Madison Stakes Picks: Sanenus provides Betting Intrigue

Florent Geroux rides Mandaye Call who provides interest along with Sanenus in the Grade I Madison
Florent Geroux rides Mandaye Call who provides interest along with Sanenus in the Grade I Madison

The $300,000 Grade I Madison Stakes spans the Ashland and Blue Grass on Saturday's card at Keeneland.

As part of our Keeneland Handicapping Challenge - this race has been previewed by both our in-house handicapper and our turf-man. You can find their thoughts below along with our Race Card...

Sean's take...

Like the other seven-furlong sprint stake on the card, the G1 Madison feels ripe for an upset with a couple top contenders coming off layoffs and another that’s unproven on dry dirt. Bell’s the One (#4) is probably the horse to beat as she exits a third-place finish in last year’s G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint over this track, however I’m a little skeptical of her chances coming off a lengthy break. This 5-year-old mare certainly turned a corner in 2020 and even became a G1 winner, but she could be vulnerable in this spot given the lack of early speed. In fact, the same fate befell her in last year’s Madison, when she could do no better than a well-beaten third on July 11. I think she’s poised to have another strong campaign, but I don’t think this is the spot to play her.

The same goes for Sconsin (#6), who I view as a lesser version of Bell’s the One, and I’m also against Kimari (#5), who was on the better part of the racetrack last out in the Spring Fever at Oaklawn and is probably better on a wet track anyway.

With all the uncertainty surrounding these runners, I’m going in a different direction with Sanenus (#1) and Mundaye Call (#3). The latter, who is listed at a shockingly high 8-1 on the morning line, is my top pick in this race. Her form tailed off at the end of her sophomore year, but she had flashed brilliance at points in 2020 and is coming back in a spot that should be very conducive to her running style. If Mundaye Call gets bet down off her morning line, however, I could see Sanenus offering even more value. This mare has made steady strides since shipping to the U.S. in the middle of last year, and despite a six-length win going two turns last out in the G3 La Canada, I think this trip is perfect for her. She should be able to sit a perfect, ground-saving journey just off the speed of Mundaye Call, and I’m hoping these two can put some distance between them in the rest of the field in the stretch.

J.N's Take...

The bookend to the Commonwealth S., this race, the Madison S., has major implications for this division. Since there are not a plethora of opportunities for older females to sprint at the “Graded” levels, it represents a chance to take the stage. What makes this pretty exciting is that we have a salty group of 7 that have drawn in here, trained by some of the best in the business… McCarthy, Cox, and Ward, just to name a few of the celebrated conditioners.

Everything begins with Bell’s the One #4, who is beginning her 2021 year in fine fashion after running well in the last. Her Keeneland record of 5 starts, 2 “Wins” and 2 “Shows,” is pretty impressive considering she has plied her trade in the higher echelons for Neil Pessin. This is one of his prize runners out of Majesticperfection, and you know he is going to have her as primed as possible. She is now 5-yrs-old, and I am sure getting better with age, after running at CD, KEE, FG, BEL, and SA over the years.

I like her, and inclusion is certain on this ticket, but I also like a couple of other shots in here. Wesley Ward seems to be transitioning the versatile Kimari #5 from the turf to the dirt. He actually sent this prized filly, one of the younger ones in the race, down to Oaklawn for the Spring Fever 200k, and she did not disappoint. Powering down the lane, she eclipsed 5 others enroute to a 4-length score. She was just fabulous travelling to Royal Ascot last year, and Ward doesn’t choose to send them out of Turfway often. In other words, OP was a key race.

The other entry that looks interesting is Javier Castellano’s ride, Sanenus #1. Mike McCarthy’s reach continues apace, as he sends his runners into some very difficult spots. He did that on a past Pegasus Day @GP, and the result was telling. Now, he comes to Keeneland from the West Coast hoping for more loot. This daughter of Scat Daddy ran extremely well last time in the La Canada (G3) at Santa Anita, and if he can cutback, he should be more than a square price at over 6/1. Castellano makes this Chilean homebred look even more special. Perhaps, he can work out a sprint strategy that will include navigating the temporary rail that sits like Charybdis, once the inside runners exit the starting gate.

In the end, this is my top selection. Trust in McCarthy…     

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Wheel: 1 w 4/5

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