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Andrew Champagne delivers his best picks for Keeneland

Friday is Opening Day at Keeneland, and the feature race on the docket is the ninth. It’s the Grade 1 Alcibiades for 2-year-old fillies, the first of two big races for 2-year-olds this week (more on the other one in a later article). The race has attracted a field of 11, and a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies is up for grabs.

There will likely be a solid favorite in this race, but I think that horse is beatable. The big field offers plenty of value, and while my key horses aren’t necessarily huge prices, the amount of horses going postward should ensure nice probables in the exotics. Let’s take a look at the race!

The Vulnerable Chalk

I usually don’t like starting these pieces off with a horse I’m trying to beat. However, based on her past accomplishments, #7 PERFECT ALIBI is a logical favorite. She’s won three of four starts, including the Grade 1 Spinaway, and if she can stretch out effectively, perhaps she’s good enough to win.

However, I have my doubts. I was a big believer in Frank’s Rockette, who she dispatched twice, but it’s likely that one just didn’t live up to the hype. Add in that this is her first journey around two turns, and that her trainer has another entrant in here (more on that runner later), and I’ll try to beat her. Despite her reputation, Perfect Alibi’s likely price would make her an underlay. I’ll use her underneath, but I can’t use her on top.

The Second-Time Starters

My two key horses both exits impressive maiden wins at Saratoga. #4 ALANDRA is bred to run all day, and it was a bit surprising that she was fully-cranked first time out. She’s by Blame, out of an A.P. Indy mare, and should absolutely love this two-turn distance. Shug McGaughey’s horses tend to improve with experience, and I think she’s got a big shot here.

I’ll also lean on likely second choice #6 BRITISH IDIOM. Her pedigree isn’t that flashy, but she showed plenty of precocity when cruising to an easy debut win at the Spa in mid-August. Her work tab implies she’s come out of that race well, and Brad Cox is as good a trainer as there is when it comes to keeping horses on the right track.

The Underneath Horses

Perfect Alibi, as mentioned, gets used here. In addition, I’m also going to throw in fellow Mark Casse trainee #10 WESTERN TAFFY. She had no luck at the post position draw, but she’s worked well on dirt and is bred to love two turns. Florent Geroux’s job isn’t an easy one, but if she can save some ground, I think she may come running late at a nice number.

Finally, I’ll also use #5 MICHELINE. Perhaps she’s a turf horse, but she’s gone two turns twice, and that could prove to be a valuable experience edge. She won a stakes race at Monmouth last time out, and trainer Mike Stidham’s runners tend to improve when given Lasix for the first time.

How I’ll Bet It

I’ll play exactas that use Alandra and British Idiom on top and have those two, Micheline, Perfect Alibi, and Western Taffy underneath. Additionally, I’ll do something I don’t do often, which is play superfectas with my top two horses in the first position and all five in the second, third, and fourth positions. For a dime, it’s a $4.80 play, and this could pay okay if we beat the favorite.

2 units: Exacta key, 4,6 w/4,5,6,7,10

.1 units: Superfecta key, 4,6 w/4,5,6,7,10 w/4,5,6,7,10 w/4,5,6,7,10

By Andrew Champagne

Article Author

Horse Racing

Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.


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