Jeremy Plonk's picture
Expert Picks

Jeremy Plonk

Jeremy Plonk is the owner of Horse Player NOW, the racing industry's leading fan education and player development website and creator of the Night School program. He has been a Keeneland handicapping consultant since 2008 and was lead statistician/researcher for more than 50 Triple Crown telecasts on NBC, ABC and ESPN for 18 years.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Thursday, April 18

 

What to Watch for Today: Last week’s two hot trainers, Brendan Walsh (4-for-8) and Dallas Stewart (3-for-8) return today with their first starters of Week 3. Like Wednesday, this card has it all from turf sprints to grass marathons to baby dashes on the dirt.

 

Updated analysis: Follow @BetKeeneland on Twitter to get my live reports before each race of the meet, including how horses look pre-race, overlays/underlays, track tendencies and more.

 

Weather: A 20% chance of light rain is in the forecast with temps in the high 70s. Keep an eye on the conditions.

 

My Selections: You can get my top 3 picks in each race on the track simulcast feed before each race as well on the Keeneland.com handicappers’ consensus page (https://www.keeneland.com/racing/wagering/handicappers-consensus). Also look for final, up to the minute adjustments by following @BetKeeneland as I live Tweet throughout the card.

                                              

Keeneland Handicapping 101: 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!

1st Race

Non-winners of 2 lifetime claimers sprint 6-1/2 furlongs to start the early pick five. The N2L claimers in Spring Meets have been formful with 15-36 winning favorites and 33 of 36 going to horses 6-1 or less. Don’t stretch too far. This meet, favorites are 2-for-3 and no winners over 9-2 odds. Fair Grounds has a whopping 13-5-4 edge at this N2L claiming class level over Oaklawn and Turfway. Wild About Candy is the lone FG rep in the opener. Only 3 of these 36 past heats have been won by horses making their first starts of the year as Talent Scout and Examiner will attempt – but one of those came earlier this meet. However, sprinting 6-1/2 or shorter, none of the 14 N2L claimers have been won off such a layoff.  No doubt the classiest maiden wins on paper here come from that pair, Talent Scout at Santa Anita and Examiner here in October.

2nd Race

Our third baby dash of the week kicks off the early pick four. You know you have to start with assessing Wesley Ward, who coming into this week had won 23 of the 45 such baby dashes offered since the return to dirt. Snake River Red and Joker on Jack represent WW in this one. While both star riders, Jose Ortiz & Tyler Gaffalione have not been a winning combo yet for Ward in the Kee 2YO ranks. It’s a surprise Joel Rosario rides neither. And neither sire Hard Spun or Declaration of War has had a 2YO baby winner at Kee. Maybe this is one where Todd Pletcher’s Rag Tag might be the right first-timer. Pletcher and John Velazquez teamed to win Kee baby dashes in 2015 and 2017 with first-time starters from Palm Beach Downs works like this one. They were bet to 6-5 and 3-5 so eye the tote. If playing the pick 5 in Race 1, look ahead at the daily double probables to Race 2 and see how Rag Tag is being bet if you’d consider playing him in the pick five you’ll know early if he’s live on the board. Resist the temptation for the experienced horses; only 2 of 45 Kee Spring baby dashes have been won by anything other than a first-time starter.

3rd Race

Just like Wednesday’s finale, we get turf marathon allowance runners in this 1-1/2 miles test. Red-hot trainer Brendan Walsh went 4-8 last week with 7 in-the-money finishes and has Finess Bere as his only starter on the card and first starter of the week. Nantucket Road is ridden by Julien Leparoux, whose 12 turf marathon wins here since Fall ’06 easily are best of any rider. Adam Beschiizza won a pair of turf marathons here during the 2018 Spring Meet and partners with Room to Finish. Trainer Phil D’Amato looks to keep the California invasion going with Vevina. Coming into the week, the west coast trainers accounted for 10 scores from 7 different barns (D’Amato not yet among those at the time). We haven’t had a turf marathon won by a run-back second time at a Spring Meet since the great Point of Entry pulled it off in 2012. Twin Channel, Nantucket Red and Kittens’ Slew all attempt that move. These races have been pretty formful over the years with all 21 Spring Meet turf marathon ALW races since 2008 going to single-digit odds horses at an average of just 3-1.

4th Race

Maiden claimers sprint 7 furlongs in split divisions. These limited Spring Meet races have been hit or miss. Of the 13, we’ve had as many favorites (4) as upsets at 10-1 or more (4). Horses within 2 lengths of the lead after the opening half-mile account for 10 of the 13 wins, as have horses exiting sprint races at 6 furlongs or shorter actually stretching out some. First-time starters have been blanked. Race 4 opens the pick six and only Harlan’s Vador, by sharp Kee dirt sire Harlan’s Holiday, and Watch Out Justin exit a sprint. In Race 9, the sprinters include Afleet Jett, Hermano and Wild Road, the latter for last week’s hot hand Dallas Stewart. Hermano goes for a Shelbe Ruis barn already with a win at the meet in from Santa Anita.

5th Race

The swing race in the early and late pick five is a turf mile allowance. Of the first 9 turf ALW races this meet, 6 were won by horses who had not started yet in 2019. Moravia will look to continue that trend in this spot, away since placing in an Irish Group 3 in July. If not for the layoff types, typically Gulfstream preppers are very strong here in Spring ALW company. Ebullient is the lone rep for GP. The Californians, including trainer Richard Baltas with 2 wins at the meet, have been noticeably strong and Gallovie will be a tough out here. The average turf mile winner the first 2 weeks of the meet was more than 4 lengths off the lead after the opening half-mile and none of those 9 races was won by the half-mile leader. Tyler Gaffalione has a couple of turf mile wins at the meet, including a 7-1 winner for Mike Maker, and they team up with Unapologetic Me.

6th Race

The late pick four starts with a 6-furlong maiden claiming sprint. The maiden claimers this Spring Meet have been evenly distributed among Fair Grounds and Turfway types through the first 2 weeks. The 3 sprints at 6 furlongs have all been favorites at 5-2 or less winning, 2 from FG the other from TP. Wesley Ward has one of those wins and counters with the pair Brittas Bay and Paper Clip both on class drops and layoffs. Twice during the 2018 Spring Meet we had MCL 6F sprints won by first-of-the-year types. Trainer Dallas Stewart comes off a sharp 3-for-8 week at Kee and has Holdonaminit as his first of 2 starters on the card (he had no entries Wednesday).

7th Race

Non-winners of 2 lifetime claimers route 1-1/16 miles on the dirt. As mentioned in Race 1, the N2L claimers in Spring Meets have been formful with 15-36 winning favorites and 33 of 36 going to horses 6-1 or less. Don’t stretch too far. This meet, favorites are 2-for-3 and no winners over 9-2 odds. Fair Grounds has a whopping 13-5-4 edge at this N2L claiming class level over Oaklawn and Turfway. Fun Paddy and British Invader represent the FG set in this one. Fun Paddy easily has the best maiden win of this group with a Keeneland turf MSW. Four of the past 11 such N2L Spring Meet claimers at 1-1/16 miles were made by horses moving turf-to-dirt like Fun Paddy, including Shadow Sphinx from Fair Grounds in a similar race to this one run last Spring.

8th Race

We get our second turf sprint allowance of the meet (and week following Wednesday’s Race 4).  Wesley Ward has won more Kee turf sprint since Fall ’06 than anyone else (12) and tries with Fooch to add to the total. He’s drawn perfectly in post 4 as the 3-4-5 holes have a strong performance here over the years in full-field turf sprints. And in the Spring Meet turf sprint allowance ranks, these 3 posts have accounted for 6 of the 10 wins in fields of 10 or more. Barring scratches, Master Guns and Get Western are in the other power posts. We’ve seen 7 of 32 Spring turf sprint ALW races since ’10 go to horses making their first starts of the year like several in here attempt, so don’t be afraid of the layoff. Two of those came via Ward, which is the path Fooch tries to follow.

9th Race

Maiden claimers sprint 7 furlongs in split divisions. These limited Spring Meet races have been hit or miss. Of the 13, we’ve had as many favorites (4) as upsets at 10-1 or more (4). Horses within 2 lengths of the lead after the opening half-mile account for 10 of the 13 wins, as have horses exiting sprint races at 6 furlongs or shorter actually stretching out some. First-time starters have been blanked. Race 4 opens the pick six and only Harlan’s Vador, by sharp Kee dirt sire Harlan’s Holiday, and Watch Out Justin exit a sprint. In Race 9, the sprinters include Afleet Jett, Hermano and Wild Road, the latter for last week’s hot hand Dallas Stewart. Hermano goes for a Shelbe Ruis barn already with a win at the meet in from Santa Anita.

  •  
  • 1 of 3
  • right