Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 1 Turf Mile at Keeneland


Pixelate: photo by Coady Photography
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk blog, now in our thirteenth year of providing horse race handicapping to people who never asked for it.  A special thank you today to The Thorofan for allowing me to prepare this analysis of the Keeneland Turf Mile G1 for you.  

When asked I give very specific answers to questions.  I often get asked, usually by recent additions to my social media feeds, if I am a horse racing fan.  It sometimes is asked out of politeness, sometimes its because the person had a relative (crazy uncle, introverted father) who loved racing and read the Form, sometimes its because the person's family loves to watch the Kentucky Derby.  I don't mind the question even as its usually wrapped in undertones of bemusement, bewilderment, incredulence, etc. I always answer the same way: I am a fan of older horses running over a route of grass.  If they thought I was weird before, the answer does nothing to make them feel better about me as person.  No mind, I love turf racing, I generally like the older horses, and anything 1 mile and up is my idea of racing.  This race checks the boxes for me: Big field, most likely firm turf, no runaway favorite, lots of handle.  Let's get after it!

I generally do a lot of video analysis for a race like this, but quite frankly I didn't feel I needed it after my first pass through the past performances.  I did look at one race, The Bernard Baruch G2 at Saratoga as I wanted to get a look at the 5 YO gelding Tell Your Daddy and how he ran in a small four horse field.  I am shading the Thomas Morley conditioned/Leparoux up runner down as he seems to like SAR and not many other surfaces.  

I looked strongly at Pixalate and Order of Australia (Ire) and came away placing them in that order.  Pixelate comes in off a win at Kentucky Downs in the Grade 3 Mint Million, and I like winners after KD quite a bit.  Training well, 16 of 20 in the money lifetime, 15 of 19 in the money over grass, 7 of 7 in the money at the distance.  Trainer Stidham 22% Graded Stakes, 19% Turf.  Order of Australia (Ire) wins the class battle pretty handily, and at 4 YO is a $1.5 MM earner.  Won at 1 Mile here at KEE at 72-1 odds in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile. Early speed, talented, in the mix.  

After my top group Somelikeithotbrown and Space Traveler (GB) stood out to me.  Somelikeithotbrown has no wins at the distance and he doesn't really have many excuses looking at the running lines.  Did not run well here at KEE in April, over good turf he tired.  Training sharp.  Space Traveler (GB) has a nicelate turn of foot  and he's had two back to back good efforts in Grade 1 competition over excellent turf courses at WO and AP.   

In the last group of four I'm considering, I like Ivar (Brz) and In Love (Brz) and respectful but not sure what I'll do in my bet combinations with Field Pass and Diamond Oops.  Ivar (Brz) has been on the bench since May 1st.  Trainer Lobo is 9% on 32 tries at 61-180 day layoffs.  Training very sharply at TTC.  Ran well at KEE in Breeders' Cup Mile.  Could surprise with late speed into Exacta.    In Love (Brz), a 5 YO gelding, loses a class battle, is a sub $300,000 winner on 12 starts but current form appears sharp winning at KD in September and did win a N1X $62K ALW a year ago at KEE.  You want value?  Sometimes you have to hunt for it.  Field Pass has good credential and ok speed.  Versatile but not dynamic. Just good enough to hang around, not sure he's good enough to consider in Exacta.  Trainer Patrick Biancone has a sneaky interesting Diamond Oops, training sharp, excellent current condition, and an odd placement in the conditions book.  Sometimes trainer choices can tell you a lot.  I'm not thrilled with his tactical speed on paper, but sneaky late speed appeared last time out at KD. Intrigued.

What to do with all of this?  Have fun.  With this many horses, I can't see a horse getting up past 3-1 on the tote board.  I'm most likely going to go hunting for exacta's, my typical play.  I'm not sure what I'll do yet either quite honestly.  If forced to choose I'd look at something like this:  $2 Exacta Bet: 7 OVER 3-4-6-10-11-13 for $12.  I skipped Field Pass.  I don't generally single the winner and adding Order of Australia (Ire) to the win spot and covering Order of Australia (Ire) and Pixalate in the Show spot takes the bet to $24, too pricey.  You get the idea, less cost, more risk.  Remember its better in long run to take some risk than place safe bets race after race.  

Have fun with this friends.  Turk Out! 

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