By Michael Patricks
Autumn is upon us and that means all-you-can-eat football, falling leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course Keeneland’s 2018 Fall Meet. I rarely tell people what to do or how to live their lives. To each their own, unequivocally. Whether you are a horse racing fan or just simply an admirer of true beauty, you must get to Keeneland and see the beautiful landscape for yourself. The rolling hills in the bucolic Kentucky bluegrass provide a picturesque setting which is second-to-none. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but Keeneland should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Breeders’ Cup tables at the Jockey Club are now on sale with four-seaters running $50 cash and carry. A limited group of special seats are available in the Turf Club for $15. The purchase of a Breeders’ Cup table provides your group a tremendous view of all the Breeders’ Cup races for both Friday, November 2nd and Saturday, November 3rd and features table service. Call the Sonoma County Jockey Club at 707-524-6340 for all the details.
Like what you’re reading? Every week I post a racing-related article to The Grapevine, the official Blog of the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Visit https://www.sonomacountyfair.wordpress.com for news and updates on all the events surrounding the Sonoma County Fair. You can also reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mixed results last weekend. Spring Quality made no impact in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at 6/1 and in fact finished dead last. Sorry about that selection! Channel Maker took care of business at 5/1, putting away race-favorite Robert Bruce with little difficulty. As predicted, Robert Bruce didn’t appear to be fully cranked for the Hirsch and settled for a $100,000 runner-up check. Right church-wrong pew as they say, but that’s life in the big city. All platitudes aside, Channel Maker deserves the credit for bringing his A-game in the Hirsch.
By comparison, Seeking the Soul took care of business in the Ack Ack at Churchill. The fact C Z Rocket was 6/5 in that spot given obvious pace pressure surrounding him was really a head scratcher to me. Seeking the Soul is one tough hombre at the Grade III level and proved his valor once again. I was very surprised to see Seeking the Soul return $9.20 on the win end but was more than happy to hand that out to those that follow this weekly installment. Sometimes you just have to take what they give you, yet another soothing (or irritating) bromide depending who you cast your lot with in the Ack Ack.
With Keeneland back into stride, I’ll take a look at their opening Saturday card by deep diving into the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity, the final stop for two-year-olds heading into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 3rd at Churchill.
Keeneland Race Course-Race 9
The Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
1 & 1/16th Miles on Dirt for 2 y/o
Purse: $500,000 Post Time: 2:14 PST
1-Signalman 15/1– Grabs Lasix for the first time but he’s a nose shy from being a maiden. Others have run faster in defeat than he has in victory…enough said?
2-Sombeyay 5/1– Been nailed to the fence in sprint races and draws inside again. Must break alertly without over racing; pilot opts for Standard Deviation. Lots of places to shop for value in this race; he’s very unsexy at these odds.
3-Fluminense 10/1– He’s got a shot to grab a piece. Disappointed as chalk on the Canadian sod but made it look easy at Churchill back in June. Santana back up and the Blinkers go on. Dream Maker handled him in his unveiling but the price is right if you’ve got forgiveness in your heart.
4-Unionizer 10/1– Won despite prerace antics at Monmouth. Racer does his best work up on the early gallop and that figures to be an ultra-contentious region of the field. Beyers are a little bit light and he’ll have to really run through the bridle to stave them off late; I have serious doubts about putting my arms around him.
5-Dream Maker 5/1– Loved the debut but he was his own worst enemy in the Hopeful. By Tapit, two turns will be right in his wheel house and the work tab is blistering. If he puts it all together, you have to think he’ll be one tough customer to deal with. Casse and Leparoux won this race in 2016 with Classic Empire who could also be a bit squirrely at times.
6-Everfast 12/1– Draws better today after being stuck out wide in the Iroquois. Should sit back and make one run for glory. No reason to think he can’t run on for a minor award but he’ll likely have plenty of traffic problems to confront. Dale Romans won this race last year with Free Drop Billy but gets a rider he’s never used before; mixed signals.
7-Knicks Go 30/1– Beat four horses for Ellis diploma and has run evenly against winners. Fourth rider in as many starts and Sombeyay has handled him with little problem. High Beyer of 61 is not going to cut it; no thanks.
8-Tobacco Road 12/1– Looks like a grinder on paper but he does have multiple wins to his credit whereas many do not. A lot of horses have the same type of form line from the Iroquois so it’s difficult to draw many conclusions from his effort in there. Leparoux bails for Dream Maker but Lanerie has had success with this colt. Feel like he might need another gear which I’ve yet to see on paper in order to win this.
9-Moonster 10/1– Nice effort putting away maidens in a one-turn mile at Churchill last month. A few of his rivals failed to fire in that race making life pretty easy on him near the front end. Albarado chooses his stable mate next door. Based on that, I’d expect this one’s odds to climb from the 10/1 offering. I’ll be more than happy to toss him out and try to beat him.
10-Mr. Ankeny 12/1– Showed competitive spirit and grit at Ellis and obviously will be asked a much bigger question on Saturday. He likes to run forwardly placed but he’ll be feeling plenty of company especially from those drawn to his right leaving the gate. He’s not out of this but he’ll have to run the race of his life while being hooked in order to cash your ticket; I’m left doubting him.
11-Borracho 20/1– Captured his diploma in a one-turn mile at Churchill when sent off at 9/5. His Beyers are unremarkable and he draws in the middle of a pressure cooker to be sure. Quite honestly, 20/1 seems a bit light and unless you are muy borracho at post time, you’re probably best off letting a colt trying two turns and winners while stepping up into graded-stakes waters for the first time, beat you.
12-Derby Date 20/1– Third and final Calumet Farm entrant, Derby Date is a maiden who has been given an aggressive campaign this summer from D. Wayne Lukas, which as we all know by now is not uncommon. He stumbled terribly in the Hopeful before running last so perhaps he has an excuse for that effort. But he’s drawn right next to Mind Control and rest assured Mind Control will be controlling this guy’s mind if they hook up down the backside; tough assignment.
13-Mind Control 7/2– Morning line favorite is fast and done little wrong to this point in his career. The post imposition could prove substantial with the quick run into the turn; he’s always done well breaking from the gate and will need to do so once again. Johnny V got to know him in the Hopeful, but you got 10/1 in that race and now you’re saddled with 7/2. Less than half the price with almost twice as many rivals is a turn off for me. I want to see him do it one more time before I dive in head first as his cheerleader.
14-Standard Deviation 10/1– Takes me back to my Stats class in college and that’s a lot of nightmares relived to be sure. Eye-catching debut; yes, this post assignment is tough sledding without question, but you have to respect his chances even from this outpost. He’s by Curlin and out of an A.P. Indy mare. Chad Brown always has them ready to roll off the shelf. If he’s bet down from 10/1 while saddled with the 14-hole, then you know he’s probably a freak of nature and I’d make sure to have him on my tickets just in case; very scary.