Noel’s Weekend Winners: Taking a Stand Against a Pair of Favorites at Keeneland

Keeneland, Perryville Stakes, Raise Cain, Verifying, Eclipse Sportswire
Horses race on the main track at Keeneland earlier during the 2023 fall meet. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Welcome to Noel Michaels’ Weekend Winners, the place to go for weekend best bets and spot plays from veteran handicapper and tournament-play pioneer Noel Michaels. Check back every week for a couple of highlighted selections designed to help you cash a few bets and make some money.

Noel's selections have been featured just about everywhere horse racing picks can be found, including in print in the Daily Racing Form, The HorsePlayer Magazine and American Turf Monthly, online at, and, from the paddock on-track at Arlington International Racecourse, and on the air on HRTV, TVG, NYC OTB Extra, NYRA's Talking Horses, and on broadcast TV on WAVE-3 Louisville, ABC KOLO-8 in Reno, Nevada, and channel 72 Long Island Cablevision.

Noel Michaels’ Weekend Winners is brought to you by, the official online qualifying site of the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) and National Horseplayers Championship (NHC). offers low-cost feeders every day and BCBC and NHC qualifiers every weekend, and it’s the only site where you can qualify for the $1.25 million BCBC. It’s free to sign up – click here to get information about registering and how to enter contests.

Six Beginner Betting Tools

  1. Start simple with an easy guide for how to bet on horse racing.
  2. Not sure what that word means? Horse racing terminology is a language of its own. Allow us translate for you.
  3. What the heck is a speed figure? This beginner’s guide to speed figures has everything you need to know.
  4. Betting on horse racing can be intimidating. Team ABR put together some Dos and Don’ts for the new fan getting started betting on racing.
  5. We all make mistakes when it comes to betting on horse racing, here are eight lessons learned from experience.
  6. Figure out how much each bet will cost in advance with our Gambling Calculator, presented by NYRA Bets.

Saturday, Oct. 21

weekend TV schedule

Thursday, Oct. 19: 12:30-5 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Friday, Oct. 20: 12:30-5 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Saturday, Oct. 21: 8-11 a.m. and 2-3:30 p.m. on FS1; 12:30-2 p.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Sunday, Oct. 22: 12:30-3 p.m. on FS2; 3-5 p.m. on FS1; post time varies on FanDuel TV

While much of the Thoroughbred racing world begins to turn its attention to the upcoming Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park, it’s important to remember that the star-studded Keeneland fall meet still has a week to go. This Saturday’s action at Keeneland is topped by the Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run Stakes, a $350,000 stakes race for 3-year-old fillies going seven furlongs, and while that is a terrific race, it’s not all there is to bet on the program. Keeneland’s Saturday undercard is loaded with other good betting races, and for this weekend’s winners, we will concentrate on maiden claimers earlier on the card and in the day’s other stakes race, the $250,000 Perryville Stakes. If we can make some money on the undercard, we can take some big swings later on the card. Best of luck and enjoy this weekend’s racing from Keeneland.

Keeneland, Race 3, $43,000 maiden claiming, 2:04 p.m. ET

Maiden claimers go to the track for Race 3 on Saturday’s 10-race card at Keeneland, and the six-furlong dirt race will be good to bet because it has drawn a full 12-horse field with perhaps a very beatable favorite. Trainer Norm Casse has been on fire lately, first at Saratoga Race Course and then in Kentucky this fall. His starter in this race will be #7 Bourbon Fever, a maiden who has run competitive races against better horses and now drops in class into his easiest spot yet. His speed figures stack up well against this field and he’s hit the board at higher levels three times in four career races so far. #12 Back to Reality is not dropping in class – he’s rising – but still seems to be the other main contender in the race based on the solid second-place finish at Churchill Downs last time in his second career outing. Just like Bourbon Fever, the speed figures indicate that he may be faster than most or all of these. The probable heavy favorite in the race will be #2 Kingmaker, who is 8-5 odds on the morning line, which represents a clear underlay on the tote board considering this will be his first race back from a nine-month layoff for his first start since Oaklawn in January. He ran well off a shorter layoff that day, but he was not consistent enough to take at low odds today and perhaps the big class drop to the $20,000 maiden claiming level here represents a major red flag.

The Play: Bet to win on #7 Bourbon Fever (6-1) and play him in an exacta box with #12 Back to Reality (5-1).


Keeneland, Race 6, $250,000 Perryville Stakes, 3:40 p.m. ET

Raise Cain Kentucky Derby Triple Crown Gotham Stakes
Gotham Stakes winner Raise Cain (Eclipse Sportswire)

It seems funny that the seven-furlong stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the card is a Grade 2 and yet the 3-year-old colts and gelding counterpart, the seven-furlong Perryville, is completely ungraded. Perhaps that’s why there’s only six horses entered. On the plus side for bettors, the six we do have are good horses and make for a competitive race. The standout name in the field is the morning-line favorite, #1 Verifying, who comes into this race off second-, first-, and second-place finishes in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes, the Grade 3 Indiana Derby, and the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes in his last three races. Not sure seven furlongs and one turn are this horse’s wheelhouse, but there’s no doubt he makes a ton of sense in today’s six-horse field. That said, it doesn’t mean you need to bet him to win. After all, his odds will be low and there’s a couple of other reasonable prospects in this race. One alternative at better odds is #4 Raise Cain, who battled to within a nose of Verifying in a thrilling finish in the Indiana Derby back in July. He might also prefer longer, but maybe not, because his career-best race came around one turn in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes this March, when he won by 7 ½ lengths. He may also move up today if the track ends up wet. One big question mark in the Perryville is the pace, since there doesn’t appear to be a true seven-furlong pacesetter entered among the six horses. That means that the lead may fall to speedy California invader #5 Dr. Venkman, whose connections saw enough in his big wins in his first two career races to convince them to ship the horse to Keeneland for this race. This is a tough spot but he’ll be dangerous if they let him get the lead. If somebody battles with Dr. Venkman up front, it is very likely to be Verifying, and that is exactly the kind of scenario needed to help set the race up for Raise Cain.

The Play:  Bet #4 Raise Cain (4-1) to win and play him in a three-horse trifecta box along with #1 Verifying (1-1) and #5 Dr. Venkman (7-2). If Verifying finishes out of the top spot, the trifecta could pay better than you think.

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