Friday kicks off another one of America's premier boutique meets. Keenelands Fall Meet has lost some luster since they switched the main track to an All Weather Surface. Many handicappers avoid Polytrack like the plague because traditional dirt form goes out the window. But given the success of the Breeders Futurity runners in last year's Juvenile I think the meet definitely deserves some close scrutiny. Along with Street Sense, Circular Quay and Great Hunter other Breeders Cup notables like Happy Ticket, Gorella, Miesque's Approval and Cotton Blossom were also in action. If last year is any guide then the prep winners won't be as key in the Breeders Cup as the prep losers at Keeneland.
As with Saratoga and the Keeneland Sprint meet, I'll be playing public handicapper. You'll be able to see my picks on the sidebar as well as a link to a spreadsheet that will catalogue my results.
My goals for this meet are to show a flat bet win profit, last year in my first try on the Keeneland Polytrack I ended up -20% for the meet with 36 winners. My hope to get to 50 winners as well.
I'll also analyse the odd race as well if I see something interesting. The first weekend sure starts off with a bang.
I'm feeling bullish right off the start here as I see the chance to make some money in the co-feature. The kindest way to describe this fields accomplishments at 12f would be underwhelming. Basically no one is truly proficient at the distance except Holding Court whose best form all came in India. I do give Holding Court a chance to improve on his last performance and it would be a marvellous accomplishment if he won but I'd use him underneath if at all. The three favorites in this race are Silver Whistle, Dreadnaught and Big Prairie. This year they're a combined 1 for 14 and while they do have a class edge I'm not into taking short prices on horses whose primary attribute is losing. Instead I'll take a horse who has not even hit the board this year in 5 starts! I'm hoping the price will be square on Transduction Gold, I want about 15/1 or more. His price is just one of a few things to like about him. First of all he looks set to control the pace of this race. There does not seem to be anyone with any speed at all so we're likely going to see them walk through the first half of this race. Another positive in his favor is that he likes the course. He's run very well in both attempts on this course, which incidentally were also contested at this distance. His race in the Louisville Handicap was just a disaster, a complete throwout and his last effort came at a mile on Polytrack. Both those races serve to obscure the 3 solid 4th place finishes he had prior to his layoff. All of those were against much tougher horses. I think Big Prairie is the most solid of the favorites and I might use both horses and box them in an exacta.
I'm a huge fan of A To The Croft. I think she's got a real chance to upset in the Breeders Cup but my heart sank when I saw the entries here. The 12 post at 8.5f is a kiss of death. It might even be worth McPeek's while to scratch and enter her in the Frizette on Sunday. At least she wouldn't be starting from the parking lot. If she runs top 3 in this race it'll be a big effort. She does like to come from off the pace so maybe she can tuck in but I wanted to see her placed a little closer in this one. Dreaming of Liz looks to be the controlling speed, forget all the talk about it being impossible wire races at Keeneland. The right horse can do it and Liz is bred to go all day. My main worry with her is her Arlington form. We don't really know if its any good at all. She could be a champ or a chump it's hard to get a good line on her. I'm lukewarm on Irish Smoke. I thought the field, inspired by More Happy, just melted away in her last race. She did not close all that quickly and her figures actually point to a massive regression. My caution flags are up with this filly and she'll have to prove her affinity for a distance. Being by Smoke Glacken is not likely to help. Also one must ask why this unbeaten filly is entered in a sale one week after the Breeders Cup. Who sells the potential champion 2yo while they're still a juvie? The horse I eventually settled on was Grace Anatomy. This Aldebaran filly met More Happy in her debut and ran a decent but unsuccessful race. In her next start she looked every bit like a filly who needed more ground. It took her a while to fully gear up but once she got going it was all over. O'Neill shipped in last year and took the Breeders Futurity last year and also just missed this race by a nose with Sharp Lisa a few year back. He obviously has a good eye for what 2yo's would do well here and I think Grace Anatomy merits a play.
EDIT: Adding A To The Croft to the win selections as the scratches move her post inward.
A To The Croft