Fall for Keeneland
Real Writing on Racing 💯
Guess who’s back? Keeneland is a bright spot on the calendar with big, competitive fields, some excellent value wagers with the racing held in front of large, enthusiastic crowds. The next three weeks won’t cure all that ails racing but it slaps a nice bright coat of paint on it that looks nice as long as you don’t stare too hard…or look for different colored saddle towels in the featured stakes race of the day! Truthfully this weekend offers a plethora of stakes action across the country and we will publish a couple GIC Digest’s covering many of the key races with our always honest takeaways from the results.
💰 Keeneland and Santa Anita have teamed up on a $1 Breeders Cup Prep pick 6 with a 15% takeout. Read about it here.
🏆 The great filly Pebbles and legendary jockey Steve Cauthen were recently elected to the British Racing Hall of Fame which seems way overdue in both cases.
🇬🇧🇯🇵🇮🇪🇫🇷 The BC Turf is looking foreign though Westover won’t be making the trip as he has come out of the Arc injured and has been retired
🧂 A salty allowance race is on tap for Friday at Santa Anita with stakes winners Practical Joke, Newgrange, Tripoli, Mr Fisk, and Tahoe Sunrise squaring off in race 8.
🆓 Sign up for Free Equibase PP’s compliments of Keeneland HERE.
🆓 FREE DRF Formulator PP’s for the Alcibiades (Gr I) from Keeneland can be found Here.
💵 The GIC Digest video play of the day from ‘The Sniper’ Barry Spears is back!
Phoenix (Gr II) $350,000 3&up 6 furlongs BC WAYI-Sprint
Hoist the Gold - I was ‘all-in’ on him in the Commonwealth (Gr III) this spring, where he ran good enough to win at 9-1 but didn’t. Was very sharp winning an allowance at Ellis in early July but didn’t show up for either start at Del Mar, leading one to wonder if he just didn’t like California or the effects of 17 races in 19 months are catching up to him?
Manny Wah - 7 year old has been around forever and is the defending Phoenix champ as he registered a 15-1 upset last fall before putting in a decent run in the Breeders Cup Sprint where he was 4th behind Elite Power. That said, his form this year has been dull and he is coming into this off of a long layoff with his last dirt win prior to the Phoenix in 2019.
Sibelius - was the sprint division early season leader with wins in the Mr Prospector (Gr III) and Pelican before shipping to Dubai and knocking off Gunite in the Golden Shaheen (Gr I). It’s been all downhill since with two chase and fades in the Aristides and Bing Crosby (Gr I) before a brief freshening. Adds Saez but is drawn inside of the other speed so may have to work out a trip a bit off the pace similiar to what Ryan Moore did in Dubai but I’m skeptical that he will regain his form here.
Gulfstream Way - 5 yo gelding in career best form since the Casse claim in May, just missing to Bango in the Louisville TB Society stakes in his latest. Can sit a good trip here and try to outfinish them, very intriguing at a nice price.
Top Gunner - prefers to do his running on the front end or just off it and with speed drawn both inside and outside of post 5 he will have to break sharp and be on his game off of a 327 day layoff. Potential exists that he will get cooked in the early fractions by Doctor Oscar but at age 6 they aren’t gonna change his style now.
Necker Island - was really good last summer and early fall but didn’t do much running in this same race before going to the bench and hasn’t really run all that well all season. He isn’t far behind the top players but you gotta hope for a flashback.
Bango - when you look up “Hard Knocker” in the dictionary there might be a picture of this guy. The 6 year old Greg Foley trainee has 33 starts with 14 wins and 6 other placings, good for $1.4 million in earnings. He has 9 stakes wins to his credit in addition to being the winningest horse in the long history of Churchill Downs. Yet virtually none of those plaudits came at Keeneland where the Tamaroak Stable homebred son of Congrats has a record of 2-0-0-0 and hasn’t even set foot on the surface in Lexington since April of 2021. Yet he figures to get a great trip sitting right behind the speed and has shown a willingness to come up the inside or split horses if need be as well. Dangerous as always.
Nakatomi - a closer in a race that seems to have quite a bit of pace in it. Has stellar record over the surface 4-3-0-0, his only off the board finish was a 4th in the soft paced Commonwealth (Gr III) earlier this year. I have quite literally never guessed right on him and while I’d have to give him a fighting chance here, it’s tough to love one run closers at Keeneland.
Doctor Oscar - speedy MN bred is in razor sharp form shipping south for Tim Padilla. I’d expect Quinonez to send hard from the gate and try to take them wire to wire though the presence of Top Gunner makes that task a bit more difficult.
Baytown Bear - in declining form that hasn’t been good enough to be competitive in this type of race for quite awhile.
Voodoo Zip - I don’t know much about trainer Roddina Barrett but there is a perfect race for this guy, who they claimed for $50,000 off of Chris Clement at Kentucky Downs last time. This however isn’t that race but on October 15 the 7th race in the condition book at Keeneland is an allowance race going 5.5 furlongs on the grass that he fits nicely.
Jessamine (Gr II) $350,000 2yo fillies 1 1/16 turf BC WAYI -JuvF Turf
Smooth Waves - Start 4 was the charm but she greatly benefitted from the bias at Kentucky Downs. From post 1 seems committed to trying to bust away from the gate to avoid getting trapped inside but may also wind up in a duel with all the other early pace types.
Time to Dazzle - earned a fast Beyer figure but I question the quality of field she beat at Woodbine as most of the group had run poorly in prior starts and the two logical contenders looked ordinary not to mention she is back on 19 days shipping in from Toronto. I’m fading despite the positive presence of Luis Saez.
Moonlight Gambler - rallied belatedly in her debut behind subsequent stakes winner Austere before putting in a nice run after a good trip when second behind Pharoah’s Wine over a speed biased track at Kentucky Downs. She needs to improve once again to be a factor here but does have a closing style that should benefit from the plethora of early pace types in here and isn’t impossible if you are looking for a bomb for bottom of your exotic tickets.
Crown Imperial - John Ortiz has shown a willingness to race horses during his relatively brief time as a trainer, something that suddenly has become more of a rarity unfortunately. The benefits of staying busy are written all over this filly, a homebred who was produced when her dam was covered by Classic Empire for a $15k stud fee by the owners 4 G Racing. This will represent not only her 6th start but 6th different racetrack and she has handled them all so far, sporting a record of 5-2-2-1, with a stakes win last out in the Untappable at Kentucky Downs and three other blacktype placings. Her earnings are up to $374,450 which on top of a pretty strong resume is what breathes life into breeder/owner operations that aren’t playing at the very top of the market. I don’t know John Ortiz at all but his horses are presented in excellent condition, he gets results on a tough circuit with relatively inexpensive horses/homebreds by mid-range/lower tier stallions and he runs. If more owners with good horses hired guys like Ortiz to train some, they might find that their horses don’t all need to be treated with kid gloves, that they don’t all need 60-90 days between starts and racing is actually fun! That dissertation completed…this filly should be running late and has shown an ability to operate in traffic which she may find on Friday and clearly rates a solid chance to upend her far more lightly raced rivals.
Toupie - crushed a soft group first time out on the dirt at Laurel in early July before returning to face the boys in the Rosie’s stakes at Colonial where the daughter of Uncle Mo ran a solid second in her turf debut to three time stakes winner No Nay Mets (Ire). That race produced the winner of the Laurel Futurity, a stakes at Charlestown and an allowance at Churchill, all last weekend. Is bred to handle the stretch out to two turns and Prat should be able to work out a trip with all the early speed signed on and the 20-1 morning line is never going to happen. The one to beat.
Abeyance - ran decent in debut at PID when second over Tapeta but was much better when transferred to grass at Horseshoe Indy. The Beyer came back strong and she was mostly unchallenged through legit fractions, jockey Graham kept her to task to the wire. The issue is what did she beat and does she need to be on the lead to do her best running? Tough call.
Bella Haze - can she rate? She’d been on or just off of fast paces in all three starts and I’d imagine that Rosario will try to leave the gate strong and either lead them into the first turn or be very close to whomever else might be. My issue is that she took advantage of a very strong inside speed bias and still couldn’t hold off the winner and this might be a stronger group.
Pharoah’s Wine - another that took advantage of the speed favoring nature of the Franklin grass course this season with a close stalking trip in start three leading to an improved effort when breaking her maiden last out. Likely will try to grab a stalking trip but may wind up either wide in the turns or in-between horses which may not be the trip she wants.
Appellate - still a maiden after two narrow losses in Spa maiden specials for Pletcher. Was equipped with blinkers from start number one and took up a stalking position in soft fractions last out, getting out-gamed to the wire and a few strides from being 3rd. Needs to do better and not sure what sorta trip Irad will be able to figure out from the outside.
Buchu - showed some ability in difficult trip in her grass debut at the Spa after a pair of decent efforts on the dirt. Next out at Churchill, Garcia gave her a perfecto as he saved ground nicely, edged out smoothly at the top of the stretch and she motored away to an easy score. IMO she has talent but this trip is unlikely to be nearly as easy to navigate even with all the speed signed on and it’s hard to see her not losing ground on at least one turn.
Asternia - flashed good speed in both starts but is hung out in post 11 with at least 5 other horses that figure to leave the gate strong. The recently resurgent Julian Leparoux has his work cut out for him here.
Alcibiades (Gr I) $600,000 2yo fillies 1 1/16 dirt BC WAYI-Juv Filly
Alys Beach - she was professional when winning first out but just got way too far back in the Spinaway, not sure what the reasoning was for that tactic but the second turn and the more steady pace of a route race may prove to be a better fit for her. I may be wrong but I believe that this filly will run a much improved race here at a long price but she needs to improve a lot.
Crazy Cami - this isn’t an impossible spot for the daughter of Audible but I wouldn’t argue if you called it a crazy one.
Candied - first out Spa maiden winner against what seemed to be a middling group despite not changing leads, stretches out here and while Candy Ride’s are versatile, her dam was more of a closing sprinter than two turn horse. Got a very good TG of 5 but I’m skeptical about that figure.
Wine on Tap - ran second when stretched out in a soft Sorority at Monmouth in her last after chasing and fading in the Schuylerville. Tapit filly hasn’t run close to fast enough to put a scare into the top two
VV’s Dream - was dominant winner in both non-Brightwork races, the latest dusting the Pocahontas (Gr III) at CD albeit with a dream trip. Mitole is still a mystery as a stallion as he was a very good sprinter that captured the Met Mile going one turn but never ventured past that distance and the dam of this filly did win at a mile on the grass but was chiefly a sprinter despite being by Tapit. She has run fast TG figs and in theory races as though the 1 1/16 should be within her scope but you are betting that she can do something that she has never done at a very short price. If anything the short stretch at Keeneland in these 8.5 furlong races should help.
Alpine Princess - exits a pair of relatively live maiden races, showing incremental improvement in her second start (TG 13 to 10) to just get up despite being fanned wide at the Spa closing weekend. Ignore Cox in Kentucky at your own peril and pedigree suggests that the stretch out in distance should be within her scope but she has to run quite a bit faster.
Brightwork - the division leader in my eyes for the aforementioned John Ortiz, despite the hype surrounding Tamara on the west coast. She has proven to be both fast and game, her two gritty scores against really good competition in V V’s Dream and Ways and Means in the Debutante at Ellis and Spinaway (Gr I) at Saratoga, wrapped around a facile victory in the Adirondack (Gr III) make her very much the one to beat here. Her sire Outwork has had moderate success thus far though he certainly was fine around two turns and her dam has produced a half sister that has done fine going long too. Irad figures to have this filly in striking position turning for home and perhaps her and V V’s Dream hook up once again? It’s not a particularly enlightened or clever selection but she is clearly the one to beat.
Emery - SCRATCHED
Shimmering Allure - this is a grade 1 race and McPeek who has won this race 5x understands the value of what an on-the-board finish for the resume of a filly like this would bring. She has steadily improved against restricted MSW company, her best being the last when stretched out to a mile at CD. Enticed is a freshman sire with very little data but based on his career and pedigree you’d assume that the two turn distance wouldn’t be an issue. She doesn’t appear to be in the same league as the top two but not a lot separates the rest, especially with the scratch of Emery and you question Candied’s TG.
📽️ You probably forgot the time Wise Dan won the 2010 Phoenix Stakes sprinting on the dirt, the first stakes win of his Hall of Fame career!