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Friday, April 06, 2007

Keeneland Saturday

- Here's the selections for Saturday's card that are in Friday's print edition of the Keeneland Special, and will be posted on their main page....though you'll notice that there's nothing for the Ashland. It's a long story, but Pete ended up writing that one. However, we both like Mistical Plan. O'Neill's stable continues to perform well out east, and I don't think she'll be any exception.

Race 1 – Two-year old specialist Wesley Ward sends out NEA NEA DENAE, who worked three furlongs in a snappy 34 3/5 from the gate over this track. That was at least .8 seconds faster than any of the other 22 at the distance. By Bertrando, she's from the distaff family of champion Sweet Catomine. ELOCUTION is working well for Steve Asmussen, and is by the sharp first-out sire Mutakddim. RIDE EM COWGIRL, by Mazel Trick, is trained by Trudy Feliciano; at this meeting last year, she popped Cowgirls Don't Cry (no relation) at 25-1.

Race 2 – BURROWING OWL closed well for second against 35K claimers, and takes what seems like an appropriate class drop after trailing allowance horses; nice work for this too. SIR WINZALOT drops to a level at which he won in February; cuts back from two turns to seven furlongs, but has won at six furlongs and a one-turn mile. OLYMPIC CITY always runs well off layoffs, but the drop to this level raises warning flags.

Race 3 – Let's stretch a bit in a race crying for a longshot. Trainer Cody Autrey, who had a torrid Fair Grounds meeting, had an apparent change of heart regarding HIGHER CAUSE. After claiming him for 25K, he entered him, and lost him, for 5K. He did win the race, and Autrey promptly claimed him back for the same price his next time out. Bad post, and a huge class jump here, but he has the speed to clear some of the plodders inside of him and get position. And he ran well here last fall at this distance. AL JOHNSTAN is improved of late and is the one to beat. CONFIRMED drops in class for Zito and attracts Leparoux, who wins at a 26% rate for the barn.

Race 4 – WHAT A TALE won on the Polytrack here last fall before twice running into Tiz Wonderful, to whom he ran second in the Iroqouis. He returns after a troubled effort in the Kentucky Jockey Club for Patrick Biancone, hitting at 31% in the relevant layoff category. FIVE STAR DAWN was four lengths behind the top choice here, and has really come on in his last two at Turfway. BANQUE ROYALE looked hopelessly beaten in his debut at Gulfstream, backing up halfway through the field around the turn before coming back on to win for Zito, 26% here over the last two years (but note that this barn has never won a race on Polytrack).

Race 5 – REAL CATTY came alive in her last race, rallying wide for third in his first attempt around two turns in which he didn't fall. DYNAMITE EYES hasn't raced before, and that's just about enough to make her a contender in this field. This daughter of Dynaformer, 11% with first-timers, worked sharply over the Polytrack for trainer Mark Frostad. MISS MONEYPENNY may improve around two turns in her second start; by Deputy Minister, she's from the direct distaff family of the champion filly Dance Smartly, and the prodigious sire Smart Strike.

Race 6 – We'll give another shot to BARBICAN, a Darley four-year old who hasn't quite lived up to the potential he showed at three. In his second start off a year layoff, he got caught wide on a sealed track against a talented field, and was conserved by Edgar Prado once his fate was clear. ALPHA TEJANO has recently raced on turf, dirt, mud, and around two turns with only modest success; he won at this distance here on the Polytrack last fall. MUSIC SCHOOL is another once-promising three-year old trying to find his way, and burning much money in the process.

Race 7 – MINISTER'S JOY breezed from last to first with seeming effortlessness in his last, at Gulfstream; Castellano was easing up on him well before the wire. Where the pace will come from this time, I can't say for sure, but he's too sharp to ignore nonetheless. BRILLIANT returns for Neil Howard, whose record over the years with layoff horses is better than the stat that appears in the Form. It's his first race since going down at 3-5 in the Hawthorne Derby; otherwise, he's done little wrong on the grass. TIGANELLO is your classic 'in and out' horse, and with the apparent lack of pace in this race, it could be an outie this time.

Race 8 – IZZY'S HALO came with a determined run to win his last, at Fair Grounds, and has proven to be tough, durable, and unfazed by chasing the likes of Hard Spun at longer distances. He signaled his continued fitness with a bullet work for this, the LAFAYETTE STAKES. CARNACKS CHOICE has compiled a nice record sprinting, and overcame trouble to win a 6 ½ furlong stake on the Polytrack at Turfway; back to a sprint after an unsuccessful route try. PROM SHOES unleashed a smart, four-wide rally in his last at Oaklawn, and the second place finisher came back to win; he tries an extra furlong in this spot.

Race 10 – MAY NIGHT has been consistently entered against far, far better, yet keeps coming back for more. Back to allowance company for her last, she was a close 4th at a mile and a half, and now cuts back to a more suitable distance. FINAL MELODY hails from the sharp Malcolm Pierce barn (27% at the FG meeting). She's been in the money in each of her six turf races, most recently a fine second to a good turf filly in Her Excellency. ST. HILDEGARD came back strong for Shug after a six month layoff at Gulfstream, graduating against repeat winner Greenery; returns to grass after off-the-turf try.