Let our experts help you handicap the day's races at Keeneland.
Please note that selections typically are available about 48 hours in advance of the race.
Jeremy Plonk has worked in the racing industry professionally for 22 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.
Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Wednesday, October 26
What to Watch for Today: Closing week kicks off with an 8-race card. Look for horses running back second time at the meet to be live wires if history holds. Last week we saw two such winners, Favorite Coach and Snickerboxer. Last Fall we wound up with a whopping 19 “run-back” winners making return bids at the stand and the previous year we had 11.
Julien Leparoux leads Florent Geroux 16-11 for the riding title with 4 days to go. The trainers race may go down to closing day with Mike Maker and Mark Casse tied at 8, Graham Motion at 7 and Ian Wilkes at 6. Todd Pletcher is not out of it yet with 5 winners. All 8 of Casse’s winners have been 2-year-olds (8-for-16).
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 @Keenelandracing on Twitter or at Horseplayernow.com under “The Latest.”
My Selections: For the first time, my top 3 picks in each race are available in the Keeneland.com consensus page, and you can get final, up to the minute adjustments by following @Keenelandracing.com as I live Tweet throughout the card.
Chat Us Up: Join the live chat at Keeneland.com (http://www.keeneland.com/racing/racing-live-coverage) each day beginning at 12:45 pm ET through the end of the card and converse with other horseplayers as well as me and my team from Horse Player NOW.
Get to the Windows: Be sure to open a Keenelandselect.com wagering account and play the action all meet long as well as great tracks worldwide. Dedicated to the sport. Dedicated to the players.
Weather: A warm day with temps near 75 degrees is forecasted with only a 10% chance of showers. Should be a great day.
Keeneland Handicapping 101: Here we go race-by-race to help you unearth the trends. 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!
As is our annual custom on Wednesdays, we review the week that was to see if we can glean how this coming week may take shape.
Favorites clicked at 18-for-46 last week (39%) and are now a highly acceptable 42-for-122 (34%) at the meet.
In 17 main track sprints last week, the average winner was just over a half-length off the lead after the opening half-mile. Fourteen of 17 were within 1 ½ lengths of the lead at that juncture and only favored G2 Raven Run winner Lightstream rallied from any distance off the lead sprinting. Only 2 horses exiting a 2-turn prep last out turned back to win sprinting. Trainers Phil Sims and Brendan Walsh both won a pair of dirt sprints last week.
Mix in 18 routes on the main track, where 17 of the winners were 7-1 or less. Five deep closers were able to win and the average winner routing on the main track was more than 2 ¾ lengths off the lead after the first half-mile. Sire Into Mischief continued a good run with a pair of dirt route winners and has had 4 winners (3 maiden breakers) over the past 2 weeks on the main. He’s the top sire at the meet on dirt, followed by Curlin and Archarcharch with 3 winners apiece.
Still, we’ve only had 1 Arlington prepper win on the main track. Churchill has produced 29 of the 87 main track winners, followed by Saratoga (13), Kentucky Downs (9) and Ellis Park (6).
We had 11 turf races last week with some wet weather mixed in, and favorites scored 5 of those. None of the winners topped 9-1 and the average with a shade under 4-1. Churchill preppers held a 4-2-2 edge on turf over Kentucky Downs and Belmont Park. In 9 turf routes, you couldn’t ask for more than 3 front-running winners, 3 deep closers and 3 press/stalk-types. Distribution of turf winners by prep circuit also has been closely divided with 8 Saratoga shippers, 7 Kentucky Downs and 6 Churchill Downs. Jockey Chris Landeros’ 4 turf wins at the meet have been one of the bigger suprises.
Julien Leparoux led all turf riders with 3 wins, and Robby Albarado was the only other to double.
Trainer Graham Motion won 2 turf races last week, including the G3 Valley View for his fourth major stakes win of the meeting.
Feature Race Play, courtesy of the Horseplayernow.com BUZZ Report:
Race 2 is a third-level turf allowance and a very tough field on paper. Trainer Graham Motion has been the meet’s top turf trainer and he shrewdly scratched Tale of Life from what looked like a winnable race over the weekend to run in this spot instead. I’m going to give him the lean in a balanced field that you’ll want to use a grouping of these to pick off the early pick four.
Head to Keenelandselect.com to send in your plays!
Feel free to drop me an E-mail anytime at Jeremy@Horseplayernow.com.