|2019 Overall 1,018||1018/367-352-468|
|Win % of Top Pick||36.05%|
|Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall||38.87%|
|2019 Top Pick in the Money –691 of 1,018||67.88%|
|Top Selection ITM / CD 59/90||65.56%|
|Top Selection Win / CD 34/90||37.78%|
|“Key Horses” @ CD 8-5-1-0||62.50%|
|“Key Horses” in 2019 174-70-35-20||40.23%|
The Opening Day at Keeneland.
Can you hear the cheers?
Can you taste the cold, cold beers?
Can you feel the air, breezing through the paddock trees?
Can you hear the horses coming?
Can you see the greatest vista in the history of vistas?
Keeneland’s annual Fall race meet starts today. And, there is nothing like it for a horse or a horse fan.
It is, after all, “Racing as it was meant to be.”
Here’s our look at today’s amazing card. And, it only whets the appetite of what is to come.
1st: 11-7-5/9-4-3/6/8-12…It is hard to pick a “single” at Keeneland. Especially in the first race of a race meet. And, truthfully, I am a bit reluctant to pull the trigger here, too. But…I really, really, really like Lewys Vaporizer (11) in the first race of the meet and of the day. This 7YO gelded son of Lewis Michael was a horse that I really liked at Churchill Downs on June 13. He won easily that day on the lead. I came right back to support him at Ellis Park on Aug. 9. He spit the bit and ran 7th that day, beaten 14 lengths as the favorite. Now, he has been away from the races, again. The barn hits with .24% of those that return from this down time, and with .31% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Love the work at Churchill Dons on Sept. 25. And, like the jockey choice, too. So? I might hedge the bet some, but I will go bullish on Lewys, who has 9 wins, a second, and 2 thirds in 21 starts at this distance. Also, has 2 wins and a third in 3 previous runs here. My pick. Even if not a single. I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 11 over/under the 7-5-9-4-3-6 in two smaller versions.
2nd: 1-7/2/5-3-4…What a nice allowance event here, with some top runners dropping out of Graded Stakes company to face a little lighter company. I will go to the rail — which has traditionally been a good spot at the Lexington oval — and with Knicks Go (1). This 3YO will be facing only those of his same age, and will be cutting back to a one-turn 7-furlong distance. Has only raced this distance once in the career, to date, and was third in that try. But has a huge win over this track in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity here a year ago. Is training very well, again, and comes off a nice second to Gray Magician in the Ellis Park Derby two starts ago. Tired while going longer in the G3 Super Derby, but exits that one as a beaten favorite. Barn hits with .21% of those returning to the races. Look for him to use his speed very well on the rail and the cut back. Looking At Bikinis (7) is even-money in the ML, and looks to have both the speed and stamina to be a real threat here, as well. Will have to have the running shoes on to match strides with the rail horse, and they may knock each other out, if they move too fast too early. But trainer Chad Brown normally comes to Lex loaded for both bear and wins, and this one looks like he could be very tough. I can throw out the G1 Travers race. Stumbled at the start of that one and lost all chance at the gate. All chance. Training well for this one, too. Have to consider the odds here, but top connections. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the 1-7 solid in one exacta. I will key the 1-7 over/under the 2 in a smaller version. I key the 1-7 over (only) the 5-3-4 in a smaller one, yet.
3rd: 2-1-9/4-5/8-6-11/7-10…A wide, wide, wide open affair here, but I am going to give one more last chance to Tobacco Road (2). This 3YO son of Quality Road once had a very promising career. Ran in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity here just a year ago. Ran third in the Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park. Ran second in the Black Gold Stakes at the Fair Grounds in March. Now, after being claimed last time out, will drop to a $30,000 price tag today. And, will stretch back out to a two-turn race for the new barn. New trainer does hit with .17% of those making the first start for the new connections, and with .25% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Love the rider choice. Has a chance against these, I think, and could be a nice price, too. Is 10-1 in the ML. That makes his one my first Upset Special of the Day. Dr. Hipp (1) goes for a top young trainer, who is having a solid year. Claimed this one last time out, and the barn hits with an amazing .46% on the first start after a purchase. Wow. Will drop off that disappointing run at Saratoga, and will stretch out to a distance where he has a win in two tries. Can he find that magic he showed two races ago? May be. I bet the 2-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 2-1 over/under the 9-4-5-8-6-11 in two smaller versions.
4th: 2-3/6-5/8-7…The first turf race of the meet will be contested at the endurance distance of 11/2-miles. So? Don’t cheer the first time they head into the stretch. Rookie mistake. Catch them on the second time they head into the stretch run. And, I will be standing in cheers for Apreciado (2). This one has raced over the sod 10 times so far, with 3 wins, a second and a third. Ran 4th at KY Downs last time out, but made a nice move before flattening out late. Love the races before that — with two wins and a second in the three previous. Those two wins were with jockey Julien Leparoux — who returns to the saddle today. Karma. Bemma’s Boy (3) has raced over the grass just 3 times so far. Has 2 wins and a third. Last time out was a disaster. Broke awkwardly and very slowly. Never got into the race a single step. Can toss that one. Go back to the race before at Saratoga and you will find a near 7-length victory. I’m more inclined to think that is a better indicator of his talent. Gets a top rider back up, who rode him to that run-away win at Saratoga. I bet the 2-3 across the board and then box those two solidly. I will key the 2-3 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller versions.
5th: (13)/4-8-12/10-11-7/1-6-9-3…This is a MSW event for the 2YOs going the sprint distance of 6 furlongs. I go strong, strong, strong if Predator (13) draws in from the AE List. The first time starter is a son of Into Mischief, and cost $175,000 at last year’s KEE September Yearling Sale. Has been working others off their hooves. Dam has 2 winners from 3 starters. Looks the part on paper. But if he doesn’t get in? Dart throwing time, folks. I will give a soft lean to Energizer (4), a first time starter from the barn of Steve Asmussen. Love the last work on Sept. 30. Blowout was very nice. Barn hits with .18% of those making the first start in the MSW ranks. Barns go-to rider takes the reins. Fast Dreamer (8) ran right with the leaders before spitting the bit in the Arlington-Washington Futurity last time out. Shortens back up after that try. Looks to have some run to him. Be Fierce (12) is 12-1 in the ML, and could spice up the odds rack with a score here. This son of Into Mischief has a shot, too. Ran very well in the debut, until he didn’t. Faded in that one throughout the lane. But has come back to smoke a workout on Sept. 29. First race may have helped and the barn hits with .20% of those making the second career start. I bet the 13 if he is in. Strong. If not? I bet the 4-12 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. Tread lightly, my friends.
6th: 1-4/7-5/2-8…This is another strong allowance event, and I will go with the rail bird in here, Evil Lyn (1). This 2YO daughter of Wicked Strong cost $60K to purchase at the KEE September Yearling Sale a year ago, and that was the 10th highest price out of 76 to go through the ring. Since joining the barn of Brad Cox, she has run 3rd against a real nice filly in Portrait. That one came back to hit the board in the G2 Pocahontas Stakes at CD in September. Following that performance, Evil Lyn won the next out by over 4 lengths. Moves up to face winners for the first time, but the barn hits with .28% when doing that. Sound Machine (4) comes into this one for a promising young trainer, who has won with .24% of the 274 starters this year. This one broke the maiden at Gulfstream in July. Don’t think she faced much competition in that one. But she cost $500,000 to buy last September here, and she won the debut by over 8. May be a freak. I bet the 1-4 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 1-4 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller versions.
7th: 6-9-12/(13)-(16)-10-11-2/(15)-4-7…The second of the turf races today, and this one will be contested at the flat 1-mile distance. I go with another from the barn of Mike Maker. Craft Woods (6) is the 2-1 favorite in the ML, and with good reason. Almost won on debut at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 12. Made the lead late in that one before getting passed nearing the wire. If that one tightened this one up a bit, she could be a tough out. Gets the blinkers for the first time, and the barn hits with .19% of those. Jock change is very positive. Very. Snaffle (9) goes for a barn that does much better on the second start. Gets Lasix for the first time (.20% winners), and stretches out to a route for the first time (.22% winners). Dam has 3 winners from 5 starters and 3 turf winners. Beware here. Nice odds and the best turf rider in the market. She Can’t Sing (12) could be a real sleeper in this crowd. At 12-1 odds, she may be overlooked — and shouldn’t be. Trainer is very solid. Dam is well bred. And this one nearly won at this distance on debut at Arlington Park. Lost by a nose. I use. Ding. Ding. Ding. I use. I bet the 9-12 (take note) across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the top 3 over (only) the 10-11-2-4-7 in a smaller version.
8th: 7-3/5-4/8-6/2-11-9/1…G2 Phoenix Stakes…The first Stakes race of the meet is a dandy. The G2 Phoenix is a sprint cast at 6 furlongs and it is sure to have some Breeders’ Cup connections and connotations. I go strong with my top two numbers here, led by Promises Fulfilled (7). This 4YO son of Shackleford can be a bit temperamental and a tad inconsistent. But when he is geared right and ready to go? May be the best sprinter in the land. Backs up to the preferred 6 furlong distance today. He is a perfect 2-for-2 on this racetrack. Got a very nice tightener in last work. And, there is no Mitole in the mix. Bam. Whitmore (3) has a win and a second over this strip, too. Lost by a head to our top pick in this race a year ago. Will be closing fast, but will need someone to test the top pick early and often. Rider gets the mount for the first time. Interesting choice. I bet the 7 to win/place and then box the 7-3 in the exacta. I will key the 7 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller versions.
9th: 5-4-7/6/8-1-9-10/2-3-11…G1 Alcibiades Stakes…For the life of me, I don’t understand why there is so much hate for Perfect Alibi (7). All the 2YO daughter of Sky Mesa has done is win 3 out of 4 and run second in the lone loss. She has won a G2 and a G1 Stakes. She has trained well since the win. She has one of the top riders in the world. Maybe the peeps don’t think she can get two turns. But guess what? That question remains for many of these, too. I slot little miss “Perfect” in the third slot, but I give her the right due. She will be lurking. She will be running. And, I think she is the one to beat. I will try to beat her, though, with my Upset Special of the Day — Micheline (5). This one is 8-1 in the ML, and will be coming to Lex off two nice turf runs to date. Today, she will convert to the dirt for the first time. Huge question mark, granted. But she won the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park last time out when going 1 mile. Rallied to pull away late, very impressively. The daughter of Bernardini is out of the Graded Stakes winner Panty Raid. Who was a good one. A very good one. Training well at Fair Hill since the last win, too. I look for a monster performance out of this one. Alandra (4) may be the “hottest tout” on the racetrack these days. This daughter of Blame is being pitched in every circle. Would not shock me to see this one go from 5-1 ML odds to PT favorite. Ran a good one on debut to win by a 1/2 length for trainer Shug McGaughey. Lots of noise about her talent level and her pedigree, too. When Shug brings one to town, most people notice. I do, too. I bet the 5-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 6 in a smaller version.
10th: 10-(15)-(16)/1-2-9-6/3-4-(13)-(14)-5…The final race of the day is a MSW event for the 2YO fillies going 1 mile over the sod. Again, two horses on the AE List could make a huge impression if either — or both — were to draw into the race. If they do? I use. If they do not? I go strong with Across (10), a City Zip daughter who is coming off a nice second as the beaten favorite at Indy Gand on Aug. 6. Ran into some slow moving traffic late in that one, and had difficulty negotiating a clean path. Had to settle for a 2nd then, but gets a huge rider shift today and may be a little closer to the pace than the debut run. The works suggest talent. And, the barn hits with .31% of those returning as a beaten favorite. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under the rest of the numbers in the exacta. Unless…If either Fate Factor (15) or Lucky Polly (16) draw in, I spread out and become a little less bullish on the top number.
Good Luck & All the Best/Gene