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Keeneland Meet Kicks Off With Three Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races

Toyota Blue Grass
Tapit Trice stamped his ticket to Louisville by winning the Blue Grass at Keeneland. (Photo © James Kirkikis/Dreamtime).

The fall Keeneland meeting kicks off with a bang on Friday with three Breeders’ Cup Challenge ‘Win and You’re In” on tap.

Over the first three days of the Keeneland meeting, which runs until Oct. 29, there are nine Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. There are three more on Saturday and Sunday.

The first is the $350,000 Phoenix (G1), the winner earning a free berth inn the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Defending champ Special Reserve is the 2-1 morning line favorite.

The $500,000 Jessamine drew an overflowing field of 16 with 12 to go the 1 1/16 miles on turf. The race is a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

A field of 14 line up in the $500,000 Alcibiades (G1). The winner stamps a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).

The PlayUp Racebook $1,000 Win and You’re In Challenge Contest starts Friday. Players earn $10 for each correct winner over the nine Breeders’ Cup Challenge races over eth next three days. The top five points earners will share $1,000. The contest is free to enter.

Let’s take a quick look at Friday’s action:

Keeneland Small

Race 7 The $350,000 Phoenix (G3) 4:12 ET

6 Necker Island   7-2

2 Special Reserve   2-1

5 Sibelius   5-2

Sibelius is coming off back to back career tops and has the look of an underlay in here. I’ll go with Necker Island who was beaten just a couple of noses when third at Churchill Downs in the Louisville Thoroughbred Society. Two back at Colonial he crossed the wire first in the Chesapeake at Colonial Downs but was DQ’d for drifting in. He should get a solid pace set up and the 7-2 morning line looks fair enough.


Race 8 The Jessamine (G2) 4:44 ET

5 Blind Spot   15-1

12 Towhead   9-2

3 Delight   4-1

7 Bling   6-1

Blind Spot is making her first start on turf here for the Joseph barn. The filly graduated at seven furlongs on the main track in her second career start and then won the Oure Dear Peggy on tapeta in her first trip around two turns. She should take to turf, out of a dirt stakes winner who has dropped five other winners and three have won on turf. Towhead was beaten just a nose in the Juvenile Fillies at Kentucky Downs over yielding footing. She was nine lengths clear of the rest of the field. She is technically still a maiden, winning three back but the race declared a non-contest.


Race 9 The Alcibiades (G1) 5:16 ET

2 Chop Chop   12-1

1 Wonder Wheel   9-2

9 Fun and Feisty   7-2

10 Kaling   6-1

Chop Chop gets the call in a wide open race and the 12-1 morning line may end up a bit lighter. The Brad Cox trainee broke her maiden in her debut on turf at Ellis Park going a mile. She then came back to win the Juvenile Fillies in a game effort by a nose over Towhead who is in today’s Jessamine. She should like the surface switch. She is by City of Light out of a Giant’s Causeway mare. Cox is 32% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from turf to dirt.

BC Challenge