The racing gods giveth, and the racing gods taketh away. That described my success (or lack thereof) on the second day of the Keeneland spring meet. I began the day playing a variety of rolling Pick 3s which quickly degenerated into a pile of losing tickets, which was compounded by the fact that three times on the day I watched as my horses were passed in the final furlong. A spot play on Tiger Woodman in the eighth race saw the 13/1 shot come up a neck short at the wire. Brutal.
The only solace of the afternoon was the wire-to-wire win by Evening Jewel in the Grade 1 Ashland at odds of 5/1. A nice win bet on that filly helped to lessen the losses for the day.
If we've learned anything from the first two days of the spring meet it should be this: horses can win from practically any position on the track. We've seen closers, mid-packers, stalkers, and early speed all win at one point or another on both the main track and the turf course. The track appears to be extremely fair, and as a player you really can't ask for anything more.
On to day three...
Race 1: $25K Starter Allowance, 1 3/16 Miles, 4yo & up
There's a lot to like about 6-Whirling Thunder (3/1) in the first race of the day: he's coming into this race off a string of solid outings in starter allowances races, he's got tactical speed, Garret Gomez will ride for the first time, and the last time he was at Keeneland he ran very well over the Polytrack. And at 3/1 on the morning line, he may even off a little bit of value when they load into the gate.
Race 2: $16K Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, 4yo & up, Fillies & Mares
I think that the ML favorite in this race, 6-Loveyou Everybody (2/1), could be a little bit suspect and vulnerable. She's taking a big drop in class from her last effort ($50K) after competing decently at the 50K and 30K levels. That could mean she's in for a fire sale. Now, it's possible that even at a fire sale she's much better than the rest of these, but she looks even more vulnerable when you throw in a so-so record on synthetic surfaces (especially her last three); I think she's a stand against at 2/1.
My upset pick, 8-Fortheboysatthebar (7/2), is coming off a couple of dull performances at the Fair Grounds over the main track and the turf course, but I'm willing to toss those out completely. Prior to both of those races she ran quite well while sprinting over the synthetic at Keeneland and Presque Isle Downs. She also sports a 3-1-1-1 record on this track.
Race 3: Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/8 Miles, 4yo & up
6-Elusive Beat has the flashy numbers on his past performance lines (back-to-back 86 Beyers at Gulfstream) but I wonder if his late running style will be a little compromised in this spot as there doesn't appear to be a ton of speed. He might have a little too much to do in the lane.
2-Spanish Art (3/1) has run very well in a previous attempt at Keeneland and comes into this race off a sharp effort in a Gulfstream maiden race over the lawn. His stalking style should fit perfectly in a race without any blazing speed and he could find himself in the garden spot as they come off the final turn.
I doubt this colt will be near 3/1 when the race goes off, but if he is he seems like the logical choice.
Race 4: $32K Claiming N2L, 7 furlongs, 3yo & up
Ah, the conditioned claimer, usually the type of race where I'm looking for a horse coming out of a tough open company claiming or N1X allowance event that could use the class relief. I really didn't find any horse fitting that profile to my liking in this race so I ended up going with a possible price play, 9-Tangled Sheets (15/1). This colt is pretty suspect on class but I like his recent three solid outings sprinting at Turfway. He ran in an open $50K race at Keeneland last fall and handled himself very well. If he can run back to that form he could spring a surprise.
4-Proud Ruler's back class on dirt suggests that he could tower over this field if he takes to the surface. That's a big "if" as he's never tried a synthetic track before and his only turf race was an utter disaster. Still, he might have some enticing value on the board.
Race 5: N1X Allowance, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf), 3yo
I didn't find anything to my liking in this spot which means I'll pass this race.
Race 6: $50K Claiming, 7 furlongs, 4yo & up
The first leg of the late Pick 4 is a race where I see two horses as the main contenders for the top prize. 4-West Express (10/1) flopped badly in his last effort (his first off the bench) but has displayed good form in his previous runs at Keeneland at this distance. This colt has the ability to sit right up on the pace and should get a good trip sitting behind the cheap speed, 8-Spectacular Kid (30/1).
If West Express doesn't have enough in the tank to get it done then the ultra consistent 11-Moyer's Pond (9/2) could be right there to snap up the win. It's a little concerning that this gelding has run 2nd or 3rd 17 times in 30 lifetime starts but he appears to fit in very well at the class level.
Race 7: N2X Allowance, 1 Mile (Turf), 4yo & up, Fillies & Mares
5-Bluegrass Princess (3/1) was probably in over her head in that last start in the Grade 3 Honey Fox at Gulfstream and should appreciate the drop into a much softer race. Take note of her final quarter mile fraction of 21.91 in that last effort - that is exceptionally fast and came after she ran honest splits over the first six furlongs (24.58, 24.47, and 23.60). If Leparoux can keep her a little closer she might just blow by this field in the stretch.
The Irish filly, 7-Miss Keller (IRE), is going to take a lot of action at the windows due to her back class but I'm of the opinion that she's going to want a lot more distance than what she's going to find today. Her two wins in Europe were at a 1 3/16 miles and 1 5/16 miles, and her best run in the U.S. occurred in a 1 1/16 miles race over a yielding Keeneland course last fall. Class wise she fits perfectly but I don't know if she's got the speed to keep up early.
The Carl Nafzger trainee, 3-Sweetest Song (5/1), might be able to spring the upset if things break right for her. She's coming in off a sharp win against N1X company at Gulfstream last time out and she picks up a very hot rider in Robby Albarado. She'll need to step up her game against these but you have to respect Nafzger; he doesn't run many horses these days but the ones he does run still win at a good clip.
Race 8: Grade 2 Beaumont, 7 furlongs, 3yo Fillies
I didn't come up with anything too interesting in the Beaumont as 3-Franny Freud (9/5) looks like the one to beat in this field. I do, however, believe that 2-Diva Delite (5/2) is a pure bet against in this spot given her lack of synthetic form. She's only lost two races in her last ten and both of those came over the turf. All her success is over dirt, a fact that makes her a bad bet at 5/2, in my opinion.
Race 9: Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/16 Miles, 3yo Fillies
This Pick 4 may pay very well if only for this incredibly tough final leg. The Mott trainee is 2/1 on the ML (9-Pearly Blue), but she doesn't look like any kind of lock in this race. Fact is, this looks like a race where the player will have to either have a great opinion or will have to spread deep in order to get the winner.
I wasn't able to come up with a great opinion and will likely pass the race which will at least spare me from looking at another losing late Daily Double ticket.