Expert Picks - Mike Battaglia

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E.g., November 25

    Mike Battaglia

    Mike is Keeneland’s longtime odds maker and is recognized as being one of the best handicappers in America. In addition to his duties at Keeneland, he is a racing analyst for NBC’s Thoroughbred racing coverage.

    Friday, October 30, 2015

    1st Race: PABLO DEL MONTE (#5) flashed speed going a mile in his first race back after a three-month layoff. He cuts back to six furlongs for this one and appears to be in a good spot to pick up the win with Frankie Dettori riding for trainer Wesley Ward. OFFICER GRIFFIN (#2) ran evenly in the Grade 3 Turf Monster last out after winning back-to-back races on the dirt. He returns to the dirt for this one and looks like the main competition. HELOOKSTHEPART (#6) is a solid contender.

    2nd Race: TITANIUM (#5) ran well to finish second over this track earlier in October. She figures to be running at the end in a race that should have a lively pace and rates the edge with the Fall Meet’s leading rider, Corey Lanerie, aboard. CHANTELINE (#7) has never been worse than third in six career starts and is the one to beat. SMOOTH CARAMEL (#9) moves up in class after winning two in a row and has to be respected.

    3rd Race: COMMUTE (#4) was bothered leaving the gate last out and lost his best chance. He has been training sharply since returning to Kentucky and trainer Mark Casse figures to have him ready to roll today. PRAETERO (#3) is a 7-year-old veteran making his 51st career start. He was overmatched last out against Pants On Fire but fits well with these. THE TRUTH OR ELSE (#9) has faced much tougher company and is training well for Kenny McPeek. His best makes him dangerous in a well-matched race.

    4th Race: CLOSING BELL (#9) has shown improvement with every start and comes off a game win at Kentucky Downs. He posted a recent bullet work at Churchill and is capable of making it two in a row for trainer Bill Mott and jockey Jose Lezcano. TALE OF LIFE (#2) won his U.S. debut at Saratoga and may not have cared for the soft going at Belmont. He figures to improve with John Velazquez picking up the mount. FUNDAMENTAL (#3) comes off two solid efforts and trainer Chad Brown has been hot recently.

    5th Race – Hagyard Fayette (G2): PROTONICO (#6) didn't fire in the Woodward (G1) but probably needed that race after a four-month layoff. He won the Ben Ali (G3) over the Keeneland strip in April and rates the slight edge in what looks like an extremely well-matched renewal of the Hagyard Fayette. V. E. DAY (#4) hasn't won a race since his upset in the Travers (G1) last year but has been running well and has to be respected in this spot. HOPPERTUNITY (#5) never runs a bad race and anything close to his best would make him tough to handle.

    6th Race – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1): RAY'S THE BAR is a lightly raced colt from the barn of trainer Chad Brown. He closed well to finish a close up third in his U.S. debut and should move forward off that effort. He figures to be running at the end in a race that should have a fast pace and could spring the upset. CAMELOT KITTEN is also trained by Brown and also makes his third career start. His runner up effort in the Dixiana Bourbon (G3) was a solid performance and he is a definite threat. CYMRIC looks to be the best of the Europeans. He just missed in a Grade 1 at Longchamp and has to be respected.

    7th Race – Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1): LIAM'S MAP (#3) looks like a standout. He has the speed to be on or near the lead and drew well with the three post. The price will be short but it would be tough to bet against him today. WICKED STRONG (#8) finished behind the top pick in the Woodward (G1) and Whitney (G1). He should be running at the end and is the one to beat with John Velazquez picking up the mount. LEA (#5) had first preference in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) on turf but opted for this one and is a definite threat.

    8th Race – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1): HARMONIZE (#8) flashed early speed in her first two races but showed her versatility coming from far back to win the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3) here on Oct. 7. She looks like she could be a good one and rates the edge with Junior Alvarado back up for trainer Bill Mott. CATCH A GLIMPSE (#4) is one of many promising 2-year-olds from the Mark Casse barn who comes off of a sharp front-running win in the Natalma (G2). She will have to avoid a speed duel today but if jockey Florent Geroux can get her to rate she will be tough to beat. SAPPHIRE KITTEN (#7) just missed against the top pick and is a definite contender at nice odds. ILLUMINATE (#10) appears to be the best of the Europeans but she has never been past six furlongs and never raced around turns.

    9th Race – Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) STOPCHARGINGMARIA (#4) has been one of the most consistent fillies in training for her entire career. She was a beaten favorite last out in the Personal Ensign (G1) when she dueled for the lead throughout but her best races have come from just off the pace. She should get a good stalking trip in the Distaff and rates the edge in another extremely well-matched field. WEDDING TOAST (#7) is a 5-year-old who has never been better. She has won three in a row and has the speed to be on or near the lead again this afternoon. She will be hard to beat. GOT LUCKY (#12) was a game winner in the Juddmonte Spinster (G1) here on Oct. 4. She will be running at the end and she is a definite threat.

    10th Race – Marathon (G2): BAILOUTBOBBY (#13) was never in contention in the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) but may not have cared for the soggy going in that one. He ran well on the dirt in Calilfornia and trainer Doug O'Neill figures to have him ready to go today. NECK ‘N NECK (#4) is a career earner of nearly $1 million. He had a good prep for this race earlier in October at Keeneland and figures to be the one to beat. DESVELO (#11) is the only runner in here who has been the 1¾-mile distance and could figure in the gimmicks. 




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