Let our experts help you handicap the day's races at Keeneland. To see the analysis provided by each handicapper, choose a handicapper name on the left, then choose a date.
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Tom Leach is “the Voice of the Wildcats” for football and men’s basketball and a contributor to Keeneland.com as well. He is a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award for radio coverage of thoroughbred racing. During race meets, check out Keeneland’s You Tube channel for his trainer and jockey interviews ahead of major stakes races and listen for the weekly “In The Money” podcast with Tom and Jim Goodman at keenelandselect.com. You can follow Tom’s coverage of the Cats at tomleachky.com.
SATURDAY, April 8
Race 1: Hunka Burning Love (6) made big improvement last time and gets Ortiz in the saddle. I also like that this one is 1-for-1 at Keeneland. Con Te Partiro, Bituman and Star Empire are the horses I'll use with the top pick. Exacta boxes 6-1, 6-5, 6-4
Race 2: Annathela (3) is working well at Keeneland for trainer Rusty Arnold, who always points his horses for the meets here. And this one has more experience at this level than the others. Etiquette and Toasted as the others I like. Exacta boxes 3-2, 3-4
Race 3: Control Stake (4) has eight lifetime wins and eventhough he's coming off a long layoff, he's running for $62,500 afte being claimed for $50,000 last summer and that suggests confidence. The six works scheduled about a week apart is also a plus. Maniacal, Homespun Hero and Schivarelli are the others to use with Control Stake. Exacta boxes 4-2, 4-5, 4-8
Race 4: Marshall Plan (7) is a hunch play here. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has a 29 percent win rate when his horses get Lasix for the first time and given the strong connections and the fact that this is a "big" day, I'm betting this one is well eant in his debut. Giuseppe the Great and Switzerland are the others to consider. Exacta boxes 7-12, 7-2
Race 5: Be Counted (5) won first-time-out for connections that don't get in a hurry with their young ones so that suggests there's plenty of upside left here. The series of long, steady works is a positive factor as well. Horses coming off the Gulfstream circuit are typically strong in these Keeneland maiden and allowances races on the grass so Adonis Creed, Channel Maker and Halloween Horror bear watching. Heaven Is Waiting is worth including, given the Ramsey-Brown connections so if your budget allows, play a 5-horse exacta box. Exacta box of 5-4-1-11-2
Race 6: a strong field is lined up for the grade 3 Commonwealth and I'm going with Awesome Slew (9). I like the turnback from longer races and this one caught a good one last time, so he may find the water isn't quite as deep here. I heard Casse says on Steve Byk's radio show on Sirius/XM that Awesome Slew is training very well also. Key him in exactas with Limousine Liberal (loves Keeneland but seven furlongs is a bit of a question mark), AP Indian and defending champ Ami's Flatter. Exacta boxes 9-3, 9-8, 9-7
Race 7: Justin Squared (4) is intriguing in this spot off a strong recent training pattern for a trainer who hits at 26 percent off this type of layoff. Also, being drawn to the inside is a big plus. Rainbow Heir is in career best form and is the one to beat. I think one of those two wins the grade 2 Shakertown. Also consider Green Mask and Hogy. Exacta part-wheel 4,2 with 4,2,3,7
Race 8: Paid Up Subscriber (1) is working well for her first start off the layoff and she's run well here in the past. Chad Brown told me in an interview available on Keeneland's You Tube channel that this race has been their target all winter long. California invader Constellation is a strong contender and don't overlook High Ridge Road. Kathballu is worth including because of her affinity for this racetrack. Exacta boxes 1-4, 1-5, 1-3
Race 9: going with Elate (2) to win the grade 1 Central Bank Ashland and one reason is respect for these connections, as this is a rather bold move for owners and a trainer who usually don't skip many steps for their horses. The fact that she's thrown into this grade 1 spot suggests confidence in this filly's ability. Daddys Lil Darling will be charging late but the short stretch may keep her from getting up at this distance. Tapped, if she stays in this race instead of running Sunday, is worth a look, too. Exacta boxes 2-6, 2-8
Race 10: my pick to win the grade 2 Toyota Bluegrass Stakes is J Boys Echo (3) and that would make Dale Romans the first trainer in 40 years to win this race two years in a row. His 102 Beyer fig last time is the best in this field, he's already won here and his sire loved Keeneland. I think Tapwrit is the main challenger, as I suspect McCracken might be a little short off a little missed training time last month. Exacta boxes 3-4, 3-2
Race 11: there are three Gulfstream shippers in this turf race and I'll them in the a three-horse exacta box, with the win pick going to Lido (2) over Asticon Trail and Hello Dearie. Exacta box of 2-4-10
All Stakes Pick 4 (starts in race 7): 4,2 with 1,4,5 with 2,6,8 with 3,4,2
All Stakes Pick 5 (starts in race 6): 9,3,8,7 with 4,2 with 1,4,5 with 2,6,8 with 3,4