with Arrogate as her sire, main track racing is likely going to be her fit. She needed that race and now gets John Velasquez to ride for Graham Motion, who has very good numbers with second time starters.
This seven plus furlong race on the Beard Course is a wide open affair, so why not take a shot with a live longshot? Mo Hope (#9) is 20-1 on the morning after a pair of decent tries at the Fair Grounds. I thought his second place finish behind Cagliostro was strong for his second career start. He’s been away since January, but I see some definite upside here. Castlewarden (#3) was bet like a sure thing in his debut, but he likely needed that effort before he was able to round into his better form. He was gaining on his rival at six furlongs, so the added distance today makes a lot of sense. He’s trained by Brad Cox, who will need to win this race and hope Wesley Ward gets shut out, in order to share the training title with Ward. Bad Boy Frank (#5) closed well to be third while putting up a big speed figure in his debut at Gulfstream last month. Half of Wilkes runners have finished in the money at this meet, so he certainly is a candidate to improve with the extra distance. Loyal Company (#6) is a Godolphin runner whose pedigree says that longer one turn races on dirt will be in his wheelhouse. He debuted with a solid effort on the synthetic at Turfway. If he is overlooked and his odds float up a bit from his 8-1 morning line figure, I’d consider using him more prominently.
Race 8, The Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes:
The super talented mare, War Like Goddess (#4) starts her six year old campaign in a familiar race. She has won the Bewitch in the last two years and she’ll be heavily favored to three-peat today. She beat the boys at this distance in the 12 furlong Joe Hirsch Turf Classic last fall and then she followed that up with a strong third place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. She clearly likes the course and her talent speaks for itself, however, this is a starting point for her and I think she’s facing a tougher bunch than she saw in the last two iterations of this race. I’ve got to use her prominently, but I think Personal Best (#5) is an up and coming horse in this division for Shug McGaughey. She won the La Prevoyante and January and she just missed in the Orchid last time out. She’s a proven commodity at this distance and she keeps getting better. I think this four year old filly could pull the upset in this spot. Temple City Terror (#2) is a play on deeper tickets. She was excellent when winning the Dowager at this distance in the fall. She showed some interest in the Hillsborough at Tampa, but that was a jumping off point for her. She likes these marathon type races, so I’m not concerned about her low speed figure in that race. This barn remains hot at this meet as well.
There’s another huge favorite in this N2L allowance race at seven furlongs. A La Carte (#1) is 4-5 on the morning line after two sterling performances at Gulfstream. He moves to face winners for the first time. The pedigree backs up the performance as his dam was a graded stakes winner on the main track. I took a little time for this five year old gelding to make it to the track, but the wait has been worth it. He;s going to be tough in this spot, but he is stretching out, whereas Debate (#2), starting in the stall next door, is cutting back in distance. I thought his effort at 7 and ½ furlongs two starts back in the slop at Churchill was excellent. I thought his last race, when going two turns for the first time, was better than it looks on paper. John Velasquez hasn’t won much at this meet, however, he gave a Hall of Fame type ride to win his second race of the meet yesterday with The Grey Wizard. I think he could be a candidate to beat the heavy favorite.
First level allowance runners going one mile on the turf will conclude the meet. I see Laver (#6) as an interesting play getting back on the grass for Rusty Arnold. She ran well enough in her debut, then finished in the middle of the pack on stakes company. His pedigree is what sells her, as his dam, Centre Court was very talented, especially in races at this distance on the turf. He’s a better horse since the last time he tried grass. Dunedin (#7) drops out of stakes company after a decent third place finish last out at Gulfstream. Kelsey Danner has been gradually stretching him out after sprinting in his first few starts. His last three efforts have been sharp, and those races definitely put him in the conversation here. Turf King (#3) is the morning lion favorite for Chad Brown. He makes his first start on turf after a strong debut try on the Tapeta last out. While you’ll never know until they do, this pedigree screams turf and this barn knows what the doctor ordered.
The One and Done Ticket, $36 Play
I see Sahlbiya (#8, R6) as a solid single in the opening leg of this sequence. She should be favored, but shouldn’t be much lower than 2-1. I do think she’ll move forward off her last try. There are some prices sprinkled in throughout the ticket, as well try to go out a winner!
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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