I am in Pennsylvania for Game Day and all the festivities associated with the hype that is Michigan vs. Penn State in one of the nation’s best football matches today.  Went over to Williamsport, PA — the home of the Little League World Series on Friday.  It was the site of my first assignment as a fledgling young reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader nearly 40 years ago — in the late summer of 1978.  I was here to cover the South Lexington team in the Little League World Series.  Guys like Rusty Cress, who I still get to see on occasion, as he walks the halls of the Kentucky State Capitol as a lobbyist. Guys like Robbie Buchanan, who was a catcher on that team and later at the University of Kentucky. Guys like Rodney Martin, who went on to carve out a career as the coach at Lexington Catholic.

Went down to the old park here where that Lexington team played and played very well. After all, they beat the Dominican Republic to finish third in the Series that year. And, amazingly, much of this town seems the same. Took some pictures and I will write something next week about the “re-experience.”  It was fun, but felt like I tore open a time capsule in many ways.

Thought about going over to Parx for a little racing action before tonight’s “white out” and tailgating, but decided, instead, to just tune up the phone and the ADW and watch a little Keeneland action. And, it is some kind of wild card at the old, historic oval that stamps as much tradition onto the Thoroughbred brand as Williamsport does on the Little League image.

Here is a closer look at the Keeneland card today:

1st: 4-8-7-2-1…Lady Warrior (4) drops from the MSW ranks into the high-end claiming ranks for the first time.  Her run on debut was not a bad effort at all, closing from the back of the pack to finish third. Has worked well twice since that race and gets the same rider back in the saddle. Should improve. Chris Block travels down from Chicago with Nonikas Thunder (8) for this one.  This Congrats filly stormed from the back of the pack to finish third, as well, on debut. Got a big Beyer in that performance, but I am not a Beyer guy.  With a better break, this one could be in a better position on the stretch out here. Miss Fabulous is a first timer for a trainer having a good meet. Watch out if she break well, as her training sessions suggest that she has a bit of speed. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta and then key those 3 over the rest in another.

2nd: 8-6-5-1-7…Trainer Tom Amoss, always a high-win percentage guy, claimed Honor’s Parade (8) out of her last race at MC30.  She ran solidly for half of that endurance try before tiring badly. He wheels her right back, but cuts her back to the shortest distance that she has ever been today and at the same price level.  Picks up a huge jock improvement and must be respected. Whenwillicuagain (6) never ran a step in her debut, which was last December. Now she shows back up 10 months later, with Lasix for the first time and a new rider in Jesus Castanon.  These connections teamed up with a similar package earlier this week and scored a huge upset.  May happen again.  Tribal Tansit (5) reverts back to the dirt for a trainer who has won 156 races this year and a hotter rider. Figures in this spot.  I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta and then key the top 3 picks over/under the rest listed.

3rd: 1-7-5-6…My first Best Bet comes right here with Society Beau (1), who is 6-1 in the ML.  Love that.  This one is getting back to the fast dirt after a trip over the mud, a trip over the synthetic and a trip over the turf.  This one is a deep closer, but is deeper in talent.  Had a huge work on Oct. 9 and looks primed here. Conquest Windycity (7) has 2 wins in 2 tries over this track and has 2 wins and a second in 5 starts at this distance. Drops back into allowance company and should be tough in this spot. Seeking the Soul (5) is another deep closer, who seemingly always tries at the end. Has three thirds in the last 4 outs.  I play underneath.  I play the 1 solidly in the win/place/show categories and then key over/under the rest of the numbers listed.

4th: 7-5-4-1…Kirby’s Penny (7) is 6-5 ML, but looks, on paper, as a solid choice in this spot.  She has 4 wins and 1 second in her last 5 starts — and the loss came at the wire, by a neck and in the slop. Picks up Jose Ortiz Jr., one of the best, for this spot.  Tough to bet against. China Grove (5) and Beach Flower (4) will give chase, but look to be a day late and a dollar short in this one. I bet the 7 to win/place and then key over/under the numbers in the exacta.

5th: 10-11-9-3-6-1-2…Keep an eye out to see if the 14-13 draw in from the AE list — especially the #14.  If not…I go this way.  Coach Rocks (10) ran a huge one for Dale Romans and Robby Alvarado in their last try at a mile over the hills and dales of KY Downs. Any improvement off that performance, and she is awfully tough in here. Track Rose (11) closed with a purpose going a mile at Churchill Downs on Sept. 23.  Both of the first two choices are by Preakness winner Oxbow, but the latter is a Calumet Farm homebred. She could pull the upset. Last Play (9) ran second on the grass at Delaware Park and those horses have shipped South with a good foundation. I bet the 10-11 across the board and then box those 2 in a solid exacta.  I then key them both over/under the rest of the numbers in a smaller version.

6th: 11-2-5-9-8-10-4….Zander Zone (11) was picked out of the claiming ranks by a solid barn operation in his last try at Churchill Downs. They win with .23% of their first timers after the purchase, and this one could do just that today with a return to the dirt surface. If he runs the same race as he did two back at Ellis Park, then watch out.  He will be gone. Picks up Corey Lanerie to ride, too. Doesn’t hurt. True West (2) ships in here from Minnesota, but don’t dismiss McLean Robertson.  The guy can train and he is taking a Vikings-bred gelding here and dropping him into a claiming event after winning a state-bred Stakes. Futile (5) gets back to the dirt for Mike Maker and Jose Ortiz. Great connections and a good training session on Oct. 12. I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta.

7th: 7-9-12-5-2-1-6-10-11…Keep an eye out to see if the #14 draws in here, too.  If not…I go here…Elusive Truth (7) figures to be well bet after nearly pulling off a victory in her career debut. She tired in that one, but should benefit from that exercise. America’s Tale (9) has 2 seconds already under her belt and will get back to the dirt today, where she nearly won on debut in July. She had a very nice drill on Oct. 14 for this race. Smart Shot (12) goes for a trainer who normally doesn’t get them completely cranked up for the debut, but this one is training so well that it is hard to ignore. Like the 6-1 ML, too. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta. I key those 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

8th: 2-9-3-6-5-4-7-11-12…I really like the top 3 choices in this spot, and will start with Cherry Lodge (2), who beat the very nice filly Rubilinda two starts back.  Cherry Lodge is not as experienced at this freaky speed distance as others, but she looks to be the best one in the lot. Smiling Causeway (9) lost to Rubilinda in her last out, but she ran a game second to Morticia three races back. Morticia won a Stakes over this grass course about a week ago. Speaker (3) goes for trainer Wesley Ward and looks to be getting back to her “A” game after a couple of rough goes. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta and then key the 2 over/under in two more.  The #2 is my second Best Bet.

9th: 4-11-9-7-8-10-3-2…The G2 Lexus Raven Run Stakes…I love Nonna Mela (4) in this spot today. She caught a sloppy racetrack in her last out at Saratoga, but she gets back on a fast dirt surface today and she has posted 3 wins and a third in 5 starts in these conditions to date. This one has the ability to either stalk the lead or grab it from the get-go.  She will be tough in here. Miss Sunset (11) is a Cal-bred and has done much of her damage against state-bred only competition. But she is super quick and may be tough to catch today. Classy Tune (9) is a good one, who has never run worse than the 3rd she posted in her career debut.  She skipped a Stakes race out West to come here for this one.  Must be a reason? Tequila (7), Chalon (8) and Torrent all have a shot, too, and I have to use. I will bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed above. My third Best Bet is the #4.

10th: 9-5-3-1-4-7…I will take #9 as my last Best Bet in this spot.  Love the 7-2 ML and I think this closer will run a huge one for both trainer Shug McGaughey and rider Jose Ortiz Jr., who have already hooked up for some success this week. Haley Belle (5) closed with a rush to just miss in her last.  Very well bred for Godolphin.  Watch out. So Charming (3) is a deep closer, who is conditioned by a guy who really knows what he is doing. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 choices solidly.  I then key the top 2 picks over/under all the rest listed.

Good luck &

All the Best/Gene