There's a good card at Keeneland today. It's the kind of card that illustrates Keeneland's general excellence: on a day when there is no stakes race, there are still several deep, contentious races, filled with good horses, that are a challenge to handicap. We enjoyed doping out these races, and hope you enjoy reading about them.
We expect fast dirt and firm turf in Lexington today. Let's go.
A full field of twelve will go to the post in this $20,000 claimer for horses who have never won two races. We like 7-Nice of Me, who starts for trainer Ignacio Correas. This 3-year-old gelding has never run a bad race, breaking his maiden in his first career start at Indiana Grand in June, before middling efforts in two allowance races, and, last out, a $30k claimer at Churchill Downs. He's got the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure, he's got a good grinding style, and the key thing, we think, is the drop from $30k to $20k company, which we think suits him. A repeat of his last will take this, and we think he will run at least as well as that, as he's been working very, very well in the morning. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 5, $30 to win on 7-Nice of Me.
One never knows what one will find when one opens the Daily Racing Form; and this race is a good example: on a drab Wednesday, when the races are normally not all that exciting, here's a turf sprint allowance race that is an absolutely fascinating race to handicap. Doping out the form of these twelve runners, and trying to extrapolate how they will run today, is a terrific and intellectually stimulating challenge that was a very pleasant midweek surprise. There are some classy horses in here, so many that this race could pass as a stakes race. The most interesting runner, to us, is 11-Bound for Nowhere, who starts for trainer Wesley Ward. This 5-year-old son of The Factor has had a peripatetic racing career, running in both the U.S. and in Europe, and his race record is worth noting, because he has been running against some of the best horses in the world. In his last, he finished 13th in a stakes race in England, which would appear to be not that great; but that race was during the Royal Ascot meeting, perhaps the most prestigious race meet in the world; and he finished behind Blue Point, who is the best turf sprinter that Europe has seen in many years. There's no embarrassment in finishing back, even well back, in one of the top turf sprint races in the world. We think Bound for Nowhwere simply outclasses this field. The layoff might usually concern us -- he's been off since June -- but he has been absolutely breathing fire in the morning, posting a series of sizzling workouts that suggest that he is ready to go today (and trainer Ward gets 19% winners off this kind of layoff). We like his tactical speed, we like Ward, we like his outside post position in this one-turn race, and, we also, probably most of all, like the fact that he has run at today's distance three times, won two of them, and finished second in the other. Considering that two of these 5 1/2 furlong turf sprints were graded stakes, we do not think he's going to have a problem handling this allowance field. We will bet Bound for Nowhere to win at 2-1, and we will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Keeneland, Race 6, $50 to win on 11-Bound for Nowhere.
Here's another good allowance race at Keeneland, this one a first-level turf route for horses who have never won a race other than maiden or claiming. The 8/5 favorite is 3-Bundibunan, a class dropper whose last two races were in stakes at Kentucky Downs and Arlington Park. We think he's a bad favorite, and will be looking elsewhere. We are going with a price here, and it's with the horse just inside the favorite, 2-High Mounte. This 4-year-old Irish-bred has turf breeding that is about as good as it gets: he's by the Aga Khan's superstar grass stallion Sea the Stars, out of a Kalanisi mare, and while he has run three times in the United States with middling results, he has been away from the races since March, and we think that the time off will suit him very well. He looks like a late-blooming type of colt to us, and the time to mature physically could do wonders for him. His recent morning workouts have been very strong, and we are expecting a big run from him today. He's 10-1 on the morning line, and we will bet him to win, with a small saver place bet in case he just misses. The bets: Keeneland, Race 8, $35 to win and $10 to place on 2-High Mounte.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.