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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.


    Friday, October 13, 2017

    Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Friday, October 13       

     

    What to Watch for Today: The distaff turf sprint set takes center stage in the $100,000 Grade 3 Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes. Defending champ Miss Ella looks to get back on track against a capacity field. The $200,000-guaranteed late pick four anchors each Friday card and boasts 10x10x12x12 field sizes.

     

    **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: TGIF! Temps in the mid-70s and a 0% chance of rain are in the forecast. Enjoy!

                                                  

    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 – For the second straight day, 2YO maiden claiming routers open the action. Favorites are a rock-solid 11-for-25 in MCL routes during Fall Meets. The average winner is just 5-to-2 odds and 22 of the winners were less than 5-to-1. Churchill preppers own a 9-3 edge over any other circuit and 19 of 25 exit a prep at a mile or longer. No first-time starters have won to this point. This bodes very well for favorite The Weef, who should be a short-priced winner to start the day. Pebble Slinger and Lady Margaret exit the same mile race at CD and could be the exotics players.

     

    Race 2 – The early pick four starts with $16,000 open claimers at 6 furlongs. In all dirt races at this distance with smaller fields of 7 or less, the average winner is less than a half-length off the lead after the opening half-mile. More than 90% are within 3 lengths, so avoid deep closers. Favorite Coach is one of four horses to have 3 wins on the Keeneland dirt since the transition and can become the first 4-time winner. He won an identical claiming $16k sprint here last Fall and also a pair of starter allowaces. Leroi’s Thrill was a Spring Meet winner here, but went about 8 lengths slower than par in one of the slowest 6Fs of the meet. Mellow Fellow shows a Kee win on his PPs, but it was on the Polytrack in 2012 as a 2YO.

     

    Race 3 – Elder maiden claimers sprint 6 ½ furlongs in a race lacking a lot of past performances. Ride On Faith drops in class for Nick Zito and is a son of Kee’s top dirt sire Candy Ride. Of Zito’s 12 local wins on the new dirt, 5 have come with MCL runners. Sire Dialed In had a pair of maiden breakers here last Fall and offers Changer. Rookie Blarney looks like a player here off works and connections, but note Broken Vow has not had a first-timer win here and nearly all of his dirt winners have been in routes, not sprints. Interestingly, 6 of the 15 dirt MCLs run at Keeneland at 6 ½ furlongs have been won by horses moving turf-to-dirt like Fault Line, Chigger Bite and Wild Will. First-time starters have won only 2 of the 15.

     

    Race 4 – 2YO turf maiden special weight runners match up. Favorites are a reasonable 11-for-34 in these spots, but they have been littered with large upsets as well. The average winner has been more than 10-1, including 7 winners at 20-1 or more and 9 that paid more than $30. Horses with experience own 28 of the 34 wins vs. first-time starters; Churchill September preppers own an 8-5 edge over Arlington Park runners, but all of the AP wins came from 2011-‘13. Shockingly, Kentucky Downs preppers have just 2 wins in the 21 such races held here the past 3 Fall Meets. D. Wayne Lukas has surprised here with a Kee-best 4 wins in 2YO turf MSWs and brings Nanoosh to the party; 2 of those 4 winners exited dirt sprints like this colt. First preference is to find a horse with turf experience as about 60% of the winners have exited a grass race.

     

    Race 5 – We stick with the 2YO MSWs, but move to 6-1/2 furlongs on dirt. Favorites are a whopping 29-for-57 in Fall dirt 2YO MSWs. Churchill preppers own a slim 19-17-6 edge over first-time starters and Saratoga invaders. Steve Asmussen’s 5 wins in this category are second-most to Mark Casse’s 8, and Asmussen has Trust in from Churchill as the horse to beat unless there’s a hotshot rookie. Pinot’s sire Into Mischief has been sharp here in recent meets with his offspring on the dirt – including a pair of 2YO MSWs winners at the meet, headed by breakout filly Mia Mischief. If August Snow draws in from the also-eligible list, watch out! She’s half-sister to G1 winners Hoppertunity and Del Mar Debutante/Chandelier winner Executiveprivilege.

     

    Race 6 – A solid group of allowance turf routers match up in the pick five’s opening leg. Lilly’s Dream, Celestial Insight and Mo Knows all have been local turf winners here in recent meets. Mo Know’s win here came behind the second-fast pace of the meet for a mile and nearly a full second faster the first half-mile than par, which helped her closing bid. Lilly’s Dream also got a half-mile pace in front of her that was about a full second faster than par when winning a 1-1/8 miles grass race this past Spring Meet. This pace looks MUCH slower. Edge here goes to Linda, runner-up in the G3 Valley View with zero pace help.

     

    Races 7 and 8 – The pick four starts with two 7-furlong allowance sprints on dirt. Just over half of the 23 Fall Meet 7F ALW on dirt have been won by horses who prepped at a mile or longer last out, while only 4 of 23 stretched out off a prep at 6 furlongs or less. Seven of the 10 entrants here prepped at 6 furlongs or shorter, including likely Race 7 heavy favorite Promises Fulfilled. Granted, these are 2YOs, so a stretch-out this time of year is common. Trainer Dale Romans had 2 very impressive 2YO winners on Saturday and Promises Fulfilled looks very strong here. But if you want lean on the distance players at 7F and get a price, Smart Remark and Psychoanalyze look to be viable options. As for the Race 8 field, most here are coming out of 7F or more races. Kenny McPeek leads with 3 wins in 7F Fall Meet ALW on dirt and aims for a fourth with True Boots. Laney was a solid third in the 7F Beaumont here in the Spring Meet and deserves to be favored, though I’d like to see Eddie Kenneally’s barn perk up a bit before taking a short price.

     

    Race 9 – The G3 Franklin County Stakes at 5-1/2 furlongs on turf welcomes my favorite handicapping angle at Keeneland. Posts 3-4-5 have combined for 10 of the 21 victories in full-field turf sprints of 12 or more starters at Keeneland since 2006. Those 10 winners have averaged more than 12-1 odds. Consider that posts 1-2 are winless in those 21 races, where defending champ Miss Ella starts from. The power post stat makes sense as the rail is tricky in a huge field, while losing ground in a big field provides its own challenge. Horses in posts 3-4-5 here (unless there are scratches) are Boom Bam Bing, Kasuga and Ruby Notion. The latter ran a dynamite third here in the Giants Causeway this spring despite drawing the rail in an 11-horse field when losing to stablemate and star turf dasher Lady Aurelia. She’s the choice, and comes in from Saratoga, prep locale of 2 of the last 3 winners of the Franklin County.

     

    Race 10 – Maiden claiming 2YOs sprint 6 furlongs to close the curtain. Top Keeneland dirt sire Candy Ride is represented by Shakedown for a Steve Asmussen barn that has a win and a couple of seconds with the juveniles early in the meet. The Wesley Ward barn could be set for a huge day with horses entered in 5 of the 10 races and likely favorite here Magnanimus Man. I can’t see this race getting past those two aforementioned runners.

     

    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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