Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Saturday, October 3, 2015
What to Watch for Today: Keeneland’s ode to Super Saturday offers five prestigious stakes races, featuring Breeders’ Cup champions Judy the Beauty in the Thoroughbred Club of America and Bobby’s Kitten in the Shadwell Mile.
Follow me on raceday two ways, either in the live blog/chat at the Keeneland website (http://www.keeneland.com/racing/racing-live-coverage) – also available on your mobile devices – or on Twitter @Keeenelandracing, where I provide up-to-the-minute picks and analysis.
Weather: A 60 percent chance of rain is forecasted and we can expect wet conditions on the main track and turf course, if we can get the grass races in. The graded stakes races would appear the most likely to stay on turf if at all possible. Winds of 10-15 mph and temps in the mid-50s round out an ominous outlook from Mother Nature.
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!
Race 1 is a 1-1/8 miles allowance on the dirt and includes Latte Da, a full-brother to G1 winner Colonel John. Note that his sibling Bill of Rights was a winner on the new Keeneland dirt last Fall around 2 turns. But 8 of 9 races last Fall at this distance were won by horses with September (recent) starts, so my lean will be that direction. Rhiana’s Candy is by Candy Ride, who has had 6 winners on the new dirt surface, co-most of any sire, and her trainer won a 9F dirt ALW like this last fall with Grand Elmendorf at 8-1 odds. Gamber’s Rose also goes for a barn that won at 9F here last Fall, Dale Romans, via the G2 Fayette and Pick of the Litter.
Juvenile MSW runners sprint 6 furlongs in Race 2, and favorites dominated 5 of the 6 such offers here last Fall. All 6 winners were near the front, within 1-1/2 lengths of the lead after the opening half-mile. Note 3 winners were first-time starters. While we have a pair of Ellis Park preppers in the field, note that no Elp invaders have won a 2YO MSW at Keeneland since Fall 2011 and just 3 overall since 2006. My preference goes to those with Keeneland drills as 4 of 6 winners in this spot last Fall had local workouts. One Good Eye, Whence and Backlash fit that bill.
Race 3 is a 6-furlong allowance sprint and lured a very cool field with some tough decisions in terms of layoffs and distances. Note that 4 of 6 ALW sprints last Fall at 6 or 6-1/2 furlongs were won by horses coming layoffs since June or longer, so a fresh horse can pop. That’s good news for Exodus, and trainer Larry Jones won a similar race to this last fall with Texas Two Step (and Jones will have a second starter here in Totally Drenched). Also in the been there, done that category would be Charlie LoPresti, who has Let’s Go Ben entered. He won a similar dirt ALW sprint last year going turf-to-dirt with Enchanting Lisa and employs the same pattern. Of the 13 overall ALW sprints on dirt here last fall, 10 were won by horses that prepped at 7 furlongs or longer last time out – befitting of Exodus, Coastline and Storm Advisory in this race.
Two-year-olds route 1-1/16 miles on dirt in Race 4. Last Fall during opening weekend, 2 of 3 such races were won by Saratoga sprinters getting the chance to stretch out in distance. Sky My Sky is the only such runner here, and its notable Mark Casse has broken 4 maidens on the Keeneland dirt during the first 2 meets over the surface. Sire Bernardini won a 2YO route MSW last year with offspring Gap Year. He’s represented by the aforementioned Sky My Sky as well as Escalante. Wolf Gourmet also interests by Flatter, who sired last year’s Fall MSW route winner Jack Tripp, who also was trained by Dale Romans.
The first of five straight stakes will be the Woodford for turf sprinters in Race 5. Six straight winners of this race have been 5/1 or less and 3 of those favorites. As mentioned in this space before, when there’s a full field of turf sprinters at Kee, posts 3-4-5 have accounted for an overwhelming majority of the victories. Barring scratches, that puts Shore Runner, Amelia’s Wild Ride and Undrafted in the power posts. Undrafted’s trainer Wesley Ward is the only conditioner to win turf sprints at Keeneland with 5 different horses – including No Nay Never in the ’14 Woodford – since the beginning of our database in Fall ’06. Something Extra’s sire Indian Charlie has been represented by 3 local turf sprint winners, most of any sire, including this one’s Shakertown upset in April with a power post that day.
Race 6 is the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes and almost has become a rubber-stamp for success in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. The races’s past 2 champions square off, ’13 heroine Judy the Beauty and ’14 victor Leigh Court. Speed has been potent in the TCA historically with 7 of the last 9 winners within 2 lengths of the front after the opening half-mile. And, note 5 of the last 6 winners were cutting back mildly in distance with 5 of the last 8 exiting the 6-1/2 furlong Presque Isle Downs Masters. The speed and prep situation may put Leigh Court in the advantage over Judy the Beauty, but it’s a coin-toss and value judgment.
Race 7 is the G1 First Lady at a mile on the grass. If the turf conditions are soft/yielding as possible, give the European raiders a big edge in Easter, Crowley’s Law and Outstanding. Nine straight winners of this stakes have been 9/2 or less odds, averaging 5/2 returns. Closers have ruled with an average winner coming from 6 lengths back over the final half-mile. Four of the last 5 First Lady winners exited a prep in New York. If the turf is firm, consider the New Yorkers, and you have to respect Tepin. She’s awesome this year and her jockey Julien Leparoux has won this race 4 times in the last 9 renewals.
The G1 Breeders' Futurity goes as Race 8 and it's notable that 5 straight winners of this race came in off a prep at Saratoga. Last year, Carpe Diem made it 6 of the last 8 winners of this race to be forwardly placed (within a length of the lead after the opening half-mile), regardless of surface. Sticksstatelydude, Exaggerator, Sheikh of Sheikhs and Uncle Vinny fit the profile of this race historically. Meanwhile, Hawkbill invades from England for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf-winning trainer Charlie Appleby (of Outstrip fame) and it’s notable that last year we saw on the Kee dirt the Euro shocker in the filly counterpart to this race, the Alcibiades, with Peace and War at 45-1. Todd Pletcher aims for a 3-peat in this stakes, taking it the past 2 years with We Miss Artie and Carpe Diem. He’ll have Uncle Vinny, but from a very tough post 12 barring scratches.
Think prices in the Race 10 finale as the 4 maiden claiming races last Fall at 7 furlongs produced an average winner at a whopping 11-1 mutuel. All 4 winners had a recent start in September and 3 of 4 were shortening the distance a bit from their last prep. Lady Relaunch, Bluegrass Special and Cold Desert fit the profile that formed last Fall in limited chances.
Feature Race Play, courtesy of the Horseplayernow.com BUZZ Report:
The G1 Shadwell Turf Mile tops the marquee today in Race 9, and in the absence of a heavyweight favorite like Wise Dan in recent years, becomes a great betting race. Eight of the last 9 winners of this race were cutting back some in distance to the mile and closers have done very well here. The last 5 editions held on grass saw winners from 3-6 lengths off the pace after the opening half-mile. And the pace of this race looks strong to boot!
Arlington Million winner The Pizza Man tops the Americans and fits the profile of this race very well. Gio Ponti exited the Million twice to win this race in 2010 and 2011 to boot.
The top European entered clearly appears to be Dutch Connection, runner-up in the G1 Prix Jean Prat in France. If course conditions get soft/yielding, he becomes more and more a standout.
Dutch Connection is a solid choice here and The Pizza Man and Seek Again will be my exotics keys.
The only place where you can get my full-card selections every day is in the BUZZ Report at Horseplayernow.com – subscription plans cost approximately $2 per day and bring me and my team of 9 handicappers to your service.
Feel free to drop me an E-mail anytime at Jeremy@Horseplayernow.com.