by EMILY GULLIKSON
Below is Emily Gullikson’s horse-by-horse write up for the Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland Race Course. For her full-card analysis w/ wagering strategy for the 11-race card, CLICK HERE to access her Spotlight Selections. For all Keeneland handicapping reports, CLICK HERE. For FREE Ultimate PPs of the Blue Grass itself, CLICK HERE.
#1 ZING ZANG (30-1/SPREAD/UNDERNEATH) has run much better than his lines indicate. He has been against race dynamics and track profiles; neither are doing any favors for his late closing running style. He will need some racing luck to step it up, still is not without a chance to make some noise.
#2 SPORTING CHANCE (10-1/ABOVE) given those last two trips at Oaklawn, I have started to come around on this horse. He had every chance to fold in those last two and kept finding a way to stick around. I am not quite ready to make him my top selection in this race; though he will be used. I would not talk anyone off that does.
#3 CALIFORNIA NIGHT (30-1/TOSS) pace factor, but too far below on OptixFIG to make a case.
#4 KANTHAKA (10-1/NO VALUE) fast/very fast early pace scenarios have flattered this colt giving him the right race dynamics to make his late run. Clearly there is talent, and he has run fast enough to compete. There is also a good chance he will be shorter than the morning line. I also find it, perhaps telling, that Prat opts to go to NY versus retaining this mount.
#5 QUIP (SCRATCHED)
#6 MARCONI (15-1/VALUE/KEY/CONTENDER) he figures to get overlooked off his last race. Using OptixNOTES, there is much more on that effort (racing wide against the flow and track profile) that is worth giving him a second look here. His prior form is solid, while moving forward in the right direction. From a pace perspective, he PLOTs as a Square in Q2 suggesting so we expect him to be rolling late. The connections could have stayed home in what looks to be an easier spot in the Wood, instead they shipped here into this contentious spot. It only adds confidence to see one of the top jockeys in the world aboard.
#7 BLENDED CITIZEN (15-1/BELOW) his OptixFIGs on dirt are far below this level of competition. He will have to show that he can translate that recent turf/synth form, while simultaneously improve to get the win.
#8 GOTTA GO (30-1/BELOW) has run well enough off the freshening, though on class he has yet to prove his is on this level. There seems to be more upside to this colt. Right now I think they are still trying to figure out where he fits and will be most effective.
#9 TIZ MISCHIEF (30-1/VALUE) he is much better than the double digit length beats in last two indicate; he will be value, even if the inflated morning line does not stick. On OptixFIG, he has multiple races that are within range, in addition to the B+ at Grade 2 level. My only reservation is the added distance; I am not sold he is quite the classic distance type.
#10 FREE DROP BILLY (5-1/ABOVE) is a Grade I winner, and owns this highest OptixFIG in the field for his effort in the Holy Bull. He consistently (reasonably excusing the BC Juvenile) brings in a check. There are no overwhelming “knocks” he just does not excite me.
#11 GOOD MAGIC (2-1/LEGIT) while he faltered as the favorite last out coming off the layoff, he did not disgrace himself in that race. He trained well going into that race, and has trained well coming out of it. OptixFIGs have steadily improved in each start. He should sit a favorable trip, with another favorable plot. He is not one I am running to the windows to bet at 2-1, but he is legitimate.
#12 FLAMEAWAY (6-1/NO VALUE/SOFT) the Sam F. Davis figure is questionable, and if so, he could be a bit light on numbers. Trip must be considered here given his the run style and post position – he will have to be used early to get position and avoid going too wide. In a contentious race, it seems there are other viable options.
#13 MACHISMO (20-1/BELOW) bit reluctant, but have to trust the data, to make him below after a good showing in his last two starts. There is some concern as he will need to duplicate the maiden win from two back to be a factor. In that race, NOTES projected a REGRESS?, which makes that duplication less likely. Post position does not do him any favors either, and shape on the Plot has him likely to get outkicked in late stage of the running.
#14 ARAWAK (30-1/UNDERNEATH) he still ranks below some of the more logical types, but there is some ability here. He has moved forward in his three-year-old starts, and, as OptixNOTES projected EQUIP? so blinkers should help with his focus.
#15 DETERMINANT (20-1/TOSS) he will be facing winners for the first time with OptixFIGs well below the rest of the field, all on an unknown surface.