How to bet opening day of the 2018 Keeneland fall meet
by Scott Shapiro
Opening day of the fall Keeneland meeting is upon us and that means a juicy 10-race card to get things rolling in Lexington, Kentucky.
There are a number of attractive wagering opportunities spread over the Friday slate, but here are a few horses that will make or break my afternoon.
Noble Nebraskan (#4) (3-1) debuted at Saratoga on September 1 for trainer George Weaver. The $110,000 Keeneland September 2017 purchase for Susan and Jim Hill was very green in the paddock before his initial start, off a bit slowly from the gate and ran against the flow, but still finished well to earn third.
The juvenile son of Noble Mission has been given over a month off and returns to make his second start after a trio of solid works at Saratoga. In a race where none of the first-time starters get my juices flowing, and the others with experience did little to impress in their previous tries, I like his chances to get to the wire first.
I will single Noble Nebraskan in the early Pick 5 and key on top of vertical wagers over Just Kitten You (#6) (10-1), Pico Entry (#7)(8-1), Life Mission (#9) (5-2) and Temple (#12) (15-1).
Saracosa (#7) (9-2) saved ground early in her last start at legendary Churchill Downs under regular rider Corey Lanerie and appeared poised to earn her second lifetime score when they turned for home, but she encountered traffic in the stretch and never had a fair shake. The sophomore daughter of Bernardini cuts back a sixteenth of a mile and returns to a surface where she finished third in her debut back in late April.
The Brendan Walsh trainee takes on deserving 8-5 morning-line favorite Virginia Key (#4) who finished third when last seen in the Gazelle (G2) at Aqueduct, but that filly has been sidelined for several months and is likely to get over bet off the 99 BRIS Speed rating earned in New York.
Saracosa should sit a perfect outside stalking trip. With a cleaner voyage than she got in Louisville, she has a big chance to spring the minor upset on Friday. At 7-2 or higher I will bet to win.
The first Grade 1 race of the meet is the $400,000 Alcibiades. The 1 1/16-mile contest for two-year-old fillies is a “Win & You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
The post-time favorite has not won this race since My Conquestadory in 2013 and I am willing to take a chance against this year’s likely chalk in Restless Rider (#3) (3-1) despite an extremely impressive victory two-back in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs.
In that initial try against winners, the young filly was forced to check and lost a ton of momentum during the middle stages of the six-furlong dash, but overcame the trouble and won by 11 lengths in the end. The two-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor is certainly capable of getting to the wire first, but this field is too deep to take a short price.
Instead I will lean on Into Trouble (#6) (15-1). The $180,000 Keeneland September 2017 purchase has done nothing wrong so far for trainer Ben Colebrook and enters her first graded try a perfect two-for-two. I specifically like the fact she has shown versatility winning her debut at Ellis Park from just off the early pace on August 11 and then overcame a slow start to upset a field of eight the Arlington-Washington Lassie on September 8. She should have no issues getting the route of ground and offers solid value at anything near her 15-1 morning-line price.
I will bet the juvenile daughter of Into Mischief to win and play her in Daily Doubles starting in RACE 8, the $250,000 Phoenix (G2), with Promises Fulfilled (#1) (8-5) and Limousine Liberal (#4) (2-1).
Let’s get the meeting started on the right foot! Good luck!