Barry Faulkner's US Racing Preview

Friday sees Grade 1 action, plus the return of Prix Morny winner Campanelle - get in-form Barry Faulkner's analysis and picks for Keeneland and Aqueduct, live on Sky Sports Racing from 8.26pm.

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I love this time of year. Keeneland puts a real spring in my step. Excellent racing can be enjoyed throughout its Spring Meets and today is no exception, with the reinforcement from a good Aqueduct card adding to the appeal. 

The feature in Kentucky is the Maker’s Mark Mile G1 (Race 9: 10.30pm BST), where trainer Chad Brown’s Raging Bull will be trying to put his nightmare stretch run in last year’s renewal behind him. That is supported by the Limestone Turf Sprint (Race 7: 9.24pm) going five and half furlongs on the turf, and it sees the reappearance of last year’s Group 2 Queen Mary and Group 1 Prix Morny winner Campanelle, from the barn of Wesley Ward. 

Hopefully, the analysis below guides you to some profitable punting but, whichever way you make your picks, good luck everyone.

The Stateside Preview for Friday 9th April 2021 Aqueduct and Keeneland

Aqueduct 5 (8.26pm)

Starter Allowance ($50,000) N1X – 3 year olds and upwards – One mile – Inner Turf

Fourteen males have been entered for this turf test, on the original grass circuit at the Big A, but three of them have the Main Track Only proviso. 

When I first looked at this race, it seemed as if the runners who had drawn the inside of the starting gate would be up against it. However, after deeper inspection, I came to the conclusion that SIMPLY(3) could be a given a squeak on the back of his winning run at Fair Grounds at the end of January. However, that is not all the evidence I found; earlier, he put up a couple of fair efforts in New York bred entry level Allowances. I don’t think this is a strong event for the grade and, with the potential for enough pace for him to run at, he could be worth an interest at a decent price. 

Mandate(9), trained by Todd Pletcher, hasn’t been seen since the middle of August last year, when he was a neck 2nd in this grade. The previous month he had picked up a $40,000 non winner of two claimer at Belmont, to go with an earlier maiden breaker at Gulfstream Park. He has been gelded since his last run and will attract wagering dollars but others in here have shown more accomplished form than him to date.  

Life On Top (11) wasn’t beaten far when 4th in one of these at the beginning of December, on his last start for Rob Atras. Switched to the Chad Brown operation, he was steadied when making his challenge, in this grade at Gulfstream Park. That resulted in him getting forced six wide at the head of the stretch to make his run when failing, by just 1¼ lengths, to get to the winner. He has been away for over eleven weeks since then but is a player on his previous form over this course and distance. With Irad Ortiz riding at Keeneland, brother Jose takes over atop today.  

Perceived (12) won a $40,000 non winners of two Claimer on dirt, two days into the year, from the barn of Chad Brown. After that he was privately purchased and is now housed with trainer Linda Rice’s contingent and, before the end of January, had a first go in this grade. That was also on the main track and as was the surface the next month, when he put up an improved effort on his second start at the level. He steps onto the turf today, for the first time since his first two starts back in 2019. However, he showed enough aptitude on the green stuff then, to make it worthwhile to have another go today. 

Selection: Simply (3)
Exotic Play: Reverse forecast (Boxed exacta) 2 bets: Simply (3) and Life On Top (11)

BET ON US RACING You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers: Betfair | William Hill | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power | Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets

Keeneland 6 (8.51pm)

Allowance Optional Claimer ($62,500) N2X – Fillies and mares 4 year olds and upwards – One mile and half a furlong – Dirt

Six distaffers have been entered for this second level Allowance Optional Claimer and one returner is of particular interest. 

SPICE IS NICE (5) made her debut, as a three-year old, in January last year, winning a Maiden Special Weight and followed that with an entry level Allowance success. Wrapped around the latter score were three goes in Graded Stakes. She finished a laudable 2nd in the Davona Dale G2 at Gulfstream Park in February but was less successful in that track’s Oaks G2 the following month and the Alabama G1 at Saratoga in August, where she was effectively eased out of the race. She has been away from action since then, but trainer Todd Pletcher, who has had six winners from his first nine starters at this meet so far, brings her back with an obvious chance, if she can pick up the thread of her entry level Allowance win. 

Movie Moxy (1) finished 2nd in this grade at Gulfstream Park on Christmas Eve, leaving Maedean(4), who has been absent since, 7 lengths behind in 3rd. Although sent to post as 4-5 favourite going seven furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs in a minor event, she was unable to get competitive when finishing 8 lengths 3rd. She would go close on her last Gulfstream Park run but not the Tampa Bay Downs one. 

Selection: Spice Is Nice (5)
No Exotic Play: 

Aqueduct 6 (9.01pm)

Maiden Special Weight – 3 year olds and upwards – One mile – Dirt

Seven maidens are due to face the starter at the end of the one-mile chute with all of them gunning for a first win. 

Continuation (1) has run six times and five of them have been over one turn mile trips, four here and one at Churchill Downs. He has taken the runner-up spot in half of his races, including his most recent outing at the end of January. That was his second run this year, after a spin on the Tapeta at Turfway Park a couple of weeks before. Trainer Dane Kobiskie fits blinkers to his charge for the first time today.  

Three runs and three 2nd placings is the record of Chad Brown trainee, Cousin Andrew (2). However, they were well spaced with his debut coming sprinting in January last year, followed by a run at this trip in March, then a stretch out of a further 110 yards in June. Unfortunately, even though he was made 17-10 favourite there, his form regressed when being beaten 7¾ lengths. He has been away from action since and has wintered at Belmont rather than joining the Brown contingent in Florida. He will take money but is not for me. 

Brown also runs SAVOY(4), a three-year old who is having his third run today. His two juvenile starts came in a six furlongs sprint at Saratoga in September, followed by the one turn, eight and half furlongs at Belmont the following month. He didn’t threaten the principals at the wire in either but, as a three-year old, he has more scope to advance than others here and has been gelded since his last outing. His works in advance of this return are encouraging.  

Two longer shots that the ‘numbers’ give a chance to are Goldenite(6), whose latest speed figure on his fourth start at Fair Grounds shows promise, and Ajhar(7), the most experience runner here, who has delivered consistently good ‘figs’ on his last four starts.   

Selection: Savoy (4)
No Exotic Play: 

BET ON US RACING You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers: Betfair | William Hill | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power | Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets

Keeneland 7 (9.24pm)

Limestone Turf Sprint Stakes – Fillies 3 year olds – Five and a furlongs – Turf

At first glance this appeared relatively straightforward but delving a little deeper it became more complex and fascinating. 

The MOTTO approach – Master Of The Totally Obivous - makes Campanelle(8) the winner. After all, her three sprints last year as a juvenile, including the Queen Mary G2 and the Prix Morny G1 on this side of the Atlantic, read well. She failed to stay the mile in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf G1 and now she is back doing what she does best. However, she has been away for five months and returns in blinkers. She had one sharp five furlongs morning spin at the Palm Meadows training centre in February but her two leg stretchers here, one five days ago and eight days before that, have been more leisurely. So, it is certainly worth having a good look at her more prominent opponents.

Carimba(3) is also trained by Wesley Ward. He campaigned her in shallower water on her two races in 2020, both over five furlongs on the turf track at Indiana Grand and she won each of them, a Maiden Special Weight and an entry level Allowance, with the minimum of fuss. She has to take a big step forward but, with blinkers off and Irad Ortiz on, could be a player.   

New Boss (6) delivered some good numbers in a couple of sprints at Fair Grounds in December, finishing just behind Goin’ Good (9) in the first of them, then last month, won a minor Stake going a mile at the same track. She gives the impressions that there is more to come under today’s conditions with regular pilot Adam Beschizza riding. Goin’ Good (9) went on from beating New Boss (6) to finish 2nd in dirt Stake over six furlongs last time and it be no surprise to see them both involved at the business end here. 

TOBY'S HEART (7) is another who could be dangerous back sprinting, after tiring late when going eight and half furlongs in a G3 at Gulfstream Park on her 2021 return. Both her juvenile starts were at this trip and she was victorious, despite a tardy start each time. With some good ‘numbers’ already on her record and with a recent start should bring her into the ring here in peak condition, she is the one I’m playing at a decent price to run down Campanelle (8). 

Selection: Toby’s Heart (7)
No Exotic Play: 

BET ON US RACING You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers: Betfair | William Hill | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power | Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets

Aqueduct 7 (9.34pm)

Allowance Optional Claimer ($62,500) N2X – 3 year olds and upwards – One mile and half a furlong – Inner Turf

Nine older lads have been entered for this but, due to a coupling and one Main Track Only entrant, local horseplayers are restricted to seven betting pockets on the US Tote. This looks a very classy group for the grade. 

The ‘entry’ of Price Talk (1) and GOOD GOVERNANCE (1A/9) looks strong. They are both owned by Klaravich Stables, with the former trained by Jorge Abreu and the latter from the barn of Chad Brown. Price Talk (1) passed the post in front on his first three starts but was disqualified in the first of them, after badly bumping a rival and getting demoted to 5th for his trouble. That was in a $75,000 Maiden Claimer at Saratoga in July last year but he got his first win, in a Special Weight group, at the end of the meet in September. He collected his entry level Allowance score at Belmont in October and closed his year at the end of November, with an excellent 3rd place in a Black Type Stake, where he had Bodecream(6), a length and a place ahead. That lad went on to finish runner-up in Listed Stake at Gulfstream on Boxing Day and returned at the end of February with a strong effort in this grade at Fair Grounds. They are both contenders.

Good Governance (1A/9) ran twice as a three-year old in 2019, collecting his Maiden breaker and finishing a neck 2nd in a G3 Stake, with both runs coming at Saratoga. Then, last year, he had another couple of outings, adding an entry level Allowance at Belmont in June, before finishing 3rd in a G2, back at the Spa, when lacking room at a crucial stage. He looks the class act here and, with proven ability off a long layoff, may be difficult to beat.  

Todd Pletcher trainee, Winters Back (2) got his Maiden and entry level scores here in November and December, after a couple of good efforts at Saratoga and Keeneland previously. He then joined his handler’s group in Florida, where he was beaten just a head in this grade in January, with Emaraaty(8) ¾ of a length back in 3rd.  He then put up a cracking effort in a G3 Stake the following month, stalking the pace and taking a slight lead into the final furlong before just failing the get the job done, fading to 4th, beaten 1½ lengths. He is another player in a deep race.  

Selection: Good Governance (1A/9)
No Exotic Play: 

BET ON US RACING You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers: Betfair | William Hill | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power | Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets

Keeneland 8 (9.57pm)

Allowance N1X – 4 year olds and upwards – Six and a half furlongs – Dirt

This entry level Allowance looks a competitive affair, with cases to be made for a number of the eight entrants.

Gozilla(2) struggled over this trip, and in this grade, when last seen here in July last year, on his sole run in 2020, when trained by Steve Asmussen. Bought by owner Gary Barber for $60,000 at the Horses In Training sale, in the grounds here, he returned with a promising 3rd place, in this grade and also at six and half furlongs, at Aqueduct in February. 

ALOHA WEST (3) is a four-year-old but didn’t make his debut until February, when breaking his maiden first time up in Special Weight ranks at Oaklawn Park, despite walking out of the gate. He also had trouble at the start on his next outing at the same track, in this grade, but it was getting pinched as the gate opened that caused the problem then, rather than his own tardiness. IF he gets away cleanly, he can be a threat to them all. 

Answer In(5) has finished on the board in seven of his eight starts to date, including three of his four in this grade. He was edged out by just a neck in the last of them, at the end of January going a mile, and clearly has a chance. However, I am not convinced this cut back in trip is a positive. 

Growl Tiger (6) broke his maiden over this trip at Tampa Bay Downs, just under three weeks ago, driving clear for an 8¾ lengths success. The trip looked to be the clue to the performance that day and he is another who wouldn’t be a surprise winner today.  

Selection: Aloha West (3)
No Exotic Play:

BET ON US RACING You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers: Betfair | William Hill | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power | Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets

Aqueduct 8 (10.07pm)

Maiden Claimer ($40,000) – 3 year olds and upwards – Six furlongs – Outer Turf

The Friday Aqueduct card closes with a modest maiden claimer going three quarters of a mile on the outer turf track. Fifteen older males have been entered but they include two reserves and one Main Track Only aspirant. 

On The Muscle (3) was back in the care of trainer Mike Stidham for his return to action this year, after having four undistinguished starts for Paul Holthus at Indiana Grand last summer. He had previously shown bits and pieces of form in a previous stint with Stidham, and his 2nd placing in $30,000 Maiden Claimer going five and a half furlongs on turf at Fair Grounds gives him something to work on today. 

CENTURION (8) had three runs in Maiden Special Weights at the end of November 2019 and in the first two months of last year. In truth, he didn’t show a lot in his two subsequent runs stretching out, after a fair effort on debut over this course and distance. He wore blinkers on his final start, which came on dirt, and he does without them today returning to the grass and dropping in for a claim for the first time. Even at this humble level, this isn’t the strongest group that he will ever compete in and he may be worth a token financial interest. 

Sixteen Tons (11) is also returning having not raced since the middle of February last year. He has run five times all told and has shown some level of ability but that was all on the main track. Like many, he can make his presence felt, dropping in grade, if he takes to the turf. 

Selection: Centurion (8)
No Exotic Play: 

BET ON US RACING You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers: Betfair | William Hill | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power | Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets

Keeneland 9 (10.30pm)

Maker’s Mile Stakes G1 – 4 year olds and upwards – One mile – Turf

A fascinating line up has been assembled for the Friday feature, with one of them in particular seeking redemption. The possibility of cut in the ground adds to the intrigue. 

Last year, this meeting was delayed to July due to the early ravages of the pandemic and, when the 2020 renewal was staged, Chad Brown trainee, RAGING BULL (8) was sent to post as 6-5 favourite. That followed an excellent effort when he won Shoemaker Mile G1 at Santa Anita. Alas, he couldn’t double up but still ran a cracker, finishing 3rd beaten a nose and neck after being carried out late. He showed his liking for this place when taking 2nd place in the Shadwell Turf Mile G1 in October but didn’t make much impression in the Breeders’ Cup Mile G1. He needs a pace to run at and with Get Smokin (1), Somelikeithotbrown(3) and Flying Scotsman (7) in the field, he should get it, and can make amends for last year’s near miss.  

Brown is also represented by Sacred Life (4). The highest grade success he has achieved so far was in Listed Stake at Monmouth Park in August, his only win from three starts last year. He cuts back in trip here and needs to step up on his overall form but his score last year did come on rain softened turf.

After winning a second level Allowance at Santa Anita in May last year, followed by a Restricted Stake at Del Mar in July, Hit The Road (2) was on the bench until reappearing in February. However, he simply picked up the winning thread, taking a G3 and then handled another class rise to take the Frank E Kilroe Mile G1 at the beginning of last month, getting home by a neck in a driving finish. This is probably another slight step up for trainer Dan Blacker’s charge, as the leaves the Golden State to race for the first time, probably encountering ease in the ground too. However, he looks a real threat to Raging Bull (8) in an absorbing contest.  

Selection: Raging Bull (8)
No Exotic Play:

BET ON US RACING You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers: Betfair | William Hill | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power | Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets

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