Keeneland Horse Racing Analysis for April 15
With no rain in the forecast for Thursday, turf racing can hopefully resume at Keeneland on what promises to be a terrific card. As always, our in-house handicapper has made picks for every race and additionally has provided detailed analysis of his best value plays throughout the day.
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This is a really fun allowance event that could be a borderline stakes race, and you could build a case for almost every runner in this 12-horse field. With so many different options I think it’s imperative to not settle on a short price, which is why I landed on Argentello (#5) as my top pick. This European import flashed some ability last year in a minor stake at Indiana Grand, but it wasn’t until this past meet at Fair Grounds that he really came alive in the States. He ran a terrific third in the Diliberto Memorial to close out 2020, then came back to run another fantastic race in a stakes-quality optional claimer on March 7. The 93 Beyer Speed Figure Argentello earned in victory that day stacks up nicely against this bunch, but I think that race is even better than it looks as he missed the break and had to rally from off a tepid pace to reel in Spectacular Gem, who is a very talented turfer. I think this horse is in excellent form at the moment and he’s likely going to be underestimated in this spot simply because he’s trained by the low-percentage Conor Murphy. There’s plenty of speed to set up his late kick and he should be storming home late at generous odds.
Coming out of the same race as Argentello, I’m also interested in Artie’s Rumor (#2). I’ve never really been much of a fan of his, at least not at this level of competition, however I think he may have turned a corner in his last start when he was held up a bit in traffic and was matching strides with Argentello. I believe Artie’s Rumor quietly took a step forward in that race and he ran one of the best races of his career over this turf course last year in his first start with trainer Mike Maker. It’s not often you get a decent price on a Maker turf horse at Keeneland, but that should be the case with this one.
Those who read my analysis with any regularity know I’m a sucker for Joel Rosario in turf sprints, so it should come as no surprise that I’m picking Joker On Jack (#8) in this race, who also happens to be the “other” Wesley Ward runner. Rosario and Ward are just about the best team imaginable when it comes to turf sprints, and although Joker On Jack finished a well-beaten seventh in his lone try on this surface, that race came in Europe and he has a plethora of turf pedigree. His comeback at Turfway Park at the end of 2020 was very encouraging as he defeated a next-out stakes winner in that spot, and I’m anticipating a career-best performance from him here given the potent connections he has in his corner. Despite what the morning line says, I think his stablemate Maven (#3) is going to go off favored, and Joker On Jack may not even be second choice in the wagering. If that proves to be the case he’s going to be a solid play in this race.
Mischiefful (#2) is the horse to beat in the day’s featured eighth race. I didn’t think much of her debut on February 7 at Gulfstream Park, but she took a huge step forward a month later over the same track, breaking on top and dusting a good field of maidens. Obviously if she runs back to the 82 Beyer she earned for that performance she’s going to be very tough to beat, and I see no reason why she can’t replicate or even exceed it in this spot.
I have a good deal of respect for Mischiefful, however I think Dealing Justice (#6) is a worthy challenger. If not for a disastrous outing last out in the Ruthless at Aqueduct, this filly would likely vie for favoritism here as her first two starts are every bit as good as Mischiefful’s, if not better. Dealing Justice’s two back maiden score was a rock-solid effort corroborated by the third-place finisher coming back to dominate a group of maidens at the Big A, and it just so happens that victory marked her only race with Lasix to date. I don’t think trainer Ray Handal would be shipping this filly to Keeneland without just cause, and I’m expecting her to bounce back at a fair price.
One filly I won’t be using at all is R Working Girl (#7). Her debut win at the Big A was quite slow despite her riding a gold rail throughout. She’s going to take money for the sole reason she’s trained by Wesley Ward, and while she could certainly improve in her second start for Ward as she adds Lasix, she’s likely to be a significant underlay.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Talking Book run on Wednesday, whose performance would’ve been a good barometer for Coastana (#2) in this race. Coastana finished just behind Talking Book, a contender in an allowance race on Wednesday before it was washed off the turf, in her last race at Gulfstream and arguably had the worse trip. The race came back fast (a 77 Beyer for Coastana) and a repeat of that performance is clearly going to be tough for anyone to overcome. I think you have to use Coastana if you’re playing any multi-race wagers, however there is a filly I like even more at a much better price.
Ballymore Star (#10) was a value play of mine last out at the Gulfstream Park Championship Meet based on a tough trip in the middle of her sophomore year at Woodbine, and all in all I thought she ran pretty well at 9-1 in her 4-year-old debut even though she had to settle for second. Ballymore Star broke well in that race and was taken back to sit just off the pace, which proved to be her undoing as she couldn’t get out from cover in time in the stretch and had to rally in and among horses as the winner sailed by. This Sea The Stars filly finished well in that spot, especially considering the circumstances, and you have to think the stretch-out to 1 ⅛ miles is going to be advantageous for her. It’s also noteworthy that she was entered in the same allowance race as Talking Book on Wednesday, which is certainly a vote of confidence for this maiden. Anywhere near her 6-1 morning-line odds would represent excellent value.
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