Friday Keeneland Race 9 Maker’s 46 Mile
The highlight race on Friday’s Keeneland card is the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile. Unlike the bourbon Maker’s 46, which has a smooth taste with hints of both vanilla and caramel, the race came up quite salty with a highly competitive field of 12. The race could be billed as an East vs. West Coast contest as we have four shippers from California, including What a View (5-1), Bolo (5-1), Conquest Enforcer (12-1), and Calculator (10-1), taking on the East Coast challengers, including the morning line favorite Heart to Heart (3-1). The six-year-old son of English Channel has had a stellar career, winning 12 of his 27 lifetime starts with earnings exceeding $1 million. There is no secret to his success as he likes to set the pace and run his competition into the ground. He is 6 of 13 at the one mile distance and is ideally drawn in post nine, outside of the other speed in the race.
The pace dynamics of the race will make things interesting for Heart to Heart. What a View, for trainer Kenny Black, has the same style of running and is capable of being head to head with Heart to Heart through the early parts of the race. How that battle plays out on the front end will determine the outcome of the race. To add more fuel to the early heat, you have Conquest Enforcer, who likes to press the pace and gets jockey Paco Lopez in the saddle. Lopez is an aggressive gate rider and I would expect him to have Conquest Enforcer involved in the race early. With all the early pace in this race I will be looking for a horse coming off of it for the most likely winner.
Bolo for trainer Carla Gaines is a contender in the race. He wants firm turf so if the skies decide to weep Friday you can discount his chances. That being said, the forecast calls for a clear, sunny day and that’s how I’m handicapping the race. Bolo made his 2017 debut winning the Grade 2 Arcadia after sidelined for eight months. He may have regressed a bit off that effort when he finished third in his next start in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile, however. While there is some cause of concern that he has failed to produce a top effort when shipping, I love his works coming in and this will be the first time he has strung three races together without time off since 2015. You get Mr. Grade 1 himself, Mike Smith, in the saddle and I expect him to place Bolo right behind the early speed. While I doubt the morning line price will hold up you might get 3-1 on Bolo and he should be right there at the wire.
Calculator and Inspector Lynley (8-1) are interesting in this race. While I can’t see either taking the winner’s share, they are logical for exactas and trifectas. Calculator is son of In Summation who has spent most of his career racing on the dirt. He had a successful 2016 with five in-the-money finishes in six starts. His best races were when he finished second in both the Grade 1 Carter and Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes. He too should sit a stalking position and I find it interesting Peter Miller runs him in this grade 1 affair off only two turf starts. The Frenchman, Florent Geroux, takes the reins which adds to the appeal. Calculator will have to transfer his best dirt form over to the grass to have a chance in this race but I can see him getting a share. Inspector Lynley is an interesting horse to use underneath on your tickets. He is a two-time grade 3 winner and won the Tampa Bay Stakes in his last start. While has only one start in 2017, Shug McGaughey enters him here after three bullet works at Payson Park. The mile distance may be a bit too sharp for him as he is by Lemon Drop Kid and would likely appreciate a little more ground to work with. He should be running late and could pick up a minor share.
As for my key horse I am going to take a shot with Bondurant (10-1) for trainer Ian Wilkes. The lightly raced son of War Front just missed last time out finishing second to Heart to Heart in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream Park. He is 2 for 2 at Keeneland, 3 of 4 at the one mile distance, and this will be his third start off the layoff. Should the pace setters go too fast early, look for Bondurant to be flying at the end. While he has never tasted grade 1 company, if he can improve just a bit off his last race, he can pull off the upset. He is a half-brother and stable-mate to the Derby contender, McCraken, who finished third in his final prep last week. While Ian did not get his picture taken last week in the winner’s circle, he may have just been waiting for the Maker’s 46 to flow on Friday.
Safe trips to all.