HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, March 31, 2021 — Weather handicappers are predicting sunny skies for opening day and Blue Grass Saturday in Lexington, and the same is promised for South Ozone Park and Arcadia, providing fast footing for both the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby.
Can I get an Amen!
We’ve done out homework for opening day at Keeneland, courtesy of a racing office that understands the value of 96-hour entries–at least for the opening weekend. We hope that trend continues and is picked up by the rest of the industry.
The industry says it values publicity and creative marketing but have a strange way of showing it. Here’s one way: Get the data out there earlier so that your customers–horseplayers and fans–can be better prepared.
Here’s a look at the Late Pick 4 races for opening day at Keeneland:
The Palisades Turf Sprint has drawn an competitive field of 10 three year olds sprinting 5-1/2 furlongs on the turf and, of course, it’s competitive. Six of the 10 are within three to four lengths of each other. Trips will be the most important factor; the second and third most critical issues are trips and, obviously, trips.
Opening day at Keeneland is a close relative to opening day at Saratoga and Del Mar. Horses will be primed and dormant winter stables are highly likely to come alive in the blue, blue grass of home.
Here’s the thing. Two of the 10 run late, the rest are speedsters and stalkers, as the conditions suggest. Problem is that the closers are a tad slower than the speedsters. The difference could prove to be the runner who makes the best transition from 2 to 3. Based on early line odds, we prefer Unitedandresolute.
If you didn’t catch Slumber Party’s (2-1) debut, her only start, it may pay to take a look. She speed-popped, came back nicely to Rosario, opened clear at the turn, shoulder-tapped into the lane, maintained separation and won with her rider looking back.
Farsighted (4-1) has more experience, is just as fast, and made the transition to 3, taking Gulfstream’s Any Limit Stakes as much the best, also in fast time. She relished slop, as her pedigree suggested, but broke maiden here on fast ground last fall.
Slumber Party is fresh, owns a win at the distance and was clearly posited here; Farsighted has scope and returns with 26 days rest. Twenty Carat (5-2) is 2-for-2 and makes dirt debut for Wesley Ward, whose barn is en fuego. She could be any kind as racetrackers say. Based on early odds, our focus is on Farsighted.
As state earlier, the Transylvania for three year old turf males traditionally draws a large field. This renewal attracted only a half dozen, including BC Juvenile Turf winner Fire At Will, who needed his season’s debut when ambitiously entered in Greatest Honour’s Fountain of Youth.
Fire At Will (9-5) has worked thrice since, including two near bullets at five-eighths of a mile, and won’t be short in his return to his favorite footing. But we were really taken with what we saw from Earls Rock (2-1).
Irish-bred was second on debut, was shipped to Phil D’Amato on the West Coast where he was 2-for-2 on Santa Anita’s firm turf course, including his recent score in the listed Baffle sprinting in February.
Earls Rock’s pedigree indicates he wants all of today’s 1-1/16 miles. He’s had six works since in preparation for this over Arcadia’s testing training track surface. He looks like a good one and will have to be. In addition to the favorite, Scarlett Sky was narrowly beaten by undefeated Annex last out and Palazzi has talent, pedigree and connections. Can’t wait to see this one.
The finale is a maiden allowances for three year old fillies and if it’s not Precipitate (3-1) or Illiogami (4-1), it could be Temper Mint Twist (4-1) for Shug, who’s a worthy 26% profitable first-time going long.
But wait, there’s more.
Earls Rock, an exciting Irish-bred who’s 2-for-2 in blinkers for Phil D’Amato and looking very much like a top prospect, will have more than a little to say about Friday’s outcome.
As a prelude to the Ashland and Blue Grass, it’s a good start. Can’t wait to see how it all shakes out.
And did we mention that the Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial will be drawn Wednesday? March Madness, indeed.