October 9, 2009

Opening Day

Fall can be a magical time of year and that is especially true amongst the rolling bluegrass hills of Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington has long been the bucolic home for the thoroughbred horse industry and Keeneland is Lexington’s idyllic home for the races. Opening day of the Fall meet, at the national landmark that is Keeneland, gets off to a rousing start with the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes and the Grade 3 Phoenix Stakes. Large fields and quality horses are the norm at Keeneland and today certainly does not disappoint.

The Alcibiades offers a full field of twelve juvenile misses. Two of the most promising fillies in the country lead the way. She Be Wild has been a monster in her three races at Arlington Park and while she steps up in class, there are several tip-offs that she may be the real deal. In each race she has displayed a high cruising speed to remain close to the action and then quickly put the race away as the fields straightened out. She has not been asked yet to run her best, despite her times being easily faster than the counterpart male races of the same day. In Beautician, I see a filly who has a world of potential and is on the verge of becoming a star. She has run into the blazingly fast Hot Dixie Chick in her last two, but showed real class and determination in running strong seconds. Stretching out should only improve this gray daughter of Dehere, who thoroughly impressed me with her powerful stride. Of the two, I give a slight edge to Beautician, but either filly could be a champion. I would be surprised if one these two promising fillies does not come out victorious today.

The Phoenix Stakes has ten male speedsters clashing at 6 furlongs. Much like the Alcibiades, this race has two horses who appear to stand out. Capt. Candyman Can has been a model of consistency since he began his career last August and has proved a force in every race since he has settled into his niche as a sprinter. Having said this, he will have his hands full as he takes on older horses for the first time. The older horse to be feared most is the speed ball Fatal Bullet. Back on the synthetics that he loves, The Canadian trained son of Red Bullet should whistle early on the front and be almost impossible to catch. Look for him to return to his winning ways as he readies for a return engagement in the BC Sprint.

Friday’s races kick off a FallStars Weekend for Keeneland which includes nine graded stakes. Highlights for Saturday include: Forever Together trying to win back to back First Lady Stakes, a race she used last year to propel her to a BC victory, Justenuffhumor attempting to raise his record to 7 for 7 on the lawn will face a solid Shadwell Mile field. Mr. Nightlinger is favored to win yet another sprint stake on the grass in the Woodford, while Informed Decision looks to remain perfect on synthetic surfaces as she meets the fleet California 3-year-old Carlsbad in the Thoroughbred Club of America. I would like to tell you who tops the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity, but I honestly have no clue as it looks to be one of the most wide open races in recorded history. Sunday brings us the Bourbon Stakes as Interactif looks to build on his scintillating Saratoga score for 2-year-old turfers. The day’s headliner is the Grade 1 Spinster and unfortunately it will not include the beautiful Empire Maker mare, Icon Project, as she had a setback earlier this week. In her absence, Swift Temper seizes the role of horse to beat.

It should be a wonderful meet at one of my favorite racetracks and if you have never been to Keeneland, by all means, this is one racetrack that every fan of horse racing needs to visit.


Celeste said...

Keeneland is such a beautiful setting, but I'm sad to say I've only seen it during dark days. High on my bucket list is to actually watch live racing from that hallowed track, but you can bet I'll be tuning in to my HRTV/TVG this afternoon.