Keeneland Horse Racing Analysis for April 10

Keeneland hosts a sensational 11-race card on Saturday
Keeneland hosts a sensational 11-race card on Saturday

The G3 Lexington, one of the last chances for horses to earn qualifying points toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby, along with the G1 Jenny Wiley highlight Saturday's card at Keeneland. Fresh off a strong couple days, our in-house handicapper is back with picks for the whole card and additional analysis of his best value plays throughout the day.

If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Saturday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

Horse Racing Picks

Race 4

Since the potential favorites in this race seem vulnerable, I’m taking a shot with British Royalty (#6), who makes his first start as 3-year-old for trainer Barbara Minshall. This horse was sensational in his debut at Woodbine last year when he was shuffled back to last at the start and still surged home an easy winner over some pretty good competition. Something clearly went awry in his next start in the Coronation Futurity as he did virtually no running, and he was promptly put away for the remainder of the year. He certainly has some questions to answer here as he hasn’t run in over five months, however he adds blinkers and may just be catching the right group as he makes his turf debut, which his pedigree suggests is going to be his preferred surface. I could see him drifting up from his morning-line odds of 8-1 into double-digit territory, and I think that’s a very appealing price.

The main reason I believe British Royalty is going to offer value in this race, however, is due to the presence of a few surefire underlays. Admittedly, I am quite worried about Fulsome (#1) as he drops out of a live stakes race at Fair Grounds, however since he’s part of a coupled entry with Floriform (#1a) he’s almost guaranteed to be too short a price. I also expect Aviano (#4) to be overbet in this race. It’s true his trainer Todd Pletcher has been on fire at the meet, but Pletcher does just as well at Gulfstream Park, where Aviano failed to impress in a pair of maiden events, though he did win his last start. Between these two hot betting entities there should be plenty of value to be had with British Royalty.

Race 7

It looks like the sun may finally be setting on Silver Dust (#5) as he enters the G3 Ben Ali off a pair of dismal efforts and is now 7-years-old, however I’m expecting him to rebound in this spot for trainer Bret Calhoun. A usually reliable graded-stakes runner, Silver Dust was distanced in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile to close out his 2020 campaign and that was curiously moved to turf for his seasonal bow, which predictably did not go well for this confirmed dirt horse. Those two races give the impression that his best days are behind him, but in the past Calhoun has used turf races to set his stakes horses up for bigger main-track assignments, and I think that’s exactly what we’re seeing here. Silver Dust has always been an overachiever throughout his career, and this is a race that his name written all over it if we see the good version of him show up. Since Calhoun has been talking as if this gelding should have a fruitful year ahead, I see no reason to overreact to his recent flops and am expecting him to bounce back at fair odds.

Race 9

There’s no question Proxy (#7) is the horse to beat in the G3 Lexington as he’s earned a string of Beyer Speed Figures in the 90’s that tower over this field, but this does feel like a bit of a desperate move to get him into the Derby after he failed to earn a significant number of qualifying points at Fair Grounds. A Godolphin homebred with a sparkling pedigree, Proxy really came alive in Louisiana over the winter for trainer Mike Stidham and acquitted himself well in all three preps at Fair Grounds, including last time when he added blinkers for the G2 Louisiana Derby. If he runs back to those efforts he’s going to be very tough to beat, however this race is obviously a Plan B for him as he runs the risk of being left out of the Derby field with his current number of points. As a heavy favorite in the Lexington, I think it’s worth taking a couple shots against him.

My preference in this race are a pair of compelling up-and-comers, Noble Reflection (#1) and Swiftsure (#2), who are stretching out in distance following sharp sprint scores at Oaklawn Park. They may not yet be able to rival Proxy in terms of speed figures, but these two clearly have an abundance of talent and pedigree to handle this trip. That probably applies more to Noble Reflection, who is going to be a bigger price and as such is my top pick in the Lexington. A son of versatile sire Liam’s Map out of a Tiznow mare, Noble Reflection dusted a field of maidens on March 7 at Oaklawn and the runner-up has since come back to win, corroborating the 89 Beyer this guy earned in victory. He’s giving up experience to most of this field, but the future is obviously very bright and he’s drawn well for his first stakes test. At double-digit odds I think he’s a worthy bet in this race.

Race 10

If Juliet Foxtrot (#3) doesn’t go off favored in the G1 Jenny Wiley, I’m not even sure what we’re doing here. Yes, she needed a race to begin her 2020 campaign when she finished sixth as the favorite in the G3 Mint Julep, but that was only to set her up for this same race, in which she finished a strong third and may have won with a more aggressive ride. She was a little bit up and down last year, but when she’s on her game this mare is clearly better than her competition in the Jenny Wiley, and I think she’s going to be primed for this race by trainer Brad Cox, who especially targets big turf races at Keeneland.

A big reason Juliet Foxtrot might not be the favorite in this race is an uncoupled pair from the barn of Chad Brown. While Brown is also a name to be feared in turf stakes, neither of his entrants do much for me. Tamahere (#2) is probably going to be the shorter price of the two and could improve as she makes her 4-year-old debut, however she beat up on a weak group in the G2 Sands Point in her North American debut and was no match for Juliet Foxtrot in the G1 Matriarch to close out the year.

Despite being a G1 winner, I have even less interest in Brown’s other runner, Etoile (#4). This mare won one of the softest G1 races you will ever see in the 2020 edition of the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine, and it certainly seems like she’s better suited to longer distances than this.

In my opinion, the most likely upsetter of Juliet Foxtrot is Micheline (#1). She’s another I think probably wants more ground than this, but her return to the races in 2021 in the G2 Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs was definitely encouraging given her trainer Mike Stidham’s adamance that she was a couple works short of her best heading into the race. Micheline ran really well in the G1 QE II Cup over this turf course to close out her sophomore campaign and if she moves forward off her victory in the Hillsborough she’s a clear-cut contender here.

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