TimeformUS Weekend Plays: The Raven Run

Keeneland, Race 9, Local Post Time 5:23 pm ET
The G2 Raven Run, 7F, Synth, 3YO Fillies
By Robert Finnegan

Saturday's Grade II Raven Run at Keeneland features an overflow field of three-year-old fillies running seven furlongs on the Polytrack.  The morning line 7-2 favorite is the Todd Pletcher-trained Silsita.   Handicappers have no choice but to take Pletcher's horses seriously whenever they enter the starting gate, and he's especially lethal at Keeneland (TimeformUS Trainer Rating of 100 out of 100) and with horses coming in off the type of layoff (46-78 days) that Silsita faces when she enters the gate on Saturday (rating of 95).

Free TimeformUS PPs for the Raven Run
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The first question when handicapping the Raven Run revolves around the vulnerability of the likely post time favorite(s).  While we have no choice but to respect the chances of Silsita, we think there are enough question marks about her to look elsewhere for our winner.  Note that Silsita has run on Poly only one other time: in a two-turn race at Turfway in which she tracked a moderate pace and outlasted a 31-1 shot.  In fact, Silsita has run around one turn only once in her career, and that was on an off track at Belmont Park.  She hasn't encountered the type of conditions she will face on Saturday, and if we wager on her, we will be asking a potential favorite to do something she hasn't done before.  

TimeformUS PPs for Silsita

The Pace Projector indicates that Silsita will be near the back of the pack against this speedy bunch of fillies.  Perhaps she will adapt to the new scenario with aplomb, but we will take our chances and try to beat her.
TimeformUS Pace Projector

Ciao Bella Luna (4-1 ML) is another filly that figures to get support at the windows.  It's possible she may even be the post time favorite.  Although her sire ,Tribal Moon, is hardly a household name, Ciao Bella Luna nonetheless has a solid (89) Pedigree Rating.  She ran a fast figure of 86 as a two-year-old, which speaks to her upside, and she has a terrific 5: 3-2-0 record in one-turn races.  In terms of weaknesses, she comes in off a four-month layoff, and with her trainer getting a decent-but-not-sensational rating of 78 off similar-length layoffs, there's some question as to whether she will have the necessary fitness for this spot.  Note that her last two workouts were given an H for handily, indicating they may be trying to drill some fitness into this gal.  Her win at the same trip in the G2 Beaumont at Keeneland in April is the type of obvious angle that leads to wagering underlays.
Lighthouse Bay, the other 4-1 morning line shot, benefited from a crafty ride and ground-saving trip to win the G1 Prioress at Saratoga in July, and despite her excellent Pedigree Rating (a 96) for synthetic sprints, we think her lack of experience over the surface might work against her.
So we turn our attention to My Option (8-1 ML).  My Option's last two efforts were respectable third-place finishes in grass stakes races.  Prior to those races, she did her best work on the synthetic at Arlington Park, where she earned a stellar speed figure of 98, which matches the fastest figure earned by any horse in this field.  

TimeformUS PPs for My Option

Her trainer, Chris Block, will never be mistaken for Todd Pletcher, but he has strong numbers at Keeneland from limited opportunities and gets a 92 rating with horses coming in off 26-44 days rest.  My Option has run only twice in one-turn races, and she acquitted herself quite favorably both times, posting a second-place finish and a win.  We feel she has shown the necessary versatility to come from off the pace in this race.  Although the Pace Projector does not indicate a rapid early pace, given the size of the field and the race distance, she will have ample opportunity to make her late run.  A pair of bullet 5-furlong works at Hawthorne these past two Saturdays serves to strengthen our conviction that she will run well in the Raven Run.
The play:  Win bet on My Option.  


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Plod Boy Phil

Raven Run

14 Eden Prairie (30-1) looks from my seat to be prepped for a lifetime best.

Her last, a modestly upgraded and visually impressive win in her synthetics debut at 7f, came on the turn back following a series of speed upgrades out of turf routes with Closer favoring Flows. Of those races, none was more impressive than the 8f G3 Appalachian in April in which she moved early into a Closers Flow, appeared swallowed turning for home, then gamely battled back to the wire.  This is the race, in my opinion, that stamps her as both classy and talented enough to be deserving of a confident wager at robust odds.  

18 Oct 2013 3:06 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

I don't play Keeneland, but I am tempted to play that horse out of the blue.  I think piggybacking on your pick would be bad karma, though, so I'll stick to wishing you luck.  Now, give me back Ron the Greek...

I may make the second half of the Maryland Millions card, where my only "pick" is to try to beat crowd favorite Ben's Cat stretching out to mile with the 7 or the 9.  The feature race is lopsided, with Eighttofasttocatch not looking beatable here unless the dull effort last out was a sign of something wrong. Maybe I'll play the 3yo, Seventeenohsix, who was competitive in a Preakness prep at this distance.

18 Oct 2013 3:57 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Good luck today Rusty.

19 Oct 2013 10:29 AM
Mary Zinke

Your girl is worth a small bet for me, Phil, GL. I also like Irish Lute in the Raven's Run.

7,5,2,8 in the California Flag.

Dolly in the Miss America, but their 20-1 wouldn't surprise me. 1-5 could do this on their best days.

19 Oct 2013 2:57 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

Nice one.  Some ML.

I beat Ben's Cat.  I also thought JuJu Eyeballs was beatable, and even circled the 13-1 winner who beat mine in the last jumps, but didn't bet her.  Didn't try against Eighttofasttocatch, so missed out on well-paying 50-cent P3 and P4, considering the chalk:  $100 and $358.  Argh.

Breeder's Cup next!

19 Oct 2013 5:36 PM
Little Bill

Nice call Phil. Tough to do what that one tried on that track.

19 Oct 2013 5:52 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Robbie could might have maybe not opened up so soon?

No matter.  Next.

19 Oct 2013 6:09 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

Few horses beat Ben's Cat,  never mind humans.  Well done.

good times

19 Oct 2013 6:27 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Sunday Keeneland Race 8

6 Valiant Girl (12-1) - I can't really get myself to believe that the G1 Flower Bowl was the goal for her.  The upside of the placement was her being forced to rate behind much better horses in a Speed favoring scenario - the kind of effort that will add greatly to her condition. If she's going to be good, she'll show it today.

20 Oct 2013 2:13 PM
Mary Zinke

I like her, too, Phil, and 4,8,10.

20 Oct 2013 3:38 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Good luck us then.

20 Oct 2013 4:17 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

He was in the 14 (?) post.  I thought the jockey ran a good race, getting his horse clear before the turn when he was 4-wide on the backstretch.  I don't know the typical times for this track, but sub-45 looked awfully fast to me.  The horse really did run his lifetime best.  Great call.    

20 Oct 2013 10:47 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

No blame or excuses.  Pretty sure the race will come back Closer favoring.  If so, she'll carry the bold grade.

21 Oct 2013 11:15 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Fugue saw what was indeed a very strong Closer Bias (to use the conventional term) in play at Keeneland on Saturday.  Combine that with the modest Closer's Flow of the Raven Run and you have yourself a true 'Quick to Zip' upgrade in Edens Prairie.

21 Oct 2013 6:31 PM
Little Bill

Phil- Good to know. I was surprised she got pounded at windows, even off a win. Must have been your flow players gangin' up on her.

Mrs Revere Stakes at CD 11/16 might make sense.

21 Oct 2013 10:56 PM
Pedigree Ann

I always root for Eden Prairie because while I was in high school, my mom taught third grade in a Catholic school out in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Couldn't teach in public schools because her degree was in music performance and her experience of 20 years of leading children's choirs didn't count for anything.

In my day, Eden Prairie was a lot of empty space with small clusters of settlements. Not the same now I would guess.

22 Oct 2013 9:07 AM

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