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Keeneland Turf Mile Preview: Ivar Attempts Title Defense
Ivar winning the 2020 Turf Mile (Credit: Keeneland Photo)

Keeneland Turf Mile Preview: Ivar Attempts Title Defense

LEXINGTON, KY – Trainer Paulo Lobo’s Brazillian-bred champion Ivar attempts a successful title defense in Saturday’s $750,000 Keeneland Turf Mile Stakes (G1).

The Keeneland Turf Mile is a turf route open to 3-year-olds and up that serves as the penultimate event on an 11-race card with a local post time of 5:46 PM. The race is also a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, awarding an automatic berth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar this November.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Keeneland Turf Mile:

1. Front Run the Fed 20/1 – He stretches back out to try two turns for the third time after winning the 2019 Better Talk Now Stakes at Saratoga and finishing fourth in a 2020 Churchill Downs optional claiming event. He was sold at auction this summer and has missed the board in 2 starts for his current connections, both Grade 3 turf sprints. Jockey Francisco Arrieta rides for the first time.

2. Argentello 30/1 – He tackles Grade 1 company for the first time after compiling a 9-1-0-3 record since the Irish-bred shipped stateside for the start of the 2020 season. He won 4 times overseas in 2018 with top European trainer John Gosden before missing all of 2019 and resurfacing with current conditioner Conor Murphy. His lone American victory was a 1-mile Fair Grounds optional claimer.

3. In Love 20/1 – Ivar’s stablemate steps up to the big time having won 2 straight including the 1-mile, 70-yard TVG Stakes at Kentucky Downs last out. Jockey Alex Achard looks to remain perfect in the saddle as he rides for the third consecutive time aboard a 5-year-old Brazillian-bred who defeated allowance rivals over this course last October, earning his first of 3 North American victories.

4. Space Traveller 6/1 – The British-bred runner made 1 prior North American sojourn (finishing eighth in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Mile [G1]) earlier in his career before he permanently relocated stateside to new trainer Brendan Walsh. He managed to rally for fourth in the paceless Mr. D (G1) at Arlington Park in his barn debut, then finished second in the one-turn Woodbine Mile (G1) last time out.

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5. Tell Your Daddy 8/1 – He wired the 1 1/16-mile Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) over a yielding Saratoga turf course last time out for his first stakes score in his ninth attempt at the level. He earned a triple-digit Beyer for the second straight start following a runner-up finish in the firm Lure Stakes that came in front of a next-out stakes winner. Trainer Tom Morley repeats at 28% with last-out winners.

6. Ivar 5/1 – He adds blinkers for the first time since wearing them for a pair of 2020 starts, winning one; Lobo shed the blinkers for the Turf Mile, a move he later said attributed to the victory. His fourth-place finish was the best of any American-based runner in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) and jockey Joe Talamo, aboard for both career North American wins, rides for the sixth straight start.

7. Pixelate 9/2 – The consistent multiple graded stakes champion takes his third shot at winning a Grade 1 after finishing fifth in both January’s Pegasus World Cup Turf at Gulfstream Park and last October’s Belmont Derby. He won the Prince George’s County Stakes at Pimlico 3 starts back and the Mint Million (G3) at Kentucky Downs last time out, and he carries a strong distance record of 7-3-2-2.

8. Brown Storm 50/1 – Though a multiple group stakes winner in his native Chile, he’s still seeking his first North American victory and hasn’t finished better than third in 11 continental starts since October 2019. He transferred to trainer Amador Sanchez in the summer and set the pace before finishing third behind In Love in the TVG. Expect Hector Berrios to employ similar riding tactics in this spot.

9. Monarchs Glen 20/1 – While trainer Mike Maker may have raised eyebrows when he claimed this 7-year-old gelding for $62.5k in March, the horse didn’t take long to repay his new connections, visiting the winner’s circle twice and finishing second by a neck in another race. He won 3 stakes for Gosden in his native Great Britain (including at Royal Ascot) before coming stateside in 2019.

Watch the latest episode of “Dr. Miranda Previews” for Dr. Miranda’s best bets in the Keeneland Turf Mile (G1)!

10. Order of Australia 7/2 – With a 73/1 upset, he led an Aidan O’Brien-trained trifecta across the wire in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile held over this course. He won a Group 2 stakes at The Curragh in Ireland earlier this year and exits a runner-up finish in the 1-mile Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (G1) in France on September 5. American-based jockey John Velazquez picks up the mount.

11. Diamond Oops 15/1 – He stretches out to try a mile for the second time after finishing second by 3/4 of a length in this race in 2019. He finished off the board in 2 dirt route attempts in late 2019/early 2020, but his connections believe that turf is this 6-year-old’s better surface at this point in his career. Florent Geroux, aboard when winning last year’s local Phoenix Stakes (G2), is back in the saddle.

12. Field Pass 12/1 – Maker’s second runner threw a dud in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1) at Saratoga last time out, finishing last of eight 1 start after necking out victory in the BWI Turf Cup (G3) at Pimlico. He won multiple Grade 3 routes last year against 3-year-olds (including the 1 1/16-mile Transylvania Stakes [G3] over this course), but he’s struggled on the biggest stage against older rivals.

13. Somelikeithotbrown 9/2 – Maker’s third runner is a speedy front-runner who will need to hit the gas from the gate if he hopes to avoid getting caught wide in the first turn. Jockey Jose Ortiz rides for the fourth straight start after winning the 1 1/16-mile Dinner Party Stakes (G2) at Pimlico and finishing second in both the 1 1/16-mile Wise Dan Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs and the Mint Million.

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