Best Bet: Talk Veuve to Me, Race 8
Longshot: Proud as Punch, Race 9
#5 FASHION’S TOUCH: Romped against weaker last time out and takes a significant step up in class, but seems like the main speed in the Thursday opener. If left alone on the lead, he could be tough to catch; #2 MISS HARRY: Rallied to win by a neck earlier in the meet and will look to sit an ideal stalking trip once again here. It’s a quick turnaround, but this is a logical next step; #7 SAINTS’ GIRL: Hasn’t won in a while, but improved on the drop in class last time out and could take another step forward second off the bench.
Into the Breach
#7 MY CADET: Was purchased privately after his debut, where he rallied to finish fourth for a barn that rarely has first-time starters cranked up. His workouts since have been sharp, and I’m hoping (but not confident) that we get the 8-1 morning line price; #1 MORNING SOCIAL: Has run well in three prior starts and comes back to the dirt for this event. He’ll have to work out a trip from the rail, but the Beard course’s distance shouldn’t be a problem; #4 INTO THE BREACH: Comes off a long layoff for Michael Dilger and will look to shake a case of seconditis. He has some strong past Beyer Speed Figures, but it’s tough to have too much confidence in a horse with six seconds in 11 starts.
#2 TABIA: Stretches out to two turns and has the running style, pedigree, and connections to suggest he’ll love the added distance. The faster they go early, the more he’ll like it; #3 PALADAR: Woke up in his first start for Richard Baltas, a front-running score at Santa Anita. The chance of a regression off of a career-best race does exist, but a repeat of that effort would make him tough; #6 BELIEVEINHOLIDAYS: Put it all together last time out in the slop at Fair Grounds. He generally runs the same race every time, and such an effort would likely be good enough for a piece of it here.
#11 HANDSOME HONEY: Has run well in several recent turf routes at Fair Grounds and could get an ideal setup here. Many contenders in this full field want to be on or near the lead, and if this 8-1 shot can save some ground, he could come running late; #10 FIREWATER JAKE: Wired the field as a 6/5 favorite last time out and tries winners for Brad Cox, who’s gotten off to a big start this meet. He’s logical, but it’s tough to imagine him getting an easy lead from a less-than-ideal post; #15 QUARKY: Graduated in a swift time going much shorter at Tampa, but is bred to like two turns and could be coming around. He’ll need some luck to draw in, but he’s a contender if he does.
#5 KOMRAD: Has run well since being dropped to this level and is a likely favorite here. He’s the main speed in this spot, which otherwise seems light on early zip; #6 ODIE: Takes a big drop in class after a disappointing run at Turfway Park. He was second in his debut over this track, and several of his races last year came against much better horses; #1 KNIGHT DISRUPTOR: Has not run since October, but could have enough speed to secure position along the rail. Such a trip could conceivably move him up.
#7 EAST MOON: Hasn’t run in a while, but looms large in this spot given her strong local form. Her dirt sprint races have been solid, and the steady work tab indicates she’s ready to go; #8 SHACKLEFORD COUNTY: Returns to Keeneland, which doubles as the site of her lone career win to date. She’s got some speed, and a run over her favorite track could wake her up; #1 WENEEDTOTALK: Just missed at this level at Fair Grounds last month. She figures to be going well late, but the rail draw isn’t usually ideal for a closer.
Mission From Elle
#4 CONNECTIVITY: Bounced last time out in a Grade 3, but has every right to return to her debut form. She was an impressive winner in her unveiling, and may get an ideal pace situation given the ample early speed surrounding her; #14 DESERT RIDE: Has hinted at considerable talent despite a pair of rough trips. She needs two scratches to run, but I think she’s a must-use if she gets in; #8 MISSION FROM ELLE: Much like my top pick, she won her debut impressively before faltering in a graded stakes race. Her two most recent workouts were sharp, and there’s reason to believe she can run to that form.
Talk Veuve to Me
#1 TALK VEUVE TO ME: Was one of the better 3-year-old fillies in the country last year. She makes her 2019 debut here, and while she may need a race, she has tons of sprinting form, and a repeat of one of her runs from last year is likely more than enough; #5 UPSET BREWING: May be the lone in-form closer in this field, and if she gets a good setup, she’ll likely be going well late. I don’t know if it’s good enough to beat my top pick, but she’s a must-use in vertical exotics; #2 AWESTRUCK: Hasn’t won in a while, but takes a pretty big drop in class and likely gets a fast track for this event.
Proud as Punch
#9 EXULT: Has run second in both of his career starts, and his most recent effort came against a next-out winner. If he can transfer his Gulfstream form to the Keeneland turf course, he’ll be tough to beat; #2 PROUD AS PUNCH: Comes back to the grass after faltering as a 4/5 favorite in an off-the-turf event. He’s another that may be moving well when the field turns for home; #5 LAKE NAKURU: Has run second in all three starts and adds blinkers here. This barn is due to get going, and the presence of Joel Rosario is a plus.