Expert Picks - Mike Battaglia

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

E.g., 2014-07-23

    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 12, 2014

    1st Race: BAD STUDENT (#1) ran well at long odds last out at Fair Grounds and was third over the Keeneland Polytrack in October. Give him the edge in the opener. KOWBOY BOOTS (#5) exits a couple of small stakes at Sam Houston and is the one to beat. WALLYANNA (#8) comes off a game maiden score.

    2nd Race: ULTIMATE SHOPPER (#4) ran a big race in her debut at Belmont but was beaten as the odds-on favorite next out. She is training well for her return and figures to win as the favorite in this one. TAP TWENTY ONE (#6) broke her maiden over this surface and has to be considered. GOOD SO FAR (#5) makes her U.S. debut and Julien Leparoux is up.

    3rd Race: FORFEIT (#8) faced some solid runners at Turfway, including Spiral (G3) runner-up Harry’s Holiday. He could spring the upset in here. TWANG (#1) has been idle since a disappointing effort in the Saratoga Special (G2) but is training well for his return. AUGUSTA ROAD (#3) was an impressive maiden winner on the Turfway Polytrack and fits in here.

    4th Race: TRAWEE (#8) ran well in her debut over this track in October and a repeat of that one would make her tough to beat in a wide-open maiden test. VENTOUX (#10) comes off a couple of decent efforts over the Tampa Bay Downs turf and could run well at a decent price. STELLARIS (#2) is a contender.

    5th Race: RARE (#1) was a beaten favorite last out but ran well in that one and also has a runner-up effort here at Keeneland. He appears to be in a good spot to get his maiden score. INDIAN GUIDE (#4) had rough trips in both of his races last year and is training solidly for his return. OIL STRIKE (#8) is a high-priced Keeneland sales grad who has to be considered.

    6th Race: STROLL TO VICTORY (#6) was second behind Bobby’s Kitten at Saratoga and had a rough trip in his 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream. He looks like a winner with Alan Garcia back aboard for trainer Ken McPeek. ATHENS (#10) didn't fare well on the speed-favoring Gulfstream dirt but is bred to like the Polytrack and could wake up today. GALTON (#4) has the speed to be dangerous.

    7th Race -- Commonwealth (G3): UNDRAFTED (#5) is a versatile runner who has performed well over all types of surfaces. He is training well for Wesley Ward and could spring the mild upset with John Velazquez picking up the mount. LAUGH TRACK (#1) is the definite class of the field. He ran a huge race to finish second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and anything close to that performance would make him a winner today. LONGHUNTER (#7) is a former claimer who has shown vast improvement under trainer Mike Maker and he has to be respected.

    8th Race – Shakertown (G3): HAVELOCK (#6)  loves the Keeneland turf, where he has won four of five starts, including this race last year. He hasn't started since the Breeders’ Cup but has trained well the gets the nod with Julien Leparoux aboard. SHRINKING VIOLET (#3) is a filly facing the boys but she loves the turf and should get a good trip from just off the pace. She could run well at decent odds. HOGY (#9) is a solid runner who is always dangerous.

    9th Race – Madison (G1): JUDY THE BEAUTY (#4) is a top-class performer over any surface but she loves the Keeneland Polytrack, where she is undefeated in three career starts. She comes off an impressive score at Santa Anita and looks like a solid bet for trainer Wesley Ward and jockey John Velazquez. BETTER LUCKY (#6) is a multiple Grade 1 winner on the turf who makes her Polytrack debut today. She will be a threat to the top pick if she takes to the surface. EDEN PRAIRIE (#9) could add value to the exotics.

    10th Race – Jenny Wiley (G1): STEPHANIE’S KITTEN (#2) and CENTRE COURT (#10) have hooked up five times in the past few years with the former holding a 3-2 edge. It's tough to separate them today but give the slight edge to Stephanie’s Kitten, who is working extremely well for new trainer Chad Brown and has run well fresh in the past. DISCREET MARQ (#8) is also a Grade 1 winner and has to respected in an excellent renewal of the race.

    11th Race – Toyota Blue Grass (G1): MEDAL COUNT (#13) ran the best race of his career last Friday when rain forced the Transylvania (G3) off the turf. Dale Romans shows a lot or confidence in him running him back just eight days later and he seems capable of justifying that confidence with a win the Toyota  Blue Grass. BOBBY’S KITTEN (#5) is a talented runner who makes his Polytrack debut. He was extremely impressive in his 3-year old-debut at Tampa and appears capable of rating just off the pace. He is the one to catch. COASTLINE (#11) and HARRY’S HOLIDAY (#4) finished right together in the Spiral (G3) and both are capable of running well again today.

    12th Race: BRAVODINO (#5) ran well against some top company in France last year and makes his U.S. debut for new trainer Graham Motion. He has trained well and should be ready to win today. PERFECT TIMBER (#6) figures to be the one to beat. MILLS (#7) just missed last out and is a contender.




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