On Keeneland’s opening day, the “last-out at PID” handicapping angle worked well for me—with Hoofit ($25.60) winning the G3 Phoenix, and Gutsy Call ($12.40) taking race 10. Neither horse should have been so underestimated. Well-bred Gutsy Call is a half brother to G1 Donn victor Albertus Maximus (also BC Dirt Mile winner), while Hoofit had an excellent form line from his 2-year-old New Zealand races last April. He finished second—less than a length back—to Lion Tamer in the listed Champagne Stakes at Ellerslie. Lion Tamer went on to win both the AUS-G1 AAMI Victoria Derby and the AUS-G1 Underwood Stakes. Here’s video of the race:
In the NZ-G1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes, Hoofit finished fourth, but just a nose behind third-place finisher Jimmy Choux, subsequent 5-time NZ-G1 winner including the New Zealand Derby and 2000 Guineas—and a serious threat in the upcoming AUS-G1 Cox Plate.
We’ll see how this angle plays out—on Friday, all but one PID horse finished in the top four: Gracious (4th) and Arboria (6th) in race 1; Indian Fog (2nd) in race 2; and Touch Screen (4th) in race 4. Until it’s disproven, I’m going to strongly consider the “last-out at PID” angle for all synthetic track races at Keeneland on Saturday. With that in mind, who should we watch out for?
This will be a serious PID angle test—Saturday’s Miracle (Any Given Saturday) ran well enough early, but seriously collapsed in the stretch to finish fifth, 15 lengths back, in her last race. She is a three-quarter sister to G3 Jersey Shore runner-up Spin Master; her second dam Header Card captured the G1 Oak Leaf as a juvenile, while another family member is dual-G1 winner Sassy Image so sprinting is in her blood. Calvin Borel takes the reins.
Al Muhtasib (Distorted Humor) is in for the $80k tag in this optional claiming allowance event; he last finished sixth in the PID Mile after being claimed from Shadwell by Merrill Scherer. Eagle Poise (Empire Maker) ran second to Anak Nakal in a PID allowance race last out; this will be his second start off a long layoff.
Race 6 (G2 TCA Stakes):
Naturally, off their performances in the PID Masters, Musical Romance (Concorde’s Tune) and Shotgun Gulch (Thunder Gulch) must be considered, but, honestly, a win (or placing) by either Promised Mandate (Full Mandate) or Dances With Ashley (Wildcat Heir) would be a shock. As an aside, I’m looking forward to the return of Rapport (Songandaprayer) after near one year off.
Race 8 (G1 Breeders’ Futurity):
If he draws in from the also-eligible list, Fire Alarm (Fusaichi Pegasus) could be a real threat. Yes, it’s a big ask to go from a maiden win to a G1, but this is a beautifully-bred colt; his second dam Portridee was champion 3-year-old filly in Argentina (not to mention a winner of the G1 Vanity). His dam Sweet Beat’s full-sister is the very nice G3-placed Kitty in a Tizzy; this is also the family of G3 runner-up Charmed Gift and G3 Sunland Derby winner Endorsement. Gung Ho (Kitten’s Joy) broke his maiden at PID before moving on to win the Sunday Silence on turf at Louisiana Downs—with Julien Leparoux aboard for Mike Maker, the Ramsey colors could find its way into the winner circle again. He’s from the family of BC Sprint champ Dancing Spree, multiple G1 winners Finder’s Fee, Heavenly Prize, Good Reward and Furlough, not to mention G2 With Anticipation runner-up Optimizer—who’s also entered in this race.
Both Corleone (Indian Charlie) and Pure Victory (Pure Prize) enter off the same PID race, and both have upsides here: Pure Victory breaks from the red-hot rail with Corleone enjoys advantage of having Julien Leparoux aboard.