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Jeremy Plonk has worked in the racing industry professionally for 21 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.
Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Thursday, April 23, 2015
What to Watch for Today: Offspring of 2 of Keeneland’s more recent distaff stars, Mushka and Alwajeeha, are part of a blue-blooded card that also includes kin to Wise Dan and Bodemeister. This promises to be a fun pedigree program.
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Weather: Rise and shine! Sunny and temps in the low 60s are forecasted. It should be a great day.
Keeneland Handicapping 101: Here we go race-by-race to help you unearth the trends. 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 features a Keeneland royal family with Wise Dan’s brother Casino Dan among the field in this open $25,000 claiming sprint. You have to think speed as 23 of 28 winners this meet in races at 6 or 6-1/2 furlongs have been within 2 lengths after the opening half-mile (average ¾ of a length back at that juncture). In fact, that’s been the case in the last 14 in a row offered. Classy late runner Politically Correct is wheeled back 2nd time at the meet off a sharp win vs. tougher 2 weeks ago and if he can reach contention by the quarter pole will be tough to deny for the Ramseys. Speed players here look to be Ouimet and Cannon Lake and the Fair Grounds runners have had an exceptional meet winning 14 of the 28 aforementioned races at 6 to 6-1/2 furlongs.
Races 2 and 4 are 1-3/16 miles turf maiden special weights. Of the 3 turf MSWs at the meet, 2 have been won by Gulfstream preppers and that circuit has accounted for half of the 14 winners the past 3 Spring Meets in this situation. In Race 2, 6 of the 10 entered hold that passport. Javier Castellano leads all turf riders this meet with 7 wins and teams with Cover Up. Trainer Roger Attfield has a pair of grass wins at the meet, including one with a Dynaformer colt named Danish Dynaformer. He’ll look to double down with the filly Dyna’s Recoleta. As for the Race 4 division, just Mighty Moon, C’Est Bon and AE Naval Academy fit the Gulfstream-to-Keeneland profile. If you’re looking for another Dyaformer offspring, try a slice of Cheesecake for a Neil Howard barn that’s had a bang-up meet.
We stay at 1-3/16 miles in Race 3, but instead on the main track for maiden special weights. Favorites are 4-for-5 in route allowance MSWs on the dirt this Spring with those chalks hammered between 1-to-2 and 7-to-5 prices. Also, 4 of 5 winners have come out of Gulfstream preps and all 5 were exiting route tune-ups. That’s a fit for Innocuous, whose trainer Mike Tomlinson won with his only starter of the meet so far. On paper, though, this race should run through classy Tale of Verve.
We get a rare pair of 2-year-old baby races on the same card today in Races 5 and 9. Wesley Ward has won 3 of the 5 offered at the stand and 4 of the 5 winners had local Keeneland works. Those have been 2 tried and true axioms of Spring Meet juvenile dashes. In Race 5, Ward sends out Finnegan, half-brother to the great Derby/Preakness runner-up Bodemeister. He’ll clash with Outwork, a Todd Pletcher trainee who also has a regal pedigree. Pletcher used to run bunches of 2-year-olds at Keeneland, winning 4 baby races here in 2008 alone. This looks like a delicious coin flip. The Race 9 division looks much softer on paper, though Ward counterpunches with Wonderful Remark, who was scratched from a similar race Wednesday to run in this spot (her stablemate on Wednesday – also by sire Quality Road – went on to a cruising victory). Ward also has Iron in the Fire entered.
Back on turf in Race 6 for a 1-1/8 miles allowance and a capacity field size. What a juicy betting race this could be! Trainer Bill Mott has won 2 turf allowances at the meet, including one with a European import. He’ll look to do it again with Orange Grove off a 1-1/2 year layoff. Castellano carries his hot turf hand over to Rhythm Blues for a Michael Matz barn that’s struggled at the meet. Pedigree buffs will love this race with sons of star fillies like Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Status (Special Agent) and QEII/Appalachian-winning local turf star Alwajeeha (Elmutahid).
Maiden claiming sprinters line up in Race 7. Three-quarters of the 6-furlong races on dirt this meet have been won by horses exiting preps at 6 furlongs or less. Kissed By A Rose is the only starter to fit that bill and her trainer Gerald Aschinger is 1-for-1 at the meet with 30/1 G2 Elkorn upsetter Dramedy. There’s not much to go by on paper here, folks.
Feature Race Play, courtesy of the Horseplayernow.com BUZZ Report:
Our Race 8 headliner is a 1-1/2 miles turf allowance. It’s a similar event to Wednesday’s feature where we pinpointed 7/2 winner Meri Shika right here. Let’s hope to continue the closing week roll. Gulfstream preppers now have won 8 of the last 9 turf races at 1-1/2 miles in Spring Meets dating back to the start of the 2013 stand. That’s big for Heyaarat, Secretive and Desvelo, Buck Benny and Layton Register.
Narrowing that quintet, Heyraarat is a son of Spinster winner Mushka and can continue a big meet for Lexingtonian Kiaran McLaughlin. Buck Benny carries that always-potent Dynaformer pedigree over these 12 furlong Keeneland turf trips.
But I’m going to reach to a different Dynaformer, that being Innovation Economy. Chad Brown’s performers have been on point on turf this meet and if the long layoff runner returns fit, he’ll be dangerous. He was a debut winner off works alone, so there’s some hope. My edge goes to Innovation Economy, but show big respect for the Gulfstream runners.
Feel free to drop me an E-mail anytime at Jeremy@Horseplayernow.com.