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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, October 17, 2023 — The sequence of races in the Keeneland Late Pick 5, littered with inscrutable races, is difficult. Horizontals always are. But if form holds, including three races with full fields, it’s possible to cash a ticket for $9. And we’re going to try.

HRI has tabulated A,B,C ratings for the five races so that players can mix and match as they wish, size of the bankroll notwithstanding. Below are comments only on listed “A” horses. Categories with more than one runner listed appears in order of preference.

Race 4: A: 5 // B-3 // C-7

Thestral improved in first start off the Time Amoss claim, earning top Thoro-Graph figure in a narrow defeat and remains forward. Two works since augurs well and Tyler takes the re-ride.

Race 5: A: 11 // B-6-3 // C-9-7

Air of Defiance appeared to dislike the kickback in sloppy track debut behind impressive winner and subsequent Champagne favorite Fierceness and finished well without threatening with a clear wide run. Added furlong, outside draw, and dry track augurs well.

Race 6: A: 4 // B-3 // C-6

Punchbowl makes return for Cox following a long layup and was last seen being narrowly defeated in Keeneland’s G1 Ashland; obvious class call with Prat. (B-Insignia is the longer uncoupled Cox entrant).

Race 7: A: 3, 13, 1 // B: 5, 7

Tituba never really had a chance going long at KD, finishing OK ridden out; turn-back suits and picks up Prat. Be My Sunshine ran well every step of the way; Tyler good here, wide draw bad. Empirical View finished well against the bias in wide-rally KD finale.

Race 8: A: 6, 2, 3 // C: 5, 9, 10, 11

Catalina Crush has run faster than these and drops into maiden claimer for the first time, a 32% scenario for Norm Casse. Running Munnin went well at this level in lone CD start, improvement expected. Track Light has win-early pedigree and has worked very well.

HRI’s $9 Pick 5: 5 // 11 // 1. 4 // 1. 3. 13 // 2. 3. 6


REPORTS from October 15-16: Hours before British One Thousand Guineas winner Mawj came off a long break to win the deepest Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup in recent history, America’s best sprinter, 4-year-old filly Echo Zulu was coming out of surgery to repair two broken sesamoids suffered in a Friday workout at Santa Anita.

How she ultimately will come out of what was described as a technically successful procedure is an unknown. It will be a long, difficult process as the brilliant filly stares down complications following surgery, not the least of which is the specter of laminitis which eventually claimed Barbaro’s life after he survived successful surgery to repair his right hind.

Sprinting fast on glib racetracks is dangerous business in terms of wear, tear, and high speed concussion of lower extremities on dry dirt at high speeds. In her last start, Echo Zulu stared down sprint champion Goodnight Olive in Saratoga’s Ballerina but had to race 7 furlongs in 1:20.95 to do so.

It’s fair to wonder if there is a cumulative effect that enervating efforts have, especially in light of the fact that similarly intense speed efforts in rapidly run sprints by Maple Leaf Mel and New York Thunder at the Grade 1 level resulted in injuries from which there was no return.

In Lexington, meanwhile, Godolphin’s homebred Mawj grabbed the front right out of the gate and maintained her position all the way for a half-length victory over fellow European bred fast finishing Lindy in the 40th renewal for 3-year-old fillies and will make her next start in the 40th renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Winning trainer Saaed bin Suroor has elected to run his filly against males at her optimal distance, eschewing a longer run against her own set in the BC Filly & Mare Turf. Trainer Brendan Walsh, who said his troubled-early  filly ran “too good to lose,” did not commit to Lindy’s next run.

Saeed bin Suroor and Oisin Murphy were both winning their first graded stakes at Keeneland but the win was the 500th graded/group victory for bin Suroor. Mawj covered the 1 1/8 miles in a very solid 1:48.06 over a course rendered good by overnight rains and improved her lifetime slate to (9) 6-1-1.


Defending champion lost her title defense in Sunday’s G2 Franklin Stakes at Keeneland, but don’t make the mistake of dismissing her out of hand come Breeders’ Cup Saturday.

While she may not be quite as brilliant as in the past, her neck defeat to a talented SoCal-based Tony Ann was a matter of degrees as her rival had the momentum to catch the odds-on favorite in the final strides and may have been racing in the better footing on the outside.

Caravel has demonstrated that she prefers firm ground and Sunday’s course was anything but after having a significant dousing on Saturday night rendering the course to be labeled good. Additionally, the six year old mare gave her rival four pounds as the 124-pound co-highweight.

Stiffer competition notwithstanding, the 5-furlong BC Turf Sprint could intensify her late kick and the expectation she will be competing over much firmer footing in Arcadia also works to her benefit.

Five year old Tony Ann improved her lifetime mark to (10) 5-1-1 for Phil D’Amato and also benefited from another flawless turf performance for partner Flavien Prat who has been riding all turf courses with superb timing, finesse and strength.

this is a live column and will be updated

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