There are some big racecourses on the docket Friday, and that’s going to continue through the spring and summer. Belmont Park and Pimlico are underway in their spring meets, while Churchill Downs will be active next weekend with the running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1. We have an early prediction for the Kentucky Derby on the blog. If you’ve been following along, and read our early preview last month, it shouldn’t be a surprise who I like in the 147th Kentucky Derby.
In any case, it’s going to be a wide open race, and should be interesting without a clear Bob Baffert contender. Medina Spirit is going to run for Baffert, but it’s a lot less than Baffert was bargaining for. Life Is Good can’t go and Concert Tour is being pointed elsewhere, possibly ready for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. He can’t win with a longshot in Medina Spirit, right?
Keeneland has ten races on the schedule Friday in Lexington. There are five races on the dirt and five races on the turf. A total of $686,000 in prize money is available in Keeneland, which includes the biggest event in the US on Friday. The running of the $150,000 Bewitch Stakes (Gr. 3) is scheduled for Race 9 at Keeneland. You can find more picks on our Belmont Park page. Head below for our free Keeneland picks for April 23, 2021.
Post Time: 1:05 p.m. EST
Distance:5 ½ Furlongs
Race 1 runs for 5 ½ furlongs on the dirt for a $60,000 purse. There are ten entries in Race 1, with Magniloquent and Napa Spirit likely close. This is a race for most unexposed horses that are running their first race on Friday. Seven horses in this group of 10 will be making their racecourse debut. Magniloquent has ran in one race, and the young 2-year-old will be out for her sophomore performance on Friday.
He finished 7th as the betting favorite. The good news is that Magniloquent was expected to run a much better race there. The potential is here for Magniloquent to bounce back nicely on Friday. That could have just been opening race jitters for Magniloquent, and she didn’t run up to her expectations. She could return for a much better outing this afternoon. Napa Spirit is making her debut on Friday. Big expectations are on her plate.
The Wesley Ward trainee was bought for $539,926 last year. With a price tag of that size, wins at the $60,000 and beyond are expected for this 2-year-old. Napa Spirit has looked strong in morning workouts, with a time of 48.40 and 48.80 seconds at 4 furlongs. She was also quick at 3 furlongs, with a recorded time of 35.45 seconds over 3 furlongs. If everything pans out correctly, and Napa Spirit wants to run in her first race, this should be a winnable event.
Post Time: 4:24 p.m. EST
Distance:1 3/16 Miles
Race 7 covers 1 3/16 miles on the turf for a $83,000 purse. There are a couple of players that stick out, with Ocean Atlantique and Conviction Trade high on my watchlist. Ocean Atlantique is making his second race on US soil after an up and down career overseas. He started off well going 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, but has fallen off since then.
Ocean Atlantique finished 10th, 5th, 5th in his final three races in Europe, and then the Kentucky bred Ocean Atlantique returned to the US for a $83,000 assignment. He didn’t run up to expectations in that contest, as Ocean Atlantique finished 5th. That said, it was an incredible tight race in the stretch. Ocean Atlantique was just over 2 lengths away from the lead despite finishing 5th.
Look for a close race for Ocean Atlantique, but there might be better value elsewhere. Conviction Trade is 3 for 14 in his career, and is dropping his sights after two performances in graded events. He has finished 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, 8th in his previous five attempts. Conviction Trade showed 3rd in the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes (Gr. 2) just a length and neck away from a win.
His next performance wasn’t as strong, so it’s down to $83,000 for Friday. Conviction Trade finished 8th in the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes (Gr. 2) on March 20. This is a $275,000 horse that still has something left to give. Sliding down to a $83,000 event should help get him back on track. The value is there with Conviction Trade.
Post Time: 6:03 p.m. EST
Race 10 is a $30,000 event covering 7 furlongs on the dirt. Title Shot and Tallaj are on my shortlist to win this $30,000 race at Keeneland. Title Shot didn’t get off to a promising start, but is capable of much more. The $375,000 colt made his debut on March 13 and disappointed.
He finished 10th in a $93,000 event, lacking response and fading away deep into the race. Title Shot was looking good in morning workouts before entering that race, and continued to look good after, but didn’t have anything to show for the effort when the spotlight was on.
If his workouts can translate to raceday on Friday, then a win should be within reach for Title Shot. Dealing with Tallaj is likely going to be a problem, though. The $140,000 Tallaj is expected to have a promising career for Wesley Ward. He has already had a gelding operation and is ready to perform on Friday.
Tallaj has been fast in some morning workouts when he’s asked to. He recorded an impressive time of 47.40 seconds on April 6. Tallaj was also clocked at 48 seconds before that workout. Title Shot can win this race if he wants to show up and run, but his debut was incredibly discouraging. Tallaj should prevail as a rookie in Race 10.