Keeneland Horse Racing Analysis for April 23

Friday's 10-race card marks the end of the Keeneland Spring Meet
Friday's 10-race card marks the end of the Keeneland Spring Meet

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Alas, we must bid farewell to Keeneland for the season on Friday with 10 races led by the G3 Bewitch for older fillies and mares at a mile and a half on turf. As usual, our in-house handicapper has made picks for every race and has additionally provided detailed analysis of his best value plays of the day as he looks to cap off a strong meet.

Horse Racing Entries

Race 1

Closing Day at Keeneland begins with an interesting turf sprint for 2-year-olds led by an uncoupled entry from the barn of who else but Welsey Ward. Listed as the even-money morning-line favorite, Napa Spirit (#5) is going to be the better fancied of the two on the basis of an ostensibly strong worktab on turf at Palm Meadows, however upon going back and watching a few of those breezes I’m not entirely convinced he’s some lights-out prospect. It is tough to glean much from those three-furlong jaunts, but I just wasn’t in love with what I saw, which makes me want to play against him at a short price.

The other Ward runner, Magniloquent (#4), is even harder to get behind as he came up completely empty in his debut on dirt here earlier in the meet. His sire American Pharoah’s progeny have strong preferred turf racing, however Magniloquent’s damside is more geared to dirt, so I’m skeptical he’s going to have a complete reversal of form in this spot.

It’s not often the door seems to be left open a crack when you have two Ward babies in the same race, but I believe that could be the case here, which is why my top pick is Jack Backed (#6) for trainer Robert McCutchen. Nothing about this horse screams debut winner, however as I delved deeper into his breeding and McCutchen’s exploits, along with what appears to be a decent worktab on dirt for this guy, the more I came away feeling he’s going to be live. His pedigree isn’t going to wow anyone, but Jack Milton has been a potent turf sire thus far and has been particularly good with 2-year-olds, a category McCutchen himself does quite well with. While his main-track works aren’t spectacular, they do hint at him having some ability, especially considering it’s probably not even his preferred surface. Given the low-profile connections involved with Jack Backed and the two Ward runners I think you’re almost guaranteed a fair price, and I suspect this one can run.


Race 7

The only thing stopping this from being a vintage Keeneland turf allowance is the lack of a full field, but it’s certainly a wide-open race nonetheless. Because of that, I don’t want much to do with Ocean Atlantique (#5), who was a heavy favorite in his North American debut here on April 8 but ran rather evenly to be fifth under Irad Oritz, Jr. He adds blinkers for this race and stretches out to what is presumably a more appropriate distance for him, however he got a good trip in his last race and I’m just not enamored with him as the favorite.

I think Bakers Bay (#2) is the one you want coming out of the same race as Ocean Atlantique. Despite breaking his maiden at 6 ½ furlongs last year, Bakers Bay proved at the end of 2020 with an allowance win going 1 ⅜ miles at Aqueduct that he wants as much ground as possible, so I think he ran quite well last out considering. Furthermore, he was forced to rally through some traffic in the stretch that day and was beaten just 1 ¼ lengths by Ocean Atlantique with a tougher trip. Since he, too, figures to appreciate the added ground of this race, I believe he’s a far more sensible option at what should be double the price of the favorite.

Neither of these horses are all that imposing, however, which is why my top pick in this spot is Kentucky Ghost (#6). A son of Ghostzapper trained by Victoria Oliver, Kentucky Ghost made steady strides throughout his sophomore campaign in 2020, but he really took his game to another level in his 4-year-old debut on March 21 at Tampa Bay Downs. He was beating virtually nothing in that race, but he did it emphatically by 2 ¾ lengths with an 87 Beyer Speed Figure that compares favorably to the rest of this field, especially when you factor in his patient connections, who surely weren’t looking for a top effort from him to begin the year. It would seem Kentucky Ghost has really matured from 3 to 4, and if he takes another step forward here he’s going to be quite formidable.


Race 9

It pains me to pick against one of my favorites, War Like Goddess (#8), in the G3 Bewitch, but I have a feeling she’s going too short a price as she figures to come way down off her 7-2 morning-line odds. My decision certainly has nothing to do with her ability; I think she’s going to be one of the top runners in this division in 2021 as she has a devastating late kick at these marathon distances. However, her late-running style does leave her at the mercy of pace and it’s always tough to accept too low a price on such runners, and that’s to say nothing of the ability of the filly I did end up picking on top.

As much as I like War Like Goddess, I have to acknowledge the tantalizing upside of Dominga (#4), who makes her second start of the year for world-class trainer Brad Cox. I’ve never been much of a fan of this filly, but like Kentucky Ghost in Race 7, she returned a completely different animal in her 4-year-old unveiling in the Tom Benson Memorial on March 20 at Fair Grounds. Formerly a stone-cold closer as a sophomore, Dominga broke sharply and attended a rapid early pace in the Tom Benson. While it would have been understandable for her to cave in the stretch given the enervating fractions, she instead dug in grimly and finished a very game second before proceeding to gallop out in front of the field. That effort, particularly the way she looked even past the wire, portends well for her trying a marathon distance, and I really think she’s much-improved as a 4-year-old. Whereas War Like Goddess’ running style is always a little dicey in these races, the new dimension Dominga showed in the Tom Benson is going to give her a huge advantage here. At two or three times the price of War Like Goddess, I can’t resist giving her a try in this spot.

Sean's Keeneland 2021 Results
  • Date
  • Daily Winners / Places
  • Daily Biggest Winner / Place
  • Daily $
  • Overall $

Date

  • April 2
  • April 3
  • April 7
  • April 8
  • April 9
  • April 10
  • April 11
  • April 14
  • April 15
  • April 16
  • April 17
  • April 18
  • April 22
  • April 23
  • April 24

Daily Winners / Places

  • 3 Win / 6 Place
  • 3 Win / 5 Place
  • 4 Win / 5 Place
  • 4 Win / 6 Place
  • 2 Win / 5 Place
  • 4 Win / 5 Place
  • 3 Win / 3 Place
  • 3 Win / 4 Place
  • 0 Win / 3 Place
  • 2 Win / 4 Place
  • 4 Win / 4 Place
  • 2 Win / 7 Place
  • 2 Win / 3 Place
  • 4 Win / 6 Place
  • 1 Win / 6 Place

Daily Biggest Winner / Place

  • $10.20 (Win - R7)
  • $8.60 (Place - R7)
  • $13.00 (Win - R8)
  • $38 (Win R8)
  • $18.20 (Place - R5)
  • $14.40 (Win - R1)
  • $6.80 (Win - R8)
  • $13.00 (Win - R5)
  • $16.20 (Place - R1)
  • $6.80 (Win - R5)
  • $9.40 (Win - R10)
  • $30.60 (Win - R5)
  • $7.20 (Win - R2)
  • $9.60 (Win - R5)
  • $7.00 (Place - R1)

Daily $

  • $35.80
  • $39.60
  • $46.00
  • $77.40
  • $44.20
  • $55.80
  • $21.80
  • $38.20
  • $21.80
  • $22.00
  • $45.40
  • $72.30
  • $24.60
  • $45.10
  • $30.20

Overall $

  • $35.80
  • $75.40
  • $121.40
  • $198.80
  • $243.00
  • $298.80
  • $320.60
  • $358.80
  • $379.60
  • $401.60
  • $447.00
  • $519.30
  • $543.90
  • $589.00
  • $619.20
Keeneland Picks, Entries and Results

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