The Keeneland fall meeting kicks off on Friday with a pair of Breeders’ Cup Challenge races including the $250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) with Just Might having an upset chance.
Just Might (9-2) is coming into the race having won his last four starts for trainer Michelle Lovell. Colby Hernandez reunites with the gelding and will break from the four post.
The $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1) is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) which will be contested on Nov. 5. The race drew a dozen two-year-old fillies led by the Brad Cox trained duo of Juju’s Map (5-2) and Matareya (4-1), both maiden winners in their last outings.
The Phoenix drew seven with the Mike Maker trained Special Reserve the 9-5 morning line favorite. The gelding was a game second in the A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) in his last outing at Saratoga. He won three of his first four starts after Make took him at the claim box for just $40,000.
2021 A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap Replay
During the first three days of the Keeneland meeting there are nine Breeders’ Cup Challenge races, with four coming up on Saturday and one on Sunday. The final “Win and You’re In” race of 2021 is next Wednesday’s $200,000 Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland.
There are two WAYI races at Belmont Park this weekend. On Saturday the $250,000 Vosburgh (G2) is a prep for the Sprint and Sunday’s $150,000 Futurity (G3) is a key prep for the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).
Let’s head out to Keeneland for Friday’s featured race of the day:
Keeneland Race 8 The Phoenix G2 5:10 ET
4 Just Might 9-2
6 Special Reserve 9-5
5 Aloha West 3-1
2 Mucho 6-1
The Loverll trainee comes into the race riding a four-race winning streak, two of those on turf. The gelding switched to dirt two back at Colonial Downs and won the Chesapeake by a head in a game effort. Last out he took the field gate to wire to win the Louisville Thoroughbred Society at Churchill Downs. He has spent most of his career on turf, making just eight starts on the main track with four wins and a couple of seconds. He owns solid early and mid pace numbers in a race with plenty of early zip signed up. He has shown he does not need the lead and should be sitting in a good spot just off the pace. The surface was kind to horses on near the lead at the spring meeting here.
This gelding was a game second in the A.G. Vanderbilt ‘Cap (G1) at Saratoga last out, earning his third consecutive triple digit Beyer. He was beaten a half-length by Lexitonian, who was a disappointing eight in the Forego (G1) in his next start and the third-place finisher Whitmore also came up short, fifth in the Forego. Maker claimed this guy for $40,000 back in February and he won with him three times with a couple of seconds. The barn has gone a bit chilly, ending the Spa meet slow and he has won at just an 8% clip dating back 45 days. The gelding owns a solid pace profile throughout and looks tough in this spot but his price is going to be on the light side.
The colt earned a career top speed fig beating Alw-3 optional claimers last out at Saratoga going seven furlongs. It was his fourth win in seven career starts and he has just one outing in stakes company, a fourth in the Kelly’s Landing at Churchill Downs three back. The top two won next out, the winner Bango won the Good Lord at Ellis Park, the runner up Mucho won the Challendon. Art Collector was sixth in the Kelly’s Landing at 6-5 and has come back to win his next three, taking the Woodward (G1) last Saturday at Belmont Park. The Catalano trainee should benefit if the early pace is brisk as expected.