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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 18

    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 25, 2017

    Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Wednesday, October 25

     

    What to Watch for Today: We kick off closing week of the 2017 Fall Meet and it’s our annual reminder to beware of “run-back” horses making their second start of the meet. They’re an autumn winning ritual at Keeneland over the final four days. Expect to see 1-2 on average daily.

     

    **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!

     

    Race 1 – We open with 2-year-old maiden claimers at 6 furlongs. Eternal Force exits a race in which he faced Quip at Churchill, and that rival has returned here to impress in an allowance win (Dry Martini exits same race, farther beaten). Trainer Steve Asmussen has 6 wins at the meet, 5 with horses exiting Churchil September races – and 4 of them were 2YO maiden breakers. Articulator’s sire Quality Road has a solid 6 winners on the Keeneland dirt, including a pair of 2YO first-time starters like this colt.

     

    Race 2 – The early pick 4 unveils with a 2-year-old maiden special weight at 1-1/16 miles on dirt. Don’t first for prices here as 17 of 20 such winners in past Fall Meets have been 5-1 or less (average 7-2) with favorites hitting 50%. This is a great place for run-back winners at the meet as we saw 2 such races won in that fashion in both 2014 and 2015. Absolute Love was second opening day to highly impressive Gio Game. Trainer Kenny McPeek won in an identical situation with Dorodansa here in the ’15 Fall Meet. First-time starters have won just 1 of the 20 routes in these Fall 2YO MSWs on dirt, so lean to experience.

     

    Race 3 – Open $20,000 claimers sprint 7 furlongs. Churchill preppers have won 3 of the 6 races this meet run between $16k-$25k claiming and offer Big Red Seven, Rose to Glory and Crack Your Whip. The average winner on those 6 races was just 7-2 and all 6 were forwardly placed. Speed has been deadly this meet at 7F as a remarkable 17 of 23 winners at any class level have been within 1 length of the lead after the opening half-mile. That said, 13 of 23 were horses who last raced at a distance shorter than 7 furlongs, 3 at 7 furlongs, and 6 at longer than 7 furlongs. Crack Your Whip fits the profile nicely for an Angel Montano barn with 2 claiming wins at the meet, including 1 with Florent Geroux up.

     

    Race 4 – Turf sprint allowance runners clash as the pick five opens. With a field size of 8, don’t place emphasis on post position to the degree we do in full fields. Julien Leparoux dominates short-field turf sprints, winning 7 of the 29 offered that had 8 or fewer entrants. No other rides has more than 3. He rides General Macarthur for Wesley Ward, whose 10 turf sprint wins here since Fall ’06 are easily most of any trainer. Indiana Grand has produced 2 of the 5 turf sprint winners at the meet, inclNuding Bucchero in the G3 Woodford, so don’t sleep on Kid Perfect for the aforementioned Montano-Geroux tandem.

     

    Race 5 – Maiden claiming routers go 1-1/16 miles to start the pick four. We saw run-back horses win similar races here in 2014, 2015 and 2016 Fall Meets, and trainer Kenny McPeek has Rockingham Mel in a similar spot that’s worked for this barn before.  Can Go also returns at the meet for Nick Zito. Of NPZ’s 12 winners on the Kee dirt, 8 have been maiden breakers and 5 in the maiden claiming ranks.

     

    Race 6 – Fall Meet non-winners of 2 allowances have been pretty formful on the dirt with favorites going 4-for-11 and the average winner just 7-2. None has won at higher than 7-1 on the toteboard, so don’t feel the need to fish for a whale here even if it’s a 12-horse field. Attribute’s sire Tapit is nearing the top of the leading sire list on the Keeneland dirt, while Harlan’s Holiday has been elite with his offspring sprinting here for years and offers Brockton George as a price option. Speedmeister scratched here Oct. 11 in a spot where he looked like a likely favorite, and trainer Mark Casse has cooled mightily since opening weekend. I’ll be cautious with this one.

     

    Race 7 – The feature race matches 2-year-old allowance runners on the turf at 1 mile. Of the 15 we’ve had in Fall Meets, 14 winners exited turf preps, so be skeptical of surface changes. None of the winners were run-backs second time at the meet and surprisingly Churchill preppers have been totally shut out and Kentucky Downs has accounted for just 1. NYRA horses have run well, but Ellis and Arlington have done better here than expected. Stolen Pistol  and Machtree have the NY resumes. Bantu’s sire Stormy Atlantic has had some 2YO turf success here and would mae sense with that successful Ellis Park summer form preceding a good run in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile.

     

    Race 8 – The finale is a 7-furlong maiden claimer for older horses. Favorites are only 4-17 in Fall Meet MCLs at this distance and the average winner has paid just over $15. Experienced horses hold a 14-3 edge in victories compared to first-time starters. Meanwhile, 10 of 17 exited a prep at 7 furlongs or longer. Encrypt turns back from a route at the meet as the most logical of that set. But longshots Teodoro, Ship Lock and Famille Trois also trim the trip. I’ll try against the handful of runners exiting the same heat Oct 11 which clocked 12th-fastest of 13 races this meet at 6.5 furlongs and was won by an unfathomable rally by a 13-1 shot from nearly 16 lengths back after the opening half-mile.

     

    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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