Maker's Mark Mile Stakes
This has always been one of my favorite races and this year it may have attracted the strongest field ever. Kip Deville returns for a campaign aimed at seeing him repeat as the BC mile champion. He is the horse to beat and the class benchmark. We know he likes yielding Turf and obviously he is good enough to beat any of these horses. He is also beatable in my opinion though. He was a horse who was perfectly setup for the big race in the BC Mile but he has never been unbeatable especially off of a layoff. I'm thinking that he'll hit the frame but one or two horses may get the better of him. Cosmonaut should set what should be a steady pace. One of racings most consistent hard luck losers has actually been competing at a very high level since last summer. I'm opposing him though as he always seems to find a way to lose these big events. I'm very excited to see how the emerging Ruff And Ready handles this class of horse. I see huge potential for this Pletcher. He has never lost on the grass, he is very brave and tenacious. Last time out he also showed that he is still improving but already has the ability to put in a jaw dropping performance. He may be a 6 year old but injuries have prevented him from ever putting together a solid campaign. He is still not all he can be. I expect him to get a nice stalking trip and pull the trigger around the turn. If he is up to the form he was last time all the others will struggle to stay with him. Pletcher himself has also caught fire at Keeneland recently so the stable gives a good form reference. If Ruff And Ready runs well here I would be looking for a BC Future Bet outlet at first convenience. I haven't mentioned good horses like War Monger, Einstien and Zann but in a field this deep a lot of very good horses have to end up running off the board. They wouldn't shock me but I think Ruff And Ready and Kip Deville are all quite special and along with Ever A Friend and Thousand Words they could be the best four milers in the nation.
Ruff And Ready
Jenny Wiley Stakes
One has to be amazed at the quality of the two Turf stakes races Keeneland has drawn this weekend. Not only is the Maker's Mark Mile a championship quality event but this race, which is just a G-2 is also championship quality. I suppose we're missing Dreaming Of Anna, Wait A While and Vacare but otherwise it's a super field. One of my most favorite horses, Precious Kitten, returns in 2008 in search of an Eclipse Award that should have been hers in 2007. She was the best in 2007 and now under new ownership she'll be out to prove that she's the best this year. However that will be no easy task. Bit of Whimsey, Lady Of Venice, Sealy Hill, Roshani and Rutherienne are all here. All of those horses are capable so for this race I'm just going to pick one and stick with that. I actually love Roshani to step up and show that she is a real contender. I think this comes down to Pletcher vs Frankel. Roshani will have to produce the race of her life to beat Precious Kitten but I think she can do it. Last year she had only two losses. One was in her stakes debut to Karen's Caper by just half a length. Karen's Caper as you may recall was a peer of Gorella. The other was in a race that she likely would have won had she not been cruelly shut off. She was promoted to second but the interference surely cost her the win. In her first race of 2008 she ran one of her most powerful performances to date and to me it signalled that this year she's a better filly.
Another great field. Not exactly top notch in terms of accomplishments but a very even field with tons of angles. It looks as though crack miler Thousand Words is set for this race after scratching from the Maker's Mark. He will likely be bet down from his 7/2 morning line price. There is a good bit of buzz surrounding him. A razor sharp performance on the grass and then a bullet work at Keeneland. He has already run well on Polytrack finishing just 1 1/4 lengths behind Heatseeker. Frankel has been dominating the Keeneland stakes races and so have horses with Californian form. Turf to Polytrack has long been a good angle and I think Thousand Words will sweep past this field. A few others to keep an eye on though are Xchanger who has worked three straight bullets coming into this race. You don't often see three bullets in a row without a race in between. It could signal readiness for a big effort. Especially in a sprint but he's untried at the distance and on the surface and so is a bad bet at 4/1. Rebellion will be coming from the clouds and might juice up an exacta. I don't think he is quite good enough at his best to win but he'll adore the conditions and it's never good to underestimate a horse who is doing what they love most. I also think Forefathers could be sitting on a big year. He was well thought of last season but lost his way in the spring. He got good again in the fall but was way over his head in the BC. His first race of this campaign was very very good. I expect him to run well but in the end I can't see past Thousand Words.