Saturday's Blue Grass card at Keeneland features numerous Graded Stakes races, however, we'll shift our focus to a trio of treacherous Maiden Special Weight events starting with race four.
A wide-open field of 11 three-year-old fillies going two-turns over Polytrack in this contest. The Brisnet.com Speed Rating par for this race is an 83, and no horse in this field has ever run that fast. The tepid 4-to-1 morning-line favorite Trawee has come the closest, she ran a Brisnet.com Speed Rating of 82 over this very surface in her career debut.
The most intriguing runner in this field is the Christophe Clement trained, 12-to-1 morning line first-time starter Terrific Treasure.
She has an interesting pedigree, as her dam Treasure Trail is a half-sister to the great Zenyatta. In fact, one look at American Produce Records shows you what kind of big shoes Treasure Trail had to follow.
This is Treasure Trail's first foal, and it's no real surprise that she was bred to Street Cry, the sire of her famous half-sister Zenyatta. Obviously this Clement newcomer has a very good pedigree for a debut router. Perhaps most important of all, is that Christophe Clement absolutely excels with first time starters who debut at route distances. This is especially true with his fillies. Over the last five years, Clement trained fillies are a dazzling 18-for-75 (24% wins) when they make their career debut in a route race.
Of the experienced runners, the three must-use horses in exotics are Stellaris, Twenty In One, and Trawee. If I had to include one more runner, it would be Ventoux. Her trainer Ian Wilkes has brilliant stats with first-time lasix, however, Wilkes has also saddled 32 straight losers on synthetic tracks, and is just 1 for his last 63 in Maiden Special Weight races on synthetic surfaces.
The 5-to-2 morning line favorite Rare, breaks from the rail in this field of twelve. This gelding ran a strong second in his career debut, which was his only prior start at Keeneland. The horse who beat Rare in his good debut showing, Myositis Dan, won an allowance race at Keeneland in impressive fashion last week.
However, since his good debut at Keeneland, Rare has been a disappointment. In four subsequent starts, he's twice been a beaten favorite, and finished sixth beaten 16 lengths at 4/1 odds in his only other race where wagering was offered. While it's possible he might be a Keeneland Poly specialist, he is a very questionable morning line favorite and I will look to oppose him in the Pick 3.
The interesting horses in this event are Indian Guide, Nobadeer, Alexndeed, and One More Night. Indian Guide is the shortest priced of the foursome at 5/1 morning line odds. He goes off the layoff for the red-hot Mark Casse, and Indian Guide was victimized in his most recent start when his jockey both lost the irons and dropped the reigns while finishing third in a Maiden Special event at Woodbine.
Nobadeer (12/1 Morning Line) debuts for former Christophe Clement assistant trainer Ben Colebrook. The most intriguing thing about Nobadeer might be the skill his trainer has demonstrated with first-time-starters throughout his brief training career. Colebrook's debut runners are 7-2-1-2 (29% wins) with a dazzling $4.14 ROI. What's more, one of those horses finished 3rd at 93/1 odds, and the only two who failed to finish in the top three, both ran fourth at double digit odds.
Alexndeed (15/1 morning line) goes for Nick Zito. In his career debut at Gulfstream, this horse took decent money for a Zito debuter, and was bet to 10/1 odds in a race won emphatically by the very talented Social Inclusion. Alexndeed returned with a bug rider, and suffered through a tough trip. Nick Zito runners usually perform very poorly in their first two races, before the light bulb sometimes goes in start number three.
Finally, One More Night (8/1 morning line) adds blinkers and appears to possibly be lone speed in here. He has a bullet work at Churchill for this, and should be every bit of his morning line price.
If you're going to play a pick three, it's generally a good idea to take a stand somewhere. This is the race where we will take that stand and single 3/1 morning line favorite Stroll To Victory. In his first two career starts, Stroll To Victory ran into likely Blue Grass favorite Bobby's Kitten, and ran respectably against North America's best two-year-old turf horse. This son of Stroll cost just $4,700 as a weanling and $31,000 as a yearling, yet he was bet well in his career debut at Saratoga in a race that featured a lot of flashy pedigrees for big-name connections.
In his comeback race at Gulfstream, Stroll To Victory clipped heels in the early stages of the race and had a lousy trip. He's been freshened up since that race by Kenny McPeek, a trainer who loves to point to Keeneland. Jockey Alan Garcia has clicked extremely well with McPeak runners and we aren't at all discouraged by his presence in the saddle. Indeed, when Alan Garcia and McPeek team up at Keeneland, they are 20-for-51 (39% wins) with a dazzling $5.24 ROI
All-maiden Pick 3 wagering strategy:
Race Four: Terrific Treasure, Stellaris, Twenty In One, Trawee, Ventoux
Race Five: Indian Guide, Nobadeer, Alexndeed, One More Night
Race Six: Stroll To Victory