Best Bet: Keep Quiet, Race 5
Longshot: Buggy Brown, Race 8
Merchants of Cool
Alec and Arthur
#7 CHAMPAGNE AFFAIR: Is one of two in here for Wesley Ward, whose record with first-time starters is one of the best in the game. Her sire, Daredevil, was a Grade 1-winning 2-year-old; #4 MERCHANTS OF COOL: Is the other Ward runner, and he’s been working consistently here. I think the race comes down to which of the barn’s runners is more ready to run; #6 ALEC AND ARTHUR: Comes in with a few solid gate works for a trainer that can get debuting runners ready to go.
#8 COWORKER: Has shown speed against better groups, and drops back in for a tag in a race light on early speed. He figures to go to the front early, and he could be tough to catch if he gets comfortable; #1 MOTI: Was a good second at Fair Grounds in his first start on dirt, where he made a decent move before flattening out. He was wide that day, and covering less ground could help; #5 MARKET GARDEN: Drops in class for a barn that knows how to win races here. This is his first start going long on dirt, and it comes against a suspect field.
Stefanie On Fleek
#7 STEFANIE ON FLEEK: Has improved with each start to this point and faces winners for the first time. She came home very quickly last time out at Gulfstream, and trainer Todd Pletcher is off to a great start at the meet; #1 TULA: Put it all together last time out at Tampa against a weak field. She has back form, and must be respected even on the big jump up in class; #11 CATSOUTOFTHEBAG: Draws a very tough post but seems like the main speed in this race. Early speed is often formidable at Keeneland, and she could play a big role here at a price, especially if she clears.
Duches of Grace
#4 MARIE’S MANDATE: Debuts against what seems like a suspect group after a string of solid local workouts. Brad Cox has already won three races at the meet, and he could have this filly ready to go; #5 DUCHES OF GRACE: Merits respect off of an OK second in the mud at Oaklawn in her debut. She’s the likely favorite, and she could conceivably improve at second asking; #1 MISS HANNAH: Was one-paced in her debut at Gulfstream, but this barn’s runners tend to improve with experience.
Cuestion de Tiempo
#6 KEEP QUIET: Has run well in both starts this year and returns to a turf course where he won a Grade 3 in 2016. He’s won just once since then, but his best race would make him very tough; #5 CUESTION DE TIEMPO: Merits respect at a price second off the layoff. He almost certainly needed his most recent race, and a repeat of his two-back win at Arlington makes him a contender; #2 ANOTHER: Won two back at Gulfstream and finished a credible fourth at this level last time out. The faster they go early, the more he’ll like it, and Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride back.
#9 TRAPPEZOID: Drops to his lowest-ever claiming tag and has tons of back class. His lone race here came against eventual stakes winner Promises Fulfilled, and the outside post should be a big help; #6 DAY DREAMER: Won for fun against weaker at Fair Grounds, and has since been claimed by Eddie Kenneally. He’s facing tougher company here, though, and regression off of a career-best race wouldn’t be surprising; #3 NOTTOWAY: Takes a big drop in class in search of his first win since July. Luis Saez hops aboard for a barn that’s due to heat up.
In the Lee
#4 IN THE LEE: Makes her seasonal debut, and while this race isn’t the goal, she’s been working well ahead of this event. She’s a graded stakes-caliber mare, and anything close to her best beats these; #8 DYNATAIL: Broke a long winless drought last time out in a race here in October. She’s got plenty of tactical speed and should be prominent early; #2 CARTABIANCA: Has won five races overseas and gets Lasix for her American debut. It’s tough to say much about what she beat in France, but the workouts here are very sharp.
#9 BUGGY BROWN: Will almost certainly not be 8-1 given his high-profile connections, but has worked very well since being claimed by Tom Amoss. He’s got plenty of speed and will likely be urged hard from the gate; #2 PARADE BLUE: Drops in for a tag after two starts at Gulfstream against better horses. His two prior starts against claimers this winter were both wins; #5 UNBRIDLED OUTLAW: Takes a big drop in class off of a failed run in a minor stakes race at Gulfstream Park. A repeat of his efforts two or three back would make him a player.