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.
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 Friday, April 14
What to Watch for Today: A blessed Good Friday to those observing and, oh, what a holiday card we have at Keeneland today! The Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile tops the Spring Meet turf marquee and is part of a $200,000-guaranteed late pick four, sponsored by TVG.
After admittedly struggling the first 4 days of the meeting, it felt good to break out of the slump Thursday with 4 winners on top and a couple of nice prices among them. Let’s hope that positive momentum runs through the weekend.
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: A gorgeous day with temperatures tempting the 80-degree mark is in store.
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 kicks off with high-end $50,000 claiming sprinters. We’ve only had 1 such race in a Spring Meet the past decade (in 2015), so it’s a rare condition. Note only 1 of the first 10 races this meet at 7 furlongs has been won by the half-mile leader and the average winner has been 2 ¼ lengths off the pace at that juncture. Six of the 10 winners turned back from a mile or longer prep. Young American cuts back the trip, as does Fleetway and Sailin’ Shoes. Fair Grounds shippers have won 3 of the first 6 claiming sprints at the meet, good news for Art Imitates Life and Young American.
Maiden claimers sprint 6 furlongs in Race 2. First-time starters have won only 4 of the 37 MCL races on dirt in Spring Meets, so give the edge to experience in a race where Casse and Ward first-time starters are likely to take action. Fair Grounds raiders are 2-for-4 at the meet in these races, so British Humor could be sitting pretty for a Brendan Walsh barn going very well right now. He won races here Wednesday and Thursday in blowout style.
Race 3 is for non-winners of 2 claimers at 6 furlongs. Favorites are 9-for-19 in N2L claimers on the dirt in Spring Meets and only 1 winner has been over 6-1. Take what they give you here, and it appears class-dropping favorite A Dixie Twister is an early pick 4 single. All 5 winners at this class and distance have been within 2 lengths of the lead after the opening half-mile as you want to be up close.
Turf allowance competitors match up in Races 4 and 7. Gulfstream shippers have won 3 of the 5 turf allowances at the meet. Wessex, Res Ipsa and Awesome Song bring that passport in Race 4. Awesome Song trainer Brian Lynch posted a turf allowance 10-1 upset Thursday with Gio’s Calling and looks for another. Bill Mott’s 15 Spring Meet turf allowance victories at Kee the past decade are most of any trainer and he saddles Wessex. As for Race 7, Shug McGaughey looks to build on his 11 Spring Meet turf ALW scores the past decade when he saddles Inchargeofme, one of the GP alumni here – along with Salty Breeze, Sweet Tapper, Shaan and Chiringuita.
Race 5 is a starter allowance at 1-1/16 miles. Trainer Angel Montano has won Spring Meet starter allowances on dirt during the 2015 and 2016 stands. He has Lieutenant Seany O. Note that favorites are 0-7 at the meet in 1-1/16 miles races and the average winner has been over 11-1 odds. Five of those 7 winners were front-runners and the average winner has only been 1 length off the lead after the opening half-mile.
Three-year-old maiden special weight routers contest Race 6, also at the aforementioned 1-1/16 miles distance. Gulfstream shippers have won 9 of 26 offered in Spring Meets on dirt (no other circuit more than 4). Remarkably only 7 of the 26 winners exited a 2-turn prep. Those stretching out here include Lucky Sunset, Analyze and Access Code. Analyze doubles-down with her 1-turn race coming via Gulfstream, and she’s by No. 1 Kee dirt sire Candy Ride. Pedigree fans here have to root for Gold Serenade, a daughter of Hall of Famer Serena’s Song.
Race 8 offers a 7-furlong allowance sprint in which last year’s Blue Grass Stakes fifth-place finisher Star Hill returns for the first time since August. Only 1 of the last 8 Spring 7-furlong allowances has been won by a horse off since the previous year. Four of the last 5 have been won by horses cutting back from a 2-turn prep. Starship Zeus, Scarf It Down, Big Red Rocket and Southwest Trail will try to do that again.
The Good Friday finale in Race 10 is a maiden special weight sprint at 7 furlongs. Favorites are 2-for-11 in these spots during Spring Meets and the average winner has been over 7-1. All 11 winners have been within 3 lengths of the lead after the first half-mile and the average winner just ¾-length off the pace at that point. Speed has been important and 10 of 11 exited sprint preps. Only 1 has been won by a debut runner, so lean to experience. Mark Casse has won 3 of these 11 races, but none with a first-time starter like he’ll attempt with Perfect Partner.
Feature Race Play, courtesy of the Horseplayernow.com BUZZ Report:
The Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile goes as Race 9. It’s the most important turf race of the Spring Meet annually and has a dynamite field of 12 – easily the largest of the decade. This race has averaged just 7.3 starters per race since 2007 and only had 10 once.
Gulfstream shippers hold a 4-3 edge the past decade in this race over Santa Anita raiders. Heart to Heart, second in this race last year, tops the Gulfstream cast. The west coast has represented quite well and tries again with What A View, Bolo, Calculator and Conquest Enforcer. Four of the last 10 winners of this race, including Miss Temple City a year ago, were making their first starts of the year. Don’t hold the layoff against Blacktype.
The pace in the Maker’s 46 Mile looks to be lightning fast. The average opening half-mile in this race the past decade has been 47.90 seconds, but very likely will push 46 flat today. That said a closer could have a big say in this spot. I’m looking for Blacktype and Bondurant to come flying and will seek to play both win-place.
Head to Keenelandselect.com to send in your plays!
Feel free to drop me an E-mail anytime at Jeremy@Horseplayernow.com.