Keeneland’s closing day will be the site of the Race of The Week, as we get ready for the Breeders’ Cup in just 1 week. The Fayette Stakes is race 9 on Keeneland’s 10 race card. This race features a field of 10, and it looks as though the money will be spread out in this field, creating value for every horse in this field. The morning line favorite Tom’s d’Etat is coming off a 4th place finish in the Grade 1 Woodford at Saratoga. Bal Harbour, who finished 2nd in the same race, is a co-second favorite with Mr Freeze. Mr. Freeze was victorious in the Grade 3 Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs last time out. Mocito Rojo is on a 5 race win streak coming into this race, and has value at 6-1 on the morning line.
The 2018 Fayette Stakes was won by Leofric last year, and went off as the co-favorite at less than 2-1 odds. Florent Geroux teamed up with trainer Brad Cox to get the 2018 victory. Neither Geroux nor Cox will have any influence in this race however.
Fastest Winning Time: 1:46:80 – Good Command in 1987
Most wins by a Jockey: 5 – Don Brumfield
Most wins by a trainer: 4 by Neil Howard
Trainer Shane Wilson said this about Mocito Rojo – “He likes to win. Every time we’ve put him in a little tougher spot, he’s run a little bit better and a little better.” “We decided to try a Grade 3 just based on the speed figures he’d been running,” he said. “He stepped up and ran well there (in the Steve Sexton Mile, which he won by two lengths). We came back for the Lukas Classic, and he did it again.”
The curtain closes on the Keeneland Fall Meet on Saturday, but not before the stand offers one more graded stakes. The G2 $200,000 Fayette Stakes at 1-1/8 miles on the main track serves as a potential springboard to races like the G1 Clark in November and potentially the G1 Pegasus World Cup in January. It’s where Blame in 2009 stamped himself as a 4-year-old to watch. It’s been a pretty formful race with all 5 winners since the return to dirt at Keeneland returning 8-1 or less.
G2 winner CORE BELIEFS has faced some of the top handicap horses in the nation. BAL HARBOUR and TOM’S D’ETAT comprised half the superfecta in the G1 Woodward. MR. FREEZE recently scored at the G3 level, as did THE GREAT DAY and MOCITO ROJO. EVERFAST was runner-up in this year’s G1 Preakness and TENFOLD was third in the 2018 middle jewel of the Triple Crown. While there’s not a devastating class edge here, it’s hard to argue that CORE BELIEFS hasn’t danced the toughest dances along with TENFOLD.
MR. FREEZE stretches out around 2 turns and should be forward with an aggressive gate jockey in Robby Albarado and inside draw. MOCITO ROJO and TOM’S d’ETAT should be a part of a pressing group that also could include CORE BELIEFS and BAL HARBOR. This should be a fair pace for 9 furlongs with no big edges.
MR FREEZE was impressive in the Ack Ack for his first real test as a 4-year-old. Last year’s West Virginia Derby winner showed at 3 that he could handle distance and he’s been progressed nicely to this spot. Dale Romans contemplated the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but the Fayette and Clark Handicap seem to be very smart for this guy. The Cigar Mile also could be in the offing back around 1 turn. Romans won this race in 2014 with Pick of the Litter and MR FREEZE appears more talented than that one. With sophomore uncoupled barnmate EVERFAST such a deep closer, the Romans charges will compliment eachother on style. EVERFAST will try to become the first sophomore to win this since Blame in 2009.
TOM’S d’ETAT made a middle-move in the Woodward and came up short in the end. Joel Rosario times moves as well as anyone, winning the Alydar on this runner the last time they paired together. Look for him to be just off the tempo and make them sweat in the lane as a major threat.
MOCITO ROJO brings a 5-race win streak from the mid-South that was validated with an 8-1 upset in the G3 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs. Trainer Shane Wilson has spotted him shrewdly all season and this one should stack up with these. Don’t be surprised if this one is overlooked on the tote once again for low-profile connections. Anything above 5-1 would be an overlay.
CORE BELIEFS is well-traveled and takes his track with him, witnessed by a road win in the New Orleans Handicap and the Ohio Derby the past 2 seasons. He gets away from the faster California action and should be steady-paced throughout this one.
Most Certain Exotics Contender: BAL HARBOUR has a win over the track and 8 straight superfecta finishes. Trainer Todd Pletcher won this race in 2015 via Saratoga with Raceday. BAL HARBOUR should get a stalking trip and have every chance to land on the ticket.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender: Pedigree play BIG DOLLAR BILL is by Midnight Lute, whose dirt routers at Keeneland have been dynamite in recent years. BIG DOLLAR BILL is 3-for-3 locally and trainer Ian Wilkes has had success in closing week’s at Keeneland Fall Meets in recent years, saving some good bullets for when things thin out a bit.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $50 win BIG DOLLAR BILL. $10 exacta part-wheel MR FREEZE, TOM’S d’ETAT, MOCITO ROJO, CORE BELIEFS and BAL HARBOUR over BIG DOLLAR BILL.