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Eklhorn Stakes 2024 Preview
Keeneland (Casey Laughter)

Eklhorn Stakes 2024 Preview

Saturday’s $350,000 Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for older horses, figures to have a strong favorite in #4 Bold Act (3-2). The Godolphin homebred has really come to hand since last fall when he shipped from Europe to Keeneland and promptly captured the Sycamore (G3) over the course and distance. He subsequently landed the Dubai City of Gold (G2) at Meydan and picks up Frankie Dettori for the Elkhorn.

Bold Act might prove the class of the Elkhorn, but he’s not the only horse possessing strong local form with a chance. A potential contender at a price is #1 The Grey Wizard (15-1), a multiple graded-placed gelding trained by Graham Motion.

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Although unraced since late July, The Grey Wizard has fired fresh off shorter layoffs in the past. The most recent example was about a year ago at Keeneland when he captured a second-level allowance by 1 1/4 lengths over this same 1 1/2-mile trip. He then followed up with a second-place effort in the Belmont Gold Cup (G2) over an extended two miles, his third placing in a graded stakes following seconds in the Jockey Club Derby (G3) and Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) in 2022.

The Grey Wizard’s 2023 campaign was cut short following a frightful trip in the July 30 Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga. Bumped at the break, he subsequently met further interference and finished far back in was easily his worst finish since his importation from Ireland. 

The Grey Wizard loses regular rider John Velazquez, who has landed on the Motion-trained #3 Highland Chief (5-1), but that past winner of the Man o’ War (G1) and Sycamore is coming off an even longer layoff dating back to November 2022. The Grey Wizard will instead be ridden by Luis Saez, who has a decent local record riding for Motion and who guided The Grey Wizard to his runner-up finish in the 2022 Jockey Club Derby to Nations Pride, a Godolphin horse who’d arguably be more formidable here that Bold Act.

The Grey Wizard is the bet to win and in exacta plays with Bold Act.