After a rough day at the ole’ ball yard on Thursday, I will try to turn my luck on Friday, the 13th.  Imagine that.  Good luck on Friday, the 13th? Not an easy card today either, but after struggling home with just one winner on Thursday’s card, I am hoping that we can fair a bit better heading into the weekend.  I plan to be at Keeneland on Saturday for the “Handicapping Contest” being sponsored by Keeneland Select.  I hope you can join me in what is sure to be a world of fun. (If we can right the ship, that is.) Here is a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 7-3-5-4-1…A weak group will try to find the winner’s circle for the first time in a MC30 event going 11/16-miles. The slower they go, the longer you try them. The Weef (7) did show some speed and courage trying to carry the field wire-to-wire in her last at Churchill Downs.  Gets a bump up in class, but the speed may be enough in this one. Brunette (3) goes for a barn that won one here on Thursday, and the trainer does well on second starts (.14), with 2YO (.20) and going from a sprint to a route (.20). Didn’t show much in the first out at Indy, but she was bet some that day and doesn’t have to beat much here. Bottom Mushroom (5) drops all the way from a MSW event to this level for a trainer that can win races. Will take a lot of improving to do here, though. Safari Heart (4) is by Shanghai Bobby, who is off to a good start at stud. Nothing great in the a.m., but will be making her first career start in here. Jockey? Who? Tread lightly here, my friends.  I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top three numberers in one exacta. Lightly, is the key word here. 2-3-7-1. Cash the show ticket for $2.20, but that is it.

2nd: 2-7-6-1-3…Another wide open affair, but I go with Twirling Cinnamon (2) — who I have supported much of the year with some success.  He has 2 wins, 1 second and 1 third in 7 starts this year, and surely needed his last out after a 2 month break.  Will be gunning it from the get-go and should like the shorter distance today. Favorite Coach (7) loves Keeneland with 3 wins and 3 seconds in 10 starts here for trainer Phillip Sims. Winless this year, but gets back on dirt; gets home; and drops in class. A winning combo? Nite of the Hunter (6) was claimed by this outfit after a true clunker in the last.  Spit the bit in that one early.  Shortens back up considerably for this try with the new barn. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices. 2-7-3-6…Winner and Exacta cold.  $7.80, $3.40, $2.40 on the top line and Exacta returns $11.10 for $1. Nice.

3rd: 8-7-2-1-5…My first “dot” (must use) of the day goes to Athletic Temper (8), who was beaten as the odds-on choice in his last out.  Looked to be on his way in that one before spitting the bit late.  This will be his third start in the cycle, which is a good angle, and I give him another shot at this level.  Wild Will (7) gets the blinkers on for the first time, and will shorten way up. Maybe that combo will help this deep, deep closer — who also gets a hot rider change. Blarney (2) goes for a trainer having a bad year. But this one is training very well and cost a lot more than the claiming price. Picks up Corey Lanerie for the debut. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top three choices. 1-3-8-5…8 bags the show ticket for $3.20 return. That’s it, although we did have the #1 in the fourth slot. Big price there.

4th: 5-4-6-9-3-2-12…Yet another wide open race with a bunch of contenders and pretenders.  Which is what? I settle on Cheytac (5), another coming out of Kentucky Downs, where he went 61/2 furlongs on a yielding course. This one tired a bit late in the going, but this one had to steady and encountered some trouble.  Maybe that was the compromise. Gets a huge rider switch for this one. Taranto (4), who went off at nearly 50-1 odds in his last try at Kentucky Downs, but nearly pulled off a stunner, running fourth to some good ones. Will stretch out today to a mile, and it will be interesting to see if he can push it that far. Dreaming of Jo Jo (6) went a mile at KD in his debut, and tired about half-way through the inaugural event. Has come back to train well for a solid barn and figures to improve off the initial start. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top three choices. 8-4-7-5…Our top choice runs fourth and we miss here.

5th: 12-11-1-8…Flash n’ Dance (12) will break from the extreme outside today, but this one has faced some real  good ones in her first two starts. Sultry and Class Act both ran huge ones here on Thursday, and if this filly can run back the same races she did against those two — she will be fine in this spot.  My first Best Bet of the Day. Will look to clear and move over after the start, but has shown a lot of ability to date. Another huge rider switch here. Trust (11) was right in the mix for half of her career debut. Backed out of it then, but may have needed that race. Draws outside yet again, but this one cost $400,000 and should run better. Dagney’s Warrior (1) and Gorgeous in Rags (8) both have credentials.  I bet the 12 to win/place show and box the 12-11 solidly in one exacta and then key over the “all button” in another. I key the 12 in the doubles, Pick 3s and all horizontals. 11-12-6-8…With the scratch of the 1, we nearly hit the trifecta.  But, still, we run 2nd and hit the Exacta hard. We cash for $3.80 and $2.80, and cash the Exacta nicely for $15.10 for $1.  Bam.

6th: 9-5-2-1-7…Right back with my second Best Bet of the Day here on Linda (9).  This stalker can close with a kick and she faced two really good ones in Miss Temple City and Zipessa in the Ladies Turf Classic at Kentucky Downs in the last out. No Miss Temple City’s in here, and she should get the first jump on this group.  The stiffest competition may come from her stablemate and running buddy, Res Ipsa (5), who won her last out at Kentucky Downs at some nice odds. She has run behind the preferred choice on a couple of occasions, but will be closing well, too. Inveniam Viam (2) is a Louisiana-bred that goes for trainer Brad Cox, who wins all over NA.  This one has hit the board in each of her last 9 starts and has 4 wins in her last six outs. Tough customer. I bet the 9 to win/place and then key over/under the others listed. I also key the 9 in all the horizontals, too. 5-3-9-6…Would have been real nice if the heavily favored Linda had gotten up for second and scored the Ian Wilkes-Exacta. But didn’t…We miss here.

7th: 5-9-2-4-10…My third Best Bet of the Day in a row. Love, love, love Promises Fulfilled (5) is this spot for trainer Dale Romans, who is having a monster meet so far. This one ran off and hid in his career debut, winning by 4 lengths over a very nice field of 2YO colts. The runner-up that day came right back to win, earning an 87 Beyer Speed Figure. And, to top it off, this one has come back to work very well since that win, too. I don’t try to “out-cute” them here.  If I can get the 2-1 ML odds, I’m all in on this one. Psychoanalyze (9) has run in two straight Graded Stakes events, holding his own in one of them.  Gets a lot better company for this one and figures to run well either on or near the lead. Trappezoid (2) and Dreamer’s Point (4) will give the top two all they want, as well.  I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box strongly with the 9.  I then key those two, 5-9, over/under the rest of the numbers. 5-7-4-2…7 spoils the pooch, but do cash the winner for $4.40, $3.00, $2.40. 

8th: 7-6-9-1-8-2-4…A contentious race here, but I go back to Awestruck (7) and trainer Rusty Arnold.  This one got off to a super start this year, with four outstanding performances. After a break, she bore out in the turn for home in the G3 Indiana Oaks and lost all chance. Then, she didn’t run a step over the Saratoga main track in late August. Comes into this one with a new rider and some nice recent works.  Gets back on the surface she broke her maiden on this spring by 7 lengths.  Welcome back, Awestruck. Sheplaysthefield (6) caught a sloppy track at Saratoga in her last and lost all chance going way wide in both turns. Picks up a new rider, as well, and looks to get back to her previous running ways. She has hit the board in 5 of 7 starts and rates a big shot in here with a return to her best form. Laney (9) nearly won her last out, but has already posted 3 wins in her career. Ran two super thirds back-to-back in Graded Stakes company this spring. Look out for this one. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta and then key those three over (only) the rest of the numbers in another. 8-7-1-4…Didn’t turn the Exacta around. Darnit. Have place/show bet which pays $4.40, $3.40.

9th: 7-6-1-11-5-12-2…The Buffao Trace Franklin County…Morticia (7) is another one from the barn of Rusty Arnold who will try to put the local trainer in the winner’s circle today. She loves this 51/2-furlong distance and the grass, too. She has posted 5 wins, 1 second and 1 third in all of her turf races and is a perfect 4-for-4 at the distance. She is a specialist, who will shorten back up to her preferred route of ground after a game third at 61/2 in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint in her last.  In that race, she was defeated by Lull (6), who closed from just off the pace to win by a growing 2 lengths. This daughter of War Front is super talented and figures to be the heavy favorite in this spot today.  But she did lost to Morticia in the Soaring Softly at 7 furlongs back in May. Figures to be a duel. Miss Ella (1) is no slouch, either. She has 2 wins and 3 seconds in 6 starts at the distance and has a win over the course here — which is something the first two choices do not have. In fact, Miss Ella won this Stakes race a year ago.  I bet the 7 to win/place and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta. I key the 7 over/under all the numbers in two more. 7-2-6-4…Boom! $7.60/$4.20/$3.00 and Exacta returns $61.40 for $1…Take the $ and run…Alive in the doubles, too.

10th: 3-9-7-2-4-11…United Patriot (3) figures to be bet down from the 7-2 ML odds here, after nearly going wire-to-wire in his debut for Brad Cox and Corey Lanerie.  Tired in that one late, and comes back at the same distance today, with what should be more stamina.  My Upset Special, though, is Birdies Honor (9). He is 15-1 ML and ran a huge one against Trappezoid (watch him in Race 7 for a key) and Nuclear Option (who ran on Thursday).  If he can carry his speed farther today, he may be a play, too. Magnanimus Man (7) and Shakedown (2) should run better with the class drop for each. Tree Peeps (4), who will be racing as a gelding for the first time today, is dropping all the way from MSW and is a must-use for me, too. I bet the 3-9 across the board and then box the top three choices in one exacta and then key the top 3 over/under all the rest of the numbers listed. 3-11-7-5…Another winner and another exacta…Good day and now good night.

Good luck &

All the Best/Gene