Keeneland expert picks: Friday, April 12, 2024

April 11th, 2024

The Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile and 5 1/2-furlong Limestone S. at Keeneland headline Friday’s 10-race card.

Let’s get to handicapping! 

Race 1: 6 furlongs, claimer, 4yo and up

#2 Figureti (7-2) — Won three back in a six-furlong claimer, then came back to win a 5 1/2-furlong allowance at Tampa Bay Downs. Finished far back in fifth last out in a six-furlong allowance optional claimer and will return off a nearly two-month layoff for Jose D’Angelo, a 22% winner at the claiming level. Luis Saez (19% winner in sprints) will pick up the mount.

#1 Rivoli (6-1) — Switches back to dirt after struggling on all-weather last out. Won two back in a six-furlong allowance on a track labeled good at Mahoning Valley. Drops in class and returns off a 49-day layoff. Colby Hernandez will retain the mount.

#10 Spycraft (8-1) — Won at today’s distance on all-weather two back with an 84 BRIS figure. Owns a 10-3-1-1 record at six furlongs. Trainer Jason Cook is a 29% winner at the claiming level and a 17% winner going from all-weather to dirt (from a small sample size). Regular rider Declan Cannon will retain the mount.

Race 2: 7 furlongs, maiden claimer, 3yo and up

#6 Sharp Shot (7-2) — Raced on Turfway’s all-weather in last two and switches back to dirt for Brad Cox, a 34% winner first-time maiden claiming and a 33% winner going from the maiden special weight to maiden claiming level. Axel Concepcion will stay in the saddle. Sharp 4F workout April 6.

#5 Modern Day Warrior (3-1) — First-time starter for Wesley Ward, a 32% winner with horses debuting in maiden claimers. Bullet 4F workout on March 27. Dam has one winner from three starters, including a stakes winner, and his sire’s progeny win at a 14% rate on debut. Jeffrey Sanchez is named to ride.

#12 Erasmus (8-1) — Rallied to finish third in a six-furlong maiden claimer at Turfway in March. Eligible to improve third start off the layoff and switching back to dirt. Tom Drury is an 18% winner at the maiden claiming level, and Brian Hernandez will inherit the ride (20% with closers). Lone dirt start was on a sloppy track at Belterra, where the Hard Spun gelding finished second at a mile.

#9 Quebrancho (9-2) — Distorted Humor colt was second by three-quarters of a length last out in a maiden claimer at Oaklawn. Trainer Mike Puhich strikes at a 10% rate at the maiden claiming level. Tyler Gaffalione (18% with sprints) picks up the mount.

Race 3: 1 1/8 miles, 4yo and up

#4 Baba Voss (4-1) — Won by three lengths last out in a 1 1/16-mile allowance taken off Fair Grounds’ turf. Clocked a 92 BRIS figure and a 101 Late Pace rating, which bodes well for the stretch-out in distance. Brendan Walsh is an 18% winner at the allowance level and with horses that won their last race. Tyler Gaffalione (28% winner to start the meet) will pick up the mount.

#1 Pyrenees (3-1) — Won last two, a maiden special weight at 1 1/16 miles on a fast track, and an allowance at the same distance in the mud. This Into Mischief four-year-old’s 95 BRIS figure last out is the highest last race speed rating among the field. Moves up in class here and will keep rider Brian Hernandez Jr. Sharp 4F workout April 6. Cherie DeVaux is a 19% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days and a 16% winner with horses that won their last race.

#7 Tall Boy (10-1) — Lookin At Lucky colt was second when racing a mile at Turfway in March and will stretch back out in distance. The late runner won three back on turf in a 1 1/16-mile allowance and will return to dirt for the first time in seven tarts. Luis Saez (19% winner with routes) will inherit the mount.

Race 4: 7 furlongs, claimer, 3yo and up non-winners of two

#5 Asmodeus (10-1) — Raced on all-weather in last three and will switch back to dirt while cutting back from a mile to seven furlongs. Broke maiden at a mile over an Aqueduct track labeled good back in March of 2023. Two back, had the lead in the stretch but was beaten to second by two lengths when racing a mile. This shorter distance can help. Trainer William Morey is a 19% winner first time claiming and a 15% winner going from a sprint to a route. Jose Ortiz (25% winner with sprints) picks up the mount. Bullet four-furlong workout April 6.

#2 Harrodsburg (6-5) — Frontrunner comes off a more than nine-month layoff for Rob Atras, a 24% winner first time claiming and a 22% winner with shippers. Has recorded 90-96 BRIS figures in all three career starts. Drops in class off distant third in the one-mile Dwyer (G3) at Belmont last July. Rob Atras is a 14% winner off layoffs of 90 or more days. Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount. Bullet four-furlong workout April 2.

#8 Abadin (9-2) — Another class dropper with early speed who’s coming off a long layoff. The Speightstown colt won four back at today’s distance under Irad Ortiz Jr. in a maiden special weight at Saratoga. Was a distant eighth to graded stakes winner Money Supply in an allowance last out. Was previously trained by Pletcher and makes his first start for Mike Maker today. Luis Saez will stay in the saddle after guiding the four-year-old last out. Sharp 5F workout April 6.

Race 5: 1 1/16 miles (turf), allowance, 3yo

#12 Kalispera (7-2) — Raced in Europe to start her career, then broke maiden in fifth career start and first U.S. start at Gulfstream racing on all-weather. Switched back to turf last out and was fourth in a 7 1/2-furlong allowance optional claimer at the same track. Closer comes off a two-month layoff for Brian Lynch and will retain the services of Jose Ortiz. Bullet 5F workout on March 29 but outside post could be a concern (low win percentage in 8 1/2-furlong turf routes last meet).

#5 Royal Wintour (2-1) — Beaten by a head on debut racing a mile, then improved in her second start, winning by 2 1/4 lengths at the same distance with an 86 BRIS figure, 10 points higher than her debut number. Trainer Graham Motion is a 19% winner with horses coming off a maiden win, and Jorge Ruiz will retain the mount. 

#10 Just Better (8-1) — Got up to win by a neck in first turf start last out at Fair Grounds while racing at today’s distance; recorded 77 BRIS figure. Frankie Dettori (20% on turf) picks up the mount. Steve Asmussen is a 19% winner with shippers and off layoffs of 46-90 days. 

AE #13 Expatriate (4-1) — Won on debut in one-mile maiden special weight on Gulfstream’s turf. Chad Brown is a 25% winner coming off a maiden win and strikes at a 24% clip off layoffs of 46-90 days. Irad Ortiz Jr. stays in the saddle.

Race 6: 6 1/2 furlongs, maiden special weight, 3yo fillies

#9 On Command (4-1) — Omaha Beach filly makes third career start for Rusty Arnold, a 14% winner second off the layoff. The three-year-old will race on Lasix a second time and clocked an 81 BRIS figure last out when finishing third after gaining a lead in the stretch in a seven-furlong maiden special weight. The cutback in distance can help, and Jose Ortiz Jr. will regain the mount. Bullet 4F workout April 5.

#2 Kehoe Beach (9-2) — Set the early pace but weakened to fourth on debut in a six-furlong maiden special weight on Turfway’s all-weather back in late January. Recorded a 78 BRIS figure and earned a 113 Class Rating. Trained by Wesley Ward, who’s a 27% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days. John Velazquez picks up the mount.

#3 Short Skirts (10-1) — First-time starter for Shug McGaughey. Filly is by Flatter out of a dam who has one winner from two starters. Sharp 3F workout April 7. Irad Ortiz Jr. (29% this meet) is named to ride. Breeding suited for today’s distance.

#8 May May Strong (3-1) — Munnings filly was beaten a nose on debut racing six furlongs at Turfway and recorded an 82 BRIS figure. Steve Asmussen is a 22% winner going all-weather to dirt and an 18% winner second career race. Joel Rosario picks up the mount and wins at a 19% rate with sprints.

Race 7: 5 1/2 furlongs (turf), Limestone S., 3yo fillies

Not of a fan of the morning line favorite #1 Nice as Pie (4-1) here. The Tapiture three-year-old dominated at Turfway but has never raced on grass, and her sire’s progeny wins at just a 6% rate first time on turf. Post 1 is also a concern, and trainer Kelsey Danner has won at just a 4% clip going from all-weather to turf.

#10 Crimson Advocate (6-1) — Finished sixth by 2 1/2 lengths last out in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita. Prior to that, went 2-for-2 on turf racing five furlongs, including a win in the Queen Mary S. (G2) at Ascot. Comes off a more than five-month layoff for George Weaver and will keep John Velazquez in the saddle. Outside post is a concern, but he’s the lone true early pacesetter (E type on Brisnet PPs) in the field and should be able to get the early lead and have his way.

#12 Amidst Waves (9-2) — Another Weaver trainee, who was a four-length 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Owns a 5-3-1-0 record at today’s distance and was beaten a nose two back in Indian Summer S. at Keeneland. Irad Ortiz Jr. regains the mount and won with the Midshipman filly three back in the Bolton Landing S. at Saratoga. Returns off more than five-month layoff and drops in class here.

#3 Pipsy (6-1) —European shipper for trainer Will Walden who’s coming off a more than six-month layoff. This Kodiac filly is 2-for-3 with a second for her career. Raced six furlongs on turf in her first two career starts before winning on all-weather at five furlongs. Flavien Prat (21% on turf) aboard is a huge plus.

#9 Foxxy Cleopatra (12-1) — 2-for-2 with a win on all-weather on debut followed by a 1 1/4-length triumph at today’s distance at Fair Grounds. Larry Rivelli is a 38% winner in non-graded stakes and a 34% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days. Jareth Loveberry will retain the mount.

Also-eligible of note: 

#14 Hot Beach (12-1) — Makes first turf start for Brian Lynch, a 27% winner first time on grass. This Omaha Beach filly is out of a dam who has produced two turf winners and four stakes winners from six starters. Jose Ortiz is named to ride. Hot Beach was last seen finishing a distant second in the six-furlong Myrtlewood S. on Keeneland’s main track in October. Bullet 5F workout on March 27.

Race 8: 7 furlongs, allowance, 4yo and up non-winners of two

#3 Classic Legacy (9-2) — Rallied to finish a half-length second at 6 1/2 furlongs last out in an allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream. Has a chance to improve in his second start off the layoff for Bill Mott (19% winning move) and will keep Junior Alvarado in the saddle. Has a win at today’s distance in the slop at Aqueduct. The late runner should have plenty of speed to run into here.

#11 Tunisian Spring (9-5) — Was a head second on debut racing seven furlongs on the turf, then switched to dirt and posted a huge 100 BRIS figure when wiring a maiden special weight by 3 1/4 lengths at Keeneland. Last out, the Violence gelding disappointed as the favorite and finished second by 3 1/4 lengths at Churchill in November. Returns off a more than five-month layoff for Wesley Ward (26% winner with beaten favorites) and sticks with John Velazquez. Bullet 5F workout April 6 at Keeneland.

#4 Magic Express (6-1) — Moves up in class off 4 3/4-length maiden win racing 6 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct in second career start. Recorded 91 BRIS figure, tied for highest last race speed rating. Brittany Russell is a 27% winner with shippers and a 23% winner at the allowance level. Luis Saez (19% winner with sprints) picks up the mount.

#5 Suncroft (7-2) — Brad Cox runner romped to an 8 1/2-length win on debut in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Turfway, then came home second by more than three lengths as the favorite in a six-furlong allowance optional claimer at the same track. Cox is a 32% winner with beaten favorites and a 24% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days. Axel Concepcion retains the mount.

Race 9: one mile, Maker’s Make Mile (G1), 4yo and up

#4 Master of The Seas (4-5) — Godolphin color bearer is 3-for-4 over last four starts, with his lone loss a nose second to Up to the Mark in the Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland last October. Per Brisnet, has earned between a 121 and 125 Class Rating in those four starts; the next closest last-out Class Rating among today’s field is a 120, which #7 Du Jour (4-1) received for his win in the Frank Kilroe Mile (G1). William Buick will retain the mount. Six-year-old Dubawi gelding owns a 10-5-3-1 record at today’s distance.

#8 Integration (9-2) — Shug McGaughey trainee brought the hype as a three-year-old, winning three straight in commanding fashion, including the 1 1/8-mile Virginia Derby (G3) and the Hill Prince (G2) at the same distance. Came home fifth to high-class filly Warm Heart as the favorite in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) in his four-year-old debut. Frankie Dettori (20% on turf) picks up the mount, and Integration can improve off a two-month layoff. Cutback to a mile a question mark, however, as he’s only raced farther.

#7 Du Jour (4-1) — Was 10th to Master of The Seas by 3 1/2 lengths in Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) two back at Santa Anita. Bounced back for a two-length win in a Grade 2 last out and flashed a career-best 100 Brisnet Speed figure. Bob Baffert is a 32% winner with shippers and a 28% winner second off the layoff. John Velazquez picks up the mount for Prat, who’s aboard #5 Kubrick (20-1). The Temple City six-year-old has an 11-5-3-0 record at a mile.

#6 Shirl’s Speight (15-1) — Late closer has not visited the winner’s circle since his win in the 2022 Maker’s Mark Mile, but he likes Keeneland and is one to consider for exotics. The Speightstown 7yo owns an 8-1-2-1 record at today’s distance and a 2-1-1-0 record at Keeneland. He clocked a 99 BRIS figure last out in spite of a troubled trip, where he finished eighth by 3 3/4 lengths in the Pegasus World Cup Turf. Luis Saez is back, and he won with Shirl’s Speight in the Maker’s Mark Mile, plus he was beaten just a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland back in 2022. Trainer Roger Attfield is a 17% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days.

Race 10: 1 1/16 miles, allowance, 3yo and up

#7 Lips Say Bliss (5-2) — Viable single. Cairo Prince gelding won by a neck last out at today’s distance over an Oaklawn track labeled good. Flashed 92 BRIS figure, the highest last race speed figure among the field. Robert Medina is a 13% winner with horses that won their last race. Tyler Gaffalione (28% winner to start the meet) picks up the mount. Sharp 4F workout April 5.

#10 Ejtimaa (10-1) — Dominant four-length win at seven furlongs in an allowance optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs on March 22. Moves up in class and stretches back out in distance. Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount and strikes at a 25% rate with routes. Michael Dini is a 15% winner with horses that won their last race.

#4 Midnight Raid (3-1) — Won an allowance at a mile and 70 yards at Fair Grounds on March 3 under Corey Lanerie, who retains the mount. Trainer Norm Casse is a 19% winner with shippers and a 24% winner with horses coming off a win. Bullet 4F workout on April 6.

#1 Laughinalltheway (9-2) — Failed as favorite to Midnight Raid last out in allowance at Fair Grounds. Three back, won at the same mile-and-70-yard distance. Will get a rider switch to Gavin Ashton. Michelle Lovell is a 19% winner with beaten favorites and a 16% winner with shippers. The Distorted Humor gelding has two second-place finishes from two starts at 1 1/16 miles.