Ladies and Gentlemen, Keeneland has arrived. The 12-day fall meet spanning from Friday, Oct. 3 – Saturday, Oct. 25 opens with a pair of graded stakes in the $200,000 Phoenix (Grade 3) and $400,000 Alcibiades (G1) and both races are “Win and You’re In” events for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Another intriguing story-line entering the Fall meeting is Keeneland’s return to a new dirt surface. Having run on Polytrack since 2006, horsemen and handicapper’s alike are very interested to see just how the new dirt plays into every aspect of the game.
As for Opening Day weather, the forecast looks a bit rough. We are looking at an 80% chance of rain throughout the day starting early, as if the new dirt wasn’t going to provide enough of a challenge to picking winners. Regardless, racing will go on and high’s are expected to reach the low 70’s. While I have never been known for my handicapping skills, my friend Cory Hodskins sent out his Opening Day plays in an email chain and I thought, if he wants to get his picks out there, I might as well showcase them on my blog. I appreciate Cory taking the time to write his picks and share them and hopefully he makes us some dough:
CORY HODSKINS‘ PLAYS FOR KEENELAND OPENING DAY:
Disclaimer: The opinions of Mr. Hodskins do not necessarily express the views/opinions of anyone else at JohnCoxTalks.com.
- Race 1: Most people know my love for Todd Pletcher but if you didn’t, now you do. He is the best trainer in the world. I always give his horses multiple looks. At first I thought Cosmo Blue( #6) was a bad favorite until I watched his last race. I thought he ran great. He faced a solid group of horses, made all of the running and just got a bit tired late. This is his first start going two turns. I expect the track to play to speed( for the most part) and I think he will be on the lead or just off it. Some horses to use underneath him 1,2,3,7,9,12.
- Race 2: I don’t love the race but I do like a horse a slight bit. I like the morning line favorite here, Bettina Brugge (#2) (I don’t think she will actually be the post time favorite). I thought her last two races were solid. Last race she was super wide made a huge move to the lead and got passed late (at almost 16-1).
- Race 3: There is not much speed in this race. The outside filly Silver Valley (#6) should be on the lead in a slow pace. Her last race was better than it looks on paper. She drifted out several lengths in the stretch or she would have won by 3-4 lengths. I think she wires this field at a good price.
- Race 4: I absolutely love 2-year-old racing. I like the #9 Nun the Less here. He has run great in both his starts. Chris Block always ships in and runs well at Keeneland. I think Pletcher’s colt got a super easy lead in his maiden win. Motion’s colt has never run on synthetic. I think Florent Geroux stalks and pounces with Nun the Less at 4-1 or higher.
- Race 5: Very difficult race. I think the Bernardini/Proud Spell colt will really get over-bet. Proud Spell was a freak filly just not sure she is going to be a great broodmare because of how small she is. So I am looking elsewhere here. I love Scat Daddy’s first time out. The works look great. I will try Pro Daddy (#5). Also think the Catalano first time starter (#6) Hidden Danger has a shot. Joe Franklin (#10) if he improves off his first race he can win.
- Race 6: I do not like this race. I think Bourbon Courage is by far the best horse just not sure this is his best distance. If he were to get upset I think it will come from the 3,1, or 4 (in that order). If Kellyn Gorder has BC ready to run he might just be too tough to beat I just really wish it was longer. If you are playing a multi race wager I believe you should spread here.
- Race 7: Ridiculous race. Almost all can win. In pick 4’s and pick 5’s I believe you have to use 1,2,3,4,5,6,8 to be completely comfortable. My top pick is Exodus (#8) who is a half brother to a freak Cross Traffic.
- Race 8: Rainbow Heir. The horse was a super fast 3-year-old, but I think he is even faster as a 4-year-old. The few times he has lost I think he has excuses ( bad rides and not his best distance). Angel Serpa knows how to ride this colt now. He doesn’t have to be on the lead anymore, he has learned to rate. He can sit on the outside or inside it doesn’t matter, then at the quarter pole he has just been exploding past horses. I expect a huge effort. If he was trained by Todd Pletcher or Bob Baffert he would be 6/5 morning line. Pick 4, pick 5 single. Win Wager.
- Race 9: Fashion Alert (#1) is the class of the race and should be tough to beat with the rail. If anyone beats her I think it will be one of the Godolphin fillies, #7 Innovative Idea or #13 Gap Year. Both of the Godolphin fillies ran tremendous on debut and should improve going two turns. I thought Gap Year ran more professional than Innovative Idea did but Innovatie Idea flashed a ton of speed and just drew off in a super fast time for a trainer who rarely ever wins with first time starters. I think the winner comes from one of these three.
- Race 10: Difficult race to close out the card. Spread in P4 and P5 and demand value if you are betting to win. Several of the morning-line choices have had tremendous race set ups and just can never get the job done. I think several of these fillies can win. My top choice is #8 Conquest Rebel. But I would use 3,4,6,7, and 10 along with her in multi race wagers.