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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., December 16

    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 26, 2017

    Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Thursday, October 26

     

    What to Watch for Today: Sir Dudley Digges, 2016 Queen’s Plate winner in Canada, brings some royalty to the allowance ranks today. But it’s a Race 6 allowance that I can’t wait to see with so many promising juveniles auditioning for next year’s Triple Crown trail.

     

    **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: Cooler temps in the low 50s are forecasted after a few days of rain in Lexington. Keep an eye on track and course conditions even if it’s expected to be dry Wednesday.

                                                  

    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!

     

    Races 1 and 2 – We open with a pair of non-winners of 2 lifetime claimers for the older horses. Indiana Grand shippers have won 2 of the 4 N2L claimers offered to open the meet and King of All Media in Race 1 makes some sense from that circuit, as does Opportunity Cost. In Race 2, it’s Preemptive Strike and Mikeandchickdigit represent the Indy scene. Flatter and Queen and Preemptive Strike are a formidable mutuel entry both with fantastic Keeneland dirt sprint pedigrees by Flatter and Harlan’s Holiday. Uncle Jerry’s last local appearance in Fall 2015 was a marvelous second to eventual superstar Gun Runner. The two’s career arcs have not synched.

     

    Races 3 – Churchill preppers have won 16 of 34 maiden claiming races at 6 furlongs in past and present Fall Meets (3/6 in 2017). That’s a good place to start here with Enrage, Morning Belle and Medlin comprising a short list via CD. Mike Maker has only 1 first-time starter winning in a Fall Meet on dirt, that coming in 2015, so I’ll take a cautious approach with Fast Track Kathern.

     

    Race 4 – Favorite have lost 8 straight maiden claiming 7F races at Keeneland Fall Meets dating back to 2015, so feel free to shop in this spot. The three winners so far this meet have been 7-1, 9-1 and 12-1. Note 10 of 17 prepped at 7 furlongs or longer and that’s 10 of 14 if you eliminate the 3 debut runners who won in this condition. But you want a turn-back horse with speed as the average winner is 1 length back after the opening half-mile and only 2 of 17 winners came from more than 3 ½ lengths off the pace at that juncture. Hidden Garden’s second here Oct. 12 came in the slowest 6-furlong race of the meet and with easily the easiest opening half-mile split.

     

    Race 5 – Like the first two races, this also is a N2L claimer, but instead for 2-year-olds. Trainer Wesley Ward won a couple of similar races in Fall 2015 via New York and makes that move with In the Mood. He also saddles Gypsy Janie from an Ellis debut win. Our Girl Abbey not only won here opening weekend, but she’s 1 of 3 offspring of Majestic Warrior to win at the meet at this exact 6F distance.

     

    Race 6 – The stars of tomorrow may be on display with 2YO MSW runners routing 1-1/16 miles on the main track. Sire Curlin has had 2YO MSW winners here during the 2015, ’16 and ’17 Fall Meets and wheels back with Twist Off. He makes a key stretchout that I love from Churchill 1-turn miles. The horse who beat him in his debut, Bravazzo, came back to run a smashing second here in the G1 Breeders Futurity. Also-eligible Grade also exits that same race. As for other key-race performers, this race is loaded. Enjoy the Journey and Ride a Comet last faced next-out Kee allowance winner Quip; Victory Lane was fourth here Oct. 7 to future star Tiz Mischief and figures to be a handful for a Shug McGaughey barn having a great second half of the meet.

     

    Race 7 – To the turf they go for a 1-1/8 miles allowance. Kentucky Downs preppers own a 12-6 edge over NYRA (3 Bel/3 Sar) in grass race supremacy at the meet and Churchill remains stuck with just one shockingly. Hay Dakota, One Go All Go and Thatcher Street were last seen at KD. Sir Dudley Digges was a winner there in September and a past Kee course winner. His trainer Mike Maker has dominated the turf allowances this meet, winning 4 of them.

     

    Race 8 – Elder allowance sprinters dash 6 furlongs in non-winners of 2 company here. The average winner in 11 such N2L ALW in past Fall Meets on dirt is just 7-2 with 4 winning favorites (none over 7-1). Speed has dominated at 6 furlongs on this dirt over the last few years and even in large field sizes like the 12 we have here. In fact, the average winner in fields of 12 or more actually is about a neck closer to the lead after a half-mile than the overall margin in races of any field size. Trainer Rusty Arnold (Annathela, Miss Kentucky) has 4 wins in the meet, including 2 allowances to go with his 2 stakes. Verna Lea goes for a Jimmy Divito barn that’s already won a stakes at the stand, too. The same can be said for Ron Moquett, whose Five Star Factor was second here in the Spring Meet in a time more than 2 lengths slower than par.

     

    Race 9 – The finale is for elder maiden special weights on turf at 1-1/16 miles. Markitoff won a similar race here Sunday in his second start of the meet, something Campioni will attempt. Churchill runners have been almost invisible in these races historically only 1 of 23 since Fall 2011 won by a horse who prepped at CD. Charlie LoPresti won similar races here in ’11 and ’14 Fall Meets and sends out Gostisbehere and American Sea. Of those 23 winners, 18 had prepped on turf last out and 18 prepped at a mile or longer last out. If you eliminate the CD runners, that leaves Kaliningrad, Gostisbehere, Drayke’s Channel and American Sea as the quartet exiting turf preps at a mile or longer.

     

    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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