04/09/2014 9:48AM

Byron King's Keeneland handicapping notebook for April 9


Sunday, April 6 recap

Turf-to-synthetic runners won the first two races on the Keeneland card, with Dissension taking the opening first off the claim for trainer Bob Hess after previously racing on turf at Gulfstream and Expecting Cash prevailing in the second race, a starter allowance, on the drop out of a stakes turf sprint at Fair Grounds.

Both won against fields that seemed suspect for the level, but to the credit of Expecting Cash, he won going away despite being in tight quarters on the turn when advancing up the rail.

The main track seemed to play faster earlier in the day, which was evident when Hancho, coming off a fourth-place finish at Turfway Park, won the third race, a $10,000 claimer, by racing six furlongs in 1:10.76. Rosie Napravnik picked up her first victory of the spring meet aboard Hancho.

While on the subject of first meet victories, trainer Wesley Ward and apprentice Dylan Davis got theirs in race 4 when Atasheen led to wire to wire. Davis did a nice job slowing the pace, and his mount did the rest, spurting away from the pack.

Having run exclusively on turf and coming off a loss at Penn National, My Afleet was dismissed at 25-1 odds in race 5, but he improved in his first start on the grass and registered an upset. Astutely ridden by Joe Rocco, who opened up on the field leaving the second turn, he held off the rallies of two Mark Casse-trained runners, Majestic Sunset and Florida Won.

Wisenbossy, outrun in two allowance starts at Tampa this winter, then took the sixth race at 9-1, relishing the return to a synthetic track. Wisenbossy’s only prior win had come over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle last year.

The comebacking Relentless Spirit, coming off some quick works in Florida over the winter, outran Late Night Lu to win race 7, though the order might have been reversed if Late Night Lu had not broken poorly and then gotten steadied in traffic in early stretch.

The 7-2 morning-line favorite Party Now took race 8, going off at surprising odds of 9-2, after first-time U.S. runner Minorette was pounded off a series of blazing works on turf at Palm Meadows. Rocco was aboard the winner, giving him a sweep of the two grass races on the nine-race card.

Eye of the Eagle closed out the card with a mild 5-1 upset, bulling his way through traffic to win going away under James Graham. It marked the horse’s 11th victory from 34 starts on synthetic tracks.

Horse to watch

Eye of the Eagle
Trainer: Ronald Kimmon
Last race: April 6, 9th
Finish: 1st by 3/4
Beyer: 75
Although his six-furlong time of 1:11.37 for winning a $10,000 claimer was slower than the third race, another $10,000 claimer that was won by Hancho in 1:10.76, Eye of the Eagle seems the superior runner. He excels on synthetic tracks, and if he gets a chance to run back in another low-end race late in the meet, he could very well repeat.

Wednesday, April 9 preview

A carryover of $73,023 awaits in the 50-cent pick five at Keeneland, so here is a look at the sequence.

Race 4: Rico Rolando ran respectably to be sixth in his debut Feb. 15 when racing a mile on grass, then was claimed by trainer Mike Maker and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey when he dropped into a maiden $35,000 claimer on dirt, a race in which he ran a distant third. This two-turn Polytrack race looks like a better fit for him, and Javier Castellano is up.

Others to consider include class droppers Margin and Napa Valley.

Race 5: Gettem Up Girl gamely won three in a row at Fair Grounds for trainer Tim Glyshaw, with the last two coming sprinting on turf. She fits the profile for synthetic success, although her record on it doesn’t entice. Purely Hot is the class but out of action all year, and Rewardbyblitzing comes off a pair of starter triumphs at Turfway.

Factoring right behind them is Brick House Road, making her second start of the year and being shipped down from Hawthorne for the chance to race on Polytrack.

Race 6: General Jack, already a stakes winner, is the class of this turf race and should rebound from poor recent form on synthetic. Those wanting to keep their pick five ticket price down may wish to single him, while those playing a bigger ticket should give thought to using Heart To Heart, Jessica’s Star, and Xtra Luck.

Race 7: Six Over Flats rated a narrow edge, having improved with each start, with the final race of last year being his best; he’s likely fitter than his published work tab shows – as his first published work at Keeneland was going five-eighths, meaning he likely got started with shorter, unpublished works at a farm.

Mio d’Oro looks like the fastest horse, but his fast races came on the dirt at Gulfstream,  so regression is possible with the surface switch to Polytrack. Fight The Tide and Simple Interest are other possibilities.

Race 8: Closer to You was backed to 5-1 odds in her debut, and though she never threatened, she likely gained much from the experience, and trainer Christophe Clement's second-timers usually move up. She represents value at 12-1 on the morning line.

Logical favorite Overtone must be used prominently, as should Cinnamon Spice, a second-out runner for high-percentage trainer Chad Brown.

Early Keeneland scratches
Race 3: #10 Dynamical
Race 4: #9 Spa City Treasure
Race 5: #1 Marlene's Love, #8 Iron Ginny
Race 6: #7 Soldier Inthe Rain
Race 7: #2 Sky Captain