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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 18

    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 ESPN.com 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.


    Thursday, October 19, 2017

    Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Thursday, October 19

     

    What to Watch for Today: Turf marathoners stretch their legs 1-1/2 miles in today’s Grade 3 $100,000 Sycamore in Race 8. Among those in action will be defending champion Renown and 2014 Grade 1 Arlington Million winner Hardest Core.

     

    **NEW** Updated analysis: Follow @BetKeeneland on Twitter or go to the Keeneland.com 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 Keeneland.com (http://www.keeneland.com/racing/racing-live-coverage). Miss the live premiere? Get the archive immediate thereafter with a link from @BetKeeneland on Twitter or at the live racing page at Keeneland.com.

     

    Weather: A gorgeous week is expected to continue with temps in the low 70s and only a 10% chance of rain. Handicap for fast and firm conditions.

                                                  

    Keeneland Handicapping 101: Most information is gleaned from the free Keeneland Handicapping database (http://apps.keeneland.com/awstats/Default.asp) that you can manipulate and search for yourself as well!

     

    Race 1 – The week opener is a $40,000 claimer at 1-1/16 miles on dirt. This is an eclectic group of shippers last seen at places like Charles Town, Mountaineer, Woodbine and Prairie Meadows. Four of the 5 winners at the $30k-$50k level in past Fall Meets at this distance were exiting a 1-turn prep and we’ve liked that angle at most any class level going 1-1/16 miles at Keeneland with the 1/16 pole finish line in play. While both actually went 2 turns last time, their form shows 1-turn success and that’s a good thing for It’s the Truth, Titanium and C Islandsurprise. This trio of favorites looks solid.

     

    Race 2 – It’s a rare 1-1/8 miles maiden special weight for elders in Race 2. We’ve only had 5 on the dirt 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. What a fun pedigree race with Gull Island out of Kentucky Oaks winner Bird Town, runner-up in Keeneland’s G3 Beaumont of 2003, and Marlinspike, a daughter of champion Surfside, who was runner-up in the 2000 Raven Run here at Keeneland. Plus there’s Spice Drop by top Keeneland dirt sire Candy Ride and for a Dane Kobiskie barn that’s been on point at the meet with limited starts. He had a maiden breaker at this distance last Thursday at 8-1. And beware Little Code, runner-up last out at Kentucky Downs behind the extremely impressive Sunday return winner Last Promise Kept, who looks like a future star. Don’t look for big balloon here; of the 11 maiden races 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.

     

    Races 3, 5 and 9 – We have a trio of maiden claiming sprints on today’s card. Note that favorites are just 2-for-12 in MCL races this meet, so you can look around some. Four of those dozen winners were 8-1 or more. Churchill preppers have won 5 of the 12 (including 5 of the 8 at sprint distances) and no other circuit more than 2 (also 2 first-time starters). Trainer Wesley Ward has 2 victories in this category at the meet and will send out Kitten’s Solution in Race 5. Eddie Kenneally has yet to ring the bell in a MCL at this meet (and believe me, I’ve tried to catch a few of them), but he had 3 such wins last Fall and 5 in the last 3 years, most of any trainer. He’ll try with Great Sky in Race 3 and Neapolitan in Race 5. But one of Kenneally’s MCL winners have come with first-time starters like this pair. He has won with only 1 first-timer on the Kee dirt (’16 Fall MSW 2yo Sailor’s Valentine). Pedigree fans will be interested in All Day Trip in Race 5, a 3-year-old by Bernardini out of 2010 Spinster winner Acoma.

     

    Race 4 – Turf 2-year-old maiden special weights look to graduate at 1-1/16 miles. 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 wins are spread pretty evenly between Churchill (9) preppers, NYRA (7), Kentucky Downs (6), first-time starters (6) and Arlington (5). Lemon Drop Kid has sired pair of such winners and has Savour the Moment and Lemon Princess (also-eligible). Note Savour the Moment’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 Kabella and Mahvelous Kitten. If Sahara Breeze draws in off the AE list, be alert: Trainer Ian Wilkes has 3 wins in 2yo turf MSWs at Keeneland with 18-1 and 21-1 bombshells among them.

     

    Race 6 – Race 6 is a second-level turf route allowance at 1-1/16 miles and appears to have a very hot pace on paper. The average opening half-mile this meet on turf in routes has been a dawdling 48.82, but we’ve had some softer conditions some days. Kentucky Downs preppers have won 9 of 15 turf routes at the ’17 Fall Meet (10 of the 18 overall grass races). The KD set is represented by Fifth Title (Julien Leparoux rides and has a meet-best 3 turf wins) and Turf Titan. Trainer Mike Maker already has 3 grass victories at the stand and adds Capital Letters and Bingo Kitten to the mix. Churchill Downs has produced only 1 grass winner in 15 races coming into the week.

     

    Race 7 – The 2-year-olds stretch out to 1-1/16 miles on dirt in a promising allowance. Sire Stay Thirsty had the winner in this same-distanced 2YO N1X allowance last Fall (Thirstforlife) and will be represented by both Tres Equis and Platinum Equity. Meanwhile, Oskar Blues exits the G1 Hopeful Stakes, a race whose runner-up Free Drop Billy successfully stretched out to this distance and romped in the G1 Breeders Futurity earlier in the meet.

     

    Race 8 – Today’s featured G3 Sycamore will be renewed at 1-1/2 miles on turf. Favorites have lost the last 10 editions of this race, but the average winner has been a very hittable 5.7-to-1. Deep closers have ruled this distance in Fall Meets over the past decade, with the average winner a whopping 7 lengths behind the leader after the opening half-mile. Exactly 75 percent of the winners have exited preps at 1-1/8 miles or longer, and it’s 1 3/8 miles or longer at the same strike rate for the Sycamore Stakes specifically. Roger Attfield has 6 turf marathon wins at Keeneland since Fall 2006, but only 1 since 2013. He sends out Final Copy. Kenny McPeek (Some in Tieme) has 4 such wins, but again only 1 since 2013. Michael Matz (Tasit) has 3, but even further back 2008 and beyond. Tom Proctor (Big Bend) also has 3, all pre-dating 2011. Finally, Mike Maker (Flashy Chelsey) has 5 turf marathons, including more recent success.

     

    My Selections: You can get my top 3 picks in each race on the track simulcast feed before each race as well on the Keeneland.com handicappers’ consensus page (http://www.keeneland.com/racing/handicappers-consensus). 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 Jeremy@Horseplayernow.com.

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