Noel’s Weekend Winners: Saturday Stakes Plays at Keeneland

Keeneland Giant’s Causeway Lexington Stakes betting exacta trifecta horse racing handicapping horseplayers Roses for Debra Love Reigns Secret Money Florent Geroux Brad Cox Lucky Jeremy Encino turf
Study time at the Keeneland paddock with a lucrative payoff as the reward. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

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 SatuTalking 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.

The Keeneland spring meet is in full swing, offering horseplayers some of the best racing and wagering available throughout the month of April. This Saturday leads off a typically strong weekend at Keeneland with an 11-race card topped by three graded stakes races including the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes and a pair of Grade 3 features – the Giant’s Causeway Stakes and the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes. For this weekend’s winners, let’s delve deeper into Saturday’s two supporting stakes and handicap the Giant’s Causeway and the Lexington. The Lexington is the final official race on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, which is now only three weeks away. Enjoy the races from Keeneland and elsewhere this weekend, and best of luck.

Saturday, April 13

Keeneland, Race 7, $300,000 Giant’s Causeway Stakes, post time 4:12 p.m. ET

weekend Television schedule

Friday, April 12: 1-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Saturday, April 13: 1-7:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Sunday, April 14: 1-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

The Grade 3 Giant’s Causeway is a high-profile turf sprint stakes for fillies and mares that has drawn a full field of 12 plus an also-eligible entrant set to go 5 ½ furlongs. This is a wide-open race, and the horse to beat will be #8 Roses for Debra for Christophe Clement who is annually one of the top turf sprint trainers in the sport. Roses for Debra is making her seasonal debut but has proved in the past that she runs well fresh off a layoff. Her two losses at the end of last year including the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint were against the boys, and Saturday she returns against female-only competition. That’s notable, because when in against her peers she almost never loses, tallying seven wins in nine career races again her own gender including four turf sprint wins in a row for Clement last year including back-to-back stakes wins at Saratoga. The biggest challenge in the race is expected to come from another horse returning from a layoff, #12 Love Reigns for another of the best turf sprint trainers in the business, Wesley Ward. Love Reigns is a multiple turf sprint stakes winner who already has won twice at Keeneland including in the $200,000 Limestone Stakes last spring. Finally, if you’re looking for a live horse at a nice price in this field, it’s #6 Secret Money, who is a turf sprint graded stakes winner that will be making her second start off a brief layoff. She exits a stakes loss at Gulfstream Park, but horses with her running style usually don’t excel as much in Gulfstream’s five-furlong turf sprints as they do here at Keeneland at 5 ½ furlongs.

The Play: Bet to win on #8 Roses for Debra (4-1). Play three-horse exacta and trifecta boxes along with #6 Secret Money (15-1) and #12 Love Reigns (8-1).

Keeneland, Race 10, $400,000 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes, post time 5:48 p.m. ET

The Grade 3 Lexington has drawn a competitive 10-horse field of 3-year-olds ready to race 1 1/16 miles in the final official Kentucky Derby prep of the season. Some of these horses will have an outside shot of getting into the Derby field with a win, so the stakes are high even above and beyond competing for the Lexington’s $400,000 purse. The pick is #8 Encino, who comes off a win in Turfway Park’s $142,500 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, an impressive showing with a good speed figure for trainer Brad Cox. The X-factor with Encino is that all three of his races so far have come on Turfway’s all-weather track and he’s never raced on dirt before, but there’s no reason based on his breeding, training, or anything else to indicate he can’t handle this test at value morning-line odds of 5-1 with Florent Geroux aboard. His three recent workouts were all on the dirt at Keeenland, and he seemed to show an affinity for the surface in all of them. Instead of going to the favorites in the exotics, this race offers a good opportunity to seek out a live contender at a better price. That horse is #10 Lucky Jeremy, who when last seen on the dirt two races ago got cooked in a speed duel and still finished third when beaten only 2 ½ lengths by next-out Santa Anita Derby winner Stronghold. His speed will come in handy in Saturday’s race but his win in Sunland Park’s Riley Allison Futurity also indicates that he doesn’t necessarily need to fight for the lead in order to win.

The Play:  Bet #8 Encino (5-1) to win and box him in the exacta with #10 Lucky Jeremy (8-1).

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