The opening day of Keeneland’s brilliant Fall Race Meet is today.  And, it begins a glorious weekend of some of the best racing in the world — what with 9 Stakes events over the next three days.  In that group are 5 Grade 1 Stakes; 3 G2 Stakes and 1 G3 event. Wow.

Here’s a closer look at Friday’s card:

1st: 4-2-3-7-1-6…Gio Game (4) may have won her last out at Saratoga if not for the interference caused by the winner that day.  She had an inside run and lacked room throughout much of the final stretch drive. She was the favorite that day, in a 11/16-mile event on the grass. Switches back to the dirt today, but this barn wins with .21% of the surface change. If this one finally gets a clean run, she figures to be tough to keep out of the circle. More Mojo (2) has tired in each of her first two tries for trainer Brad Cox, but she caught a sloppy track in the last and that may have compromised her chances. Comes out of a key race in her first career start. May light the stretch out to two turns for the first time today. Absolute Love (3) is 8-1 ML and may surprise with her expected improvement today.  Trainer jumps way up the win scale with second-time start and this cost $105,000 as a yearling and has trained well in the a.m. Picks up a huge rider change. I bet the 4 to win/place and then box the top two numbers in one exacta and then key the 4-2 over/under all the rest.

2nd: 5-2-7-1-8…Your Secret’s Safe (5) is a true closer in a field with plenty of speed types to carve out the early fractions. Trainer Tom Amoss picked up this gelding out of his last performance and he has a win percentage of .27 with first time starters after the claim.  This one has 4 seconds and 2 thirds in 8 career starts and figures here. Arizona (2) was 5-wide in his last out, when he ran second in the slop at Ellis Park on Sept. 1.  Should close with a purpose, too. Diamond Delight (7) may be able to stretch his speed far enough to get a piece, although he has tired in both of his previous starts. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top three choices.

3rd: 8-3-1-5-6…Silver Defense (8) is 6-1 ML, but I think he has a big chance in this spot today. Shortens up to 7-furlongs today after four straight mile efforts. If he runs back his last race, he will be tough to handle in this spot. Started his career against Untrapped, who just won the Oklahoma Derby. Colonel Dan (3) has just one win in 15 tries, but has 2 seconds and 3 thirds, and he may like this company today, in his second try at this level. Sir Douglas (1) gets class relief and has never been this low in the claiming ranks. Should appreciate the drop.  I bet th 8 to win/place/show and then box the top three choices.

4th: 9-6-4-2-3-1-7…Be a Factor (9) has hit the board in 6 of her 9 lifetime starts and gets a nice class drop today. This true closer will try the dirt again, and in her first 6 outs on this surface, she has amassed a win and two seconds. Gets a huge rider switch in this spot to one of the hottest jocks in the world right now. Watch out. Stella Nova (6) is all speed and will try to burn all the way from the gate. Trainer is 0-for-4 this year, but claimed this one out of her last race and should be able to carry the field a long way in this spot. Street Cruiser (4) is a stalker who gets a huge class drop.  If she can regain any of her old form, she could dust these. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in this spot. I key the 9 over/under the rest of the numbers in two other exactas.

5th: 10-7-5-1-9-8-4…House On the Hill (10) is a speedster who struggled to make the lead in her last against a top-notch field. Gets the blinkers and a switch to top rider Corey Lanerie for this out. At 10-1 odds, I think this could be the first Upset Special for the day. Anothertequilashot (7) nearly pulled off the win in her last out and should be one of the favorites to take this one. She is a deep closer and may like the added distance today. Magical Sky (5) is another one who nearly won her last out, going a bit longer on the tiring hills of Kentucky Downs. If she runs that race back today, she will be tough to handle. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top three choices in one exacta.  I then key the 10 over/under all the numbers in another.

6th: 2-6-3-5-1-7…A wide open affair in an extremely competitive field.  I finally land Moiety (2), who has 3 wins and 4 seconds in her first 7 career starts. The last time this horse and jock teamed up they won by 71/2 lengths — right here at Keeneland. This one came right back to hook Finley’sluckycharm — one of the top sprinting fillies in the country. If she breaks cleanly along the rail today, watch out for this one. Ready to Confess (6) has run behind the highly accomplished Terra Promissia in her last two and this one has run five straight Stakes events — including 2 Graded Stakes races. This true closer will be coming at the end of this one, but the 7F distance may be a bit short for her. Blip n’ Th Bye (2), who has a win and 2 seconds in 3 starts at the distance and has a win and a second in 2 tries over this dirt track. I love the 2 in this spot and bet to win/place/show.  I key the 2 over/under all the rest listed in the exactas.

7th: 1-2-4-5-12-11-9…Cite (1) comes into this allowance for “non other-thans” with 3 wins under his belt already. That is a huge advantage, and to make him more appealing is the fact that he appears to be at the top of his game for owners Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, too.  He has hit the board in 6 of his last 8 starts and won his last race at Saratoga by a nose. Needs to find some running room coming from the back of the pack, but picks up a rider who has done well with him in the past — including a second here in the Spring. Holiday Bonus (2) has only 1 win in 11 tries, but has 4 seconds and a third to his credit, too. Will need to move with the preferred choice and not let that one get the jump on him. Surprise Twist (4) is a deep closer, too, and has faced some real good ones in his first four races. Would not be a surprise to see this one roaring at the end, either. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top three choices in the exacta.

8th: 11-5-8-7-2-4-1-6…The G2 Phoenix Stakes…My first Best Bet of the Day comes here in the form of Whitmore (11), who will be breaking from the far outside with a reunion with jockey Manny Franco.  They will settle off the pace and attempt to save ground until the real running begins in the final furlong of this Sprint Stakes. If he gets a clean run at the leaders, he will be very tough to hold off. This one strung together four straight wins earlier this year and roared into consideration as one of the top sprinters in the world.  Got some time off after a dull 3rd in the G2 True North at Belmont Park in June, and may have needed his race in the G3 Joe DeFrancis at Laurel.  If that race made him more fit, then this one will be very salty today. Limousine Liberal (5) has 13 ITM finishes in 17 career starts, but has only one win in 4 starts at this track.  He always tries and he figures to get the first jump on the speedsters in here. Uncontested (8) is a 3YO facing older for the first time in his career, but this one does have talent and does have speed.  If he gets clear the other two have to run him down on a track that has favored speed in the past. I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then key the 11 over/under all the rest listed.

9th: 7-8-1-9-10-6…The G1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes…Kelly’s Humor (7) is 5-1 ML and that would/should be very attractive if she stays anywhere close to those odds. This Midnight Lute filly has 2 wins and a second in her first 3 career starts, and has experience at two turns.  Her Beyer Speed Figs may not add up to others in this race, but just give it a few weeks.  If she goes on to impress again, the authors of the Beyers are likely to change those mythical numbers. This closer should be rolling late. Dancing (8) is listed at 12-1 ML and I like her better than her stablemate to the outside. This one has been running on dirt all along and this daughter of Bernardini cost $425,000 as a 2YO in training earlier this year. She was caught behind a wall of horses in her last out and may break her maiden today in a G1 Stakes. (Remember Irap this Spring?) Princess Warrior (1) will be stretching out for the first time after an ultra-impressive MSW victory in her first start for a trainer that normally doesn’t crank them up for a debut effort. This one looks to have a nice stalking running style that could set her up perfectly for this try.  I bet the 7-8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta.  I key the top 3 picks over the rest of the numbers in another exacta, too.

10th: 8-9-12-11-4-10-2…St. Louie is another one of my Best Bets of the Day in today’s finale.  This one ran a huge race in the G3 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs in his last appearance. He will gun to the front in this marathon and try to carry the field the entire 11/2-miles. Picks up one of the top riders in the country for this try. Richmond Street (9) moves up in class after winning his last race, but loses that condition.  Teams up with his jock again today and figures to make a strong run from off the pace in the stretch. Patrick’s Day (12) is hung way wide, but should be able to find a nice stalking position in this stretch out appearance. This young trainer is having a nice year.  Don’t dismiss. Neoclassic (11) picks up a top lawn jockey and comes in with 5 ITM finishes in his last six races. Never been better than he is right now. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta and then key the 8-9 over/under all the other numbers listed in another.

Good luck &

All the Best/Gene