Keeneland Analysis and Selections: Blue Grass Day (4/6/19)

Best Bet: Vekoma, Race 10
Longshot: Uno Mas Modelo, Race 6


Topper T

#5 TOPPER T: Drops back into the allowance ranks after six straight starts against stakes foes. He ran well twice against much better at Gulfstream, and anything close to those efforts would make him formidable; #6 PREAMBLE: Won two in a row as a 2-year-old, including a swiftly-run heat here in October, but hasn’t been seen since that race. He’s talented, but runs for a cold barn and may need his seasonal bow; #4 WALLACE: Almost certainly needed his 2019 debut, which came last month on a synthetic track. His lone race on dirt wasn’t terrible, and the class relief could help.


Honest Mischief
Camp Randall
Island Song

#11 HONEST MISCHIEF: Settled for second in his debut after running pretty quickly early on. He’s worked well since then, and the Juddmonte homebred figures to be very tough to beat in this spot; #12 CAMP RANDALL: Fetched $240,000 as a yearling and has a series of strong five-furlong workouts under his belt. Luis Saez signs on, and while the runner to his inside could be a serious horse, there are signs this one is ready to fire right away; #5 ISLAND SONG: Ran OK in a pair of starts at Gulfstream and has shown an ability to rate. The extra furlong shouldn’t be an issue, and he could hit the board at a bit of a price.


Take Charge Angel
Free Cover

#1 COVFEFE: Was 3/5 in the Grade 1 Frizette, where she tired to finish fourth behind eventual champion Jaywalk. Maybe she bounced, or maybe it was too long for her, but she’s worked really well and looks ready; #6 TAKE CHARGE ANGEL: Is another who bounced in stakes company last time out, and in this case, she makes her first start for Ben Colebrook. She’s worked well at Tampa and merits respect; #3 FREE COVER: Returned to form on the cutback in distance last time out, when she did everything but win at Fair Grounds. Toss her dud going long in December, and her form looks considerably better.


Midnight Pleasure

#6 ALMITHMAAR: Hasn’t won in a while, but doesn’t come up against the strongest field for the level and has been chasing stakes-quality horses. It helps that he’s won here before, and he could sit an ideal stalking trip; #5 SPARTICLE: Has shown he may not like Gulfstream, so I have no problem tossing the last-out effort. Jose Ortiz rides for a consistent barn, and he’ll likely be prominent early; #8 MIDNIGHT PLEASURE: Has finished out of the money just once in his last nine starts, a stretch that includes four wins and several solid runs in stakes company. He’d benefit from a pace meltdown and should be going well late.


Amazing Audrey
Cured by Kitten

#5 AMAZING AUDREY: Could hold a pace advantage as one of only a few frontrunners in the field. Her last-out win at Gulfstream was very good, and she may not have to go much faster to make the lead out of the gate here; #3 DYNABEE: Closed well to be third in her 2019 debut after spending 2018 overseas. She ran well in stakes company as a 2-year-old, and a move forward off of her seasonal bow gives this one a big shot; #1 CURED BY KITTEN: Hasn’t had a lot of racing luck in her last two starts, when she’s rated behind slow paces at Gulfstream. She does sport a win over this turf course, though, and her recent running lines are dotted by several next-out winners.


Limousine Liberal
Uno Mas Modelo
Recruiting Ready

#6 LIMOUSINE LIBERAL: Makes his 2019 debut and is an easy horse to root for. His non-threatening fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint is one of only a few misfires on his ledger, and this seven-furlong distance fits him like a glove; #8 UNO MAS MODELO: Has always had the look of a very strong sprinter. Toss his run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (which he never had a chance in given the distance), and you have a horse that has won seven of his last eight starts; #2 RECRUITING READY: Has won two of three since coming off a long layoff and looked great when winning the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because of the seven-furlong distance and the fact that he’ll almost certainly be pushed early on.


Disco Partner
Bound for Nowhere

#11 IMPRIMIS: Will almost certainly be less than his 6-1 morning line price, and for good reason. His two losses both came with subpar trips, and he’ll be very tough if Paco Lopez can keep him out of trouble; #3 DISCO PARTNER: Has been one of the best turf sprinters in the country for several years and makes his 2019 debut in a tough spot. He should be rolling late, but does he need a race off the bench?; #9 BOUND FOR NOWHERE: Hasn’t been seen since misfiring in the Shadwell Turf Mile, but that was far too long for him. He’s a sprinter who loves this route, and he’s got a real chance to win this event for the second year in a row.


Shamrock Rose
Amy’s Challenge
America’s Tale

#9 SHAMROCK ROSE: Ran a very good third behind Midnight Bisou and Elate at Oaklawn and cuts back to her preferred route of ground here. They should go fast early, which would set up perfectly for this one’s late kick; #4 AMY’S CHALLENGE: Has emerged as a monster following two runaway wins over weaker at Oaklawn Park. She’ll certainly be contending for the lead, but is this seven-furlong distance further than she wants to run?; #8 AMERICA’S TALE: Showed a lot by winning the Inside Information after rating a few lengths off the pace. This barn is off to a scorching start in 2019, and we may get a bit of a price on a horse that likes this distance.


Restless Rider

#5 FEEDBACK: Came back running in the Grade 3 Forward Gal and has every right to continue her forward progression here. Two turns shouldn’t be a problem, and we may get a fair price given the presence of my two underneath horses; #4 JAYWALK: Laid an egg when fourth in the Grade 2 Davona Dale, but she may have needed that race off a long layoff. She’s worked well since that dud, and a repeat of her Breeders’ Cup score would make her the horse to beat; #6 RESTLESS RIDER: Did not finish worse than second in six starts as a 2-year-old, but comes in off of a long layoff for a trainer whose horses sometimes need a race to get going. She could win, but I feel she may be a slight underlay.


Market King

#2 VEKOMA: Came back running when a decent third in the Fountain of Youth, and has been working steadily ahead of his second start of the year. This field is heavy on quantity, but a bit suspect in quantity, and his best race almost certainly beats these; #4 MARKET KING: Was third behind Omaha Beach and Game Winner at a big price in a division of the Grade 2 Rebel. He’s shown plenty of early speed, which this field is actually pretty light on. If the track favors early zip leading up to the Blue Grass, he could have a say in the outcome at a nice price; #3 SIGNALMAN: Was one-paced in the Fountain of Youth but may have needed the race. McPeek’s horses tend to improve second off the layoff, and the recent bullet at Gulfstream inspires some confidence in an improved performance.


Choate Bridge
Delta’s Kingdom
Hungry Kitten

#2 CHOATE BRIDGE: Ran very well in her debut last summer and almost certainly needed the last-out effort. She should take a step forward here, and the improved post position draw is a big plus; #5 DELTA’S KINGDOM: Was a beaten favorite last time out at Gulfstream, but didn’t have much pace to run at that day. She’s an obvious contender with better racing luck, although it’s tough to take 5/2 in a 12-horse maiden race; #9 HUNGRY KITTEN: Closed well in her debut back in November and has some flashy works on the tab ahead of her return to the races. Javier Castellano signing on is another positive.

Pick Four Analysis: Wood Memorial, Blue Grass, Santa Anita Derby Day (4/8/17)

We’ve got three Kentucky Derby prep races coming up Saturday. Last week, this space featured how to play these races on $20 budgets. However, we had a very good day with Pick Four tickets, as two of them hit (including a $6 ticket at Gulfstream that returned nearly $230!). With that in mind, I’m going to focus on Pick Four sequences at Aqueduct, Keeneland, and Santa Anita that all feature these prep races and could present some value.


$0.50 Pick Four: Race #9

R9: 8
R10: 3,7,8
R11: 1,4,5,8
R12: 1,3,7

36 bets, $18

RATIONALE: #8 Unified will be a popular single in the opening leg, the Grade 1 Carter, and for good reason. He defeated Mind Your Biscuits in his 4-year-old debut, and that rival went on to cruise home in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. #2 Tommy Macho and #9 Ocean Knight are solid horses, but if Unified repeats or improves upon his last-out effort, he’ll be very tough to beat.

I used the logical horses in legs two and three, the Wood Memorial and the Gazelle. The only horse that will likely take money in the Wood while remaining off my ticket is #2 Mo Town, whose Remsen win has lost plenty of its luster with those he beat not doing much since then. I went four-deep in the Gazelle, and I hope that’s enough, as I’m not sold on this year’s crop of 3-year-old fillies and it seems like many of these can win.

The nightcap features my price play of the day across all three tracks. The entry of #1 Broken Engagement and #1A Super Luke will likely be favored, and #3 Build to Suit merits respect, too. However, there’s a longshot that I think you need to use. #7 Money Laundering’s pedigree doesn’t jump off the page, but he fetched a respectable $40,000 at auction last May after being bred for just $3,500. A deep dive shows that his dam is a half-sister to Hilda’s Passion, a Grade 1-winning sprinter. The workouts are solid, trainer Bruce Levine can win with first-time starters, and with the exception of Broken Engagement and maybe #5 Altesino (who’s 0-for-7 with six minor cashes, the kind of horse I HATE betting in a Pick Four sequence), the form among those that have run before isn’t anything to write home about. He’s 15-1 on the morning line, and I hope we get that price.


$0.50 Pick Four: Race #7

R7: 2,3,6,7,8
R8: 4,5,6
R9: 2
R10: 2,4,7

45 bets, $22.50

RATIONALE: The fields in this sequence aren’t huge, but this Pick Four could still pay handsomely. There may not be a single prohibitive favorite in this group of races, and if you can find a spot to take a stand, I think you can create some value.

The Shakertown kicks things off, and it’s a handicapping puzzle. If you want to hit the “ALL” button, I get it (that turns the ticket into a $40.50 play), but I was able to at least throw four horses out. The Madison (the second leg) is no picnic, either, but I settled on going three-deep with horses that are in good form: #4 Constellation, #5 High Ridge Road, and #6 Paulassilverlining.

My single comes in the third leg, the Ashland. #2 Elate salvaged third in the Grade 3 Honeybee despite an absolutely awful break, and the horse that won that race, It Tiz Well, will likely be the second choice in a much tougher spot (the Santa Anita Oaks). Elate has hinted at tons of potential in her short career, and barring more adventures leaving the gate, I think she could sit a dream trip just off the early speed. If she does, I think she’ll be tough to beat.

In the Blue Grass, I used three of the four logical horses. I’m not sold on J Boys Echo, who may have trounced a weak field in the Gotham and gets a stiff class test here against some of the top 3-year-olds in the country. I’ll let him beat me if he’s good enough, and I’ll settle on #2 McCraken, #4 Tapwrit, and #7 Practical Joke.


$0.50 Pick Four: Race #8

R8: 2,3,6,9
R9: 1
R10: 1,4,6,8 (2)
R11: 2,3,5,9,10

80 bets, $40

RATIONALE: Some Pick Fours should be treated like win bets with enhanced odds, and this is one of them. I’m going deep in three of the four legs and singling #1 Sircat Sally in the Providencia. She’ll likely be even-money, at best. However, if this Pick Four hits, I’ll likely get at least 4-1 on my money, making it a worthwhile investment.

That payoff is because the other three races are very tough. The Santa Anita Derby kicks things off, and while #9 Iliad is a nice horse and a worthy favorite, he’s no cinch. #6 American Anthem’s effort in the Rebel is a complete throw-out, and the 1-2 finishers in a March 9th allowance event, #3 Battle of Midway and #2 Reach the World, have both worked lights-out since then.

The 10th is the Echo Eddie for Cal-breds, and it’s the first of two very challenging races to close things out. #8 California Diamond is an honest horse who’s never been out of the top two in 10 career starts, but this may be the toughest field he’s faced at the state-bred level. If there are any scratches of horses I’ve used in this race, throw in #2 B Squared, a sibling to Grade 1 winner Ralis who I just didn’t have the budget to use.

As far as the 11th is concerned…good luck. We’ve got class drops, equipment switches, and jockey changes, all among a group of horses that, by and large, hasn’t shown a whole lot. There is one big price I used here. #10 Great is 20-1 on the morning line, but he takes a drop into the maiden claiming ranks for the first time and exits what seems like a very strong maiden special weight event. That race last month was his first outing since November, and improvement is certainly logical at a big price.