11 two-year-old fillies will shoot for Grade 1 glory in the $400k Alcibiades on opening day at Keeneland on Friday. Set for 1 1/16 miles on the main track, we have, as usual for juveniles in this country over the past few years, an unaccomplished field of lightly raced horses to consider.
According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, the Alcibiades will have a fast early pace. That being the case, we will point out now that #9 Dothraki Queen, who defeated several of these horses in the Grade 2 Pocahontas at Churchill just 20 days ago to run her record to two for two, owns a Late Pace Rating of 110 that towers over this field (next highest is the 71 of #11 Just Wicked, who was the beaten favorite in that Pocahontas).
Sent off at 7/1 last time as she made her dirt debut, Dothraki Queen is the ML favorite this time. We have no knocks on her coming in. A very impressive winner on turf first time out, she was given a perfect rail-skimming trip to overcome a slow pace (note Pace Figures/fractions shaded blue) and become a graded stakes winner in that Pocahontas. The TFUS Speed Figure of 90 she earned for that win is among the best in this field so far, and she is quite obviously open to further improvement at this time. We can’t find a reason not to use her, though last time was the time to be with her.
Just Wicked is a much tougher call. Sent off at 1/2 odds in the Pocahontas, she was kept wide throughout the running, while Dothraki Queen saved every inch, and she could not gain control of the race when asked through the second turn. She hung on her wrong lead all through the stretch, and was ultimately outfinished by a pair of closers for a placing, while only narrowly getting by the pace players to her inside. She was very impressive sprinting to begin her career, so we are not conflicted about her talent. It all comes down to distance with her, and how much credit you want to give her for carrying the ground in the Pocahontas. The outside post should not be much of a hinderance to her in this race, considering the projected pace, but we don’t like her last race, and we will stand against her in the win pool at what should be another stingy price.
#1 Gomo is 3/1 on the ML shipping in from California for top connections. Her lone win to date came on turf in a race where she was allowed to stroll early on a walking pace (note Pace Figures/fractions shaded blue), and she has since done her best while proving no match for stakes horses on dirt and turf. She has a good post on the inside, and there may be a good trip coming for her, but we are not at all interested in her at the ML price.
We thought #7 Dream Dance would be ok stretching out last time, and she was not helped by the slow pace that developed in that Pocahontas. She could only manage to match the TFUS Speed Figures she was earning going shorter while settling for 3rd (she was placed 2nd via disqualification after taking a bump at the top of the stretch), but a faster pace in front of her on Friday may lead to an improved performance.
#8 Lookout Sister will have to drift off her 6/1 ML, but we could use her somewhere in this race. She has been impressive in winning two of her three career starts sprinting, and she has the kind of pedigree that could lead to some improvement stretching out in distance (81 Breeding Rating for dirt routes, her dam is a half-sister to Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags).
The other horse we are interested in is #2 Marquee Miss.
Making just her second career start on Friday, the obstacles for her are not insignificant. Besides stepping into Grade 1 company (on paper, anyway), this will be her first career start on dirt, and her first start around two turns. On the other hand, she debuted in a stakes race at Arlington, and was impressive in winning clear with a TFUS Speed Figure of 78. Her dam won only on turf and synthetic during her solid career, but she was graded stakes-placed on dirt, and managed to run her race on that surface several times despite not winning (TFUS Speed Figure top of 105 on dirt). Her second dam was also versatile in terms of surface, and won multiple stakes on dirt in her career. Trainer Ingrid Mason does well with circuit switchers (94 rating), and she gets a rating of 88 switching from synthetic to dirt. Enough for us to like here, especially in light of that solid debut effort, to take a chance on her at a price.
The Play: Win bet on Marquee Miss. Exactas and trifectas focusing on her in all slots with Dream Dance, Lookout Sister, Dothraki Queen, and Just Wicked.