2YO Maiden Special Weight ‘Picks, Plays and Pontification’ – Keeneland, 04/26/2023

April 25, 2023

Two Year Olds at Keeneland Brought to you by Game of Silks

Keeneland, Races 1 & 5 – Wednesday, April 26, 2023

By 2YO EdgeMan

To quote the Chicago Cubs’ 14-time Major League All-Star Shortstop Ernie Banks, ‘Let’s Play Two!’.  Keeneland has provided us with a bonus race as they’ve carded two juvenile affairs for today.  Race 1 is open to males & females and Race 5 is restricted to fillies.  Both races will be contested at 4 1/2f over the dirt track.  We’ll get our first taste of the turf on Thursday and then a second dose on Friday.  Two First-Crop Sires (1CSs) will send out their second ever runner in this one – Catalina Cruiser (Lane’s End) and Copper Bullet (Darby Dan).  OK, let’s get rollin’…

KEE1:042623 – Nine colts and one filly have put their name in the hat for this lid lifter.  Both John Ennis and Luis Mendez have entered two; Ward, Asmussen, Colebrook and will saddle one each.

#2 – Blue Eyed Soul (7/5) – The lone filly to bang heads with the boys in this one is trained by none other than ‘The Maestro’.  This well-bred gal is by No Nay Never and owned by some high rollers – Mrs. John Magnier, M.V. Magnier and Mrs. Paul Shanahan, although she’s never been sold at public auction.  Her mare, by Invincible Spirit, was 1 for 1 on the racetrack winning a maiden race at age three at Belterra, but then she never competed again.  Today’s runner has a three-year-old half-brother by Mendelssohn (also trained by WW) that sold for nearly $380K as a yearling at Goffs, but is 0/2 on the track, with one second place finish up at Woodbine.  Ward has sent this filly out for six total, three panel workouts with the last five over the KEE strip – her best being two back when she went in 35.0 seconds from the gate (1/14).  Walter Rodriguez gets the assignment to ride.

#3 – Kore Kinetic (3/1) – The first of two trained by Luis Mendez was originally entered last Wednesday, 4/20/23, but now gets the chance to show his stuff today.  He is a Nyquist colt who sold as a yearling for a somewhat modest $35,000 (59/71) and his immediate dam side is not overly impressive, however he did have a half-brother by Violence who won at first asking in July of his 2YO year in a maiden claimer at Ellis Park.  The mating that produced this runner today does earn a TrueNick rating of ‘A’.  Mendez did have a winner in one of the eight juvenile races that he tried at KEE last April.  He’s given this guy five works, his first two going 4f at Dixie Downs and then three more at 3f at KEE, with his first breeze here being a bullet on 4/11/23 going in 35.2 (1/19).  His most recent effort was also a 3f bullet done in 36.6 on 4/22/23 over Keeneland’s All Weather Training Track (1/7).  Declan Cannon again gets the call.

#5 – Saddle Up (6/1) – Our first juvenile starter of the meet with a race under his belt is a Texas homebred. In his only start, this dude ran pretty evenly, settling for 5th place.  His dam is a black type winner by Indygo Mountain, who earned $272K in her racing days, going 8/17.  The mating produced a strong True Nick ‘A’ rating.  He only has one sibling – a full brother who was pretty successful on the track earning $123K (3 for 23).  Trainer Steve Asmussen has worked this dude once since his afternoon outing, it was simply a leg stretcher on 4/21 breezing 4f at KEE in 52 seconds flat (83/84).  Tyler Gaffalione picks up the duties to pilot this colt.

#9 Nurcan (8/1) – Luis Mendez’s second colt entered in this race is another guy that has experience having run here at Keeneland in the first race of the meet.  He could only muster a lackluster 6th place performance on that day, running in roughly 4th position before tiring a bit through the lane.  He sold for $28,000 last year as a yearling at FT Kentucky in October – good for sixth highest from his sire out of the 21 yearlings that found new homes that year.  Mom was a solid performer on the race track earning almost $150,000 going an overall 4/19.  Mendez has not put a work into him since his race, but he has shown some potential talent in his morning works, his last was here at KEE going 3f in an impressive 35.2 from the gate (3/43).  Hoping to steer him for a good trip is his new jockey Abel Lezcano.

Pick – #5 Saddle Up – This is a tough one, but I think Asmussen has a shot to break his maiden here in the first race today.  The experience of one run and the addition of Gaffalione could put this fella in the Winner’s Circle.  Also, I am encouraged by his dam, TrueNick rating and full bro.  

KEE5:042623 – 14 fillies’ names were dropped into the entry box with two falling to the Also Eligible list.  We’ll get to see the first ever runner from Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms’ debut sire – World of Trouble.  Nyquist has two daughters in the main field and other notable sires include Into Mischief, Speightstown, and the late, More Than Ready.  Below are four of the ones that catch our eye…

#2 – Barbtourage (4/5) – You’ve probably already guessed the conditioner after seeing the Morning Line odds of less than even money – yep, Wesley Ward.  WW signed the ticket on this gal by Into Mischief as a yearling for $425K, although Stonestreet Stables, LLC is now the owner.  The stakes-winning dam was 3 for 5 in her racing career earning $92,000, which includes a win at first asking in June of her two-year-old campaign at Presque Isle Downs.   ‘The Maestro’ has put seven works into this filly, all at 3f, with her last four morning efforts coming at KEE.  She completed her most recent breeze on 4/20 in 35.0 flat (1/15).  Johnny Velasquez gets tapped by WW to climb into the saddle.  

#5 – Unmatched (8/1) – Trainer Ben Colebrook will tighten the girth on this filly by Speightstown.  Mom was a fine runner, nabbing a G3 event and a total of $583K will going 6/33 on track.  She has also thrown a half-brother to this filly who won as a 3YO FTS at GP and has a race record of 3/5, banked $113K and also ran in the Kentucky Derby.  The mating that produced today’s runner was applauded by TrueNicks who gives it an ‘A++’ rating.  She hammered down for $65,000 as a yearling (51/54) with Colebrook signing the ticket.  As far as workouts, this gal has been out on four mornings, all at Keeneland and all covering 3f.  Her last effort was a bullet breeze completed on 4/18/23 when she finished with 36.0 seconds on the stopwatch (1/19).  Gerardo Corrales will handle the reigns.  

#7 – Boyne Valley (20/1) – This filly will get her shot to break her maiden in her first try after being scratched from the 2YO race here at KEE on 4/12/23.  Trainer John Ennis picked up this youngster as a yearling for $25,000 (tied for 6th highest out of 30).  She’s sired by Unified (Lane’s End Farm) and she’s out of a More Than Ready dam who scored twice in her racing days in 12 tries, but also had two fine runner-up finishes – once in a G2 and once in a G3.  Additionally, this mare has thrown two 2YO FTS winners, one by Tapit, who clocked a silly high 96 Equibase Speed Fig breaking his maiden.  Today’s runner made her first five morning appearances at The Thoroughbred Center (the last there was at 4f) before two most recent works that came over the KEE strip.  Ennis has named a new rider – James Graham.

#11 – Just an Opinion (9/2) – The excellent combo of Asmussen / Gaffalione team up as the trainer / jockey to send out this Kantharos filly who was purchased by Judy and Kirk Robison for $65,000 at last fall’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale (which checks in 24 of 71 from her sire’s yearlings that sold in 2022).   Mom didn’t do much running in the afternoons going 0 for 3 and TrueNicks gives the mating that produced this gal a lukewarm rating of ‘C’.  She has four works under her belt – all at KEE.  Asmussen sent her out for her two initial morning efforts at 3f, but has stepped it up a bit working her 4f over her past two sessions, but no flashy times, typical with Asmussen babies.

Pick – #11 Just an Opinion – Can Steve and Tyler make it 2 for 2 today?  We think so.  She’s working just like you’d expect a juvenile runner from the conditioner’s barn would be when ready to pop.  Although this is the first horse that the Robisons have started in a 2YO MSW affair at Keeneland going back to 2018, they have been successful in races like this going 25.8% overall at all tracks in this level race and 25% with FTS at all tracks in baby MSWs.  

Things continue to pick up steam in our exciting world of Two-Year-Old Maiden Special Weight racing.  Back atcha soon with our PP&Ps for Thursday’s race, all my Edgie friends.

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The 2YO Edge Man, Past The Wire

The 2YO EdgeMan

The 2YO EdgeMan started following horse racing when his family moved to Louisville, KY when he was 9 years old.  The story goes that he...

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