Key Races & Bets for Saturday April 20, 2024

Brought to you by, a great legal online wagering website with great betting tools and perks, legal for residents of most states and covering most tracks in North America as well as many in the rest of the world.

Race 6 at Keeneland -Post Time 3:40 PM Eastern

Top Contender: American Retro, Glittering Lights
Other contenders: Freydis the Red, Sacred Wish, Pleasant Passage, Olivia Maralda and Storm Bay

I thought I would cover the three races which make up the Keeneland Turf Pick 3, a pick 3 bet which comprises the last three turf races on the day. The bet has a $3 cost per combination, so it can add up quickly, and even if you don’t make the bet, these three turf races are all very playable and interesting.

American Retro (10 to 1 morning line odds) and Glittering Lights (15 to 1) are two horses I’ll use to start the Turf Pick 3, and I’ll use all seven listed above for any regular pick 3’s I play. Both horses are also good win, or win/place bets, or can be used in first and second on exacta tickets. American Retro ran in a turf route for the first time in her career last time out on February 24, off a six month layoff, and she won gamely when rallying from fifth with a quarter mile to go to get up by a neck. She earned a career best 96 Equibase Speed figure which she’ll improve upon second off the layoff and second time on turf, and she gets a rock solid jockey in Junior Alvarado. The filly cost $200K at Auction 18 months ago and has only been worse than second once in six races so shows up every time, including here.

Glittering Lights is one of three European horses making their U.S. debuts in this second level allowance field. The other two are Olivia Maralda and Samay but by far Glittering Lights is the one I’m interested in. With a record of 3-2-3 in 12 races in England and France, the filly was bred by Godolphin and was once in the care of world class trainer Charlie Appleby. She changed trainers before a third place finish last June and she won TWO in a row at this mile trip, on a left handed track (like here) in September and October before to running poorly on a very wet turf course and on an all-weather track. Trainer Walsh does very well with European imports (10 for 55 the past few years) and Tyler Gaffalione has been aboard for the last three winners Walsh has saddled at Keeneland which had their most recent races in Europe All signs point to a big effort.

Handicapper Picks
Win: American Retro AND Glittering Lights at 4 to 1 or more.

When consider betting two horses at high odds which will be the case here, we should consider DUTCHING the bet, which means to prorate wagers for the best value. There’s a free DUTCHING tool at Amwager which allows us to set the total amount we want to win and prorates our wagers for the maximum edge.

Turf Pick 3:
Race 6: American Retro, Glittering Lights
Race 8: Highland Chief, Bold Act, Missed the Cut
Race 10: Golden Dagger, Proud Mary, Empires Princess, Sweet Dutchess, Agent
(If none of the horses above should scratch, the cost of the bet is $90 as there are 30 combinations at $3 each)

Elkhorn Stakes (Grade 3) – Race 8 at Keeneland - Post Time 4:44 PM Eastern

Top contenders: Highland Chief, Bold Act
Other contenders: Missed the Cut
For exactas: Dynadrive, The Grey Wizard

As probable as Bold Act appears to be in this year’s Elkhorn, Highland Chief (IRE) is just as talented and as classy. Highland Chief imported to the U.S. in the winter of 2021 and made his stateside debut in April of 2022. It was an inauspicious debut as he finished ninth of 12 but it was a mile and one-sixteenth race, a distance he had not run in nearly three years, and it was obvious the race was designed as nothing more than a prep for longer races. Entered back one month later, Highland Chief won the Man O’ War Stakes at Belmont Park, at the distance of one mile and three-eighths. After two fourth place efforts he took a couple of months off. Returning in October of 2022 at Keeneland in the Sycamore Stakes at the distance of the Elkhorn, Highland Chief ran back to his Man O’ War effort with a brilliant ride under John Velazquez, who was aboard for the first time and who rides in the Elkhorn. That effort resulted in a career-best 113 Equibase Speed Figure, as good as the 113 figure Bold Act earned in his most recent race. Following a poor effort and likely with something amiss as he finished 12th of 13 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Highland Chief was given all the time he needed to get back into form under the care of Graham Motion. In consistent training since the beginning of March and with a very strong workout on turf before leaving his previous home base in Florida, Highland Chief appears capable of running back to the best of his graded stakes winning form.

Bold Act (IRE) has the same probability to win as Highland Chief in my opinion, but will be the prohibitive betting favorite considering the only time he ran in the U.S. previously, he won. That win was in the Sycamore Stakes last year, where the 117  figure earned was better than the 113 figure Highland Chief earned winning the same race 12 months earlier. Since then, Bold Act returned off a four and one-half month layoff to win the Dubai City of Gold Stakes on March 2 at Meydan Racecourse, winning easily in a field of nine and earning a 113 figure. He is likely to run even better in his second start of the year so certainly would be no surprise if emerging victorious for the eighth time in his fourteenth career race.

Honorable mention goes to both Missed the Cut and to Dynadrive, as well as to The Grey Wizard, because all three have won at this mile and one-half trip on turf. Missed the Cut did that in his first try at the distance, last month in California, earning a 107 figure in the San Luis Rey Stakes. Dynadrive won the similar John B. Connally Stakes in Texas with a 106 figure at the end of January, while The Grey Wizard won an allowance race at Keeneland at the distance last April, before earning a 112 figure when second in the two mile Belmont Gold Cup Stakes.

Handicapper Picks
Win: Highland Chief and/or Bold Act at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
Exactas: Highland Chief and Bold Act over Highland Chief, Bold Act, The Grey Wizard, Dynadrive, Missed the Cut

Race 10 at Keeneland - Post Time 5:48 PM Eastern

Top contenders: Sweet Dutchess, Empire Princess, Agent, Proud Mary, Golden Dagger

We close the card with a first level allowance turf sprint for filles and this is a wide open affair. HOWEVER, it does appear up to five of the 12 in the main body of the race and two of the three also-eligibles are ALL need-the-lead types who will go way too fast early and set up the stalkers and closers.

Sweet Dutchess gets slight preference among a quintet of closers, as she adds blinkers worn only once before, one before last on February 7 after changing trainers. She closed from last of 11 to miss by a neck in that race and that style is going to play very well here. She gets Saez and has won on turf before as well.

Empire Princess closed from eighth of 11 to get third in her most recent start, on March 3. It was one of two turf sprints she’s run in to date, the other resulting in a runner-up effort. Lanerie rides back and with just slight improvement this filly could post the upset, opening at 15 to 1.

Agent opens at even higher odds, 20 to 1, which makes NO sense as she fits perfectly at this NW1X allowance level as a last out maiden winner. The win came after nearly six months off and was her best race yet and she closed from 10th of 11 to win by a nose under Jimenez, who rides her back for a very strong trainer in Paulo Lobo. The win came on all-weather but she finished second in one of three previous turf races so she appears to have a very good shot to outrun her odds.

Proud Mary and Golden Dagger open as the two likely betting favorites, at 5 to 2 and 7 to 2. Both can run well but neither is a standout. Proud Mary won a turf sprint last August in her second career start, then finished sixth, fourth and sixth at this level. She returns from four months off and could fire fresh. Golden Dagger is a perfect two-for-two to date, the second of the wins at this distance on turf BUT last summer. She doesn’t need the lead to win BUT does need to improve as her two wins were in maiden claiming company and starter allowance company so she is stepping up in class.

Handicapper Picks
Win: Sweet Dutchess at odds of 3 to 1 or more.
Empire Princess and/or Agent at odds of 6 to 1 or more.
Exactas: Box Sweet Dutchess, Empire Princess, Agent, Proud Mary and Golden Dagger.

Share This Story!

Ellis Starr

Ellis is a well respected handicapper and contributor of AmWager. He has been a public handicapper for more than twenty years, educating racing fans of all skill levels with detailed commentary few other handicappers provide.

Related Posts