A field of 10 will travel 1 1/8 miles on the Keeneland main strip in Saturday’s ultra-competitive $200,000 Fayette Stakes (G2).
#6 Mr Freeze will be sent from the break as the expected pacesetter in the cast. #9 Mo Mosa and #10 Aurelius Maximus will also be forwardly placed from the outside. The tempo will be honest enough in the early going.
#1 COASTAL DEFENSE (6-1) — Rising son of Curlin has been first or second in four straight and gets the upset nod from the rail. Expensive yearling purchase has improved his Brisnet Speed figure in four straight, and I love his versatile running style as well. Regular pilot Joe Talamo stays aboard.
#2 CAPTIVATING MOON (5-1) — Key exotics contender doesn’t win all that much, but the Block pupil often makes a run in the lane to get a share. Stakes-winning son of Malibu Moon was a head second in the recent Opening Verse S. at Churchill Downs and will improve second time off the long break. Julien Leparoux rides.
#3 CRAFTY DADDY (5-1) — Opening Verse S. victor appreciated the move to the dirt most recently for McPeek. Scat Daddy gelding is versatile in his running style, and he could be peaking in his third race off the shelf, too. Brian Hernandez will guide the stalker.
#4 MIRINAQUE (15-1) — Multiple Group 1 star faced a tall task in the recent Pacific Classic (G1) and he takes a hefty class drop for his second start on U.S. soil. Hurricane Cat colt shows a solid local move on the course, and a forward move is expected in his Keeneland debut.
#5 TITLE READY (10-1) — More Than Ready 5-year-old sports a 3-2-1-0 mark at Keeneland, which includes a game allowance tally in July. Hard-trying sort had no pace to rally into in the Alysheba (G2) last time out, but he could be dangerous if the tempo is contested on Saturday. Corey Lanerie will be in the controls.
#6 MR FREEZE (3-1) — The one to catch, and likely beat, is the second from the Romans barn and finished runner-up in the race in 2019. Chestnut son of To Honor and Serve has faced off with some fine foes this campaign and gets a bit of class relief on Saturday. Kentucky-bred sped a swift half-mile in advance of the Fayette.
#7 RATED R SUPERSTAR (20-1) — Chestnut lacks consistency and shows just one tally since being claimed in 2018 by Contreras. The 7-year-old shows a win on the Keeneland dirt, but others have much more appeal to me.
#8 TAX (7-2) — Grade 2 victor has been outrun in a pair of starts this campaign while facing some strong opposition. Gargan pupil is training in rapid fashion in preparation for his first outing since May, and his best effort will make him a prime top-three contender in his second try at Keeneland. Tyler Gaffalione inherits the ride.
#9 MO MOSA (12-1) — Oklahoma Derby (G3) runner-up has put in two consecutive big races for Maker during a peak form cycle. Uncle Mo sophomore faces elders from a wide draw, however, and he will need a forward move to be in the mix late on Saturday. Florent Geroux riding makes him appealing in the gimmicks at a price.
#10 AURELIUS MAXIMUS (10-1) — Well-bred bay is perfect from two outings this season and is starting to turn into the prospect I thought he would be as a juvenile. Pioneerof the Nile colt drew widest of all in the Fayette, but he has speed and room for improvement third time off the bench. Kentucky-bred would not be a big surprise while making his Keeneland debut.
- $10 Win and Place: #1 Coastal Defense ($20)
- $1 Trifecta: 1 with 2,10 with all ($16)
- 50-cent Trifecta: 2,10 with 1 with all ($8)