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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., December 18

    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.


    Thursday, October 12, 2017

    Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Thursday, October 12  

     

    What to Watch for Today: Red-hot trainers Mark Casse and Mike Maker have but 1 starter each on the card, so value players looking for a more balanced toteboard may enjoy today’s lineup. Also, the nation’s leading jockey by wins, Tyler Gafflione, comes in from Florida to ride today and is named on four mounts. Gafflione entered the week with 243 victories, 1 more than Irad Ortiz Jr., for the national lead.

     

    **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: Temperatures right at 70 degrees and only a 10 percent chance of rain are in the advanced forecast for Thursday. Keep an eye on the conditions based on precipication throughout the first part of the week.

                                                  

    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 – Maiden claimers route 1-1/16 miles in the opener for 2-year-olds. 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. Wolverine and Black Bomber make the move from CD with mile preps. Wolverine chased Bravazzo last time at Churchill and that race looks much stronger after that one came back to run second in the G1 Breeders Futurity on Saturday. Pedigree-wise, firster Colour Guard may like this surface by Archarcharch.

     

    Race 2 – Older maiden claimers sprint in the back half of the double at 6 furlongs. Churchill preppers have a 19-5-3 edge over first-time starters and Kentucky Downs shippers in this MCL 6F category in Fall Meets. About ¼ of the races have been won by horses 11-1 or more and the average winner has been 7-1, so don’t be afraid to price shop. Horses who last raced at 6 furlongs or shorter won 23 of the 29. Kickin Grass is the only Churchill prepper exiting a race that short. He’s a big longshot, no doubt, but we’ve seen some wacky MCL 6Fs in the past. Fancy Pinstripes is by Harlan’s Holiday and could love Keeneland; that sire has the second-most wins on the dirt here. This looks like an awfully logical place to spread in the pick four opener.

     

    Race 3 – Favorites are 13-for-29 in bottom end ($7500-$10,000) Fall Meet dirt claimers, including 4 of the last 5 offered. Highroller Dave may go favored off his win at Belterra, but it’s likely we see the public lean on the NYRA invaders Draxhail Woods and Lucky Lotto. We did see a Btp shipper win a $10k CLM sprint here last fall and this one is proven on the Kentucky ricuit. Reeder comes out of the same race and is a winner over the track going this exact 6 ½ furlong trip during the 2016 Spring Meet. In fact, Reeder went 2 lengths faster than a split division race the same day in a better-than-it-seems effort not showing any longer on the past performances. Trainer Tammy Domensky won a very similar race here during the ’16 Fall Meet via Arlington with Florent Geroux aboard and gets him again to pilot Electifying.

     

    Race 4 – Churchill preppers have been very strong in mid-level claiming races in recent Fall Meets on dirt, including wins in 3 of the last 4 offered. We have $20,000 claimers going here and Arcelor and Salute the Warrior represent the CD set. Trainer Wayne Catalano has won a 7F claimer here in 2015 and 2016 Fall Meets and looks for another with Tiger Eyes. There are some very good options here with horses in good form from which to choose.

     

    Races 5 and 10 – These are both 2-year-old turf MSWs, one for the boys and one for the girls. 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. Trainer Mark Casse has owned the 2yo turf stakes here in the Fall and has Discovered in Race 5. He exits a third at KD behind Tigers Rule, who came back to run a dynamite third in the Bourbon Stakes on Sunday. Royal Holiday was second at KD to eventual Bourbon runner-up Tap Daddy. Price shoppers may like Tejas Ranger, a grandson of Dynaformer who has sired a pair of 2YO turf MSW winners here in recent years. This one comes in via Saratoga unlike the Ky Downs ledger for most. As for the Race 10 division, Bill Mott’s uncoupled pair from Saratoga (Love Mo) and Ellis (Burke’s Garden) loom large. Love Mo exits a super-key race in which Significant Form returned to win the Miss Grillo Stakes and Gio Game back here here to Keeneland to whistle on opening day.

     

    Race 6 – High-end $50,000 claimers match up at 1-1/16 miles on dirt. We usually only see a race or two all meet like this and trainer Joe Sharp already won one of them opening weekend with 8-1 upsetter Line Judge. He’s back with Luna de Loco in this spot. But there’s not a lot on the trends to decipher here. High-percentage national trainer Robertino Diodoro aims for his first Keeneland win with both El Charo and Ain’t Misbehavin, horses he claimed on both coasts this summer.

     

    Race 7 – Elder maiden special weights sprint 6-1/2 furlongs and we have a trio of first-time starters bucking at a big trend. Only 1 of these 21 such elder MSWs during Fall Meets on dirt has been taken by a rookie. Favorites are 10-21 in these spots with an average winner just 3-1, so don’t get too cute. None have been more than 7-1 on the toteboard. NYRA shippers hold a 7-6 edge over Churchill here with Kentucky Downs sporting just 2 (though Iconic scored opening weekend via KD). This likely comes down to Focused, Go Stellaire and Lifesfullofrainbows from the same Churchill race Sept. 21. That’s a great time to trip handicap and go back and watch the video for some additional clues.

     

    Race 8 – Second-level allowance routers provide a familiar cast to Keeneland followers in the feature race. Our Track has won over the course the past 2 meets, while Cowboy Rhythm, Shareholder Value, Goats Town and Frammento have had their pictures taken after local dirt wins. I really like the way Tom Amoss’ limited horses have looked and run at the meet, so beware Shareholder Value. Dale Romans’ charges also are going well so Singing Bullet figures very prominently. I’ll be surprised if it’s not one of those two. Churchill preppers hold a 13-4 win edge over all other circuits in the 36 Fall Meet dirt route allowances. That bodes well for Shareholder Value among several in here from CD preps to consider.

     

    Race 9 – What an interesting cast we have in this 2YO allowance sprint at 7 furlongs. Jehozacat is a full-brother to Divining Rod, who won the Lexington and was runner-up in the Fayette over this Keeneland dirt surface. I can’t wait to see what she’s got here after a troubled trip in the Sorority at Monmouth. If it’s not her, watch out for Quick Quick Quick, whose trainer Ian Wilkes has 4 Fall N1X allowance wins on the Keeneland dirt and does well when he has horses with conditions for this meet. Also beware price blaster Vision of Justice at 15-1 in the morning line. Training Greg Burchell is a respected horsemen on the farm who races very few in his name, but he’s remarkably won Fall Meet Kee races in 2013, 2014 and 2015 despite limited stock. Vision of Justice is by Into Mischief, whose offspring are taking strongly to the Kee dirt.

     

    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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