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    Picks and Preview for Opening Day at Keeneland – Friday, October 8

    A breakdown of the Grade II Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes, the Grade I Darley Alcibiades Stakes, and everything at Keeneland this Friday.

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    On Friday, October 8, Keeneland kicks off their huge opening weekend with two graded stakes races, the Grade II Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes and the Grade I Darley Alcibiades Stakes, both of which are Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In races. I break both races down on the podcast and give you my Win, Place, and Show predictions. Additionally, play along at StableDuel where you can enter contests and win big. How? Download the StableDuel app and then pick 10 horses with your $50,000 fantasy budget from the fields at Santa Anita on Friday. If your stable comes out on top, you’re a winner! In addition to picking the winners below, I’ll also include the “price” in the StableDuel contest.

    Race 1

    Post time: 1:00 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: $20,000 Claiming

    Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: The first race feels a little bit like the island of misfit toys in that several of the horses do not appear to fit the description and parameters of the race. Several look more successful on turf, while others would seem to like sprint races rather than stretching out in distance. Ultimately, Sum Kinda Pretty (7-5), despite not being an overwhelming horse at least fits the bill for what the race will be as she’s had some nice dirt races at the distance. I’ll Make It Coach (6-1) is a horse that’s finally getting moved off turf, which appeared to be a failed experiment since her best races were on dirt and she even has a third-place finish at Keeneland at the distance. Swanage (2-1) is making a rare start on dirt and while she’s finished second the last three times out, this is had a longer distance than those races and on dirt. There isn’t much speed in the race so I wouldn’t be shocked if Super Ready (10-1) hit the lead and sets a reasonable pace and is able to hit the board.

    Win: Sum Kinda Pretty ($9,600)

    Place: I’ll Make It Coach ($5,000)

    Show: Super Ready ($1,000)

    Race 2

    Post time: 1:35 PM ET

    Distance: 1 mile

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $84,000 purse

    Age: 2-years-old

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: This race features some familiar names if you have been following the two-year-old races this summer. Steinbeck (9-2) got crushed by Jack Christopher his first time out and is now switching to turf. His pedigree would seem to scream distance and Todd Pletcher is one of the best at stretching out horses. Gingrich (9-2) has improving speed numbers and strong workouts. Morning line favorite, Rum ‘n Tonic (4-1) had an impressive maiden despite finishing fourth and more importantly has Joel Rosario aboard who is always dangerous when riding on turf. He’s A Angel (15-1) might be a horse that prefers yielding turf, but there will be plenty of rain in Kentucky leading up to Friday, so I really like taking a show with him to his the board. Star Shopping (10-1) faded down the stretch in his first race, but the cutback in distance should help and I like the value in a race without a proven commodity.  

    Win: Gingrich ($6,500)

    Place: He’s A Angel ($500)

    Show: Rum ‘n Tonic ($7,000)

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    Race 3

    Post time: 2:10 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: $10,000 Starter Allowance

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: A few of these horses raced against each other last time out with Family Man (1-1) winning with ease. I’m still mildly surprised at the strong morning line odds for him, but I do think he’s probably the best horse in the field and seems to keep improving every time out. Double Tough Tiger and Niettzsche (5-2) are running as a 1 and 1A, so I do like the value since they finished immediately behind Family Man last time out. That said, I really like Irish Declaration (5-1) to crash the board as a horse that is improving and running comparable speed figures to the favorite. Yes, this is a step up in competition, but he’s comfortable with the distance and coming off the claim, which sometimes brings about the best performances. The other horse going off at 5-1, Cabertoss, doesn’t seem like as good of a value as he’s trending in the wrong direction and he’s had mixed results at the distance.

    Win: Irish Declaration ($6,000)

    Place: Family Man ($10,000)

    Show: Double Tough Tiger ($8,500)

    Race 4

    Post time: 2:45 PM ET

    Distance: 6 furlongs

    Type: $25,000 Claiming

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Town Classic (5-2) seems to be an unreliable horse to bet on since his last two races since being claimed have been terrible and nowhere near what would be needed to win this race. If he were to revert to his spring form where he finished third in the Grade 3 Runhappy at Belmont, then he should lay waste to the field. However, I’m leaning more toward the former happening than the latter. Awesome Saturday (6-1) is the poster child for not evaluating horses solely on speed figures since by that metric he would appear to be a favorite, but he hasn’t finished better than fifth in a race since 2020. However, he’s returning to a distance and surface where he’s had success and I like Ricardo Santana Jr. to give him a good ride along the rail. Spycraft (5-1) would seem to be a great bet if this was on turf, but it’s not, so I’m not quite sure what morning line was doing setting the odds there since it’s obvious the horse doesn’t respond well to dirt. Don’t Forget (5-1) has looked terrible the last two times out but has a history of winning. Big Bella Brown (9-2) had a poor last start but has shown consistency prior to that, which is better than most horses in the field. About Our Time (10-1) has a decent kick and at the price is a good bet to hit the board.

    Win: Big Bella Brown ($6,500)

    Place: Awesome Saturday ($5,000)

    Show: About Our Time ($1,000)

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    Race 5

    Post time: 3:20 PM ET

    Distance: 6 furlongs

    Type: $50,000 Claiming

    Age: 3-years-old and up 

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Heart Rhythm (3-1) is as safe a bet to hit the board as any horse in these early races as he’s been good at Keeneland in the past at this distance and effective at Parx this summer and fall. Savvy (7-2) is a horse I’d stay away from considering his last outing was a distance seventh at Charles Town in a race won by Vertical Threat, a very good horse, who turned in a dud effort last weekend at Santa Anita. Vulcan (7-2) is a horse that’s getting blinkers on, which combined with Joel Rosario’s aggressive riding style, should ensure he’s sitting out on the lead, which is where this horse is most effective. Brad’s Time (5-1) is taking a step back in distance that should really help, but his previous competition is questionable, which is also the case with Rob the Rich (5-1). Of the longer shots, I prefer Katzarelli (6-1) who has faced decent fields at Ellis Park and Churchill while posting respectable finishes.  

    Win: Vulcan ($7,500)

    Place: Heart Rhythm ($8,000)

    Show: Katzarelli ($5,000)

    Race 6

    Post time: 3:55 PM ET

    Distance: 6 furlongs

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $84,000 purse

    Age: 2-years-old (fillies)

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: The vast majority of the field is making their first start, so you fall back on pedigree, workout figures, and trainer/jockey stats in a lot of cases. Of the horses that have started, on Fannie and Freddie (6-1) ran on dirt and finished in seventh place, but within four lengths of the winner. Thedevilyousay (8-1) and Maresias (20-1) are both hoping the transition from turf to dirt will result in better finishes than they have had to this point. Halo Fire (7-2) ran well the first time out on turf, but Wesley Ward is moving her to dirt, so we’ll see if that was the right move. Social Matrix (3-1) appears to be the morning line favorite simply because she was expensive and has Brad Cox training her. Her workouts are good, but hardly eye-popping and have been matched by several others in the first. Speaking of that, keep your eye out for Family Business (8-1) who has had nice workouts, and breaking from the outside should allow her to use some of the speed she showed in a few three-furlong workouts recently.  

    Win: Fannie and Freddie ($5,000)

    Place: Family Business ($3,000)

    Show: Social Matrix ($8,000)

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    Race 7

    Post time: 4:30 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: Allowance $90,000 purse

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: Kentucky Ghost (5-2) is a safe favorite to bet in this race seeing that he’s been the most consistent of the horses and has performed well in stakes competition recently. Dynadrive (4-1) would appear to be right there with him, particularly after stepping down in class after a bad loss in a Grade 2 last time out. Of the two horses going off at 9-2, I have more faith in Calvary Charge than Beacon Hill, but this is a race where there are clearly stratified tiers between different groups of horses. After those first four, the rest of the field has glaring deficiencies at the distance or is trending in the wrong direction. Hemp Hemp Horray (15-1) might be worth taking a shot at the backend of exotics as he’s shown himself well in stakes races in the past and I think can hang within a few lengths of the leaders.

    Win: Kentucky Ghost ($8,500)

    Place: Calvary Charge ($6,500)

    Show: Hemp Hemp Horray ($500)

    Race 8

    Post time: 5:10 PM ET

    Distance: 6 furlongs

    Type: Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes – Grade II

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Morning line favorite, Special Reserve (9-5) is the class of the field in that he’s faced the best competition and come out on top in graded stakes races, and he’s had a particularly strong 2021 campaign since joining Mike Maker’s barn that includes four wins and two second-place finishes in six overall races. However, his speed numbers don’t overwhelm the field his last workout at five furlongs left a lot to be desired. Just Might (9-2) is a fascinating horse that can really run and may have discovered a second career on dirt after switching surfaces two races ago. He’s run in non-graded stakes races the last two times out and posted 90+ Beyer’s speed figures and won both races over other entries, Mucho (6-1) and Endorsed (6-1). Additionally, his six-furlong races have been at a blistering pace, and he’s been the one setting that pace. Aloha West (3-1) fits the profile I typically like, which is a lightly raced horse with constantly improving speed figures and finishes. I’m a little worried about the step up in class since his one non-graded stakes entry at seven furlongs resulted in a rather non-descript 4th place finish. Additionally, he’s never really gotten caught in a race with crazy early speed fractions, which might be the case here. Of the two previously mentioned 6-1 shot horses, I’d lean toward Mucho making an impact given his respectable past performances in Grade 3 races and his very close loss to Just Might last time out. The horse with the best speed figure in the whole field is Sir Alfred James (9-2) who posted a 103 Beyer’s score last time out after being claimed. I’d be shocked if he built on that performance and would expect a slight regression given that his previous race game was less than two weeks ago.

    Win: Just Might ($6,500)

    Place: Special Reserve ($9,200)

    Show: Mucho ($5,000)

    Race 9

    Post time: 5:45 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: Darley Alcibiades Stakes – Grade I

    Age: 2-years-old (fillies)

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: This is a step up in distance and competition for most of the fillies in the field with a chance to get to the Breeders’ Cup. The only horse in the field who has shown the capability to do well at the distance is Penny Saver (4-1) who I think provides tremendous value at that price. She’s raced in high-priced Maiden Special Weight races, won by 9 ½ lengths last time out at a 1 1/16 miles, and boasts the best speed figure in the field. Morning line favorite, Juju’s Map (5-2) won easily at a mile last time out at Ellis Park and likes to get on the lead, but so do five or six other fillies in this field, so something is going to have to give or it’s going to result in unrealistic early fractions. Runup (12-1) would appear to provide good value given her stakes victory last time out, but her mile victory was nearly four seconds slower than that of Juju’s Map. Still, she’s trending in the right direction and has some extremely impressive recent workouts so I would make sure to have her on deeper exotics as she’ll provide great value. Diamond Wow (8-1) might be more of a turf horse ultimately given how well she’s run in the slop and on turf in her first two races. While it’s supposed to rain at the track on Thursday, the weather for Friday is nice and I wouldn’t expect the track to have a ton of moisture. Meanwhile, Matareya (4-1) and Distinctlypossible (8-1) both won their maidens but did so under seven furlongs and this constitutes a significant step up in distance. The Godolphin-Cox-Rosario connection on Matareya makes her nearly impossible to ignore.   

    Win: Penny Saver ($7,000)

    Place: Matareya ($7,000)

    Show: Runup ($750)

    Race 10

    Post time: 6:20 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/8 miles

    Type: Allowance $86,000 purse

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: It’s not often you have a horse going into his fifth career race and getting class relief, but that’s what we see with morning-line favorite Red Hornet (3-1) whose last three races have all been non-graded stakes competitions that have seen him finish a little further back, but never too far off the lead. Modern Science (7-2) was in one of those previous races and edged him out for a fourth-place finish and will probably take the early lead, but neither of the top two favorites are overwhelming. I’m intrigued by Camp Hope (5-1) who just switched to running on turf two races ago and has shown great improvement in terms of speed figures. Camp Hope might prefer more distance than the 1 1/8-mile race, but I like the value breaking from the inside post position. News Break (5-1) offers some value as well for a horse that’s won before on the Keeneland turf and seems to be an “every other race” horse where he alternates between good and poor starts with this race slated to be his good start. Two long shots to consider are Buy Me Candy (8-1) that has a knack of consistently finishing in the top 4 and has faced decent competition at the Allowance-level. On the other end, Frenchboro (10-1) is a horse that’s flashed improvement between his first and second race and another step in that direction would put him on the board.

    Win: Camp Hope ($6,000)

    Place: Buy Me Candy ($3,000)

    Show: Red Hornet ($8,000)

    Get all of Matthew’s horse racing coverage by following him on Twitter at @failedtomenace, by subscribing to Amalfi Media’s YouTube channel, and following The Win Place Show podcast.

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