The Thursday sequence gets rolling with this grass-go, and it is going to be a tough way to begin. For once, Wesley Ward does not have a “live” entry, and instead is waiting in the wings with a MTO runner. If this somehow comes off the turf, Palace Avenger #12 will be a tough customer to beat.
As for the ones that are competing on the Haggin, I particularly like the look of trainer Chris Hartman’s Elle Z #9. Here is a filly by City Zip who looks the part. She’s had oodles of recent “Non-G” experience, and that should serve her well as she tries to get to the lead early. That could be a distinct possibility, considering she is breaking from that outside post. Last out at Ellis Park, she just did not have enough gas left in the tank in the end … maybe rider Mitch Murrill can keep that from happening again.
As for another alternative to this top selection, I am game to back Brendan Walsh’s seasoned mare by Noble Mission, a 5-yr-old named Amazima #6. She has tried hard in this form cycle, and looks promising because not only is she going to be a double-digit price, but she also gets the services of Julien Leparoux. Her last race was particularly inviting since she was up against some tough foes at Woodbine in an OC62.5k race. Her conditioner is going with the “blinks,” and that could help sharpen her focus, in this particular spot. Going 2-Deep, should cover us as we move on …
Selections: 6/9/12 (AE) (2/3-Deep)
LEG 2: (Race 7: Dirt, 7F, MSW84k, 2)
After going on the turf, we switch back to the MT for this group of untested colts/geldings. This is anyone’s game, and if we are going to get a big price, it could emanate from this quadrant. Of course, when it comes to the flow of money, most will be swayed by the Winchell homebred Magazine Street #10, trained by HOF Steve Asmussen. A first-time starter, it is hard to really know whether this one is going to know what is going on around 1-turn. The colt by Gun Runner (a very popular sire right now), has been working well, but even with Ricardo Santana, this is a big “ask.”
As far as a top choice goes, I am excited to see Brendan Walsh’s Coffee With Alex #9 canter out for his 2nd career race. The son of Quality Road (a recent retiree from the biz) flashed some speed back at Churchill Downs in late September, and outran his odds of 12/1—finishing 3rd. If Walsh’s charge can build on that performance, then he could have a shot at breaking his maiden … something elusive to many. As for whom to choose on the LP4 ticket, I am a fan of hitting the “ALL” button in a spot like this one. It seems to be the best course of action, and one that can give us the best chance …
Selections: 1-12 (All)
LEG 3: (Race 8: Turf, 1 1/16th, ALLW88k, 3+)
This particular class is as difficult as they come at Keeneland … it is time to head back to the turf for a high-level ALLW Co. contest. I am thinking that Mike Maker’s Absam #3 and Paulo Lobo’s Vintage Print #9 have the inside track when it comes to my vote. Either is well-bred for the grass, and Lobo is as unheralded a trainer as you can find in America. He is headed to the Breeders’ Cup next week and has the ability to make an impact wherever he enters.
I like this pair, but I am also swayed by Joe Sharp’s Fortuity #8. When I see offspring of The Factor (a former runner of Bob Baffert), I am thinking that they have a legitimate shot to score. This one was pretty game at Kentucky Downs back in September, and the gelding has a chance to improve on his 3rd place finish. He was up against some tough company going 1 5/16ths, so the cutback could be an advantage. The 4-yr-old lost his position at the top of the lane, only to re-rally with a furlong to go. That kind of effort could be something to build on as he rolls into Keeneland. Nothing like late gears …
I am plussed by these 3, and hope to ride one of them to victory …
Selections: 3/8/9 (3-Deep)
LEG 4: (Race 9: Dirt, 6½F, MC150k, 2)
If you are looking to end on a puzzle, then here it is … Most of the dozen that are drawn in here are rejects from the MSW Division, and they are after some low hanging fruit. They may not find it because this will be a tough contest. In the end, I think the way to go is to “Single.” The way is clear … go with Brad Cox and Florent Geroux. The 2 were formidable yesterday, and they can be again in this one. Rome #6 looks promising after coming in 2nd at Churchill Downs in a similar race. That was on a messy day under the Twin Spires, and I am hoping that his 3rd career race will offer a score. Sons and daughters of Empire Maker can be notoriously precocious, and I think this one has the makings of a fighter. Cox’s reputation precedes him, and as he gets ready for the trip to Del Mar, he manages every single detail no matter what level of race he is entering. Speaking of “Singles,” that is what I am choosing to do in the finale. Let’s go cash a ticket!