Keeneland Analysis and picks for Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 by @JasonNYM

Race 1: 2-1-4
(2) The Money Monster ships in from Gulfstream Park going 1st off the claim for trainer Eddie Kenneally (29% first time out after claiming) after failing as the favorite last time out. The son of Majestic Warrior attracts top jockey Corey Lanerie today and should benefit from what should be at the very least an honest pace in front of him.
(1) A We Bit Flirty ships up from Delta Downs where he was competitive in each of his last four races. He cuts back from a route today and should also ideally sit off the early pace before making his move.
(4) Royal Asset will be the likely favorite for trainer Wesley Ward as he returns from a 5 month layoff. 2 starts back he posted a nice victory over this track earning a 94 bris figure. The figures and class are definitely in favor of this runner and he has every right to win, but he may need one off the bench in a competitive 1st race field.
Betting tip: For those betting the early pick 5 this feels like a race that you may want to spread a little deep in as 4 or 5 horses in here feel like they have a live chance to win.

Race 2: 7-6-3-1
(7) My Eminence ships in from the Fair Grounds and drops in class from special weights to a high priced maiden claimer today for trainer Patrick Byrne. In his two most recent starts he showed good form stalking just off the pace finishing 2nd and 3rd in those two races. Jockey Calvin Borel who rode My Eminence in those two races at the Fair Grounds will be on board once again today.
(6) La Maquina Gris also ships up from the Fair Grounds where he was last seen running on the turf for trainer Steve Asmussen. His figures make him competitive with this group and he has traded decisions with top pick My Eminence in the past.
(3) Makeamericagreat has spent most of his career on the turf thus far for trainer Charlie LoPresti but did show good speed in both of his dirt starts last season, including one over this strip. I would look for him to be one of the horses on the early lead and he is certainly eligible to improve in his 2nd start of the year while switching surfaces and cutting back in distance.
(1) Riverboat Gambler makes his debut for Barbra Minshall and sports a solid work tab at Keeneland in preparation for this race. The son of useful sprinter Justin Phillip will be ridden by Julien Leparoux and might be forwardly placed as he drew the rail.
Betting tip: This could be another race viewed as a spread race for some. I feel strongly about the 7 and would likely try to build a ticket around him if I am trying to be budget friendly.

Race 3: 6-14-10-8
(6) Wonder Stone goes out for Wesley Ward who is always the trainer to beat in these baby races at Keeneland. The son of Super Saver has worked out well including a sharp breeze on April 13th for his career debut.
(14) Strike Play would need to draw in off the Also Eligible list for Wesley Ward, but if the son of Haynesfield does he becomes a must use in here and would be my 2nd choice behind his stable mate.
(10) Vow Me Now has also worked out strongly for his career debut for trainer Joe Sharp. He could be the main danger to Wonder Stone.
(8) Alwaysmining is a son of Stay Thirsty who has progressed nicely in the morning leading up to his debut today for trainer Laura Wohlers. Best of the rest.
Betting tip: I would lean heavily towards the Wesley Ward entrants in here and use both if they are in the starting gate.

Race 4: 1-2-3
(1) Divine Desire returns off a three and a half month layoff for trainer Larry Jones with a drop in class and a cutback to a more suitable distance. He shows a sharp workout a week ago that may signal he is ready to fire first time off the bench.
(2) Speedmeister goes turf to dirt first off the claim for Merrill Scherer but has fared well in his previous dirt starts including a maiden breaking score over this track in which he earned a 104 Bris figure. While he has never quite lived up to his debut or his $650K purchase price, this son of Bodemeister should return to form with a return to the dirt today.
(3) Stapleton drops in class going first time off the claim for trainer Troy Wismer and has raced competitively enough to run with this field in the past. Three back he ran a solid 2nd at Keeneland, but he cuts back to a sprint today coming off a dismal last out effort at Gulfstream Park.
Betting tip: This race seems like a 2 horse number to me for the win spot between the 1 and 2. I don’t quite trust the 3 off his last effort, but one of his better races can certainly win in this spot as well.

Race 5: 5-4-7
(5) Santa Monica makes her stateside debut for trainer Chad Brown (29% move) after racing against good competition in Europe. She has worked strongly towards his debut and in a field where it’s hard to trust that anyone else truly wants to go 12 furlongs she looms as the one to beat.
(4) Canny makes her 2nd start of the year for trainer Michael Stidham and is eligible to improve after coming up empty in that event down at the Fair Grounds. She will look to be on or near the early lead and will try to slow the pace down and steal it from there.
(7) Peru has faced better in the past but has never been this far for trainer Mike Maker, but her ability to make sustained runs from off the pace could aid her in the stretch if the front runners are tiring.
Betting tip: It’s hard to completely trust anyone in this field going a mile and a half. The 5 looms as the heavy favorite for Chad Brown and is the most likely winner. If it fits your pick 5 budget I wouldn’t mind using the 4 and 7 in here as well in case Santa Monica needs a race off the layoff.

Race 6: 8-7-4-5
(8) Strombolian ships in from the Fair Grounds and attracts Jose Ortiz to ride as she cuts back in distance today. While she hasn’t fared particularly well in her prior starts a cut back to a sprint event might wake her up.
(7) Buddy Ann ships up from Tampa to make her 2nd career start after turning in a useful debut rallying late on the inside for 4th. Horses leaving Tampa Bay Downs tend to improve next time out on a new track and this one has worked out quite nicely at Keeneland since arriving on the grounds.
(4) Slim Fit runs for the first time since July 19th of last year at Del Mar for trainer Tom Proctor. The $335K daughter of Tiznow has always seemed well meant and shows a strong work tab for her return.
(5) Pocket Book will make her dirt debut after beginning her career on the turf for Wesley Ward. She has shown speed in her turf races and has enough pedigree to handle the dirt, but this move feels a little suspicious.
Betting tip: This is another race where it is hard to completely trust any one in here. I am leaning towards the 7 and 8 but would be remiss to leave out the 4 and 5 in multi-race wagers.

Race 7: 6-2-5
Turf sprints have never been my favorite to handicap and this race is no different. Black Canary feels like the most logical choice to me, but this is a race I will wind up spreading in if I bet the late pick 4 or skipping all together.

Race 8: 1-7-8
(1) Ursula Andress named after the actress who played bond girl Honey Ryder in the very first James Bond movie, Dr. No, will be our top choice here as she returns to the dirt after spending her last 2 races on the turf at the Fair Grounds. Three starts back she won her last dirt start at Churchill Downs in November in an effort that would be good enough against these. Lanerie and the rail are a plus.
(7) Dancing Waves was also last seen on the turf at the Fair Grounds, but won 2 back in an off the turf event there while posting a solid 83 Bris figure. She fits with this bunch.
(8) Oro Bird comes up from Oaklawn Park where she raced competitively, albeit against weaker competition. Looks like the best of the rest.
Betting tip: My angle to close the late pick 3 and 4 here would be to single the 1. The 7 feels like the only real competition for her in the Wednesday finale.

Good luck with your handicapping and betting today ladies and gentlemen. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me on twitter @JasonNYM.

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