04/13/2017 2:00PM

King: Betting on No Dozing's class edge in Lexington


I’m betting against hype and reputations in three stakes at Keeneland on Saturday: the Lexington, Jenny Wiley, and Giant’s Causeway. In each one, there is either a high-profile trainer or horse whom the public loves, making the alternatives more attractive from a value standpoint.

Let’s first examine the Lexington Stakes, in which the presence of the Bob Baffert-trained West Coast should make for an intriguing betting race, at least for those who aren’t backing West Coast. I like No Dozing, a colt worthy of being the favorite but sitting at 4-1 on the morning line behind West Coast at 3-1.

Considering that No Dozing is the leading money earner and the most battle-tested horse in the field after racing in four consecutive graded stakes, West Coast’s role as favorite seems to be largely a function of his being trained by the popular Baffert and not a relative unknown.

Take the trainer out of the equation, and West Coast’s greatest achievement is winning a three-horse maiden race at Santa Anita in his second start.

Contrast that with No Dozing, who comes off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby behind Kentucky Derby contender Tapwrit, and I’d rather back No Dozing. Plus, No Dozing is now making the third start of his form cycle and returning to a Keeneland track where he was fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity last year despite a troubled trip.

Sprinkle in some quick works at Tampa leading into the Lexington, as well as a ho-hum work from West Coast in which he was passed on the gallop-out by another worker, and No Dozing is easy to like.

Not surprisingly, there are some other good horses in the Lexington, with Senior Investment my second choice and the lightly raced Time to Travel being another with promise. But their body of work doesn’t stack up next to that of No Dozing.

Dickinson offers value

One race after the Lexington, Lady Eli figures to go off as the heavy favorite in the Jenny Wiley Stakes. And one can understand why she will be fancied, being the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner and a three-time Grade 1 winner with seven wins and two seconds from nine starts.

But I can’t help that but think that her reputation will make her too skimpy a price in her first start of the year, a salty Grade 1 race. Many of these fillies already have run effectively this year, potentially giving them a fitness advantage.

One such filly is the one I like at 8-1 on the morning line: Dickinson. She has won two straight graded stakes, beating Elysea’s World and Santiva in the Grade 3 Suwannee River at Gulstream and Elysea’s World and Isabella Sings most recently in the Grade 2 Hillsborough at Tampa.

I’m hopeful that since Dickinson has some mediocre dirt races clouding her past performances – efforts that preceded a move to turf last all – she will be dismissed by some horseplayers while facing the likes of Lady Eli.

Triple Chelsea can pull upset

Earlier on the card, I’m trying 12-1 longshot Triple Chelsea in the Giant’s Causeway, a race that marks the return of the talented Lady Aurelia, the 6-5 morning-line favorite.

Make no mistake, Lady Aurelia is a quality filly. She won her first three starts of 2016, including a Group 2 and Group 1 overseas, before finishing third in a Group 1 to conclude her year. And she has worked quickly for her return.

Still, she is a 3-year-old filly facing older mares in April and coming back from a layoff, no less. So, I see her likely being overbet based on her lofty reputation.

Triple Chelsea is going to give her all. She’s won three of her five starts on grass since being shifted from dirt last summer, and I like that she is stretching out from five to 5 1/2 furlongs after finishing well to be third in a Gulfstream stakes race in which she broke a length or two slowly.

Although unraced since Jan. 28, she is a filly with a record of success when racing fresh. She appears to have been brought into the Giant’s Causeway off a short layoff by design and looks ready for a peak effort.