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Jeremy Plonk has worked in the racing industry professionally for 21 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 2015 FALL MEET PREVIEW (Part 2 of 2)
Part 2 of the 2015 Fall Meet stats preview examines the preps and people behind the winners, as well as places to shop for value. With opening day just 24 hours away on Friday, look forward to our daily, race-by-race stats and trends blog to return with a loaded TGIF edition right around the corner.
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WHERE, OH WHERE, DO THE WINNERS COME FROM?
Whereas we once looked at Arlington Park and Presque Isle Downs as major Polytrack springboards to Keeneland’s Fall Meeting, the return to dirt in 2014 saw a major shift in where the winners came from most often. Churchill Downs launched more than 1 in 4 winners of Keeneland dirt races last Fall, primarily those exiting the September season in Louisville.
Here’s a look at the last-prep location for the dirt winners at the 2014 Keeneland Fall Meet:
33 wins – Churchill Downs (28 dirt preps / 5 turf preps)
12 wins – Saratoga (8/4)
11 wins – Arlington Park (10 Polytrack preps / 1 turf prep)
9 wins – Kentucky Downs (9 turf preps)
6 wins – Indiana Downs (4/2)
5 wins – Belmont Park (3/2)
4 wins – Woodbine (4 Polytrack preps)
3 wins – Ellis Park (2/1)
3 wins – Presque Isle Downs (3 Tapeta preps)
2 wins – Monmouth Park (2/0)
Our Keeneland Handicapping Database takes us back to Fall 2006 when it comes to turf racing. Here’s a look at the last-prep location for turf winners since that point:
51 wins – Saratoga (9 last Fall Meet, most of all)
33 wins – Arlington Park (just 1 last Fall Meet)
33 wins – Kentucky Downs (7 last Fall Meet)
18 wins – Belmont Park (3 last Fall Meet)
15 wins – Woodbine (1 last Fall Meet)
12 wins – Churchill Downs (4 last Fall Meet)
10 wins – Presque Isle Downs (0 last Fall Meet)
9 wins – Monmouth Park (0 last Fall Meet)
8 wins – Delaware Park (0 last Fall Meet)
Now, let’s explore by class of race where the winners came from during the 2014 Fall Meet on the new dirt surface.
23 dirt ALW – 6 CD, 4 AP, 3 SAR, 2 KD (9 of 23 didn’t have race since July or longer)
31 dirt CLM – 12 CD, 4 KD, 4 AP
24 dirt MCL – 4 CD, 4 FTS, 2 BEL, 2 SAR, 2 KD, 2 WO
26 dirt MSW – 7 FTS (first-time starters), 5 SAR, 3 CD, 2 ELP
10 dirt STR ALW – 5 CD, 2 IND
7 dirt STK – 2 CD, 5 with 1 each
THE HUMAN LEAGUE
Keeneland certainly gains fame for its horses, but the jockeys and trainers competing over this prestigious meeting aren’t too shabby themselves. Let’s take a look at what some of the prime players do best in terms of a Keeneland connection.
Mark Casse: 4 of his 6 wins on dirt have been maiden breakers.
Larry Jones: 7 winners on dirt included 5 favorites and none above 4-1 odds.
Eddie Kenneally: 6 winners on dirt have featured 5 favorites and average odds of just 6-5!
D. Wayne Lukas: Surprising 3 turf wins at 2014 Fall Meet, trailing only Graham Motion (5) and Bill Mott (4).
Mike Maker: Won 8 races on dirt this Spring Meet after only 3 in the Fall. Only 1 had a local Keeneland workout prior.
Ingrid Mason: 5 dirt wins all coming in sprints at 6 or 6-1/2 furlongs.
Kenny McPeek: 5 of his 6 wins on dirt have been in maiden or non-winners of 2 lifetime conditions.
Graham Motion: Led all trainers with 5 turf wins at 2014 Fall Meet.
Bill Mott: Second among trainers with 4 turf wins at 2014 Fall Meet.
Todd Pletcher: 3 first-time starters to win on the new dirt surface. His 15 dirt wins include 12 favorites and average win odds of just 7-5.
Chris Richard: All 4 wins on dirt have been 6 furlong sprints, 3 with Corey Lanerie up.
Joe Sharp: All 5 wins on dirt have come in route races (4 at 1-1/8 miles).
Wesley Ward: All 11 winners on dirt were bet to 5-2 or less and 10 were favorites.
Nick Zito: 5 wins on dirt, 4 of which were breaking their maiden.
Robby Albarado: 7 of his 9 dirt wins came on horses within 2 lengths of the lead after opening half-mile.
Shaun Bridgmohan: 13 wins on dirt, 5 when riding for Mark Casse. Piloted 6 winners at 7F on dirt.
Javier Castellano: Half of his 14 dirt wins came for trainer Mike Maker. 12 of those 14 wins were aboard horses who were within 1-1/2 lengths of the lead after the opening half-mile.
Florent Geroux: 9 dirt wins included 5 for Ingrid Mason barn. 8 of the 9 wins were in sprints.
James Graham: 5 double-digit odds winners (10/1 or more) among his 15 dirt scores. No other jockey has ridden more than 2 dirt winners at such prices.
Corey Lanerie: 18 dirt winners, 13 of which were 3-1 or less. 7 wins in dirt routes.
Julien Leparoux: None of 13 dirt winners within a length of lead after opening half-mile with average winner 4 lengths back at that point.
Paco Lopez: 12 dirt winners, 11 of which were within 1 length of the lead after the opening half-mile, and 10 of those came in sprints.
Joe Rocco, Jr.: Won 3 turf routes during 2014 Fall Meet, 2 for Graham Motion barn.
Joel Rosario: 7 of his 10 dirt wins have come aboard favorites, and 6 of those were in route races.
John Velazquez: 11 dirt wins, 7 when riding for Todd Pletcher. 10 of 11 winners were within 2 lengths of the lead after the opening half-mile. 8 of 11 were 5-2 or less odds.
SEARCHING FOR GOLD
Which situations created the best – and least – value during the 2014 Fall Meet on the new dirt?
ALW/AOC – Favorites were only 7-for-23 (average winner 6.2-to-1 odds).
CLM – Favorites ruled 14-for-31 (average winner just 3.3-to-1 odds).
MSW – Favorites ruled at 14-for-26 (and also went 12-for-25 in Spring Meet!)
Only 3 of 103 races on dirt so far over 17-1 odds.
Only 9 of 103 races on dirt so far 10-1 or more odds.
55 of 103 races on dirt won by horses less than 3-1 odds.