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E.g., October 20

    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 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.

    Sunday, October 8, 2017

    Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Sunday, October 8      


    What to Watch for Today: The Fall Meet’s most tradition-rich and arguably most significant Keeneland stakes, the Grade 1 $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes, tops the marquee to close Fall Stars Weekend. The Spinster leads a 10-race card that co-features the Grade 3 $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes for 2-year-old turfers.


    **NEW** Updated analysis: Follow @BetKeeneland on Twitter or go to the 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 ( Miss the live premiere? Get the archive immediate thereafter with a link from @BetKeeneland on Twitter or at the live racing page at


    Weather: The extended forecast calls for rain and puts the grass races in jeopardy. But as handicappers know, be sure to check the race-day conditions and not bank on the predictions.


    Keeneland Handicapping 101: Most information is gleaned from the free Keeneland Handicapping database ( that you can manipulate and search for yourself as well!


    Race 1 – Bottom-level $10,000 claimers open the action at 1-1/16 miles on dirt. We’ve seen 12 Fall Meet dirt routes at this level with 5 winning favorites, 10 winners at 5-1 or less and none over 11-1. Seven winners stretched out off of 1-turn preps including 4 via Churchill Downs like Budget Cut will attempt to emulate. Mike Maker (Northern Screamer) has saddled 5 claiming dirt route winners at Keeneland, most of any conditioner on the new surface.


    Race 2 – Allowance runners square off at 1-1/16 miles on dirt to back-end the daily double.  Churchill preppers own 13 of the 34 Fall dirt route allowance wins, 10 of those coming via the short September meeting. That’s where Toasted and Lady Soul were last seen. Toasted’s trainer Ian Wilkes has 3 such wins on his resume, tied for the most of any trainer (with Steve Asmussen). Note that sire Speightstown has a sharp 11 winners over this dirt surface (Lady Soul, Stonetacular), just 1 of those came around 2 turns. Price shoppers note trainer Victoria Oliver (Loom) has averaged nearly 12-1 odds on her last 8 winners at Keeneland with only 1 of those a favorite.


    Race 3 – Upper-end $50,000 claimers sprint 7 furlongs in a rarely-run condition. We had 2 of these in 2015 during the Fall Meet and only 1 last year. Forty Acres aims for a third win on the Keeneland dirt after 32-1 and 5-1 upsets here the past 2 meetings. His sire Archarcharch has averaged 16-1 on his 7 Keeneland dirt winners for value seekers. Another pedigree/horse-for-course play exists with Hunka Burning Love. He’s got a win and second from 2 starts on the Kee dirt, and his sire Into Mishief not only has 10 winners here on dirt since Fall 2015, he had 3 this Spring Meet alone at this exact 7-furlong distance.


    Race 4 – Maiden claimers route 1-1/16 miles on the main track here and it’s been a spot to look for recent starters exiting route preps. Favorites are 11-23 in these spots over the 3 Fall Meets on dirt, and only 1 winner has been more than 6-1 on the toteboard. The last 14 straight have had a recent start in September or October, while 18 of 23 overall exited a prep at a mile or longer. Shezappealing, Lovemelikeyoudo, One Dollar, Awesome Gal, Jeremiah Jewel and Desert Poem fit the profile. Of those, note that Lovemelikeyoudo is sired by Harlan’s Holiday, who has sired the second-most winners on the Keeneland dirt (came into the meet just 1 behind Candy Ride).


    Race 5 – To the turf we go for a 1-1/8 miles first-level (N1X) allowance. NYRA shippers hold a commanding 19-7 edge over both Kentucky Downs and Churchill preppers among the 60 such N1X turf ALW races since Fall ’06. Peaceful Passage, Tamit and Mom’s On Strike are the only NYRA invaders here. Note that Kenny McPeek has 5 wins in this category (second to Graham Motion’s 8) and sends out Awesome Boss, a Saratoga summer player who since has appeared at Kentucky Downs. The barn does well at Keeneland when it has horses with eligible conditions like this. Worth noting as well is the fact that Tamit’s debut win here last Fall marked the deepest close by any winner at 1-1/16 miles on turf all meet (from 8-3/4 lengths back after a half-mile).


    Race 6 – Allowance sprinters clash at 7 furlongs. Coming into the Fall Meet, we have seen 20 Fall dirt allowance races at 7F and 11 of them have been won by horses who prepped at a mile or longer last time out (aka “turning back”). But note 15 of those 20 were up close, within 2 lengths after the opening half-mile and only 1 winner closed more than 3 ½ lengths to score from that point home. Only 1 of the 20 such winners was coming off an extended layoff beyond late summer. Storm Advisory and Rocket Time both showed speed going longer and come back in fairly recent form, a good fit. In fact, Rocket Time won a dirt race here at 7 furlongs during the 2014 Fall Meet when cutting back from a 1-1/8 miles route.


    Race 7 – Don’t be afraid of a first-time starter going 6-furlongs in a 2YO MSW here. Of the 13 such races on dirt, 5 have gone to rookies. Wayne Catalano uncorked a doozy here last Fall in 10-1 debut winner Uncontested and he’s got Golden Rose entered for the same owner. Of those who have run, keep an eye on Fonda Romana. His sire Roman Ruler has had strong success here with late-blooming Fall 2YOs even dating back to the Polytrack era. Of course, Mia Mischief looks sharp off her debut second and penchant for Into Mischief offspring to take to this main track.


    Race 8 – Favorites have won 5 of the last 10 editions of the Bourbon Stakes held on turf with an average winner just over 4-1. This race has been all about shippers from Saratoga (6 winners) and Kentucky Downs (3 winners in last 4 years) the past decade. None of those editions were won by a horse on the lead after the opening half-mile and the average winner was 4 lengths behind at that juncture. All were won by horses exiting turf preps. Horses who prepped at a mile or longer own 7 of the last 8 wins and 8 of the last 10. Only 4 entrants here hail from KD/Sar preps at a mile or more: Machtree, Tigers Rule, Fred’stwirlincandy, and Wicked Trick.


    Race 9 – Nine of the last 11 Spinster winners came in off of preps in New York (8 Saratoga, 1 Belmont), including the last 2 straight on dirt. This has not been a race to fish for big prices as 10 of the last 11 winners were 5-1 or less on the toteboard, including 5-1, 3-1 and 2-5 in the trio of races since returning to dirt. Crazily, none of the 13 here come directly from NYRA, though Bar of Gold and Lockdown are from that trail with a roadtrip prep in-between. Romantic Vision also summered at Saratoga, and she’s notably the only runner in the field with a Keeneland dirt win, scoring tice here (Spring ’17, Fall ’16). Her time here last Fall was fourth-fastest of 29 at the meet for 1-1/16 miles despite an opening half-mile that was 3 lengths slower than par for the meet.


    Race 10 – We close the weekend at 1-3/16 miles on turf in an elder MSW. Of the 20 such Fall Meet races held, we’ve had only 1 winner over 8-1 on the toteboard but the average winner has been 5-1. So it’s an often playable kind of horse coming through to win. NYRA shippers hold a 9-6 edge over Kentucky Downs here, but it’s a very significant KD number when you consider the brevity of that meet. Kaalingrad, Runninwiththewind, Icnonic, Beyond the Nile and Campioni are the KD preppers in the main body of the field. No first-time starters have won in the 20 races and 15 of 20 prepped at a mile or longer last out.


    My Selections: You can get my top 3 picks in each race on the track simulcast feed before each race as well on the handicappers’ consensus page ( 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






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