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Jeremy Plonk has worked in the racing industry professionally for 22 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.
I'm a staunch supporter of horses running back the second time at the Keeneland meet, especially in the Fall, even going back to the Polytrack era. Typically we'll see a dozen or more of these winners each meet and a stockpile closing week. We've only had 4 this season with 3 days left to run after Wednesday's single run-back winner Bellamy Torch. We're going to break format in today's handicapping blog to analyze the run-back horses on the card and which may be the most effective today.
INLCLUDERE: Time was about a half-length slower than average for the maiden claiming races run this meet at 6 furlongs as she steps up in class. Obviously when you have the leading trainer at the meet, Mike Maker, and co-leading jockey Florent Geroux (who won 3 races Wednesday), there's reason to pay attention.
BACK TOGETHERAGAIN: Makes needed drop in class and shortens distance off a tougher route. Of the 16 Fall Meet run-back sprint winners on dirt we've seen in the past few years, only 4 of them were turning back from a 2-turn effort to start the meet. I'll pass.
RARE ART: Ran here opening Sunday and then since traveled to Indiana Grand and back. Appears to fit nicely after facing eventual run-back winner Favorite Coach in that race here Oct. 9. Playable.
McHENRY: Brian Williamson barn mostly firing at the meet in good form and this one ran on the turf opening weekend when nobody seemed to close much at all.
SUMMER SPICE: Exits same race as McHENRY and makes some sense for the same reason of a bad race/pace flow on Oct. 7.
COLLATERAL KITTEN: Even more glaring from same Oct. 7 race coming from farther back -- PLUS he's had a stellar half-mile workout since that race to move forward.
PURGENALITY: Overmatched at 46-1 and no reason to like back vs. similar.
DOGTOWN: Thought he was lone speed and could be gone last time vs. easier and simply failed with no excuse. Tougher assignment now.
PENNINGTON BAYOU: Best bet today of the run-backs as Kenny McPeek has more run-back winners than anyone at Kee the last decade on any surface and he's MO is maiden claiming routers in these spots in the Fall.
KILROY: Not interested off terrible try.
MATHEMATICAL: Terribly slow come-home time in which the winner held sway up front. Shorter distance won't hurt, but not sure he improves any.
PERSUASION: 3 straight trouble comments at the start, it's imperative the gate situation improves. Julien Leparoux sticks to ride for Maker/Ramsey and we did finally see some closers win in dirt sprints on Wednesday.
HELIODORO: Half of Nick Zito's 10 Keeneland dirt wins on the new surface have been with maiden claimers. Decent try Oct. 12. He won a similar race in the 2016 Spring Meet with Duchess Bird running back on 15 days (identical spacing).
COMMANDEERING: Exits easily the weakest of the three 2YO MSW races this meet at 1-1/16 miles while the beaten favorite. It's Pletcher and Ortiz, so they'd be no shock, but this one feels like an underlay if he draws in from AE list.
SEA ROVER: Red alert ** His maiden win was more than 6 lengths faster than any of the 2YO turf MSWs at 1-1/16 miles this meet. Live wire perhaps with Chris Landeros riding the turf at a skilled level.
HOT DAD: Rallied from last opening weekend on speed-favoring turf to run decent in the G3 Bourbon for the meet's leading connections of Maker and Geroux. Should be very dangerous.
CHARGIN STORM: Moves dirt to turf, something only 3 run-back winners have done successfully the last decade of Fall Meets - and all of those came in turf sprints, never in a turf route like this.
CLEAR THE MINE: Win here Oct 14 came in a split division race that clocked .37 (about 2 lengths) slower than a sameday comparable race. I like the 1-turn stretchout to the mile and short stretch run. Consider.
WHATEVERYBODYWANTS: WV Derby runner-up had rough trip vs. tough field opening weekend and now moves from 10-pound apprentice to veteran Jose Valdivia. Bullet workout since and should be bet lively by the public. Tough race but a player.
CZAR: Liked him a bit last time and got zero pace help for his closing kick. Could be a live longshot in this spot.
NESSY: Adds Lasix after a long-distance race in which he made a middle move and then faded often a sign of a horse who bled or had a breathing problem. Another live price shot here.
IMPERIA: Disappointed badly in Oct. 9 race when bet heavily. Trouble comments are going to attract excuses for some horseplayers, but I've seen too much of her to be drawn back in. Plus, Kiaran McLaughlin's horses haven't fired at the meet like usual.