Hello and welcome to the penultimate card of the Keeneland Spring Meet, and the last Thursday card of the meet. Last week we had two more chalky winners on top, our value play finished 2nd and both of our Vulnerable Favorite horses lost, bringing the record of the VFA horses we’ve identified at 5-0-1-1. Now let’s see if we can get some winners today!
RACE 1: 6-3-1A
We start with a Maiden Claimer with a $30K tag. Had a hard time with this race because it was difficult to identify any early speed, but eventually I ended up on 6-PAIN IN THE ARCH because I think he will be the controlling speed here. The question is can he transfer that speed to dirt? And, can he make it last? I’m guessing(hoping) the answer is yes to both. Kenneth McPeek 17% Turf to Dirt. Ride On Faith has possibly the best late kick of the field, and if my assessment is correct that the 6 goes gate to wire, I’m looking for a closer in 2nd spot that can pick up the pieces. This is his lowest claiming level of his career. Was 2nd two back vs $50K level. Joel Rosario rides for the first time. 1A-Spanned is making 2nd career start, Wesley Ward is 18% 2nd career race. Expecting him to be close to the pace as well, and if Pain in the Arch doesn’t handle the dirt well could find himself on the lead early on.
RACE 2: 3-2-6
Very nice Allowance race here sprinting on the turf, which is my favorite division in all of racing to be honest. 3-GIRLS KNOW BEST(that’s what my wife keeps telling me) has been on the lead at 1st and 2nd call her last 8 races. So Corey Lanerie should recognize what this ‘Girl Knows Best’ and send her straight to the lead and not hesitate or look back. Last out was 8th of 9, which broke a 5 races streak of exacta finishes. Only other time Lanerie rode her resulted in a gate to wire 3 length win. Another positive is the work on 4/20, where she SMOKED 3 furlongs in 34:4. Sounds like she’s coming in on a HIGH note. I may have to bet the POT on her based on that alone. Okay, that’s out of my system. Seriously, she’s my choice here. 2-Kyllachy Queen has been off 10 months but has shown in the past can run well fresh off long layoffs. Like the cutback in distance, as I think that benefits her. Was 2nd here in a conditioned allowance race last year. Makes first start for Ben Colebrook. 6-Spellker, when last seen, was an impressive 3 length winner at Churchill last November. Does have a win here at Keeneland a year ago in an entry level allowance race. Should be charging late with Joel Rosario aboard. If you’re wondering about the name, just look at the names of the owners, and if you still can’t figure it out, you probably shouldn’t be betting today.
RACE 3: 2-5-7
The last time 2-EL CHARRO was in for a tag, it resulted in a neck victory versus $25K beaten claimers back in late December. Brad Cox is 38% with 2 sprints to a route, and the combo of he and Florent Geroux recently is hitting a staggering 41%! 5-Tonedaddy is the best closer in the field, and gets a jockey(Calvin Borel) who is well known for being good on closers. Making 1st start for William “Buff” Bradley. 7-Abraham is an 8 year old veteran that has earned nearly $650K. Going turf to dirt today for Brendan Walsh(18%). Has 2 wins at today’s 1 mile distance. Possibility he finds himself with the early lead.
RACE 4: 3-1-10
Sigh, another baby race, another time picking a Wesley Ward horse on top. 3-MUCHO AMOR is by freshman sire Much Macho Man. Ward, if you haven’t read this the first 989 times I’ve typed this, is 25% with FTS. Has 3 works on the Keeneland surface. 1-Egoli, the “other” Ward entrant, fired a bullet 3 furlong work 2 drills back. 10-Flume is by another freshman sire in 2013 Wood Memorial and Haskell winner Verrazano. Was a $310K yearling purchase. Mark Casse 16% FTS. Nice gate work back on April 4th
RACE 5: 6-9-8
Another pretty good turf sprint on tap. There aren’t a lot of good closers in this race that seems to be loaded with speed, and I’m not really qualifying 6-LAWSON as a closer, but will be coming off the pace and should benefit from the amount of early speed entered. Won an entry level allowance event last out. Trainer Bret Calhoun is 24% with horses who won their last race, and he and Corey Lanerie are 5 of last 9 teaming up together. 9-Get a Valentine was 4th of 9 last out which broke a 2 race win streak. Was off slow in that race. Will be vying for the early lead, as will a few others. Seems to like sprinting on the turf better than he did routing. 8-Chief Hosa comes from the downhill at Santa Anita, also shows great early speed and almost always on the lead at 1st and 2nd call. Is 4 for 4 at today’s 5 1/2 furlong distance. Like the slight cutback in distance from those races at Santa Anita.
RACE 6: 8-10-11-2
Top pick is 8-SHANG SHANG SHANG because… it’s Wesley Ward. OK seriously though, was purchased for $200K at a 2 year old in training sale just last month, her Dam Yankee Victoria is a perfect 3 for 3 with her runners and a Stakes Winner, Whisper Light, a Group 2 winner in Trinidad and Tobago. Was Hip #132 at the aforementioned Ocala Breeders’ Sale in March, where she worked a furlong in :09 4/5. Is by 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Winner Shanghai Bobby. Has 3 solid 4 furlong works at Keeneland. Oh, and is trained by Wesley Ward. 10-Giro Kate nearly won on April 8th, possibly could have if not for ducking out in the stretch. Maintenance 3 furlong work since, has an immeasurable edge of the others in here with having a race under her belt. 11-Devious Charm is a FTS for Mark Casse, who has struggled this meet. Is by Into Mischief, who in 9 days will be known as the sire of Kentucky Derby 144 winner Audible(LOL). Her Dam Limbo has winners from 7 of her 8 runners and 2 Stakes Winners. She is a half sister to Stakes Winners Gentleman Chester and Back Forty. Nice 4 furlong gate work on 4/14.
RACE 7: 5-2-3
Entry level allowance event going 9 furlongs on the turf for 3 year old fillies. 5-STARVING ARTIST was 3rd of 11 last out in a minor stakes after breaking maiden by 4 1/2 lengths the race before. Place horse Beyond Blame came back to win an AOC on turf at Fairgrounds. While her maiden breaker was in gate to wire fashion, look for her to sit a little off the pace today. Jockey Adam Beschizza and Trainer Joe Sharp are 23% together recently. 2-Hayworth broke her maiden last out by 2 1/2 lengths, now faces winners for the first time. Made debut 2 back in top picks maiden victory. Brian Hernandez retains mount today. 3-Cash Out was 4th of 11 in Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa when last seen. Will be coming from off the pace for Florent Geroux. Wears Blinkers for the 2nd time today.
RACE 8: 2-10-11
Maiden Claiming event going 7 furlongs with a 50K claiming tag. 2-TELETAP drops down to the Maiden Claiming ranks after being at the MSW level for some time. Adds blinkers as well and cuts back to a 1 turn race for Steve Asmussen. He and Ricardo Santana Jr 23% together. 10-Sparticle returns from an 8 month layoff. Makes first start for Michael Stidham, who is also 18% bringing horses back from layoffs of 90 days or longer. Projecting him to stalk the early pace. 11-Blitsig is a FTS by Successful Appeal(16%) his Dam Unthinkable has produced a perfect 3 for 3 so far with her runners into winners. Kenneth McPeek does struggle with FTS however(8% last 147 starters)
RACE 9: 10-11-2-6
We close out the day with a turf route for maidens. 10-COUNTRYSIDE DRIVE did little last race in debut, but gets Blinkers today for Roger Attfield(23%) who is also 21% with horses making 2nd career start. His Dam I’m Breathtaking has produced 2 turf winners and a stakes winner. 11-C C Rider nearly won top choices debut race in gate to wire fashion, and if he draws in today is a huge threat to accomplish that feat this time around. Joel Rosario rides for first time as he gets 3rd different jockey in as many races. 2-Lascaux has gained ground in stretch in last 2 turf races, but I don’t know if he’s really gaining on anyone so much as he’s just passing tired horses. 6-Sportswear is an incredibly well bred colt by Frankel. Hasn’t done much as of yet on track.
VULNERABLE FAVORITE ALERT HORSES: RACE 5 1-THE CRITICAL WAY(2/1)
VALUE HORSE OF THE DAY: RACE 9 10-COUNTRYSIDE DRIVE (10/1)