What a wonderful day to go racing, right? Fall temps. Beautiful leaves, changing colors and places. And, it is Keeneland season.  No better reason than to put on a sweater, a pair on binoculars and go watch the world race away.  Here is a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 2-8-5-3…Eternal Force (2) gets a drop in class from the barn of Steve Asmussen. Showed promise in the debut effort at Ellis Park, and then caught a repeat winner in the second out after going 5-wide in that try.  Should fit with these today. Dry Martini (8) ran well for a bit in the same race as the preferred choice in the last, before faltering in his career debut. Should be more fit for this effort, although the trainer is 0-for-21 in maiden second starts. Eyebrows raised. Articulator (5) and Strolling (3) are both first time starters for Bill Gowan, and have trained side by side for much of their young lives to date.  Dig a little deeper and the first one seemed to get the best of the latter when they moved from the gate. Both have a shot to run behind the preferred choice. I bet the 2 solidly and then key over/under the rest of the numbers in the exactas.

2nd: 6-7-2-3-5…Queenardini (6) is a must-use for me, after a nice run on debut against Kelly’s Humor, who has already won a Stakes. The second effort was on the grass, and she faltered late in that effort at Churchill in September.  Gets back on the dirt surface today and should be tough in this spot. Absolute Love (7) has made progress in her first two starts and should benefit from her first try against two turns in her last. May be ready to take the next step up the ladder today for a trainer who has emptied the barn at this meet. Cosmic Burst (2) stretches out from 6F to two turns for a trainer that wins with .14% on the move to a route. Showed a lot of class in that first out and should be tough today. Don’t dismiss Querceta (3), a well bred filly by Giant’s Causeway. Spit the bit after a half in the debut, but trainer does very well with second outs. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box with the 7 in one exacta and then key the 6-7 over/under the rest of the numbers in two more.

3rd: 7-5-2-1-4-3…Crack Your Whip (7) is a 6-1 ML outsider in this field, but the trainer is sending over runners from Louisville and has 2 wins in 3 tries this meet. This one has been tough at this level many times before and should be running at them at the end. If she gets a clean trip, with the move to a top jock today, then she has a shot at a price. Rose to Glory (5) has hit the board in 5 of the last 7 with two wins in that mix. This will be her third race in a return cycle and that should put her at her best. Jammin Gemi (2) drops back to the claiming ranks level that she has dominated at before. The class drop should help her. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in the exacta.

4th: 1-8-4-7-6…Chiltern Street (1) is a first time gelding for trainer Wesley Ward, who specializes in these 51/2F sprints on the grass. Although this one has not won one of these specialty events yet, he has hit the board in 9 of 15 starts on the grass and backs up off a very nice effort at 61/2 at KY Downs. Will be stalking the lead from the rail, and picks up a very solid rider switch for this one. Note. Vici (8) very rarely runs a bad one, with 11 ITM finishes in 18 starts. Has hit the board in 5 of 6 at this distance, too, and has a second and a third in 3 starts here at Keeneland. The one to beat. Aktabantay (4) is a Brit-bred who comes into this one off a win at KY Downs going longer. Top of his game right now, but has never run back after a win with the same vigor. Beware. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in the exacta.

5th: 6-5-1-2…Convincing (6) is a first time starter for the barn of Brad Cox, who has but 4 wins in 28 starts this meet. He is used to much better numbers than that, and this one could catapult him back to the circle after this one is over. Training well and cost $200,000 as a yearling, and picks up a strong finisher in the saddle. Blue Mesa (5) has not shown much to date, but gets the class drop and he has faced some good ones so far in his first 3 outs. Should fare better today. B Dubya (1) goes for a solid trainer trying to get off the “duck.” Picks up a good rider switch to Corey Lanerie and did show some nice foot late in the debut. Don’t dismiss. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

6th: 7-6-4-1-9-10-12…A really nice allowance race here, with a full competitive field.  Will take some running to win this heat today. I go to Speedmeister (7), who comes from the team of Mark Casse and owner John Oxley — who are having a tremendous meet. This one hung in the late going on the grass at KY Downs. Gets back to the dirt today, and should be plenty fit enough to make this distance. Faced McCraken in his second start last year, and this will be his second off a long layoff. Should jump up the ladder today. Donwell (6) has run against some good ones, and picks up a top rider again.  This duo teamed up to run a good one two back at Churchill.  Coming off a freshener for a trainer that wins with a solid percentage on the return.  Training well for this one. Eight Town (4) is moving up after breaking his maiden last out at Belmont Park and it is always tough to face winners for the first time. But this one could be special.  And, as a result, is my first Best Bet of the Day in a very tough field. Get this, I go with the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under all the rest of the numbers.

7th: 6-10-12-4-2-1-3…Another really nice allowance event, this one on the grass. I go with Bantu (6), my second Best Bet of the Day. He really closed well to get in position at KY Downs in his last effort, only to flattened out coming up the hill to the finish line. Picks up a huge, huge rider switch to the meet’s top jock for this one and looks to be ready to fire today. Sky Promise (10) looks to have a typical Ken McPeek pattern working for him. This deep closer seemingly gets better with every time out, and had a nice move against Stakes company two back. A real closing threat today. Mr. Recio (12) goes for a young trainer with a bright future on this circuit. Won at first asking with a deep and powerful closing move as the favorite. Tough to move up to face this field, but looks to have talent and certainly is bred to love the grass. Don’t dismiss, even with the compromising outside post. This one will be running late and with an opening could be tough. I bet the 6-12 to win/place/show and then box those two solidly in one exacta and then key them over/under all the rest of the numbers in two more.

8th: 7-10-3-2-6…Today’s finale is a MC15 event and is light on real contenders. I go back to Encrypt (7), who looked to be a winner at this level the last time out on Oct. 18.  Ducked away from an aggressive rider on the lead in the last and that shyness cost him the victory, although the rider on the winner that day should have been called into question for the use of the whip. This one wheels back in just 7 days for this one and he should run another good one.  Arch Madness (10) goes at this level for the second straight time, and he nearly closed fast enough to win last time out here on Oct. 11. Should make another serious run late today. Summer O Fiftyfour (3) and Doctor Lee (2) are two more closers in a field that seems to be void of any real speed. I bet the 7 — who cost $1.2 million as a yearling and is now trying to break his maiden at $15,000 — to finally get the elusive prize.

Good luck &

All the Best/Gene