Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Keeneland Kicks off the Fall Meet in Style!


It may only a last a little over three weeks, but what the Keeneland fall meet lacks for in length, it more than makes up for with quality. Any doubts on that have been put immediately to bed, as the landmark, Lexington racecourse delivers nine graded stakes over the three-day opening weekend, starting tomorrow.  Kicking it all off will be the 160th edition of America’s oldest race, the Stoll Keenon and Ogden Phoenix Stakes. Let’s take a closer look at the seven graded stakes carded for Friday and Saturday.


Friday – Grade 3 Stoll Keenon and Ogden Phoenix Stakes

As one of the last preps for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, the Phoenix gives those horses partial to Keeneland’s Polytrack surface a chance to shine before a likely foray back to dirt. While the return from retirement of Aikenite should gain much of the pre-race chatter, it is the fleet footed Doctor Chit who is the horse to beat. Coming off a strong performance in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop, the son of War Front boasts an undefeated record over synthetics, including a big win at Keeneland. If he can sit just off the blazing speed of Sum of the Parts early, he should prove tough to handle in here. One horse I will also be using in the exotics is 50-1 morning line shot, Cajun Breeze, who as a son of Congrats, may appreciate his first try on Polytrack.


Friday – Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes

Your guess is as good as mine in this race that has drawn an overflow field of 14 with 2 additional also eligible, but will be interesting to see how the bargain basement filly, Rose to Gold, does in her first start away from Calder. Purchased for a whopping $1,400 as a yearling, the daughter of Friend’s Lake has won both of her starts (a pair of two-turn stakes) by 13 lengths. The competition will move way up tomorrow, but she may just be the real deal.


Saturday – Grade 3 Woodford Stakes

Some of the best turf sprinters in North America will let the fur fly in this 5 ½ furlong grass affair. Bridgetown figures to be tough in here, but on the other hand has burned a lot of cash as a heavy favorite this year. Chief among his competition include Steve Asmussen’s Great Mills, and that grand old eight-year-old gelding, Chamberlain Bridge, who appears to be rounding back into top form and is my top pick to mow them all down late.


Saturday – Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes

Two words: Groupie Doll. Not only do I consider her the best female sprinter in the land, but I believe she is one of the best horses in America, period. Saturday’s race should be little more than further proof of that, and a good race to single in multi-race wagers.


Saturday – Grade 1 First Lady Stakes

This is an interesting one-mile turf affair for the fairer set that reunites three strong fillies that were defeated by Zagora last time in Hungry Island, Summer Soiree, and Tapitsfly, as well as, the multiple stakes winner Daisy Devine. The quartet looks to be evenly matched on paper, as evidenced by all four falling into the 2-1 –to- 3-1 range on the morning line. Hungry Island may hold the tactical advantage as the other three all have a fair amount of speed, but I am of the belief that Summer Soiree still has the potential to be a rather special turf horse. I’m not sure if she is going to try to lead them every step of the way, but I expect her to fire a big shot, second start off the layoff.


Saturday – Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity Stakes

If I thought the Alcibiades was wide-open, then what can I say about the male counterpart. Throwing anyone of them out in this overflow field is risky. Saying that I give a good chance to less than nine of them would be a short change. In the end, I will look for some value, and my favorite long shot in the field is the Dale Romans trained, Craving Carats. Owned in part by Donegal Racing, the son of Street Sense is bred to handle Polytrack, and I really liked his turf form at Saratoga, beating possible race favorite, Balance the Books, two starts back, before running into an absolute nightmare trip in the With Anticipation Stakes. At 15 or 20-1, I believe he offers some serious value. 


Saturday – Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes

Wise Dan is the best middle distance horse we have in America. I really have little doubt of that. If he runs his race on Saturday, he will win. Having said that, this race has come up very strong as usual, and an upset is not out of the question. Besides the obvious candidates, one I really like is Doubles Partner, who I thought was better than ever this spring, but extremely unlucky. Freshened since Derby Day, this five-year-old son of Rock Hard Ten ran into tough racing luck, with zero pace in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, and before that, he I believe he would have won the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile right here at Keeneland if had any racing room at all. If Wise Dan falters, Doubles Partner could take it all home at juicier odds than the 6-1 morning line suggests.



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Older Comments about Keeneland Kicks off the Fall Meet in Style!...

big time came a knocking and the small timer failed to check in...
Just wagered $110 worth of Pick 5's at Keeneland ... Need things to start out with Groupie Doll and either Summer Soiree or Hungry Island.
Next weekend ... love the QEII!
  • MarcelloMarocco · Me too!. I had Together last year when she ran off of two weeks rest, and was shipped from ballydoyle in Tipperary · 1935 days ago
Another "agree" about Groupie Doll.
  • MarcelloMarocco · I think If Contested was run between 6f-8f she would be extremely dominant. That is who I think is the Speedball of Speedballs and hopefully she matures into a wonderful 4yr old in the Sprint or Mile division. · 1935 days ago
I love Keeneland, and I rank Keeneland, Woodbine, and Arlington as my three favorite North American Tracks. I hope Keeneland has a tremendous Fall meet, and the fans enjoy themselves.
That's helpful ... let's go Exothermic!
Going to Keeneland Oct 17 & 18. Love that track. One of my favorite places in the world.
Starting things off with a Pick 3 at KEE Race 5: 6 / 1,2,3,4,5,9,10,11,12 / 2
Paddock like no other I have ever seen. Each horse has its own tree to walk around
I would like nothing more than to see Wise Dan and Groupie Doll give us a pair of dominating performances on Saturday.
Groupie Doll! I totally agree. She fires bullets every workout she has when asked. She can run on any surface. She is the class of her division, and who knows what this filly has left in her?
Are you going to Keeneland this meeting?

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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