The 1st Keeneland Saturday always brings a loaded stakes schedule ... for a mere 50 cents, retail horseplayers can enjoy a card that is loaded with talent. With some long shots possible, it could make for a giant payday. This Saturday's 11-race card is sure to be a challenging one for even the most-seasoned handicappers.
If you are looking for a unique wager, then maybe you should try the new Turf Pick 3 play. The $3 minimum wager will comprise the final 3 turf races of the day, and offer the low takeout of 15%. Should be a solid bet for all your grass fans out there.
At Horseracing.net/us we have you covered, including all of the wonderful Keeneland pomp and circumstance! It is a good time for some of the best that North American racing has to offer. Stay tuned!
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country this Saturday be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
LEG 1: (Race 6: Turf, 5½F, Woodford S. (G2), $200k, 3+)
Kicking off this All-Stakes Pick 5 sequence is this staple at the Fall Stars Meet. The Woodford (both a county and a bourbon) is a Grade 2 mainstay, and brings together a hard-knocking group of turf sprinters. Of course, Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal #2 is an international traveler of some renown. The Uncle Mo colt will be a very short price on Saturday with Johnny V, and is the “deserving favorite,” even though he failed to even hit the board over in York in the Group 1 Nunthorpe. That should matter little when it comes to this particular spot.
There is really only one other rival in here that has even a remote shot to take him on—Brendan Walsh’s Extravagant Kid #6. The title holder of the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) on Dubai WC Night, returns to the U.S. after a long stay overseas. The seasoned 8-yr-old has Keeneland Haggin experience, and he was 2nd in the 2020 edition of this race. Still, I am not sure he has the jets to be able to keep up with Ward’s ace. To my eye, this is a glaring “Single,” as the “Pal” returns to his home base of operations. His devastating early kick, a signature of his conditioner, should be enough to get this Grade 2 pocketed. Moving on …
Selections: 2 (Single)
LEG 2: (Race 7: Dirt, 6F, Thoroughbred Club of America S. (G2), $250k, F&M 3+)
A short field of 6 is where we find ourselves in this 2nd Leg of the All-Stakes Pick 5. Nothing easy about a dirt sprint that offers entry into the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). Unless I miss my educated guess, this looks to be a 3-horse race. Frank’s Rockette #1 will be breaking from the inside, and the Bill Mott-trained filly is by Into Mischief, which will raise some eyebrows. When it comes to running in “Non-G” Co., this one is tactically successful. He tried the BC Sprint from a year ago at Keeneland (the one where Whitmore surprised everyone). Even though he was 11th in the end, it was always going to be a very tough spot. Junior Alvarado comes to Keeneland, which is rare, so Mott must think something is afoot to bring him all the way to the Bluegrass. I like the connection’s chances … and this filly’s running style.
Opposing her on the tote is both Juan Arriagada’s Estilo Talentoso #4 and Neil Pessin’s Bell’s the One #6. Both of these runners will take money, and they have deep experience in spots like these. Pessin’s 5-yr-old mare (his greatest charge – over $1 million in earnings) is accomplished, but the Lothenbach-owned speed specialist is not without weaknesses. Her late power generally needs some pace to run into. If she does not have the chance to catch the leaders, then it will make for a long day. When it comes to a “sleeper pick,” I am plussed by the hidden back class of Club Car #2 from the barn of Ben Colebrook. The trainer knows Keeneland through and through, and his mare by Malibu Moon may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts. Getting top jockey Tyler Gaffalione to ride is a tick, and the last time she was at Keeneland at the April Meet, she clearly liked the “good” track … delivering a nice win.
This is a much tougher race than it looks … hence, the reason to go a bit deeper. I am purposely spurning the top 2, in order to seek value elsewhere. That might be a crucial decision based on what is coming in this tough line-up!
Selections: 1/2 (2-Deep)
LEG 3: (Race 8: Turf, 1 Mile, First Lady S. (G1), $400k, F&M 3+)
As we head towards the latter half of the plays, it is not going to get any easier … This year’s First Lady, a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" contest for the Maker's Mark Filly & Mare Turf (G1), looks as tough as it ever has ... what with a full-field of female turfers. Whoever can get on or near the lead (setting the pace or tracking it) might have the inside edge. We will not know how the Haggin is setting up going into Saturday, so maybe some clues will present themselves earlier on in the card … that is if those events are not “off.”
When it comes to a top selection, I am pretty keen on one-half of Chad Brown’s uncoupled entry, Viadera #13. I know most ‘cappers will knock the outside post position, arguing that it is just too easy to be taken out of the game early. I am not worried about this because the 5-yr-old mare by Bated Breath (GB) is a late turn-of-foot type. She comes from off-the-pace, and can handle this distance very easily. The defection of Joel Rosario to Blowout #9 is not a loss per se, since Florent Geroux is a worthy sub. In fact, I am going to include both of these “Browns” on my ticket. Both are loaded with class …
Looking through the rest of this card, it would be quite simple to just hit the “All” button and be done with things. But the next race, the Breeders’ Futurity, is so tough that we need to save our strength. I do want to include the 2 European outsides though before we move on. Both Aidan O’Brien’s Empress Josephine #2 and Charlie Appleby’s Althiqa #3 have deep turf lines through their respective bloodlines. Of course, American horseplayers have already seen how Appleby’s Godolphin homebred can bring a devastating leg kick to bear (she has a BC ticket already). I think O’Brien’s filly by the now deceased Galileo can be just as dominant. She only needs a chance …
What a race this is going to be turf fans! Whoa nelly …
We arrive at a race that is not for the faint of heart. With both a trip to the BC Juvenile (G1) and Kentucky Derby Points on the line, it is more than just a little meaningful. Talk about a pretty “even” sort of contest … you could make the case for pretty much anyone in this Grade 1. Wading into it, Steve Asmussen's Stellar Tap #3 is a logical one as he runs back. In the Iroquois (G3) during the shortened September Churchill Meet the Tapit colt did not live up to being the "favorite.” Towards the top of the lane, it was evident that Major General had it wrapped up. Ricardo Santana could only watch … Still, this runner is a play, if the price hovers around 3/1 or higher.
When it comes to others, I am always keen on the Ellis Park alums. They can rumble (and make headlines by running down the highway!), despite some bettors thinking they are not up for running elsewhere. Mr. Bouma #2 appears promising from the barn of old school conditioner, Dale Romans. This budding speedster by Candy Ride (ARG) was a pricey colt, as he went for $370k at the Keeneland September Sale last year. The Albaughs have Corey Lanerie in their corner for the 3rd time, and even though Romans does not have the numbers he once did, I like this particular spot for an upset at a boxcar price.
When it comes to local Bluegrass trainers, the Brisset Barn is always in the thick of it. Great Escape #9, by Midnight Storm, is a colt looking to put together a pair of victories. He was fab scoring a "W" at Churchill Downs in a MSW120k event. The speed fig that day was high, and if Tyler Gaffalione can have that kind of throttle at his disposal, it could be another victory. One other local trainer I must consider is Kenny McPeek’s entry. Rattle N Roll #6 also scored @CD in a MSW120k, winning by 3-lengths. Brian Hernandez has the ability to be a leading rider, and I would not count this mount out at all!
When you are previewing a race as challenging as this one is, it’s always smart to think differently. A couple of other entries that could be major prices include Chris Davis' American Sanctuary #7 and Brittany Vanden Berg's King Curlin #8. The former has experience at Arlington, Prairie Meadows, and Monmouth. Sophie Doyle, a rider who comes in and out of major meets, gets the call again. The latter entry, a colt by super-dad Curlin, comes down from the now-closed Arlington Park. Vanden Berg is a former jockey who turned to conditioning, and she is excellent across-the-board. She gives the nod to Chris Emigh @KEE, as his mount makes the intriguing switch from the Kentucky Downs turf (2nd-MSW135k) to the MT in Lexington.
That should cover us in the horizontals … I am going to go with the 30/1 on the M/L, King Curlin #8 because expanding one’s mind could payoff handsomely. What a tough race! That comment does not quite cover it …
Selections: 2/3/6/7/8/9 (6-Deep)
LEG 5: (Race 10: Turf, 1 Mile, Keeneland Turf Mile S. (G1), $750k, 3+)
The finale is easily my favorite race of the day … I have a strong opinion in the Keeneland Turf Mile (G1), which is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” for the Fan Duel Mile (G1). Of course, most will look at Aidan O’Brien’s Order of Australia #10 and think that he can replicate that Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) win from nearly a year ago. I am not so sure, and I will wager that this one will get heavily bet. Ryan Moore is not in-town this time, and though Wayne Lordan has a wealth of experience, I do not think today is his.
I am much more interested in one of Mike Maker’s entries that is loaded with class, gets an accomplished lawn jockey, and will probably be double-digits on the tote right before this one goes off. Field Pass #12 might look rather beleaguered after a poor showing in the Fourstardave (G1) back at Saratoga in mid-August. The Three Diamonds miler can put that one behind him, because he is a pro when it comes to tackling tough races. The addition of Flavien Prat is excellent news, and he gets something extra out of every turf horse he rides.
I am chomping at the bit, so to speak, to back this one … perfect example of one who returns to Keeneland with much promise. Against an open field like this one, with no specific “deserving favorite,” it could happen that such a well-conditioned route specialist like this one, wins the day. It is Maker after all … at Keeneland. What a bet and a fitting way to finish off this ticket.