- Keeneland CEO Nick Nicholson acknowledged that bettors' lack of confidence in the Polytrack surface may be contributing to the decline in handle.
"It's not as easy as it once was....And I'm not going to criticize the critics. I understand their frustration." [Lexington Herald Reader]Sounds like he's having a bad meet himself.
Dale Romans made what I think is a good point when he said: "I'm not so sure it would be a problem if it were longer than a two-week meet, so they can get a gauge on who's running well." Reader rgustafson had posted the winning favorite percentage for the grass races - 4 for 23 coming into Wednesday - which were even worse than the Poly. I know it's an extremely small sample, but perhaps it's an indication that the races there are just hard, period. Horses pour in from tracks all over the country, which makes comparisons difficult. And since they race so infrequently these days, you rarely, even in the meet's final days, get races in which you can attempt to determine the contestants' relative strengths based on them having run against each other, or at least over the track. For example, check out today's 6th - 11 horses who last ran at eight different tracks, none of them Keeneland.
- Thursday's third is a baby race, and Pletcher, the meet's leading trainer (11 wins from 43 starters), unveils Mr Mistoffelees, a Storm Cat colt who brought $1.5 million from Coolmore at Calder in February after breezing an eighth in 10 1/5 seconds. Not too often that one sees such expensive horseflesh this early in the season, so I'd have to assume that he hasn't missed a beat and is ready to roll. Indeed, he comes off two blazing workouts, earning the clocker's comment looked sharp, about ready for his debut when getting a half in 46 flat on 4/19. Mr Mistoffelees is out of Country Romance, a stakes winning Saint Ballado mare who's a half-sister to the graded winner Katz Me If You Can. His second dam is the late Grade 1 winner Cuddles.
- Mattieandmorgan, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, makes her debut in the 9th, a seven furlong sprint; she's a half-sister to the once-defeated grassy Grade 1 winner Shakespeare, by 15% first-out sire Smart Strike. Turf in this one's future for sure, but what better place for her to debut than on the Keeneland Poly?
- Handicappers aren't the only ones finding Keeneland to be difficult. Steve Asmussen has just one winner from 23 starters thus far.