Jesse serves as one of Keeneland’s Paddock Analysts during the Spring Meet and is also a Sales Associate with Keeneland. Prior to joining the Keeneland team, he was director of racing at Fair Meadows and Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma. Jesse has also served as the track announcer at Fair Meadows, Will Rogers and Blue Ribbon Downs.
10 races on the Friday program, here is a look at a few of my top selections.
#2 MINE MINE MINE cuts back in distance off of a mile and a sixteenth maiden race at Oaklawn Park. She had a 19 point Beyer bump from her career debut to her second start, and she shows a nice work over the surface, which she will hopefully take to.
#4 CLASS WON had a disappointing effort in a turf starter allowance last time out, but three races back was only beaten two and a half lengths by BEE JERSEY, who looks bound for Graded Stakes company after his most recent effort here last week. If CLASS WON can find that form again, it should make him very tough to beat in this $40,000 claiming race.
#1 NEW LEGEND (KOR) was last seen running a distance third behind well meant KING ZACHARY at Gulfstream Park last time out. Prior to that, he ran second to ALMITHMAAR, who won a maiden special weight here on opening day. Based on those company lines, I'll give this son of Menifee the nod in a wide open maiden special weight. Keep an eye on #7 LASER LOOP as well, who nearly refused at the start in his career debut but has been turning in come sharp works at Churchill Downs.
#6 GRAND CANDY drops in for the $32,000 tag as he debuts for the 2018 season. He won a seven furlong optional allowance here last fall, and while that was first off a claim and his last visit to the winner's circle, he is showing some positive works heading into this race and can hopefully get back on form.
#8 WARRIOR INSIDE is first off the claim for Tim Glyshaw. This horse debuted to a second place finish and looked in good shape to break its maiden last time out at the quarter pole, but a wide trip, the jockey losing the whip, and some bumping around the eighth pole dashed that opportunity. Look for Brian Hernandez to have this horse sit just off of the pace and make a sustained run as it did in it's debut effort.
The sixth race is a very tough, turf maiden special weight for three-year-old fillies. #8 VICTORY GARDEN showed a huge improvement in Beyer numbers for Bill Mott when running second last time out in a seven and a half furlong maiden race at Gulfstream last time out. stretching back out another furlong here should only help out this daughter of Arch, who is bred to appreciate more ground.
#7 UPSTAGE has not been seen since running fourth in a first level allowance at Churchill last November. Since that time, that race produced a next out winner and also a candidate for the Doubledogdare later in the program. Victoria Oliver put a sharp work into this filly on April 10th over the Keeneland main track, and wins at a 15% rate with horses off a 61-180 day layoff.
#8 DEEPLY UNDERVALUED returned off of an 18 month layoff to run fourth in a mile and a sixteenth turf race at Gulfstream last time out. Prior to that, this Chad Brown charge won the G2 Commonwealth Derby at a mile and an eighth, and also had a win going a mile and three eighths when breaking his maiden at Saratoga. Distance should not be a concern here second off the long layoff.
A field of thirteen in the featured race, the G3 Doubledogdare, provides a very deep field with some big opportunities to catch a good price. #11 WELL HUMORED, a half-sister to G1 winner AMERICAN PATRIOT, made her fast, main track debut (she had ran on the main track before in off the turf races) in stakes company last time out at Tampa Bay and impressed to a three quarter length victory, earning a 93 Beyer in the race. This is such a wide open race though, you could make a case for all of these horses, and it will make it incredibly difficult to construct a multi-race wager.
#7 CITY DAY had a 28 point Beyer jump from her debut effort to her most recent start at Belmont last September. Hopefully she can retain that form that she ran to in her first turf try, where she ran into eventual graded stakes winners RUSHING FALL and DADDY IS A LEGEND. Joel Rosario gets the leg up from Cristophe Clement, who team up to win at a 22% rate. This is a tough field though, and #8 MAYBE WICKED could be a horse on the rise for the high percentage Brad Cox barn.