The 3rd week at Keeneland concludes with the final day of Sunday racing! With an 9-race card, it 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 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, with the Grade 3 Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes serving as anchor.
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Today’s Keeneland Turf Pick 3 kicks off with a tough grass sprint at this ALLW level. Faint of heart … stay home … These races begin and end with Wesley Ward, a conditioner whose reputation precedes him. Into the Sunrise #5 is trained to go fast early, breaking from the gate as quickly as possible. Ward does not have an issue with his runners being drawn outside because that means they can stay clear of the fray. This gelding by Into Mischief is what we call a “runbacker” … in that he just ran last week in a similar race on “good” turf. The Ward-trainee lost steam after a robust start, so that is a question coming into this race. In other words, there might be vulnerability in this spot, even with Joel Rosario in the irons.
As far as a top selection goes, I am much more interested in Chris Davis’ aptly-named Quick Tempo #4. This one, by Tapizar, tried the Phoenix (G2) earlier in the Meet, and was outmatched. Switching to the turf in an easier race like this one could be just what the colt needs. He could take to the stuff … The best news is that the unheralded Sophie Doyle rides him again, which will make it 3 in-a-row. Her turf navigation skills have grown this year by leaps and bounds. I think her mount has a nice level of fitness, and should be an interesting selection at odds that should hover around 8/1. Sounds like a much better option to me!
Leg 2: (Race 7: Turf, 1½, Rood and Riddle Dowager S. (G3), $150k, F&M 3+)
The “feature” on this Sunday is the Dowager, which brings together a good group of older females who are routing deep on the grass. Clearly, Arnaud Delacour has the inside track with his 4-yr-old filly Luck Money #5. This experienced marathoner is in the middle of a form cycle that is full of “near misses” at Pimlico, Delaware, Saratoga, and Kentucky Downs. With Joel Rosario aboard once again (he rode her to victory at Keeneland almost a year ago in an ALLW contest), this homebred has all of the skills to win this G3 at odds of 3/1 on the M/L.
When it comes to a top selection, I am pretty high on the Vaughan Barn’s La Lune #4. I am always wary when it comes to imports from Europe. Are they here in the US because they failed at their home track, or are they here because opportunity is knocking? This particular mare, I believe is the latter. She performed well in her US debut at Kentucky Downs on 12 September, and can take a step forward at Keeneland. Adam Beschizza takes the mount once again, and looking at her back class, she has some solid results to her credit. Looks like a bet at odds of 7/2 … what a play!
One other that invites some commentary is Mike Stidham’s impressive Godolphin homebred by Bernardini, Micheline #6. What a streaky shooter this one is … what we do know is that she tries hard, has to travel with her own portable stall because of claustrophobia, and has loads of class to her name. I would love to see her scoop up this trophy, but ever since April, she just has not had the late action she needs to get the job done. Perhaps the swap to Florent Geroux will spark something? She is one of my all-time favorite turf horses, but she is going to have to dig deep in here if Stidham wants to visit the winner’s circle.
1st Choice: 4
Backup: 5, 6
Leg 3: (Race 9: Turf, 1 Mile, ALLW86k, F&M 3+)
The final turf race of the day is another ALLW Co. street fight that is set to go around 2-turns. One of my favorite class of races because it pits good horses against one another. A field of 12 is going to make tabbing a winner much more difficult. Interestingly enough, it is Shug McGaughey’s son, Reeve, who has the M/L favorite in homebred Texas Shuffle #3. This McGaughey schooled with the best, and took out a training license not too long ago. This young filly is extremely well-bred by War Front, and when it comes to turf pedigrees, that is upper echelon grass blood. She broke her maiden back at Ellis Park on an off-track day. She is certainly capable of winning this race today.
I am not sure that backing her makes the most sense because I still think she is untested, despite a 2nd place finish last out during the truncated Kentucky Downs Meet. Instead, a more attractive alternative is Cherie DeVaux’s Amiche #7. The filly by Malibu Moon is a 3-yr-old with some improving form. Housed at Ellis, she improved over 2 MSW51k races on July (2nd) and Sept (1st). Nothing like a maiden victory to put your runner on the right course. She is a controlling speed type who likes to go to the lead and hold it. That could be advantageous, fi she can break alertly, and secure the top spot before the 1st turn arrives. I think if she can do that, with Brian Hernandez riding, she might have the opportunity to ratchet up in a tough event like this one. Let’s see what this 5/1 shot can do …
1st Choice: 7
Horse Racing and Keeneland … in October? Is there anything better?