Closing Day at Keeneland this Saturday has arrived! Just like that ... the October Meet is in the books. We still have one more excellent card to go though ... and it is anchored by the Grade Hagyard Fayette Stakes. Take a look at this .50 Late Pick 4 ticket I have constructed below.
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Leading off this 9th Inning is a heck of a race for 2-yr-olds. Finding a winner out of these 8 is not going to be an easy chore.
I am more than just a little bit interested in Larry Rivelli’s Roger McQueen #1. I know the colt did not have his best fastball in the Iroquois (G3) against the likes of Major General. However, looking over his prior races at Churchill and Ellis Park, we can find some game efforts. Dropping into this spot looks possible, and Adam Beschizza has had a nice Keeneland Meet. I wouldn’t “Single” him though, and going with a pair of favorites is probably judicious.
Steve Asmussen’s Chattalot #2 and Wesley Ward’s Nakatomi #4 deserve inclusion, and both look more than capable. The former is partly-owned by the Bloom Racing Stable, which speaks to careful investment. Jeff Bloom, the principal, heads an excellent organization, and with Asmussen, you know you are getting a well-prepped starter.
As for Ward’s runner, this gelding by Firing Line was entered in the Norfolk S. (G2) this past summer at Royal Ascot, and even though he failed to get in the money, his return to the U.S. was acceptable in the Saratoga Special (G2) and in an OC80k. He gets Tyler Gaffalione aboard once again, and that translates to much respect when it comes to the tote. All 3 of these runners that I mentioned comprise a nice line-up.
Selections: 1/2/4 (3-Deep)
LEG 2: (Race 8: Turf, 1 Mile, Bryan Station S., $150k, 3)
The lone turf race on the Haggin is hopefully not going to be moved to the MT. Stay tuned to see the results of that “going stick” decision. Let’s assume that it is going to be wet, and probably when it is all said and done, the conditions will be soft-yielding. When it comes to those that have a positive record when there is more than a little “give” in the ground, look no further than Tyler Gaffalione’s mount, Yes This Time #10. Kelly Breen has this one by Not This Time going in the right direction, and the colt could prove extremely tough if he can “station” himself just off the lead. Gaffalione has now reached “master” status, when it comes to handling routers on the turf. He follows in the footsteps of Castellano, Rosario, and Irad Ortiz. In fact, I am so confident that this is the proper play in this spot that I am willing to take a stand—it’s a “Single.” Solid class, an affinity for “give” in the ground, and a lawn jockey with a record like his, all add up to a score. I probably will not get 3/1, but one can hope.
Selections: 10 (Single)
LEG 3: (Race 9: Dirt, 1 1/8th, Hagyard Fayette S. (G2), $200k, 3+)
The “signature” race of the day, and the final graded stakes race of the October Meet is this one … the Hagyard Fayette. As I mentioned in my “Preview” from a couple of days back, you are going to be hard pressed to find a way around Shug McGaughey’s Code of Honor #7. Infamously part of the 2019 “DQ” Derby, he is headed into his final race before he heads to the Lane’s End breeding shed. Thumbing through his form since that sloppy and odd day in Louisville, one finds some excellent efforts. Though there were few wins over the past few years, he ended up earning in excess of $2.2 million—not too shabby. Though John Velazquez, who regularly rode this one is not present, getting Tyler Gaffalione is a worthy sub. He rode this son of Noble Mission (GB) against Knicks Go at Gulfstream Park in the Pegasus World Cup, and though that was a “taillight” race, that doesn’t mean he does not have his last best run ahead of him.
I would like to think that a “Single” is in order, but something is tugging at me … long shot. For some major value, you should seriously consider Greg Foley’s Major Fed #9. The Ghostzapper colt might not seem like much since he took on Authentic and Tiz the Law in the 2020 September Kentucky Derby. With all of his efforts since that race coming at Churchill, it is hard to imagine him running anywhere else. I think he happens to be quite talented, and I like the price on the M/L of 12/1. The 4-yr-old’s efforts in his past 2 races look impressive … winning both from off-the-pace. The fractions at each of the calls were pretty honest, and that makes me think that the homebred has blocks to build on. The addition of Ricardo Santana is a “major” plus too. This pair that we have marked for the 3rd Leg of the ticket looks like a nice balance. Let’s move on!
Selections: 7/9 (2-Deep)
LEG 4: (Race 10: Dirt, 7F, MSW84k, 2F)
Coming down to the training title wire, it looks as though Brad Cox and Wesley Ward are neck and neck. They will duke it out in the finale, and maybe when the dust settles, we will have a winner! I want to use both of their entries in this MSW Co. race for freshmen fillies. Cox’s entry is part of Team Godolphin, and just missed in her debut last month at Churchill Downs. Going 6F on the MT under the Twin Spires, Famed #1 lived up to her name and was well-bet. By Uncle Mo, that translates to versatility, and the fact that she is a natural born sprinter. Florent Geroux gets Cox’s call once again.
As for Ward’s play, he has a speedy 1-turn burner of his own in Halo of Fire #9. The Munnings offspring already has tried Keeneland’s MT earlier in the month, and was not a bad try. Finishing 2nd to Funny Business, she could rebound nicely against another large field. Having Joel Rosario back aboard is a major move, and his aggressive style will be needed, especially if this filly is shuffled back early. The Keeneland MT seems to be promoting those with tactical speed, and with this one’s level of fitness, it could be just the ticket. Speaking of … what a cheap ticket I have put together for this final day at Keeneland! Let’s go get a score to finish things up … Bon Voyage to such a special place, and see you in April …