The richest race of Keeneland’s 2021 fall feet is Saturday’s Grade 1 Keeneland Turf Mile, which carries a lofty purse of $750,000. The one-mile turf race also awards a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF on Nov. 6 at Del Mar, and this prize — coupled with the lucrative purse — has proved sufficient to draw a deep field of 13 horses.
As a result, the Keeneland Turf Mile is shaping up to be one of the best betting races of the week.
Let’s take a look at seven of the key contenders, then plot out of a couple of wagering strategies:
#3 In Love: This Brazilian-bred gelding found his best stride during the summer, most recently rallying to a 2 1/4-length victory in the TVG Stakes racing one mile and 70 yards on the European-style turf course at Kentucky Downs. But In Love’s only previous attempt at a U.S. graded stakes produced a nonthreatening eighth-place effort in the Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes, so stepping up into Grade 1 company for the Keeneland Turf Mile is a question mark.
#4 Space Traveller: Formerly based in Europe, Space Traveller has found new life sine transferring to the U.S., finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Mr. D. Stakes before improving to second in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile. While not a frequent winner, Space Traveller boasts a solid turn-of-foot on his best day and can’t be counted out of the mix for a top-three finish.
#6 Ivar: Last year’s Keeneland Turf Mile victor has only run once in 2021, finishing a deceptively strong sixth in the Grade 1 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes back in May. While he’s arriving at Keeneland off a lengthy layoff, Ivar is remarkably versatile in terms of running style and should be able to work out an ideal trip no matter how the Keeneland Turf Mile unfolds. Don’t be surprised if wearing blinkers prompts Ivar to show more early speed than usual — he employed pace-setting and pressing tactics in two starts with blinkers last year.
#7 Pixelate: Taking a spin over the European-style turf course at Kentucky Downs last month proved most suitable for Pixelate, who rallied boldly to win the Grade 3 WinStar Mint Million Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths. But a hot early pace enhanced Pixelate’s chances — the race was largely dominated by late runners — and his two previous forays against Grade 1 competition produced fifth-place finishes. Stepping up in class for the Keeneland Turf Mile could be a challenge, although Pixelate’s consistency (he’s cracked the trifecta in 16 out of 20 starts) is appealing.
#10 Order of Australia: This talented European raider is returning to the U.S. for the first time since a 73.20-1 upset victory in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile. Order of Australia has only won once in the interim, although he’s been squaring off against elite competition in Europe, most recently finishing two lengths behind standout milers Palace Pier and Poetic Flare in France’s Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois and 1 ¼ lengths behind unbeaten Baaeed in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. A similar effort at Keeneland should be sufficient to land Order of Australia in the winner’s circle.
#11 Diamond Oops: Although Diamond Oops is primarily known as a dirt sprinter, he’s run a few gallant races on turf through the years, even finishing second by less than a length in the 2019 Keeneland Turf Mile. The 6-year-old gelding enters the 2021 renewal in encouraging form, finishing second against a tricky pace setup in the Grade 2 FanDuel Turf Sprint Stakes at Kentucky Downs. I’m optimistic Diamond Oops is sitting on a big effort while stretching out in distance for the Keeneland Turf Mile, opening the door for a top-four finish at high odds.
#13 Somelikeithotbrown: A pure speed horse who rarely settles farther off the pace than third place, Somelikeithotbrown enters the Keeneland Turf Mile off a gutsy runner-up effort in the WinStar Mint Million, in which he tracked fast fractions before settling for second behind Pixelate. But with the exception of a third-place finish in the 2018 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Somelikeithotbrown has struggled to hold his own against Grade 1 competition, and drawing the outside post at Keeneland might make it difficult for Somelikeithotbrown to work out a winning trip.
Betting a race with 13 starters is never easy, but it can certainly be lucrative. Order of Australia may be the morning-line favorite but his 7-2 odds are enticing. If we key him on top of exacta and trifecta tickets, we’ll have an opportunity to catch a big payoff.
Wagering Strategy on a $12 Budget
$8 to win on #10 Order of Australia
What to say at the betting window: Keeneland, 10th race, $8 to win on 10
$1 exacta: 10 with 4,6,11,13 ($4)
What to say at the betting window: Keeneland, 10th race, $1 exacta 10 with 4,6,11,13
Wagering Strategy on a $36 Budget
$16 to win on #10 Order of Australia
What to say at the betting window: Keeneland, 10th race, $16 to win on 10
$2 exacta: 10 with 4,6,11,13 ($8)
What to say at the betting window: Keeneland, 10th race, $2 exacta 10 with 4,6,11,13
$0.50 trifecta: 10 with 4,6,11,13 with 3,4,6,7,10,11,13 ($12)
What to say at the betting window: Keeneland, 10th race, $0.50 trifecta 10 with 4,6,11,13 with 3,4,6,7,10,11,13
Good luck, and enjoy the race!