Saturday’s Keeneland card features 4 stakes races all in an all-stakes pick 4, spanning Races 7-10. The Grade 1 main event, the Jenny Wiley, anchors the bet in Race 10 and has attracted an evenly matched group of 6.
Etoile is the field’s lone Grade 1 winner. Micheline, Tamahere and Maxim Rate are Grade 2 winners. Juliet Foxtrot and La Signare have won Grade 3s. These are evenly matched on class, tough Etoile has held up internationally in top-flight races.
There’s very little early speed in this 1-1/16 miles race, which should put Juliet Foxtrot in a pace-advantaged situation up front. Aggressive rider Luis Saez may try to put Micheline into the mix more than she shows on paper from her rail draw. Maxim Rate could sit second or third.
#1 Micheline – Ridden by Luis Saez and trained by Michael Stidham. She was impressive winning the Grade 2 Hillsborough. She has a pair of wins and a 2nd place finish in the last 3 starts. That loss was by less than a length in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth. She should be saving ground all the way around the track and has a big shot in here. She won the Hillsborough off of a 6 month lay-off. She could move forward off of that start and be sitting on a big effort here.
#2 Tamahere – Ridden by Irad Ortiz and trained by Chad Brown. Chad Brown has 2 in here, and he is the premier turf trainer in North America. Anything coming from his barn has to be taken seriously. She won her first start in the states at Belmont, and then jumped into the Grade 1 Matriarch at Del Mar. She was absolutely full of run, but had to go very wide off the turn and came up just short. She finished 6th in that race, but it was by just 2 lengths. She does her best running late, but she will need help up front to overcome this. She is also making her first of 2021 off a 6 month lay-off.
#3 Juliet Foxtrot – Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione and trained by Brad Cox. This is another one making her first start since the Grade 1 Matriarch. She has early speed, and there is not a lot of speed in this race at all. She came in 3rd in the Matriarch, however she had to go very fast there. I don’t believe the pace will be nearly as fast this time around. She will have a very good chance to go wire-to-wire here if she breaks well. The question will be is coming off the lay-off if she can get the 1 and 1/16.
#4 Etoile – Ridden by Javier Castellano and trained by Chad Brown. Last time out in October she was victorious in the EP Taylor by a neck. Unlike her stablemate Tamahere, Etoile has some good early foot and should sit pretty close to the pace which appears will be where you want to be here. If Castellano could get out and sit 2nd or 3rd then Etoile will be a serious threat in this race.
#5 Maxim Rate – Ridden by Umberto Rispoli and trained by Simon Callaghan. Five year old had no obvious excuses when she finished fifth in the Matriarch in her last start. I think she is a level below than these horses, but she can sneak up and surprise this group. Personally, I will be passing on this horse as all the others look more attractive in here.
#6 La Signare – Ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Brendan Walsh. She hasn’t won since March of 2020. She also hasn’t been all that competitive against most of the horses in this field. She was 7th in this race last year, and I just don’t see her as a serious threat in here. She’ll be sitting off the pace, and others who have the same running style are just much better at it at this point.
1: #3 Juliet Foxtrot
2: #4 Etoile
3: #1 Micheline
4: #2 Tamahere