Keeneland expert picks: Saturday, April 13, 2024

April 12th, 2024

We’ve got the final Road to the Kentucky Derby prep, the Grade 3 Lexington, in Race 10 today, as well as the Grade 3 Giant’s Causeway and Grade 1 Jenny Wiley.

It’s a packed 11-race card at Keeneland, so let’s get to it.

Race 1: 5 1/2 furlongs, maiden claimer, fillies and mares 3yo and up

#1 Gloriette (4-1) — Makes sixth career start for Ben Colebrook and switches back to dirt after racing on all-weather the last two. Three back, Munnings filly had the early lead but got headed in midstretch and yielded through the final furlong to finish third in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Ellis Park in August. The cutback to 5 1/2 furlongs and racing on Lasix a second time can help the three-year-old reach the winner’s circle. Colebrook is a 23% winner with horses racing on Lasix a second time and an 18% winner going from the maiden special weight to maiden claiming level. Luan Machado will retain the mount. Bullet four-furlong workout March 15.

#3 Missile (2-1) — Eddie Kenneally trainee recorded an 80 Brisnet Speed figure on debut when a distant fourth in a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Keeneland. The Bolt d’Oro filly stretched out to 7 1/2 furlongs next and was far back in 10th, then cut back to six furlongs and added blinkers, and came home last of six. Blinkers were removed last out and she dropped down to a six-furlong maiden claimer at Fair Grounds, where she had the lead in the stretch but was beaten to second by three-quarters of a length. Kenneally is an 18% winner at the maiden claiming level and off layoffs of 46-90 days. Luis Saez regains the mount.

#4 Iguazu (9-2) — Wesley Ward trainee had the lead in the stretch last out but weakened to third in a maiden claimer on Turfway’s all-weather in her fifth career start; recorded a light 58 BRIS Speed figure. Returns off a more than two-month layoff and picks up Jeffrey Sanchez. Ward is a 24% winner going from all-weather to dirt and a 29% winner at the maiden claiming level. Four-year-old filly has never raced on dirt. Tried turf in first three starts, with a half-length second three back racing 5 1/2 furlongs on Saratoga’s grass.

#9 Mikey’s Magic Gal (12-1) — First-time starter for Aaron West, who’s a 24% winner at the maiden claiming level and a 21% winner with first-time starters. Mshawish filly is out of a dam who has two winners from two starters. Edgar Morales is named to ride and strikes at a 14% rate with sprints.

Race 2: 7 furlongs, claimer, fillies and mares, 3yo and up non-winners of two

#6 St. Benedicts Prep (6-1) — Will go for a price and back the Flatter filly, who makes her fourth start since transferring to Ben Colebrook’s barn. Four-year-old raced at a mile on all-weather in last two, but three back she finished a half-length second in a seven-furlong allowance at Churchill. She drops in class today and regains Luan Machado, who guided her to that second-place finish on dirt three back. Bullet 4F workout at Keeneland on March 24. Broke maiden at Keeneland back in October when racing six furlongs.

#3 Theroanrunner (8-5) — Failed as the favorite last out when she set the early pace but yielded with a sixteenth to go and finished third in a one-mile turf allowance. Will cut back to seven furlongs, but she’s 0-for-2 from the distance. She’s a need-the-lead type and shouldn’t have an issue getting it against today’s field. Trained by Joe Sharp (10% winner first time claiming) and will get Tyler Gaffalione in the saddle. Sharp recent workouts at Keeneland.

#2 Rosia Bay (9-2) — Makes first start for William Morey, a 21% winner with horses making their first start with the trainer and a 20% winner third off the layoff. Lord Nelson mare clocked an 84 BRIS figure two back when beaten a half-length at six furlongs at Turfway, then finished third at the same track stretching out to 6 1/2 furlongs. Drops in class and will try dirt for the first time. Gerardo Corrales (23% winner with sprints) picks up the mount.

#4 Liam’s Champ (3-1) — Broke maiden two back at today’s distance over a muddy Aqueduct track while trained by Chad Brown. Clocked a 90 BRIS figure in the win, then transferred to the barn of Robert Medina and finished fifth by 2 1/4 lengths in a six-furlong allowance at Turfway nine months later. A return to seven furlongs can help the late runner. Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount. Medina is a 21% winner first time claiming.

Race 3: About 7 furlongs, maiden claimer, 3yos and up

#6 Paved in Gold (15-1) — Makes third career start for Lance Rutledge and removes blinkers for the first time. Clocked an 83 BRIS figure on debut in a six-furlong maiden claimer at Laurel, where the Quality Road gelding finished second. Switched to all-weather and stretched out slightly to 6 1/2 furlongs; showed quick inside speed and led to deep stretch but weakened late to fifth. His 79 BRIS figure last out is the highest last race Speed rating among the field. Breeding suits today’s distance. Has put in sharp workouts at Keeneland. Gerardo Corrales regains the mount and wins at a 23% rate in sprints.

#1 Modern Day Warrior (9-2) — Uncle Mo four-year-old makes debut for Wesley Ward, a 32% winner with horses debuting at the maiden claiming level and a 28% winner with first-time starters. The gelding’s dam has a stakes winner from three starters, and Modern Day Warrior has looked sharp in workouts at Keeneland. Jeffrey Sanchez is named to ride.

#8 Air It Out (15-1) — Tried six furlongs in first two starts, then stretched out to 1 1/16 miles. Trainer Keith Desormeaux is a 20% winner going from the maiden special weight to maiden claiming level and a 17% winner with shippers. Blinkers come off and Brian Hernandez (17% with sprints) inherits the mount. 

#12 Summonyourcourage (7-2) — Favorite drew the far outside, which had a low win percentage last meet in seven-furlong dirt sprints. Practical Joke colt makes third start since transferring to Will Walden’s barn and comes off a layoff of 48 days. Irad Ortiz Jr. will regain the mount. Four-year-old is 0-for-11 lifetime and drops in class today while cutting back in distance.

#4 Eirik Ridge (4-1) — Has recorded 78-92 BRIS figures in four career starts racing between six furlongs and 1 1/16 miles in maiden special weights, but seems to perform better in the mud. Trainer Al Stall Jr. is a 20% winner going from the maiden special weight to maiden claiming level and a 20% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days. Corey Lanerie regains the mount.

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

#4 Fracture (15-1) — With half the field comprised of first-time starters, I’ll take a shot with a longshot here. The Uncle Mo colt is out of a Forestry mare with a stakes winner from three starters. Trainer Daniel Leitch is a 14% winner with first-time starters and a 13% winner at the maiden special weight level. Rider Walter Rodriguez does well with debut runners, and he’s a 16% winner with sprints. Uncle Mo has a 14% sire win rate with first-time starters. Sharp workout at Keeneland March 29.

#7 Beckster (4-1) — Audible colt will make debut for Rodolphe Brisset, a 21% winner at the maiden special weight level. Sire win rate with first-time starters is just 6%, but dam has produced three winners from four starters. Tyler Gaffalione will ride. Sharp 5F workout on April 6.

#9 Shadow Surge (7-2) — First-time starter for George Weaver, a 15% winner with horses debuting at the maiden special weight level. Speightstown colt is bred to enjoy today’s distance, and his dam has one winner from one starter. Irad Ortiz Jr. (29% winner this meet) named to ride.

#10 Red State (4-1) — Mike Maker trainee is by City of Light (14% sire win rate with first-time starters) out of a mare who has four winners, including a stakes winner, from six starters. Luis Saez named to ride. Bullet 5F workout March 23 at Churchill. Maker is a 10% winner with first-time starters and a 13% winner in maiden special weights.

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

#2 Spaliday (5-2) — Chad Brown trainee makes second career start after rallying late to finish a length third in a one-mile maiden special weight at Gulfstream on Feb. 16. Recorded a 77 BRIS figure, tied for the highest last race Speed figure among the field. Brown is a 24% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days and a 25% winner with second career starts. He’s also 3-for-8 to start the meet. Tyler Gaffalione will retain the mount and is 2-for-3 paired with Brown over the last 14 days.

#9 Ready for Shirl (6-1) — More Than Ready filly makes first start for Roger Attfield, a 23% winner with first-time starters who’s 2-for-10 with a 1.11 ROI with debut turf runners. Florent Geroux (19% on turf and 6-2-2-1 to start the meet) will ride. Sharp workout April 6. Dam has three turf winners, including a stakes winner, from five starters. Outside post could be an issue, though.

#5 Scarlet Poppy (4-1) — First-time starter for Wesley Ward whose sire, Night of Thunder, owns a 15% win rate with first-time turf starters. Dam has also produced six turf winners from seven starters and has three stakes winners. John Velazquez (11% on turf) is named to ride. Ward is a 20% winner with debut turf runners.

#6 Wine and Waves (12-1) — Vino Rosso filly finished fifth by 2 1/4 lengths on debut when racing 5 1/2 furlongs at Fair Grounds. Trainer Al Stall Jr. is a 19% winner with shippers and a 10% winner first time at a route. Reylu Gutierrez (12% on turf) will pick up the mount.

AE of note, #16 Beyond Lucky (10-1) — Poor showing on debut when racing on all-weather in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Turfway. Switches to turf for Jonathan Thomas, a 27% winner first time on grass and a 26% winner with second career starts. Luis Saez will pick up the mount. Sharp 4F workout at Keeneland March 24.

Race 6: 1 1/16 miles, allowance optional claimer, fillies and mares, 4yo and up

#2 Julia Shining (1-1) — Finished a nose second when rallying late in the 1 1/8-mile Comely (G3) in November and returns off a more than four-month layoff. Trainer Todd Pletcher is a 20% winner off layoffs of 90 or more days and a 24% winner first-time Lasix. Luis Saez will regain the mount and won with the Curlin filly in her first two starts, at about seven furlongs at Keeneland and 1 1/8 miles over a sloppy Aqueduct track in the Demoiselle (G2) in December of 2022. Recorded a 96 BRIS figure last out, the highest last race Speed figure among the field. 

#7 Musical Mischief (5-1) — Michael McCarthy trainee drops in class off distant fourth in the La Canada (G3) at Santa Anita in January. Three back, the Into Mischief filly won by 11 lengths in a 1 1/8-mile allowance at Churchill and posted a 96 BRIS figure, then tried turf for the first time and stretched out to 1 1/4 miles in the American Oaks (G1), where she finished third. McCarthy is an 18% winner at the allowance level, and John Velazquez (26% with routes) is in the saddle. Bullet 4F workout April 5.

#6 Fireline (4-1) — Late runner broke maiden in second career start racing a mile at Aqueduct, then tried the same distance at Belmont and won again. Failed to finish in the money in three tries against stakes company and was a distant second two back in a 1 1/8-mile allowance optional claimer at Aqueduct. Comes off a five-month layoff for Chad Brown, a 26% winner off layoffs of 90 or more days and a 25% winner at the allowance level. Tyler Gaffalione picks up the mount.

#4 Lil Kings Princess (12-1) — Early pacesetter is 8-3-1-0 from today’s distance but comes off a more than nine-month layoff for John Ortiz, a 20% winner at the allowance level. Reylu Gutierrez regains the mount (21% with routes).

Race 7: 5 1/2 furlongs (turf), Giant’s Causeway S. (G3), fillies and mares, 3yo and up

Standing against morning line favorite #11 Elm Drive (7-2), who rallied to finish a head second in the about 6 1/2-furlong Las Cienegas (G3) last out. Raced on dirt first nine career starts, then tried turf and won at 6 1/2 furlongs, but last three turf starts have resulted in two second-place finishes by a head and a three-length seventh at a mile. Cutback to 5 1/2 furlongs may be too short. 4-1-2-0 on turf. Picking up new rider as well.

#8 Roses for Debra (4-1) — Top pick will stretch back out to 5 1/2 furlongs after racing five furlongs in the Turf Monster (G3) and Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Won last two at 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga and owns a 6-4-0-1 record overall on turf. Christophe Clement is a 20% winner with shippers and a 19% winner off layoffs of more than 90 days. Irad Ortiz Jr. will retain the mount. Won the Grade 3 Caress four back and clocked a 97 BRIS figure, the highest turf Speed figure among the field. Sharp four-furlong workout on April 5.

#9 Kissed by Fire (10-1) — Early pacesetter had the lead in the stretch but faltered to finish a two-length fifth last out racing 6 1/2 furlongs. The cutback to 5 1/2 furlongs can get the four-year-old filly back to the winner’s circle. Outside post may be a challenge. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith is aboard and won three of the last four with the Peter Eurton trainee.

#6 Secret Money (15-1) — Late runner who got up to win the 6 1/2-furlong Music City (G3) four back, then stretched out to a mile and weakened late. Four-year-old filly tried all-weather the following start and then returned to turf last out in the five-furlong Captiva Island S. at Gulfstream. Has two wins from four starts at today’s distance and one win from two starts at Keeneland. Brendan Walsh is a 23% winner second off the layoff, and Tyler Gaffalione will stay in the saddle.

Race 8: 1 1/16 miles, allowance optional claimer, 4yo and up

#4 Brigadier General (10-1) — Street Sense gelding owns a 5-2-1-1 record at today’s distance and clocked a 99 BRIS figure three back when wiring a one-mile allowance at Keeneland over a sloppy track. Broke maiden at this track while racing 1 1/16 miles as well. Trainer Dallas Stewart is a 15% winner at the allowance level and a 17% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days. Tyler Gaffalione regains the mount and won with the five-year-old in that allowance at Keeneland. Sharp recent workouts.

#3 Frosted Departure (5-1) — Kenny McPeek trainee finished last of 10 in the Razorback H. (G3) back in February and gets some class relief here. Three back, the Frosted colt went gate to wire to win by 7 1/4 lengths in an allowance optional claimer at Oaklawn and recorded a 102 BRIS figure, the best Speed figure at today’s distance among the field. McPeek is a 14% winner at the allowance level, and Julien Leparoux, who won with Frosted Departure three back, regains the mount. Eligible to improve off the nearly two-month layoff.

#7 Classic Catch (2-1) —Todd Pletcher trainee drops in class after finishing a distant eighth in the 1 1/8-mile Hill Prince S. (G2) on Aqueduct’s turf. Two back, the Classic Empire colt was a three-quarter-length second in the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Derby, which was originally scheduled for the turf. Most recent win came three back at 1 1/4 miles, and the four-year-old clocked a 106 BRIS figure when sitting right off the early pacesetter and getting up by a neck at the wire. The cutback to 1 1/16 miles may be an issue for the late runner — all three career wins came at 1 1/8 or 1 1/4 miles.

Race 9: 1 1/16 miles (turf), Jenny Wiley S. (G1), fillies and mares, 4yo and up

#5 English Rose (9-2) — Led with about 300 meters remaining in the 1 1/8-mile Balanchine (G2) at Dubai last out. Makes first U.S. start for Charlie Appleby, a 40% winner in graded stakes and a 52% winner with horses that won their last race. William Buick will regain the mount. Frankel filly owns 3-2-1-0 record on turf.

#9 Didia (4-1) — One of the top turf females, the six-year-old mare was last seen winning the Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Gulfstream in January. She’s 4-for-4 at the distance, but she’s never raced at Keeneland, and the outside post could be an issue. Nacho Correas is a 17% winner off layoffs of 46-90 days, and Jose Ortiz will retain the mount. Argentina-bred is 10-for-13 lifetime on turf.

#6 Gina Romantica (3-1) — Chad Brown has four in the field, but his Into Mischief mare is the morning line favorite here. The five-year-old was a one-length fourth to Master of The Seas last out in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) and will stretch back out to 1 1/16 miles. She was fourth in her lone try at the distance on turf in the Eatontown (G3) at Monmouth last June. Tyler Gaffalione will retain the mount and won two back with Gina Romantica in the one-mile First Lady (G1) at Keeneland. Mare is 2-for-2 at the track, and she’s 7-3-2-0 on turf. Sharp five-furlong workout April 6.

Race 10: 1 1/16 miles, Lexington S. (G3), 3yos

#8 Encino (5-1) — Nyquist colt is a neck shy of a 3-for-3 record. Won last two, both at 1 1/16 miles, including the John Battaglia Memorial, but he’s never raced on dirt. Brad Cox is a 24% winner with the surface switch from all-weather, and he strikes at a 28% rate with horses that won their last race. Florent Geroux (5-2-1-1 to start the meet) will pick up the mount. Sharp trio of workouts at Keeneland. Recorded career-best 91 BRIS figure last out with a 97 Late Pace rating.

#9 Liberal Arts (4-1) — Arrogate colt won the Grade 3 Street Sense back in October over a sloppy Churchill track. Late closer failed to factor in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby (G1) last out at Oaklawn and will try Keeneland’s track for the first time. Trainer Robert Medina is 1-for-10 in graded stakes. Irad Ortiz Jr. replaces Tyler Gaffalione, who is aboard longshot #3 Dilger (12-1).

#1 Secret Chat (15-1) — Intriguing longshot by Union Rags out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare. The gray colt graduated on debut with a seven-length win in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park. Next out, he stretched out to a mile over a track labeled good and came home a half-length second while posting a career-high 90 BRIS figure. He cut back to six furlongs last out and finished second again. Longer distance may suit him, and he’s eligible to improve second start off the layoff. The rail post is also winning at an 18% clip, and Joel Rosario (33% winner with routes) will inherit the mount. Trainer Roderick Rodriguez is a 14% winner in graded stakes and a 27% winner second off the layoff (though, from small sample sizes).

* Will stand against morning line favorite #2 The Wine Steward (5-2) — Won first three career starts racing between five and six furlongs. Was a half-length second to Locked in Breeders’ Futurity (G1) back in October. Comes off a more than six-month layoff for Mike Maker. May prefer shorter distances.

Race 11: 1 1/16 miles (turf), allowance, 3yos

#5 Royal Majesty (9-2) — Frankel colt makes third start for Bill Mott (23% winner this meet) and will stretch back out to 1 1/16 miles, the distance of his maiden win in his second career start. Posted an 83 BRIS figure in the one-mile Colonel Liam, where he finished fifth. Will race on Lasix a second time and is eligible to improve third start off the layoff. Junior Alvarado retains the mount.

#4 Deadpan (6-1) — Distorted Humor gelding drops in class off last-place finish in the Kitten’s Joy (G3). Won four back at today’s distance in a maiden special weight at Keeneland. Will race on Lasix a second time for Mark Casse and picks up Joel Rosario (19% on turf). 

#1 Pure Poetry (6-1) — Third start for Brad Cox and racing on Lasix a second time. Last out, went gate to wire in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight and posted an 83 BRIS figure racing on Lasix the first time. Florent Geroux will retain the mount. Cox is a 25% winner coming off a maiden win.

#9 Moonlight (4-1) — Todd Pletcher trainee was beaten a neck on debut in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Saratoga. Raced on dirt in his next four. Audible colt will return off a nearly two-month layoff and will race on Lasix the first time (winning move 24% of the time for Pletcher). Irad Ortiz Jr. will regain the mount. Sharp four-furlong workout April 6, but outside post has a low win percentage here.

AE of note: #13 Break Out (8-1) — 86 BRIS figure two back when getting up late to win a 7 1/2-furlong maiden special weight in lone turf start. Races on Lasix a second time for Saffie Joseph, a 21% winner at the allowance level. Jose Ortiz (20% on turf) will pick up the mount.

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