The final weekend of Keeneland’s spring meet is upon us, and this Friday’s featured race is the G3 Bewitch Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on the turf for fillies and mares four years old and up, featuring American Oaks winner Daddys Lil Darling as the 3/5 morning line favorite. The Bewitch will go as race nine on the ten-race card today. My best bet of the day is #3 C C Rider in Race 10 – he’s the 5/2 morning line favorite, but I think that’s a great price on a horse that I see as a single in any multi-race wagers and a great horse to key on top in exactas. Without further ado, here’s my full card analysis for the day.
Race 1: 2-1-3
This Friday’s card opens up with a six furlong maiden claiming $30,000 for three-year-old and up fillies and mares. This is a tough race to get a read on, but it seems that morning line favorite #2 Sohni is the horse to beat. This $100,000 two-year-old in training is dropping into maiden claiming company after three unsuccessful attempts against straight maidens at the Fair Grounds, and in a race without much apparent talent, that should be enough to put her in the winner’s circle. She showed a little bit of tactical speed two races back, and unless one of the first time starters comes out running, I think she takes this field gate-to-wire. #1 Georgy Girl is a first time starter for Dane Kobiskie, who is 10% with first time starters. This daughter of Northern Afleet hasn’t shown much in the mornings, but her dam was a debut winner and she seems to be the most likely of the first time starters in here. #3 Spring Break Girls didn’t show much in her debut after starting slow and ducking out, but she was 99-1 in the race and may improve with a clean break in her second start. I don’t trust her much, but if you’re looking for an alternative to the favorite, she’s really the only other option in here.
Race 2: 6-7-2
#6 Dayfa is my top choice in here. Out of a half-sister to Horse of the Year Saint Liam who has already produced two winners on the turf, she was beaten only 3 1/2 lengths in her debut for Bill Mott, where she sat a decent stalking trip before being trapped behind a wall of horses turning into the lane. Once Jose Ortiz got her clear, though, she finished quite nicely. She should improve drastically in this race, and is coming in off two bullet works at Payson. The morning line favorite, however, is #7 Mighty Scarlett, for Chad Brown. I expect this filly to go off as a fairly heavy favorite because of her connections, and she deserves favoritism off a solid runner-up finish in her debut. She was bumped at the start of that race but made up 6 3/4 lengths to eventually be second by 4 1/4 as the favorite. With a clean break, she could simply be better than the others in here. She’s bred to like the turf, being by Scat Daddy and out of a turf stakes-winning mare by Thunder Gulch. #2 Smart Shot is my third choice in this race. This three-year-old daughter of Skipshot has shown more tactical speed in her races than any of her competitors, and I think that could make the difference in a 1 3/16th mile route race like this.
Race 3: 6-2
#6 Lilbitofjam is 6/5 on the morning line in this $16k claiming race, and she should be tough to beat in here. She’s a neck away from never missing the board in nine career starts, and while she is stepping up to face open company after primarily competing against Louisiana-breds, she is consistent and tactical, and is coming into this race off a 5 furlong work in 59 3/5 at Churchill Downs on April 19th. Trainer Tom Amoss claimed this filly two back, and he wins at a whopping 37% with horses in their second start after being claimed. She has some early foot but has proven that she can sit off the pace effectively as well, and I think she’ll sit a perfect trip just behind the other speed in here. My main alternative to the favorite in here is #2 Ivy’s College Fund. This filly is stepping up in class after winning a $10,000 claiming race earlier in the meet, and while I don’t think she will get the same clear lead that she got in that race with the likes of Lilbitofjam and #3 Love the Power both having some early speed as well, I think this is a filly who should provide decent value at 6-1 on the morning line.
Race 4: 6-3-4
In this competitive $20,000 claiming event, I like #6 Love That Lute on top. This horse is stepping up in class after being claimed for $12,500 by trainer Norman McKnight in his last start. McKnight wins at 29% first off the claim, and if you look at this horse’s past performances, he has been overmatched in many of his races, but his last win was in a $50k optional claiming event, and he was only beaten a neck in his last race, which was his first in nearly two months. I think this is the perfect level for this horse, and expect to see a big effort in here. #3 Kahramani was claimed by Norman McKnight two starts back for $20,000. Both he and Love That Lute are coming into this race off a bullet 4 furlongs in :48 on April 11th at Oaklawn Park, which I assume means they worked in company, and I think they’re tough to separate in this spot. #4 Beltway is the 2/1 morning line favorite and my third pick in here. He was well-beaten in his last race, a $30,000 claiming event on the turf, but prior to that was seen winning a $20,000 claiming race at Delta Downs by six lengths in his first start off the claim for trainer Tom Amoss. Amoss is 33% with horses going from turf to dirt and 26% third start off a layoff, and Beltway’s consistent speed figures make him a definite threat in here.
Race 5: 3-9-1-8
#3 Tizaprincessa is my top selection in this maiden race at 1 3/16 miles on the turf. This daughter of Kitten’s Joy out of G2 winner Tizaqueena has been third in both of her races, and I think that the extra furlong will be advantageous to her. My main concern here is honestly the $40,000 price tag – Kitten’s Joy stood for $100,000 at the time of her conception, and his yearlings average $88.6k. With a pedigree like hers, I find it suspicious that she sold for such a low amount. I think #9 Mizzen Colony has a huge chance to make some noise in here at 20-1 on the morning line. She has broken slowly in both of her starts, but made up fairly significant ground both times. As a daughter of Mizzen Mast and out of a Speightstown mare, she should move up on the turf, and her Brisnet speed figure of 82 in her last race is the best of any horse in here (though it’s worth noting that her Beyer figure of 60 in that race is unremarkable compared to the rest of the field). I think this filly could be very dangerous at a big price, especially if she can get a clean break. #1 Sippin Kitten is a full sister to six turf winners and three stakes winners for the Ramseys and Mike Maker. She improved significantly from her first start to her second, and I believe that the added distance will help her even more. #8 Nevisian Sunset is the 5/2 morning line favorite and the likely pacesetter in here. She was a $150k two-year-old in training purchase, and has shown some ability in her two starts to date. As a Chad Brown trainee, she deserves a serious look but will likely be an underlay in the wagering.
Race 6: 8-5-1
#8 Marriage Counselor is coming into this race off a third-place finish at this level earlier in the meet, and if he can get a clean break he will be tough to beat in here. #4 Fullback Foye is 0-for-20 lifetime, but he’s a son of Touch Gold stretching out past a mile for the first time on the dirt. His most recent work was 4f in :47 4/5 on April 17th over this track, and while he’s stepping up to a $20,000 tag off a second-place finish at the $12,500 level at Gulfstream Park, I think he is a solid candidate to hit the board at a reasonable price. #1 Zarski is also stepping up slightly in price from $12,500 to $20,000, but his route races should be competitive with these. He’s adding blinkers as well, which could be key in a race without much dedicated speed, and trainer Andrew McKeever is 18% with this angle.
Race 7: 3-5-7-2
In this 1 1/8th mile turf allowance race, I like #3 Sniper Kitten on top. This son of Kitten’s Joy broke his maiden gamely in his most recent race, and I think he will appreciate stretching out from that 7 1/2 furlong event. #5 Ceduna is a son of Denman who is stretching out and trying turf for the first time. He broke his maiden impressively in his debut at Turfway Park on February 22nd, coming back on a rival after setting the early pace despite his jockey losing the whip. Off that race, trainer Thomas Upton sent him to the Animal Kingdom Stakes, where he bobbled at the start and raced five wide on the turn, but he still finished fourth, beaten less than three lengths for second behind runaway winner Hemp Hemp Hooray. I think he could be very live at 12-1 on the morning line. #7 Morning Stride was not disgraced in his first start against winners last time out, beaten only 3 1/4 lengths by the highly regarded Ezmosh despite being sent off at nearly 34-1 in that race and racing wide on both turns. This $100,000 yearling purchase is a song of Morning Line, whose offspring are hitting at an impressive 22% on the turf. #2 Sky Promise is another one with a big chance in here, coming off two stakes efforts on the polytrack at Turfway Park, including a half-length defeat in the John Battaglia Memorial. This son of Sky Mesa has shown a big closing kick in his races, and he should be rolling late.
Race 8: 4-7-6-3
This is a wide-open 1 1/16th mile $80,000 optional claiming race. #4 Dorodansa is my top pick in here. She’s coming off a career-best race where she defeated a field of $40,000 optional claimers at Oaklawn Park by 5 3/4 lengths, and prior to that was beaten only 3/4 of a length in a race at the same level where her jockey misjudged the finish line. She has a versatile running style that gives jockey Florent Geroux plenty of options depending on how the race sets up. #7 Blue Collar is 8/1 on the morning line and is coming out of two stakes races in which she was well-beaten. Prior to that, however, she was two-for-two after removing blinkers four starts back. This is a much more realistic spot for her, and I think she will be right there at the wire. #6 Champagne Problems is one of the most consistent runners in this field, and I expect her to be well-placed behind likely pacesetter #1 Vagabond Princess. #3 Mannerly is the 7/2 favorite on the morning line, and is another horse in here with good tactical speed and consistent speed figures. She defeated G3 winner Valadorna in an optional claiming race at Churchill Downs three starts back on November 1st, and while she was unimpressive behind that filly in the Tiffany Lass next time out, she was most recently seen finishing third on the turf in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes, and should improve second time off the layoff. Trainer Brendan Walsh is 19% with horses switching from turf to dirt and 18% second off the layoff.
Race 9: 5-2-6-7
#5 Daddys Lil Darling looks exceptionally tough to beat in this spot – she’s far and away the class of the field, and while she was once a deep closer, she has shown the ability to be tactically positioned in her more recent efforts. I don’t expect the 1 1/2 miles to be a problem for this daughter of Scat Daddy, and I think the 3/5 morning line odds are fairly accurate. Behind her, however, this race is wide open. I like #2 Mom’s On Strike to round out the exacta in here. She’s as consistent as they come, and while she was fairly well beaten in the New Orleans Ladies as the odds-on favorite in her last start, she was fanned seven wide into the stretch of that race and was still able to make up some ground on the gate-to-wire winner. #6 Daring Duchess is the only horse in the race with a win at this distance, and she shows a record of 6:1-2-1 at 1 1/2 miles. She was second in this race last year, but I am concerned that she may be a need-the-lead sort of horse, and with #7 Sully’s Dream just to her outside, I think it’s likely that those two end up dueling each other into the ground. That said, if her competitors can’t handle the distance, she could take the field gate-to-wire. #7 Sully’s Dream is coming off a front-running victory in the New Orleans Ladies, and if she gets the lead she could be very tough in here – going back to June of 2017, she has not lost a race where she was on the front end. If she is able to outsprint Daring Duchess to the front and relax, she could pull off a significant upset at 15/1 on the morning line.
Race 10: 3-6-1-8
#3 C C Rider is the 5/2 morning line favorite, and I think that anything near that would be a gift on this son of Candy Ride. He is the only speed in this 1 3/16th mile turf maiden race, and was only beaten a neck when adding blinkers and trying turf for the first time in his second start, posting an 80 Beyer in the process. He is my best bet of the day. Behind him, however, I think this race has some interesting prospects. #6 Say The Word was beaten only a neck by Sniper Kitten – my top selection in race 7 – in his most recent start. It was his second turf race with blinkers, and in his first try he was beaten only half a length when finishing second. As a son of More Than Ready and out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, I think he will handle another furlong just fine. #1 Broth is very intriguing to me at 10/1 on the morning line. He ran a better-than-looked 5th in his career debut in August of last year, beaten only 2 1/2 lengths after breaking slowly and getting shut off at the 3/16ths pole. He adds Lasix today and shows a bullet 4f drill in :47 4/5 on April 23rd. Trainer Pavel Vashchenko wins at 17% with horses coming off a 90+ day layoff, and 21% with second-time starters. #8 Triple Dog Dare tries turf for the first time for trainer Brad Cox – a move that yields 34% and a positive ROI. This colt ran a big race to finish second in his second career start, prompting then-trainer Rudy Rodriguez to try the colt in the G2 Remsen Stakes. He was beaten 22 lengths in there, then switched to Cox and has since run two very average races at Fair Grounds. Sire Paynter’s offspring win at 19% on the turf, but his dam’s offspring are 0-for-4 on the turf. I’m willing to trust his trainer’s judgment, though, and think he’s certainly capable of improving here. I’ll also be including #5 Nantucket underneath in here – this son of Japanese stallion Stay Gold showed significant improvement second time out when finishing third by only a neck at 34/1 in his most recent race. He’s out of a stakes-placed mare and picks up Florent Geroux for his third start.