February 20, 2024

Fayette, Bryan Station featured on closing day at Keeneland

More Than Looks wins the 2023 Manila Stakes (Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photography)

Unseasonably warm temperatures and a competitive renewal of the $350,000 Fayette (G2) for older horses await fans as the 2023 Keeneland fall meeting draws to a close on Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile Fayette is one of three stakes on the 10-race program.

A mild early favorite at 9-2 on the morning line, Trademark enters the Fayette off narrow losses in the Philip H. Iselin (G3) and Lukas Classic (G2). Not far behind in the early odds is Film Star, second best to Zandon in the Woodward (G2) at Aqueduct last month when finishing ahead of returning rivals Law Professor and O’Connor.

After a couple reversals at Ellis Park over the summer, Grade 3 veteran Best Actor got back on the winning track at Aqueduct last time, winning a one-mile allowance in hand for Brad Cox. Il Miracolo, third in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) most recently, will attempt to become the first three-year-old to win the Fayette since Blame did it in 2009, while Giant Game and Speed Bias each captured their only previous starts in Lexington.

A heavier favorite exists for the $300,000 Bryan Station (G3), a one-mile grass test for three-year-olds. More Than Looks, an explosive winner of the Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs four weeks ago, seeks his third stakes win of the season for Cherie DeVaux. He again faces multiple stakes winner Talk of the Nation, whom he defeated by 1 1/2 lengths in the Manila (G3) at Belmont Park in July.

Smokey Mountain chased the top pair in his last two outings, while Gigante was an upset scorer of the Secretariat (G2) two back. Grade 1-placed Appraise is likely better than what he showed after trailing as the odds-on choice in the Gio Ponti S. at Aqueduct earlier this month.

The stakes action kicks off with nine two-year-olds dashing six furlongs in the $200,000 Bowman Mill S. Betting is likely to center on Normandy Hero, an allowance winner earlier in the Keeneland meet, and the Wesley Ward-trained Royal Slipper, who won on debut impressively by more than four lengths over the track and distance Oct. 6.