Has anyone been watching the prices at Keeneland so far?
Through five days of the spring meet, there have been 16 horses that have paid $20 or more, and nine exactas totaling at least $200. As usual, it has been bombs away in Lexington, and there is no reason to think that the longshots won't continue.
I happen to think some of the biggest prices will come in Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes.
This is shaping up to be a tremendous betting race, with eight of the 12 horses entered at least 15-1 - many of them, I believe, with a legitimate shot at winning. The X factor is the Polytrack.
If Pyro (even) runs out of the money, the exotics are almost guaranteed to be huge. And I am willing to take the gamble that he will not hit the board.
There is no question Pyro has proven more than any horse in here. His two victories in Louisiana were dominant, and come May 3, you cannot dismiss him. But because he will be making his first start on Polytrack and he may not being going all out in the stretch, this is the perfect spot to take a chance at throwing him out.
I'm also content to leave second choice Cool Coal Man (4-1) out of my tickets. He's another one without a test on Polytrack and who already has sufficient earnings for a start in the Kentucky Derby. His Fountain of Youth win, considering the slow fractions and the perfect trip he got, did not impress me all that much.
So what longshots am I looking at? There are few, starting with Todd Pletcher's pair - Cowboy Cal and Monba, both at 15-1.
Cowboy Cal will also make his first start on Poly, but his four previous efforts were on turf, which usually translates well to synthetics. If he wants it, Cowboy Cal will probably have no problem making the lead and he may just be able to run away from a field without much early speed. He has also produced consistent speed figures through five starts.
Monba had a displaced palate in the Fountain of Youth, plus a troubled trip. That race is a throw out. The son on Maria's Mon has two nice efforts over synthetics, including a 4 ¼-length victory on the Keeneland Poly when breaking his maiden last fall. If there is one thing that we've learned about Keeneland, if a horse likes the surface, he is very likely to come back and run well over it again.
I just can't see Pletcher without a Derby starter next month, and this is his last chance at getting to the Show. Something tells me one or both of his colts are sitting on a big race.
The other price I am willing to try is Miner's Claim (15-1). Here is a horse that has made all three of his starts on Poly and they have all been good. Trainer Mark Casse told me he has been high on the colt for a while, and had him pegged for the Lane's End last month before a fever kept him out of the race. Miner's Claim is a talented horse who set the Woodbine one mile and 70-yard track record in November, and with his pedigree (Mineshaft-Sapphire ‘n' Silk, by Pleasant Tap), should enjoy the added distance. Casse is a leading trainer in Canada and knows how to get his horses to run well, especially on Poly.
I am also going to include Halo Najib (15-1) in my exotics. Both of his wins came on Poly, including his maiden victory last fall at Keeneland. He gave a nice effort at Turfway in the Lane's End and has tried 1 1/8 miles twice already. With Garrett Gomez aboard, don't be surprised to see him make a huge late run.
The only other horse I'll consider is Big Truck, who seems to be training very well and is peaking at the right time.
I'll probably play a 3-5-6-10-11 exacta box and if I decide to put a horse on top or play a win ticket, it will be Monba.
Who do you like?