Keeneland post time is 1:05 pm. Chance of rain late.
This is a time of transition, not just in the world outside us, with spring and all, but also in the world of horse racing. The tracks that sustained us through the winter, Aqueduct, Gulfstream, the Fair Grounds, and our old pal Sunland Park, are either already closed or are winding down; the spring tracks, including the glamour meets at Belmont and Churchill, are getting close to springing (get it?) into action. The days are getting longer, horses are shedding their winter coats, and the geezers are abandoning their winter sarcophagi in Florida. It's the change of seasons, man, and we will celebrate it in the only way that is appropriate, by attacking the card at Keeneland, which is winding down its own spring boutique meet. The forecast in Lexington is OK, cloudy with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms, so we will be handicapping for fast and firm. Let's go.
There's an 8-race card at Keeneland, We'll start with the second, a first-level allowance for older fillies, a turf marathon at a mile and a half on the grass. 10 are entered, with a scheduled post time of 1:30 pm (all times here are Eastern).
We like 2-Dynabee. This 4-year-old filly, a Calumet Farm homebred, came to the United States after a fair-to-middling 2018 campaign in Ireland. She ran OK in her first two North American starts, both of which were at this level, one in March at the Fair Grounds and one in early April at Keeneland; she did not not particularly distinguish herself in either of these efforts, but neither did she embarrass herself. We think she fits here because it looks she wants more distance: both of her recent U.S. starts were at a mile and an eighth, and her European form -- she finished at 12 furlongs in a minor stakes in October, and broke her maiden at 10 furlongs -- suggests she wants longer. She's not a dramatic turn-of-foot horse, but we think she can grind her way to a win here. Helping will be the fact that this does not look like a particularly distinguished field. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 2, $20 to win on 2-Dynabee.
Race 4 is a Maiden Special for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on the turf. Post time is 2:45 pm. The first noticeable thing after the first pass through the past performances is a lack of speed in here: Most of the runners figure to be far, far back in the early running. We see this setting the race up for 9-Miss Leah Angel, who has tactical speed and showed two back in a maiden race at the Fair Grounds that she can finish strongly down the lane as well. We see her right up front early, either by herself or with company, but either way setting very, very comfortable fractions, and we think that the pace will be slow enough that the come-from-behinders won't be able to catch her. Trainer Tom Morley is a capable horseman who's in the middle of a brutal year (3 wins from 62 starts), but today he gets the services of top rider John Velazquez, and we think that Miss Leah Angel will get Morley off the schneid. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 5, $20 to win on 9-Miss Leah Angel.
Race 5 (post time: 3:18 pm) is a 6 furlong, conditioned $40,000 claiming dirt sprint. We like 5-British Humor. This 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor has not exactly been a win machine, with one win in 13 lifetime starts, but he has been running against much, much tougher, and in dropping in here against claimers, he has the dual advantage of tactical speed and an outside post position. We think he wins by open lengths, and we will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 5, $25 to win on 5-British Humor.
Race 6 (post time: 3:51 pm) is another mile turf Maiden Special race for 3-year-old fillies. We like the rail horse here, 1-Queen Medb. Trained by Chad Brown, this Irish-bred girl made her first start in North American in December -- in a stakes race, the Wait a While at Gulfstream Park. Yes, Brown thought enough of her that he entered her as a maiden in an overnight stakes race. She finished last, but a closer examination of her performance that day suggests that she ran better than her running line -- broke last; finished last -- might suggest. She blew the break, which is not uncommon for first-in-America Euro horses, as gate speed is much less important on the Continent than it is here. After she blew the start, Queen Medb settled in, and tried to make a move at the start of the far turn, but the early pace of the Wait a While was very slow, and Queen Medb had the misfortune of trying to make a move into a field that was rapidly accelerating -- and into a field of stakes runners at that. She went wide around the turn and finished last.
We think that today she will run much better, but more important is that she is back running against maidens. We think that she is the overwhelming winner of the race; we would make her our if we dabbled in that kind of nonsense. Since we are a demure and cultured gentleman, and not a clickbaiting troll, we will leave the hot takes to others, and simply bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 6, $40 to win on 1-Queen Medb.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.