Keeneland Horse Racing Analysis for April 11

Keeneland wraps up the week with a nine-race card on Sunday
Keeneland wraps up the week with a nine-race card on Sunday

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Another nine-race card is on tap for Sunday at Keeneland. As usual, our in-house handicapper has provided his best value plays of the day, as well as picks for the whole card.

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Horse Racing Picks

Race 3

Normally races like this give me a complete headache and I simply avoid them, however I think I may have found a diamond in the rough with How Lucky (#4). Even by maiden claiming standards this is not a good field and many of the short-priced contenders are unknowns on dirt, so I think the race sets up nicely for longshot How Lucky, who has some familiarity with this track having run acceptably over it in her debut last year. She shifted to Turfway Park for the winter to run on the synthetic track there, where her form looks pretty dreadful on its face but is actually not that bad. Her first start at Turfway came behind one of the most impressive 3-year-old maiden winners at the meet, and though she followed it up with a poor performance she ran deceptively well in her last start, which was her first with blinkers. How Lucky broke well in that spot, showing improved early speed with blinkers, and tracked a fast pace before she was completely shuffled out of the race leaving the far turn. Although she didn’t have much kick in the stretch, that’s understandable given the early fractions she carved out. There’s a good chance that she prefers dirt based on her first-out effort at Keeneland, and I believe she’s quietly in good form as she also gets to run at the track she’s based at. At double-digit odds, I think she could rise above the miasma of this maiden claimer to prevail.


Race 5

I don’t love any of the likely favorites in this race. Get the Prize (#4) was given the nod on the morning line at odds of 2-1, but although he emerged victorious in his 2021 debut, it wasn’t a particularly fast race. At one point in his career he’d be a very deserving favorite, but he’s been plagued by long layoffs since 2019 and it’s clear he’s not the same horse he was as a 3-year-old.

The same can be said for Dean Martini (#1), who just hasn’t backed up his improbable win in last year’s G3 Ohio Derby. He’s run reasonably well since that time, however he’s failed to make much of an impression in any of his recent starts and it’s unclear if a turnback in distance will be beneficial to him.

I think the talented Banks Island (#2) makes the most sense of the short-priced options in this race, but he’s been off for a long time so it’s probably wise to be skeptical of his chances, which is why I landed on Bybee (#3) as my top pick. He may not have the flashy speed figures of a few others in this field, but he’s such an honest runner and has been getting incrementally better as of late. He’s a horse that does not need to carry his racetrack around with him, and with so many questions surrounding the favorites I’m expecting him to deliver another solid performance and outrun his odds.


Race 8

Palace Avenger (#2) is likely to go off favored in the day’s feature, and while I have no major knocks on her it does feel as though she’s going to be too short a price. This filly put together a strong 3-year-old campaign that culminated in a third-place finish in the G2 TCA, but she’s been off for a long time since that race and may need to improve to win. At a very short price I’m willing to take a few shots against her.

The obvious alternative, and my top pick in this race, is Club Car (#4). Despite not having won over the local strip, this mare has always struck me as something of a horse-for-course at Keeneland, so I’m impressed with how well she ran over the winter at Laurel Park. It looks like her last race was a step in the wrong direction as she finished a distant third in the G2 Barbara Fritchie with a 76 Beyer Speed Figure, but he did so without Lasix and the runner-up from that race, Estilo Talentoso, came back to place second in the G1 Madison here last weekend. It may not look it on paper, but I believe Club Car is the most talented runner in this field and given the run her trainer Ben Colebrook is on at the meet she should be ready to fire a big one in this spot.

The other filly I’d strongly consider in this race is Call On Mischief (#1). I don’t have nearly the same kind of conviction in her as I do in Club Car, but I have to admit she ran a big race last out in the Correction at Aqueduct Racetrack when she was a little wide on a day the rail was golden. If she’s able to duplicate that race here, which is a big if, then she’s going to be a major player.

 

Race 9

This is a pretty eclectic group of maidens to close things out with. While favoritism might go to the returning Black Sand (#7) for trainer Chad Brown, I actually think Dancefortheempire (#4) is the filly to beat. Black Sand was a heavy favorite in her debut last summer at Saratoga Race Course, but she really didn’t show too much in that spot, whereas Dancefortheempire made a positive impression in her first start last month at Fair Grounds. Despite breaking slowly and running wide every step behind a dawdling early pace, Dancefortheempire still finished well in the stretch and was able to make up some ground on the winner. Her trainer Brendan Walsh excels with second-time starters and I think this filly is set to move forward off that effort, which is going to make her tough to beat.

I have a lot of respect for Dancefortheempire, but I can’t resist picking Picasso Collection (#5), who has been in my stable mail since her debut over this turf course last fall. While that race appears to be quite slow, I think it’s much stronger than it looks considering she nearly came from the clouds to win despite closing into a glacial pace. Furthermore, the fillies that finished around her have gone on to run much faster in subsequent tries, and although Picasso Collection herself has been underwhelming since, she’s been running on synth at Turfway Park and I think it’s clear from her first start that turf is her preferred surface. Her trainer Paulo Lobo hasn’t been very active so far at the meet, but he was rolling here last fall, and I think he has a live one on his hands here as Joel Rosario is named to ride. I sincerely hope she drifts up from her 5-1 morning-line odds, but either way I think she has a big chance.

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