Keeneland Picks and Late P4 Analysis for Opening Day 2021

Keeneland's Opening Day 2021 arrives with a full slate of excellent races for your enjoyment. J.N. Campbell has a nice selection in the Transylvania Stakes (G3) with Palazzi (pictured above at SHRP back in January). See why in his analysis below...
Keeneland's Opening Day 2021 arrives with a full slate of excellent races for your enjoyment. J.N. Campbell has a nice selection in the Transylvania Stakes (G3) with Palazzi (pictured above at SHRP back in January). See why in his analysis below...

Welcome to Keeneland and their 2021 Opening Day for the April Meet! is there anything better than Keeneland? I should think not!

With hefty pools and cards that offer wonderful betting opportunities, all announced by Keeneland's one and only track announcer, Mr. Kurt Becker, this is surely a welcome sight after what we faced last year at this time. Along with my excellent colleague, our lead, Sean, we will be engaging in some professional public handicapping for your enjoyment--head-to-head. It will be good sport, and hopefully bring you some major scores. Follow us, each and every day, as we sort out Keeneland!

Along with that challenge, I will also be offering my full card selections, and analysis of the .50 Late Pick 4. You will not want to miss this ticket. Cheap, cheap, cheap, with some major value for your wagering appetite. Enjoy! 

If you're interested in seeing picks elsewhere around the country on Friday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.


Today's Horse Racing Picks


LEG 1: (Race 7: Turf, 5½F, Palisades Turf Sprint S. 100k, 3)

Keeneland’s first Late Pick 4 of the April Meet begins what looks to be solely a series of contests for 3-yr-old colts and fillies. They will be on display both sprinting and routing, and even though a couple of these fields look small, they still will be tough—de rigueur for KEE. This race, the Palisades 100k on the Haggin Course, is a fairly new add to the Stakes Schedule. I have a few rules in these specific races that have helped me over the years… the first being… never bet the rail. Getting stuck down there is like being one of those kids in Snowpiercer, and you don’t want to be in a confined space pulling out sludge.

For that reason, I like to go to the #5 post. It always has an advantage, and Jeremy Plonk has talked about for it for years. I like Kelsey Danner’s Smokin’ Jay #5 not only because of the green saddlecloth, but his works look smart. Cairo Prince’s are pretty nice on the turf, and getting Luis Saez is the steal of the century. I know this is his first-time with his new trainer, and that only adds to the 15/1 M/L odds, which are sure to be even higher than that once post time arrives. If he can break well, then he has a shot to get near the lead. Others that I want to include (this is a turf sprint), include Chasing Artie #3 (with Rosario), Blameworthy #4 (who gets Geroux), and Fauci #8 (Gaffs/W. Ward). That should round us out to start.  

Selections: 3/4/5/8 (4 Deep)


LEG 2: (Race 8: Dirt, 7F, Beaumont S. (G3), 150k, 3F)

Earlier this week, as I was analyzing this card once it broke on Monday, I rated highly a couple of entries that I thought looked extremely inviting. Those were Mike Maker’s Amalfi Princess #4 and Wesley Ward’s Twenty Carat #7.

I stand by those selections. I give the nod to Maker’s charge, but it is only by a sliver. I realize this is a pretty form-full selection, but you call ‘em like you see them. Sometimes over a number of days, that can change, especially once the M/L odds are served up, but that should not be an influencer.

Maker’s daughter of Temple City really could run on the dirt or the grass. She appears fast, and with Tyler Gaffalione riding, he should be able to work out a nice trip. That turf sprint @GP, which was a high-level OC75k, was a miss, but I think she just ran out of dirt that was painted green. I would surmise the 7F here should suit, and the class hike looks very plausible.

As for Ward’s entry, she was moored at his Turfway Hotel. While there, she scored in a couple of sprints on the AW. Made it look easy… wasn’t it? Hmm… That track fundamentally sets up differently than does KEE’s MT. So, I wouldn’t presume it’s a “lock” that she will be able to make the leap here. Conversely, Ward is a wizard though, and he could be sitting on the winner.

Funny… once again, it is Maker v. Ward; the 2 trainers who are suing the Ramseys—patriarchs of their own legacies. Irony, of course, extends to Thoroughbred racing…

Selections: 4/7 (2 Deep)


LEG 3: (Race 9: Turf, 1 1/16th, Transylvania S. 150k, 3)

Halfway through the sequence, we are feeling swell, but we come to the point where a “Single” might be necessary. That is rather nerve-racking, but saving money is the key, albeit a nice thought. The G3 “Transy,” named after a local university that was founded over 200 years ago, and the region before it was even formally called “Kentuckie,” is a centrifuge on Opening Day. What I mean by that is the race serves as a means to know who might be one of the up-and-coming talents in the 3-yr-old turf division. It is a heck of a way to kick off the next stage of the season.

Even though this year’s edition appears to short on participants, that does not mean there is not quality. Cutting to the chase, there are really 3 top selections in here that are going to take most of the money. Shug McGaughey’s Scarlett Sky #1, Mike Maker’s Fire At Will #4, and Phil D’Amato’s Earls Rock #6, all have different types of abilities, and that includes trainers that know the ins and outs of turf training.

For instance, Shug’s entry gets Rosario, and this colt’s last 2 Gulfstream efforts appeared incredibly strong. The step up from OC75k Co. into the Palm Beach 100k did not result in a win, however, but it was exceedingly close (horseshoes and hand grenades…). Maker’s charge tried the Derby Trail, and summarily failed in the GP FOY (G2). Maker admitted as such because he is just that type of guy. Now returning to the scene of his greatest victory, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), he is looking to get back on track. Finally, D’Amato is importing a SoCal sprinter who is owned by Tony Fanticola. His bloodlines are a mix of sprint/route on the grass, and with Florent Geroux aboard, he could be primed for a score.

I am spurning all 3 of these entries. To my eye, they all have issues. Each could very well sweep down the Haggin and score, but there does not seem to be much value afoot here. Instead, give me Mark Casse’s Palazzi #2. I am convinced he is not only the better bet, but his talent is there too. At Sam Houston Race Park, Declan Cannon brought him thundering from way off the pace, and he was just up for the win. Winning that photo made many, including the owner of his mare, Hank Nothhaft (who I interviewed earlier this week for, very pleased. He did not runback in the Black Gold75k at the Fair Grounds, but that doesn’t concern me because the trip was a raucous jaunt. Coming to Keeneland is just the ticket, and the price for this Casse-trainee will be right… easily over 6/1.

Single… single… single…   

Selection: 2 (Single)


LEG 4: (Race 10: Dirt, 1 1/16th, MSW79k, 3F)

The final portion of this Late Pick 4 will not let us off easy. It is going to be a slugfest circumventing Keeneland’s Main Track at 8½F. With a nice field of 9 in here, the options are many.

It would be easy though to just select the horse breaking from the extreme outside. Jockey Javier Castellano and Chad Brown team to try and win on Precipitate #9. The filly is a “Gulfstream Invader,” and if you follow the April Meet from previous years, then you know they bring a high rate of return. In her last, which was a MSW50k event going a mile, she failed at a short price—finishing 3rd. I do not care for that result, but I do want to give her another shot by including her. I wouldn’t put her on top though because there is another that looks more inviting.

Speaking of jock-trainer combos, I like the look of Temper Mint Twist #3, who pairs Joel Rosario with Shug McGaughey. The 2 of them have worked together for some time (Orb days), and this rider seems to appear everywhere. Last week he was jet-setting over to Dubai… When I see Pioneerof the Nile’s offspring draw in for some routes, plus it is their 3rd time off the bench, that is too good a prop to pass up. The accomplished Peter Callahan (Swiss Skydiver owner) bred this one, and McGaughey looks primed for a Keeneland return like no other. When he is on his game, he proves he can still be relevant.

Despite all this gushing, this is not a “Single” type race. With some money in my pocket, I want to include some others that could easily throw a wrench into my reasoning. For a variety of reason, let’s tab… Queen Bourbon #1 (Bourbon Lane-Wilkes), Be Like Water #4 (Bejarano-Oliver), Illiogami #5 (homebred-Arnold), Suki #6 (Graham-Stewart), Gigi B. #7 (Gaffs-Walsh), and the aforementioned, Precipitate #9 (Juddmonte-Brown).

Whew, that should get it done!

Selections: 1/3/4/5/6/7/9 (7 Deep)


.50 P4 TICKET COST: $23.00

Enjoy some action from Lexington, Kentucky! Best of Luck as Keeneland goes live!

For all of the teams selections at Keeneland then please check out below...

Keeneland Picks, Entries & Results
Keeneland Picks - Friday April 2 2021
  • Keeneland Picks
  • Picks (Sean)
  • Picks (J.N.)
  • Picks (Neil)

Keeneland Picks

  • Race 1:
  • Race 2:
  • Race 3:
  • Race 4:
  • Race 5:
  • Race 6:
  • Race 7:
  • Race 8:
  • Race 9:
  • Race 10:
  • Most Likely Winner:
  • Best Value Play:

Picks (Sean)

  • 2-3-5-4
  • 6-3-2-1
  • 5-6-8-4
  • 4-2-5-6
  • 3-7-1-10
  • 3-4-2-11
  • 3-8-4-2
  • 3-2-5-6
  • 4-6-2-1
  • 4-5-9-8
  • Fire At Will (Race 9)
  • Sounion (Race 5)

Picks (J.N.)

  • 4-2-3-8
  • 3-2-6-1
  • 6-4-8-1
  • 6-2-4-5
  • 4-9-1-10
  • 3-5-12-9
  • 5-8-4-3
  • 4-7-2-6
  • 2-1-4-6
  • 3-9-5-7
  • Shoshoni Moon (Race 6)
  • La La Land (Race 5)

Picks (Neil)

  • 2-3-8-6
  • 3-2-6-4
  • 8-7-6-2
  • 1-4-5-6
  • 13-12-7-4
  • 1-3-12-13
  • 8-1-2-4
  • 7-2-3-1
  • 4-6-1-2
  • 5-7-3-9
  • Dream Fly (Race 1)
  • Devine Comedy (Race 4)