04/06/2017 2:44PM

Watchmaker: How I'll play Keeneland on Friday, April 7


Friday’s opening-day card at Keeneland is an interesting one highlighted by a quality renewal of the Transylvania Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf. I’ll get my feet wet at the meet by playing the late pick four, which encompasses races 7 through 10 and includes the Transylvania.

My strongest positions in the sequence are in a first-level allowance event in race 8 and the Transylvania in race 9. I’m singling Mutaraamy in race 8. It’s not exactly a daring single as Mutaraamy is the 9-5 favorite on the morning line, but I think he looks 3-5 in this spot.

Mutaraamy showed a lot of potential in finishing a game second in his debut at Gulfstream in February 2016 to the multiple stakes winner Unified, who recently beat the multiple Grade 1 stakes winner Mind Your Biscuits in the Gulfstream Park Sprint. Mind Your Biscuits, of course, came back to win the Dubai Golden Shaheen as tons the best.

Something must have gone amiss with Mutaraamy in his second start, when third as the 1-2 favorite at Keeneland almost one year ago to the day, because he did not race again for 10 months. But Mutaraamy returned in February at Gulfstream with a decisive maiden score at 1-5. He does have a gap in his workouts at Palm Meadows between mid-February and mid-March but has worked sharply since.

Simply put, a repeat of Mutaraamy’s career debut or his maiden victory most recently, which also happen to be his two races at Friday’s six-furlong distance, would just be too good for this field.

As for the Transylvania, likely favorite Oscar Performance makes his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He can win (obviously), and I’ll use him because I won’t let him beat me. But Oscar Performance is not a cinch, and I will also use Ticonderoga and Big Score in at least equal strength.

Both Ticonderoga and Big Score finished behind Oscar Performance, checking in fourth and fifth. Ticonderoga had a bad trip that day, and the way he won the Palm Beach in his 3-year-old debut strongly suggests he is improving with maturity. Big Score had no excuse in the Breeders’ Cup, but I feel he is capable of better because he was about a week the best in winning the Zuma Beach just before that.

The first leg of this sequence, a straight maiden race for 3-year-old fillies, and the last leg, a conditioned claimer, are wide-open races. I’m going six deep in those races in the hopes of getting nice prices home.

Here’s the basic play, which totals $54: 1,4,6,7,10,11 with 3 with 3,4,5 with 1,3,4,9,11,12.