Maker's Mark Mile Odds & Betting Prediction

Dual Breeders’ Cup winner Modern Games has never been beaten when crossing the Atlantic, and the British ace puts that fine record on the line in the G1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland on Friday, when he takes on the in-form Emmanuel and quality Irish import Dr Zempf. On the undercard, a dozen speedy fillies – including G3 winners American Apple, Lady Hollywood and Danse Macabre – will form a real cavalry charge in the ungraded Limestone.

Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes

G1, $600,000, 1m turf, 4yo+, 5.16pm ET

There’s a true equine celebrity in the house at Keeneland on Friday, when the marquee Maker’s Mark Mile plays host to a British colt who is three-for-three in G1s in North America, a transatlantic love affair that could blossom ever further as the year goes on.

His presence has made the race completely one-sided, but that’s the sort of horse Modern Games (3-5) is. With two Breeders’ Cup wins on his record – the controversial G1 Juvenile Turf in 2021 and the G1 BC Mile last year – he can lay claim to form his rivals today can only dream about, and there’s plenty more where that came from.

Modern Games has won G1s over a mile in France and Canada to go with his pair in the US, and was certainly value for a little more than the three-quarters of a length he beat Shirl’s Speight in the BC Mile over course and distance, when he rallied hard from mid-stretch and was eased down after the race was safely in the bag.

Last year’s champion turf male wouldn’t be coming 4,000 miles just for a tune-up and he’ll be ready first time, but we all know the story about Goliath and David, and the seven Davids in opposition will be of great interest to those looking for exacta and trifecta possibilities.

Emmanuel (4-1) is in a rich vein of form this year, posting victories over a mile-sixteenth in the G3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream Park and the G3 Tampa Bay at the other big Florida track, and may be ready to fulfil the promise he hinted at last year. This is clearly a much tougher test but he shouldn’t have anything to fear from barnmate Up To The Mark (10-1), also two-for-two this year but at allowance level. Chez Pierre (12-1), sixth in the Tampa Bay and giving up his unbeaten record on his first start for ten months, can be expected to improve but has a lot to find.

There’s more to come from Irish import Dr Zempf (6-1), a G3 winner back in the old country and a smooth winner of an allowance at Gulfstream over seven and a half furlongs on his debut for Chad Brown. Perhaps the Lasix perked him up; without the meds today, he’ll need to move up given that on official European figures he is rated 10lb inferior to Modern Games.

The cut-back may not suit G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf third Speaking Scout (15-1), who has done all his best work at a mile-eighth, including when winning the G1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar with Cabo Spirit (20-1) two and a half lengths back in fifth, while veteran In Love (30-1) – eighth in this last year – has regressed a fair way from his G1-winning form of 2021.

Maker’s Mark Mile Odds & Betting Pick

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Speaking ScoutLuis Saez+1500
Up to the MarkIrad Ortiz, Jr.+1000
Chez Pierre (FR)Flavien Prat+1200
EmmanuelJavier Castellano+400
Dr Zempf (GB)Tyler Gaffalione+600
Modern Games (IRE)William Buick-167
Cabo SpiritUmberto Rispoli+2000
In Love (BRZ)Vincent Cheminaud+3000

Dual Breeders’ Cup winner MODERN GAMES has a huge class edge and the top-quality Brit can’t be opposed as he bids for a second G1 win over course and distance.

Limestone Stakes

Ungraded, $250,000, 5 1/2f turf, 3yo fillies, 4.12pm ET

Speed and more speed is the theme of the Limestone, the supporting feature, with a dozen distaff sprinters going hard from the gate in a race in which track position and luck will count for just as much as ability.

The obvious place to start with Keeneland sprints is local powerhouse Wesley Ward, who supplies the morning-line favourite Love Reigns (7-2). She was also favourite for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint over course and distance but never got out of mid-pack, finishing eighth, but is a fair bit better than that as her victory in a Saratoga stakes over today’s distance suggests.

She stalked the pace and surged clear at the Spa, beating the rallying Danse Macabre (4-1) by two and a half lengths, and if she can get out and go she won’t be far away. Danse Macabre made a winning start to 2023 when taking down the G3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park over a mile, so this represents a drastic cut-back and she’ll have to be right on her game from the outside post. Also cutting right back is Alluring Angel (20-1), comfortably beaten when third in a mile stakes at Aqueduct in November and not seen since.

Ward’s second-string is Lady Hollywood (15-1), a British import who also hasn’t been seen since the BC Juvenile Turf Sprint, when she came home three places and three and a quarter lengths ahead of her new barnmate, with longshot G3 Matron winner American Apple (10-1) sixth, in between the pair. Lady Hollywood won four times ‘over there’, including a G3 in France, and may represent an overlay at these odds.

Good recent form comes from Sassy Nature (5-1), who went gate-to-wire in a stakes over the flying five at Gulfstream to beat the late-running Just A Care (8-1) by a comfortable two and a quarter lengths, both fillies on their stakes debut. If she can get clear from the 1-hole Sassy Nature rates a major player.

Fellow Gulfstream winner Accomplished Girl (6-1) merits this step up after blitzing a five-furlong maiden gate-to-wire by five and a quarter lengths in a fast time, while My Sweet Affair (10-1) was not quite as impressive when winning her own Gulfstream five-furlong maiden, job done by two and a half lengths, but deserves attention here.

Santa Anita stakes-winner Stone Silent (30-1) tries the lawn for the first time after disappointing when fifth in an Oaklawn Park stakes over six furlongs – Twirled (30-1) last of the six, and now back on turf after two wins on the main track – and the surface switch makes her an unknown quantity.

Limestone Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Sassy NatureJulien R. Leparoux+500
My Sweet AffairIrad Ortiz, Jr.+1000
Love Reigns (IRE)Joel Rosario+350
Accomplished GirlEdgard J. Zayas+600
Stone SilentTyler Gaffalione+3000
Just a Care (IRE)Javier Castellano+800
Alluring Angel (GB)Flavien Prat+2000
American AppleGerardo Corrales+1000
Camp AkeelaEdgar Morales+2000
TwirledLanfranco Dettori+3000
Lady Hollywood (GB)John R. Velazquez+1500
Danse MacabreAdam Beschizza+400

The very speedy LADY HOLLYWOOD finished ahead of today’s favourite – her new barnmate – at the Breeders’ Cup and can move up after a positive change of trainer.

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