There’s the expressway and then there’s the long and winding road. With three weeks of Road to Kentucky left I’ve been taking the long and winding road this year far too often. But each week presents a new opportunity for success and this week the featured track is Keeneland and the double-point bonus race is the Grade II Lexington. It’s been ten years since the winner of the Lexington has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby (Charismatic) but the race looks like a good betting race and has been producing some good longshots over the years. Let’s get started!
Race 1: This was a Clm10000 for 4+ at 6.5f. I originally liked Joe Six Pack but he was bet down too much so I switched to Bob and Rich (ML 15-1) who has never finished worse than second at the distance and has 4 wins on the synthetic surface. Systems Steve was another that I considered.
The Result: Smokealongthetrack won easily at 7/2 exiting a two month layoff. He had two prior wins on synthetic including a win at Keeneland last fall. He was bet down from an 8-1 ML. Systems Steve finished second and Pegasus Reign finished third. My selection bid into the stretch but flattened out and finished 6th at 11-1 odds.
Maximum Points: Smokealongthetrack 186
Maximum Score: 186
My Score: 0
Race 2: This was an Alw54000N1X for 4+ at 1m1/16. Only five horses go in this one and I selected Lowther Street (ML 5/2) to score off the two month freshening for trainer Harty and rider Prado. He has run his entire career in California before today. The favorite is Pure Pulpit and he is 1 for 1 after breaking his maiden on the Calder turf course last December. This is a well balanced field.
The Result: Bold Abbott bullied his way between horses at the top of the stretch and scored over Lowther Street and Pure Pulpit. The three favorites dominated this one.
Maximum Points: Bold Abbott 130
Maximum Score: 316
My Score: 52
Race 3: Anybody got an extra 100K lying around? This was a Mcl100000 for 3+ at 7f. I selected Dahlgonit (ML 6-1) from post 10 who ran second twice last fall at big odds at Keeneland. He also has two seconds at the distance. He makes his first start in four months. Many contenders to choose from in this one!
The Result: Lookn Mighty Fast got a nice trip from just off the speed and scored for Leparoux at 7-1 over Citizens Brigade and Dahlgonit. The winner was an Aqueduct shipper coming off a seven week freshening with two bullet works since his last race.
Makimum Points: Lookn Mighty Fast 314
Maximum Score: 630
My Score: 94
Race 4: This was an Alw62000C for 4+ fillies and mares at 1m on the turf. I thought it was between Dance to My Tune and J Z Warrior and ended up on J Z Warrior (ML 5/2) with Gomez aboard for Mott. She has one prior turf effort sprinting at Tampa Downs. Let’s see if she can stretch out today. Dance to My Tune looked strong from off the pace but hasn’t won since 2007.
The Result: Precious Princess rallied strongly down the lane and scored at 9/2 over J Z Warrior and Marquee Delivery. I got a perfect ride by Gomez but the horse was second best today.
Maximum Points: Precious Princess 200
Maximum Score: 830
My Score: 154
Race 5: This was an Alw54000N1X for 3yo fillies at 6f. I decided to try Northern Belle (ML 10-1) from the rail as she might be the speed of the speed. She has some extremely good workouts since her last race and makes her first start on a synthetic surface today. Ocean Colors is the lukewarm favorite on the board for trainer Asmussen. It’s another wide open race.
The Result: Northern Belle ran to her workouts and scored at 6-1 over Keertana and Maraschino Red. They clicked off a very quick opening quarter and Northern Belle sat just off the pace and scored with authority. The favorites were nowhere in this one.
Maximum Points: Northern Belle 268
Maximum Score: 1,098
My Score: 422
Race 6: This was an Alw54000N1X for 4+ at 7f. The middle of this card was as tough as it gets and I selected Furillo (ML 15-1) as a potential lone speed horse. Trainer Drury is a very solid 8 for 23 this year and jockey Velasquez rides. He looks live in a very competitive race. The favorite is Ready’s Echo who has run in several graded races in a row and is ridden by Gomez for Pletcher.
The Result: Ready’s Echo won easily at 6/5 over longshot Fort Apache Star and A Diehl. My selection never got near the early lead like I hoped at 14-1. Fort Apache Star got the most contest points for his second place finish. He had finished ITM in 4 of 7 on the synthetic and was third off the layoff.
Maximum Points Fort Apache Star 170
Maximum Score: 1,268
My Score: 422
Race 7: This was an Alw58000N2X for 4+ fillies and mares at 1m1/16th. I selected Namaste’s Wish (ML 4-1) off the layoff for Mott and Desormeaux. She has been running mainly on the turf and tries the synthetic surface for the first time. Cable and Hamsa are the two main threats on paper.
The Result: In a paceless race, Born to Be grabbed the early lead and wired the field at 7-1. Born to Be had never missed the board on the synthetic surface from four tries. She hadn’t run in six months. She’s Yummy finished second and Cable ran third. My selection reached contention at 6-1 but didn’t run on down the lane.
Maximum Points: Born to Be 302
Maximum Score: 1,570
My score: 422
Race 8: This was the 13th running of the Giants Causeway for 3+ fillies and mares at 5.5f on the turf. I selected Coy Cat (ML 10-1) who has won three of his last four races at this distance on the turf. She is in very sharp form and gets the class test today. Several others have a huge chance breaking from the outside post positions.
The Result: Favored Diamondrella weaved through traffic and nailed Marina Ballerina at the wire with Lady Chace third. It looked like a tough race on paper but the favorite won it. The speed held much better than I was anticipating in this one and my selection never got involved at 7-1.
Maximum Points: Diamondrella 184
Maximum Score: 1,754
My Score: 422
The Lexington Stakes: Here is the 28th running of the Grade II Lexington Stakes for 3yo at 1m1/16. A few of these are stabbing towards the Derby but it doesn’t look very likely that they can contend in that race. It’s a good betting race today and I chose Parade Clown (ML 15-1) with Leparoux aboard. He is 4 for 6 in the top 2 on synthetic and should get a decent trip from just off the pace. Square Eddie is the favorite but he has not run in 3 months so he might be vulnerable. Plus, he already has enough earnings to qualify for the Derby so what type of effort will he give today? I think Square Eddie is worth trying to beat as the favorite.
The Result: Pitched Perfectly set the pace and Square Eddie made a big wide move to the lead at the top of the stretch. But it was Advice for Pletcher and Gomez at 15-1 who was running best of all late and scored at the wire over Conservative and Square Eddie. This gives Pletcher another option for the Derby if they decide to go. I would imagine Square Eddie will go to the Derby if he comes out of this race healthy. Parade Clown was in the mix early but finished well back at 10-1. The uncoupled entry angle strikes again without me!
Maximum Points: Advice 1,128
Maximum Score: 2,882
My Score: 422
Race 10: This was a maiden special weight route and I thought it was strictly between the two favorites La Rocca and Siren Serenade. They both were 5/2 at post time and I selected Siren Serenade to win it.
The Result: My selection set the pace past mid stretch and tired to third. La Rocca just got up by a nose over Gold D’Oro and Siren Serenade.
Maximum Points: La Rocca 152
Maximum Score: 3,034
My Score: 454
Summary: Advice was the key to the contest this week as he was worth over 1/3 of all points. It’s not often you get Pletcher and Gomez at 15-1!! That will leave a few people second guessing their selection. A 2,000 point score this week will contend but having Advice is an absolute must. I expect Square Eddie will continue on to the Kentucky Derby as one of the outsiders in the race. Next week we move to Churchill Downs for the Derby Trial and the appetizer to Kentucky Derby Day. See you next week!