Appalachian S & Madison Stakes Odds and Predictions

The Blue Grass has been discussed elsewhere, but there are four other stakes at Keeneland on Saturday with some big names on show. Last year’s G1 Madison Stakes one-two Kimari and Bell’s The One do battle again, while Breeders’ Cup winner Golden Pal returns to showcase his dazzling speed in the G2 Shakertown, a promising group of three-year-old fillies clash in the G2 Appalachian, and the back-to-form Nashville and Prevalence stand out from the crowd in the G3 Commonwealth.

Madison Stakes

Seconds out, round two. Last year’s Madison closely resembles this year’s Madison, as the highlight of the undercard at Keeneland on Saturday brings together the winner and runner-up from 12 months ago, both well-fancied to figure large again.

A year ago, Kimari was an odds-on favorite and got the job done in comfort, not being required to go deep into the red to come home three-quarters of a length clear of third-choice Bell’s The One, who dead-heated for the silver medal with longshot Estilo Talentoso. That should have triggered a big year for Kimari, but she was sidelined for seven months before returning to run down the field in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Following a four-month layoff, Kimari bounced back to winning form with a boilerplate score at 1-20 in an allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream Park, which should tee her up nicely for today’s back-to-back bid. She is accompanied by barnmate Tiz Splendid News , who makes her Graded stakes debut here.

Bell’s The One, on the other hand, was busy through 2021, taking her lifetime record to a remarkable 11-for-22 with three wins including the G2 Honourable Miss at Saratoga and the G2 Thoroughbred Club of America here over six furlongs. She is probably better at the speedy six, over which she beat Club Car a length in a stakes at Churchill Downs in November, her most recent start, but she usually brings her best to this track.

The third of the ‘big three’ here is Lady Rocket , who made considerable improvement through the second half of 2021 and signed off her campaign with a lifetime best, leading throughout in the G3 Go For Wand at Aqueduct over a mile and hosing her rivals by nine lengths. She is versatile regarding distance, and if extending her upward curve into this season would be a major player today.

Her barnmate Just One Time is also on a roll, winning her last three and making her stakes breakthrough in the G2 Inside Information at Gulfstream Park over today’s distance, when she got up close home to turn back Four Graces by three-quarters of a length. Four Graces has been beaten since, disappointing back at Gulfstream, but Just One Time is nevertheless moving up nicely.

Another riding a three-race winning streak is Center Aisle, who overcame a slow start to land the G3 Sugar Swirl over six furlongs at Gulfstream Park in December. She has already won over course and distance, albeit in allowance company.

Kalypso has her first start for Steve Asmussen after leaving Bob Baffert, for whom she won the G1 La Brea at Santa Anita over seven furlongs before finding the company a bit too tough in the G2 Santa Monica over the same course and distance, beaten six and three-quarter lengths into third. On the balance of her form she needs more here, as does the in-form Cilla, winner of two stakes over the flying five at Delta Downs on her last two starts but by no means certain to appreciate the step back up to seven furlongs.

Our Madison Stakes Betting Prediction:

The sense of deja vu prompted by the rematch between last year’s one-two can be reinforced by the same result, as KIMARI can make up for lost time by recording back-to-back wins.

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
CillaBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.+2000
Center AisleLuis Saez+1200
Lady RocketIrad Ortiz, Jr.+275
Just One TimeFlavien Prat+850
Bell’s the OneCorey J. Lanerie+375
KimariTyler Gaffalione+185
Four GracesJulien R. Leparoux+1500
Club CarColby J. Hernandez+1500
KalypsoGerardo Corrales+1500
Tiz Splendid NewsKazushi Kimura+1500


There is recent winning form in abundance in the Appalachian, with all but one of the eight fillies coming here with a last-time-out victory on their records, although those successes cover a wide spectrum of class.

Two of the leading lights hail from Graham Motion’s barn with Spenderella, unbeaten in two, the morning-line choice. Both her victories have been at Gulfstream Park, and she went straight from a maiden into the big league when winning the G3 Herecomesthebride over a mile, leading at every call and digging in through late stretch to get there by a length and a half.

Further improvement can be counted upon, which gives her a slight edge over barnmate Ouraika (8-1), who has six races to her name here and in her native France. She’s shown much more Stateside, and made her stakes breakthrough at Santa Anita over six and a half when moving through fast and late to win the G3 Sweet Life by a head. That suggests today’s longer distance will suit, although she looked one-paced at a mile-sixteenth on her US debut.

Fellow French import Dolce Zel got it right first time in her adopted land, coming with a rush through the final furlong to win the G3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs by a head from a better-fancied barnmate. That was at a mile-sixteenth, and she should move up from the experience of her first run over here and also the fact that this will be her second start after a five-month layoff.

Another ex-French filly is Glenall , who was stakes-placed in the mud over five furlongs at Vichy when wearing blinkers, and broke her maiden at the seventh attempt on fast turf at Santa Anita over a mile, passing all her seven rivals in the stretch to score by a head. That should boost her confidence and there could be better to come.

Kneesnhips finished ahead of Ouraika on that horse’s US debut and showed considerable improvement on her first run of 2022, coming from last to first in the final quarter-mile to win a stakes over a mile at the Fair Grounds last month. A stalking role suits her very well and she’ll be playing late again.

This is the stakes debut for Skims after two wins, the most recent in an allowance optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs over a mile-sixteenth, when she was always on or near the pace and held on bravely in the last few jumps to keep it by a head. It’s the same basic profile as Trobairitz, although that filly has been winning at five and a half furlongs at the Fair Grounds.

The only last-time-out loser is An Agent Mistake, and it was no disgrace at all to take second spot in a stakes at Santa Anita over a mile, finishing off her race well to be beaten just three-quarters of a length. She has ample scope for improvement.

Our Appalachian Stakes Top Pick:

There are plenty with chances, but a Chad Brown runner on turf is a handy shortcut and Grade 3 winner DOLCE ZEL, who will be sharper on her second start after a layoff, fits the bill.

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Glenall (IRE)Julien R. Leparoux+2000
An Agent MistakeRafael Bejarano+550
SpendarellaTyler Gaffalione+120
Dolce Zel (FR)Irad Ortiz, Jr.+275
Skims (GB)Flavien Prat+600
TrobairitzJareth Loveberry+3000
Ouraika (FR)Florent Geroux+850
KneesnhipsJames Graham+850


Like the Shakertown, the Commonwealth appears to revolve around one horse, but in this case the implied superiority may not be as marked as the morning-line odds suggest, despite there being little depth in the race beyond the market principals.

The horse in question is Nashville, who returns to a track at which he is unbeaten in two and where he claimed his sole stakes success to date, when an easy all-the-way winner over six furlongs back in November 2020.

He was sidelined for most of last year, and finally returned to the winner’s circle last month when destroying his field in an allowance optional claimer at the Fair Grounds, going more than six lengths clear through the first quarter and maintaining his advantage to the line.

It was visually very impressive, but this is much tougher and Nashville won’t be able to dominate in such a fashion. He’ll be pressed on the pace by Prevalence, who also used an allowance optional claimer to end a long losing streak when drawing off to win by four and three-quarter lengths at Gulfstream Park over a mile; the cut back in distance won’t be an issue, and his owner Godolphin wouldn’t have persevered with him unless it was felt there was improvement to come.

Last year’s Kentucky Derby fifth O Besos hasn’t been too busy since then, winning an allowance optional claimer at the Fair Grounds on his first start of 2022 before never really playing a part in the G3 Mineshaft at the same track, keeping on for fourth behind Olympiad. Both those starts were at a mile-sixteenth and it’s more than a year since he’s been cut back this far in distance.

This is considerable class relief for Endorsed after the G1 Pegasus World Cup, in which he was a never-dangerous longshot fourth, but he has now lost 17 straight, frequently promising but never delivering. Droughts can end, though; Surveillance lost his first nine races before rattling off a hat-trick, all at the Fair Grounds, most recently in an allowance optional claimer over six furlongs.

Inconsistency is the problem with Sir Alfred James, who made his stakes breakthrough at Turfway Park over six furlongs on New Year’s Day, but was then beaten in four stakes before regaining the winning thread in a weak allowance at Parx Racing. South Bend was very much second best in the G3 Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream Park and is zero-for-nine at Graded level, while Long Range Toddy hasn’t won since March 2019 and Atoka has never won at stakes level.

Our Commonwealth Top Choice:

There is less about this race than meets the eye, and it could be worth taking on favourite Nashville withPREVALENCE, who returned to winning form last time and is proven at the distance

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Manny WahFlorent Geroux+1500
Long Range ToddyPaco Lopez+2000
Sir Alfred JamesJohn McKee+1000
Three TechniqueRafael Bejarano+5000
NashvilleLuis Saez-120
SurveillanceJames Graham+3000
South BendFlavien Prat+850
EndorsedRicardo Santana, Jr.+850
AtokaLuis Contreras+3000
PrevalenceTyler Gaffalione+550
O BesosIrad Ortiz, Jr.+550


There are plenty of runners in the Shakertown, but it really just shakes down to whether the brilliantly fast Golden Pal is ready to rumble first time up and on ground that may be softer than he prefers.

Golden Pal is unquestionably the best horse in the field, three-for-three in the US last year and only beaten on his trip to Britain. His performance in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint was thoroughly awe-inspiring, as he came out of the gate as though he’d been fired from a cannon and nothing could get near him after that. He cruised by a length and a quarter, with Gear Jockey five and a half lengths back in sixth.

Golden Pal won first time out last year, is unbeaten in two at this track, and only a deluge of rain is likely to shake confidence in the fleet-footed four-year-old.

If there is one with pace to trouble him it just might be Just Might, who habitually breaks on top and has won eight times in stakes company, but is zero-for-seven at Graded level and finished ninth and tenth in the last two runnings of the Shakertown. No obvious reason why today should be any different.

California speedball Barraza took his winning streak to four – all at Santa Anita – with a lifetime best in the G3 San Simeon, winning going away by two and three-quarter lengths, but he cuts back from six and a half furlongs and might find everything happening too quickly for him, which also goes for ex-Brazilian Filo De Arianna, unbeaten in four but unraced since winning an allowance over seven furlongs at Woodbine in June.

Former British sprinter The Lir Jet snapped an eight-race losing streak when winning the G2 Franklin-Simpson at Kentucky Downs over six and a half, but form at that track doesn’t translate well to more conventional circuits and he, again, won’t be suited by a return to a distance he hasn’t tried since his two-year-old days.

He’s still a better option for exotics players than Diamond Oops, who no longer has the speed of his younger days, or Chess Master, whose only try in Graded company came in this race last year, when he ran 11th of 12.

Our Shakertown Betting Pick:

As long as weather conditions don’t deteriorate, there seems to be nothing standing in the way of another victory for the freakishly fast Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner GOLDEN PAL

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Chess MasterJesus Lopez Castanon+2000
Natural Power (IRE)Corey J. Lanerie+5000
BarrazaJulien R. Leparoux+650
Diamond OopsFlorent Geroux+1500
Gear JockeyBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.+1000
The Lir Jet (IRE)Tyler Gaffalione+1200
CowanRafael Bejarano+2000
Johnny UnleashedGerardo Corrales+5000
Filo Di Arianna (BRZ)Luis Saez+1200
Golden PalIrad Ortiz, Jr.-150
Just MightColby J. Hernandez+450

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