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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 21

    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.


    Saturday, October 21, 2017

    Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Saturday, October 21

     

    What to Watch for Today: A true national battle ensues in the G2 Lexus Raven Run as horses converge from all parts of the country. Tequilita looks for a third major stakes win of her sophomore season since breaking her maiden at Keeneland last Fall Meet.

     

    **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: The hits continue with temps in the upper 80s and a dry forecast.

                                                  

    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!

     

    Races 1 and 2 – Favorites are a woeful 2-for-17 in maiden claimers this Fall Meet (average winner over 7-1), so feel free to spread your wings in the early double with a pair of MCLs hitting leadoff. Wins have been pretty evenly spread among Churchill preppers (6), NYRA preppers (4) and first-time starters (4). In Race 1, sire Majestic Warrior has had a couple of maiden breakers at the meet and has Lady Warrior here. Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg won a similar race 7-1 on Thursday and counters with Silver Turns Gold. In Race 2, elite Keeneland dirt sprint sire Harlan’s Holiday has Tribal Transit, while Shackleford already has popped a few winners at the meet and the hot Jay Em Ess Stable has Whenwillicuagain by the Preakness champ. Tom Amoss has two MMM wins at the meet and offers Honor’s Parade.

     

    Race 3 – High-class N3X allowance performers match up in the third at 1-1/16 miles on dirt. You want to be close to the pace as the 12 non-maiden races this meet at this distance have the average winner less than a length off the lead after the opening half-mile and all 12 were less than 4 lengths back at that point. While sire Curlin has an outstanding 15 winners over this surface and Society Beau accounted for one of those in the Spring Meet, he may be a pace casualty too far back. Nine of 12 winners raced at a shorter prep distance last time out than the 1-1/16 miles. That’s good for Clear the Mine, under red-hot Jose Ortiz, and Pinson. Churchill preppers have won 6 dirt allowances from 14 offered and remarkably no other circuit has more than 1.

     

    Race 4 – We continue in allowance company here at 7 furlongs. Only 5 of 41 such races have been won in turf-to-dirt transitions overall, which in this race my help eliminate 5 of the 8 entrants if you subscribe. About two-thirds of the winners prepped at 7 furlongs or longer last out, which puts Whole Scoop and Beach Flower on upset alert as horses who prepped in longer dirt races. Wesley Ward hasn’t won any of the 7F dirt allowances at Keeneland, and he trains a couple of the favorites here, so why not try something out of the box?

     

    Race 5 – Turf 2-year-old maiden special weights look to graduate at 1-1/16 miles. These can get unpredictable so shop around some. The average winner is more than $21 and we’ve had a pair of 13-1 upsetters this meet. Stormy Atlantic and Lemon Drop Kid have sired a pair of 2YO turf MSW winners here in past Fall Meets and have Last Play and Lemon Princess/Lemon Drop Twist. Trainer Ian Wilkes’ 3 wins in this category are second only to D. Wayne Lukas’ 5. Wilkes ha Sahara Breeze and As I Please entered.

     

    Race 6 – Mid-level $25,000 open claimers route 1-1/16 miles to open the pick five. These races have been formful in past years, whereas the average winner has been just 7-2 in 26 Fall Meet claimers between $16k-$32k. Churchill preppers have a 12-2 edge over several circuits. Owner Maggi Moss’ horses have targeted these spots with 4 winners and she’s got Chrchill prepped Mineerownmalone in what seems like a natural spot. Zander Zone would be a horse-for-course consideration by Flatter, having already won over the track and distance in 2015.

     

    Race 7 – The Churchill invaders own 6 of the 10 juvenile MSW wins at the meet on dirt. Steve Asmussen has 2 of those wins, both via CD, and offers Elusive Truth as a viable favorite. America’s Tale exits a CD turf event and prior to that was second to eventual G1 Alcibiades winner Heavenly Love. But only 3 of 42 juvenile MSW sprints on dirt have been won following turf preps. Treasure in Heaven may relish the trip as we’ve seen the Street Sense offspring really excel here at 7F on dirt.

     

    Race 8 – A full-field turf sprint lines up and the 3-4-5 “power posts” are my favorite angle at Keeneland and already produced a winner at the meet. Those posts win about 50% of the turf sprints with 12 or more starters despite making up only 25% of the gate – at an average price of more than 12-1. Barring scratches, that puts Spellker, Excessivespending and Width in the power posts. Julien Leparoux’s 12 turf sprint wins here since Fall 2006 are double that of any other ride and he teams with the well-draw Excessivespending. Wesley Ward’s 10 turf sprint tallies during that span also are easily most among trainers and he saddles Spellker, also power-posted.

     

    Race 9 – Five of the last 11 winners of the G2 Raven Run have been 11-1 or more and that average winner since ’06 on any surface has been nearly 10-1. The trio of dirt editions have averaged a 9-1 return, so feel free to browse the price aisle. Sarah Sis won this in 2015 on dirt coming out of the Charles Town Oaks, so don’t sleep on the alumnae of that race Tequilita, Yorkiepoo Princess and Overture. All 3 winners since returning to dirt exited preps at 7 furlongs or less, so this hasn’t been a “turn-back” haven. I love the Into Mischief offspring on this track at a distance like this, so Miss sunset could take to it very well via California. While Chalon figures to be tough coming out of the TCA Stakes vs. elders, note she’d be the first “run-back” to win a Keeneland Fall Meet dirt stakes on the new surface within the same meet. In 2015, we did see a trio of Breeders’ Day winners score run-back wins 4 weeks apart in that extended season, but not in a tight window like a regular Fall Meet.

     

    Race 10 – Elder turf maiden special weights wrap up the program. Twenty of 21 such races in past Fall Meets since 2011 have been won by horses by horses 8-1 or less, so don’t get too crazy here. NYRA owns a 9-7 edge over Kentucky Downs as CD has produced only 1 such winner. Jaunt and Time To Flirt make a lot of sense from New York.

     

    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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