KEE 3 - Alw, 7f (AWT) - Maybe it’s crazy to expect anything close to the 8-1 morning line quote on Ghostly Wonder, but well-regarded runners Twang and Green Mask should take their fair share of action, as could Augusta Road considering The Masters is this weekend (I know it sounds crazy, but watch him take more money than you’d normally expect). Dismissed as the longest shot in field of five first out at Arlington in June, 11-1 Ghostly Wonder dueled with the well-bet favorite before leaving him in the dust for a very easy 4 1/2-length score. Now I know what you’re thinking--beating four runners at Arlington isn’t any major accomplishment. But that favorite was Spot, who took the GII Swale last month. Two others won their next starts, including last-place finisher No Surrender, who resurfaced at Hawthorne Mar. 28 to romp by 6 1/2 lengths and earn a 92 Beyer. Ghostly Wonder earned a solid 79 Beyer for his win—which stacks up well with the rest of the field, and projects out to something in the 90 to 100 range by the old rule that young horses should improve 1 1/2 to 2 points per month of development. I’m not saying Ghostly Wonder is going to run a 100, but he can run a lot slower that that and still take this. Play: Win on #2 Ghostly Wonder (8-1).
KEE 9 - GI Madison S. - Turnbacks seem to be at a huge advantage going seven furlongs on the Keeneland Poly, and there are three in here that I strongly prefer over favorite Judy the Beauty, who I think is probably best going shorter. The most obvious of the three is Better Lucky--she’s a very nice turf miler, but is two-for-four sprinting and must be included. There’s also Byrama, who I’ve always believed is a better sprinter. She was very unlucky not to win this race last year as she was blocked for most of the stretch, and she makes the same cut back from a turf mile that she did last year, albeit for new connections this time around. The third horse I’m interested in is Eden Prairie. She cut back to just miss at 10-1 in the track-and-trip Raven Run in October, and has improved her speed figures markedly in three runs on the Fair Grounds lawn since. She also has the advantage of good tactical speed. Play: Win on #7 Byrama (6-1) OR #9 Eden Prairie (10-1) (whoever is higher in relation to their morning line), exacta box with #6 Better Lucky. DDs 6,7,9 w/ 8.
KEE 10 - GI Jenny Wiley S. - Speed has done extremely well on the turf so far this meet, and there isn’t an abundance of it here. Discreet Marq already would have been formidable anyway, but now she should be doubly tough over this surface. I was particularly impressed with her runner-up finish in the GI Matriarch last time Dec. 1. That was a solid field of older runners, and she gave locally based Egg Drop all she could handle to only get beat a nose. There are certainly others you have to use in exotics, but my money’s on Discreet Marq to make the lead and never look back. Play: Win on #8 Discreet Marq (6-1).
SA 6 - Alw, 7f - This is a pretty nice group of 3-year-olds. I really thought highly of Indexical last year—I loved his work at Barretts May, and though he could only manage a fifth-place finish with some trouble on debut at Del Mar in July, he returned the following month to break his maiden at 16-1 with the addition of blinker--two spots ahead of eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day. I can dismiss his close seventh after setting a slightly quick pace in the GI Del Mar Futurity, and turf route attempt when fifth last out in October’s Zuma Beach. Now he tries dirt for the first time, which seems likely to be his best surface, and should be right there with any improvement on his maiden breaker (I do worry that he’ll need a start off the bench, but the price should be right). Play: Win on #10 Indexical (12-1), exacta box with #4 Papa Turf, #8 Top Fortitude, #9 True Ten.
GP 9 - MSW, 1 1/16mT - This one’s admittedly a bit speculative, but Classy Kid will likely be an overlay in his turf debut for Mark Frostad. The 4-year-old showed early interest before fading to a distant fifth when unveiled sprinting here Feb. 28, but he never really figured to fire his best under those circumstances for a patient first-out trainer. By versatile, but usually better turf sire Lemon Drop Kid, Classy Kid is out of Grade III-winning turfer Dynamite Lass (Dynaformer), who never set foot on a main track. None of Dynamite Lass’s previous foals have been superstars, but they’ve definitely preferred routing and/or grass, and Classy Kid should follow that trend. Play: Win on #5 Classy Kid (20-1), exacta behind #1 Siete C, exacta box with #7 Knight of Valor, #8 Smart Spree, #10 Chunnel.
See Saturday's TDN for this week's installment of the Twinspires.com Road to the Kentucky Derby Showdown with Brian and Steve Sherack's picks for the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby. Follow Brian on twitter @BDiDonatoTDN