Opening day at Keeneland offers two selections for handicappers

Oct 6th, 2011 | By TrackSide View | Category: Picking Winners

Rick Francis
Staff writer

Friday’s selection takes us to the Bluegrass state of Kentucky and opening day of the Keeneland fall meet, where pair of graded stakes is on tap. First up is the Grade 3 Phoenix for three-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs, and immediately followed by the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades featuring two-year-old fillies traveling a mile and sixteenth on the all-weather main track. Both contests should be highly competitive affairs, so let’s get started.

Race 8 – Keeneland – post time: 5:13 p.m. EDT

FLASHPOINT (1), two-time graded stakes winner tired last out in the G1 Kings Bishop to the likes of Uncle Mo and Celeb’s Posse, but they’re not here today. Trainer Wesley Ward has had him working bullets here in prep for his first synthetic try, and that’s a 23 percent winning angle. Should he carry his a.m. works to the starting gate, he’ll be trouble today.

SOUTHERN STYLE (2), six-year-old gelding by Forestry also tries the all-weather surface for the first time, and with 12 wins is the most accomplished in that department. Granted the bulk of those scores have come on the “junior” circuit tracks in Louisiana, but this guy has some surprising speed numbers that could make him a factor in exotic wagering.

HAMAZING DESTINY (3) followed up his place finish in the B.C.Sprint with a likewise placing next out in the James Marvin, but in his last two, both G1’s at Saratoga, he’s taken a step backward. This is a quality horse here, but he’s failed to hit the board in two tries on the synthetics, plus he’s continued to work over the dirt at Churchill. One has to wonder if once again trainer Wayne Lukas has put one of his starters in the wrong spot.

HOOFIT (4) closed hard to win going away in his North American debut last out at Presque Isle, and trainer Graham Motion has continued to work him quickly. This New Zealand-bred has plenty of upside, but against this group, I’m going to watch another.

STERLING OUTLOOK (5), in his first start for trainer John Sadler last out at Del Mar, he held on for a dead-heat win at odds of 34-1. Four-year-old gelding by Eurosilver hit a new high in that score, but this isn’t the restricted company he faced that day, or the optional claimers he’s been competing against. I think the class-hike does him in here.

AIKENITE (6), colt by Yes It’s True started the spring with back-to-back G2 scores, including the Grade 2 Commonwealth, run here and at this distance. Four-year-old hasn’t shied away from quality opposition, and what works for him today, besides the top-flight connections of trainer Pletcher and jockey Velasquez, is the cut back to six furlongs. I like him a lot in this spot.

COOL BULLET (7) was runner-up to Aikenite in the Commonwealth, but since an overnight score back in June of 2010, he’s failed to find the winner’s circle. Today he makes his first start since June of this year, and that layoff angle for his trainer Steve Margolis is a cool 29 percent. He’s another that knows quality competition, and with the addition of jockey Julien Leparoux, who always does well here, look for a renewed effort.

I like Aikenite here, and it’ll be a struggle early, but I think he holds off Cool Bullet Hamazing Destiny, and bringing value to the exotics, Southern Style. Rick’s picks: 6-7-3-1.

Race 9 – Keeneland – post time: 5:45 p.m. EDT

PUTHTEBABIESDOWN (1), first synthetic start after three turf tries, and that’s a 30 percent play for trainer Ken McPeek. First time lasix aids in this spot.

FLASHY LASSIE (2) goes long and on this surface for the first time. Grade 3 winner is well rested and reunites with jockey Kent Desormeaux, who rode her to that Graded score, and merits strong consideration.
VENETIAN SONATA (3) has found trouble at this level in last two, including to a pair entered here. Daughter of Bernardini still has a ways to go.

TU ENDIE WEI (4), impressive stakes wins in each of her two starts over the Woodbine all-weather, goes long for the first time today. Trainer Reade Baker gets them home 18 percent of the time in this spot, but I wouldn’t take a short price.

SWEET CAT (5) the team of Pletcher/Velasquez takes this daughter of Kitten’s Joy long for the first time, and on this surface. Nice win on the lawn last out to break her maiden, but I think this girl is still a little green to win.

EGG DROP (6), California connections of trainer Mike Mitchell and jockey Joe Talamo ship this debut Del Mar winner in for her first distance try, and she more than fits. Mitchell is well above average with all the angles, and with a series of timely works, I wouldn’t overlook.

STEPHANIE’S KITTEN (7) raced really wide throughout in last over the Woodbine turf to show in a Grade 3, and finished the same in debut synthetic start at Arlington. She’s improved her speed numbers in each of her last three starts, but this daughter of Kitten’s Joy maybe better suited for the lawn.

NEW WAVE (8), I like the fact connections switch to the spring meets leading jock Julien Leparoux, but for now there’s little else that she’s shown to get my money.

AND WHY NOT (9) finished third last out in the Grade 1 Spinaway, but was a country mile back. Trainer Michael Matz is a bit below average in these spots, so I’m looking elsewhere.

FROLIC’S REVENGE (10), by Vindication, filly has proven herself over the dirt of Calder, as she’s never finished off the board in her five career starts, but for her trainer Marty Wolfson, he doesn’t start too many on this surface. Nevertheless, she’s competed at a high level, and deserves a long look.

HEART OF DESTINY (11), take a good look here, filly by Lion Heart closed hard to win at this distance last out at Saratoga over the turf, and with this full field that’s what it’s going to take to win this. A bullet work here last Saturday on the main, and with what is surely to be double-digit odds, she’s worth a shot for a board finish.

CHEERLEADER (12), daughter of Flashy Bull makes her first start in nearly two months, and that’s a bit of a concern. Impressive debut winner at Hoosier doesn’t instill fear in many here, but you better watch out for the connections of trainer Bret Calhoun and jockey Jaime Theriot. I’m just saying.

TAVERN ON THE BAY (13) finished well back to Cheerleader, and really is overmatched here.

ANN OF THE DANCE (14), here’s another you shouldn’t overlook. English Channel filly was gaining big time last out in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie run at a mile, and trainer Jimmy Divito wins with nearly 30 percent of his two-year-olds. Be careful here.


ON FIRE BABY (15), by sprint champion Smoke Glacken, and impressive winner doing just that, doesn’t seem suited for this distance.

Nothing easy here folks, so for my play, I’m doing the old in and out angle. I’m taking Flashy Lassie and Tu Endie Wei from the inside, and coupling them with outsiders Heart of Destiny and Ann of the Dance in exotics boxes. Rick’s picks: 2-4-11-14.

Leave a Comment