Fayette Stakes Predictions, Top Picks, Odds (Keeneland)

Fayette Stakes Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2021 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 SLEEPY EYES TODD 6/1
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R Elkleberry M A Silva
2 MANHATTAN UP 15/1
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C Landeros R Diodoro
3 MILITARIST 30/1
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M Garcia C Vaccarezza
4 NIGHT OPS 5/1
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F Geroux B Cox
5 INDEPENDENCE HALL 9/2
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J Castellano M McCarthy
6 KING FURY 7/2
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B Hernandez Jr K McPeek
7 CODE OF HONOR 5/2
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T Gaffalione C McGaughey
8 FORT PECK 15/1
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D Cohen R Diodoro
9 MAJOR FED 8/1
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R Santana Jr. G Foley

Best Bets for the Fayette Stakes

Here are my plays ($60 in total)

$5 Exacta part wheel – King Fury and Sleepy Eyes Todd over Code of Honor, Independence Hall and Night Ops = $30

$5 Exacta part wheel – Code of Honor, Independence Hall and Night Ops over Sleepy Eyes Todd and King Fury = $30

If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick Sleepy Eyes Todd (6/1).

In what is scheduled to be the final race of his career, Code of Honor headlines a field of nine entered in the 64th running of the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes on Saturday, the closing day of the fall meet at Keeneland.

The two-time Grade 1 winner is trained by Shug McGaughey and earned his two biggest victories back in 2019 when he won the Travers and was put up in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Overall, the 5-year-old son of Noble Mission has won six stakes races, including the Grade 3 Philip Iselin Stakes two starts back at Monmouth Park.

Going out a winner for the favorite is far from a sure thing, though, as there are four other graded stakes winners in the field in this 9-furlong affair on the main track. Chief among them is King Fury, who comes into the Fayette off a 13-length runaway in the Bourbon Trail last month at Churchill Downs for trainer Kenny McPeek. He also won the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland earlier this year.

Of the rest, Independence Hall, Night Ops, and Sleepy Eyes Todd all should draw plenty of attention. The trio of older, graded stakes winners all come in off of competitive performances against some of the top older males in the nation.

Race Analysis

Code of Honor

The veteran, who was moved up to second in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, is the class of the race. On his best, he would collar the field early in the stretch and power his way to victory. Unfortunately, we have not seen much of his best in the past few seasons. He has been a cut below where he was as a 3-year-old. Having said that, he still has been good enough to be a major player in this race. Interestingly, this will be his first-ever race at Keeneland, and the last race of his career, before heading off to stud duty. It would be nice to see him go out on top, but from a betting standpoint, I believe there is good reason to take a shot at beating him as the race favorite.

King Fury

The only 3-year-old in the race, he turned in a big performance at Keeneland in his first start of the year, easily winning the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes over a sloppy track. With rain expected the next few days, he could catch a similar surface on Saturday. Either way, the talented, late-running son of Curlin is a big threat here. He easily could have added the Ohio Derby to his stakes total with a little racing luck in late June and then had a couple of tough starts at Saratoga. His performance in winning minor stakes at Churchill Downs last time shows that he is back and confident, and perhaps ready to win his biggest race yet.

Independence Hall

Despite going 0-for-5 so far this year, it’s hard to knock the son of the Constitution too much. Trained by Michael McCarthy, he has kept top company, including a pair of pretty solid efforts behind the leader of the older male division Knicks Go. The first came back in January when he finished a good third in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup, and the second came in his last start when he chased the heavy favorite around the track, ultimately holding second in the Grade 3 Lukas Classic. With his tactical speed, he should be in a good stalking position early and have every chance as the field straightens out for the stretch drive.

Night Ops

Another one who has yet to find the winner’s circle in 2021, but the graded stakes winner from the barn of Brad Cox has run well in all seven of his races this year. The winner of a pair of stakes races last year, this will be his eleventh consecutive start in a stakes race, and he is usually right there. Last time was his first time out of the top three this year, but the fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup certainly was not a bad performance. Given the quality of this field, I suspect his losing streak will probably continue, but expecting anything less than another solid effort would likely be a mistake.

Sleepy Eyes Todd


In a race with very little speed, I look for this multi-millionaire to go right out for the early lead from his inside post position. From there, it will be a matter of catch me if you can. While he hasn’t won yet this year, he has tackled some very difficult assignments and his last race, when second to Art Collector in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic, looks like his best performance of the season. He also has a nice win over the track last fall in the Lafayette Stakes, which was his only previous start at Keeneland. At pretty attractive odds, I think he has a big shot to take this group wire to wire.

Major Fed

A veteran of last year’s Kentucky Derby, where he finished 10th, this son of Ghostzapper makes his first start in stakes company since running for the roses last September. Although he has yet to win a stakes race, the Greg Foley-trainee demonstrated he belonged, with good efforts when second in both the Risen Star and the Indiana Derby, and a rallying fourth in the $1 million Louisiana Derby. After a 9-month layoff, he has returned in good form, winning two allowance races at Churchill Downs, so he should be ready to roll in his third start of the year. Whether he is good enough will be the question. Of the late runners, I like King Fury and Code of Honor a bit better, but he certainly merits consideration.

Fort Peck

One of two from the barn of Robertino Diodoro, he has clearly moved forward since being claimed two starts back. A nice win at Saratoga was followed by his graded stakes debut in the Kelso at Belmont Park, where he ran second. It was not a close second, but it came behind the very talented Life Is Good. Off the two good starts for his new barn, he at least is worth a closer look, but I feel he has been around too long to expect something as big as beating this kind of field.

Manhattan Up

The other entrant from Diodoro is a recent claim who has never before raced outside of California. A 5-year-old gelding sired by Street Boss, he broke a 9-race losing streak last time with a win in the Los Alamitos Special Stakes. It was a solid enough win, but by no means was it over the type of field that he will be meeting on Saturday. Given the improvement in his first start for his new barn, in which he got blinkers on, a case could be made for him as a long-shot possibility, but I am not ready to believe he can improve enough to successfully tackle this assignment.

Militarist

The good news for this 4-year-old son of Liam’s Map is that he is coming into the Fayette off the best performance of his career. The bad news is that it came in an allowance race on the turf at Ellis Park. In fact, he has never won on the dirt, so this seems like an odd place for his stakes debut. He is improving, but he simply is not ready for this type of competition.

How to Watch the Fayette Stakes

Fayette Stakes Race Information
Race Fayette Stakes (Grade 2)
Where Keeneland
When Saturday, October 30 — 5:16pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $200,000

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

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