Keeneland Opening Weekend RECAP – Top Value Plays Cash In – Super Screener
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Keeneland Opening Weekend RECAP – Top Value Plays Cash In

Photo by: Candice Chavez/Eclipse Sportswire

Phoenix (G2)

The Super Screener Top Value play and #1 ranked horse, Engage, delivered big time on opening day of the Keeneland fall meet. He certainly benefited from the unusual “outside/off pace” bias that was apparent this weekend. The heavy pressure projected in this race materialized and it did in the odds-on favorite, Promises Fulfilled, who was a firm stand against by the Super Screener (ranked 7th and finished 6th at 9-5) and that one finished up the track. The other Vulnerable Favorite “stand against” was Hog Creek Hustle, as 6 furlongs is just too short for him, and he finished 5th at odds of 9-2.

Super Screener long shot picks, American Pastime and Cove Blue, finished up the track as the rail was definitely not the place to be as we soon learned and neither was helped by the pace set up.

Back to Engage, he traveled wide throughout this race but that was the place to be on this day and the pace really collapsed late winning this at odds of nearly 10-1. He laid out a strong BRIS Pace/Speed Rating running line as follows:

First Call: 91  Second Call: 102  Late Pace: 94  Speed Rating: 100

While that was strong, it will take much more than that to challenge a horse like Imperial Hint or Shancealot for the win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

#8 Engage – TOP VALUE/PRESSER/OFF PACE – This Asmussen-trained 4 yr-old colt will sit the perfect trip stalking the wall of speed in the clear. This is just his 3rd race in the past year so he is plenty fresh with a lot of upside and coming off a sharp win at this distance a month ago. Form cycle analysis projects a new lifetime top coming in this race. Turns the tables on #7 Promises Fulfilled who has defeated him 3 times.

As the Super Screener pointed out, Whitmore does his best running fresh and he too was advantaged by the pace set up and the outside bias. He came on strong late to snag 2nd place, which triggered the Super Screener suggested Exacta returning $670.

Alcibiades (G1)

British Idiom served notice that she will be a force to reckon with in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.  She absolutely crushed a good field tracking the modest pace and then drawing away with ease down the stretch. Here’s what the Super Screener surmised about this filly prior to the race:

#6 British Idiom – Presser/Off Pace – Top filly from the white-hot Brad Cox barn. She also won her debut which is always a positive signal and she too laid out BRIS Pace/Speed Rating figures in a very balanced way.  Distance is a bit more of a question for her since she is bred to sprint both top and bottom but the way she ran that last race suggests she can get 1 1/16 miles. Presses here and will do all she can to hold on.

While Perfect Alibi finished 2nd in this race as the Super Screener Top Board Hitter pick, the filly that actually ran the better race was #4 Alandra, who was bothered at the start, costing her a few lengths and then had to try to run down the top two rivals trying to close into a softer pace. She wouldn’t have won this race, but a 2nd place finish was probable with a cleaner trip. Regardless, it was clear that these were the three best fillies in the race as they distanced the rest of the field. It was this trio that made up the Super Screener top three ranked horses. This prep race will turn out being quite formidable when it comes to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies outcome.

TCA (G2)

Of all the Breeders’ Cup preps leading up to the 14 Breeders’ Cup races, the G2 TCA is one of the most, if not THE most important prep race.  Over the past several years, fillies and mares coming out of the G2 TCA have been regular winners and board hitters in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Spiced Perfection, out of the Peter Miller barn, won this race by just a head, but it could have been so much more. As they broke from the gate, Spiced Perfection went to her knees, nearly losing jockey, Javier Castellano in the process. He held on and got her under control but several lengths were already lost.  He then rushed her into contention along the dead rail before shifting out and finding an opening between two rivals and went on with courage to take the win. This was a super impressive effort and one to look back to when handicapping the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Champagne (G1)

The Super Screener was right on the money here, getting the first three finishers correct in exact order including the Top Long Shot pick, Big City Bob, finishing 3rd at odds of 39-1.

Tiz the Law submitted a phenomenal prep here for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and crushed the odds-on favorite, Green Light Go, who did all of the work here dueling through hot fractions but holding on for 2nd. Tiz the Law took advantage of the pressured pace with most horses trying a route of ground for the first time and running out of gas late. It was a win via a perfect trip (other than the inconsequential bobble at the start) but it was done rather professionally, and he will improve off that effort heading into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and beyond.

Green Light Go gets extra credit here for doing all the work in the early going under strong pressure. However, I was cheering on our Top Long Shot pick, Big City Bob, as he ended up just a neck away from producing a huge Exacta payoff.

First Lady (G1)

When it came to conviction, this was the race of the day for the Super Screener. Our Top Value play, Juliet Foxtrot finished 2nd at juicy odds of 8-1 while our Top Board Hitter pick, Uni, won the race, convincingly. While it’s great that our Top Long Shot pick Hanalei Moon finished best of all the 9 big long shots in the race finishing 5th at unbelievable odds of 76-1, it was also terribly frustrating as she missed 4th place by just a head to the immortal, Rushing Fall, denying us the huge Superfecta cash.  The suggested Exacta wager came in for $288 but it was the bigger crush that we were looking for.

The winner, Uni, got that hot and pressured pace she needed to come from near last to easily put away this field. Being so lightly raced, this bodes well for a top performance in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf if a similar pace set up materializes.

Juliet Foxtrot really ran a top effort here in that she was closest to that hot/pressured pace of the top 7 finishers but finished that game 2nd. It was another peak effort and she will actually benefit from getting more ground in the Filly and Mare Turf.

If Hanalei Moon heads to a Breeder’s Cup race, she is still improving and while we may not get 76-1 odds she will still go off as a 20-1+ long shot and she will likely be a Super Screener Top Long Shot pick once again.

Breeders’ Futurity (G1)

The word was out… Maxfield was looking incredible in recent works and came into the Keeneland paddock looking like a champion and he delivered on that paddock press in a huge way just crushing this modest field. After another tardy start, he tracked a relatively slow pace but overcame that disadvantage by running a very fast last furlong to roll away with ease. It turned out to be a better effort than what Tiz the Law submitted in the G1 Champagne. With Bob Baffert-trained Eight Rings ensuring plenty of pace in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Maxfield is looking awfully good coming into that race.

Maxfield was the Super Screener Top Long Shot pick but with all the pre-race buzz he was worked down to less-than-generous odds of 6-1.

Shadwell Turf Mile (G1)

Well, this race certainly lived up to its Super Screener Playability Score of “10” as the $1 Superfecta came back to pay nearly $30,000 with the top three favorites off the board.

The Super Screener Top Long Shot and Top Win pick Diamond Oops nearly got the job done finishing 2nd at 12-1 (coming down from Morning Line odds of 30-1). Suedois, our Top Value play and 3rd ranked horse did indeed finish 3rd at incredible odds of 20-1 considering he won this race two years ago. However, what we couldn’t see from our analysis is Bowies Hero winning the race. A finish “under”?…sure and we used him that way but did not cover in the win spot. That was tough considering the $2 Exacta paid over $200 and the $2 Trifecta came in at nearly $4,000.  That really hurt considering we had 2nd and 3rd place nailed.

While this was a quality field, the way the horses finished here, it would seem that a brilliant European “A” miler shipping will perform quite well. If not, this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile will be one wide open affair.

Bourbon (G3)

Since its inception, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf has been dominated by European shippers and particularly those coming from the Aidan O’Brien barn. No horse exiting the Bourbon Stakes has ever won the Juvenile Turf and none here gave any indication that the trend will change. 

The Super Screener got Casse winning this race again right but went with the wrong horse as the “vulnerable favorite” Peace Achieved won this race by a diminishing neck to our top board hitter and vertical single pick, Vitalogy.  It was the latter horse that serves as a potential board hitting upsetter in the upcoming Juvenile Turf thanks to his strong late turn of foot.

Spinster (G1)

For the second year in a row, Blue Prize won the G1 Spinster and did not regress off her previous top. What made this win even better than it looked is that she sat last off a slow pace and was still able to outgun the likes of Elate and Dunbar Road to the wire. If she can hold this form and not regress off the double top, she might be able to improve over her 4th place finish in last year’s running of the Distaff.

Elate has never really impressed the Super Screener and is a similar horse to Tacitus… physically imposing, can run all day long, and hits a gear and stays there.  The perfect type of horse to serve as a dependable board hitter. It will be interesting to see where connections go with this one…the Distaff or Classic. Regardless of which race they land in, she will probably be the Top Board Hitter pick by the Super Screener.

Flower Bowl (G1)

Over the last several years, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf has become the “Chad Brown versus Sir Michael Stoute” show. Sistercharlie is certainly among the top 3 turf fillies/mares Chad Brown has ever trained, and she has become quite the win machine. Her 2019 campaign is just really getting started and is poised to peak in the Filly and Mare Turf (unless connections opt for the Mile instead). Either way, she will be a top contender, but let’s see if any of the “A” talent from Europe shows up to challenge her. 

Mrs. Sippy is certainly no slouch, and after arriving on US soil, she has shown that she belongs. She was clearly 2nd best here, and I liked the way she was gaining on Sistercharlie late. Will only move forward off this effort… but so will Sistercharlie.

Frizette (G1)

Wicked Whisper dominated this field, showing none of the distance limitations that were a concern going in. She set solid fractions throughout and was left alone on that lead which only emboldened her more. There were no excuses for the next two finishers with Slam Dunk, the Super Screener Top Long Shot pick, finishing 3rd but disappointed as expectations were for a much better finish. In fact, others must have felt the same as her odds dropped from 20-1 to 12-1 in the final flash.

The G1 Frizette is a very productive prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and between this prep and the G1 Alcibiades, we most likely saw the winner of the Juvenile Fillies.

With less than four weeks to go, most of the final Breeders’ Cup preps are in now but we’ll have the QE II at Keeneland that can produce a Breeders’ Cup runner or two and a trio of Graded Stakes at Woodbine that also supply Breeders’ Cup fields. Work effort over the next few weeks will now be focused on ensuring another great Super Screener Breeders’ Cup outcome.

Until next weekend go fast and win!

Mike Shutty

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