Keeneland: Saturday April 14th, $300,000 Guaranteed All Stakes Pick-4
By Joseph Wulffe (@Whtnbourbonguy on Twitter)
The play: Keeneland Race 7 $0.50 Pick-4: 1,2,3/3,4,8/1,6,7,12/1,4,8,11 (Total Cost: $72)
Race 7: The $200,000 Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes run at 1 1/8 miles on the Dirt for four year olds and upward
(1) Guest Suite. This four year old gelded son of Quality Road comes into this race off a career best Bris speed rating that he obtained after winning an $80k Optional Claiming race at Fair Grounds back on March 11th. Trainer Howard Neil (21% winning trainer with winners of last race) should have this one ready to go and has Brian Hernandez aboard today who has done quite well when hooking up with the trainer over the last 60 days (28% and has positive R.O.I.). Finally look for this gelding to relish a muddy or less than ideal track as he has won both starts at route distances, including last race, on good or muddy surfaces.
(2) Rafting: Graham Motion barn sends out this five year old gelded son of Tapit today. Both trainer and jockey, Feargal Lynch (22% winning jockey with routes) have done fairly well early on this year. Rafting comes into this race having finished 7 out of 9 times in the money (9:4-2-1) and does have experience over the Keeneland track having finished 3rd in an Allowance race back in October of 2015. The TimeForm Pace Projector figures to have him sitting just off the lead and he should be in an ideal position to strike coming into the final turn. Finally, if the weather forecast holds up and Keeneland does get drenched, the muddy track should not bother him.
(3) Hollywood Handsome: Barn of trainer Dallas Stewart (30% winning trainer with starters going in 3rd race off layoff) enters this four year old Tapizar colt into today’s race. He retains the services of one of Keeneland’s leading jockeys, Jose Ortiz, who rode him to a quality 2nd place finish in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap on March 24th at the same 1 1/8 mile distance as today. Stewart does add blinkers today which should sharpen his focus and have him running a nice stalking trip before closing late. Hollywood Handsome’s last workout (4F in :49 on 4/09 at Churchill) was fairly sharp and again this colt should take to a muddy track.
Race 8: The $100,000 Giant’s Causeway Stakes run at 5 ½ Furlongs on the Turf for Fillies and Mares, three years old and upward
(3) Morticia: Trainer Rusty Arnold sends this four year old Twirling Candy filly out today to race at a distance in which she has done quite well, winning 5 of 6 starts and never finishing worse than second. Jose Lezcano, who is off to a hot start thus far in the Keeneland Spring Meet, returns to ride. Morticia does maintain a win over this surface as she won the Grade 3 Buffalo Trace Franklin County last October at the same distance as today with Lezcano in the irons. Her last workout at 4F on March 30 at Palm Meadows was exceptionally sharp. Finally, her running style should have her sitting just off the pace throughout most of the trip until turning for home.
(4) Triple Chelsea: This five year old mare enters into today’s race out of the barn of trainer Joe Sharp (21% winning trainer with starters who won their last race). She has been quite consistent since last October as over the course of her last five races all at today’s 5 ½ F distance on turf, she has never finished out of the money. She comes into today’s race tied with Lady Aurelia for the highest Bris speed rating of 101 at this distance. Triple Chelsea has demonstrated an ability to either go out to an early lead or rate just off the pace which should prove quite effective if the expected speed horses don’t take to the likely wet turf.
(8) Lady Aurelia: The four year old Scat Daddy filly makes her 2018 debut for trainer Wesley Ward today and looks to defend her 2017 victory in this race. Ward has been hot thus far in the Spring Meet, is quite good with those starters coming in after more than 90 days off (24% winning trainer), and he acquires the services of John Velazquez to ride. Lady Aurelia has proven that she can run well after a long layoff and furthermore she has finished 4/5 times in the money at this 5 ½ F distance. The huge drop in class, from Grade 1 company to listed stakes company, should greatly benefit her. Finally her running style will allow her to stalk the pace before striking while turning into the stretch and she should be able to have her good closing kick carry her home.
Race 9: The $200,000 Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes Run at 1 1/16 miles on the Dirt for three year olds
(1) Battle at Sea: Mike Maker (21% trainer with starters who won last race) sends out this three year old son of Into Mischief to arguably face much tougher company than faced previously. Prior to today’s start, he had been competing against state-breds down at Fair Grounds, yet responded well with increasing Bris speed ratings each race even as the distances increased. In addition, he won his last race, The Crescent City Derby back on March 24th, at today’s distance quite handily. Battle at Sea has very good early speed and should be positioned nicely along the rail for the entire trip. Moreover, he has demonstrated that he can run well and win on a muddy track and if some of the other main contenders in this field don’t take to an off track, he will definitely be the one to catch late.
(6) Greyvitos: The barn of Adam Kitchingman has this three year son of Malibu Moon making his 2018 debut today after missing several months early on to recover from bone chip surgery. However, Greyvitos did finish his 2017 season on a positive note winning the Remington Park Springboard Mile where he beat Arkansas Derby contender Combatant. Furthermore he does acquire the services of a top jockey in Joel Rosario, who boasts a 27% winning rate and a positive R.O.I. when going routes. Although this is a big ask for this colt to run well in his seasonal debut against a large field in graded stakes company, his recent workouts in late March and early April have been fairly good. Finally, he’ll look to sit a stalking trip before he attacks the tiring leaders while turning for home.
(7) Pony Up: The barn of Todd Pletcher has entered this three year old Aikenite colt into today’s race. Pletcher (22% trainer with starters going from All Weather to Dirt) has been nothing short of phenomenal with Kentucky Derby contenders thus far and has signed on John Velazquez to ride today. Johnny V meanwhile has been on fire when hooking up with Pletcher over the past 60 days (42% winning rate and a positive R.O.I. to boot). Pony Up comes into this race having lost by a neck the Jeff Ruby Steaks to Blended Citizen on All Weather at Turfway Park back in March. In addition, he has been training well down at Palm Beach Downs in Florida and he will likely sit towards the back of the field before coming flying late with a good closing kick.
(12) My Boy Jack: This three year old colt out of Creative Cause may simply be the class of the field (holds the highest class and Bris speed ratings out of the entire field). Trainer Keith Desormeaux will have his brother Kent in the irons today (Kent does boast a very nice 36% win rate when hooking up with his brother over the last 60 days and has an excellent positive R.O.I. to go along with that stat). My Boy Jack should have no problem handling an anticipated muddy track as he raced well and won over similar back in January in the 1 1/16 mile Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn. The race’s projected fast pace should set up well for him to make a nice closing run coming out of the turn. The only concern here is that he has drawn to the far outside in post position 12 and if he spots the rest of the field a large early lead, he may be hung wide again trying to mount a closing drive through the turn.
Race 10: The $350,000 Grade 1 Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes run at 1 1/16 miles on the Turf for Fillies and Mares, four years old and upward
(1) Cambodia: Thomas Proctor (19% winning trainer with starters going after layoffs of greater than 90 days) has entered this six year old War Front mare into today’s very competitive edition of the Jenny Wiley. She comes into this race tied with Kitten’s Roar for the highest Bris speed rating at this distance with a 99 BSR. Furthermore, she has been a very consistent runner at this distance of 1 1/16 miles throughout her career having finished all seven of her starts in the money (7:4-0-3). Even if the turf conditions do indeed turn up as less than ideal (likely will be good or worse), it still shouldn’t bother this mare as she has run well before in similar conditions and will likely sit back in a good stalking position before trying to close late down the stretch.
(4) Dona Bruja: This six year old Storm Embrujado mare is sent into today’s race from the barn of Ignacio Correas. One of Keeneland’s top jockeys, Jose Ortiz, gets the call to ride again after finishing 1st in the Grade 3 Endeavour at Tampa Bay back in February at the same distance as today. A model of consistency, Dona Bruja has only ever had one off the board finish (15:11-3-0) and is 2/2 when racing at today’s distance. While she normally prefers to sit back in the field and close late, in her last race she changed tactics and took the initial lead and ended up wiring the field. If she can work out another similar trip she may likely win again as it does not appear that there is much other early speed entered with which she would have to contend.
(8) La Coronel: Mark Casse barn sends out this four year old filly out of Colonel John and is currently winning 17% of races with starters going in their 3rd race off a layoff. La Coronel really does like this Keeneland turf course having won all three of her starts here; furthermore, she has never finished out of the money at this distance of 1 1/16 miles going 5:3-2-0. She is looking to improve off a 3rd place effort back in March at Tampa Bay where she lost the Grade 2 Hillsborough by ¾ of a length to two of her main rivals entered here today. However, with a good jockey in Jose Lezcano in the irons today, she will likely be either forwardly placed or sit just off the speed which will allow her to finish well.
(11) Fourstar Crook: The barn of Chad Brown has entered a trio of horses into today’s race and this six year old mare out of Freud looks to be his top entrant. Brown (26% win rate with shippers and 23% win rate with starters going in 2nd race off of a layoff) brings back Javier Castellano (22% winning jockey on Turf) to ride today. Fourstar Crook is just a very consistent, proven mare having finished over the course of her career in the money 13/15 starts (15:10-2-1) and 6/7 times (7:5-1-0) at today’s distance. She comes in having won her last race: the 1 1/8 mile Grade 2 Hillsborough by a head while running longer against some of today’s rivals. Finally, less than ideal turf conditions should not bother her, as Castellano should have her in a good position to be able to close late.
Best of luck!