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Horsin’ Around America: Stakes Aplenty As Keeneland Kicks Off 17-Day Fall Meet

Keeneland, home to the 2022 Breeders’ Cup, begins its 17-day fall meet Friday afternoon with three stakes races, highlighted by the Grade I, $500,000 Alcibiades. Saturday’s card features five stakes, including the Grade I, $600,000 Breeders’ Futurity. The Grade I, $600,000 Spinster Stakes, the final prep ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, goes Sunday.

Twenty-two stakes are scheduled at the bucolic setting in Lexington, Ky., through Oct. 29, then the 14 championship races over two days (Nov. 4th and 5th). Two-year-olds with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile intentions, including the Bob Baffert-trained Cave Rock, are at Santa Anita Saturday in the Grade I, $300,000 American Pharoah as well as the Grade II, $200,000 Chandelier (fillies). Turf routers and dirt sprinters strut their stuff at Aqueduct in the Grade I, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and the Grade II, $250,000 Vosburgh.

Jockey John Velazquez aboard Malathaat #10
Jockey John Velazquez aboard Malathaat #10 | Tim nwachukwu/getty images/afp

Check the racebook for odds, probables and will pays leading to these important stakes races.

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Keeneland: There’s Something For Everyone in All-Stakes Pick 5

The all-stakes Pick 5 starts with the Woodford (Race 6, 3:38 p.m. ET, FanDuel TV), 3-year-olds and older going 5 ½ furlongs on the turf. Golden Pal, the 4-5 morning-line favorite in the horse racing odds, is 7-of-11 after winning the Grade III Troy (Saratoga) in August. Artemus Citylimits (9-2), in the money in 20-of-21 races, could steal it on the front end, however.

The sequence continues with the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (4:10 p.m. ET, FDuel), six furlongs featuring fillies and mares, 3-years-old and older. In a race stacked with speed, a pair of closers are intriguing. Club Car (9-2) has finished second in 13-of-28 starts (five wins), but with a jockey change to Irad Ortiz Jr., perhaps the frequent bridesmaid gets to the altar. Li’L Tootsie (15-1) returns to her best distance here, making her a rail chance at a price.

The First Lady Stakes (4:42 p.m. ET, FDuel), a one-mile ladies turf test (fillies and mares, 3-years-old and older), It’s the Chad Brown Invitational. He trains half the field in Regal Glory (6-5), Technical Analysis (5-2) and In Italian (3-1). The triumvirate towers over the others.

The Breeders’ Futurity (Race 9, 5:14 p.m., CNBC) features a full field of 14 two-year-olds, all with dreams of the 2023 Kentucky Derby. Forte (3-1), an impressive winner of Saratotga’s Grade I Hopeful last month, is the logical choice here. He is trained by Hall=of-Famer Todd Pletcher, who also has Lost Ark (6-1), undefeated in his two starts. The Brad Cox-trained Loggins (4-1) makes his second start, and is a likely pace factor in here. Frosted Departure (10-1) could use the rail to his advantage. He may be forwardly-placed, and thus worth a look.

The Grade I Coolmore Turf Mile (Race 10, 5:45 p.m., CNBC) completes the Pick 5, offers what’s arguably the toughest handicapping challenge on the card. With an abundance of speed throughout the 12-horse field, Casa Creed (5-1) could be the beneficiary. Casa Creed has won two straight Grade I’s in off-the-pace fashion. Another who could benefit from a hot pace is the Cox-trained Set Piece (15-1). Jockey Joel Rosario is tasked with overcoming post position No. 12. Annapolis (10-1), ridden by Ortiz Jr. (trained by Pletcher) out of post No. 8, is a 3-year-old opposing older. He is 4-of-6 in his career, with a versatile running style that could serve him well.

Sunday’s card is highlighted by the Spinster (Race 9, 5:45 p.m. ET, FDuel). Malathaat is expected to be the heavy favorite in the quintet. The Pletcher charge is 2-of-2 at Keeneland, starting inside of his rivals in this one. Malathaat is 8-of-12 lifetime, having finished second or third in the other four. Letruska lost a step at age 6, but perhaps tough if left to her own devices.

Santa Anita: Baffert Loaded, As Usual, With Two-Year-Olds

Baffert’s pair entered in the Chandelier Stakes (Race 6, 6:38 p.m. ET, FanDuel TV), are not favored. Justique (2-1), trained by John Shirreffs, went last-to-first in a 10-horse field to win his debut going 5½ furlongs. Justique, by Justify, should not have trouble stretching out (to 1 1/16 miles). And Tell Me Nolies (3-1) defeated Baffert runner Home Cooking (3-1) by a head in the Grade I Del Mar Debutante. Huntingcoco (7-2) figures to be the longer price of the Bafferts.

The American Pharoah (Race 8, 7:38 p.m. ET, FDuel) has been dominated by Baffert, who is heavily favored to win this race an 11th time. Cave Rock (4-5) has won both starts, with the two best speed figures as well. He is the star of Baffert’s four entrants in this eight horse field The $550,000 Arrogate colt should be able to control this race, especially after going a half in 43⅖ to win the Del Mar Futurity last month. Baffert also sends out maiden Hejazi (5-2), who ran a fast second in his last try, while National Treasure (6-1) and Gandolfini (12-1), are each 1-of-1. Gandolfini is the only Baffert runner with two-turn experience heading into the 1 1/16-mile test.

Aqueduct: Mare Takes on Boys in Marathon Turf Race

War Like Goddess, trained by Bill Mott, is the 7-5 favorite to dispatch six veteran male turf campaigners in the Joe Hirsch (Race 8, 4:20 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 2) at 1½ miles. The English Channel mare, 8-of-11 lifetime (4-of-4 at the distance), was 1-5 when betting online in losing the Flower Bowl (Saratoga) by a head last month. Brown and Christophe Clement each train two horses in the Hirsch. Soldier Rising (6-1), sent out by Clement, could be flying late at a price.

Mott also has the heavy morning-line favorite in the Vosburgh (Race 5, 2:46 p.m. ET, FS2) with Elite Power (6-5), who has won three straight. Elite Power tries stakes company in his seventh start. The Curlin colt was sitting sixth in each of his wins. He won’t have that impediment in this five-horse field, one without a definitive speedster. Drafted (9-2), who last raced in the Grade I Forego, is a better fit with these and could offer value.

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