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Friday, April 06, 2007

Opening Day at Keeneland

- Looks like the boys down at the Special are late in getting their material on their website; hope that the print edition hit the stands and the backstretch in Lexington without a hitch. So I thought I'd post my picks for today's opening day care here:

Race 1 - G Areyoukidding could be a hunch play regarding this ponderous meet opener of all debut juveniles. But we’ll try NOWNOWNOW, a coltcoltcolt by first-year stallion Whywhywhy, who was extremely precocious at two, having won the early season Flash at Belmont amongst three stakes win that year. The Biancone/Leparoux combo won 26% of the time at Keeneland last year. HARGILL (El Corredor) goes for Steve Asmussen, six for 13 with juvenile first-timers at last year’s spring meet. YOGI’SSPLASHOFGOLD (Touch Gold) hails from the barn of the red-hot Wesley Ward, who’s already won three juvenile dashes at Santa Anita, and hits at 33% with these over the last two years. As always, watch the tote and the post parade.

Race 2 – DON TIGER was awful off a freshening in his 2007 debut at Hawthorne, but bounced back to win under similar circumstances last summer. The seven-year old gelding is the only runner proven at the mile and a quarter distance. DORO’S DON JUAN, confidently moved up in class by trainer Wayne Minnock this year, comes off a smart win on the Turfway Polytrack and may have a class edge on these. ONE EYED JOKER has turned in two fine performances since returning and dropping sharply this year for the aforementioned Ward barn, 35% overall for 2007; but he’s had trouble finding the winner’s circle of late.

Race 3 – A shaky call for STARS OF THE SEA, dropping sharply in class for Rebecca Maker. He graduated in the slop two back at FG, showed speed against better on Polytrack last year, and picks up Garrett Gomez. GOLD ATTRACTION seems the obvious play coming out of an extremely strong allowance race; but given his good form, much-the-best Beyers, and two lethargic workouts, one might consider the drop in class as a suspicious one. RENDON STREET buried a cheap maiden claiming field at Turfway with Leparoux, who returns to the irons today.

Race 4 – YATE’S BLACK CAT showed the explosive late kick of his sire Black Minnaloushe last year before two even tries from bad posts in a couple of tough stakes at Colonial last summer. He hasn’t been seen since then, and returns for Dale Romans, 20% at Keeneland over the last two years. He figures to get a lively pace, which could include SMART SHERIF, who has been out even longer for Bill Mott. But that barn has been sharp with turf returnees lately, including Silver Tree, who won the Appleton at Gulfstream after six months away. DANCING FOREVER finished with a big rush after encountering trouble in his last, and could pick up a piece from a bad post.

Race 5 – TIME SQUARED returns to reality after chasing Ravel in the Sham Stakes. The $1.05 million son of Fusaichi Pegasus closed powerfully to just miss against maidens in his prior two, and shows two dynamite works over the track for his Polytrack debut. DIAMOND FEVER was totally dead on the board at Gulfstream in his three-year old debut, but ran a wide second. The full sister, by Seeking the Gold, to Canadian champion filly Catch the Ring should appreciate the stretch-out to two turns. OUT OF ACES showed good early foot in his only fast track race for Lukas, and could hang on for a share in a race without much speed.

Race 6 - SWEETDOWNTHELANE has been just that with fine rallies in her last two tries, and is the confirmed closer in a race packed with early speed. SUMNEYTOWN has won three in a row at FG, the last two after moving up sharply off the claim for Tom Amoss; the runner-up in her last came back to just miss in a state-bred stakes. STORMY DESTIN has the best last-out Beyer, earned in a hard fought front-running win at Oaklawn. She goes first-time out for trainer Cody Autrey, coming off a highly successful FG meeting at which he won 30% of the time.

Race 7 – HER MAJESTY was 8-1 in the BC Juvenile Fillies in her third start after running third in the Alcibiades over this track last fall. The daughter of Giant's Causeway, out of a half sister to sprint champ Safely Kept, has worked bullets for her return. AWESOME ASHLEY is the first starter of the meet for Todd Pletcher, who was "only" six for 36 on the Polytrack here last fall. She was 5-2 in the Grade 1 Frizette in her last start, and it's Pletcher off the layoff, what else is new? GEM SLEUTH was prominent around the turn before fading at a mile; trounced a solid field at 6 ½ in her prior for red hot barn, and ran well over the track last fall.

Race 8 – It's always nice to see Funny Cide run, especially when he's the morning line favorite in a race he seems unlikely to win. IRENE'S MOM came on strong last fall, ending his year with a bang-up second against a solid field in the Ack Ack, and a troubled and respectable 5th in the Clark. Trainer Eddie Kenneally is on a major roll, having won with six of his last nine runners at Turfway. STUDENT COUNCIL has put in three solid efforts in a row and should be coming late. RATHOR was impressive enough in his first three U.S. starts to be 9-2 against Invasor in the Suburban last summer. He makes his first start since July for Frankel, 22% with 180+ day layoffs.

Race 9 – MARCAVELLY makes his first start since October for Mott, sharp lately with layoff horses as noted above, in the CENTRAL BANK TRANSYLVANIA. His two losses were seconds to Dreaming of Anna and Twilight Meteor. SEDGEFIELD is using this mile grass race as a prep for the Kentucky Derby, which would be his first ever try on natural dirt. He's had four tough races already this year, and the mere two week layoff since his second to Hard Spun could make him a vulnerable favorite. IN JEST toyed with a weak field at 9-5 in his debut at Tampa for Jonathan Sheppard, nine for 35 (26%) at Keeneland over the last two years.

Race 10 – Check out the tote on UNCLE INDY, a first-time starter for Angel Penna Jr. with a nice long string of works. He's by AP Indy, 12% with debut runners, out of Grade 1 turf winner Auntie Mame, by Theatrical. He may be meant for the grass, but perhaps he'll like the Polytrack in a race with a favorite who looks vulnerable. That horse is TRUE COMPETITOR; by Point Given out of a half-sister to Best Pal, he has every right to improve as he goes on, but he's burned a lot of money thus far for John Ward. SAYWANTENAYO has improved markedly his last two tries with blinkers on.


Brett said...

My selections can be found here:

Anonymous said...

Overall, a pretty good opening day performance, Alan. Well done.

David Hill said...

nice picks today. when are you posting your selections for tomorrow?

Alan Mann said...

Thanks guys, I appreciate that. The picks should be up on the Special site at some point, hoefully sooner than later. If you go to this page, look for the 'Saturday Handicapping' link on the right. Since it's still not there, I'll post them here on the blog shortly.