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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 25

    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 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.


    Saturday, October 14, 2017

    Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Saturday, October 14   

     

    What to Watch for Today: Breeders’ Cup champion New Money Honey and multiple Keeneland turf stakes winner La Coronel headline a fantastic renewal of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. It’s the main event on a card that includes some amazing pedigrees and rising players.

     

    **NEW** Updated analysis: Follow @BetKeeneland on Twitter or go to the Keeneland.com 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 Keeneland.com (http://www.keeneland.com/racing/racing-live-coverage). Miss the live premiere? Get the archive immediate thereafter with a link from @BetKeeneland on Twitter or at the live racing page at Keeneland.com.

     

    Weather: A beautiful day in the low 80s with only a 10% chance of rain is in the forecast.

                                                  

    Today’s Pick Five Approach: 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 – We open with $20,000 claimers going 7 furlongs. Note that trainer Ben Colebrook (Noschackleshere) has 4 wins at 7F on dirt at Keeneland at an average of more than 11-1 with no favorites among those winners. All 4 of those came with horses actually stretching out a bit in distance like this gelding tries. Perplexed goes for a D. Wayne Lukas barn off to a good start at the meet with limited starters and at big prices. Arlington shippers have typically fit well during the Fall around this $20k level, and Cairn already has run a solid race over this track last Fall while a maiden.

     

    Race 2 – Claimers route 1-1/16 miles to open the early pick four. Churchill shippers own a whopping 18-5 edge over Indiana Grand shippers in Fall Meet claiming routes. 30 n3l 1-1/16. A fairly recent start is paramount here as all 39 winners had raced most recently either the last week of August or in September/October. A trio of major contenders here try to come off more extended breaks and may be vulnerable. Cause You Can is the only recent prepper to exit a raec at Churchill and fits nicely.

     

    Race 3 – Maiden claimers sprint 6 furlongs with a full field of 12 plus also-eligibles. Lonely Petunia is a pedigree play over the surface as underrated Archarcharch added another pricy winner on Thursday. Trainer Mike Maker’s 5 MCL Fall winners on dirt are tied for most at Kee and he’ll try to do it for the first time with a first-time starter in Bunny Boss. Note all 5 of Maker’s MCL victors in the Fall have been hammered 2-1 or less on the tote. Radar Vision goes for a Buff Bradley barn that uncorked a very sharp debut winner here Thursday; this one makes a second start after a troubled debut and has a bullet workout since.

     

    Race 4 – This 6-furlong sprint is for $40,000 upper-level claimers. Speedster Ceejay’s Mister may appreciate the shorter trip and drop in class from his Spring Meet appearance when chasing a 7F allowance pace that was a full-second faster than par the first-time mile and clocked near the top 10% of all 7F races held on the new dirt surface. Churchill preppers have accounted for 10 of the 17 Fall Meet upper claimers between $30-$50k like this, but the 2 this meet have come via Ellis and Canterbury. Only 5 such races at this class area have been run at 6 furlongs and the average winner has been exactly on the lead after a half-mile. But there is A LOT of speed in this race to think a closer can punch late.

     

    Races 5 and 7 – We get a pair of turf allowances to look at in tandem here. The first 9 grass races of the meet have produced only 1 front-end victor and the average winner has been more than 4 lengths off the lead after the opening half-mile. Kentucky Downs preppers have owned the grass with 6 of the 9 wins (Churchill shut out early on). In Race 5: Morocco, Mambo At the Gym, Takeoff, Belgian and Hollow Point represent KD. Bill Mott’s horses have underperformed so far and speed hasn’t held on turf, so Morocco may be a play-against. Mike Maker has 2 early turf wins at the stand and Mambo At the Gym will be coming late, along with Takeoff and Hollow Point for a hot Mark Casse outfit. As for Race 7: welcome back Airoforce, the 2015 Bourbon Stakes winner and BC Juvenile Turf runner-up. Gliding Alone, Bondurant, High Noon Rider and Parlor come in from KD. Parlor’s trainer Eddie Kenneally perked up Thursday after a slow start to the meet. HE comes off a late-running second in the Dueling Grounds Derby and will be flying late. Revved Up was a good third here with no pace help in the Spring and he’s a regally bred colt out of champion Storm Flag Flying.

     

    Race 6 – I love the 2-year-old maiden special weights in the fall, hoping to see a Triple Crown type for next year. This one is a 6-furlong MSW with promise. All 9 on dirt so far this meet have been won by horses 7-2 or less and averaged just 3-1. Only 1 has been a first-time starter while 2 have come in from Churchill and Kentucky Downs each. Royal Creed for Mark Casse makes a lot of sense in his second start after chasing Bourbon Stakes runner-up Tap Daddy last out. Pedigree buffs will be exciting for Sergeant Drive, a son of Tapit and Spinster heroine Carriage Trail. Note that Tapit has 4 Fall Meet 2YO MSW winners at Keeneland on dirt, most of any sire. He'll also be represented here by sharp-working Lighthawk. Meanwhile, Ox Bro goes for a Dale Romans barn already with a 2YO MSW win and the G1 Breeders Futurity for 2YOs at the meet.

     

    Race 8 – Second-level allowance sprinters square off at 6 furlongs and a capacity field of 12 awaits. Speed to avoid traffic is what you want here. In 14 dirt races at 6F with 12 or more starters, the average winner was only a neck off the lead after the opening half-mile and only 2 winners closed more than 2 lengths from that point to win. And, the overall 6 furlong profile at any level this meet looks awfully similar. Posts 5-9 have accounted for 10 of the 14 wins, which makes sense as the rail and outside can be a detriment unless you can really burn. Laura B exits 2 dominant wins in western Canada and will make her first start since a private purchase for Joe Sharp. She’d be the first Northlands Park prepper to win here in the 11-year history of our database, and I’d venture to guess … maybe … ever.

     

    Race 9 – The G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup highlights today’s card at 1-1/8 miles on turf. Horses prepped at Saratoga (3) and Del Mar (2) have traded victories over the last 5 years. Favorites have won just 2 of the last 11 editions with an average winner over 6-1. During that span only 1 wire-to-wire winner has tallied with an average winner 3-1/4 lengths off the lead after the opening half-mile; sitting just off the pace is the preferred trip. La Coronel returns to her favorite course where she’s won the Jessamine at 2 and Appalachian at 3 this spring. Chad Brown looks for a second turf stakes win of the week after Wednesday’s Jessamine tally and has Uni lined up here along with New Money Honey, a powerful 1-2 punch. He won this race with Dayaththespa in 2012.

     

    Race 10 – Elder maiden special weight performers go 7 furlongs to conclude the Saturday action. We haven’t had many of these 3&up MSWs at 7F, but it’s notable 3 of the 4 have been won by horses shortening in distance from their last prep. Frank the Butcher is a daughter of champion Dreaming of Anna and should appreciate her first try on dirt after turf and synthetic bids. He’s among those shortening the trip, along with Bee Jersey, C Dub, Powerful Ally and Victory Cigar. All 4 of these such races have been won by horses stalking between 2 and 3 ½ lengths off the lead.

     

    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 (http://www.keeneland.com/racing/handicappers-consensus). 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 Jeremy@Horseplayernow.com.

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