Yesterday, the fifth day of the Keeneland spring meet, saw another five wire-to-wire winners on the Polytrack, continuing a recent trend of speed playing exceptionally well over the main track. Don't know if the weather in Lexington is contributing to this trend or if it's due to track maintenance, whatever the reason, speed must be respected on the Poly.
Day six at Keeneland is arguably the biggest day of meet with four graded stakes on the card, highlighted by the Grade 1 Blue Grass in the ninth race. Let's take a look at some of the more interesting races and contenders on today's card.
Race 2: Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/16 Miles, 3yo Fillies
I'm going to call this the "Equipment Race" due to the fact that three fillies will be sporting a change in gear when they go post ward. The 1-Snuggs and Kisses (15/1) is taking the blinkers off while both the 2-Beautiful Song (5/2) and 7-Wandaful Wandaful (4/1) will throw on the shades.
I was desperately looking for a horse that could get to the lead in this race, given the strength of speed the past few days, but there is nary a speed horse to be found among this field. I believe, however, that Wandaful Wandaful could find herself on the lead for the first time in her young career due to the equipment change and the running style of her competitors. Wandaful Wandaful ran a very poor race last time out at a mile on the Gulfstream main track, a race that I believe is a complete toss given her strong performance on the turf in her debut effort on February 5th. She should find the Polytrack much more to her liking than dirt.
Race 3: N2L Allowance, 6 furlongs, 3yo
I really think that 6-Liston (7/2) was in over his head in his last two races and is going to love the class relief that he's going to receive in this race. It's also possible that he just didn't like running on the inner dirt at the Big A. He's got a bunch of tactical speed in his corner and should be very close to the early leaders, if he's not the leader himself. Liston has actually won a N2L race over this same track during the 09 fall meet but was disqualified from the purse money that day. He's a good bet to finally notch that score today.
Race 4: N3X Allowance, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf), 4yo & up
The turf course wasn't as kind to the front end speed yesterday as it had been on previous days this spring; don't know if that's signaling a change but I'm going to be a little hesitant to play the front runners over the lawn on today's card. With that in mind, I think the 2-Hymn Book (4/1) makes a nice play in this spot. The McGaughey trainee is coming in off of four straight wins on the lawn, the last two against N1X and N2X company at Aqueduct and Gulfstream, respectively. This looks like a horse on a quick climb up the class ladder.
Race 5: Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, 3yo
Based on his last three efforts, 2-Henceforth (3/1) would be the standout in this field but I'm very skeptical of a horse that ran the worst race of his career over this same Polytrack surface during the fall meet. It wasn't just that he was bad on that day, he was abysmal. I'll pass on Henceforth and swing to the far outside to play the Asmussen/Gomez combo on that 8-Galientos (7/2). This will be only the second start of his career after a second place performance in his debut at the fall meet. He didn't get the best trip that day and might find today's affair much more comfortable.
Race 6: Grade 3 Shakertown, 5 ½ furlongs (Turf), 3yo & up
These lovely 5 ½ furlong turf sprints, they seem to be everywhere these days. The favorites in this race, 1-Chamberlain Bridge (8/5) and 2-Silver Timber (7/5), are both solid, stakes quality turf sprinters and I won't be surprised if either win this race. I'd like to try to find some kind of value and will look to the 4-Free Brave (12/1) for a price play. Free Brave is clearly deficient in terms of class but if things get out of control on the front end early in this race it just might fall apart enough for this gelding to pick up the pieces. Closers aren't usually a good play in these turf sprints, but since I really can't separate the top two I'm going to go with a price.
Race 7: Grade 2 Commonwealth, 7 furlongs, 3yo & up
You'd think with a five horse field it'd be easy to pick just one horse that you like for the win but that's simply not the case in the Commonwealth today. This race is essentially a collection of five horses that have done zero sprinting over synthetic surfaces, with the exception of the 2-Not For Silver (3/1), who finished second in the Grade 3 Perryville during the fall meet. I'm not a big fan of the lay-off, but Trombetta does well with these types and looks to have him very sharp after two consecutive bullet works over the Poly that last two weeks.
Race 8: Grade 2 Jenny Wiley, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf), 4yo & up, Fillies & Mares
There are two big name entries in the Jeny Wily: 2-Forever Together (7/5) and 4-Stardom Bound (6/1). I don't care for either of them in this spot.
Forever Together fired off the layoff in this same race a year ago, so she's proven she can win off the bench. However, I wonder if she's the same mare now that she was then. It's not that she didn't run well in her last few starts of 2009, she did. But at the same time I'm a little gun shy given her near misses and short odds. She's very good over the Keeneland turf course (3-2-0-1), but I'm still going to try and beat her.
Stardom Bound is making her turf debut today and that's not an angle that is very successful at Keeneland given the depth of these races on the lawn. Throw in the fact that this filly just hasn't been the same horse since her win in the Santa Anita Oaks and there are plenty of reasons to look the other way.
3-Wasted Tears (8/1) is the absolute lone speed in this race and could be leading by several lengths as they make their way onto the backstretch. The horse that should be stalking that pace is the 5-Carribean Sunset (IRE), and she's my pick to spring the upset at ML odds of 4/1. This Clemente trainee has placed in three graded stakes races but is still waiting to break through. She's coming off a bit of a layoff, but she's run well off the bench in the past.
Race 9: Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes, 1 1/8 Miles, 3yo
I already discussed this race yesterday in the Road to the Derby post, but I'll reiterate my thoughts briefly:
- I like the talent of 1-Odysseus' (7/2) but think he's in a very tough spot in his Polytrack debut.
- 6-Pleasant Prince (3/1) has only tried Poly once (as a maiden) with middling results. His bullet work last week suggests he'll take to the surface but if the track keeps playing to the front end his closing style might be a liability.
- 7-Paddy O'Prado (10/1) could be a big sleeper in this race as he's a pure turf horses that really seems to be quickly developing into a quality colt.
- 9-Interactif (4/1) is my top play in this race due to his turf form and his high cruising speed.
Race 10: N1X Allowance, 1 Mile (Turf), 3yo Fillies
5-Hatheer (5/2) scratched out of a turf race earlier this week at Keeneland and shows up in this N1X event at a mile. I liked her in that race and I like her even more that she's popped up in this spot.