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The Road to Kentucky Week 11 (4/19/2008)

We’re back on the Polytrack today at Keeneland for the Lexington Stakes. The guys on TVG are saying that there has been a tremendous speed bias today at Keeneland which I wasn’t aware of so let’s see what happens. I’m going to try to focus on horses that have shown some success over the Keeneland surface, or at least have shown success on any synthetic racetrack. Good Luck!
It was reported this morning that War Pass will not run in the Derby due to an injury. The 2-year-old champion is out of the Kentucky Derby.
Race 1: This was an MSW50K for 3yos at 1m1/16th. The favorite is Sette E Mezzo from post 11 but he looks vulnerable off 1 career effort in a sprint at Gulfstream Park. I don’t think you can transfer that effort to a two turn race over the Polytrack. Another horse the public likes is Tizzy, a nibbler at this level with two decent efforts over the Keeneland surface but with an 0 for 7 record. I selected Elusive Schemes at 5-1, a California shipper who had been running on the turf in California. I liked his workout pattern and felt that he would be forwardly placed against these. I also respected the rail horse, Unique Tale, as he was exiting a turf route at Gulfstream Park and had some trouble in his last two races.
The Result: Unique Tale grabbed the early lead from the rail and went wire to wire as the speed looked very good as was reported on TV. Tizzy chased and held second and longshot Guadalcanal finished third. My selection didn’t show the speed I was hoping for and closed a little bit to finish a well beaten 5th at 5-1.
Maximum Points: Unique Tale 176Maximum Score: 176My Score: 0
Race 2: This was a Clm10000 for 4+ at 6½f. Canterbury blog contributor Jerod Dinkin has tracked some sprint results at Keeneland and determined that horses exiting routes are winning a huge percentage of the sprint races, so that’s the angle I looked for in this race. There were two horses exiting routes, Polo Grounds and Tuesday Silence. I selected Tuesday Silence as he was showing good route speed at Oaklawn and his career best Beyer figure was run at Keeneland in his debut last April. No big favorite on the board, the public likes Above Board, Yeah Mon and Party Crasher.
The Result: Party Crasher looked like lone speed on paper and he drew away to an easy 5 length victory. Longshot Systems Steve ran second at 25-1 and Bobby Jack finished third. Favored Above Board had a horrible trip along the rail, breaking slowly and losing all chance. My selection also broke slowly and never got into contention at 8-1 odds. The route to sprint angle failed in this one, although the speed bias that appears to be legitimate may be negating that angle for the time being. Systems Steve was the top point horse in this race for his second place finish. He had a “9 wide” trouble comment for his last race, but hadn’t shown much in his last few races. He did run first and second earlier this year on the Turfway Park Polytrack.
Maximum Points: Systems Steve 310Maximum Score: 486My Score: 0
Race 3: This was a MSW50K for 2yo fillies at 4½f. All horses in this race are first time starters so it is very difficult! The two most likely winners in my view are Old Time Religion and A Day for Dancing. My selection was A Day for Dancing based mainly on the breeding as she is by Dance Master, a 21% first time out winning percentage and a very high 55% win percentage with two year olds. The other horse I liked was Old Time Religion, who recently blazed a bullet workout in 34Hg. The way the track is playing she could be gone on the front end with a clean break. The Result: Royal Card, trained by Todd Pletcher, scored at 2-1 over A Day for Dancing and Old Time Religion. Royal Card got loose briefly in the post parade but was very impressive as she scored from just off the pace as the second choice in the wagering. Maximum Points: Royal Card 138Maximum Score: 624My Score: 74
Race 4: This was an Alw58000N2X for fillies and mares 4+ at 1m1/16th. I selected the rail horse Silence Dogood as she returns from a two-month freshening and shows three ITM finishes from three starts over the Keeneland surface in her career. She is trained by John Kimmel, who scored in the opener today with Unique Tale. Silence Dogood is co-favored with Drop a Line, another layoff horse with Polytrack experience and good tactical speed. Both horses are hovering around 2-1 odds.
The Result: Silence Dogood grabbed a short lead on the rail and got a bit of pressure from Eye of the Hurricane and Drop a Line. Awesome Ashley sat just off the pace and as they hit the wire it was a dead heat between Awesome Ashley at 5-1 and Drop a Line at 6/5, with Silence Dogood finishing third.
Maximum Points: Awesome Ashley 124Maximum Score: 748My Score: 98
Race 5: This was a MSW50K for 3yos at 1m1/16th. I’m hoping that the rail horse El Aleman continues his improvement and grabs the early lead from the inside. He ran a very competitive fourth in his last start at 60-1 as he dueled for the lead to the stretch call. I selected him back on March 1 when he ran 7th at 14-1 and decided to take him back today. His connections are very high on him as they entered him in the Grade 2 Lanes End two starts back. He appears to be on the upswing and should offer some pretty good value. The big favorite is Jumpin Charlie, making his second career start after a third place finish at Santa Anita last time out. Jumpin Charlie is trained by Todd Pletcher and shows two bullet workouts since his last start.
The Result: No longshots here as the 7/5 favorite Jumpin Charlie rallied from a bit off the pace to defeat Ndongo and Marl. My selection ran okay at 17-1 as he was second to the top of the stretch but just wasn’t good enough late.
Maximum Points: Jumpin Charlie 108Maximum Score: 856My Score: 98
Race 6: This was the 1st running of the 100K Fort Harrod stakes for 4+ at the marathon distance of 1m5/8th. I like taking forwardly placed horses in these marathon races and hope that the riders can slow things down on the front end. With that in mind, I selected Save Big Money from the rail as he should be able to secure the lead in this race. Albarado is riding and has been aboard this one for two victories. He’s never tried this distance, but does show a win at Keeneland on form. The trainer Neil Howard has been struggling lately so that is a big concern. The favorite is Rathor (Ire), who exits two Graded races at Santa Anita and may hold a class edge over his rivals. He also shows a win over the Keeneland strip.
The Result: Jade’s Revenge had been the beaten favorite three times on form but today he fired his best shot and prevailed by a big margin at 5-1. There was a photo for second between Save Big Money and High Blues, with Save Big Money barely edging High Blues for second. I was not happy with Alvarado’s ride aboard Save Big Money, as I thought he had the speed to either get the lead or be in the top two early. Albarado just wrapped up on him early and he dropped back to last. I don’t understand that strategy on a track that’s playing the way it has been playing. I’m surprised the horse was able to get up for second.
Maximum Points: Jade’s Revenge 272Maximum Score: 1,128My Score: 208
Race 7: This was an Alw54000N1Xfor 3yo fillies at 6f. Going back to the route to sprint turnback angle, there is only one qualifier in this race and that’s the favorite Morakami from the George Arnold barn. That was my selection as she looks like the class of the field exiting several graded stakes races. She looms as strictly the one to beat in my view.
The Result: The 7/5 favorite was very disappointing as she checked in fourth in a non-threatening effort. The winner was Ride Em Cowgirl at 7-1, a filly returning from a six month layoff and ridden by Julien Leparoux. She showed some pretty good early speed on form. Lady Yankee finished second and Kid Soup was third.
Maximum Points: Ride Em Cowgirl 290Maximum Score: 1,418My score: 208
Race 8: This was the 12th running of the 100K Giants Causeway for F&M3+ at 5½f on the turf. Jazzy (Arg) is the big favorite and he is in solid form after a second place finish behind rival Danceroftherealm in a turf sprint at the fairgrounds. These horses are in fine form with no real knocks against them and would be no surprise. I decided to try a bit of a longshot and selected Taletobetold, who was just soundly defeated by the two favorites in her last start at the Fairgrounds. She fired a strong race over the Keeneland turf last fall with a close second place finish at 17-1 and is now making her second start off the layoff. Julien Leparoux rides.
The Result: Danceroftherealm makes it four in a row as she rallies down the outside to prevail at 5/2. Kindling finished second and favored Jazzy (Arg) was third. Just for Keeps was the pace setter and originally finished second, but was disqualified for interference as she drifted out badly nearing the wire and impeded my selection Taletobetold. I think Taletobetold had a shot at second place without the interference but I don’t believe she could have held off the eventual winner in any case.
Maximum Points: Danceroftherealm 146Maximum Score: 1,564My Score: 208
Race 9: This was the featured 27th running of the Lexington stakes for 3yos at 1m1/16th. There are two pure speed horses signed on, Samba Rooster and St. Joe, and I don’t see either one clearly outsprinting the other one early so it looks like a fast pace is almost guaranteed. Of the others, you can make a case for almost anyone as they each have some positive angles to choose from. I ended up selecting Racecar Rhapsody because I remember that he was down on the inside at Turfway Park in his last race and there appeared to be an outside bias that day. I’m not sure if he can get there over a speed biased track but I can’t change my pick now! I really need this winner to avoid another dismal performance in this contest.
The Result: The pace was hot as expected as Samba Rooster set a fast pace of 45 and change to the half mile. He held well for second, but Behindatthebar ended up closing for the victory at 5-1 with Riley Tucker finishing third. My selection Racecar Rhapsody closed belatedly for fourth. Behindatthebar was far back early and handled the track very well as he started picking off runners on the backstretch, moved inside along the turn, and then wore down Samba Rooster late. Pletcher scores again at Keeneland after running 1-2 in last week’s Blue Grass Stakes!
Maximum Points: Behindatthebar 528Maximum Score: 2,092My Score: 208
Race 10: The finale was an Alw54000N1X for 4+ at 1m1/2 on the turf. I selected probable favorite Sunshine Kid as he finished fourth last time out while enduring trouble. This horse has never tried the distance, but several in here are unproven at the marathon distance. Sunshine Kid is currently 6/5 on the board, and my final chance to select one winner on today’s card!
The Result: Biggerbadderbetter scored an easy victory at 7-1 over the favorite Sunshine Kid. Biggerbadderbetter was coming off a four month layoff for Kenneth McPeek and really fired a huge effort off the layoff. Nice handicapping if you found this winner.
Maximum Points: Biggerbadderbetter280Maximum Score: 2,372My Score: 268
Summary: After a couple of decent weeks, the Keeneland Polytrack really made me look bad as I wasn’t able to select a single winner all day. It will be interesting to see if any of the Lexington Stakes entrants go on to the Kentucky Derby. Once again the winner had no established dirt form whatsoever. If you tabbed Behindatthebar, you will have a head start on taking down the top prize this week as I’m guessing the winning score will be in the 1,600 point range. There weren’t any huge shockers, just a steady diet of low to medium priced horses. Biggerbadderbetter was a nice find in the last race. Next week we go to Churchill Downs for the Derby Trial, and we get our first look at how Churchill might be playing on the first Saturday in May. Good Luck!
The Oracle