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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., November 23

    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.


    Wednesday, October 11, 2017

    Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Wednesday, October 11   

     

    What to Watch for Today: Top 2-year-old turf fillies square off in the Grade 3 Jessamine Stakes with a Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In on the line for the Juvenile Fillies Turf division. And speaking of intriguing turf fillies, Going Out, a daughter of Keeneland superstar Forever Together, makes her local debut and second start overall in today’s fifth race.

     

    **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 soggy few days in Lexington are expected to give way to sunshine by Wednesday afternoon, but what saturation has been done to the turf and main track may still be present. Keep an open mind on course conditions and consult Keeneland.com for updates.

                                                  

    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 – We open the card with a turf marathon allowance at 1-1/2 miles. Don’t look for a bomb here as only 2 of 38 Fall Meet winners at this course/distance since ’07 have been over 10-1 and the opening day offering was won by 6/5 favorite St. Louie. Kentucky Downs preppers won 4 of the first 6 turf races offered at the meet, so Downtown Kitten, La Manta Gris and Yahtzee Queen deserve extra looks. It’s pretty surprising that Kitten’s Joy has sired only 5 of the 89 overall winners at this trip at Keeneland over the past decade-plus; it certainly seems like more. The KD shippers here include 2 daughters of Kitten’s Joy, and the one that’s not – La Mantra Gris – goes for a Rusty Arnold barn with 3 turf marathon wins at Keeneland, including the Spring Meet’s G3 Bewitch Stakes with Quiet Business. Also consider that we caught a big bomb at 38-1 second on opening day in this spot by trusting the Dynaformer influence in the pedigree for this trip. Don’t be surprised if Eqho, a grandson of Dynaformer, spruces up the exotics.

     

    Race 2 – Sprinters at the non-winners of 2 lifetime claiming classification match up here. Churchill preppers have accounted for 11 of 30 N2L claimers on dirt the past 3 Fall Meets (Indiana Grand next-best at only 3). Fields of Dreams is the only CD prepper in this cast. Those 30 winners include 20 at 3-1 or less and only 3 over 10-1. Silver Defense won a N2L opening day via Ellis Park at 5-1. Wesley Ward leads all trainers with 3 wins in this category, including a pair during the ’15 Fall Meet off Saratoga turf efforts. Nuclear Option comes in from the Spa after competing in the Skidmore Stakes, a race taken off the turf due to rain. This one should fit well. Trainer Larry Rivelli scored a N2L allowance on a Poly-to-dirt move via Arlington during the ’15 Fall Meet and tries again with Just Blaze.

     

    Races 3 – Two-year-old claimers continue in the third, this time for maiden claiming-types. A quarter of the Fall Meet MCL 6-furlong sprints have been won by horses 10-1 or more and those 29 races overall have seen an average winner at 7-1. Feel free to price shop if something grabs your attention here – even if favorite Our Girl Abbey opened Saturday’s card with a victory in this situation. First-time starters have just 4 of the 29 wins, so lean toward experience. Churchill preppers own a huge 13-3 edge over Kentucky Downs and all other circuits. Gambler’s Choice is the lone CD prepper and his trainer Eddie Kenneally won a similar race here last Fall and has 5 Fall Meet MCL wins at Keeneland on dirt – tied with Mike Maker for the most. Wesley Ward has 4 Fall Meet MCL scores, none with first-time starters so perhaps Monteleone is his more likely player than rookie Timeisnotyourfriend.

     

    Race 4 – Basement $7500-level claimers sprint 6 furlongs. We’ve had 11 Fall Meet $7500 claimers on dirt and 6 of the winners exited preps at the Churchill meet in September. Como Se Llama, Frost Or Frippery, Include Indycat and Cataroux take that prep path. Not only is Como Se Llam the only horse in this field to win at Keeneland, he’s 1-for-1 here with a fast starter allowance win that clocked 7th-fastest of 35 at the 6F distance during the 2014 Fall Meet.Every winner has been 4-1 or less and 6 favorites have combined for an average winning mutuel of just 5-2 odds.

     

    Race 5 – The meet’s first 2-year-old maiden special weight on turf is carded here at 1 mile. Favorites are a reasonable 11-for-34 in these spots, but they have been littered with large upsets as well. The average winner has been more than 10-1, including 7 winners at 20-1 or more and 9 that paid more than $30. Horses with experience own 28 of the 34 wins vs. first-time starters; Churchill September preppers own an 8-5 edge over Arlington Park runners, but all of the AP wins came from 2011-‘13. Shockingly, Kentucky Downs runners have just 2 wins in the 21 such races held here the past 3 Fall Meets. Trainer Mark Casse won 2 of these races during the ’16 Fall Meet and won four 2YO races here opening weekend. He sends out both American Halo and Bridaled Temper, but both from wide draws and via Kentucky Downs. Might this be another race then to find a big bomb? More than half (19 of 34) of the winners did not prep at a route distance and either debuted or stretched out off a 1-turn prep. Perhaps that’s the place to look for a surprise if we get one.

     

    Race 6 – First-level allowance (N1X) sprinters battle over 7 furlongs with a capacity field of 12. All 9 such past Fall Meet races on dirt have been won by horses 6-1 or less and at an average of just 5-2. They’ve been formful. Five winners came from NYRA (3 Sar, 2 Bel) and 3 from Churchill’s September meet. Five shortened the trip from 1-1/16 miles or longer and 7 of the 9 prepped at least at this 7-furlong distance or longer. Horses who fit the bill from NYRA/CD with 7F or more preps include Running Back, Lenstar and Gray Sky. The latter pair both have run good second-place finishes over this course, while the former broke his maiden here in the Spring Meet. Also with course affinity is Speedmeister, whose debut win here last October clocked the fastest 7F on dirt by a 2YO at Keeneland among the 14 such races run. He’s going to be tough on the return for a Casse/Leparoux team on fire.

     

    Race 7 – The featured Grade 3 $150,000 Jessamine Stakes matches 2YO fillies at 1-1/16 miles on turf. Trainer Mark Casse already won 2YO stakes last weekend in the Alcibiades and Bourbon and looks to another with Miss Mo Mentum. It’s worth nothing now that since just 2015, Casse 2YOs at Keeneland have now won the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, Jessamine (last year with La Coronel), Breeders Futurity, Alcbiades and THREE editions of the Bourbon. Favorites have won this race 4 of the last 7 years and horses 7-2 or less have scored in 7 of the last 8. Don’t dig too deep here. Equally notable, 7 of the last 8 winners exited preps in New York (6 Sar, 1 Bel) and 6 of those prepped at 1-1/16 miles or longer. Only Mentality and Layla Noor fit the bill with NYRA preps at that distance, while Rushing Fall exits a Belmont prep at a mile and fits awfully close. None of the last 11 Jessamine winners in our database prepped on anything but turf.

     

    Race 8 – We close Wednesday with a 6-1/2 furlong maiden claimer. Churchill preppers own a commanding 28-10 edge over Kentucky Downs in Fall Meet MCLs on dirt, though the KD set notched 2 of the first 3 offered opening weekend. Traditionally Eddie Kenneally’s MCLs at Keeneland have been well-placed and I’ve chased a few of them unsuccessfully at the meet so far. He saddles rookie Neapolitan here, but note this barn’s 5 Fall dirt MCL scores all came with horses who had previous race experience. Tom Amoss had limited starters opening weekend, but they all looked immaculate on the track and ran extremely well. His runner Crenshaw should be very dangerous off a recent third at Churchill.

     

    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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