It's already week two of the 2010 fall meet at Keeneland. Here's a look at a few races from today's card.
Race 1 - $40K Maiden Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, 2yo, Fillies
The first weekend of racing at Keeneland has seen horses that last raced at Arlington Park (either main track or turf) or the turf course at Saratoga take home eight of the first twenty-three races (35%) on the Polytrack. The first race of the day has two Arlington Park shippers in the field: 11-Mazumcambera (6/1) and 12-Kidding (6/1). Neither filly has done anything remarkable in their brief careers, but Muzucambera ran a nice second in his 5 ½ furlong dash last time out and she should be well placed early on the stretch to two turns. Kidding came up a bit flat at short odds in her last try over the AP turf course but find a switch to the Poly much to her liking in her fourth lifetime start.
I don't think she's going to have much value when it comes to post-time, but I like the 2-Anime (3/1) in the top spot in this race. This juvenile filly by Bernstein out of Royal Academy ran a solid effort in her last start at Turfway Park but had a really wide trip throughout the race after she was taken five wide into the first turn and had to come four or five wide off the 2nd turn. She gets Julien Leparoux in the irons today and if he's able to get her settled in a bit better in the early stages today she should have a big chance against a middling group of claimers.
I'll take Anime over the two Arlington shippers in an exacta and see what sticks.
Race 6 - N3X Allowance, 1 mile (Turf), 3up
Horses making their last start on the grass at Saratoga have dominated the first seven turf races of the fall meet, winning four of them. The sixth race has one horse in the field that fins that last out at Saratoga profile: 2-Veiled Prophet (6/1). This gelding has had the misfortune of catching bad trips and a couple of soft turf courses in his last two races and he didn't seem to take to them as well as he did the firm course at Churchill in the Grade 2 Firecracker back on July 4th. He finished a good 4th in that one mile race at 81/1 odds behind Tizdejavu, Public Speaker and Inca King. He's shown some ability in his career but seems like a stretch for win honors.
The logical pick in this race is 4-Boots Ahead (3/1), a gelding that finished 3rd in the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth last time out and has picked up some nice wins at Gulfstream, Monmouth and Belmont in his career. Class-wise he's appears to have a big edge on the rest of the field but I doubt we'll see anything too nice on the tote board before the gates open. If he stays in the 3/1 to 5/2 range he's probably worth a shot, anything lower than that and it's probably time to look for value elsewhere.
I was looking for a good Leparoux horses in this race but was disappointed to see him in the irons of 3-Bold Hawk (4/1), a gelding that is coming off of a three year layoff. This horse had shown a ton of promise early in his career, winning the Grade 2 Hawthorne Derby and finishing third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, but how much form can a horse show after that long on the bench? 4/1 on the morning line seems really low for a horse on that kind of a comeback.
One of the things that surprised me when I was looking at where horses that won during the fall meets have ran their previous race was the fairly even distribution of tracks from which the winners came from. Arlington Park and Saratoga led the way, but Belmont, Kentucky Downs, Monmouth, Woodbine, and Turfway have all supplied multiple turf winners over the past four years. Here's a quick breakdown of where the turf winners have come from in past fall meets (prior to 2010):
Arlington - 16%
Sarartoga - 14%
Belmont - 9%
Kentucky Downs - 8%
Monmouth - 5%
Woodbine - 6%
Turfway - 5%
After the "big three", Kentucky Downs holds its own in producing next out winners over the Keeneland turf course. In race 6 there is a nice looking Kentucky Downs shipper, 5-Union Bowman (15/1) that might figure to run a decent race against this group.
Union Bowman has had a bit of an adventurous career, starting out in sprints on the dirt at Hoosier and Churchill before switching to the turf early in 2010. In four of his first six turf tries on the lawn the course either came up on the soft side or the race was washed to the main track. He broke his maiden in a plain old Maiden Special on the dirt at a mile at Hoosier and then picked up another win in an off-the-turf affair at the same track. In his last race at Kentucky Downs, Union Bowman notched his first win over the lawn when he wired an OC $45K/N2X field at a mile.
Today's field in the sixth race has very little, if any, early speed and if Union Bowman can grab and early lead he could be an upset winner at nice odds. His stamina should be in good shape after a run over the undulating course at Kentucky Downs and if the others have to catch him it could be a tall order. I'll take the 5 as a long shot play.
Race 8 - N1X Allowance, 1 1/8 miles (Turf) 3up, Fillies & Mares
The feature race for Wednesday is a 1 1/8 mile N1X Allowance event for three-years-old and up fillies and mares on the turf course, and it's a race that has an incredibly balanced field from post 1 to 12.
Morning line favorite 6-Mimi's Special Six (3/1) gets a lot of respect from the morning line odds maker due to good performances in her last two listed stakes races, but her 1-for11 record over the past two years leaves a lot to be desired in a race with a good amount of lightly raced fillies looking to take that next step up in their development.
Graham Motion's 4-Unbridled Humor (7/2) won her debut in sparkling fashion at Saratoga in a one mile Maiden Special Weight race. This is a deep and tough group to step-up against but even a minimal amount of improvement off her first race would certainly put her in the mix in this one.
Like the favorite, the 8-Sparky's Dream (5/1) has had a bit of an issue finishing in the top spot in her early career (1-for-14), and her lone win was over the Poly at Turfway and not on the grass. I like Leparoux in the irons for this filly but think she's probably up against it in this spot and is a bit thin on value at 5/1.
Things seemed to finally click for the Bill Mott trained 9-Flourish (5/1) in her last two starts, both at Saratoga and the last one a maiden breaking win by a neck. She started her career on the dirt at Belmont last fall and that clearly wasn't where this filly wanted to put her feet down. A switch to the turf at Hollywood Park in late November saw her just miss scoring her first win. She came back as a three year old this summer at Saratoga where she finally got her break through win in her second attempt.
Flourish has had a very light campaign this summer and should be coming into this race on the best form of her career. Mott has started the Keeneland fall meet on a bit of a roll and he's been strong when teamed up with jockey Kent Desormeaux over the past year (20%). I'll go with Flourish for a bit of an upset.