Once again while many slept our Anthony Fontaine was hard at work, head into the past performances dissecting each and every race on the opening day card at Keeneland’s fall meet.
Welcome to the return of Horse Racing Heaven, aka the Keeneland Fall Meet. The first weekend of this meet offers a preview into the Breeders’ Cup as many outfits get a final prep before the big dance in about 4 weeks. Let’s get to it!
Race One: Selections 9-11-8-7
#9 Riv finds a spot that should set up ideally for late drive. This one has been competing regularly at Arlington this season with some success. If rider can work out a clean trip this one can come rolling late.
#11 Lewys Vaporizer has lots of speed however with other speed signed on this one will have to find some rating ability to be effective late. I feel out of all the speed this one stands the best chance to last into the stretch. #8 Stay Home has struggled this season and finds a spot that he should find much friendlier than other races. Rider is known to be patient sometimes to a fault however fits this one like a glove and look for this one to outrun odds for a slice.
Race Two: Selections 7-3-5-2
#7 Looking at Bikinis appears to tower over this field and if right should win as rider pleases. Odds will not offer value however when encountering a situation like this sometimes it is best to swallow the chalk, single in multi race wagers and search for a price in other legs.
#3 Regally Irish comes off a drubbing on the turf after being bumped hard and losing all chance. This one will appreciate the return to the dirt and works indicate this one is feeling good. I feel this one has a big shot to inflate the exotics payoffs and is an exacta threat. #5 Pole Setter comes in the forever dangerous Brad Cox off a bad outing at Kentucky Downs on the lawn. Another runner that should appreciate the distance and surface and may not offer as much value as the 3 but is a must use for the trifecta.
Race Three: Selections 4-11-9-5
#4 Fort Peck takes a drop into the selling ranks after a few ho hum performances. The combination of Wilkes and Landeros is always dangerous at a price, and I think this one is better than the last few races indicate. Worth a shot at a nice price today.
#11 Never Even Called has been consistent on the Midwest circuit this year and would appear to fit nicely with this group. The rider will need to ration the speed and reserve some energy for the stretch as this one has been found wanting late however the short stretch at Keeneland may aid this one in having a say late. #9 Iconic takes a bit of a suspicious drop however it is not low enough to say connections have totally given up. The 30k tag says they still think he has value and if someone takes him and we win or place we still come out ahead. Will use sparingly however think this one has a shot today.
Race Four: Selections 6-7-5-8
#6 Herecomesyourman has been in good form recently coming off a nice score at Kentucky Downs. When a horse wins at that meet they display the ability to win over a quirky hill and gully European style course and the ability to work around traffic as the fields are always large and competitive. This one will look to continue that forward momentum in this spot, albeit a little tougher should be within the wheelhouse.
#7 Volgograd invades from the Chicago circuit after having a successful season there. This runner won an off the turf event last out but had previously displayed ability to handle the lawn so no concerns there. Look for Geroux to get this one to settle and close and should be rolling late. #5 Stella d’Oro has fired each time he has ran including the troubled trip last out at the Spa. The note in the form does not begin to describe the difficulties this one experienced last out and as would be expected did not have much of a chance to close and show his best. Look for a much improved effort and if Rosario can work out a better trip they may all be running for second.
Race Five: Selections 3-11-8-12
#3 Boss On the Horizon caught my eye in this spot because of the price tag and rider. Lynch is not known to have them firing first time out however the fact this one attracts Jose Ortiz who does not take obligatory mounts at boutique meets such as this is enough for me to give this one a shot.
#11 Blip trained by another trainer that does not have eye propping first timer numbers, however this one is working out of his skin and underrated rider Hernandez is the perfect pilot to guide this one. Looking for a big performance. #8 Fast Dreamer has experience against stake competition and should find this group friendlier. Will need to improve off those efforts but one can never discount racing experience especially when the more fancied runners are lacking in that department. One to seriously consider.
Race Six: Selections 7-4-5-8
#7 Lucky Jingle will try the dirt today in an attempt to get back on track after an abysmal outing last time. Has worked well since last race and previously showed ability so willing to give this one another opportunity against this group.
#4 Sound Machine invades from Florida for the high flying trainer Saffie Joseph, fresh#5 Ununderstandable gained value experience at the recently concluded Colonial meet in Virginia, and will step into the deep end of the pool today to see if the ability is there to compete at the top. The numbers earned are about par for this group however it is difficult to have any confidence in the Colonial form as this was their first meet in almost a decade, and traditionally their numbers were a bit inflated. Rate this one an outside chance to shake up the exotics underneath.
Race Seven: Selections 9-6-5-8
#9 Snaffle ran like a horse that bled first out at the Spa and I suspect that is why the Lasix are added today. Has worked dynamite since, any horse that outworks 106 others has to have some serious gas. This one looks formidable today.
#6 Craft Woods just missed in debut at Kentucky Downs and gave a good account of herself in that event. Should improve exponentially from that effort and will be hard to deny today. #5 Regal Passage debuts for a trainer that has found her stride and is to be respected as she honed her craft under turf master Chad Brown. The pedigree on this one is outstanding and although may feel the offspring of Violence are better on dirt, I feel they do just as well on the lawn and on the Dam side one does not get better bred for turf than Red Ransom. Look for a giant effort at a nice price.
Race Eight The Stoll Keenan Ogden Phoenix Stakes: Selections 4-11-3-7
#4 Recruiting Ready will look for a breakout score today after sizzling the Churchill Downs surface last month. Comes into this race at his best whereas there are questions with some of the other more fancied runners, namely Promises Fulfilled and Whitmore.
#11 Lexitonian rates consideration at a nice price as the pace will be sizzling and this one loves to close and upset an applecart at gigantic odds. Rider will need to be patient and not get sucked into a suicidal pace duel and if able to rate and pounce look out. #3 Whitmore seemed to be a bit over the top and the trainer gave him some time and returns today. I have always admired this hard trying horse and the trainer is very adept at bringing them back off the bench ready to roll. Look for him to make noise late.
Race Nine The Darley Alcibiades Stakes: Selections 5-7-4-9
#5 Micheline comes into this prestigious stake event with a solid stake victory to break her maiden at Monmouth. This one has had some excellent works since the victory and adds Lasix for the sharp Stidham barn. I really like the pedigree on this one with the distance so will take a stand here today.
#7 Perfect Alibi has yet to run a bad race in four outings. This runner also shows ascending speed figures as the races get longer which lends confidence that today’s task is well within her scope of ability. A must use for all slots today. #4Alandra won at first asking which is rare for Shug as he does not crank them up early. Displayed uncanny grit and determination as the foe tried to pin her in yet she persevered and emerged victorious. THIS ONE MAY BE ANY KIND and the price will be square once again (well maybe not, Lexington is Shug country).
Race Ten: Selections 5-9-2-1
#5 Copper Quest has the look of a serious runner for Assmussen as he gives his main rider Santana this mount. From the connections that brought us Gun Runner, this impeccably bred filly looks spotted for action.
#9 Titans Treasure will look to improve off debut effort. Should benefit from the experience and should be in the mix late. #2 Caribbean Kitten debuts for Maker and the Ramsey’s, who love to visit the winners circle at Keeneland. Another with potential in today’s finale.