Keeneland Picks: A Sodbusting Analysis as the Turf-man Cometh

J.N. Campbell's analysis will include a 'turf feature,' as he analyzes the 3 grass races scheduled for Wednesday's card at Keeneland. Picks for the rest are, of course, included. . .
J.N. Campbell's analysis will include a "turf feature," as he analyzes the 3 grass races scheduled for Wednesday's card at Keeneland. Picks for the rest are, of course, included. . .
Keeneland Picks - Wednesday, April 7, 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:
  • Most Likely Winner:
  • Best Value Play:

Picks (Sean)

  • 6-4-3-8
  • 2-5-4-6
  • 1-6-5-3
  • 3-2-6-5
  • 4-6-3-7
  • 4-5-7-6
  • 11-3-8-9
  • 3-1A-2-6
  • Don't Forget (Race 6)
  • Mulsanne (Race 3)

Picks (J.N.)

  • 6-7-4-3
  • 5-2-4-6
  • 5-8-6-7
  • 1-6-3-4
  • 4-8-7-3
  • 4-7-5-2
  • 10-11-3-1
  • 4-9-3-1(1A)
  • Hard Sting (Race 2)
  • More Good Times (Race 7)

Picks (Neil)

  • 1-6-7-4
  • 2-6-3-4
  • 5-3-7-8
  • 4-2-3-6
  • 1-3-9-8
  • 6-4-5-7
  • 1-3-5-12
  • 1A-4-6-2
  • Fevola (Race 8)
  • Norwood (Race 1)

Thoroughbred racing is underway in Central Kentucky, and after a blowout beginning on Opening Weekend, it is Week 2 of 4, as the Keeneland Spring Meet rolls on. It also means that our “Handicapping Challenge” heats up once again, as we try to rack-up as many “Win” and “Place” bet scores as we can. Should be a blast.

This week, as we head towards Saturday’s running of the Lexington (G3) and the Jenny Wiley (G1), a concern this time of year is the weather. Some heavy rain can at times take contests that were scheduled for the Haggin Course at Keeneland “off-the-turf.” That always changes the complexity of “race shape,” especially when it comes to a “Pick n Pray” format.

Since the forecast for Wednesday looks “Party Cloudy” and 78 degrees, we can presume that grass events will continue as planned. Check the hour-by-hour weather as a matter of interest. For today’s analysis I am putting my turf handicapping skills to the test by offering an in-depth perspective on these types of races (Races 3, 5, and 7). Check out my take on this “Mini-Festival,” and see what I have come up with. . .  Turf-man cometh!

If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Wednesday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

Free Horse Racing Picks


Race 3: Turf, 1 1/8th, MSW79k, 3F

Our first turf race of the afternoon is one of those challenging 1 1/8th affairs that tests stamina and a runner’s ability to go the distance. This is not as easy as you might think, since North American horses by-and-large do not regularly contest distances over 1 1/16th with regularity (1 1/8th = 9F). Herein lies the issue when it comes to this particular race on the grass at Keeneland. None of the 8 runners drawn in here have run in a deep route race at any level. With a group of young fillies like we have here, who are also lightly raced, it makes sense to examine a host of angles, which for me includes lawn pedigree and trainer background.

Based on those, I particularly like Christophe Clement’s The Flying Pharoah #5. This 3-yr-old has a nice line through American Pharaoh, who has already proved to be a versatile sire when it comes to producing turfers. Plus, with the dam, Dynamo, you are getting a major distance pedigree. The icing on the cake, or in this case, the fertilizer on the sod, is the Clement-Rosario connection. As a trainer, this conditioner is always impressive at Keeneland, and when he and this jockey get together, they can be like a couple of tornadoes on any type of surface. Rosario was on fire last week, and there is no reason why he cannot make the difference navigating this one mid-stretch.

That first start back in February at Gulfstream was not a bad effort, especially if you examine the 2nd half of the race. If we can get 4/1, then a nice wager this will be! Much to like . . .

Wager Options: $100 Win, #5, and/or $2 Double, R3 #5 w R4 #s-1/3/4/6


Race 5: Turf, 1 1/8th, MSW79k, 3F

The distance festival continues with Racer 5, as another group of divisional fillies take to the Haggin Course. I am going to be looking for some value this time around because I probably am facing a short price backing that Clement-Rosario runner in the last grass race. I am going to employ my method though from the last race, and once again I have landed on an offspring of American Pharoah. Local Keeneland powerhouse Kenny McPeek doesn’t just train fillies for the dirt, he also gets them ready for turf contests.

I like the look of Salit #4, who is switching to sod after running in a couple of salty MSW events; first, down at McPeek South in Ft. Lauderdale (MSW50k-Placed), and then up at Oaklawn Park in a 93k. The latter speaks to toughness, simply because we are talking about Hot Springs. Not an easy place to ship into . . . In other words, she has already experienced some routes, and even though she was 5th in her last @OP, I still like the fact that she ran. I think this move is a good one, plus over the years McPeek has proven he can game with the best of them. This one’s level of fitness looks as strong as can be, especially when you compare it to some of the other entries in here.

Nothing easy about this spot, of course, it is Keeneland after all on the turf.

Wager Options: $35-W, $55-P, #4, and/or $2 Double, R5 #4 w R6 #s-2/4/5/7


Race 7: Turf, 1 1/16th, ALLW83k, F&M 4+

We are going to round out this turf racing “Mini-Festival” with an ALLW contest that is not for the faint of heart. Not too be too Shakespearean, but the guiding principle here is “What’s past is prologue.” Hopefully, this is never more the case when we are spotting a “Winner” among this challenging group. There are several directions you could go in . . . backing Irad Ortiz’s mount from Juddmonte looks inviting . . . or Graham Motion’s stab in this spot could be the play . . . However, I fancy a runner from the barn of Mike Maker that could be the score of the day. This is a conditioner who has enjoyed major success at this track, and he continues to produce solid entries no matter the class or distance. I would put members of his stable up against the very best in the country.

More Good Times #10 is what I like to think of as the quintessential Keeneland turfer. She will end up being a great price because money will flow into lower odds horses like Ortiz’s or Motion’s, and that will benefit us. This daughter of More Than Ready appears fit as can be, especially since Maker has had her regularly running down at the Fair Grounds. That competition included ALLW races. She hit the board every time since December, except when she tried an OC40k last time. Maybe the lack of firm ground was the issue. Coming to the Haggin Heaven, she gets Luis Saez, who in my mind is one of the hottest jockeys in America. I actually like him more than Irad when it comes to sodbusting. Saez’s level of patience, and aggressiveness, when it matters, has reached a nice stratum of maturation.

This older filly may not have the best Keeneland record on the grass (0/2), but I am banking on a big turn-of-foot, when the gears will need to be employed. Looks like an inviting wager, if there ever was one.

Wager Options: $100 Win, #10, and/or $2 Double, R7 #10 w R8 #s-1/3/4/9

J.N's Keeneland 2021 Results
  • Date
  • Daily Winners / Places
  • Daily Biggest Winner / Place
  • Daily $
  • Overall $


  • April 2
  • April 3
  • April 7
  • April 8
  • April 9
  • April 10
  • April 11
  • April 14
  • April 15
  • April 16
  • April 17
  • April 18
  • April 22
  • April 23
  • April 24

Daily Winners / Places

  • 0 Win / 1 Place
  • 3 Win / 3 Place
  • 0 Win / 4 Place
  • 1 Win / 3 Place
  • 3 Win / 4 Place
  • 0 Win / 3 Place
  • 1 Win / 1 Place
  • 1 Win / 2 Place
  • 1 Win / 4 Place
  • 1 Win / 2 Place
  • 1 Win / 2 Place
  • 1 Win / 4 Place
  • 2 Win / 4 Place
  • 2 Win / 2 Place
  • 2 Win / 2 Place

Daily Biggest Winner / Place

  • $7.20 (Place - R9)
  • $5.80 (Win - R7)
  • $4.20 (Place - R4)
  • $22.80 (Place - R5)
  • $16.00 (Win - R4)
  • $4.80 (Place - R11)
  • $2.40 (Win - R1)
  • $22.60 (Win - R6)
  • $6 (Place - R9)
  • $9.40 (Win - R9)
  • $13.60 (Place - R3)
  • $25.20 (Win - R4)
  • $9.60 (Win - R7)
  • $5.60 (Win - R9)
  • $6.80 (Win - R4)

Daily $

  • $7.40
  • $23
  • $13.20
  • $41.80
  • $42.40
  • $10.80
  • $4.60
  • $35.60
  • $23.00
  • $16.60
  • $26.40
  • $46.60
  • $27.20
  • $17.40
  • $19.20

Overall $

  • $7.40
  • $30.40
  • $43.60
  • $85.40
  • $127.80
  • $138.60
  • $143.20
  • $178.80
  • $201.80
  • $218.40
  • $242.80
  • $289.40
  • $316.60
  • $334.00
  • $353.20
Keeneland Picks, Entries & Results

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