The first Saturday of the 2019 Keeneland spring meet is a typical stakes-packed card highlighted by the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II), a major prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
The Blue Grass also serves as the last leg of an all-stakes Pick 4 that features large fields and 13,104 possible outcomes before scratches. It will be a difficult sequence to hit, but if you’re willing to take a shot singling a couple of promising runners at fair prices, it might be possible to make a huge score without spending more than $30.
Let’s take a look at each race….
Race 7: Shakertown Stakes (gr. II)
The 5 ½-furlong Shakertown Stakes is always a tough contest to analyze, this year particularly so because the field is huge and the race is serving as a seasonal starting point for several of the top contenders, including possible favorite #3 Disco Partner.
If I had to pick one horse for the purpose of making a win bet, I’d be tempted to side with #11 Imprimis. This five-year-old son of Broken Vow has looked like a promising young sprinter ever since his debut at Gulfstream in February 2018, and with six wins from eight starts, you have to give him credit for consistency. In his 2019 debut, he upset the talented stakes-winning sprinters Vision Perfect and Pay Any Price in the Silks Run Stakes at Gulfstream Park, and Imprimis has a nice blend of tactical speed and tractability that should help him adapt to any pace scenario in the Shakertown.
But whatever advantage Imprimis might have here is slim, and for Pick 4 purposes, it might not be a bad idea to hit the “ALL” button and hope for a longshot winner.
Race 8: Madison Stakes (gr. I)
#4 Amy’s Challenge has long shown flashes of significant talent, but she’s stepped up her game significantly this year with back-to-back victories in the American Beauty Stakes and Spring Fever Stakes at Oaklawn Park, winning them both in front-running fashion by 5 ¾ lengths and 8 ¼ lengths, respectively. The 102 and 101 BRIS speed figures that she posted have stamped her as the fastest filly in this field, and in a race that is otherwise lacking in committed front-runners, Amy’s Challenge should have every opportunity to shake loose on the front end and lead this field all the way around.
Race 9: Ashland Stakes (gr. I)
You can make a case of some sort for every filly in this field, but I’m drawn to #5 Feedback. An impressive debut winner at Saratoga last summer, Feedback was sidelined for nearly six months before returning to action in the seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park. She had to work hard to win by a half-length, but just look at who she beat—runner-up Bye Bye J came back to win an allowance race, third-place finisher Champagne Anyone prevailed in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. III) last week, and fourth-place runner Jeltrin won the Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) in her next start.
Trained by Chad Brown, Feedback has plenty of tactical speed and figures to use it while making her two-turn debut in the Ashland. With last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner #4 Jaywalk looking to rebound from a dull effort in the Davona Dale, and with the Juvenile Fillies runner-up #6 Restless Rider making her first start of the season, this could be a perfect opportunity for Feedback to steal a big victory at a bit of a price.
Race 10: Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II)
I have a lot of confidence that #3 Signalman is going to be rebound in this spot, as I explained in my separate preview of the Blue Grass Stakes. He’s not the type of horse that I would typically single in a Pick 4, but I find the other runners difficult to separate and would have to go very deep to feel like I have the race covered in the event that Signalman misfires.
I’ll throw my full support behind Amy’s Challenge and Signalman while using “ALL” in the Shakertown Stakes. I’ll also play a small ticket singling Imprimis in the Shakertown while using “ALL” in the Ashland Stakes, a race that has produced some significant upsets in recent years.
$1.00 Pick 4: ALL with 4 with 5 with 3 ($13)
$0.50 Pick 4: ALL with 4 with 4,6 with 3 ($13)
$0.50 Pick 4: 11 with 4 with ALL with 3 ($4)