Betting with favorites on the Breeders' Cup Saturday undercard
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares $100 worth of strategies for betting favorites in the three non-Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday at Keeneland, including the Fall Harvest S.
Keeneland, Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (seven furlongs, 10:30 a.m. ET)
The opener features a possible standout favorite in the form of #4 Arabian Knight (2-1). Sold for $2.3 million earlier this year, the son of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Uncle Mo enters off fast workouts for trainer Bob Baffert, a 32% winner with horses debuting in maiden special weights. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez takes the mount.
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Morning line second choice #12 Reagan (4-1) also boasts promising credentials. The Dallas Stewart trainee showed speed in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Churchill Downs, ultimately finishing second by a neck against the well-bred Tres Soles. The 86 Brisnet Speed rating Reagan received is higher than the par winning figure for Saturday’s race conditions.
- $20 to win on #4 Arabian Knight
- $7 Exacta: 4 with 12
- $3 Exacta: 4 with 9
- $10 Double: 4 with 3
Keeneland, Race 2: $100,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (6 1/2 furlongs, 11:05 a.m. ET)
#3 Messier (4-1) has been rested since finishing 15th in the Kentucky Derby (G1). The form of the Derby has held up well, and Messier previously showed talent finishing second in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) after winning the seven-furlong Bob Hope (G3) and 1 1/16-mile Robert B. Lewis (G3).
Messier has been cranking out fast workouts in preparation for his return and shouldn’t mind dropping down significantly in class and distance. He’s a logical choice to lead the way home over recent Phoenix (G2) runner-up #6 Long Range Toddy (6-1), so we’ll bet Messier to win, single him to conclude our double wager, and play him on top in the exacta.
- $20 to win on #3 Messier
- $10 Exacta: 3 with 6
Keeneland, Race 12: Fall Harvest S. (one mile on turf, 6:20 p.m. ET)
We’ll wrap things up with a play in the Fall Harvest, which follows the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) as the final event on Keeneland’s Saturday card.
#5 Shantisara (6-5) is the clear morning line favorite, and it’s easy to see why. The Chad Brown trainee won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland last fall, defeating #7 Technical Analysis (3-1) by five lengths. Furthermore, Shantisara reiterated her affinity for Keeneland when finishing a strong second in the Jenny Wiley (G1) to start 2022, beaten only one length by three-time Grade 1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) entrant Regal Glory.
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Shantisara hasn’t run since the Jenny Wiley, but Brown wins at a 27% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, and Shantisara’s fine Jenny Wiley effort came off a six-month break. She should be ready for a winning run in the Fall Harvest.
Technical Analysis is a logical choice for the minor awards, as is #4 Dalika (7-2), a speedy pacesetter entering off back-to-back wins in the Beverly D. (G1) and Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3). But we’ll also toss longshot #2 Wakanaka (12-1) into the mix; she ran second in the Just a Game (G1) during the spring, later won the Dance Smartly (G2), and exits a seventh-place finish against males in the Woodbine Mile (G1).
- $7.50 Trifecta: 5 with 7 with 2,4 ($15)
- $7.50 Trifecta: 5 with 2,4 with 7 ($15)