Keeneland selections and analysis for Saturday, April 8
Racing analyst Ashley Anderson provides her top picks for the 11-race card at Keeneland on Saturday featuring the Blue Grass Stakes (G1).
Race 1: 6 furlongs, $30K claiming, 3-year-old and up fillies and mares
#1 Halo of Fire (7-2) – Drops in class for Wesley Ward, a 34% winner at the claiming level, and will make first start in more than two months while switching to dirt for first time in four races. Picks up Irad Ortiz Jr.
#11 Lucy Jane (15-1) — Dominated a six-furlong maiden claimer over a sloppy track at Churchill last out Nov. 11. Moves up in class in first start for Michael Reavis, a 25% winner first after the claim. Tyler Gaffalione will inherit the mount for the Speightster filly.
#4 Proud Foot (5-2) – Flashed 81 Brisnet Speed rating when second against similar in six-furlong Oaklawn event March 11. First Samurai mare has three second-place finishes and three thirds in six starts at today’s distance and is eligible to improve in third start off layoff.
Race 2: 7 furlongs, maiden special weight, 3-year-olds
#10 Equivoque (4-1) – One of two Todd Pletcher runners in the field. Son of Good Magic (18% sire wins with first-time starters) is by a dam who has produced three winners from four starters and one stakes winner. Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard is a huge plus.
#1 Mullikin (3-1) – Well bet in debut, in which the Violence colt missed by a nose in a six-furlong sprint at Oaklawn Feb. 18. Can improve with extra distance in second career race for Rodolphe Brisset and will keep Ricardo Santana Jr., a 63% winner paired with Brisset the last two months.
#7 Le Bar (9-2) – Son of 2022 leading freshman sire Bolt d’Oro, an 18% winner with first-time starters. Todd Pletcher runner put in a sharp work March 31, and Le Bar’s dam has two winners from two starters.
Race 3: 5 1/2 furlongs (turf), allowance, four-year-olds and up
#7 Tightrope (9-2) – Pacesetter won first start with Robert Dobbs when sprinting six furlongs on Turfway’s all-weather in late February while recording a 93 Brisnet Speed rating. Has the early speed to contend in third career start on turf. Posted bullet four-furlong work on March 30.
#8 Ibrim (3-1) – Unbeaten in three career starts, all on all-weather, for trainer Wesley Ward. Bred to perform well on turf.
#5 Mamba On Three (7-2) – Recorded a 94 Brisnet Speed rating when third in a five-furlong sprint last out. Trainer Carlos David is a 21% winner at the allowance level, and a rider switch to Gerardo Corrales can trigger improvement.
Race 4: 6 1/2 furlongs, allowance optional claimer, four-year-olds and up
#6 Fortin Hill (6-1) – Pacesetter weakened to finish third to graded-stakes placed Nakatomi and Grade 2 winner Endorsed in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claimer Nov. 5 at Keeneland. Will get a rider switch to hot jockey Gerardo Corrales (19-5-1-0 last seven days). Trainer Paulo Lobo a 23% winner at allowance level.
#2 Sir Alfred James (9-2) – Placed second and third in last two at six furlongs. Added distance can help Munnings gelding reach winner’s circle. Irad Ortiz Jr. (26% winner in sprints) is up, but the seven-year-old's 0-for-3 record at Keeneland is a concern.
#1 Kneedeepinsnow (4-1) – Failed as favorite when fourth in 6 1/2-furlong sprint at Churchill on Sept. 23. Will break from rail post with jockey Tyler Gaffalione, and has put in a number of sharp workouts ahead of first start in more than six months.
Race 5: 7 furlongs, Commonwealth (G3), four-year-olds and up
#7 Run Classic (3-1) – Son of Runhappy won lone start at about seven furlongs when dominating an allowance optional claimer at Keeneland last October. Has since stretched out to 8 1/2 or nine furlongs and hit the board in all four starts. Last out, he led in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile Mineshaft (G3) before beaten half a length by Pioneer of Medina.
#2 Nakatomi (2-1) – Failed as favorite over a muddy track when third in six-furlong Tom Fool H. (G3). Won three back when racing 6 1/2 furlongs in an allowance optional claimer and will get jockey Tyler Gaffalione back in the saddle in his second start off a layoff. Clocked career-best 106 Brisnet Speed rating last out.
#9 Here Mi Song (10-1) – Finished a head second in career debut at Keeneland when racing today’s distance. Won his only other start at seven furlongs in an allowance optional claimer at Churchill last September. Raced on all-weather in last three but a return to dirt can trigger improvement as well as a switch back to rider Alex Achard.
Race 6: One mile (turf), Appalachian (G2), three-year-old fillies
#7 Pleasant Passage (5-2) – Finished 2 1/2 lengths in second behind Meditate in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) in More Than Ready filly’s lone loss. Put in bullet four-furlong work on April 1 in preparation for first start in more than five months.
#4 Heavenly Sunday (8-1) – Third when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles but will cut back to a mile, a distance from which she’s 2-for-2. Florent Geroux is back in the irons and won with the filly two back in an allowance at Keeneland.
#3 Cairo Consort (3-1) – A neck shy of winning three straight when third in the Herecomesthebride (G3) last out when chasing a slow pace. Filly is 1-for-4 at today's distance and could be vulnerable in this spot.
Race 7: 7 furlongs, Madison (G1), four-year-old and up fillies and mares
#2 Goodnight Olive (2-5) – The one to beat for trainer Chad Brown. Ghostzapper five-year-old has won six of seven, with only lifetime defeat a second on debut in March 2021. Will make first start in five months, since winning Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), but she’s put in a number of sharp workouts in the interim.
#5 Maryquitecontrary (6-1) – Makes first start for Shug McGaughey after winning five straight and six of seven under care of Joe Catanese. Will keep regular rider Luca Panici, who led the filly to victory in the Inside Information (G2) in late January. Posted bullet four-furlong workout April 2.
#3 Society (3-1) – Gun Runner filly will cut back to seven furlongs after she wired the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion (G1) then faltered to finish a distant seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Keeneland. Dominated in seven-furlong Charles Town Oaks (G3) three back while under Tyler Gaffalione. Florent Geroux will guide the four-year-old here.
Race 8: 5 1/2 furlongs (turf), Shakertown (G2), three-year-olds and up
#8 Caravel (8-5) – Won Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) last out as a 43-1 longshot after winning Franklin (G3) at Keeneland at same distance in October. The Mizzen Mast six-year-old is 8-for-12 from today’s distance and unbeaten at Keeneland. Put in solid works ahead of 2023 season debut.
#12 Arrest Me Red (9-2) – First start in more than five months for trainer Wesley Ward. Was 3 1/4 lengths behind Caravel in Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Workouts indicate he’s sharp and ready.
#5 Mister Mmmmm (6-1) – Moves up in class off 6 1/2-length win in a five-furlong sprint at Fair Grounds. Posted a pair of bullet workouts leading up to stakes debut for Wayne Catalano. Corey Lanerie (38% winner paired with Catalano) will stick with the Speightster gelding.
Race 9: 1 1/8 miles, Blue Grass (G1), three-year-olds
#8 Blazing Sevens (6-1) – Will draw a line through Fountain of Youth (G2) performance. Trainer Chad Brown won this race with the colt’s sire, Good Magic, in 2018, and Blazing Sevens can improve with first-time blinkers in his second start off a layoff. The switch to Irad Ortiz Jr. and a sharp four-furlong workout offer promise of a rebound for the Champagne S. (G1) winner.
#1 Tapit Trice (5-2) – Broke last and settled in the back in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby (G3) before launching a bid in upper stretch and gaining ground quickly to kick clear by two lengths. Recorded triple-digit Late Pace Brisnet Speed figures in last two and can handle the stretch-out to 1 1/8 miles. Luis Saez is 2-for-2 paired with the Tapit colt.
#11 Mendelssohns March (20-1) – Unbeaten in two starts, the Mendelssohn colt is an intriguing longshot for Kenny McPeek, who has Sun Thunder and Hayes Strike entered here as well. Brian Hernandez Jr. — winner of the 2020 Blue Grass — will pick up the mount for the lightly raced three-year-old who has posted a couple of sharp workouts in the lead-up to his stakes debut.
Race 10: 6 furlongs, allowance optional claimer, three-year-olds
#1 Squire Creek (6-5) – Dominated in six-furlong maiden special weight at Fair Grounds March 2 while posting a 94 Brisnet Speed rating. Will be tough to beat for trainer Brad Cox.
#4 Blue Light (7-2) – Won as the even-money favorite on debut in $50K maiden special weight at Fair Grounds March 11. Irad Ortiz Jr. will inherit the mount for the City of Light colt.
#3 Deer District (20-1) – Intriguing longshot for Dale Romans, who went 4-1-2-1 when racing a mile or farther on turf in his last four. The graded stakes-placed colt will cut back in distance and switch from turf to dirt (15% winning move for Romans) and has posted a couple of sharp workouts ahead of his first start in four months.
Race 11: 1 1/8 mile (turf), maiden special weight, three-year-olds
#3 Operation Torch (8-5) – Closer got up to finish 1 1/2 lengths in second in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Gulfstream. Added distance can help, as will a rider switch to Irad Ortiz Jr., a 30% winner on turf. Shug McGaughey strikes at an 18% clip with horses running second career grass race.
#6 He’s Got Swagger (5-1) – Second by less than a length in both career races — each run at 1 1/16 miles on turf — the Temple City colt missed by three-quarters of a length when sent off as the favorite last out in a $50K maiden special weight at Fair Grounds but can improve with extra ground. Kenny McPeek is a 28% winner with beaten favorites, and He’s Got Swagger posted an 86 Brisnet Speed rating last out, the highest last race speed figure among the field.
#1 Mondego (5-2) – Set the pace but was beaten a head by Baby Billy on debut while racing at today’s distance on turf in an $84K maiden special weight at Gulfstream Feb. 18. Trainer Christophe Clement is a 19% winner with horses making second career start and a 22% winner with those coming off a layoff of 46-90 days. Joel Rosario, 19% winner with pacesetter types, named to ride.