The opening day of the Keeneland spring meet provided the usual fantastic racing action which started off with me hitting a nice win bet on Flying Warrior at 7/1 in the third race. I came back and was able to nab the exacta in both the fifth and sixth race, with race six being won on the front end by 7/1 shot Kantstopdancin. Only problem with Kantstopdancin was that she was bet down from a morning line of 20/1, but you had to figure the crowd wouldn’t completely ignore the lone speed.
The day looked like it was going to end on a very nice note as I played a straight $10 late Daily Double of Nordic Truce to Meander. Nordic Truce got the job done in the Transylvania by a neck and I was alive to the favorite for $100. But since this is horse racing and nothing is never easy, I wasn’t at all surprised that as the field left the gate the 5-Pollard’s Babe ducked in badly causing 3-Everybody Lies to swerve into my horse, 1- Meander. Meander was driven into the gap and had to swerve back onto the backstretch and it was all over but the crying. The day ended up being a winner but still left a bad taste in my mouth.
Meander is now locked in on my stable mail as I am anxiously waiting this filly’s return to the track.
Okay, on to Day 2 at Keeneland….
Race 2: $25K Claiming, 1 1/16th Miles, 4yo & up
2-Evade is the morning line favorite at 2/1, and it’s a deserved status given his good form over the Keeneland surface and the potential for this gelding to possibly control the pace. I’m going in a bit of a different direction with the 5-Habitual. This gelding has never tried running on a synthetic surface in his career but he has run on the turf seven times, winning twice. You can toss that last effort in at Laurel where he wasn’t up to the task to take on listed stakes company. Open 25K seems like the perfect spot for this horse and at 6/1 on the ML he’s got the right type of value for a nice win bet.
Race 3: $50K Maiden Claiming, 1 1/8th Miles, 3yo & up Fillies
Not the easiest race to dissect on the card but it could be a spot to pick up a decent price if you want to take a dip in the Pick 3 or Pick 4 pools. 6-Tribecky is a little light on the speed figure side but she’s shown good tactical speed in all four lifetime starts, three of which took place over a synthetic surface. At 6/1 on the ML, this filly seems to have a decent chance at a price.
If Tribecky doen’s suit your needs then 1-Home Fries might. This filly has been close several times, usually a sign of a money burner, but this could finally be the spot where she breaks through. All of her previous synthetic races were solid, even if they weren’t winning efforts, and her speed figures suggest that she is a prime contender in this field. Morning line says 3/1 for this one, but I’m guessing we’ll see something smaller come post time.
Race 4: $10K Claiming, 6 furlongs, 4yo & up Fillies and Mares
There are a lot of grizzled pros heading to the gate in this race and as a result it’s a pretty deep and contentious affair. Two entries stood out to me in the past performances: 8-Arms Race and 9-Popsicle Toes.
Arms Race is dropping in from $32K open company on the lawn where this filly pressed the pace before fading in the stretch. The drop in class should help but a possible light pace might be the best gift this filly could ever receive. Arms Race is 6/1 on the ML.
Popsicle Toes is taking a small drop from $12.5 company after a dismal performance agsint OC $40K two races back. This mare’s last race may have indicated somewhat of an awakening as she showed some interest early on for the first time in a long time. If I had to choose between the two I’d take Arms Race, but I think Popsicle Toes might have a big race in her game in this spot.
Race 5: Maiden Special Weight, 7 furlongs, 3yo
A wonderful spot for a single as I think this race begins and ends with the 1-Bushwhacked. Like I pointed out in the Keeneland preview, Maiden Special Weights restriceted to three year olds are the most likely spots at Keeneland to see a "dirt only" horse score a victory. Bushwhacked owns a double top Beyer on the rest of the field, a huge advantage in any way, shape, or form. I’ll take him at anything above 8/5.
Race 6: OC 80K/N3X Allowance, 7 furlongs, 4yo & up Fillies and Mares
3-Siders Choice has earned morning line status at 5/2, but it’s the 2-Perfect for You that I think has the best shot at the win in this race. Anytime you see a horse that has been successful in previous attempts over the Keeneland Polytrack you have to take notice. Perfect for You is a solid 3-2-0-0 at Keeneland and scored at win at this distance at the fall meet in N2X company. She usually needs a little bit of help on the front end to take the top prize, but at 5/1 on the ML she warrants a shot.
Race 7: N1X Allowance, 7 furlongs, 3yo Fillies
I gotta say, after I made a first pass of the past performances and marked up the horses I thought were contenders, I was shocked to see that 5-Buckleupbuttercup was 5/1 on the morning line. This filly is exiting two solid $35K start allowance races, races that featured horses that have been competing against multiple winners throughout their careers. Additionally, Buckleupbuttercup has an exceptionally versatile running style: last race she won off a slow pace; two back she won off a middling pace; her maiden victory came off of a fast pace. It’s always a benefit to be able to win off of a variety of pace scenarios, and I think that factor gives this filly a chance for the win.
Race 10: N1X Allowance, 1 1/16th Miles (Turf), 4yo & up
Yeah, I didn’t have a horse I liked in the Grade 1 Ashland…just isn’t a race that I really want to get involved in. If I end up playing the late Pick 4 I’ll probably use every filly except for She Be Wild, who I think is just not in form right now. Okay? Now on to race 10.
The Beyer par for this race is 88 and 8-Academy Run has run equal to or better than that in three of his five lifetime starts – to me that seems like a very nice advantage. He just missed in his last effort over the Gulfstream turf and he has synthetic experience in a second place finish on this track in the 2009 fall meet. If he runs to his best, Academy Run should be the easy winner of the nightcap.
Academy Run is 7/2 on the ML.