Click here to jump down to my analysis of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.
Saturday, October 11
Race 2: Starter Optional Claiming $32,000 at seven furlongs
8 – My Adonis
With the track coming up sloppy and my original top selection scratching, I was forced to give this race another look and I believe that I’ve found yet another opportunity. A closer look at the lifetime past performances of MY ADONIS (#8) reveals that he clearly is at his best on wet, sealed racetracks. I know that his 6-1-1-2 record doesn’t look particularly stellar at first glance, but keep in mind that four of those six wet track appearances came at the graded stakes level. He went badly off form last year, but I think that David Jacobson has gotten this horse moving in the right direction again. My Adonis clearly wants to run farther than six furlongs, but he still put in good late runs in his two most recent races at that distance at Monmouth. I expect him to be a bit closer to the pace today with projected slower early fractions, and if he’s relatively close entering the stretch I expect him to be tough to hold off.
$15 Win 8
Race 5: Allowance N1X at 1 1/16 miles (off the turf) for fillies and mares
7 – Prayed For
I know that you’re typically supposed to be against horses like PRAYED FOR (#7) in these situations, but I found too many things to like about her in this dirt race:
1) Jimmy Jerkens sports some excellent numbers with off-the-turf runners on the NYRA circuit: 12-for-40 (30%) with a $3.85 ROI.
2) Prayed For’s dam raced four times, all on the dirt, and put in her two best efforts on sloppy tracks. She is also a full-sister to Corinthian, who was a true mud lark. If there is such a thing as wet track pedigree, Prayed For has it.
3) Prayed For has reportedly been working very strongly on the dirt.
4) Prayed For is a horse with real ability, and the same cannot be said for her “Main Track Only” rivals. Get Gorgeous and Long Blooming Rose are decent enough, but if Prayed For handles the dirt, everyone else is running for second.
$20 Win 7
Race 7: Maiden Special Weight at one mile (off the turf) for fillies and mares
3 – Checkupfromzneckup
5 – Sylvia T
CHECKUPFROMZNECKUP (#3) comes out of a live maiden race at Gulfstream, and actually did some real running late in a race that mostly held together on the front end. The extra two furlongs should suit her and I just feel that she is a very likely winner of this race at a short price. I’ll use her in the exacta with SYLVIA T (#5), who has actually run some decent dirt races and should be a fair price. I prefer her to horses like Queen’s Parade and Colorful, who are more turf-meant, and Strum, who was very disappointing in a weak race last time.
$15 Exacta 3-5
$5 Exacta 5-3
Race 8: The Knickerbocker (G3) at 1 1/8 miles on the turf
9 – Mshawish
While I think that Up With the Birds (#7) is the most likely winner of this race, he’s probably going to be favored now that last year’s Knickerbocker winner Za Approval has been scratched, and I’m not sure that I want to take a relatively short price on a horse who might be pace-compromised. I ultimately took MSHAWISH (#9) on top because I think he’ll offer the best value. Mshawish had to endure a terrible trip in his stateside debut when making a middle move in the Oceanport at Monmouth, and then last time, although he was disqualified somewhat controversially, he was indeed much the best against weaker competition.
That said, Mshawish’s two U.S. races are just not true barometers of his ability, and you’re severely underestimating this horse if you do not take his European and Dubai races into account. Last year, Mshawish was fourth behind the very good Intello in the French Derby (G1) on good-to-soft ground, and was also fourth in an excellent running of the St. James Palace (G1) on good ground. More recently he won a good running of the Zabeel Mile (G2) in Dubai and was fourth behind Just A Way’s top-rated performance in the world in the Dubai Duty Free (G1). If Mshawish gets back to anything close to that kind of form today, he will be a major threat to win this race.
$15 Win 9
$10 Exacta Box 7,9
Today’s Wagers: $90.00
Today’s Payouts: $0.00
Saturday, October 11
Race 9: The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for three year-old fillies
2 – Minorette
3 – Speed Seeker
I’m not way against Crown Queen, but she got a relatively good trip last time in a race where my top pick did not get an ideal setup. She is also a total unknown in today’s conditions, and I’m inclined to not take a short price on a horse who is trying something for the first time when there are plenty of other appealing options.
I’m going back to MINORETTE (#2) on top. I just feel that she never was able to get into a good rhythm in the Lake Placid chasing two to three-wide early before never changing leads in the stretch. She’s clearly better than that and Chad Brown loses no faith running her back in this very tough spot. She proved in the Wonder Again and Belmont Oaks that she handles turf with some give in it, and she possesses the tactical speed to be relatively close early. At anything close to her morning line odds of 9-2, I think she’s a great bet.
I also want to use SPEED SEEKER (#3), who has been most impressive in her two victories at Woodbine, and didn’t get the greatest trip in her lone venture to the states in the Lake George. I’m sure that she’s better than that, but it remains to be seen if she’s quite good enough to beat a field of this quality. At the price, I think she’s worth using.
I’ll bet both of these fillies to win and will use them in the exacta with the very logical Ball Dancing (#6).
$15 Win 2
$10 Win 3
$5 Exacta Box 2,3,6