Keeneland Expert Picks: Thursday, April 18, 2024

April 18th, 2024

Wednesday’s weather report called for thunderstorms at Keeneland, but Thursday we should get a break from the rain. Let’s look at the first five races on the card, which includes four maiden races and just one on the turf.

Remember to opt in to TwinSpires’ Daily Double Down promo, where you can get a 25% boost on all winning Daily Double wagers at Keeneland every Wednesday through Friday in April if you hit two Daily Doubles on a given promotional day.

Let’s dive into Wednesday’s challenging sequence. Top picks and a pair of Doubles are below.

$2 Double ($1 minimum), Races 1 and 2

  • 5, 6, 7 with 1, 4 ($12)

$2 Double ($1 minimum), Races 3 and 4

  • 1, 2, 7, 9 with 3, 7 ($16)

Race 1: 1 1/16 miles, maiden special weight, 3yos

* Will try to beat #1 Moneyshot (6-5) — Early speed and the rail post are both winning at a high rate in 8 1/2-furlong routes at Keeneland, but the Frosted gelding may be better suited for shorter distances. Had the lead in last two but was caught late racing at today’s distance two back and over a muddy track in a one-mile maiden claimer at Oaklawn. Trainer Mike Puhich is just an 8% winner second off the layoff as well. Tyler Gaffalione, a 24% winner this meet, will ride. Solid workouts at Keeneland in April.

#6 Liam’s Journey (3-1) — Liam’s Map three-year-old raced on turf in last two and will return to dirt while coming off a nearly two-month layoff for Mike Maker (15% turf to dirt). The gray colt is 0-for-7 lifetime but has raced on turf in all but one start. Three back, he finished third to future Wood Memorial (G2) winner Resilience in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Gulfstream and clocked an 85 Brisnet Speed figure on the main track. Joel Rosario (28% with routes) will pick up the mount. Bullet four-furlong workout April 2.

#5 Bricklayer (8-1) — Always Dreaming colt makes third career start for Michael McCarthy and races on Lasix a second time. Closer will stretch out in distance after racing six furlongs on Turfway’s all-weather in first two. Flavien Prat inherits the mount and strikes at a 27% rate with routes. He’s also 4-for-7 paired with McCarthy the last two months. Sharp four-furlong workout at Churchill on April 12.

#7 Priority Lane (9-2) — Runhappy gelding has raced on turf in four career starts, three of which were overseas, and was beaten a neck last out when rallying late in a 7 1/2-furlong maiden claimer at Gulfstream. Caio Caramori trainee looked sharp in recent workout at Keeneland. Luis Saez will pick up the mount and is an 18% winner with routes. 

#4 Polar Bear Plunge (12-1) —  English Channel gelding will return to dirt after racing on turf the last four. Makes first start for trainer Jeff Hiles and comes off a layoff of more than three months. Crossed the wire first last out in a 1 1/16-mile maiden claimer on turf but was placed second via DQ. James Graham will retain the mount.

Race 2: 4 1/2 furlongs, maiden special weight, 2yo fillies

Eleven first-time starters are entered. Let’s look to pedigree and trainer stats for a winner.

#4 Hey Scooter (20-1) — Filly is out of a dam who has a stakes winner from one starter. Julien Leparoux will get the mount. Sire Bee Jersey’s progeny win at a 22% rate first time out, and Hey Scooter’s breeding suits today’s distance. Ultra fast three-furlong workout on April 11.

#1 Ultima Grace (6-5) — American Pharoah filly makes debut for Wesley Ward, a 28% winner with first-time starters. John Velazquez is named to ride and is winning at a 13% clip this meet. Sharp three-furlong workout April 8. Ward and Velazquez are also 5-2-1-1 the last 14 days when paired up together.

#2 Haven’t a Red Cent (6-1) — Goldencents filly is out of an A.P. Indy mare who has four winners from five starters. Put in a bullet work on March 28. Trainer John Ennis is a 13% winner at the maiden special weight level but just an 8% winner with first-time starters. Axel Concepcion (14% with sprints) will ride.

#11 Runsweetly (15-1) — Runhappy filly is out of a Twirling Candy mare and will make first start for Marcus O’Donnell. Declan Cannon (8-1-0-1 this meet) will ride. Sharp workouts at The Thoroughbred Center.

Race 3: 7 furlongs, maiden claimer, fillies and mares 3yo and up

#7 Candy Lover (9-2) — Twirling Candy filly makes first start for Joe Sharp, who’s 2-for-5 to start the meet and a 20% winner first start off the claim. Three-year-old finished third in last four racing between 5 1/2 and six furlongs. Raced on turf at 5 1/2 furlongs last out; the added distance can help. Tyler Gaffalione will pick up the mount and strikes at a 19% rate with sprints.

#9 Baby Sassicaia (12-1) — Vino Rosso filly is 0-for-3 with two second-place finishes racing between five and seven furlongs and will return off a nearly five-month layoff. Trainer Saffie Joseph is a 25% winner first start off the claim and a 26% winner first time with Lasix. Flavien Prat (32% winner in sprints) will pick up the mount. Last-out speed figure was a 78 when racing at today’s distance.

#1 Sabrina (10-1) — Malibu Moon filly was fifth in lone start in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Aqueduct in December. Will make first start for Brendan Walsh and races on Lasix the first time. Joel Rosario will inherit the mount and wins at a 20% clip with sprints. Stablemate #3 Life Advice (3-1) is the morning line favorite, but I'll play against after three starts finishing out of the money, including a distant ninth at today’s distance at Keeneland last fall.

#2 Beauty of the Nile (8-1) — Pioneerof the Nile four-year-old rallied to finish third in lone career start, a five-furlong maiden special weight at Hawthorne, after a troubled start. William Morey is a 20% winner with second career starts and a 23% winner with shippers. Will remove blinkers. Gerardo Corrales is up (23% winner with sprints).

#5 Monarch (6-1) — Early pacesetter makes third career start for Rick Dutrow (3-1-0-1 to start the meet) and will return off a two-month layoff. Faced maiden special weight company in last two and had the lead through the second call last out but tired when trying 1 1/8 miles. Jose Ortiz, who’s winning at a 22% rate this meet and a 24% clip with sprints) will pick up the mount. Sharp workouts at Keeneland in April. Races on Lasix a second time.

Race 4: 1 1/16 miles, claimer, 3yo and up non-winners of two

#3 Certified Loverboy (3-1) — Broke maiden six starts back when racing a mile at Saratoga. Ships to Keeneland after racing in New York for Ray Handal, a 27% winner first time claiming and a 21% winner with shippers. Flavien Prat (27% with routes) will pick up the mount. Sharp recent workouts at Keeneland. Mendelssohn gelding’s 97 BRIS figure in maiden win is the best dirt speed figure among today’s field.

#7 Our Dream Rye’d (9-2) — More Than Ready gelding has been racing primarily on turf or all-weather. Makes fourth start since transferring to the barn of Will Walden, a 25% winner at the claiming level and a 23% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days. Irad Ortiz Jr. (25% with routes) will pick up the mount. Walden is also a 25% winner going from all-weather to dirt.

#9 Route Runner (8-1) — Gun Runner colt is eligible to improve second start off the layoff for Steve Asmussen, a 19% winner at the claiming level. Four-year-old is a late runner who may get the right pace setup today to rally late from the outside and win. Tyler Gaffalione (24% winner this meet) will regain the mount and finished third racing at today’s distance in lone previous start with Route Runner.

Race 5: 1 1/16 miles (turf), maiden special weight, 3yo fillies 

#4 Centuria (4-1) is a vulnerable favorite who’s switching back to turf after racing on all-weather in last four and getting a rider change. Let’s look for some prices instead.

#9 Deep Satin (8-1) — American Pharoah filly makes first start for Cherie DeVaux, who’s 6-2-1-0 to start the meet and a 17% winner with turf starts. The three-year-old is out of a dam who has seven turf winners from eight starters, and Jose Ortiz is aboard (20% on the grass). Ortiz is also 3-for-4 paired with DeVaux the last two months.

#3 Beyond Lucky (6-1) — Nyquist filly finished far back in 11th on debut when trying a six-furlong sprint at Turfway Park. Makes first turf start for Jonathan Thomas (2-1-0-1 to start the meet), who strikes at a 27% rate first time on turf and a 20% rate first time at a route. Three-year-old returns off a nearly two-month layoff. Sharp four-furlong workout at Keeneland March 24. Irad Ortiz (22% on turf) will pick up the mount.

#7 Figgy (9-2) — Candy Ride filly is 0-for-4 lifetime but has never tried turf. She’s out of a mare who has three turf winners from six starters, and she’s eligible to improve off the layoff and while racing on Lasix the first time. Trainer Rusty Arnold is just a 9% winner first time on the grass, but Luis Saez is aboard, and he’s 3-for-5 paired with Arnold the last two months with a +4.44 ROI. Two of Saez's three wins this meet have also come on the turf. 

#11 Don’t Look Back (12-1) — Makes second career start and first on turf for Rodolphe Brisset, a 31% winner with second career starts and a 25% winner first time at a route. Hard Spun filly was a distant ninth on debut in a six-furlong maiden special weight on Turfway’s all-weather. Dam has two turf winners from five starters. Flavien Prat (21% on turf) will inherit the mount. Bullet four-furlong workout April 6.

AE of note #14 Pisciotta (8-1) — Another Cherie DeVaux trainee who will make first career start. The Wootton Bassett filly is out of a Dubawi mare who has one winner from one starter. Jose Ortiz is named to ride.