Keeneland expert picks: Friday, April 5, 2024

April 4th, 2024

It’s opening day for the 2024 Keeneland Spring Meet, headlined by the Grade 1 Ashland, a Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep worth 100 points to the winner. The top three from the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) — Just F Y I, Jody’s Pride, and Candied — will compete in the 1 1/16-mile test, along with Brad Cox trainee Impel, who closed as the top individual betting choice in Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Oaks future wager.

Let’s try to get off to a hot start for Day 1 of Keeneland’s 16-day meet!

Race 1: Seven-furlong starter allowance, three-year-old fillies

#3 Noshugforpop (9-2) — struggled in two starts at age two but has performed much better at age three. The Hard Spun filly has raced on all-weather in her last two and recorded an 80 BRIS figure last out when a neck third in a one-mile allowance at Turfway Park. Trainer Ben Colebrook is a 23% winner going from all-weather to dirt, and a 13% winner third off the layoff. Luan Machado regains the mount and won with the three-year-old two back.

#9 Berlaine (5-2) — Raced on turf in last four; recorded a win three back racing a mile in a maiden claimer on the grass when trained by Brad Cox. Fourth in first two starts, both on dirt, but Alexis Claire is a 29% winner turf to dirt and a 22% winner with sprints; Corey Lanerie named to ride.

#1 Play Good Pay Good (7-2) — Back in Richard Dutrow’s barn, the Congrats filly has one win at Fair Grounds in a six-furlong maiden claimer and posted a 77 BRIS figure, close to the par winning speed figure for today’s race conditions. Irad Ortiz Jr. picking up the mount is a huge plus. Dutrow is an 18% winner with shippers and 13% going turf to dirt. 

#7 Corkage Fee (6-1) — won two back by a nose racing a mile on Turfway’s all-weather. Switches back to dirt and regains John Velazquez; Michael McCarthy is a 14% winner all-weather to dirt and a 17% winner with sprints. 

Race 2: 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight, two-year-olds

A full field of 12 first-time starters, plus one also-eligible. Time to rely on pedigree, trainer stats, and workouts to pick winners…

#9 Bostontonian (9-5) — Wesley Ward and first-time starters go hand in hand. Bostontonian’s dam has produced four winners from six starters, including a stakes winner, and the two-year-old gelding’s looking super sharp in workouts; Walter Rodriguez is winning at a 46% rate paired with Ward over the last 13 races together. Worthy morning line favorite.

#12 Shoot It True (4-1) — Stablemate of Bostontonian is by Munnings (14% sire win rate with first-time starters) out of a Malibu Moon mare who has a winner from two starters. Logged a sharp 3F workout March 28, and Tyler Gaffalione — leading rider last fall — is aboard.

#3 Strummin (6-1) — John Hancock wins at a 16% rate when debuting runners against maiden special weight company. Strummin is by Flameaway (12% sire win rate with first-time starters) out of a Kantharos mare; Victor Lebron is a 19% winner in sprints. 

#5 Jet Sweep Joe (5-1) — Paul McEntee trainee is by Frosted out of a Pioneerof the Nile mare. Logged a bullet 3F workout March 29; Albin Jimenez is up, and he’s got a +3.85 ROI when riding first-time starters.

#8 Fortheloveofrun (30-1) — If spreading deep or playing exotics, one to consider for Marcus O’Donnell, who’s got a +2.74 ROI in maiden special weight races. Gavin Ashton will be aboard. Logged a sharp 3F workout March 28. Colt is by Runhappy (10% sire win rate for first-time starters).

AE #13 Ace It (8-1) — Potentially use with horizontal wagers if makes field. By Connect (12% sire win rate first-time starters) out of an Indian Charlie dam who has three winners from four starters; Axel Concepcion is named to ride.

Race 3: 5 1/2-furlongs (turf) allowance, four-year-olds and up

#5 Judge Davis (6-1) — Won two back at Keeneland in an allowance at today’s distance with a 91 BRIS figure, then finished 4 1/2 lengths behind in eighth when cutting back to five furlongs at Gulfstream. Eligible to improve second start off the layoff. Shug McGaughey is a 20% winner at allowance level; Flavien Prat (22% winner on turf) picks up the mount.

#6 Run Curtis Run (4-1) — Just one win from 11 turf starts but got close two back when racing five furlongs on turf. Recorded 93 BRIS figure in the effort while finishing third. Last out, raced on all-weather and weakened to seventh. Michael Maker is a 16% winner with shippers and Irad Ortiz Jr. named to ride (22% winner on turf). Sharp trio of workouts in March.

#3 Mo Stash (2-1) — Morning line favorite has two wins on turf from 10 starts but comes off a six-month layoff here. Vicki Oliver is a 24% winner second time Lasix but strikes at just a 9% rate when coming off a layoff of 90 days or more. Luis Saez will regain the mount and won the Transylvania with Mo Stash last spring in gate-to-wire fashion.

Race 4: Seven-furlong maiden special weight, three-year-old fillies

#8 Cleopatra Selene (10-1) — Stretches out to seven furlongs for the first time in fourth career start for Nacho Correas. Races on Lasix for the first time (17% winning move for Correas) and picks up Jose Ortiz, a 25% winner in sprints. Logged a bullet 4F workout March 28. Fourth to next-out stakes winner Midshipman’s Dance last out over muddy track; beaten just a neck when sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs in maiden special weight at Keeneland in October.

#7 Neat Trick (4-1) — Fourth on debut at 6F, then stretched out to seven and came home half-length second in maiden special weight at Gulfstream. Luis Saez retains mount, 19% winner with sprints; Danny Gargan a 20% winner with shippers.

#1 Roman Grace (3-1) — Finished second as the favorite on debut in six-furlong maiden special weight with an 83 BRIS figure. Added distance could help. Todd Pletcher is a 23% winner with shippers and a 20% winner with beaten favorites; Tyler Gaffalione picks up mount. Bullet 4F workout March 21.

#10 Bedazzle ‘Em (8-1) — Second start off the claim for Bill Mott. Finished half-length second at six furlongs last out in maiden special weight at Gulfstream. Mott is a 21% winner second time Lasix and a 19% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days. Junior Alvarado retains the mount. 

Race 5: 1 3/16 miles (turf), maiden special weight, three-year-old fillies

#5 Sy B (8-1) — English Channel filly raced on all-weather in first two starts. Makes first turf start for Cherie DeVaux, 16% winner first-time grass starts, and Sy B’s dam has produced six winners from nine starters, including five turf winners. Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount and strikes at a 27% rate with closers.

#7 Everything Bugs Me (9-2) — Posted 77 BRIS figure on debut when second in a one-mile maiden special weight while trained by Rolando Quinonez. Switched to the barn of Pavel Matejka, a 27% winner with horses making their second career start and a 23% winner first-time Lasix. Luan Machado picks up the mount and strikes at a 21% rate with early pacesetter types.

#2 Spinning Class (7-2) — Twirling Candy filly finished third in last two while racing a mile and 1 1/8 miles. Shug McGaughey wins at 18% rate third start off a layoff and is an 18% winner with shippers. Vincent Cheminaud retains the mount.

#11 Swans Cove (8-1) — Fourth on debut in one-mile maiden special weight on Gulfstream’s turf. Recorded 73 BRIS figure and can improve off a layoff for Bill Mott. Junior Alvarado will stay in the saddle. Godolphin homebred by Ghostzapper is out of a dam who has five turf winners from seven starters.

Race 6: 7F, Lafayette S., three-year-olds

#5 Booth (9-5) — Broke maiden at Keeneland with 5 1/4-length win in a six-furlong sprint in October. Troubled trip in second start when fifth in 6 1/2-furlong Ed Brown S. at Churchill. Rebounded with a 4 1/4-length win in six-furlong allowance optional claimer at Oaklawn over a sloppy track; Steve Asmussen is a 19% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days. Joel Rosario (20% winner with sprints) picks up the mount.

#6 Glengarry (8-1) — 3-for-3 to start career when sprinting six furlongs; stretched out to a mile last out and set the early pace, but outfinished in the stretch by three-quarters of a length. Comes off a three-month layoff for Doug Anderson, a 22% winner in non-graded stakes; Luis Saez aboard and won Bowman Mill S. with Glengarry last October at Keeneland.

#7 Who Dey (6-1) — 4-for-4 for career, all at different tracks and distances. Won one-mile allowance optional claimer last out at Churchill in November; logged a bullet workout March 30 and regular rider John McKee retains the mount. Trainer Thomas Drury is a 24% winner with horses that won last race.

#3 Doncho (5-2) — Posted pair of 95 BRIS figures in two wins from two starts at Fair Grounds for Michelle Lovell, a 24% winner in non-graded stakes but a 9% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days. Christian Torres (21% in sprints) picks up the mount; gelding moves up in class to face stakes company the first time.

Race 7: 6 1/2-furlong optional claimer, three-year-old fillies

#9 Amor Fati (5-2) — Liam’s Map filly romped to 5 1/2-length win on debut in 6F maiden special weight with 90 BRIS figure for Brittany Russell. Moved to Jose D’Angelo’s barn and will make second career start while coming off a two-month layoff. D’Angelo is an 18% winner with shippers; Luis Saez retains the mount and is 3-for-12 paired with D’Angelo last two months. Sharp workouts in March. 

#2 Harbor Springs (10-1) — Broke maiden in second career start with a six-length win over a sloppy track at Fair Grounds. Moves up in class for Greg Foley, a 15% winner with shippers. Tyler Gaffalione picks up the mount. Bullet 4F workout on March 29.

#10 Roswell (7-2) — Beaten a neck by a next-out winner in 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream in second career start. Bill Mott is a 15% winner with beaten favorites, and Junior Alvarado retains the mount. Comes off a nearly two-month layoff and put in sharp works in March.

#4 Sam’s Treasure (9-2) — Won by 5 3/4 lengths two back in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Saratoga; beaten as the favorite last out in allowance optional claimer at today’s distance. Wesley Ward is a 26% winner with beaten favorites and a 27% winner first-time Lasix. John Velazquez retains the mount. Comes off a six-month layoff (Ward a 27% winner off layoffs of 90 days or more).

#7 Just Great (20-1) — Intriguing longshot making first start for Arnaud Delacour. Unbeaten from two starts at Delaware Park but comes off a six-month layoff. Delacour is a 32% winner with horses coming off a layoff of 90 or more days and a 21% winner first-time Lasix. Flavien Prat (33% winner with sprints) picks up the mount. Sharp works in March.

Race 8: 1 1/16 miles (turf), Transylvania (G3), three-year-olds

#4 Neat (10-1) — Comes off 5 1/2-length win in Texas Turf Mile, beat a next-out winner. Career-best 88 BRIS figure last out on yielding turf; Rob Atras is a 23% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days, 21% winner with shippers. Reylu Gutierrez retains mount; colt is 3-for-4 on turf.

#11 Full Nelson (8-1) — 92 BRIS figure last out (highest last race speed rating and fastest turf speed rating among the field). Won Columbia S. by 1 3/4 lengths; 3-for-3 on turf, including a win at today’s distance. Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up mount and strikes at 22% clip on turf; Jose D’Angelo is a 22% winner with horses that won last race.

#10 Can Group (12-1) — 2-for-3 on turf with huge upset win of Bourbon (G2) at Keeneland last October. Switched to dirt last out when last of six in Lecomte (G3); Mark Casse is a 15% winner dirt to turf. Flavien Prat (leading turf rider at Keeneland in fall) regains the mount and finished a two-length fourth with Can Group in BC Juvenile Turf (G1). 

#5 Tennessee (15-1) — Justify colt tries turf for the first time for Brad Cox; dam has five winners from six starters, including three turf winners. Jose Ortiz picks up mount; three-year-old colt won last out in one-mile allowance optional claimer on all-weather with a 90 BRIS figure.

Race 9: 1 1/16 miles, Ashland (G1), three-year-old fillies

#1 Candied (6-1) — Lone loss from three starts a three-quarter-length third in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Can rebound off the five-month layoff. Sharp works at Palm Beach Downs, and regular rider Luis Saez is aboard (leading rider last spring). Rail post won at a high clip last meet, as did closers. Pace should set up for this Candy Ride filly.

#6 Just F Y I (3-1) — Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner makes 3yo debut. Slated to race in last month’s Davona Dale before fever forced a scratch. Pair of bullet works in March. Regular rider Junior Alvarado is aboard; Bill Mott is a 22% winner with graded stakes. Improving speed figures with each start for this Justify filly.

#8 Jody’s Pride (8-1) — Lone career loss was by a neck in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Light speed figure last out when winning Busher S. over a sloppy track. The American Pharoah filly will get Flavien Prat back after switching to Jose Lezcano last out. Second start off a layoff; trainer Jorge Abreu is 0-for-34 in graded stakes, but Jody’s Pride can contend for minor awards. 

Race 10: 1 3/16 miles (turf), maiden special weight, three-year-old fillies

#9 Justdeny (9-2) — Comes off a five-month layoff after finishing second in 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on Keeneland’s turf. Posted 82 BRIS figure (highest last race speed rating). Danny Gargan is a 28% winner with horses coming off layoffs of 90 days or more and a 26% winner first-time Lasix. Luis Saez stays in the saddle.

#7 Mizoula (7-2) — Beaten by three-quarters of a length in first turf start last out when racing 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream. Christophe Clement is a 36% winner with second career turf starts and a 20% winner with shippers. Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the mount.

#3 Guinevere (6-1) — Wesley Ward trainee made her debut in a one-mile maiden special weight on Turfway’s all-weather, where the Justify filly finished third. Added distance can help. Abel Cedillo retains the mount. Bullet 5F workout March 29. Ward is a 20% winner first time on turf and with horses making their second career start. 

#12 Faith Understood (15-1) — Longshot to consider for trainer Jonathan Thomas, a 26% winner first time on turf and 25% winner with second career starts. The Catholic Boy filly was fifth on debut in 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on all-weather; Florent Geroux will be in the saddle. Pair of sharp 4F workouts in March.