Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks 3 Keeneland Stakes: Phoenix, Jessamine, Alcibiades
It’s time for another Friday installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. The quality of the races today is unusually good, as it’s opening day at Keeneland, and they have a stakes-studded card to kick off their spectacular fall meet. The dirt should be fast, and the turf should be firm; there is fun to be had, and money to be made, so let’s go.
Keeneland, Race 7, 4:12 pm ET
Grade 2 Phoenix Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
With four weeks to go until the sport’s biggest day, this would normally be an excellent spot for a prep for the Breeders Cup, but with the modern trend of treating horses like Faberge eggs, as physically incapable of running more than once every eight or ten weeks, none of the country’s top sprinters is present, and the field is filled with second- and third-stringers.
Still, one of them will have to win, and an entrant who we think has a very good shot, at very square odds, is 3-Sibelius, who was in good form last winter, good enough that trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer took a shot in the Golden Shaheen, a Group 1 sprint on the Dubai World Cup undercard in late March. Sibelius won that race – but like many horses over the years who ran big in Dubai, his form when he got back to the U.S. suffered: He finished far up the track in both of his starts since. But he seems poised to return to form today, as he’s had some rest (his last race was the Bing Crosby at Del Mar in July), and his recent morning works suggest that he might have recovered from the grueling trip to Dubai. At 12-1, we think Sibelius is a good play, and we will bet him to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $40 to win on 3-Sibelius.
Keeneland, Race 8, 4:44 pm ET
Grade 2 Jessamine Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies
Eleven juvenile fillies line up to run a mile and a sixteenth on turf in the Jessamine. We are not overly impressed with any of the obvious contenders, so we are taking a shot at a runner who will be a massive price: 3-Moonlight Gambler, who is winless after two career starts. A Grade 2 stakes would normally not be a place for a maiden to get her first win, but we think Moonlight Gambler has at least a puncher’s chance: She made up a lot of ground both times she started, and this race on paper looks like it will favor a closer. We especially like her last start, when she rallied furiously into a slow pace to finish second in a maiden race at Kentucky Downs, a track that frequently produces goofy results that are not truly indicative of the abilities of the horses running in them. We think Moonlight Gambler is better it might appear on the surface; we will bet her to win at 30-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $40 to win on 3-Moonlight Gambler.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:16 pm ET
Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies
The Alcibiades drew a field of nine. The pick is 3-Candied, who should get an ideal trip from both a traffic and pace standpoint, saving ground from her inside post position early, and sitting just behind the early pacesetters, who should be running swift early fractions. Look for Candied to move forward as the field moves into the far turn, loom boldly at the top of the stretch, and draw away late with a powerful move down the lane. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $40 to win on 3-Candied.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the races, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.