Keeneland opens on Friday and Fall Stars Weekend will feature nine graded stakes races, all preps for the Breeders Cup with seven “Win and You’re In” races.
Among the stars that will be out is two-time reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, who is the 4-5 morning line favorite for the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1).
The NBC Sports Network will televise the action on Saturday from 4:30 to 6:00 eastern on Saturday, and NBC will broadcast live on Sunday for an hour at 5:00 eastern.
The fall meeting marks the return of conventional dirt. The polytrack, which was installed in 2006, has been ripped up and the return to dirt should make horseplayers happy and make the Breeders’ Cup Challenge races over the next few days more meaningful.
The previous dirt surface at Keeneland was widely known to favor speed, but it is too early to decide how this surface will play, and it may be even trickier as there is rain in the forecast for Friday.
Opening day features a pair of graded stakes, both Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. A field of eight will go in the $200,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G3), which is a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
The $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1) is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and drew a field of 13.
I will be providing full card reports for Keeneland each Saturday and Sunday during the meeting and all of the graded stakes will be included in my Road to the Breeders’ Cup Package.
Fall Stars Weekend at Keeneland
Friday, Oct. 3
Darley Alcibiades G1
Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix G3
Saturday, Oct. 4
First Lady G1
Shadwell Turf Mile G1
Woodford Stakes G3
Thoroughbred Club of America G2
Claiborne Breeders Futurity G1
Sunday, Oct. 5
Juddmonte Spinster G1
Dixiana Bourbon G3
Let’s head out to Keeneland for Friday’s featured race of the day:
Keeneland Race 9 The Darley Alcibiades G1 (Post time 5:13 ET)
1 Fashion Alert 4-1
8 Pangburn 5-1
13 Gap Year 8-1
5 Taylor S 8-1
Analysis: Fashion Alert ships in from New York for the Todd Pletcher barn. The filly is perfect in two starts, breaking her maiden in the Astoria in gate to wire fashion going 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track and then won the Schuylervile (G3) last out at the Spa. In that outing she was bumped hard coming out of the gate, dueled for the early lead and finished gamely as the chalk to get the job done.
The $125,000 Keeneland purchase draws the rail and has good early speed. She is out of a Tiznow mare and should have no problem with the stretch out to two turns. The barn is 23% winners moving runners from sprint to route. She has a solid off track pedigree if the rains come as forecast.
Pangburn broke her maiden in her debut going a mile on turf at Ellis Park with the runner up and third place finisher both wining next out. Second out she was sent off at 9-2 in the Pocahontas (G2) at Churchill Downs where she broke outward coming out of the gate and made a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot behind a gate to wire winner.
The filly has experience going long and is a good barn with Ken McPeek who has won this race three times, the last with Dream Empress in 2008. The filly is out of the stakes winner It’s True Love ($164,300). She has a decent enough off track pedigree.
Gap Year was off poorly in her debut at the Spa in the mud and came with a six wide rally to finish a close up third, beaten just a nose and a head for the top spot in a good effort. This gal should move forward off that effort and should appreciate the extra ground
She is by Bernardini out of the stakes winner Dubai Escapade ($427,050). She has put in a couple of good works since her debut and Rosario sticks, but not really crazy about the post.
WIN: #1 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 1,8 / 1,5,8,13
TRI: 1,8 / 1,5,8,13 / 1,5,8,9,13
Michael Dempsey’s full card reports for the remainder Fall Championship meeting at Belmont Park from until Oct 26. Coming up is New York Showcase Day on Saturday, Oct. 18, comprised of eight stakes races restricted to New York-breds, with purses totaling $1.75 million. Price now reduced!