Expert Picks - Mike Battaglia

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Let our experts help you handicap the day's races at Keeneland.

Please note that selections typically are available about 48 hours in advance of the race.

E.g., Tuesday, June 23, 2015

    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.


    Saturday, April 4, 2015

    1st Race: FRIVOLOUS (#4) has been off since upsetting Don't Tell Sophia in the Falls City (G2) in November. She has been training well in Florida and looks like a solid bet to win the opener for trainer Vicki Oliver with James Graham picking up the mount. FORTUNE PEARL (#6) is another graded stakes winner coming back off a layoff. She has been away since August but is in the capable hands of trainer Graham Motion and has to be respected. LUNAR SURGE (#2) has the benefit of a recent win and can't be overlooked.

    2nd Race: TAGHLEEB (#8) has been first or second in five of his six grass races. He just missed last out and broke him maiden over the Keeneland lawn in October. He rates the slight edge over Highball in a close call. HIGHBALL (#2) is a graded stakes placed runner from the barn of Wayne Catalano. He drops in class for this one and is definitely the one to beat. SCOTLAND FOREVER (#4) could run well at nice odds.

    3rd Race: WISECRACKER (#8) was no match for Unbridled Juan last out, but that one looked like he could be a good one. It should be noted that he was 10 lengths in front of the third-place finisher and he figures to be tough to beat today. OUR COMMODORE (#4) showed big improvement in his second career start when he was third behind Toyota Blue Grass (G1) runner Danzig Moon. He will be running at the end and should love the added distance. BLUEGRASS BEAT (#1) is a definite threat.

    4th Race: BIG BLUE KITTEN (#1) is a Grade 1 winner and earner of more than $1.5 million. He makes his 7-year-old debut for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Chad Brown off a series of solid works in Florida and should be ready to go in this allowance contest that looks more like a graded stakes race. MR. SPEAKER (#7) makes his 4-year-old debut for trainer Shug McGaughey after banking nearly $900,000 in his 3-year-old season. He won the Coolmore Lexington (G3) over Polytrack last year, but the turf seems to be his preferred surface. His best makes him dangerous. WAR DANCER (#6) moves to the barn of Bill Mott and is another multiple graded stakes winner.

    5th Race: SILVER RIDE (#4) hasn't raced since a runner-up effort behind Dortmund at Churchill. He only shows one slow work but have to think he has been training in Florida. Check the late works; if he is ready, he is definitely capable of winning this one. YOCKEY'S WARRIOR (#8) ran a huge race in his debut win at Fair Grounds and anything close to that one makes him the one to catch. RARE ART (#5) beat a good field in his maiden win at Gulfstream and is another solid contender in a tough allowance test.

    6th Race – Madison (G1); STOPCHARGINGMARIA (#3) doesn't have the lofty Beyer numbers of some of her rivals but all she has done is win two Grade 1 races and earn more than $1.4 million. Love the way she has trained up to her 4-year-old debut and trainer Todd Pletcher figures to have her ready to go. SAM'S SISTER (#1) was beaten by a couple of these same runners last out but she should be rallying from off what figures to be a fast pace and looks like the one to beat with Gary Stevens picking up the mount for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. LADY SABELIA (#4) has won six of her last seven and has the speed to be dangerous.

    7th Race – Commonwealth (G3): KOBE'S BACK (#2) ran well to finish second in the Grade 2 San Carlos in his first start back after an eight-month layoff. He is a late runner who should get a solid pace in front of him today and he gets the edge with Gary Stevens in for the mount. BOURBON COURAGE (#3) threw in a clunker at Laurel but might not have liked that track. He is six years old now but he is training well and anything close to his best makes him the one to beat. I GOT IT ALL (#1) has to be respected.

    8th Race – Shakertown (G3): UNDRAFTED (#13) makes his first start since finishing a close-up third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Trainer Wesley Ward has been training him in Kentucky, and although he might have missed a work or two because of the weather he got great reviews from the Keeneland clockers and he should be ready. This is a tough spot but he gets the edge with John Velazquez back aboard. TIGHTEND TOUCHDOWN (#12) had ran well in the last two runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Throw out his last race on the dirt and he is the one to beat. POWER ALERT (#10) is undefeated in two starts since coming from Australia and has to be considered.

    9th Race – Central Bank Ashland (G1) -- ANGELA RENEE (#4) didn't show her customary speed in the Rachel Alexandra (G3) but rallied from last to finish fourth. She doesn't figure to be that far behind in the early going today and should improve in her second start back after a layoff. Give her the edge in a well-matched renewal of the Central Bank Ashland. LOVELY MARIA (#6) beat the top pick last out and has the tactical speed to be in contention throughout. She is the one to beat. PEACE AND WAR (#3) impressed in the Darley Alcibiades (G1) here in October but has been off since and may need the race.

    10th Race – Toyota Blue Grass (G1): CARPE DIEM (#5) comes into the Toyota Blue Grass off a facile win in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). He has done little wrong in his four race career and trainer Todd Pletcher appears to have him ready to run a big race today. If he wins this one in impressive fashion, he figures to go into the Kentucky Derby (G1) no worse than third choice. DANZIG MOON (#8) failed to fire in the Tampa Bay Derby but looked good in his prior win at Gulfstream. He should get a good trip from the outside post and is capable of considerable improvement. OCHO OCHO OCHO (#1) showed nothing in his 3-year-old debut but is another one who is capable of much better.

    11th Race: CONQUEST ARCHANGEL (#11) is the choice in a race where any one of a half-dozen runners could go off as the favorite. GROOVY A (#7) comes off two solid efforts at Gulfstream and will be tough. HIGHRIDGE ROAD (#4) and ROBERTA TURNER (#6) are debut runners from top barns.

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