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Keeneland Babies for October 9
Welcome to Keeneland Babies! I'll analyze every juvenile contest at the meet.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack)
Maiden Claiming ($50,000)
TRADE, out of the multiple stakes-placed Provincial (18-4-5-2, 176K), takes the biggest drop in the game from maiden special weight to maiden claimers. Two starts back, on dirt at Saratoga, he faced some tough competition. The winner of that race, Currency Swap, returned to grab the Grade 1 Hopeful with a 76 Beyer while the third-finisher Takes the Gold, came back to graduate at Belmont with an 81. Trade tried sprinting on the grass in his most recent effort and that race came back slower than a maiden special weight for juvenile fillies at seven furlongs on the Widener turf on the same day. He's a bit questionable as he tries a new surface at this added distance as his sire, Posse, was best sprinting. Trade gets a tepid nod in a tough maiden claimer.
VEE ONE ROTATE, by Breeders' Cup Mile winner War Chant, adds Lasix for his second lifetime start. His trainer, Ken McPeek, used that same move on Saturday with second-out winner Miss Ruud and is 2-5 (40%, $4.16 ROI) over the past five years with second-time starters adding Lasix while dropping into maiden claimers. Vee One Rotate had somewhat of a peculiar trip in his debut. After breaking well, he was wrangled back to next-to-last after the first quarter. Then, he uncorked a premature three-wide bid on the backstretch. He understandably had nothing left for the stretch drive, but stayed on well for fourth, ahead of next-out winner Sweet Luca (51 Beyer in polytrack sprint). Vee One Rotate may be closer to the pace this time around and looms the horse to beat.
GOT ZIP may have been compromised by a speed-favoring track when chasing favored gate-to-wire winner Gemologist at Turfway on September 24. Like Vee One Rotate, he'll add blinkers for the class drop, but trainer Byron Hughes is 0-42 over the past two years with synthetic performers.
PARTY MAN also adds Lasix for his first start out of the special weight ranks. Party Man comes out of a live heat at Hoosier Park on September 15 as the winner returned to place second in the $150,000 Fitz Dixon Juvenile at Presque Isle Downs with a 75 Beyer. The runner-up from the Hoosier race, Atlantic Titan, came back to receive an 80 Beyer in a special weight at Hoosier on October 4.
AFLEET BANDIT may have to use some of his early speed as he breaks from the far outside post in this two-turn test. He certainly has the pedigree as a half to multiple Grade 1 turf winner Better Talk Now (51-14-8-5, 4.3M), stakes-winner B.A. Way (24-5-4-1, 320K) and Grade 3-placed Beat the Play (7-2-3-1). His sire won two-thirds of racing's Triple Crown and the dam was stakes-placed on the turf (19-5-6-2, 89K). Trainer Wayne Lukas is 1-60 over the past four years with juvenile performers on synthetic surface. The winner of Afleet Bandit's most recent start returned to place fifth in a $75,000 stakes at Laurel on Saturday.
SONG AHEAD is out of a multiple stakes-placed sprinter (11-4-2-2, 125K) and adds blinkers for his first two-turn, and maiden claiming, appearance. The runner-up from his most recent race at Monmouth returned to finish second in the restricted NATC Futurity with a 73 Beyer. Trainer Grant Forster is 0-22 over the past five years with horses wearing blinkers for the first time. Expect Song Ahead to race closer to the pace.
MAGICAL MOMENT is a half-brother to multiple stakes-placed Terrific Storm (45-10-9-4, 379K) and is yet another dropping in class. According to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for October 2, Magical Moment gave a "good finish, a little better than Cypress Pond, neither was being urged." Cypress Pond is a juvenile filly stablemate that finished eighth in her debut here on Saturday against maiden special weights. In his most recent start, Magical Moment finished behind Daddy Nose Best, a next-out 72-Beyer winner that then finished third in the Natalma at Woodbine.
WAYWARD SAILOR broke from the far outside post position for his career debut around two turns at Turfway on September 17. He failed to make an impression that day, but gets a much better post for his second start and his trainer, Mike Maker, has been on fire of late. Maker is 1-2 (50%, $3.80 ROI) over the past five years with second-time juveniles dropping out of the special weight ranks for their second route. The runner-up from his debut returned to finish second in a Turfway maiden special weight with a 55 Beyer. Leparoux may knock down the price down a tick.
LEAD is by the promising young sire, War Front, and the dam is kin to multiple Grade 3 winner Trip (28-11-4-2, 888K). Al Stall does well with second-time juveniles switching to synthetic and Lead didn't have an easy trip over sloppy conditions at Ellis Park on September 4. Half of the four horses to return from that debut cracked the exacta next-out (64 Beyer top). It's heartening to see Garrett Gomez take the mount.
KLIPIT, a half to stakes-winner Singit (34-5-7-4, 229K) and multiple stakes-winning turf performer Swingit (19-6-2-2, 345K) finished behind Lead in that sloppy race at Ellis Park.
LE CHEVALIER is by Broken Vow out of a half-sister to Breeders' Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller (22-10-5-3, 2.0M). He has a little bit of speed, but tired badly in the debut and must do better against several others that are also dropping in class.
2. Vee One Rotate
3. Got Zip
Trade to Win at 2-1 odds or greater
1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
Maiden Special Weight
EMPIRE TAKER, bet down to 5-2 favoritism for his career debut at Arlington, was steadied hard a few strides out of the gate. He then was mired down inside for most of the way while at the tail end of the field. Empire Taker eased out twice in the stretch and was steadied again when one-paced during the final sixteenth. The winner of that race came back to grab an entry-level optional claimer as the favorite at Hawthorne on Saturday afternoon. A $575,000 yearling that resold for $750,000 in February, Empire Taker is a half-brother to juvenile Grade 1 winner Cash Included (8-2-0-2, 316K).
SOUTHERN PARKWAY, a $50,000 yearling that resold for double that amount in March, is a half-brother to multiple stakes-placed juvenile sprinter Belleofthebridle (9-1-1-2, 60K). He finished second to the promising Monastic (entered in today's Bourbon Stakes) in his most recent outing.
GAME DRIVE is by Harlan's Holiday (25-191, 13% with juvenile debut runners and 19-157, 12% with first-time turf performers) out of multiple Grade 1 winner You'd Be Surprised (23-10-8-1, 606K, 6-9 on turf). Game Drive is a half to stakes-winning turf performer Mystery Itself (18-4-5-1, 165K) and stakes-placed turfer Sly One (14-3-2-2, 78K). The homebred has been working steadily since mid-June for Leigh Delacour, a trainer that is 1 for the last 46 with debut runners in route races.
The dam of O'PRADO AGAIN is kin to Grade 3 sprint winner Sky Blue Pink (17-7-2-2, 300K) and multiple stakes-winner Freddie Frisson (24-7-5-4, 263K, dam of multiple Grade 1 winner First Samurai). In his turf debut, the gray flipped leads twice in the stretch after racing in a bit tight. He then finished evenly for seventh behind a longshot winner that returned to place second in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont.
GRANITE HARBOR is by Rockport Harbor, a sire that is 2-54 (4%) with first-time turf performers. The dam was 0-2 on the grass. Granite Harbor has yet to gain late ground in his three sprints and now must stretch out three furlongs. A $22,000 RNA as a weanling, Granite Harbor was bought back again, this time for $15,000, last year before selling for $35,000 in March. He exits a key race won by Hansen, who returned to win the Kentucky Cup Juvenile by 13 1/4 lengths with an 80 Beyer.
HOGUE picks up Julien Leparoux, a rider that has been on a tear since this meet began. Trainer Ken McPeek won with a second-time starter here yesterday and Hogue rallied for second in his debut after a poor start. The third-place finisher returned to finish sixth in a polytrack maiden special weight with a 24 Beyer.
FLETCHER, out of juvenile stakes-placed sprinter Short Shadow (23-1-6-4, 142K), earned a career-best 51 Beyer sprinting on grass back in June, but he received a great pocket trip that day. He hasn't done much in his subsequent efforts and finished behind Hogue at Kentucky Downs. Originally a $45,000 weanling, Fletcher was bought back for $55,000 as a yearling and for $70,000 in March.
SPEIGHTFUL WAYS, stuck on the AE list, is out of stakes-winner Fantastic Ways (14-2-4-4, 168K). He rallied belatedly in his career debut going short at Ellis, but must avoid a wide trip if he does get a chance to run here. Originally, an $85,000 yearling purchase, Speightful Ways resold for $150,000 in March. The runner-up from the debut returned to finish second with a 60 Beyer.
POWER EMBLEM disappointed as the favorite in his career debut at Remington, but he fell as far as 14 lengths behind down the backstretch before picking up some tired runners late. The Texas-bred gelding goes second-out for trainer Steve Asmussen, but must improve off that debut (the sixth-place finisher came back to win a $15,000 maiden claimer on dirt with a 56 Beyer).
CARS AND TRUCKS is by Tale of the Cat (44-426, 10% with first-time turf runners) out of a dam that went 0-1 on the grass. The September 28 workout matches up with trainer Dale Romans' juvenile Do The Charleston (finished eighth in maiden special weight on polytrack yesterday with 41 Beyer). The dam is kin to multiple stakes-winner My Ro (13-6-0-1, 184K).
EVENT CENTER's first-crop sire is 0-5 with first-time turf performers. The dam compiled a 3-1-0-1 record on the grass and has foaled one prior turf runner that did not win on the surface. Event Center showed speed in his career debut going short back in April and is eligible to show good pace as he stretches out a half-mile. The dam is kin to multiple stakes-winner Write Lite (10-5-0-1, 46K).
BIZARRO is bred for grass success. The sire is 49-392 (13%) with first-time turf runners and the dam was a multiple Grade 3 winner on the lawn (18-10-1-4, 878K). A $250,000 yearling buyback, Bizarro faltered after setting the pace in two-turn debut on dirt at Ellis Park. Expect more patient handling in this spot.
CARJON CARJON is by a sire that is 19-157 (12%) with first-time turf runners. The dam went 0-1 on the grass and is kin to Grade 3 sprint winner Evil Minister (11-2-0-2, 126K). Carjon Carjon adds Lasix for the second start (an angle that trainer Ken McPeek used successfully here on yesterday's card) and he was making up ground during the late stages of his debut after breaking poorly (the third-finisher returned to graduate at Kentucky Downs with a 61 Beyer).
AL MUSADDAD, on the also-eligible list, is by a sire that is 15-120 (13%) with juvenile debut runners and 16-152 (11%) with first-turfers. The dam went 10-1-4-1 for 19K in England (won at 11 furlongs on turf) and this is her first foal.
1. Empire Taker
2. Southern Parkway
3. Game Drive
Empire Taker to Win at 2-1 odds or greater.
1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
Bourbon Stakes (G3)
LUCKY CHAPPY, by Breeders' Cup Turf winner High Chaparral out of juvenile Group 3 turf winner Germane (10-1-1-3, 46K, won at seven furlongs), is a half-sister to multiple stakes-placed turf performer Granted (15-3-3-5, 55K, all wins at one mile racing overseas). He'll stretch out in distance for his North American debut as he makes his first start for the powerful Team Valor Stables and may find a nice spot, despite the tough post, stalking the pace under the great Ramon Dominguez.
HERE COMES FRAZIER is by Badge of Silver (4-40, 10% with first-time turf runners) out of an unraced mare that has foaled one grass winner from three runners that tried the surface. That dam is kin to Northcote Road (54-12-13-9, 729K), a stakes-winner on both turf and dirt. Here Comes Frazier may have taken advantage of a speed-favoring Arlington surface when winning his debut going short, but looms a dangerous pace presence in his first start around two turns.
MONASTIC, a half-brother to multiple Grade 3 winner Keertana (26-11-5-6, 981K) and stakes-winner Snow Top Mountain (16-5-6-0, 316K) ran to his strong turf pedigree with a sharp off-the-pace victory at Arlington Park last time out. Three of the four horses to run back from that race returned to crack the exacta including next-out winner Sweet Luca (won Illinois-bred maiden over Arlington's polytrack with 51 Beyer). According to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for October 3, Monastic "finished with good energy, good double gallop out in 1:11 and 1:26/3."
BURN THE MORTGAGE shows an improving Beyer pattern and he won his only prior two-turn race, a maiden special weight at Arlington in which he defeated a debuting Monastic. He'll need some pace to properly setup his kick, but Burn the Mortgage seems to be heading the right way.
GOLD MEGILLAH is by first-crop sire Purim (0-27 with juveniles, 0-10 with turf performers). Trained by Graham Motion, Gold Megillah came with a strong late run to finish second behind even-money favorite Our Entourage in the turf and route debut at Belmont. That race hasn't produced much to date and Gold Megillah, still a maiden, must step way up in class. He did rally nicely into slow splits, however, indicating that the colt has some ability. He may be best played on the bottom of exotic wagers.
ANIMAL SPIRITS was working very well leading up to his career debut at Saratoga and he also has some pedigree appeal (second dam is the great Personal Ensign). Trained by Al Stall, a trainer that has already sent out some live babies at the meet, Animal Spirits just missed to the promising Fantastic Song (returned to run third in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont with a 71 Beyer) and draws a solid inside post.
COALPORT failed to disappoint when knocked down to 2-1 for his career debut going two turns on grass at Arlington.
He rallied from a dozen lengths off the lead to win that race, but it must be noted that of the seven horses he defeated that had prior racing experience, none had placed in the top three in their prior outings.
SPLENDIFEROUS is an interesting son of the long-winded Pleasantly Perfect. Entered in a $75,000 maiden claimer at Saratoga for his career debut going long on the turf, Splendiferous looked on his way to a loss before the pacesetter, Knock Rock, completely blew the final turn. The race then fell into Splendiferous' lap and he took advantage, winning with a 74 Beyer. Stepped up into Grade 2 competition in the With Anticipation at Saratoga on September 1, he had a traffic-filled trip behind a slow pace controlled by the gate-to-wire winner. Note that the 2-3 finishers from the With Anticipation returned to run 3-1 in yesterday's Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity.
SMART ELLIS, out of Grade 1 winner Corrazona (17-7-0-0, 518K, 3-7 on turf) is a half-brother to stakes-winner Slow Down (15-3-4-1, 120K), multiple Grade 3 winner Olmodavor (15-5-5-1, 706K) and multiple stakes-placed Seeking the Heat (15-2-3-4, 127K). A normally-conservative barn is showing a great amount of confidence by shipping Smart Ellis across the country for his first start against winners, but none of the five runners to run back from Smart Ellis' maiden win did better than fourth next-out.
DOWNTOWN DRIGGS is out of stakes-winner Tejati (44-7-6-8, 112K, 0-2 on turf). Another that is still a maiden, but Downtown Driggs finished a close second against winners in a $32,000 starter handicap at Ellis Park on September 2. In his subsequent outing, the Kentucky Cup Juvenile over polytrack, he faced the impressive Hansen while attempting to rally over a speed-favoring track. He needs major Beyer improvement.
CHALYBEATE SPRINGS is likely to draw into the body of the race, but is now bogged down in a tough outside post. A maiden after four starts, Chalybeate Springs, out of multiple Grade 1 sprint winner Chaposa Springs (23-14-5-0, 762K, 1-2 on turf), hasn't gained ground from the stretch call to the wire in his last three races. He faced a good field in his first turf route at Saratoga on August 27 as the winner returned to place third in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes with a 71 Beyer while the third-runner came back to win two in a row, including the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont.
CURFEW TOWER scratched out of the Breeders' Futurity to contest this spot. He draws an advantageous inside post, but was well-beaten in two starts against entry-level optional claimers and hasn't gained late ground since his career debut at 4 1/2 furlongs. Third in the Chenery Stakes sprinting on turf at Colonial Downs, his best Beyer stands at 61, and that pales in comparison to the numbers earned by the top contenders.
PERSONAL INTEREST ran yesterday in the Breeders' Futurity and is very likely to scratch.
1. Lucky Chappy
2. Here Comes Frazier
Lucky Chappy to Win and Place at 4-1 odds or greater