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Please note that selections typically are available about 48 hours in advance of the race.
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.
Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Wednesday, April 26
What to Watch for Today: Our closing 3-day week of the 2017 Spring Meet kicks off with an 8-race card. Trainer Wesley Ward looks to lock up the leading trainer title with a 9-6 advantage over several others coming into today and has 4 starters on the card while none of his closest pursuers have more than 2. The race for leading jockey sees Joel Rosario (14), Javier Castellano (12), Julien Leparoux (10) and Corey Lanerie (10) all still in the mix. Lanerie is the most active today, but all 4 have mounts on the program.
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 @Keenelandracing on Twitter or at the live racing page at Keeneland.com.
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. Also look for final, up to the minute adjustments by following @Keenelandracing as I live Tweet throughout the card.
Chat Us Up: Join the live chat at Keeneland.com (http://www.keeneland.com/racing/racing-live-coverage) each day beginning at 12:45 pm ET through the end of the card and converse with other horseplayers as well as me and my team from Horse Player NOW.
Get to the Windows: Be sure to open a Keenelandselect.com wagering account and play the action all meet long as well as great tracks worldwide. Dedicated to the sport. Dedicated to the players.
Weather: Sunny skies and temps in the low-80s are in the forecast. Enjoy it!
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!
As is our annul custom, the Wednesday blog takes a look at past trends of the week so that we can look ahead with a sense of understanding of the recent events.
We had 46 races last week during the meet’s only 5-day racing week, 30 on the main track and 16 on the turf. Those winners came from 13 last-out locations as well as first-time starters, including 3 run-back winners from earlier in the Keeneland meet.
On the dirt last week, favorites were 11-for-30 with an average winner of just over 4-1 odds. Fair Grounds preppers won 7 dirt races, leading Oaklawn (5) and Gulfstream (4). Sires Archarcharch and Ghostzapper had a pair of winners, as did Awesome Patriot, the latter with 2 baby race winners for John Hancock. In a rather startling turn-about Wesley Ward didn’t win any of the 4 juvenile races (split by Hancock’s 2, as well as Kenny McPeek and Steve Asmussen). The average dirt sprint winner was only one-half length off the lead after the first half-mile and only 2 sprint winners all week closed more than 2 ½ lengths from that juncture. Routes saw 9 of 11 winners also within 2 ½ lengths of the lead and the average winner 1 ½ lengths back after a half-mile. Speed was good both short and long on the dirt last week. Trainers Hancock, Brad Cox, Todd Pletcher, Pavel Valshenko and Ian Wilkes led the way with 2 victories each on dirt.
Favorites went 6-for-16 in turf races last week, though the average grass winner buoyed to 6-1 due to a 28-1 upset by Kitten’s Karma on Friday. Gulfstream preppers only won 4 of the 16 turf races, far underperforming their historical numbers. In fact, they’re only 10-for-34 at the meet, while typically hitting 50% at the Keeneland Spring stands the past decade. No other circuit produced more than 2 turf winners last week. The Factor sired 2 turf winners last week, 1 sprinting and 1 routing. Wesley Ward won 3 grass sprints in succession last week. Javier Castellano (3 wins), Joel Rosario (2) and Jose Lezcano (2) topped the turf jockeys for the week.
Feature Race Play, courtesy of the Horseplayernow.com BUZZ Report:
Races 5 and 7 are split divisions of an entry-level turf route allowance at 1-1/8 miles. Both have deep fields, but my stronger lean is in Race 7, where Giant Payday returns to the scene of his sharp maiden score here last October. That win was the fastest of 5 juvenile turf MSW races at the meet going 1-1/16 miles. Trainer Ian Wilkes and jockey Chris Landeros have teamed for a pair of wins at the meet – Wilkes has 4 overall and none of which were favored. Giant Payday is sired by Giant’s Causeway, the top Keeneland turf sire the past decade.
Head to Keenelandselect.com to send in your plays!
Feel free to drop me an E-mail anytime at Jeremy@Horseplayernow.com.