Sunday Stakes Preview: Keeneland’s Grade 1 Spinster

DontLetTheGamePassYouByfortfus

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We are not going to worry about track condition this far ahead of time, but wet conditions prevailed at Keeneland on opening day of their fall meet on Friday, and with more rain in the forecast for SaturdaySunday’s Grade 1 Spinster may be contested over a track rated something other than fast.

Set for 1 1/8 miles on the main track, the Spinster has drawn a field of nine fillies and mares, led by last year’s 3yo filly champ #3 Untapable.  Despite having won just once from five starts so far as an older horse, Untapable has been pegged at 9/5 on the ML.  Thoroughly dominant over her fellow 3yos last year, before taking down older horses to end a stellar season in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, she enters the Spinster with something to prove this year.  Since winning the Grade 1 Apple Blossom in her second start off the layoff, she has earned TFUS Speed Figures of 117-118-119 in her last three starts, while failing to win any of them.  All three of those figures are faster than any race any of her competitors have managed to run this year, so she cannot be considered a vulnerable favorite, exactly.  But she has clearly lost the advantage she held on these horses a year ago.

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According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, Untapable will be in a perfect pace-tracking trip behind the longshot #6 Yahilwa.  She is clearly the horse to beat on Sunday, but she is also clearly not the same horse she was in 2014.  Perhaps she has finally found the right spot to get herself back into the winner’s circle, but we are betting against it.

While the 3yo #1 Lovely Maria is the co-second choice on the ML, she is not one we are using against Untapable.  Cutting back out of the Grade 1 Alabama may be a good thing for her, but she has not run well in either of her races since taking the Kentucky Oaks with a perfect trip back on May 1st, and the 115 TFUS Speed Figure she earned for winning that race is the only number she owns that makes her even mildly competitive in this field.

#4 Got Lucky rallied past Untapable late to be 2nd in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga, continuing her improvement since turning four.  We like her newfound running style, which allows her to keep closer to the pace, and her only start so far over a wet track resulted in a comprehensive win during which she overcame a slow pace (note Pace figures/fractions shaded blue) over a speed-favoring track (note Race Rating Box shaded red).

The other horse we like against Untapable, and the one we give preference to, is #9 Frivolous.  An upset winner in graded stakes for this division twice in the last 9+ months, she is unlikely to be underestimated going forward.  A game winner over Sheer Drama in the Fleur de Lis on June 13th, she returned to set a fast pace (note Pace Figures/fractions shaded red) over 1 1/4 miles in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap before settling for 2nd to that rival in her next start.  While Sheer Drama set off for a Grade 1 at Saratoga, where she would defeat Untapable, Frivolous demolished a lesser field in the $100k Locust Grove at Churchill Downs with a big late run.  She projects for a good trip up close to the pace while toward the outside, and we think she is the biggest threat to Untapable in the Spinster.

The Play:  Frivolous on top, with Got Lucky and Untapable underneath. 

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