Betting on the First Lady Stakes at Keeneland: picks & analysis

Sam G

The First Lady Stakes at Keeneland starts the live horse racing broadcast on NBC today and that exciting race will certainly keep the public glued to the screen for the rest of the card.

This Grade 1 turf mile for the girls pits some high class horses and multiple horses in the field of 10 have a reasonable chance of winning it.

Amongst those, two horses coming to us recently from Europe should have a great chance against this field.

I expect the betting public to be a bit blinded by the record of better known horses and that should offer a great deal of betting value if you are willing to take a gamble on lesser known quantities.

Analysis and picks for the First Lady Stakes race at Keeneland on October 6 2018:

Number 1, INSTA ERMA has been a staple of Graded stakes turf races for the ladies and has won a few but the Grade 1 today is still a step up. INSTA ERMA raced very well last month on her return to the track after the summer break and that performance might be enough for a win today if repeated. INSTA ERMA might have left everything on the field that day however and she generally bounces back down a bit after a good race. A win is not impossible but unlikely.

Number 2 A RAVING BEAUTY has good tactical speed and a great post position to capitalize on it. She should be able to sit right behind the leaders, ready to strike when they falter. A RAVING BEAUTY works for this season’s top trainer and despite the middling workouts, we can therefore assume that she is ready to go. Her last race was disappointing though and she was beat by a few of today’s opponents without a lot of excuses. A RAVING BEAUTY has the class to win it but the form is in question and the odds should be too low to bet on her.

Number 3, QUIDURA is another one working for the hottest trainer of the season and she managed to go wire to wire against many in this field last out. There was not a lot of pace pressure in her last two start and today might be different and make her trip harder. She also seems to be averse to the heavier tracks of the fall, so maybe that will also be too much of a stamina test for her.  QUIDURA should attract plenty of betting money, and with good reason but there are enough concerns about pace and season to believe that she can be beat at short odds.

Number 4, CROWN WALK crosses the Atlantic for the first time and will try to do better in the USA than back in the old world. Still, she was not doing poorly there, and the turf racing level is miles ahead in Europe. The field at Keeneland today will probably be easier than what she faced back home. CROWN WALK will get help from her hall of fame jockey in great form so that’s certainly a plus. The addition of Lasix can really help her, and her class level is amazing. CROWN WALK is a local unknown but should be a major threat.

Number 5 INDIAN BLESSING will make a second start in the USA after a decent career in Europe but not a striking one. In her first race here, she was probably a bit freaked out and hindered by the track bias, but she still gained in the stretch and actually did better than A Raving Beauty in my book. With a faster pace in the race and hopefully more comfortable in the new world now, INDIAN BLESSING could surprise at high odds.

Number 6, ONE LIZ works for an in-form trainer but this is a major step up in class for her… She has not won a stakes race since June 2017 and that was a pretty cheap one too. ONE LIZ is completely outmatched today.

Number 7, DONA BRUJA has been taking things slow with long gaps between her races this year. She comes to Keeneland today showing strong workouts and working for a hot trainer so maybe she is ready to rebound from a terrible race in August. DONA BRUJA cuts back in distance which might be good considering her early speed type but there is some competition for the pace here today. DONA BRUJA tried this very race at Keeneland last year and did not do very well and it looks like she is not really better than last year. I expect her to make the pace hot but should not go all the way today.

Number 8, VALADORNA did quite well in her first turf try last month and she comes back for more but at a higher class today. The hot workout two weeks ago says that she is still in form, but she would need to improve to win against this field and her post position should not help considering that she has some early speed and might be parked outside. The 20-1 morning line odds are attractive and VALADORNA has a place on the exotic bets.

Number 9, LA SARDANE has good early speed which is helpful in some races but should be detrimental in this particular setting. First of all, LA SARDANNE starts from the outside so she will have to give a lot to get to the front before the turn. Even if she can manage to do it, she still seems to be outmatched on the class and speed figure. A more likely scenario is that she gets parked out, puts pressure on the pace and helps set up the win for a come from behind horse. UPDATE: LA SARDANE HAS BEEN SCRATCHED

Number 10, OFF LIMITS last won almost a year ago and 2018 has been rough for her. She has been running on some longer distances mostly so coming back to 1 mile can certainly help but it was not enough in June ,so can it be today? OFF LIMITS works for the top trainer of the season but the workouts are pretty disappointing leading to this one so the form is in doubt. With a poor post position on top of these doubts, I think it is best to pass on OFF LIMITS.


Horses coming straight from Europe to take part on turf races in the USA are generally good value bets. The local betting public usually prefers to bet on the known quantities and that raises the odds on the newcomers.

I expect the same to happen today at Keeneland and CROWN WALK will be a very interesting bet. Not only should she have the class to beat them all, the other main contenders all come with doubts and/or poor post positions or racing styles. If CROWN WALK crossed the Atlantic OK, she can beat them all.

Number 5 INDIAN CROSSING did her transatlantic trip earlier and did OK in the first start so she can certainly improve and demonstrate her euro-class today at a nice price.

Another relative unknown quantity could also spice up the exotics. VALADORNA makes only a second start on the grass but did well in her first and if she can improve a bit, she has her place on the podium.


WIN BET at 3-1 or more on Number 4 CROWN WALK

Exacta Box 4-5-8

Trifecta box 4-5-8

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