Augusta Moon and Keota faced off in a race at this level three weeks ago. Augusta Moon put away that rival in the stretch, but both were run down in the late stages. That race was contested over 1 1/16 miles, a distance that both have handled. Yet, whereas Augusta Moon (#1) has yet to sprint on turf, Keota has shown more versatility.
In fact, I’ve always been of the opinion that KEOTA (#8) is better going shorter distances. She was visually impressive when she broke her maiden going 6 furlongs last year and she had a legitimate excuse in her only other sprint start since then. While she’s used her tactical speed to good effect going longer, she’s perfectly capable of rallying from farther off the pace in these shorter races, so I’m not at all concerned that horses like Augusta Moon and Teletype may be faster in the early going. Jason Servis is known for his excellent work with turf sprinters, and he even does well with turnbacks on the turf. Over the past 5 years, he is 9 for 30 (30%, $2.30 ROI) with horses going from routes to sprints on turf at NYRA. I think Keota is landing in the right spot and I prefer her to the other favorite, though I will also use Servis’s other runner.
O’Malley (#5) beat a weaker field last time at Saratoga, but she did so after encountering some trouble. The same turnback stat applies to her, and Servis’s numbers with horses off the claim in turf sprints are off-the-charts. She’s more of a wild card, but she should not be dismissed as a win candidate.
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 1,3,5,10
Trifecta: 8 with 1,5 with 1,3,5,6,10