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., Saturday, October 25, 2014

    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 3, 2014

    1st Race: COSMO BLUE (#6) showed improvement in his second career start for trainer Todd Pletcher. He has the speed to be on or near the lead throughout and rates the edge with John Velazquez aboard. RACE DAY (#7) had two solid races at Ellis Park and should like today’s added distance. He is the one to beat. BIRD TAP (#2) had a good work over the new Keeneland dirt track on Tuesday and he could add value to the gimmicks.

    2nd Race: BETTINA BRUGGE (#5) ran second to a stronger field at Churchill just seven days ago. Trainer Ken McPeek brings her back on short rest but give her the edge with apprentice Juan Saez back aboard. TWITTERVERSE (#2) is lightly raced and eligible to improve. DADDY’S MEMORY (#1) drops in class and will be tough at this level.

    3rd Race: AVICII (#3) didn't show much in her turf debut at Kentucky Downs but will appreciate the move back to the dirt today. She drops in for a tag and her best makes her a winner on this one. HUNTING HILL (#4) won back-to-back races at Churchill Downs this summer and figures to be the main competition. SILVER VALLEY (#6) comes in off a game score and has the speed to be dangerous.

    4th Race: CLEVELAND SOUND (#3) was beaten soundly in the Iroquois (G3) but is bred to like the move to the grass today. Look for big improvement with John Velazquez picking up the mount for trainer Graham Motion. DESIGNED FOR WAR (#2) stumbled a bit leaving the gate in the With Anticipation (G2) and then faded after making a nice middle move. He is in much easier this afternoon and figures to be tough to beat. MAN OF STATURE (#7) is a contender.

    5th Race: JOE FRANKLIN (#10) was second in his debut at Laurel and was well clear of the third-place finisher in that one. Give him the edge over a field loaded with first-timers. ETRUSCAN (#2) is a Brereton Jones homebred whose sire and dam are both multiple Grade 1 winners. He debuts for trainer Larry Jones, who has excellent numbers with his first-time starters and has to be respected. HIDDEN DANGER (#6) is in the capable hands of trainer Wayne Catalano and Julien Leparoux rides.

    6th Race: BOURBON COURAGE (#2) hasn't won a race since the Super Derby (G2) in 2012 but he has run very well against much tougher competition. He shortens up to 6½ furlongs but his first two career wins did come in sprint races and his class makes him tough to pick against today. POLITICALLYCORRECT (#5) is also riding a losing streak but has trained very well over the Keeneland strip. OFFICER ALEX (#4) rates a chance.

    7th Race: TAPIT WICKED (#4) just missed in his debut after pressing the pace throughout. He should move forward off that one and will be hard to catch today. EXODUS (#8) is another well-bred first-timer for Larry Jones. He was a length behind Etruscan (in today's fifth race) in a gate work in Delaware so that could be a good gauge of this one's ability. CLOVERDALE NINE (#6) debuts for trainer Wesley Ward, who always has to be respected.

    8th Race – Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G3): RAINBOW HEIR (#4) has won 7 of his 11 races and is riding a three-race win streak. He should be in perfect position right off the early leaders and rates a slight edge in a wide-open renewal of the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix. WORK ALL WEEK (#8) had a seven-race win streak snapped last out in a race restricted to Illinois-breds but he carried 130 pounds in that one. He will be on or near the lead and should be tough to catch. BERN IDENTITY (#2) came back after a long layoff to win three in a row and has to be respected.

    9th Race – Darley Alcibiades (G1): PANGBURN (#8) was no match for front-running Cristina's Journey when that one got an easy lead in the Pocahontas (G2). There is plenty of early speed in this race and she figures to be running well at the end. Give her the edge with Jesus Castanon picking up the mount for trainer Ken McPeek. TOP DECILE (#9) was very professional in her debut win. She beat favored Ring Knocker by a measured length and it was nearly 10 length back to the rest. She is a definite threat. FASHION ALERT (#1) has won two stakes races for Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez will work out a trip from the inside post.

    10th Race: TREATY OAK (#7) was never in contention against a tough field at Saratoga last out but a return to her best would be good enough to win today. PRINCESS MARIAH (#3) owns a win at today's distance and can't be left out of the gimmicks. CONQUEST REBEL (#8) rates a chance.

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