Opening Day Plays

We’re back. Keeneland’s back. Always an exciting time to be in the Bluegrass. Weather should finally feel like fall today after a whole extra month of 90 degree-heat. We’ve got two Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races on today’s card, nine total on the weekend.

Friday is highlighted by the $400,000 Grade-1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, and the winner of this one is likely to be the favorite for next month’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, which typically decides the Champion 2-Year-Old Filly and has major implications along the road to the 2020 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

As for my picks, I want to clear something up: I’m no professional handicapper. I post these to engage my friends with horse racing, and give them some food for thought when trying to come up with a betting strategy. I try not to put the favorite as my top pick unless I’m convinced that no other horses in the field are capable of beating them. You’re obviously going to have a better record picking winners if you bet the favorite every time. I try and provide horses that I think can win outside of the betting favorite more often than not.

With that, here are some picks:

Race 1

  • 5) GOT MY MO
  • 11) LEWY’S VAPORIZER
  • 7) NIIGON’S GLORY

Race 2

  • 7) LOOKING AT BIKINIS
  • 5) POLE SETTER
  • 1) KNICKS GO

Race 3

  • 9) ICONIC
  • 5) CROATIAN
  • 1) DR. HIP

Race 4

  • 6) HERECOMESYOURMAN
  • 5) STELL D’ORO
  • 3) BEMMA’S BOY

Race 5

  • 6) OBIWAN
  • 12) BE FIERCE
  • 4) ENERGIZER

Race 6

  • 4) SOUND MACHINE
  • 5) UNUNDERSTANDABLE
  • 1) EVIL LYN

Race 7

  • 6) CRAFT WOODS
  • 10) INVETERATE
  • 2) URBAN FAIRYTALE

RACE 8 – $250,000 STOLL KEENON OGDEN PHOENIX STAKES (G2)

3-year-olds & up, 6 furlongs (dirt) – A “Win and You’re In” Race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint

  • 8) ENGAGE Makes second start for Asmussen barn off a stakes victory at Parx; Lightly raced at 4, should be tuned up to run big here.
  • 7) PROMISES FULFILLED Winner of the 2018 Phoenix S. as a 3-year-old; Winner of G2 John Nerud S. at Belmont on July 6; didn’t do so great last out in the G1 Forego at Saratoga, but has been game in some really big races this year & should bounce back
  • 6) HOG CREEK HUSTLEWinner of the G1 Woody Stephens at Belmont on Belmont Stakes weekend; 2nd by a nose to Mind Control in the G1 Allen Jerkins S. last out at Saratoga; legit contender taking on elders for the first time. Will need early speed to collapse to get to the wire first.

RACE 9 – $400,000 DARLEY ALCIBIADES STAKES (G1)

2-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles (dirt) – A “Win and You’re In” Race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

This is a tough race for me with some really nice young fillies looking to emerge as the potential favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies next month. I will be looking at the earlier races to see how the speed plays. If horses are winning wire-to-wire all day and the track is playing fast, I’m going to lean more on 8) HEIR OF LIGHT and 6) BRITISH IDIOM. You’re going to get a better price on those two than you are on Grade-1 winner 7) PERFECT ALIBI and the “wise-guy” play, 4) ALANDRA. I think all four of these horses are capable of winning here, but I tend to pick the ones with the more value. I think Alandra and Perfect Alibi are the two more likely winners of the four, but I’m trying to make some money. I will use all four in my exotic wagers and pick 4/pick 5’s.

Race 10

  • 10) ACROSS
  • 3) MERITATEN
  • 6) OSAKA GIRL
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