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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 Thursday, April 27
What to Watch for Today: Keep an eye on the run-back performers second time at the meet. They teamed to win 3 of the 8 races on Wednesday and always are a late-season Keeneland angle I jump at playing.
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.
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Weather: A 70 percent chance of light rain is in the forecast, so keep watch on the conditions.
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 5 are two-year-old baby dashes. Favorites are 6-for-10 at the meet with only 1 winner above 5-2 odds, so don’t go fishing here. Trainer John Hancock has won 3 baby races at the meet and has a pair of Race 1 entrants, Lullingstone and American Alphabet. Kenny McPeek has a 2YO winner at the stand and sends out an Animal Kingdom baby in Sunny Skies. As for the Race 5 heat, Hancock offers CJS Suzy Byu vs. Wesley Ward’s Nootka Sound in search of that barn’s potential 4th juvenile winner of the meet. Todd Pletcher also has Orbulation and he unleashed a powerful, outside-drawn 2YO debut winner here Wednesday named Salmanazar.
Race 2 is a 1 ½ miles turf marathon. Kitten’s Joy has sired 5 winners over this course and distance in our database going back to 2006 Fall at Keeneland (only Dynaformer has more). His sons Grey Wizard and Wayward Kitten are represented on Thursday. The average winner at this trip is 6 lengths off the lead after the opening half-mile with only 4 of 86 won by the half-mile leader. Gulfstream preppers have won 25 of 39 Spring Meet turf marathons since 2007. That bodes well for favorite Hunter O’Reilly and the aforementioned Wayward Kitten.
Lower-end $16,000 claimers go 1 mile in Race 3. Favorites are a rock-solid 9-for-19 in claiming races on the dirt this Spring Meet, including both winners Wednesday. Oaklawn has produced 3 claiming race winners later in the meet and appears well-represented by Dustem Carolina, Gingermore and Yooou Den. Morning line favorite Ritzy Lass comes off races at Penn National. The last Pen shipper to win at Keeneland came during the 2014 Spring Meet on Polytrack.
Race 4 is for turf mile maiden special weight runners. Think outside the box if you wish here as favorites have won just once in the last 14 Spring Meet turf MSWs and 2 for the last 20 dating back to 2015. The average winner this meet has been nearly 8-1. Tampa shippers have won 3 of those 8 races this stand, which is good news for Pampered Vow and Spearette. The latter’s trainer Vicky Oliver already has won in a similar spot this meet at 7-1 (Youngest Daughter).
Turf allowance runners match up in Races 6 at 1 1/8 miles. Muhaawer is a horse for course play having won over this grass in Spring 2015 and knowing her mama Alwajeeha loved it here. In 2008, she won the Appalachian and G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup over this turf. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is tied for most turf wins at the meet with 4. Another legacy performer to consider is Galileo’s Spear. Her mama Lady Shakespeare won the G3 Bewitch here in 2010. And, note that Manitoulin was a good second here in the 2016 Spring Meet behind eventual Queen’s Plate winner Sir Dudley Digges.
Race 7 is a starter allowance at 7 furlongs. Hot Keeneland sire Into Mischief has Manhattan Mischief coming in from Oaklawn with potential hidden horse-for-course abilities. Favorite Coach runs back second time at the meet and note he’s 2-for-2 in “run-back” situations like this during 2016 Spring and Fall Meets. Also consider that Rhodium was a sharp run-back winner at this starter allowance level on the Wednesday card. It certainly can pay to double-down, if you will. Rhythm Park has won 7 of his last 8 races and merits plenty of respect. Owner Maggi Moss already has a starter allowance rout win at the meet with Big Kick and spots her horses with precision.
Maiden claiming routers wrap the day in Race 9. Harlans Commission won a similar heat yesterday to end the day as a run-back at the meet. Wissam and Luther D will be the ones reappearing at Keeneland, and the latter goes for a Nick Zito barn that won yesterday with Makarios on short rest. Before you say that Pletcher and Zito horses in maiden claiming races at Keeneland are a red flag, note they’ve teamed to win 8 of these at Keeneland since just the Fall 2013 meeting.
Feature Race Play, courtesy of the Horseplayernow.com BUZZ Report:
Today’s Race 9 turf route allowance is a split division of Race 6. Mutazen will look to continue Kiaran McLaughlin’s fabulous turf meet at Keeneland. Gulfstream shippers have won 8 of the 21 turf allowances at the meet, underperforming a bit to their historical norm here. Favorites also are 8 for 21 in these spots at the meet.
Brucarita will be my play with a strong closing kick. Her fourth-place rally here in April 2016 is better than it looks – it clocked the second-fast turf mile of the meet only behind the G1 Maker’s 46 Mile win of Miss Temple City.
Head to Keenelandselect.com to send in your plays!
Feel free to drop me an E-mail anytime at Jeremy@Horseplayernow.com.