Two weeks ago we got beat up pretty good on a Friday and salvaged the weekend with a 2-win Saturday. We’ll try to rebound from a mediocre Friday with a few key plays today.
Kentucky Derby Preps have been our go-to events for ringing up winners, and this weekend’s Lexington Stakes looks promising.
Other than that and a few turf races, it looks like a tough day to bet against favorites at Aqueduct and Keeneland. Let’s get to it.
AQUEDUCT (Saturday, April 16, 2022)
RACE 6. Optional Claimer $62,500 N2x. 6 furlongs. Turf.
False Favorite: #1 Minaun (9-5).
Reason: Last week we defeated a similar favorite. She has never faced older horses, and she showed no real dominance over 3-year-olds. Facing older horses for the first time is typically a tough step up in class.
#5 High Opinion (2-1). She drops from competitive efforts against stakes horses into allowance company.
#7 Messidor (5-2). It took her awhile to top US allowance horses, but she did so on this track with a jockey switch to Castellano, who rides again today.
RACE 7. MSW State-Breds. 7 furlongs. Dirt.
False Favorite: #7 Eminency (5-2). He repeatedly comes up short in competitive efforts. He likes to be on the pace, and he won’t get much pace relief in this event.
#2 Khufu (7-2). His most recent race was a strong run on the turf in a nonrestricted MSW race at Gulfstream. This is a big class drop.
#5 Double Maker (10-1). In his debut, he knocked heads and briefly gained the lead against a 13-length winner. That sets him up nicely for this cutback in distance.
KEENELAND (Saturday, April 16, 2022)
RACE 9. Grade 3 Lexington Stakes. 1 mile 1/16th. Dirt.
False Favorite: #9 Tawny Port (5-2). This dirt stakes is an experiment for Tawny Port. His only dirt try left him out of contention throughout. Despite winning a pair of 2-turn miles prior to the Risen Star, he turned in a flat-tire performance down the stretch. Tawny Port also lacks a stakes victory. And he’s shown little stretch punch in both tries at 9 furlongs. So he must prove himself on dirt, in stakes company and at a distance beyond a mile. No thanks!
#7 Major General (4-1). He gets a serious rider upgrade to Irad Ortiz. In 2021 Pletcher and Chad Brown seemed to take turns switching to Ortiz for their best shot at stakes wins. This Pletcher/Ortiz combo hits at nearly 40%, and they have a horse with tons of natural speed who has finished strongly in his two victories.
#11 Call Me Midnight (6-1). If Major General proves incapable of handling the pace (likely soft), Call Me Midnight looks like the best closer. One fact that might override all others: He once defeated Epicenter in a 2-turn stakes race.