Keeneland expert picks: Thursday, April 11, 2024

April 11th, 2024

It’s another rainy day at Keeneland with a potential for severe thunderstorms the first half of the day. Like Wednesday, we’ll stick to a Pick 5 ticket for the first five races, all scheduled for the dirt.

Below are our top selections for each leg, plus a Pick 5 ticket to play.

It’s also another day to play the TwinSpires Daily Double Down — Opt in and hit two Daily Doubles to receive a 25% boost on all winning Daily Double wagers at Keeneland every Wednesday through Friday in April. 

$1 Pick 5 ticket (50-cent minimum): 3, 5, 8 with 8, 9 with 2, 10 with 8 with 3, 7, 10 ($36)

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

Will stand against morning line favorite #2 Chiquita Mosca (5-2), who last won 12 starts back when elevated to first via DQ.

#3 Little Dixie (5-1) — Top choice is a price for trainer Michael Reavis, who’s shipping the Union Rags filly back to Keeneland, where she won a maiden claimer back in April 2023. Little Dixie made her first start off the claim for Reavis last out at Turfway and finished a distant fourth at a mile. She’ll stretch out to 1 1/16 miles here and has a neck second at the distance. The same rider from that race and her maiden win, Tyler Gaffalione, will regain the mount here. Reavis is a 46% winner (from 13 starts) going from all-weather to dirt and a 19% winner second off the claim. Has a win on an off track with a career-best 83 BRIS figure.

#8 Take Shape (7-2) — Joe Sharp trainee clocked an 82 BRIS figure last out in her first start off the claim; got up to win by a neck in a one-mile claimer at Turfway. Moves up in class here and picks up Irad Ortiz Jr., a 25% winner with routes. The Street Sense filly has the highest last-race speed rating and will stretch out to 8 1/2 furlongs for the first time. Sharp is a 22% winner with horses that won their last race.

#5 It Wasn’t Me (4-1) — By Blame, the four-year-old makes her first start with trainer Kenny McPeek and returns off a nearly two-month layoff while moving up in class. She raced at a mile on turf in her last two, winning both for Ray Handal. Finished second in lone dirt start at today’s distance in a maiden special weight taken off the turf. Brian Hernandez (23% winner with routes) picks up the mount.

#4 Divinely Bolt (9-2) — Makes second start off the claim for Mark Simms after finishing far back in sixth as the favorite in a one-mile claimer on Turfway’s all-weather. Simms is 4-for-13 switching from all-weather to dirt, and Jose Ortiz (22% with routes) inherits the mount. However, her lone start in the mud was at today’s distance, and Divinely Bolt was a 12-length sixth. 

Race 2: 4 1/2 furlongs, maiden special weight, 2yos

Nine first-time starters, but two are trained by Wesley Ward and both look like excellent chances; though, one is a “perfect shance”… I’ll see myself out.

#9 Perfect Shances (8-5) — Two-year-old filly drew the far outside and will get rider Walter Rodriguez, who’s 6-for-11 paired with Wesley Ward the last two months. The Shanghai Bobby granddaughter is out of a Bayern mare, and Perfect Shances’ damsire has a 20% win rate with first-time starters. Ward is also a 27% winner with debut runners. Bullet 3F workout at Keeneland March 28.

#8 Image of Me (3-1) — Tough to go against Wesley Ward in Keeneland maiden special weights. Perfect Shances’ stablemate has looked just as good in workouts at Keeneland, and Image of Me is by Hootenanny, whose first-time starters win at a 31% rate. The two-year-old filly is also out of a First Samurai mare with one winner from one starter. Gerardo Corrales is named to ride and wins at a 24% rate with sprints but just 11% of the time with first-time starters (compared to Rodriguez’s 17% win rate). Sire’s progeny also have a 30% win rate in the mud.

#4 Baytown Amy Rose (6-1) — If you want to play against the Ward trainees, consider Game Winner filly Baytown Amy Rose, who makes her debut for trainer Paul McEntee, a 10% winner (out of 121 starts) at the maiden special weight level. Albin Jimenez (15% in sprints) is set to ride. Bullet 3F workout at Keeneland March 29.

#3 Her Holy Name (9-2) — Kantharos filly makes first start for John Hancock, a 16% winner with horses debuting at the maiden special weight level. Victor Lebron is 2-for-10 paired with Hancock the last two months and a 19% winner with sprints.

Race 3: 1 1/8 miles, maiden claimer, fillies and mares 3yo and up

#10 Tres Chic (3-1)  — Not a lot of speed signed on for this maiden claimer, but Tres Chic can get the job done as a late runner here. Four-year-old filly was beaten a neck when rallying late in a one-mile maiden claimer on Turfway’s all-weather last out. She’s switching back to dirt for Kenny McPeek (19% with the surface switch) and stretching back out in distance. Will keep Julien Leparoux in the saddle. Posted career-best 74 BRIS figure last out when making the rider change. McPeek is an 18% winner at the maiden claiming level and a 21% winner paired with Leparoux over the last two months.

#2 Silent Secretary (8-1) — Stablemate of Tres Chic will get her second dirt start. Raced on all-weather in last two and was beaten a neck two back at a mile. Moves up in class here and reunites with Brian Hernandez, who’s winning at a 20% clip with McPeek the last 60 days. Recorded 68 Brisnet Speed figure in her last two.

#6 Blue Vortex (2-1) — Morning line favorite is another closer. Finished far back in fourth last out at today’s distance over a sloppy track in a maiden optional claimer originally scheduled for turf. Makes her second dirt start today. Joe Sharp is an 18% winner at the maiden claiming level, and Tyler Gaffalione picks up the mount.

Race 4: 6 1/2 furlongs, maiden special weight, 3yos and up

#8 Jefferson Street (1-1) — He’s the even-money favorite for a reason. Early runner posted an 87 Brisnet Speed figure on debut when racing seven furlongs at Saratoga, then improved that figure to a 90 last out when third at the same distance at Gulfstream. Had the lead in the stretch but was overtaken by Be You, who ran in the Blue Grass (G1) last weekend. Eligible to improve second start off the layoff and racing on Lasix a second time for trainer Bill Mott. Junior Alvarado will retain the mount. Sharp five-furlong workout March 31. 

#5 Paved in Gold (15-1) — Another early speed type in the field. The Quality Road gelding switches back to dirt after setting the early pace but weakening to fifth last out racing 6 1/2 furlongs on Turfway’s all-weather. Recorded 83 BRIS figure on debut in lone dirt start. Bullet four-furlong workout at Keeneland April 5. Gerardo Corrales retains the mount and strikes at a 24% rate in sprints. Trainer Lance Rutledge is a 29% winner (from a small sample size of 7) at the maiden special weight level. Raced with blinkers in his first two starts, but that equipment will be removed today. 

#4 Cage Match (3-1) — Late runner finished second by more than four lengths on debut when racing 6 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct; posted 84 Brisnet Speed figure. Rick Dutrow is an 18% winner with shippers and a 13% winner at the maiden special weight level. Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount.

Race 5: 1 1/16 miles, claimer, 3yos and up non-winners of two

Just like the opening leg, I’m standing against the favorite to close out the Pick 5. #1 Dual Monarchy (5-2) has one win from four starts at 1 1/16 miles, and the Cairo Prince four-year-old flattened to fourth last out racing a mile at Oaklawn. He hasn’t won since graduating in a maiden claimer at Churchill Downs nine starts back, and he’s 0-for-2 at Keeneland. The rail post is winning at a 20% clip and he’s dropping in class, but I see better prices with better chances here.

#3 Luke (7-2) – Union Rags gelding broke maiden in his third start when switching back to dirt. Came back to race at the same one-mile-and-70-yard distance in a claimer and finished second to a next-out winner. Ships to Keeneland for Chris Hartman, a 31% winner at the claiming level. Mitchell Murrill will retain the mount. 

#10 Americus (8-1) — Finished third as the favorite last out in a six-furlong claiming race at Turfway. Switches back to dirt and will race on Lasix a second time, a winning move 28% of the time for Brad Cox. Won second career start when wiring a one-mile maiden claimer over a track labeled good. Comes off a more than three-month layoff ahead of fifth career start. Cox is a 24% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days and a 32% winner with beaten favorites. Axel Concepcion retains the mount.

#7 Striking Sparks (15-1) — Accelerate three-year-old is 1-for-3 for his career, with a win at a mile racing on an off track. Will make his first start since transferring to the barn of Paulo Lobo, a 27% winner with horses making their first start with the trainer and a 26% winner coming off layoffs of 90 or more days. Striking Sparks last raced in September on Churchill’s turf and came home eighth of nine. The return to dirt, plus racing on Lasix for the first time, can help him get back to the winner’s circle. Luan Machado, a 24% winner with routes, will regain the mount. He guided Striking Sparks to a third-place finish on debut when racing 5 1/2 furlongs. Machado’s also winning at a 29% clip paired with Lobo the last 60 days.