It’s opening day at historic Keeneland, and despite cool and wet conditions, we have an excellent card of racing on tap. With ten races to evaluate and some monstrous fields, there are tons of value opportunities, including some very questionable morning lines. Keeneland is a unique meet in that it only runs for about three weeks in the spring, and many trainers save their best horses to target getting a win at this track. As Keeneland doesn’t run year-round, one must carefully watch the shippers to observe which circuits are bringing live horses and which ones can be safely discarded. With that said, StableDuel has three contest at Keeneland today, ranging from a free ride to a $75 entry contest with a $7,500 guarantee. Let’s dive in!
If you’ve been following along with us here at DFS Karma, you already know the gig. You have a mythical $50k budget to pick 10 horses racing today. Each horse has a price, based on it’s morning line odds. Horses who are heavy favorites will cost you more salary to use, but they also generally bring more upside. Longshot horses will be cheaper but do carry some risk. You will either earn or lose points for each horse you’ve selected based on where they finish. The short version is that finishing in the top 5 earns you 10-60 points from 5th to 1st, respectively, plus or minus some points based on the margin of victory. If you finish worse than 5th, however, you lose points based on how much you lost by, so be careful with taking longshots!
Below, I’ve outlined a few horses at varying price tiers who I feel are compelling horses to include in some StableDuel stables.
If you need a refresher on scoring, please refer back to our debut article that goes a little more in-depth, located here.
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High Price Favorites
Beachfront Bid $9,200 – Race 2
I genuinely had a difficult time finding many high priced favorites I felt confidently about, but Beachfront Bid appears to be one of the safer plays on the day. She has shown some bridesmaid tendencies lately, settling for second place in each of her three career starts. However, she was compromised last out by a slow pace and nevertheless put in a strong rally to just miss by a neck. She seems like a filly who will appreciate the extra ground today, and this is not the strongest field we’ve seen. Trust Beachfront Bid to get the job done or finish second at worst.
Mid Price Plays
Marr Time $6,500 – Race 4
Marr Time enters this race in excellent form, barely missing to Lady Scarlett last out in an optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park. Lady Scarlett returned to dominate the Cicada Stakes next out, crushing the field by over four lengths. Marr Time was very wide last out, racing on the outermost portion of the track while stacked 3-4 wide most of the journey. She has versatility, which gives Geroux the option to send for the lead or to sit just off the pace and stalk the leaders. She will need to navigate two turns for the first time, but Brad Cox is an excellent 29% going sprint to route over the last three years. In a field where many of the contenders are facing winners for the first time, I prefer to trust the proven class of Marr Time.
Old Homestead $250 – Race 7
I’m certain that I won’t be the only one touting this horse, but when a morning line is this poor you really have to take advantage. Old Homestead has been beating up on cheaper horses at Delta Downs, but my goodness has he been visually impressive. Based on his TimeformUS speed figures earned in both career starts, he is tied for the fastest horse in this entire field, yet he is inexplicably 20/1 on the morning line. It’s a big stretch out from five furlongs on Delta Downs bull ring course to seven furlongs at Keeneland, but at 20/1 I think you get paid to take that risk. It’s encouraging to see Pompell travel up north for his only mount of the day, and Old Homestead should take them as far as he can early on the lead.
Napoleonic War $500 – Race 8
Keeneland is unique in that it cards a ton of maiden and two-year-old races, and while those are fun races to watch, they are extremely volatile and difficult to decipher. For StableDuel, I prefer to focus on the races with smaller field sizes and more proven horses. The Transylvania Stakes only drew six runners, but I can make a genuine argument for five of them. Napoleonic War earned a terrible speed figure in his debut at first glance, but it’s important to note that the pace of that race was glacially slow. Extreme pace scenarios such as that oftentimes result in final time speed figures that are not representative of the quality of the race. I’m choosing to draw a line through that figure and instead focus on the visual aspect of a horse closing from last against a very slow pace. Throw in the fact that it’s Chad Brown and elite west coast turf jockey Flavian Prat and I think you are getting an absolute steal at 15/1 in a small six horse field.