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).
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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.
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.
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.
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.