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Blog - GAMBLING

Spring in the Air winning Alcibiades Stakes. (Photo courtesy of Keeneland)

Spring may have arrived a few weeks ago, but for those still staring out at patches of snow in the backyard there’s no better reminder of the warm, wonderful days ahead than the opening of picturesque Keeneland Race Course.

The Lexington, Ky., track opens the gates for its spring meet on Friday, and Saturday’s card features the $500,000 Ashland Stakes, which can double as a handicapping thesis for those in search of a doctorate.

The 1 1/16-mile test attracted an overflow field of 16 3-year-old fillies with two unlucky ladies mired on the also-eligible list, needing a scratch to draw into the race.

The Grade 1 stakes brings together a wild mixture of dirt, synthetic and grass form that will play out on Keeneland’s synthetic main track and offers no end of wagering value.

In sorting through all of it, the one that sticks out is Spring in the Air. While a best guess has to made about some of the top contenders’ ability to adapt to a synthetic surface, Spring in the Air owns an impressive victory on the Keeneland main track. She captured last fall’s Alcibiades Stakes as the 4-1 favorite.

That effort earned her a trip to California for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, where she floundered and finished a distant fifth.

Her 2013 debut wasn’t an eye-opener as she finished second in the OBS Championship Stakes – a $100,000 non-wagering event – on the synthetic surface at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. Though she tired in the final furlong of that 1 1/16-mile stakes last month, perhaps the race was just a prep for better things down the road.

At 8-1 odds, and a victory on the track to her credit, it’s worth gambling on that possibility.

Tuttipaesi is the 4-1 morning-line favorite and she’ll test the theory that excellent grass form can often translate into excellent form on synthetic surfaces. She won an ungraded grass stakes at Gulfstream Park in her United States debut and then finished third, beaten just a length and a half, in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes, also on turf.

TUTTIPAESI

Tuttipaesi -GP-courtney -heeney

Photo courtesy of Courtney Heeney/Gulfstream Park

Considering how foreign imports often bounce a bit in their second U.S. start, she looms a major threat from the ground-saving rail in such a large field – provided she handles the surface.

It remains to be seen if trainer Doug O’Neill makes it back to the Kentucky Derby, but he has a promising 3-year-old filly in Redressthebalance. The Irish-bred filly was given a break after capturing an ungraded stakes on Golden Gate’s Tapeta Footings synthetic surface in her third U.S. start, and she could post a surprise at 15-1 odds if she moves forward off the freshening.

To round out the superfecta, there are a couple of longshots to watch. Unbeaten Nipissing makes her 2013 debut in a tough spot, but she showed some potential on Woodbine’s Polytrack surface last year and races for the first time on Lasix. If she’s developed at all in the last few months, she could sneak into the exotics at 12-1 odds.

Kitten’s Dumplings has shown improvement in her two 2013 starts, but she also ran abysmally in the Alcibiades last year. If that was a fluke, she can be a factor for trainer Mike Maker, who knows Keeneland quite well. If it wasn’t a fluke, you can probably rip up your tickets at the quarter pole.  At least at 15-1 odds, there’s a nice reward for the risk in this very wide-open spring fling. 

Ehalt’s selections

1. Spring in the Air

2. Tuttipaesi

3. Redressthebalance

4. Nipissing

5. Kitten’s Dumplings

$500,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes

Keeneland Race Course, Saturday, Race 9, 5:13 p.m. ET

3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 Miles

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1

Tuttipaesi (IRE)

A Garcia

H G Motion

2

Nipissing (ON)

S R Bahen

R Halden

3

Private Ensign (KY)

C J Lanerie

D L Romans

4

Spring Venture (KY)

M Mena

M E Casse

5

Broken Spell (KY)

J Rocco Jr.

D W Lukas

6

Redressthebalance (IRE)

J L Castanon

D F O'Neill

7

Kitten's Point (PA)

E S Prado

H G Motion

8

Kitten's Dumplings (KY)

S Bridgmohan

M J Maker

9

Allanah (KY)

N Arroyo Jr.

K Gorder

10

Every Way (KY)

J Graham

M Stidham

11

Spring in the Air (ON)

P Husbands

M E Casse

12

Wave Theory (KY)

J R Leparoux

C C Brown

13

Emollient (KY)

M E Smith

W I Mott

14

Magical Moon (MD)

R Napravnik

A M Stall Jr.

AE-15

Adriani (KY)

J Rosario

D Fawkes

AE-16

Cash Is Queen (KY)

R Albarado

S S Lyster

AE-Denotes Also Eligible

All carry 121 pounds.

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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