With the Breeders’ Cup just three weeks away, this weekend’s stakes calendar is lighter than what racing fans have recently enjoyed. But Keeneland’s lone stakes race on its card Saturday offers a deep field and a chance for some fillies to show they belong in next month’s World Championships.
Ten 3-year-old fillies are entered for the Grade 2, $200,000 Raven Run Stakes going seven furlongs over the Keeneland dirt. Post time is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. EDT.
The Raven Run is intriguing from a Breeders’ Cup perspective. The race runs the same distance over the same course as the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, making it an audition of sorts for that championship event.
Grade 2 winner Venetian Harbor is the 7-5 morning-line favorite for trainer Richard Baltas. Jockey Manny Franco gets the call on the Munnings filly, who was second July 11 going two turns at Keeneland in the Ashland Stakes (G1).
The second choice is Ian Wilkes trainee Four Graces (5-2). She set the seven-furlong track record July 10 at Keeneland when taking the Beaumont Stakes, one of two Grade 3 wins on her ledger.
Multiple graded stakes winners Finite (8-1) and Tonalist’s Shape (12-1) are other familiar names entered for the Raven Run.
Here is a look at the 2020 Raven Run Stakes field with morning-line odds:
1. Never Forget (Victoria Oliver, Robby Albarado), 20-1
2. Four Graces (Ian Wilkes, Julien Leparoux), 5-2
3. Secondary Market (Chad Brown, Tyler Gaffalione), 12-1
4. Finite (Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana Jr.), 8-1
5. Venetian Harbor (Richard Baltas, Manny Franco), 7-5
6. Reagan’s Edge (Cherie DeVaux, Florent Geroux), 8-1
7. Tonalist’s Shape (Saffie Joseph Jr., Rafael Bejarano), 12-1
8. Fair Maiden (Eoin Harty, Corey Lanerie), 15-1
9. Grand Cru Classe (Bill Mott, Martin Garcia), 12-1
10. Secret Keeper (Clifford Sise Jr., Brian Hernandez Jr.), 12-1
TimeformUS’ pace projections show Four Graces going early under jockey Julien Leparoux to set the pace, followed by the duo of Venetian Harbor and Secret Keeper. Finite is expected to try to mount a bid from the back of the pack.
Check out free PPs from our friends at Brisnet for more information on the Raven Run’s 10 entrants.
Raven Run on TV
TVG will carry all the action this weekend from Keeneland, where Caton Bredar, Gabby Gaudet, Scott Hazelton, Caleb Keller and Todd Schrupp will be live on-site. The network’s coverage Saturday will also include stakes racing from The Meadowlands at Monmouth, Santa Anita and Woodbine.
FS2 will show British Champions Day at Ascot from 8:30-11 Saturday morning before FS1 (12-3:30) and FS2 (3:30-5:30) broadcast Belmont Park’s card Saturday afternoon.
Raven Run reading
Padraic Manocchio digs into the Brisnet PPs to analyze pace scenarios for the Raven Run. The numbers show that Fair Maiden and Grand Cru Classe could benefit from a speed duel by the favorites.
Reinier Macatangay examines Secret Keeper, whose previous starts include a second-place effort to emerging star Harvest Moon in the Torrey Pines Stakes (G3). He says that the lightly raced filly could be well-positioned for a big effort.
The Raven Run will be the final leg of Saturday’s Cross-Country Pick 5, featuring action from Belmont Park and Keeneland.
Three weeks after the Raven Run, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint will take place Nov. 7 over the same seven-furlong distance at the same Keeneland course. HRN has Gamine as the 2-1 favorite for that championship event, with Raven Run competitors Venetian Harbor and Four Graces at 15-1 and 30-1, respectively.
Raven Run undercard
First post Saturday is 1:05 p.m., with full Keeneland entries available via HRN. The Raven Run is the lone stakes event on Saturday’s card at the Lexington, Ky., track.
Here is a look at some of the races leading up to the Raven Run:
Race 5, Allowance, Turf, 1 1/16 miles, 3:18 p.m.
This allowance event drew a full field of 12 fillies and mares, plus four also-eligible runners. Chad Brown trainee Great Island, a 4-year-old Scat Daddy filly, is the 2-1 favorite. Lightly raced, she won a maiden special weight event Sept. 17 at Churchill Downs in her second career start and faces winners for the first time here under jockey Tyler Gaffalione. Brad Cox trains 5-1 second choice More Than Unusual, a 3-year-old who broke her maiden on third asking Sept. 7 at Kentucky Downs.
Race 7, Maiden special weight, Dirt, About 7 furlongs, 4:24 p.m.
Twelve 2-year-old fillies look to score a first career victory here. The headliner is Wicked Bisou, a half-sister to recently retired champion Midnight Bisou. Tom Amoss trains the Wicked Strong filly, who is 4-1 on the morning line for her debut with Corey Lanerie aboard. The 9-2 second choice is Thinking, a Graham Motion-trained daughter of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist.
Race 8, Allowance, Turf, 1 1/8 miles, 4:57 p.m.
This event for 3-and-up runners also drew a 12-horse field, with four also-eligibles. The 2-1 morning-line favorite is Dontblamerocket, who has Gaffalione aboard. Norm Casse trains the 6-year-old Blame gelding, a stakes winner who drops in class after running fifth Sept. 5 at Churchill in the Turf Classic Stakes (G1). Joe Sharp conditions 7-2 second choice Midnight Tea Time, a 5-year-old who was runner-up Sept. 9 at Kentucky Downs in the Tapit Stakes.
Raven Run preview
From Keeneland Communications…
Ciaglia Racing, Highland Yard, River Oak Farm and Dominic Savides’ Venetian Harbor headlines a deep field of 10 3-year-old fillies entered Wednesday for Saturday’s 22nd running of the $200,000 Raven Run (G2).
Run at seven furlongs on the main track, the Raven Run will go as the ninth race on Saturday’s 10-race program with a 5:30 p.m. EDT post time. First post Saturday is 1:05 p.m.
Trained by Richard Baltas, Venetian Harbor will be making her first start since finishing second to Gamine in the seven-furlong Test (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 8. Prior to that, she had finished second to Speech in the Ashland (G1) here and to Swiss Skydiver in the Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park with both those races being two-turn tests going 1 1/16 miles.
“We are just trying to win a race. That’s the first thing,” Baltas said Wednesday morning from California. “If she runs well and bounces out of the race OK, we will eye the Breeders’ Cup (Filly and Mare Sprint).”
Manny Franco has the mount on Venetian Harbor and will break from post position five.
Among those lining up to face Venetian Harbor are two runners with graded stakes success going seven furlongs.
Whitham Thoroughbreds’ Four Graces won the Beaumont (G3) here in July going seven furlongs and 184 feet over the Beard Course in a track record 1:24.90.
Trained by Ian Wilkes, Four Graces also won the Dogwood (G3) at Churchill Downs, where she finished second in her most recent start in the Eight Belles (G2). Julien Leparoux has the mount and will break from post position two.
Slam Dunk Racing, Doug Branham and Legacy Ranch’s Tonalist’s Shape won the Forward Gal (G3) going seven furlongs and the Davona Dale (G2) going a mile this winter at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., Tonalist’s Shape exits a troubled fifth in the Charles Town Oaks (G3) going seven furlongs in her most recent start.
Rafael Bejarano has the mount on Tonalist’s Shape, who will break from post position seven.
The field for the Raven Run, with riders and weights from the rail, is: Never Forget (Robby Albarado, 118 pounds), Four Graces (Leparoux, 120), Secondary Market (Tyler Gaffalione, 118), Finite (Ricardo Santana Jr., 120), Venetian Harbor (Franco, 120), Reagan’s Edge (Florent Geroux, 118), Tonalist’s Shape (Bejarano, 120), Fair Maiden (Corey Lanerie, 118), Grand Cru Classe (Martin Garcia, 118) and Secret Keeper (Brian Hernandez Jr., 118).