Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Woodford Stakes Preview and Weekend Keeneland Stakes Selections

Opening weekend at Keeneland, with its stakes-laden Fall Stars cards, takes place this weekend.

We will have picks for all nine graded races at Keeneland Friday through Sunday, and detailed analysis of the Woodford Stakes (G2).  The Woodford is as classy a turf sprint as you’ll see in the United States outside the Breeders’ Cup.  Particularly since the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint will be a more traditional turf dash and not a gallop down the Santa Anita hill, it should be a key prep.

Last year’s edition of the Woodford featured an exacta of Chicago mainstays: 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner MONGOLIAN SATURDAY held off the late run of old warrior HOGY.  Both of them are part of this year’s nine-horse field.  Also among the Chicago locals in this year’s edition is the 2014 Woodford runner-up MONGOL BULL, still with owner/trainer Bradlee Rainwater, and trying to do three years ago one better.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Woodford Stakes, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

 

finally, a three-year-old standout!

In an event atypical of this spring’s racing season, a three-year-old finally brought some clarity.  I have complete confidence in putting a three-year-old at the top of my list — for the first time since Classic Empire bombed in the Holy Bull (G2).

Still, the top slot does not return to last year’s champion two-year-old male.  His Arkansas Derby (G1) was solid, a testament to Mark Casse’s training acumen and a suggestion that Classic Empire can once again find top-flight form.  Despite the roadblocks between the Holy Bull and the Arkansas Derby, he has once again marked himself a contender.  But, a clear standout?  That’s going too far after his issues, after his getting only two Derby preps spaced so far apart.  No, Classic Empire is not the source of my clarity.

Continue reading “finally, a three-year-old standout!”

Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Blue Grass Stakes and Ashland Stakes Preview

The three-year-old prep season heats up even more this weekend, with the Blue Grass (G2) and the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland!

The Blue Grass drew a field of just seven, but four of those seven are top names on many Kentucky Derby lists: undefeated McCraken, classy Practical Joke, pricey Tapwrit, and New York invader J Boys Echo.  The Ashland, which drew eight, will be Daddys Lil Darling’s return to the main track, and Grade 1 winner Pretty City Dancer’s last shot to guarantee a gate in the Oaks.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Saturday’s Derby and Oaks prep action at Keeneland, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Fayette Stakes Preview

This weekend, Blinkers Off will be breaking its Keeneland maiden.  So, it was not hard to decide what race to preview over at Picks and Ponderings: Saturday’s feature, the Grade II Fayette!

The nine-furlong Fayette Stakes drew an intriguing field of eight: a few older horses trying to find their mojo again, some more lightly-raced horses trying to find their place in the handicap division, and one very classy turf horse trying to prove that his excellent recent form on the grass can translate to the main track as well.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Fayette Stakes, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: Fall Stars Sunday

Keeneland’s opening weekend concludes Sunday with a card that features the Spinster Stakes (GI) and the Bourbon Stakes (GIII).  I have analysis of both over at Picks and Ponderings.

Both races are Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In events.  The Spinster drew a small but solid field to contend for a Distaff spot.  The Bourbon drew an overflow field of two-year-olds to vie for a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and should be an excellent betting race.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Keeneland’s Sunday graded stakes races, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Picks and Ponderings: Woodford Stakes Preview

A loaded opening weekend at Keeneland continues Saturday with five graded stakes.

Over at Picks and Ponderings, I have a full preview of the Woodford Stakes (GIII): a contentious turf sprint with an overflow field.  That field features four Chicago-connected horses, including defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GI) champion Mongolian Saturday.  I will also have selections for the other four graded stakes on the card, and would be happy to talk about them in the comments or on Twitter!

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Saturday’s Woodford Stakes, and get ready for another supremely classy race day at Keeneland!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Fall Stars: Friday

Keeneland gets underway on Friday, and over at Picks and Ponderings I preview the pair of graded stakes on the day’s card.

Friday features a pair of graded stakes, both Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In races.  The Phoenix (GII) drew a solid field of seven speedsters trying to punch their ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.  The next race, the Alcibiades (GI), features a full field of fourteen aspirants to a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Phoenix and the Alcibiades, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Bewitch Stakes Preview

This Friday, Keeneland draws to a close — but not before the long-winded turf mares get a chance to strut their stuff.

The Grade III Bewitch Stakes, a mile and a half turf race for fillies and mares four and up, anchors the card.  Though the race does not feature a Curlin baby (unlike last year, when longshot Maria Maria checked in third), it does feature a well-matched field of twelve fillies and mares.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Bewitch Stakes, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Elkhorn Stakes Preview

I make no secret of the fact that I love long races.  This weekend at Keeneland, the long-winded grass horses get the chance to shine in the Grade II Elkhorn Stakes, which I preview over at Picks and Ponderings.

The race drew a solid field of eight.  Among those eight, there are two who stand out in my eyes.  One has been a mainstay in classy races here for years…but one of the newer shooters also got a very long look, and will be getting my win money.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Elkhorn Stakes, and let me know what you think in the comments!