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Jeremy Plonk has worked in the racing industry professionally for 20 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, creators 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 Sunday, April 13, 2014
What to Watch for Today: The G2 Beaumont tops the listings today for 3-year-old filly sprinters, while Lexington Stakes winner Winning Cause returns in a turf mile allowance on a very good undercard. Windy conditions are in forecasted, so watch those flags. Flags to the left favor early speed, flags to the right give late runners a much better chance than usual.
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Weather: Dry and warm temps nearing 80 degrees are forecasted, but also windy conditions 25-30 mph are forecasted – keep an eye on the flags!
Polycapping 101: Here we go race-by-race to give you the inside stats. All information is gleaned from the free Polycapping database (http://apps.keeneland.com/awstats/Default.asp) that you can manipulate and search for yourself as well!
Races 1 and 3 are for non-winners of 2 lifetime races in the claiming ranks. These races have been a pretty decent spot for Tampa shippers in past Spring Meets, including 9-1 upsetter Wisenbossy last Sunday in a similar spot. In Race 1, give an extra look to Savvy N Speightful from Tampa, who was a maiden claiming winner here in the Fall Meet. Favorites are just 1-for-11 in Spring Meet races at this class level going 6 furlongs on the Poly, with an average winner of 8-1 odds. Eight of 11 were within 2-1/2 lengths of the lead after the opening half-mile (average -1 ½ legths). As for the Race 3 division, Neidermeyer comes in from Tampa. Look for the classy Gulfstream types to exude their edge in this longer-distanced race – headed by classy Rumblefortheroses.
Gulfstream shippers have won 5 of the first 7 upper-level claimers at this meet ($30,000-$50,000) and that’s a good place to start in Race 2. Tarpy’s Goal is the only such runner entered Four runners in this race will be making their first starts of the calendar year – including the venerable Tahoe Warrior, who won here last fall at age 10 and makes his 11-year-old debut. Only 3 of 20 such past races at 6 furlongs or less in Spring Meets have been won off such a layoff. After not producing a Spring Keeneland winner in 2010-2013, Delta Downs shippers have already won twice sprinting at this 2014 Spring Meet, so don’t blindly discount Visionary Ruler.
Races 4 and 6 are entry-level allowance routes on the Polytrack. The first 3 held this meet all have been won by Gulfstream, turf-prepped runners coming out of routes. No such exact fits appear in Race 4, though favorite Demander won a Gulfstream dirt route winner last out. But he’s never been around 2 turns, bred to sprint and trainer Wilkes has only won 3 routes on the Kee Poly since 2008 vs. 8 sprints during that timeframe. I think we have a vulnerable 9-5 morning line favorite. Turf-preppers own a big 21-10-7 edge over dirt and synthetic preppers in such races in past Springs. As for Race 6, Naples Gold comes off the GP lawn for a Christophe Clement barn that appears to be picking up steam this week. Beware the Empire Maker fillies Assured and Frivolous at the 1 1/8 miles distance! That sire produced the 9F Spinster winner in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 – an amazing fact of long-distance ladies on this surface.
Gulfstream shippers have won 15 of the 32 Spring Meet maiden claiming routes on the Polytrack, so bear that in mind in Race 5. Shy Society, Jannes Paul, Justanewkidintown and Fiftyshadeslighter hail from GP. Of those 15 said GP raiders to win MCL routes, 12 were coming off of turf preps – which applies to the first 3 previously mentioned. Jannes Paul would make a lot of sense on form and pedigree, being by top Kee Poly route sire Giant’s Causeway. Only 3 of those 32 races were won by horses making their first starts of the calendar year as Poppy’s Dream will attempt. Young sire War Pass is represented by Keeneland newbies Pemaquid Pass and Molly Z in this race; note he sired last year’s Blue Grass winner Java’s War.
Races 7 and 9 are turf mile allowances. The first 4 turf miles this meet all have been won by horses near the pace, 3 essentially wire-to-wire and 2-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan pressing just off the lead in Friday’s G1 Maker’s 46 Mile. Julien Leparoux is a turf-mile maestro here, winning 26 of them since Fall 2006 – no other active jockey more than 7. Leparoux pilots late-running Utley in Race 7, who won a similar conditioned turf mile here last Spring. His Race 9 mount is Gathering for the same connections and also a past winner on this course. An astounding 22 of 56 turf mile winners in Keeneland Spring since 2007 were making their first starts of the calendar year. So Lexington winner Winning Cause and Excaper in Race 7 would be more than capable off the layoff. In Race 9, Proenza, Filimbi, Scampering, Northern Passion and Gal About Town all come off the 2013 layoff.
Feature Race Play, courtesy of the Horseplayernow.com BUZZ Report:
The Race 8 G2 $200,000 Beaumont Stakes anchors the Sunday lineup. Pace players have been a major force in the 7 editions of the Beaumont held in the Polytrack era. All 7 winners were within 3 lengths of the lead after the opening half-mile and the average winner has been only three-quarters of length off the pace at that juncture. Four winners have exited Santa Anita preps, and Richies Party Girl will try to keep that going while making her first start since winning the Juvenile Turf Sprint on the Breeders’ Cup undercard. Her trainer, Wesley Ward, won this race 2 years ago with Gypsy Robin.
No doubt Richies Party Girl will show speed, that’s her style and she’s working quickly in the a.m., fresh for the return. The same story goes for Tea Time, away since wiring the Sharp Cat in October at Belmont. G2 Matron runner-up Sweet Whiskey also has speed to burn. I look for Ready to Act to be ready to pounce from just off a very fast pace.
Feel free to drop me an E-mail anytime at Jeremy@Horseplayernow.com.