Champion juvenile and top Kentucky Derby contender, Forte, winning his MSW debut (Susie Raisher)
By 2YO EdgeMan
If you haven’t already done so, get out a big fat, red marker and circle the date of Friday, April 7 on your calendar. This marks the start of the Spring Race Meet at Keeneland Race Course which signals many different things to different people. To some, it announces springtime in Central Kentucky – warmer days and flowers beginning to push up through the luscious Kentucky bluegrass and azaleas beginning to share their beautiful colors. And, of course, golf enthusiasts will align it with the hushed voice of Jim Nance emanating from the hallowed fairways of Augusta National and The Masters. However, the real reason to be excited is that this means that 2YO Maiden Special Weight (MSW) races are starting up again in 2023!
Last spring, Keeneland hosted nine 2YO MSW events. The Maestro of 2YOs, Wesley Ward, got his picture taken three times (all heavy favorites) after these 2YO MSW races for a relatively low strike rate of 25% and a strongly negative Return on Investment (ROI) of $1.13. Both of these stats were roughly half of his averages of 50.9% and $2.24, respectively, over the previous five years (2017 through 2021, with the Spring Meet in 2020 being cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid). The only other six trainers to saddle a winner in these races were one each by Luis Mendez, Paul McEntee, John Hancock, Mike Maker, Sarah Hamilton and Wayne Catalano.
As for winning sires last April, the list was not overly fashionable and, not surprisingly, included four that were introducing their first crop of runners (shown in bold). Uncaptured, Fast Anna, Mo Town, Brody’s Cause, Super Saver, McCracken and No Nay Never each represented one winner on the dirt. Proud sires of the two 2YO MSW turf events were Oscar Performance and U S Navy Flag.
Now, you may be asking, “Mr. EdgeMan, was there any money to be made at the betting windows at KEE this past April?” The answer is a resounding “YES!”. The six races not won by WW were all captured by non-favorites. In fact, three of those saw winners leave the starting gate with odds of 18/1 or higher. This spring, the condition book shows that the plan at KEE is to showcase eight 2YO MSW races, including the last two to be again contested over the lawn. Four will be restricted to fillies and the other four are open to both sexes. So, start getting excited, cause it’s gonna be a blast!
I sure hope that this is already abundantly clear – I am ecstatic to be writing articles this year for this terrific site, focusing exclusively on 2YO MSW races. After KEE closes in late April, I’ll be tracking Churchill Downs as they kick off their Spring Meet and soon after, I’ll also cover Belmont Park as they start their racing in 2023. Then, in mid-July, I will turn my energies and passion to the pinnacle of 2YO MSW racing – Saratoga Race Course. I am not a ‘tipster’ (and have no desire to be one – I’ll leave that up to smarter folks here on this site. However, since I know that many of you may like to occasionally plunk down a dollar or two, I’ll do 2YO MSW race previews that I like to call my “Picks, Plays and Pontification”. I’ll also spend time doing detailed post-race reviews – my “Sum Up and Learnings”. Additionally, I’ll sprinkle in articles along the way to help educate you on these wonderful races which will be titled “2YO Teachings”. I expect that you’ll read and enjoy every article!
Buckle up and hold on tight, my new 2YO Edgies! More soon…