BY:PAUL HUNDLEY (@vapaul67 on Twitter)
Hello and welcome to the Thursday edition of selections from Keeneland as 5Minutestopost continues to have everyday of the Keeneland Spring Meet covered. Last Thursday we had two chalky winners on top, on the plus side we had a $25 winner in our 2nd spot and so far our vulnerable favorite alert horses are 0 for 3, with 1 scratch. Let’s try to improve on that today.
RACE 1: 6-1-11-7
We start out with 2 year old fillies going 4 1/2 furlongs in this Maiden Special Weight event. As has been said so many times in these baby races at Keeneland, you start with looking at the horses Wesley Ward has entered, which I land on in here with a WARDxacta, led by 6-MONTANA SUNSET, who is out of former Stakes Winner Chasseur Dame, a Washington Bred who has produced an incredible 10 for 10 winners with her starters, including 4 stakes winners. Ward is 25% FTS. Has two nice 4 furlong works at Keeneland. Joel Rosario rides. 1-Chelsea Cloisters is also trained by Ward and is by First Samurai. Dam Postulant has 4 winners in 6 starters and a stakes winner. Also has two 4 furlong works at Keeneland. Ward’s main man Julio Garcia rides. My main drawback with her is she draws the rail, and I am always hesitant about taking a FTS breaking from the rail. 11-Seeking a Star is out of the Mark Casse barn(16% FTS) was an $800K Keeneland Yearling Purchase, 3rd highest seller from Pioneerof The Nile at that sale. Sports pair of 4 furlong gate works here. 7-Elle Factor is 1 of 2 in here with a previous race, as she was an even paced 3rd on opening day of the meet. Jose Ortiz is aboard again.
RACE 2: 5-3-2
5-DREAM ZAPPER was a well beaten last of 9 in debut on turf, dropped from MSW to MC 16K and switched to dirt. Romped by 12 lengths to break maiden so the next logical move was to switch him back to turf?? Last of 7 in a $40K OC , now cuts back to 1 turn and returns to dirt. Ian Wilkes 18% route to sprint and 22% turf to dirt. Thinking he will sit just behind early pacesetter. 3-United Patriot seems all or nothing so far in career, sporting a 7-3-0-0 record. Won a starter allowance in slop at Fairgrounds last out. Thinking he goes for the early lead today as he did in his 3 plus length win at Churchill. Brad Cox is 26% 2nd off a layoff, 30% with winners of their last race. He and Jockey Florent Geroux are an impressive 36% last 44 starts teaming up. 2-Beautiful Game should be coming off the pace for Steve Asmussen, who enters him in a straight claiming race. Oaklawn leading rider Ricardo Santana climbs aboard for the 2nd time.
RACE 3: 5-1-3
This looks like a really chalky race. On speed figures, it comes down to two horses for me. 5-PORTFOLIO MANAGER has won the last two times he’s raced at today’s 7 furlong distance, including the only other time was in for a claiming tag. Has been in the money 9 of 11 career starts. Trainer Tom Amoss 29% turf to dirt and with Geroux is a 27% combo. 1-Maniacal was Grade 2 placed as a 3 year old in the Amsterdam, has looked good this year in his starts at Turfway. If he can get back to his Beyer numbers from 2 years ago, has a good chance. 6-Next Speaker does have a win at Keeneland and will be close to the pace early. Is making first start for Trainer Michael Ewing, Jose Ortiz rides. Was 2nd at the 30K level last out at Golden Gate on the Tapeta.
RACE 4: 1-5-8-2
This certainly seems to be the weaker of the 2 baby races carded today, but doesn’t lack for intrigue, at least for me personally. A pair of freshman sires; Cairo Prince and Will Take Charge, send out possibly their first runners for a race. 1-ABYSSIANIAN is a FTS by 2014 Holy Bull winner Cairo Prince, and yes, before I go any further, I know what I said about taking the rail horse as a FTS earlier and I’m cotradicting myself. Get over it. Seriously, I picked him despite the rail draw, I have this gut feeling The “Prince” is going to turn out to be one of the better sires, especially with 2 year olds. Oh, and it is still Wesley Ward as the trainer, who employs a suddenly hot Joel Rosario to ride. Maintainence work at Keeneland last out, but fired a bullet at Turfway before that. 5-Analyze This Cat with a nice gate drill March 31 followed up by a bullet 4F work says this filly is ready for action for Trainer John Hancock. Sire Overanalyze 15% FTS, Damsire Wildcat Heir 16%. 8-Power Gal is from the Casse barn, who is 16% FTS, hard to ignore that 4F gate work. 2-Athens Queen is also trained by Ward(Is it required that he has 2 runners in every baby race at Keeneland?)and has 3 works at Keeneland.
RACE 5: 4-7-3-8
My top selection in this turf sprint entry level allowance is 4-WAT’SONTHEAGENDA, and I have a feeling I know “what’s on the agenda” for this 4 year old gelding today; Will gun early and not look back. While there are a couple of other speed types in here, I believe this Doug O’Neill trainee is the fastest early. Going dirt to turf. 7-Hollow Point is arguably the best closer in the race. A 3rd and a 2nd at today’s distance at Fairgrounds in his last 2. If there is a pace duel early on looks to be the chief benefactor. 3-Westwood’s Wizard cuts back from 8.5F, but his only turf sprint was his maiden breaking win last June on the downhill at Santa Anita. I’m looking at him stalking the early leaders. 8-Ventry Bay will probably be showing early speed. Last seen 6 months ago was 2nd in a starter allowance. Hard to say how he performs today as has never had a layoff this long. Wesley Ward however, is 22% off a 90 day or longer layoff.
RACE 6: 13-7-8
Should she draw in, 13-MY ROSE OF SAVANNA is my top selection. Takes blinkers off for Ricahrd Baltas(32%) who she also makes her first start with. Also getting a major jockey upgrade to Jose Ortiz. Set pace in MC 30K last month before fading, but will probably be right behind early pacesetter today. 7-Go Stellaire is the probable favorite and based on speed figures should win. Also is taking blinkers off today. I just can’t trust low percentage connections at such a short price as she probably ends up being. 8-Gemoiselle hasn’t been seen in 10 months, and in 2 previous races has beaten exactly one horse. That should show you the quality of this race that I have her third choice. Does put blinkers on for Joe Sharp, and he is fairly solid at returning horses off long layoffs(16% +90days off) and he’s 21% MSW to MC. Is also first start with Sharp.
RACE 7: 7-2-11-4
2-DIVIDE will probably be running late for Trainer Todd Pletcher. After a so-so debut, Pletcher added Blinkers, and whether it was that or the experience of having a start under his belt or a combination of the 2, it almost resulted in a maiden breaking win. His Dam has produced 5 turf winners and I’m thinking sooner rather than later DIVIDE makes it six. 7-Irish Territory returns off a 7 month layoff after nearly winning Grade 3 With Anticipation last summer at Saratoga before Catholic Boy caught him late. Bill Mott is 19% 90 days or longer away and gets his 3rd jockey in as many races in Luis Saez. Imagining this one also will be coming off the pace. 11-First Spring has a pair of 2nd’s in big fields at Fairgrounds sprinting, now tries 2 turns for the first time for Mark Casse. Anticipating that he may be a lot closer to the pace today than he was in those 2 sprints. Very nice 4 furlong work on April 13th.
RACE 8: 4-3-7
The lone victory thus far in the career of 4-BIG DOLLAR BILL came here at Keeneland. Has faced far more accomplished in his past than this bunch, facing the likes of War Story and Hedge Fund. Will be charging late for Trainer Ian Wilkes. 3-Uncle Mojo was last seen here at similar level as today, crossing wire 3rd but placed 2nd via DQ. Will probably challenge 2-Big E for the early lead, but might be wiser for him to sit just behind. Todd Pletcher 32% +90 days away. 7-Silver Dust was DQ’d out of a win last out at Fairgrounds, but the bigger story from that race is the change in pace tactics for Silver Dust. Was forwardly placed for the first time in race career. Interested to see what tactic they use today.
RACE 9: 4-10-9
4-SPECIAL FORCES seems to have a very good late kick. Closed 9 lengths from 2nd call to the finish last out. Puts blinkers on for Mark Casse(17%) Corey Lanerie retains the mount. Nice 4 furlong work on April 13 coming in here. 10-Midnight Tea Time was 3rd of 9 in debut sprinting on grass last summer at Saratoga in only start. Switches from Rajiv Maragh to Jose Ortiz, I’ll let you determine if that’s a positive move or not(It’s a positive, BTW). Graham Motion is 18% 90 days or longer away. 9-Redoute’s Light is 2nd off the layoff for Roger Attfield(24%) and is another that will be coming from off the pace. Geroux pilots for the first time
VALUE HORSE OF THE DAY: 5-DREAMZAPPER(6/1, RACE 2)
VULNERABLE FAVORITE ALERT HORSES: 2-BEAUTIFUL GAME(2/1, RACE 2)
8-VENTRY BAY(5/2, RACE 5)