Expert Picks - Jeremy Plonk

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

    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.

    Saturday, October 28, 2017

    Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Saturday, October 28


    What to Watch for Today: It’s a bittersweet closing day at Keeneland for the 2017 Fall Meet as we say goodbye to great racing while enjoying 10 more chances to sparkle. The G3 Fayette headlines the card and there will be mandatory payouts in all wagers. The leading jockey title will go down to Ricardo Santana, Julien Leparoux and Robby Abarado – Florent Geroux is out of town riding in Santa Anita’s Twilight Derby.


    **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: Overnight and morning rains are predicted with things drying out as the day wears on, but there’s a real chance we could be looking at adverse conditions to start the card. Be sure to check out updates on conditions at


    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 – We only get 2-3 races per meet the last few years in this non-winners of three or 3-year-olds split condition. But what we do know is that Ben Colebrook’s success with 7-furlong price players at Keeneland has been real (5 wins averaging nearly 12-1), and we’ve caught some of them this meet. He’s got Charity Stripe among the favorites here. Chasing the Buck goes for rock-solid Kee sire Archarcharch, also with a penchant for prices, but this time among those who figure prominently in the wagering. Ricardo Santana’s 4 wins at 7 furlongs this meet top all riders and he pairs with My Sugar.


    Race 2 – A very evenly matched $10k claimer at 6 furlongs opens the early pick four. We’ve had 8 races this meet at $7500 or $10,000 basement levels, and while favorites are 1-for-8, six of the winners were 5-1 or less on the toteboard. The wins have been evenly spread among prep circuits and trainers. Note none of the 20 basement claiming sprints run in Fall Meets on dirt have been won by horses running back second time at the meet. Goodleado and Strong Response are past Kee winners who have not yet started at the meet.


    Races 3 and 4 – We get a pair of maiden claiming sprints in succession. Favorites are 6-25 at the meet in MCLs. Churchill preppers lead slightly with 8 wins in MCLs, followed by first-time starters (5) and those last raced at Indiana Grand (4) and NYRA tracks (4).  Wesley Ward is among just three trainers to win 2 MCLs this meet, and he has Pray for Kitten in Race 3. Encrypt and Rockingham Mel both won MCLs on Thursday this week exiting races already at the meet. That’s good news for Surprise Prize in Race 3, as well as Race 4 run-backs Kyniska and Alteration. Sire Quality Road has had 2YO winners on the Kee dirt in 2014, 2015 and 2016, so don’t sleep on rookie Bapa’s Pride in Race 4 for a heated-up Kenny McPeek barn the past week or so.


    Race 5 – Favorites are 1-for-6 in 2yo turf maiden special weights at the meet and the average winner has been nearly 7-1. Kentucky Downs preppers have produced 3 of those winners. Sires Kitten’s Joy (Tomahawk Kitten, AE-Heza Kitten) and Artie Schiller (Art of the Dream) already have had 2YO MSW turf winners at the meet and can double down. Note that Blue Lute exits a debut behind eventual Kentucky Downs Juvenile winner Snapper Sinclair. Horses with experience hold a 33-7 edge in Fall Meet 2YO turf MSWs over first-time starters. All 7 that we’ve seen at 1-1/8 miles have been won by horses exiting preps at a mile or longer and 6 of those at 1-1/16 miles (no rookies). The only horses exiting route preps here are Mischievous Dancer, Art of the Dream, Novous and AE Heza Kitten.


    Race 6 – Churchill preppers have won 5 of the 8 first-level (N1X) allowance races on the dirt this meet. That’s a plus for Wholehearted and Drinks of Broadway. Trainer Kenny McPeek has won 2 such heats at the meet and looks for three with Whotehearted and Awesome Boss uncoupled. Only 2 run-back winners have scored in N1X company during past Fall Meets (both in 2015).


    Races 7 and 10 – We have a pair of turf mile allowances as half of the late pick four. Only 1 of the 8 turf mile winners at this meet has been closer than 2 lengths off the lead after the opening half-mile, but no huge closers have won. You want to be sitting second flight about 3 lengths off it. Four of these 8 races produced winners paying $20 or more with 2 winning favorites. We haven’t had a turf mile allowance run-back winner second time at the meet since 2012. Ian Wilkes has trained a sharp 4 winners of Fall Meet turf mile allowances and has Mr Cub in Race 7.


    Race 8 – No horse has closed more than 3 lengths to win a Fall Meet 6-furlong allowance since 2014 with an average winner in those 13 races less than a half-length off the lead after the opening half-mile. You’ll want some speed here. Shar Run appears fastest early along with Waves of Blue and figure major dangers. Only 1 of 27 winners this meet at 6F exited a 2-turn prep, something 3 of these 9 entrants will try to buck.


    Race 9 – The 3 editions of the Fayette since returning to dirt have been won by either horses exiting the Lukas Classic at Churchill (twice) or Todd Pletcher via Saratoga (once). Well, here we go again with Lukas Classic romper Honorable Duty and Saratoga’s Woodward third for Pletcher in Neolithic. It’s hard to see this one any other way on paper. Neolithic has never run at Keeneland, but sire Harlan’s Holiday is top-3 as a local dirt sire, and Honorable Duty is proven 1-for-1 here. Pletcher has won a Keeneland dirt-best 7 races at 9 furlongs, easily most of any barn and they include five stakes.


    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

Saturday, October 28, 2017



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