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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.
Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Friday, October 21
What to Watch for Today: The $200,000-guaranteed late pick four pool includes the G3 $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes for sophomore turf fillies. Trainers Eddie Kenneally and Ian Wilkes both have entrants on 6 races on the card and appear capable of strong days.
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 Horseplayernow.com under “The Latest.”
My Selections: For the first time, my top 3 picks in each race are available in the Keeneland.com consensus page, and you can get final, up to the minute adjustments by following @Keenelandracing.com 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.
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Weather: Overnight and morning showers are hopeful to clear out by racetime, but we could be left with less than ideal track and turf conditions. Keep an eye on updates at Keeneland.com and social media.
Keeneland Handicapping 101: Here we go race-by-race to help you unearth the trends. 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 4 are maiden claiming sprints. We haven’t seen a closer win a MCL all meet long at any distance, and Diamonds For Leah moved on the backstretch into second yesterday routing before coming the closest thing we’ve seen to date in 12 such races. Favorites are only 3-12 at the meet in these races, so look for some speed with a tinge of value if you can find it. In Race 1, Discreetly Firm goes for jockey Channing Hill with 5 front-end winners at nice prices at the meet; Tracking the Cat looks like the main speed player with him. As for Race 4, Channing Hill and his father Wayne Catalano team up looking for their second debut winner of the week after uncorking a doozy here on Wednesday at a price. None of the horse who’ve run show any early foot on paper, so give the rookies a long, hard look.
In Race 2, allowance runners battle at 1-1/16 miles on the main track and I love the horses exiting 1-turn races stretching out here. About half the races at a mile or 1-1/16 miles (with the short stretch finish line in play) have been won by horses who prepped around 1 turn. Bird Sense comes in from Ellis with 1-turn form and that funky elbow mile start there, not a traditional 2-turn route. She may be a tad more forward than turf router Sherini, the half-sister to Preakness winner Shackleford.
Race 3 is a place to price shop. Favorites went 0-for-10 in the first 10 turf allowance races at this current meet and the average winner has been about 10/1 odds. Part of the reason for the failure of favorites lies in the fact that NYRA shippers have been blanked in those turf allowances so far. Kentucky Downs preppers have 4 wins, the rest are divided one apiece among other circuits. Trainer Chris Block has an uncoupled entry of No Fault of Mine and Prado’s Sweet Ride. Both are 1-for-1 over the course. Annulment could be the value and will appreciate a shorter trip.
Friday’s Race 5 is a key race alert on the past performances for All the Way. In his last 2 starts, he’s been beaten by horses who already have come back to win at the current Keeneland meet in a starter allowance and an open $32,000 claimer. That’s heady stuff. Churchill preppers have won 9 of 21 Fall Meet starter allowances on dirt the past 3 years and no other circuit has more than 3 (Indiana Downs).
Two-year-old turf allowance runners clash in Race 6. Respect D. Wayne Lukas’ Milennial if he draws in off the also-eligble list. Lukas crushed Wednesday with is fourth 2YO turf MSW winner of recent Fall Meets when My Sweet Stella strolled. Mark Casse has won 6 juvenile races at the meet and sends out Red Bo, whose dam is half-sister to star mare Plum Pretty. Of the 5 juvenile turf MSWs at the meet, we’ve seen 21-1, 29-1 and 46-1 bombs go along with 2 logical winners. Feast or famine, horseplayers! All 5 were won by horses either on the lead or pressing the pace.
Bottom-end $7500 claimers sprint 6 furlongs in Race 7. Churchill preppers have won 6 of the 7 offered between last Fall and the first 2 this Fall. Only Marsh Creek, Butcher, Magnum Force and Revolver Fit the playbill, so that’s a good narrowing start. Front-end speed dominates this class/distance so the quickest of that quartet should be the focus, led by Revolver and Marsh Creek.
Races 8 and 10 are for older maiden special weight performers at 6 ½ furlongs. First-time starters struggle in this situation historically, but in Race 8, Push Comes to Shove does interest me because low-profile trainer Sally Schu, a former Kellyn Gorder assistant, has surprised here in Fall Meets in 2012, 2013 and 2015 at average odds of 7-1, including 2 maiden breakers. I love how Channing Hill is riding and if this one breaks and shows speed, could be a factor at a price. Missseventhirteen has to be respected on pedigree to love this course by Flatter, whose sprinters have been magnificent on the Kee dirt. In the Race 10 heat, pedigree players include Little Dume, Saved by the Swell and Sentence in a tough group to separate. Favorites are a strong 8-for-17 in all Fall Meet dirt MSWs for elders the past 3 seasons.
Feature Race Play, courtesy of the Horseplayernow.com BUZZ Report:
The G3 $150,000 Valley View tops the card in Race 9 for 3-year-old turf fillies. G1 French Oaks fourth-place finisher Azaelia makes her US debut and appears to be a high-class animal. I love when foreign quality picks up a top local rider like Florent Geroux. They’re going to be tough. A bit of give in the ground from Thursday’s rains won’t hurt either.
Trainer Graham Motion has had a stellar stakes meet to date and Quidura would be absolutely no shock here. Her US debut was very professional. Motion also has Tin Type Gal, who appears to run a bit better on firm turf and when she gets over the ground. She’s classy but may be vulnerable.
I’ll take my chances with Azaelia and Quidura in the multi-race wagers and search for value within the race with those two in the win pool.
Head to Keenelandselect.com to send in your plays!
Feel free to drop me an E-mail anytime at Jeremy@Horseplayernow.com.