Today is a great day of racing with Breeders Cup prep races at both Belmont and Keeneland that we’ll look at here (also today, Santa Anita has the Santa Anita Sprint Championship featuring Roy H, Giant Expectations, and American Anthem).
We’ll look at a few spots here.
Belmont Race 8 – Champagne Stakes (G1) – 12 are lined up to go a one-turn mile and there are three horses that we’ll focus on in our plays. #6 Good Magic (7-2) is our top selection. This $1-million yearling was bet to 3-4 in the Travers Day opener but had to chase wide while Hazit, who is in this race, set a very slow pace on a good rail in wiring the field. We’ll also use #9 Honorable Treasure (6-1), who was an impressive winner with a 90 Beyer in his first dirt race on August 19th. Ezmosh, who was beaten by 6 lengths as the runner-up in that race, came back to win a one-mile race at Churchill Downs and improve his figure by 10 points. Finally, we’ll use #8 Aveenu Malcainu (6-1), a NY-bred who is 2-2 and has looked strong in both of his starts.
Belmont Race 9 – Hill Prince (G3) – This is not really a Breeders Cup prep, but more likely a Hollywood Derby prep race. #4 Frostmourne (5-2) was the impressive winner of the Kent but then was training in an unsatisfactory for trainer Christophe Clement, so they skipped the Secretariat Stakes with him. That has to be at least a little bit concerning. We prefer #6 Bricks and Mortar (3-1) who had a very troubled start before putting in a big run behind Voodoo Song in the Saranac last time out. #2 Yoshida (7-2) ran a big race in the Saranac too, but didn’t have the trouble that Bricks and Mortar did – still, he was only beaten by that one by 3/4 of a length in the Hall of Fame two-back. We’re using him too.
Belmont Race 10 – Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) – #7 Keen Ice (9-5) is the horse to beat. He won the Suburban over this trip two-back and ran well after breaking slowly and getting caught behind a moderate pace in the Whitney as Gun Runner, the possible BC Classic favorite, romped. Keen Ice is back at his best distance and should get enough pace here, with Diversify and Keen Ice’s stablemates, Destin and Rally Cry. That said, #4 Pavel (5-2) is the horse we’d like to bet (though we’d need a little more than the 5-2 morning line price). After winning his debut going 6 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar, Pavel ran a huge race in the Jim Dandy, chasing wide on a gold-rail track and only fading late after stretching out to nine furlongs. He then crushed the field with a 103 Beyer in the Smarty Jones last time at Parx. The distance in a question, and this is a tough spot against older horses in just his fourth career start, but maybe he is that good. His aggressive placement in here and the Jim Dandy say at least that Doug O’Neil thinks he might be that good.
Let’s look at some of the races from Keeneland on Saturday.
Keeneland Race 5 – Woodford (G2) – This 5.5 furlong Breeders Cup Turf Sprint prep is led by #8 Hogy (5-2) and #3 Commend (3-1) who are solid, but hardly overwhelming. We have a goofy horse in here – #2 Latent Revenge (12-1). He got cooked in a fast pace in an allowance race here in April before running a big 2nd on Derby Day (though that turf course had some give). His last two races were not good, but in June at Churchill he missed the break and rushed up. You can forgive that. Then last time, he set a pretty solid pace and faded in his first start in three months. There’s not a ton of other pace in here (#2 Bucchero is another horse we considered and we’ll use underneath) and Latent Revenge might be able to speed-pop this field.
Keeneland Race 6 – TCA Stakes (G2) – #4 Finley’sluckycharm (3-5) is obviously the one to beat and is at her preferred distance of six furlongs (she is 5-6 with one second place finish at the trip). That said, there are a few other speed horses, and 3-5 is a bit short. We’ll try #1 Bendable (6-1) who ships in for Richard Mandella. She’ll get a good trip behind the speed and if she runs back to her Desert Stormer win two-back, she’ll be very tough to beat.
Keeneland Race 7 – First Lady (G1) – She’s the favorite but we much prefer #4 Roca Rojo (2-1) here. She was caught behind a very slow pace last time and rallied well into a last 5/16ths run in 28.06 seconds and that was behind Lady Eli.
Keeneland Race 8 – Breeders Futurity (G1) – This is a really fun race. We liked #3 Givemeaminit (7-2) in the Hopeful last time and he ran very well. I think he might have won had he gotten to the outside. Two turns should not be a problem either. Our top pick, however, is #8 Bourbon Resolution (8-1), who beat #1 Lionite (12-1) in a Saratoga maiden race last time. Bourbon Resolution is an Ian Wilkes runner that ran very well to be second in his debut, was caught wide off a gold rail in his second start and then wired his foes last time. He’ll sit back a few off the pace in this race and we think has some growth potential for a good trainer. We’ll add that Lionite has a chance at a big price. We’re a bit against #2 Ezmosh (6-1) who won nicely last time but did so against a very weak field. #9 Free Drop Billy (2-1) is the favorite, but we don’t want to take too short of a price in this tough field, though he should stretch out without a problem.
Keeneland Race 9 – Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) – #10 Heart to Heart (7-2) is back at his best distance and might well be loose here, but he’s always been just a slight cut below against Grade 1 company. We’ll use defensively, but want to take a shot against. #8 Miss Temple City (3-1) will not be on any of our tickets. She has not run up to her previous form in two starts since returning from Royal Ascot and now faces talented older males. While she won’t his race last year, her form is just not close to where it was 12 months ago (personally we would have run her in the First Lady where we wouldn’t bet her either but she’d have a much better shot).
#6 Ballagah Rocks (10-1) is our top selection in what could be a big 20 minutes for Donegal Racing (they have Keen Ice in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 5:25 pm). He’s shown improved tactical speed lately and last time did the dirty work chasing the pace-setter before being inhaled by World Approval, perhaps the best American miler this year. Time Test, who was second in that Fourstardave, might be favored in this race too. #3 Suedois (15-1) probably won’t be that full morning line price, but is in good form and adds Lasix coming out of a Group 2 win overseas. He ran a few good races on firm ground behind the excellent Limato last year and caught soft turf a few times earlier on this year. Those are our top two picks, but we’ll use #2 Divisidero (9-2) as well. Divisidero didn’t really have much run in his last two races, both going 10 furlongs in the Manhattan and Arlington Million. Turning back suits him well, but I wonder if a flat mile is a little too short. Still, he won’t knock us out.