Race 9 at Keeneland | Saturday April 10 | Post Time 5:30 PM Eastern
Stonestreet Lexington Stakes – Grade 3 | Purse $200,000 | One Mile and One Sixteenth | Three Year Olds
The very last race on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” the Stonestreet Lexington offers the winner 20 points which only really will help one horse in the 10 horse field, Hockey Dad (6), who has 20 going in. If he won that would put him somewhere between 19th and 23rd place after 100 points is awarded to the winner of the Arkansas Derby a bit later in the day, with 40 points to the runner-up in that race also putting some horse in the top 20. As such, Hockey Dad is the only horse with the incentive to win at any cost in my opinion and hope to recover in three weeks. Hockey Dad is definitely a contender and wouldn’t be a huge surprise, but there are at least two horses significantly faster and with a higher probability to win this race.
Those two are Noble Reflection (1) and Swiftsure (2), and I’m pretty sure Noble Reflection will go for the front from the moment the gate opens to take advantage of his inside draw, and will take the track away from any of the other horses who may have had a game plan to lead early. Returning from seven months off and making only the second start of his career last month, Noble Reflection earned a stakes quality 102 Equibase Speed Figure which is the best figure in the field to date earned by any horse. Not only that but in spite of leading from start to finish, his pace/speed figure combination (88, 102) suggests he doesn’t need the lead to win as he was not tiring late. As a son of Liam’s Map out of a mare who has produced three dirt route winners including one who earned over $300K, Noble Reflection is logically going to improve off his effort last month in his second start off the layoff and is the one to beat.
That being said, Swiftsure (2) isn’t far behind in terms of probability to win. He won both his starts both sprints, in November and January and in the latter win he relaxed in second early then took over to draw off late. He too appears to be a versatile type who can stalk the pacesetter early and as a son of Uncle Mo there’s little doubt he will run well around two turns. The 100 figure last out was slightly better than the 99 earned in his debut and as he’s more mature now two months later even better (faster) is possible.
As to the rest, the aforementioned Hockey Dad (6) hasn’t improved in his three year old season, with 93, 90 and 93 figures. He was beaten just a head for second in the Jeff Ruby last month and could get a piece. Similarly, Proxy (7) has finished second, second and fourth in Derby preps this season, with 97, 95 and 93 figures. They aren’t improving as should be occurring for a maturing horse so I don’t think we’re going to see a winning effort but he could be in the top four.
Better still, Ultimate Badger (8) is a horse I think can get into the exacta or trifecta at a nice price and even if the two top picks are low odds favorites could help us make a nice profit. Last fall in his first start at the distance Ultimate Badger rallied from third to get up by a neck. After two really poor efforts he finished second in the seven furlong Swale Stakes then rallied from sixth to second last month in the Hutcheson Stakes. He may be last early but I have a feeling he could be passing many of these late. We’ll also consider Unbridled Honor (5) for some exacta and trifecta tickets based on his 12th to fourth finish in the Tampa Bay Derby last month. These two horses are “counter energy” and with the potential for a hot pace if Noble Reflection can’t clear the field early, or if other potential “need the lead” types like Bezos (3) and It’s My House (4) press a hot pace, one of these two could be moving past many of those tiring stalking types in the last eighth of a mile.
Betting Strategies –
Bet Noble Reflection (1) to win at odds of 7 to 5 or more. This is known as a low odds overlay because I think he has a very high probability to win.
You can consider a win bet on Swiftsure (2) at odds of 9 to 5 or more but only if Noble Reflection’s odds near post time are too low for a win bet.
Noble Reflection (1) and Ultimate Badger (8)
Swiftsure (2) and Ultimate Badger (8).
(There’s no value in playing an exacta consisting of the two betting favorites Noble Reflection and Swiftsure)
I prefer trifectas in this race with it likely the win contenders are going to be low odds. On Wednesday the two contenders on my Keeneland web site race of the day play finished one-two but the third horse was 22 to 1 and the trifecta paid $63 on a $12 investment.
Noble Reflection (1) and Swiftsure (2) over Ultimate Badger (8) over Noble Reflection (1), Swiftsure (2), Unbridled Honor (5), Hockey Dad (6) and Proxy (7).
Noble Reflection (1) and Swiftsure (2) over Noble Reflection (1), Swiftsure (2), Unbridled Honor (5), Hockey Dad (6) and Proxy (7) over Ultimate Badger (8)