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Check out our predictions and odds for the Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland!
G R Arnold II
R Santana Jr
C McGaughey III
ME AD MR. C
Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.
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Looking for even more success on American turf, trainer Charlie Appleby will send out Bold Act to top an overflow field of turf runners in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland on Friday.
A 3-year-old son of New Approach, the Irish-bred has won 5-of-11 career starts in Europe.
A competitive third in Group 3 races in both France and England, the gelding earned a hard-earned stakes victory two starts back at Deauville.
Chief among his rivals in the 12-furlong Sycamore will be the 9-year-old Pure Prize gelding, Red Knight.
Trained by Mike Maker, he is closing in on the $2 million mark on earnings. The chestnut has won four graded stakes in the last two seasons, including the Grade 1 Man O’ War earlier this year.
Another coming from the barn of Maker, Therapist is also one to watch in the $300,000 feature.
A millionaire and a two-time graded stakes winner this year, the experienced gelding won the Grade 1 United Nations two starts back, but finished well back last time in the Kentucky Turf Cup.
This European invader will be the likely favorite on Friday. His trainer Charlie Appleby has routinely brought turf horses to North America and had them perform well.
This Godolphin homebred has been very consistent across the pond, finishing in the top three in nine of his eleven career starts. He is the only 3-year-old in this field, but with his experience, that should not be a major issue.
Given his connections' ability to place their horses so well in out turf races, he should be considered the one to beat on Friday. Having said that, he is far from a sure thing as the favorite.
While the likely favorite is only 3, the second choice is a 9-year-old. Trained by Mike Maker, this son of Pure Prize has been a consistent threat in distance turf stakes over the last several years.
He likes the 12-furlong distance and has won at Keeneland before. He won two graded stake races earlier this year but has lost his last three tries.
None were poor efforts, however, and the late runner is likely to come running once again on Friday. He is a must-use in the exotics.
Also trained by Maker, this experienced millionaire has found a new home running long in 2023. He’s won a pair of graded stakes this year, including the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park two starts back.
Sandwiched in with the wins, though, are some less-than-stellar performances. Last time, he finished eighth at Kentucky Downs.
He does not look as reliable as his stablemate, but at his best, the 8-year-old son Freud is a major threat to win on Friday.
A multiple graded stakes winner on the dirt last year, this son of Pioneerof the Nile has transitioned nicely to the grass in 2023.
There is not much speed in this race, and he looks like a good bet to be right there early. In fact, he will get another chance at Channel Maker, whom he chased much of the way in his turf debut.
Off his good recent form, and taking advantage of his good early speed, the Christophe Clement-trained runner is clearly a threat in the Sycamore.
There is plenty to like about this Shug McGaughey-trained runner. A consistent late runner, he has made only three starts this year and all of them are good.
He also has a perfect record in two starts at Keeneland. Both came against the allowance company, but he clearly is happy on this turf course.
Unfortunately, his late run has fallen a little short in graded stakes company, and without a strong early pace in this one, it may again. Still, he is a must-use in the exotics.
A competitive third in this race last year, this Chad Brown-trained runner has not finished in the top three in his three starts in 2023. Nor has he won a race in nearly two years.
Having said that, he has kept strong company this year and is one to consider again this year for America’s top turf trainer.
There are others that I prefer in this field, but at his best, he is a threat. A solid early pace would help his chances on Friday, but I am not sure he will get that here.
The old pro keeps on going, and although he has not won much lately, he was able to take them all the way around two starts back in the Grade 2 Bowling Green at Saratoga.
The speed of Tawny Port could make that a difficult task here, but on or near a moderate early pace, the 9-year-old son of English Channel still needs to be respected.
His record at Keeneland is good enough to believe he can be a serious threat once again. He is a contender.
Another Mike Maker entry, this one returned to the turf last time and was a nice winner of a Churchill Downs allowance race going shorter.
The victory came after a number of decent performances on the dirt, especially the ones that came at 12 furlongs.
His preference of turf or dirt is certainly a question, but in his only start for Maker on the grass, he looked good. He looks to be a real threat on Friday.
A multiple stakes winner for trainer Rusty Arnold, this 5-year-old has only made two starts this year. He will need to improve upon them, but both were good efforts and should have him ready for Friday’s test.
In a race without too much early speed, he comes out of a shorter race and has good tactical speed. He is also proven at the distance, having won the Grade 3 Louisville last year at Churchill Downs.
With no clear standout in the field, it makes sense to take a shot on a horse with attractive odds, and this one fits the bill. He is the top pick.
A three-time stakes winner last year, this son of Point of Entry has not been able to break through in three tries in 2023.
He has also yet to hit the board against older stakes horses in four tries. Last out, he finished sixth at Kentucky Downs but was beaten less than four lengths.
That effort, as well as his stakes wins as a 3-year-old, do give him some hope on Friday. I cannot completely dismiss him, but there is not enough there to believe he can beat this deep field.
A longshot of his last two performances, this Illinois-bred has run some very good races in his career. The last time he was at Keeneland, in fact, he finished a solid third in the Elkhorn three races back.
Still, he seemed like a better horse last year, and even at this very best, this would be a tough race for him to win.
Given his back class, I cannot argue with anyone wanting to include him in the exotics, but I am siding with others in the Sycamore.
Trained by Conor Murphy, this 5-year-old gelding did have some nice form going early this year, finishing first in three races, although he was disqualified in one of those.
Since winning the Grade 3 Louisville in May, though, he has not been as good and has finished off the board in his last three.
If he can find his best, he is a possibility in this wide-open field, but there are too many I like better for me on Friday.
Four horses (Shawdyshawdyshawdy, Me and Mr. C, Britain’s Kitten, and Beacon Hill) have been placed on the also-eligible list and would only get into the race if other horses are scratched. If drawn into the Sycamore, none would be among my top picks and none would be among my wagers.
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.
Email: [email protected]
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