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Let our experts help you handicap the day's races at Keeneland. To see the analysis provided by each handicapper, choose a handicapper name on the left, then choose a date.

Please note that selections typically are available about 48 hours in advance of the race.

E.g., October 21

    Jeremy Plonk

    Jeremy Plonk has worked in the racing industry professionally for 23 years and has been a statistical consultant to Keeneland, Del Mar and Oaklawn Park, as well as NBC Sports and ESPN. He has been a national racing columnist for and Daily Racing Form and is the owner of Horse Player NOW, creator of the Night School national fan education program. A former chart caller for Equibase, he continues to be a public handicapper in the Horse Player NOW BUZZ report.

    Friday, October 20, 2017

    Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Friday, October 20


    What to Watch for Today: The Grade 3 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes headlines the action for 3-year-old turf fillies. Today’s late pick four is a $200,000-guaranteed pool, presented by TVG. This is a really deep and fun card with allowances, a stakes, a turf sprint and promising 2-year-olds galore.


    **NEW** Updated analysis: Follow @BetKeeneland on Twitter or go to the live racing page to get my live podcast reports at 10 minutes to post for each race of the meet, including how horses look pre-race, overlays/underlays, track tendencies and more. Miss them live? Each report will be immediately archived for your convenience.


    Today’s Keeneland NOW live podcast: Join Caton Bredar and me from noon-12:30 pm ET as we preview the entire day’s action in a 30-minute daily preview at ( Miss the live premiere? Get the archive immediate thereafter with a link from @BetKeeneland on Twitter or at the live racing page at


    Weather: A lovely week continues with no rain in sight and temps in the low 70s.


    Keeneland Handicapping 101: Most information is gleaned from the free Keeneland Handicapping database ( that you can manipulate and search for yourself as well!


    Race 1 – The Friday action opens with a 2-year-old allowance at the 1-mile distance on the main track. You want to be forwardly placed as 16 of 19 winners all-time at this distance have been within 3 lengths of the lead after the first half-mile and the average winner is less than 1-1/2 lengths back at that point. That’s a full-length closer to the front than the average 1-1/16 miles race winner by comparison. Eleven of the 19 winners exited 1-turn preps, which explains why you see 5 of 6 entrants here doing the same thing. Sire Bodemeister (Volodina) has had 2yo winners at Kee each of the past 2 Fall Meets including Trust here last Friday. Shackleford (Harbor Lights) also is off to a fast start at stud with his progeny here, having won 2 in the Spring and already 2 at the current Fall Meet. Of veteran sire Tale of the Cat’s 8 dirt winners at Keeneland, 7 of them have been in sprints, save for Stopchargingmaria’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff. His daughter Julia’s Kitty goes here. Finally, Majestic Warrior (Glamorized) has 2 wins at the meet as a sire and has had 2yo winners here in 2015 and 2017 Fall Meets.


    Race 2 – Maiden claiming routers usher in the early pick four today. Trainer Dane Kobiskie looks for a second debut MCL route winner of the meet with Marmee. When he won Oct. 12 with Colour Guard it was the first time in 26 MCL routes that a rookie scored. Then it happened the very next day again. So much for playing the percentages! Favorites are 11-27 overall in Fall Meet MCL routes. This is a decent spot for run-back horses making a second start of the meet as we’ve seen MCL routes won in 2014, 2015 and 2016 Fall Meets using this approach. Awesome Gal and Spearette perhaps get a mulligan Oct. 8 given the sloppy track and could improve, while Kickin Grass goes sprint-to-route off a total non-effort here Oct. 12. To date 16 of 27 MCL routes have been won by horses who did not have a 2-turn prep most recently, so don’t overemphasize distance. Kenny McPeek (Blue Ridge girl) has 4 Fall Meet MCL route wins over the years, while no other trainer has more than 2.


    Race 3 – Like Thursday’s first even, we get an open $40,000 claimer here, but this one is a 6-furlong sprint vs. yesterday’s route. This has been a speed, speed, speed category. The 6 open claimers from $30-$50k in past Fall Meets have seen an average winner just a head off the lead after the first half-mile and only 1 horses closed more than 1 length to win from that point home. Churchill shippers hold a slight 3-2 lead at this specific class and distance over Arlington, but it balloons to 11-3 when you look at all distances at this class level. Manhattan Mischief has early speed from Churchill and is by red-hot local sire Into Mischief. Abbaa also fits the bill and has run well over this track.


    Race 4 – Bottom-level $7500 claimers sprint 6 furlongs in this one. Eight different circuits have produced the 10 winners (CD has 3), so this is a grab-bag at this level. The same 8-10 winners last raced at 6 furlongs or less last time, so you want a true dasher and not a turn-back. That’s because the average winner is ¾-length back after a half-mile at this class/distance and no winner has closed more than 3 lengths the final quarter mile to win. Consider that at any distance, the 33 Fall Meet basement claimers on dirt have been won by 29 different trainers (only 4 have 2 wins each). Mix in a full field of 12 and you have a tough task ahead in this one.


    Race 5 – The pick six kicks off with a 2YO turf MSW. These can get unpredictable so shop around some. The 37 contested here since 2006 have had an average winner that paid more than $21 even though favorites have won right around one-third. That’s because there have been just as many 12-1 or higher winners than successful favorites. Last week we saw Nanoosh at 13-1 continue such a trend. The favorites look to have disadvantageous post positions today. The wins are spread pretty evenly between Churchill (9) preppers, NYRA (7), Kentucky Downs (6), first-time starters (6) and Arlington (5). Note Forgotten Coast’s trainer Vicky Oliver scored 14-1 and 34-1 shockers with 2YO turf route MSW winners here in the past. Kitten’s Joy also has sired 2 winners at this category, including Have At it earlier in the meet, and counters with Kentucky Kitten and Beckham’s Joy.


    Race 6 – For a second straight day we get the rarely run 1-1/8 miles maiden special weight for elders. We’ve only had 5 on the dirt coming into the week and the only in a Fall Meet was in 2015. What we can see is that you shouldn’t overrate 2-turn experience as 4 of the 5 winners exited 1-turn preps. That helps if you like Commandeering, Mono, Total Cooperation et al and were worried about the distance. Todd Pletcher has won more 9F races on the Kee dirt than anyone and has Commandeering. Don’t look for big balloon here; of the 11 maiden races (including MCLs) during any meets on dirt at 9 furlongs, 9 winners were 5/2 or less with 7 winning favorites and none more than 7-1 on the toteboard.


    Race 7 – A full field of turf sprint allowance runners line up and it’s my favorite Keeneland angle resurfacing, already 1-for-1 at the meet. Power posts 3-4-5 in full-field turf sprints are an automatic bet for me, winning half of the races with full gates of 12. Clairenation (3), Triple Chelsea (4) and Ring Knocker (5) are power-posted here barring scratches. Julien Leparoux (Ring Knocker) has 12 turf sprint wins at Kee, easily most of any rider with Robby Albarado (Triple Chelsea) tied for second among active riders with 6. This looks like an awfully good place to start building your thoughts. Fair Point, a rallying second here in last year’s G3 Franklin County obviously merits favoritism and deep respect/consideration.


    Race 8 – Allowance routers go 1-1/16 miles on the dirt in this one. While I don’t have a Churchill 1-turn mile horses stretching out to lean on at first preference, the CD seven-furlong win last out by Battle Colors really fits the profile of what you’re looking for here. Trainer Mark Casse has Fall Meet dirt ALW wins here in ’14, ’15 and ’16, and while he’s had a strong meet in ’17, looks to notch his first dirt allowance. This field is light on Keeneland experience, but pedigrees say the Tapits have to be a threat (Tarpon Bay Road, Gain Ground) as well as those by Candy Ride (Cedartown) and Uncle Mo (Uncle Mojo).


    Race 9 – Favorites have lost 10 straight editions of the G3 Valley View Stakes with an average winner of more than 12-1 during that run. That may be because the last 13 winners have come from 10 different prep venues and the public just hasn’t had anything to levitate toward. Add in a full field of 14 and there’s no reason to take short prices and like it. Defiant Honor and fault exit the Sands Point at Saratoga, a race that looked better when La Coronel returned here last Saturday to win the G1 QE2 Stakes. Perhaps one of those as the price bomber this time?


    Race 10 – A promising lot of 2yo MSW runners at 6 furlongs close the Friday festivities. Secret Speed debuts for a Mark Casse barn having a great meet with juveniles and maidens and this grandson of Flatter should love Keeneland. Sire Paynter already has a pair of 2YO winners this meet (on turf albeit) and will have quick-working rookie Pryor. Favorites are 29-61 in Fall 2YO MSWs on dirt here at Keeneland – and 7 of 9 this meet have been won by horses 7-2 or less.


    My Selections: You can get my top 3 picks in each race on the track simulcast feed before each race as well on the handicappers’ consensus page ( Also look for final, up to the minute adjustments by following @BetKeeneland as I live Tweet throughout the card.


    Feel free to drop me an E-mail anytime at




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