Kentucky Notebook: Keeneland Pick 4 Off and Running

by Steve Moody
(Editor's Note: Content for this handicapping notebook is provided by Brisnet)

Keeneland bettors get "free" money in guaranteed Pick 4
Keeneland made its first venture into guaranteed betting pools with mixed results Sunday. The Pick 4 was offered with a $300,000 guaranteed purse and a lowered 17 percent takeout, but despite the attractiveness of the bet and all the promotion, the actual pool came up a bit short at $244,896. That meant Keeneland had to ante up just over $55,000 to bring the pool up to the guarantee.

The winners in the whole deal were the bettors who saw their winning tickets balloon to $418.80 even though three of four races were won by favorites and the other was listed at 4-1 in the morning line. One of the favorites was the champion mare Azeri (Jade Hunter), who eased away from rivals late to win the Spinster at 2-5 odds. Even though her presence essentially made the bet a Pick 3, the payoffs were still very robust.

There were $1,189 worth of winning tickets purchased and if the payoff had been figured on the actual pool, it would have been $341.80 for a $2 ticket. Winning bettors got $77 added to each $2 ticket. Free money is rarely there for the taking in racing outside of carryover pools, but bettors got some of it on Sunday.

Keeneland officials were reportedly meeting Tuesday to discuss the situation and to determine whether to go forward with two more scheduled guaranteed Pick 4's on Sunday, October 17, and Sunday, October 24. As of this writing, Keeneland has decided to continue with the guaranteed pools, but they'll reduce the Pick 4s to only the guaranteed one in races 6-9. Normally, Keeneland offers the Pick 4s in races 2-5, 4-7 and the last four.

On Sunday with the guaranteed pool, the middle Pick-4 had already been eliminated. Keeneland claims the decision to now eliminate the Pick 4 on races 2-5 was made to remove any confusion about which Pick 4 was guaranteed. Bettors who normally play all the Pick 4s have had their options drastically reduced.

Last Sunday's early Pick 4 had a pool of only $44,919.


Friday (10/8)
1ST -- The early leaders barely changed position from start to finish in the meet's first race, but MINING FOR SILVER (Silver Charm) did rally from dead last to finish a decent fifth.

TRICKY DEVIL (Coronado's Quest) ran a freakishly fast time while breaking her maiden, stopping the timer in 1:14 4/5 for 6 1/2 furlongs, just one tick off the track record.

2ND -- BARTENDING MIKE (Dove Hunt) was sent off as the 8-5 choice while dropping in claiming price, but appeared to clip heels in the first turn and didn't look good finishing through the stretch on the wrong lead.

3RD -- ROYAL EPIC (Tale of the Cat), the 9-5 favorite, was unsettled when loaded in the gate, then ran into some trouble in the first turn.

MOTHER SUPERIOR (Petionville) was steadied sharply when Conduct (Broad Brush) bore out on the first turn.

WINNING SEASON (Lemon Drop Kid ) was never able to save any ground from post 11and could do no better than seventh.

4TH -- TORNADO WARNING (Belek) was hard used trying to the get to the front from the outside, but could never get there and was hung four wide.

7TH -- SUPER FUSE (Lite the Fuse) was off slowly in the Phoenix Breeders' Cup (G3) and was steadied at the head of the lane before unleashing a big late run to finish fourth.

CLOCK STOPPER (Gilded Time) rallied from far back while wide, but ran into some trouble in mid-stretch and could not get eventual winner Champali (Glitterman) in the final yards.

9TH -- SHARP LISA (Dixieland Band) ran a bang-up race in her second career start, finishing second in the Alcibiades (G2). She was steadied for a stride or two at the head of the lane, then found running room when she dove to the rail in the very late going only to be outfinished by RUNWAY MODEL (Petionville).

Saturday (10/9)
4TH -- CHEKHOV, a $3.3 million Pulpit colt, didn't have the best of trips in his debut despite finishing second. He was away slowly and had only three rivals beaten after a half-mile. After being steadied briefly at the five-furlong pole, he launched a good late run. Doesn't figure to remain a maiden much longer.

STUDENT COUNCIL (Kingmambo) was well back in the early going, then made a big middle move while wide to finish fourth.

7TH -- PATRIOT ACT (A.P. Indy), who's still a maiden, ran a big race to finish second in the Breeders' Futurity (G2). The colt was going long for the first time and rallied strongly from off the pace to be only two lengths behind the front-running winner Consolidator (Storm Cat).

9TH -- ASPEN TREE (Holy Bull) was wide through the early part of this race, then steadied in behind the leaders turning for home. He found running room late along the rail and finished well to be second.

Sunday (10/11)
1ST -- MAJOR FOCUS (Major Impact) was steadied between rivals early and again turning for home before settling for sixth in this claiming race.

2ND -- LIKE TO DO (Scatmandu) was unruly in the post parade and in the starting gate, tossing rider Calvin Borel before the start. She was rank during the running as well, finishing last after flashing brief speed.

3RD -- CONFIRMED (Unbridled's Song) was steadied going into the first turn and was last when heading up the backstretch. He began to steadily pick off rivals and wore down the leader in the final jump.

5TH -- SOUTHERN SURPRISE (Northern Prospect) was in position turning for home, but had to check and offered no further response.