Garrity's first post is 3:18 pm EDT.
As far as stakes races go, the deck is stacked today: the card at Keeneland is an embarrassment of riches, with six graded stakes scheduled in succession. We have opinions in four of them, with three straight win plays, and one multi-race wager. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so let’s go..
Keeneland, Race 5, 3:18 pm ET
Grade 1 Madison Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Nine go in the Madison. The headliner is 5-Guarana, a Chad Brown trainee who has four wins in five career starts. She looks like a lock to win this, but she’s going to be a short price: She’s even money on the morning line, and will likely be a good bit shorter when the gates open. Since we do not bet 2/5 shots to win, we can’t play her in a straight wager.
We can, however, leverage her odds by playing her in the Pick 3 starting with Race 5. We will single Guarana in the Madison, single 2-Venetian Harbor, a similarly strong favorite in Race 7, the Ashland, and hit the All button for the middle race, the Shakertown, which looks wide open, and could have a winner at a big price. The play is as follows: Keeneland, Race 5, $1 Pick 3, 5 (Guarana) with ALL with 2 (Venetian Harbor).
There are 14 runners in the Shakertown, resulting in a 1x14x1 ticket. At the 50-cent base wager, this ticket will cost $7; we will play it for $3, for a total wager of $42.
Keeneland, Race 6, 3:51 pm ET
Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up
The lone turf sprint on yesterday’s card at Keeneland was won by a closer, and a big price, and we’re looking for a similar result here, as the field of the Shakertown is absolutely loaded with speed. That makes the pick 10-Totally Boss. We expect him to be in the middle of the pack early, and flying late, and at 8-1, we think he’s a very square price. We will bet him to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 6, $30 to win on 10-Totally Boss.
Keeneland, Race 8, 4:57 pm ET
Grade 1 Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
This is a very good race, with eight top-notch female turf runners going to the gate. We like 6-Jolie Olimpica, who starts for trainer Richard Mandella and who will be ridden by Mike Smith. This Brazilian-bred has impressed us since coming to North America last winter, and while both of her U.S. wins were in sprints, we think she is very capable carrying her speed over this longer distance. Look for her to be near the lead early, to move to the front at the top of the stretch, and to hold off the closers late. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Jolie Olimpica.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:30 pm ET
Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
The headliner of the terrific card at Keeneland is the Blue Grass, an important prep race for the Kentucky Derby, which in the upside-down world wrought by the coronavirus pandemic is being run in July, rather than in April. There’s a pleasant surprise among the entrants: a female, 7-Swiss Skydiver, runs against the boys. She proved that she’s a special filly by winning her last three races, all graded stakes and at three different tracks, but the question is whether she is good enough to beat a tough field of 12 colts this afternoon.
We think the answer is no: We like 10-Rushie. The Mike McCarthy trainee has exactly the kind of form progression we like to see in a 3-year-old: every race is better than the last one, and he runs faster as the distances get longer. We particularly like how he ran in his last race, when he finished a very good third to Honor A.P., who we think is one of the top 3-year-olds in the country. We also like Rushie’s running style: He’s a stalker who should get a good trip just behind the first flight of horses. We think he’ll be right there at the top of the stretch, and from there, the only question is whether he’s good enough, and we think he is. We will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $40 to win on 10-Rushie.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.