Expert Picks

You are here

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 20

    Ellis Starr

    Ellis Starr, a.k.a. “Ubercapper,” is the National Racing Analyst for Equibase. He publishes detailed analysis and selections for Keeneland and other tracks regularly which can be found at Equibase, Keeneland Select and other web sites. Ellis writes a widely distributed “Race of the Week” article which appears on the Equibase web site as well as America’s Best Racing. Ellis will be posting his analysis daily for one race taken right from his complete selection and analysis report. Additionally, you can follow Ellis’ insights on twitter @ubercapper.

    Saturday, October 21, 2017

    Race #9

    #11 Miss Sunset - Minimum odds 2/1

    #4 Nonna Mela - Minimum odds 5/2

    Exacta: 4,11 over 4,5,8,9,11 and also the opposite, which is 4,5,8,9,11 over 4,11 (The total cost of these two bets is $16. We win the first if 4 or 11 wins and then if 4,5,8, 9 or 11 finishes second and we win the 2nd bet if the opposite occurs. If  4 and 9 finish 1st & 2nd, in any order, we win the bet twice).

    Before her win in the Cerf Stakes on September 4, Miss Sunset had earned all five of her career wins (from 9 starts) when leading from the start. In the Cerf Stakes, Miss Sunset relaxed nicely when in second position in the early stages before drawing off to win late by nearly two lengths. That victory last month not only earned Miss Sunset a career best 104 Equibase Speed Figure, but the effort came in her first try against three year olds and upward. Prior to that, Miss Sunset won the Fleet Treat Stakes at the distance of the Raven Run powerfully by five lengths in a field of eight. Scratched out of last weekend's California Distaff Stakes to run in the Raven Run and back in against her own age group, Miss Sunset gets the services of leading rider Leparoux aboard as well as a good outside post that will allow her to stalk whoever leads early just as she did in the Cerf Stakes. As such, Miss Sunset looks very capable of winning for the seventh time in her 11th career start.

    Nonna Mela also enters the Raven Run off a career best effort, albeit not a winning one, in the Prioress Stakes. Clearly second the entire length of the stretch to winner Vertical Oak, Nonna Mela improved to a 104 figure as good as the figure Miss Sunset earned winning a stakes around the same time. Prior to that, Nonna Mela beat older fillies and mares at Saratoga at the seven furlong distance of the Raven Run including next out winner Malibu Stacy. With North American leading trainer Todd Pletcher's #1 & #2 jockeys Velazquez and Castellano remaining in New York, journeyman Chris DeCarlo takes the call and that is fine as the jockey and trainer have a fine record of four wins in seven races in the last year. Also with good tactical speed, we can expect Nonna Mela to be on or near the lead from start to finish.

    Chalon, Happy Mesa and Classy Tune all warrant respect but in my opinion their probabilities of winning aren't nearly as high as either Miss Sunset or Nonna Mela. Chalon just ran two weeks ago here at Keeneland when second to Finley'sluckycharm in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, the winner now with nine victories in 12 races so Chalon's runner-up finish no disgrace at all. Although the effort earned her a career best and field high 107 figure, Chalon has failed to gain significant ground in the stretch in her last three starts and therefore may be a "need the lead" type who can run well but who may also get discouraged when both Nonna Mela and Miss Sunset prove faster than her in the opening stages. Happy Mesa will be rolling from far back, perhaps last, as she did last month on grass when second in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint, from which third place finisher Morticia came back to win the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes earlier in the Keeneland meeting. Happy Mesa won the only time she raced on dirt, in her first career start back in the summer of 2016, so she could run as well on the main track as she ran on turf last time out when earning a 102 figure and as such must be considered for exacta tickets we bet at the minimum. Classy Tune earned a career best 103 figure one before last when winning easily in August in an allowance level race. In her first stakes try last month, she was sent to post as the even money favorite but easily beaten by Miss Sunset. Although she may run well I don't see her reversing positions with the horse that beat her and so she too is a horse we can consider for exacta tickets but perhaps not as a win contender.

    Follow Me on Twitter @Ubercapper

    Other racing content

    Analysis of major stakes races every Friday at

    Weekend Key Races Blog at

    Weekend Key Races Podcast at

    Free Selection for one free race daily at:

    Woodbine -

    Keeneland -

    Santa Anita –

    You can get my selections and analysis for the entire Keeneland card at Equibase, TrackMaster, Keeneland Select, TVG, Twinspires, Xpressbet as well as many and other wagering sites, usually in the handicapping store.





Keeneland Association, Inc. 4201 Versailles Road
Lexington, Kentucky 40510
Telephone: (859) 254-3412 Toll Free: (800) 456-3412 Fax: (859) 255-2484

©1999-2015 Keeneland Association, Inc. All Rights Reserved