It has been a very nice start to the 2018 Keeneland Spring Meet. Through the first two days at the Lexington, KY track, we have a record of 7-7-11 in 20 races (we did not bet the 5th at Keeneland on Saturday due to the race being moved from the grass and most of our top selections were scratched from the event). Our top selection has hit 35% of the time for the win and has hit “ITM” on 55% of the time. Our top 3 selections have hit the board 42% of the time. Our 2018 numbers are 173-184-189 for 504 races, which is a 34.30% win rate for our top pick.

Most importantly, we have a solid ROI for the first two days, both across the board, and, in particular, with our exacta plays. Based an $1 win-place-show wagers, we are up $6 for 20 bets, and based on $1 exactas, we are up $112.40 for 20 bets placed.

Here is closer look at today’s card:

1st: 1-3-5-9…Analyze This Cat (1) draws the rail and that’s a tough spot for any maiden, especially a 2YO making the first race ever. But this one has been working well and gets a veteran rider in the irons. If he can muscle this one out of the gate first, then it might be clear sailing for this daughter of Overanalyze. Stillwater Cove (3) goes for the barn of Wesley Ward, who hits with .24% of first time starters. He specializes in this “speciality” field of 2YOs, too. Trainer has hit at 4-3-3 in the last two weeks. Ward’s other entry in here is Tragic (5), whom the connections paid $100,000 to acquire at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sales. This one is working well, too. Dam has 5 winners in first 7 starters, and 1 Stakes winner to date. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

2nd: 2-7-4-3-6…Ring Knocker (2) gets the class drop from a Stakes event to $25,000-Claiming. Also moves from the turf over to the dirt, where she seems to do her best running. Won at Saratoga last September, and had a nice work at GP on March 24. Should be tough at this level for a ownership team that drops dramatically to win here. Diamonds for Leah (7) ran a real good one going longer at the Fair Grounds on Dec. 31. Has two really nice works in a row for the return today, and trainer can hit off this kind of layup (.10%). Gets class relief to a level where she won easily at Churchill Downs last September. Drop Dead Red (4) goes for a top barn outfit, and gets a drop to the lowest level of her career today. Nice work on March 14, and gets a top rider for this course. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the 2 over/under all the numbers in two more, as well.

3rd: 11-8-12-3-1-6-4-9…Toy Moon (11) gets my nod in this version of the “baby race.” This daughter of Malibu Moon has been working very well, including here on March 31. This barn does not start a lot of babies this time of year, but this one is worth noting. Very solid connections. Dam has 5 winners from 6 starters and 1 Stakes winner already. (My stat of the day. Get all your handicapping tools at Adds up. Cafe Mischief (8) is another well-bred 2YO, this one being by Into Mischief. She had a very nice work here on March 31, and picks up a top notch rider for this affair. Dam has 4 winners from 5 starters. Well bred. Shanghai Rain (12) is a homebred filly by Shanghai Bobby, who we love as a sire. This one comes from a dam who has 1 winner from 1 starter, and the trainer won two “baby races” on opening day. Could this one join the group? I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

4th: 7-9-10-1-4-5-2-8…A wide open affair, for sure, but led, in our opinion, by War Cabinet (7), who will be making her NA debut today for a top barn operation. Ran on an all-weather surface once in France last August. Now, shipped her to try the grass — which she was bred and born to do best. Working OK for this one. Dam has 8 winners from 11 starters and 4 turf winners to date. Trainer scores at .21% with first on grass and .26% with first time routers. Kallio (9) raced twice as a 2YO, but this daughter of Scat Daddy comes into this one with a string of nice works for a trainer who does very well with grass runners. She ran super on debut in January at GP, and had traffic issues in the second start. The one to beat, and gets in at 10-1 ML odds. Wild N Ready (10) has a third and a second in two lifetime starts, including a third in a Graded Stakes event at Saratoga last August. Working super for the 2018 debut, and just may be the first winner for trainer Norm Casse, who went out on his own this Spring. I bet the 7-10 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in another smaller version.

5th: (15)-12-10-7-3-9…Mia Bella Rossa (15) gets the “dot” (must use, for me) in this spot if the filly draws in from the AE List. This one won last time out over the turf at the Fair Grounds, but may be just as comfortable on the dirt. Would be dropping in class. The pick, if she gets in. If not, then I revert to She Loves Leather (12), another on the far outside. This one won last time out at the Fair Grounds, as well, from start to finish. Will be shortening up for this one and bumping up in class, as well. But she did break her maiden for $12,500. Trainer hits with .33% of those repeating at the claiming level. I would look/hope for a rider switch. Budget Cut (10) is dropping in class after running for a $15,000 price tag up at Turfway Park the last time out in December. Didn’t seem to like the polytrack in that lone attempt over the plastic. Won two back at Churchill. Like the 6-1 ML odds. Wide open race and hard to get excited about any of them if the #15 does not get in. I think I would go to the 10 across the board and then key the 10 over/under the rest of the numbers — in a tepid way. 

6th: 6-5-2-4-1-10-11-8…Serjeant At Arms (6) is 8-1 ML odds, and I think the Upset Special of the Day. In tough, no doubt, but this one ran a huge one at Tampa Bay on Feb. 23 in his NA debut, after shipping here from India. Not many India-bred are running at Keeneland, but this one could be OK, with a trainer that specializes in the imports. Worked very well at Palm Meadows on March 24 and looks to make a giant stride forward today. Beware. Blacktype (5) may be one of the top horses to beat in here. Ran 4th, but beaten only 1 length, in the G3 Tropical Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park in the last on Dec. 16. Was one of the favorites before he ran 5th here in the G1 Maker’s Mark Mile just a year ago. Had a nice work on March 22 down at Payson Park. Ready? Are You Kidding Me (2) has not been out since running a tough-beat second in the G3 Seagram Cup at Woodbine last August. This one has already won over $1 million in purses, and had a solid 2017 with a 1-2-1 record in just 4 starts. Now a 8YO, but can run well off a layoff, and gets one of the hottest riders around. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta, and then key the top 3 over the rest in another.

7th: 3-2-6-8-1-4-5…G3 Beaumont Stakes…This 7-furlong Stakes event for the girls is very competitive, and loaded with speed and horses coming off significant layups. But, after much study, I go with Dream It Is (3), who is a perfect 3-for-3 for trainer Barbara Minshall. This 3YO filly has not been seen in the afternoons since last July, when she galloped in the G3 Schuylerville up at Saratoga. Before that she had won two in a row over the poly at Woodbine. She has been training super, including a nice work here on April 1. She will stretch out to a career long distance, and a tough route of ground for a debut race. But if she is ready, she will be tough to handle. Gets a top rider. Kelly’s Humor (2) is 10-1 in the ML, and if she stays there she will be a top bet for me. Although she has run two poor ones in a row, she has the deep -closing ability that may come in handy in this speed-laden group, and she gets the services of one of the world’s top riders for the first time ever. Look at the work on March 31 down at the Fair Grounds. And, consider that she comes from the barn of the leading trainer in New Orleans. Coming off a layoff, for sure, but sure looks ready, too. Upset Alert. My great friend, Buff Bradley, will put the saddle on Upset Brewing (6) in this one today. This filly has only 1 win in 9 starts to date, but she has 6 seconds and a third. Ran a solid second to a good one last time out and was second to Kelly’s Humor in the Ellis Park Debutante last summer. Another stalker/closer type who may benefit from too much speed in this one. I bet the 3-2 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.l

8th: 2-9-6-1-11-10-8-7-3-5…G2 Appalachian Stakes…Rushing Fall (2) may have been the best 2YO filly in the world last year. She was a perfect 3-for-3, including a victory here and in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly. Truth be known, she was pulling away at the end of all of those events, with ease and style. Will be making the 2018 debut today, but has been working lights out down at Palm Meadows for trainer Chad Brown. Won’t be much of a price today, but she is the class of this one — if ready to roll. Note: This one won over a “soft” turf here last Fall. Thewayiam (9), on the other hand, will be making her fourth start of 2018. And, she has been rolling already. She has three wins in row coming into this one, including an amazing run up the rail in the Herecomesthebride Stakes at GP on March 3. Gets the services of Jose Ortiz again today, and she could be very salty with a late run. A cut back in distance is a bit discerning, because I think she gets better the longer they go. But she has the talent to give “The Champ” a run today. Note: This one won over a “good” turf surface two races back. Dixie Moon (6) will be making her 2018 debut, as well, having not started since last December up at Woodbine. She ran 6th to Rushing Fall in the BC Juvenile Fillies, but was beaten less than 4 in that one and had a horrible, horrible trip. Gets the services of Mike Smith today. Now, that’s a rider improvement. If this daughter of Curlin is geared up, watch out. I bet the 2-9 to win/place and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the 2-9 over/under all the numbers in two smaller versions.

9th: 4-1-3-1A-6-7…Daddy’s Placer (4) is a horse that looked like he had a bright career ahead of him in the late summer of 2016. Ran second twice on debut as a 2YO and then hooked J Boys Echo. Came back to run a nice second to Senior Investment late in 2016. Has run three straight seconds now, and drops for the first time to a this kind of level — MC $20,000. He has 6 seconds in 11 career starts, but if there is ever a time to get to the winner’s circle it is today. Top rider gets on board. The Bet. The entry of Clearly Super (1) and Pain in the Arch (1A) could both hit the board, giving a double payoff. The 1A would have to draw into the race from the AE List, though. The former dropped to this level last time out and was beaten only 11/2 lengths at Oaklawn Park. Looks like he prefers the dirt and gets one of the Midwest’s best riders today. Potomac (3) gets a significant drop in class to a career low level for this one, too. Looks like these connections are looking to cull, and this one figures to be purchased for the claiming tag today. Son of Speightstown is well bred, but has not shown much to date. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the 4-1-3 in the exacta.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene