A wild day at Keeneland on Thursday, as one of the heaviest favorites of the meet, Informed Decision, fell in her first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. The champion sprinter got the positioning and the set up that she wanted but didn’t have anything in the tank when it was time to do the serious running in the lane. Dr. Zic and Kent Desormeaux controlled the race from the word go and paid a big $33.40 for the win.
Heavily favored Nicanor could only watch as long shot Unbridle’s Dream and jockey Shaun Bridgmohan went wire to wire to score at 20/1 in the seventh race. Nicanor stalked the lone speed early on but faded to fifth in deep stretch.
The idea that speed doesn’t hold or can’t win on the Polytrack is clearly fiction, and the results of the first four days of this meet bear that out. Sure, Keeneland isn’t the early speed, inside highway that it was under the old dirt surface, but there are plenty of speed horses that have succeeded over the Polytrack. Just on Thursday alone, five of the seven Polytrack races were won by horses leading ½ mile into the race, and four of those horses led at every point in the race, including Dr. Zic, the upset winner of the Grade 1 Vinery Madison. Early speed has also done well on the Keeneland turf course.
Day five will feature the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile, a one mile turf event for horses four years old and upward. Coming into this race off a second in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap is 6-Court Vision (6/5). A consistent grade 1 performer over the last year or so, Court Vision owns a decided class advantage over the rest of this field and is a deserving favorite in this race. Additionally, speed has held well on the Keeneland turf course which should play well to Court Vision tactical abilities.
The pacesetter will likely be the 5-Karelian (5/2), fresh of a wire-to-wire victory over the Tampa turf course in late February. Karelian has run decently against this level of competition in the past, finishing second in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile during the last Keeneland fall meet. Still, it appears his best chance will be to try and lead the whole way and with the likelihood of the favorite tracking him all the way, that will be a difficult task.
There’s not a whole lot else that I really liked on this Friday card, perhaps I need a day to recharge after getting my butt kicked yesterday. The fifth race might present a little bit of a decent opportunity given the success of speed over the turf course. The 2-Anarko (CHI) if facing a tough group of Grade 3 experience horses but he’s really the only one in the field that wants to get out and take the field all the way around the track. At 10/1 on the ML, he might be a good lone speed play in this spot.
The other turf race on the card is the seventh, a N2X Allowance race for fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth. 12-Tottie (GB) is coming off a nice score in a Grade 3 event down at Gulfstream and will try and continue the trend of Gulfstream shippers winning everything in sight here at Keeneland. The odds won’t be great on this filly (7/2 on the ML), but she’s got all the signs of a winner.
Christophe Clement’s 7-Demonination (4/1) is coming off of a lay-off of over four months but he’s certainly got the back class to compete in this race. The edge is with Tottie due to his recent winning effort, but Demonination is certainly a threat.