While we all claim to be experts in something, the Intern is actually an expert in horse racing. He knows Keeneland just about as well as anyone in Lexington….trust me on that. Thus during the fall meet, he will be giving his picks on the blog from time to time. Check in if you will be going out to the track as I guarantee he will be consistently better than other sources. Here is his first take:
Let’s face it, this blog likes to gamble. Many of you probably don’t know this, but during breaks in the radio show we often break out the dice and Mickey’s and have ourselves a heckuva party. So, in an effort to both satisfy the itch and promote the splendor of the Bluegrass, I will begin my likely long, dangerous, and probably sad journey into handicapping. I may be a coffee makin’ know-nothing to some (mom), but thoroughbreds are my passion; and I’m not a bad guy to have around the betting window. That being said, this meet at Keeneland is the most difficult one to dissect in its storied history. As many of you know, Keeneland just cut the ribbon on their new track: a synthetic blend of sugar and spice called Polytrack–designed to reduce break-downs and pricy maintainance bills. Some horses have raced on the surface before (Turfway Park among others) and some have trained (Keeneland installed a Poly training track a couple of years ago). Still, this will be the first start on the new surface for a large number, therefore making my job extremely difficult. Nevertheless, I’m going to start small and brief and see how it plays out over the first week or so. As soon as the numbers and figures begin to take shape and assuming I’m winning at a decent clip, I’ll keep it up. Or, if nobody on here likes the ponies, I’ll go back to brewin’ joe.
Only a few in the field have Polytrack experience, and those that do aren’t very fast. You have to like the even money favorite #4 Maizelle out of the ridiculously hot Todd Pletcher stable. Only her second career start, but it was good enough to earn the Storm Cat filly a 93 Beyer figure and a place. The compliments: #5 Wildwood Ella. Never worse than 3rd in 4 lifetime starts, except her last effort in Sept. where her victory was DQ’d after an erratic stretch run. Still, you can’t ignore her speed and consistency, as well as her experience going 1 1/16th.
The #3 Votsi is an impeccably bred filly (Mr. Prospector) owned by who else but Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum and trained by the world class hands of Neil Drysdale. A British import who’s making her first start in the “New World.” I’m always skeptical of imports at Keeneland, especially one with her mediocre race history. Worth a play only if her current odds, 4-1, get a little longer.
My longshot picks: The #10 Hot Canary. Rafael Bejarano is at the reigns, and you can never count Rafi out at Keeneland, as he’s shaping up to be this generation’s Pat Day. This will be her 7th start in ’06 and she’s yet to show worse than 5th. Her closing style would greatly benefit from a predicted fast pace. Plus, she’s had a couple decent works on the Polytrack at Turfway. Worth a play in the exotics, or across the board. #12 LucySykes might just be my gamble of the day, especially at 10-1. Third her last time out at Turfway after shipping from England, on the Polytrack no-less.
Highly competitive contest here. #1 Swingit is early co-favorite with #3 Bavarian Belle. Swingit, making his 3rd lifetime start, is looking to build on his win last time out on the turf at Arlington back in August where she defeated Bavarian Belle among others. #2 Deep Springs has to get a look based on connections alone: D. Wayne Lukas, Overbrook Farm, Storm Cat. Stumbled out of the gate and finished dead last her last time out, but won her first career start at Arlington in June. Will shoot for the front and vie with Bavarian Belle for the early lead. First time starter on Turf raises doubts, however. Play if the price is good, but unlikely: Lexingtonians have never seen an Overbrook horse they didn’t like. #4 Katerbug is worth a play should her price stay around 7/8-1. Impressive first start saw her come out on top at Ellis this summer going in a 5 ½ F sprint on the Turf. Taking a slight step-up in class here and the added distance is a question mark. Would fit nicely into the exotics.
$2 and let it ride longshot: #5
$2 and let it ride longshot: #4
$2 and let it ride longshot: #4