Weekend horse racing handicapper best bets from Mike Somich
With just one week until the Breeders’ Cup, we now have the pre-entries out and the draw on Monday! The horses have all arrived and are now getting their final preps in for next weekend’s races. I will have articles next Friday and Saturday covering my favorite races and my favorite spot plays, so make sure to check back next weekend!
Before we get to that, we’ve got a great closing day card from Keeneland today, so let’s check out some of the feature races and my best plays of the day!
Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette Stakes – Keeneland, Saturday, Race #9
Talk about a wide-open race! We’ve got a full field of 12 headed to post with your morning line favorite, #10 Trademark, at 9/2. Trademark has run well in back-to-back graded stakes, running second both times but facing fewer horses, and the competition was a cut below what he will face today, so we are going to try to beat him.
#7 Il Miracolo is the lone three-year-old in the field taking on older horses for the first time. Normally, that is a fade angle for me, but in his last race, he faced Saudi Crown and Dreamlike, who are both Breeders’ Cup bound, and ran a solid third. He’s never run at Keeneland, but he gets top jock Luis Saez and is a major player here.
Right to his outside, #8 Law Professor gets the weakest field he has faced since his seasonal debut at Aqueduct, which he won. There is a boatload of pace signed up, so his tactical speed should be a big attribute today. Law Professor is also second off the layoff today, which means we should expect an improved effort from his last race.
The inside running #1 Film Star will be one of the horses pressing or setting the pace and is currently in the best form of his life. He will have plenty of others to contend with early, but the post position is advantageous if he can get out of the gate clean.
With all of the early pace, I am looking for someone who can close late, and that’s the #2 Happy American at 15-1 morning line. He will need to find his Fairground form from early this year to win, but he has races that are good enough to beat this group, and the price is right.
Finally, #13 Gasoline did not draw into the main field but will make it in if one horse scratches. If he gets to run, he’s a threat at 20-1, so keep an eye on him!
Picks: 8-7-1-2 (13 would be ahead of the 2 if he draws in)
$25 Win - #8
$10 Exacta – 8 / 1, 7 (#13 replaces #1 or #7 if he draws in)
$5 Trifecta 7, 8 / 1, 7, 8 / 1, 2, 7, 8 (#13 replaces #1, #7 or #8 if he draws in)
Grade 3 Bryan Station Stakes, Keeneland Saturday, Race #8
Unlike the previous race we discussed, this time, you’ve got a solid morning line favorite in the #9 More Than Looks, who was stellar winning the Jefferson Cup at Churchill last time out. He is a dead closer, so he will have to work out a trip to win, but he gets hall of fame jockey John Velazquez aboard and an abundance to pace to chase. I expect him to be very tough in this spot.
More Than Looks main rival will be #1 Talk of the Nation, who ran second to More Than Looks in the G3 Manila early this year. He will be much closer to the pace early and should be able to save ground on both turns due to the post. It is important that he does not get caught up in an early pace duel, but he did show the ability to rate and win last year at Tampa.
With all the pace signed on, two closers are worth a look: #2 Gigante and #7 Worthington. Worthington is a big price at 20-1, and for good reason. You need to have faith that the pace will materialize for him and that you will get a career-best effort after taking a step forward at Kentucky Downs last time out. I believe both are possible, and the price is right to include this one. Gigante, on the other hand, has a race good enough to compete with the group winning the Grade 2 Secretariat in August at Colonial. He’s not as deep of a closer as either Worthington or More Than Looks and should be able to save ground on both turns breaking from the two post. With the right trip, he’s a player.
$20 Exacta – 9 / 1
$20 Trifecta – 9 / 1 / 2, 7
$5 Trifecta – 9 / 2 / 1, 7
Saturday, Keeneland, Race #6, $50 Win #5
Saturday, Keeneland, Race #10, $50 Win #8