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.
Jeremy Plonk’s Keeneland Keys for Friday, October 19
What to Watch for Today: A capacity field of sophomore filly turf runners square off in today’s G3 $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes. A strong New York influence takes on the deep cast that also includes some international intrigue. That’s part of the Friday late pick four, which offers a $200,000-guaranteed pool, presented by TVG. A pick six carryover of $21,009 greets players in Races 4-10 today.
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.
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 @BetKeeneland on Twitter or at the live racing page at Keeneland.com.
Weather: Mostly sunny skies and temps in the upper 60s should make for beautiful 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!
Experienced horses own a 26-2 edge over rookies in Fall Meet elder MSWs on dirt. Favorites are 11-for-28 in these races with 26 winners at 7-1 or less until a pair of Ben Colebrook $26 horses Thursday; still, don’t fish deep waters here for prices. Interestingly 7 of the last 10 offered have been won in turf-to-dirt fashion like East Moon attempts. And note East Moon is by Speightstown, whose 5 wins on the Kee dirt at 6 ½ furlongs are the most of any sire (tied with Malibu Moon). Trainers Brendan Walsh (Awesome Figure) and Kenny McPeek (Bouffant) both have a pair of similar wins in recent Fall Meets, but not with first-time starters like these. Awesome Figure is by Paynter, who has had a pair of winners at the meet on dirt, including 70-1 G1 Breeders’ Futurity upsetter Knicks Go. Bouffant’s sire Uncle Mo has seen 7 of his last 8 Kee winners come in routes, not sprints, dating back to 2016.
Maiden claimers sprint 6 ½ furlongs in the first leg of the early pick four. Of the first 8 MCLs at the meet, 4 were won by horses 16-1 or more (average winner in those 8 races 15-1). About 20% of all MCLs in Fall Meets on dirt have been won by horses paying $20 or more, so feel free to shop. Longshot 2018 Fall Meet apprentice jockey Edgar Morales pairs with Pray for Kitten. Effective Kee longshot sire Archarcharch is represented by Archi’s Song. While Gasaway drops in class and returns from a February layoff, note we’ve already 3 winners in MCL races this meet off since February or longer. Trainer Eddie Kenneally has 5 MCL wins during Fall Meets (4 in sprints) and sends out Gambler’s Choice. But Kenneally’s wins have been at 3-5, 1-1, 6-5, 9-5 and 4-1 (including 4 favorites). Experienced runners own a 10-3 edge over rookies in Fall Meet MCLs at this 6-1/2 furlong trip, though Phil Sims (Cody) does own one of those debut scores.
Two-year-old ALW runners sprint 6 furlongs with a small field of 6. The average winner is less than a half-length off the lead after the opening half-mile at this distance/class/field size. You want speed. Florent Geroux (Preamble) has 5 victories in short-field 6F sprints on the Kee dirt, including a trio of such successes in the 2018 Spring Meet. Preamble’s sire Speightstown is one of the best Kee dirt sprint sires out there. Also on the pedigree front, Midnight Lute was on fire last week with 3 winners and has Drunk as a Skunk entered here. Trainer Ingrid Mason won a similar race here in 2014 with Sarah Sis and brings Jeggyjeggy also in from Arlington.
Turf marathoners go 1-1/2 miles in allowance company with some stakes-caliber players. Mike Maker is the only trainer in this field to saddle a turf marathon winner at Kee since our database began in Fall ’06, and he’s got 5 of them. He won a similar ALW race here last year with St. Louie (with stablemate Honovi second), and now has Honovi, Patrick’s Day and Soglio all entered here. Both Honovi and Patrick’s Day are by Harlan’s Holiday, who has sired 3 turf marathon winners here during that time, including 2-time Sycamore Stakes winner Holiday Star. Also in the pedigree department: Souper Tapit’s sire Tapit was responsible for 2014 Dowager winner White Rose over this course/distance.
Maiden claiming 2YOs sprint 6 furlongs for a $75,000 pricetag as the pick six kicks off. Sweetest Appeal had a troubled debut at Indiana Grand behind Workaholic, who since has come back to win a maiden special weight easily last week at Keeneland. Indiana Grand shippers have done their best work during Week 3 of recent Fall Meets, so she should fit. What a Fox also was beaten in her Saratoga debut by a next-out Keeneland MSW winner, Into Mystic. What’s more interesting about What a Fox is the fact that Steve Asmussen in Fall 2015 (Cinco Zippy, 4-1), Fall 2016 (Facts are Stubborn, 6-1) and Fall 2017 (Eternal Force, 2-5 favorite) won similar MCL sprints with 2YOs making their drop in class for the first time from MSWs.
We open the late pick five with a 6-furlong dirt sprint for N3L claimers or 3YOs in a split condition race, similar to Thursday’s second race, but not a common condition here over the years to gather much by way of trends. Trainer Ben Colebrook did win a similar race here in Fall 2017 among a pair of CLM dirt sprint scores, and he’ll send out Heavenly Hill. Eddie Kenneally (Hymn to Inanna) also has 3 CLM dirt sprint scores in Fall Meets, all hammered to favoritism at 3-5, 6-5 and 7-5, including Bourbon Country already this meet. Kim Puhl (Sophie’s Angel) popped a 52-1 bomber already this meet in the CLM sprint ranks named Small Town.
Allowance turf sprinters clash in open the late pick four, similar to Wednesday and Thursday events. Think short preps as 45 of 55 Fall Meet turf sprints since Fall 2006 saw its winners exit preps at 6 furlongs or shorter. Posts 3-4-5 have a big statistical edge in full-field turf sprints, so barring scratches that’s good for Focused, Jet Away Sue and Misseventhirteen. Wesley Ward’s 12 turf sprint wins here since Fall ’06 are easily most of any trainer and has Ultima D and Pocket Book entered. Ultimate D is by Scat Daddy, a sire that Ward has parlayed into local turf sprint stakes winners Lady Aurelia and No Nay Never. For a longshot pedigree chance, beware CP Quality, whose sire Caleb’s Posse is responsible for Girls Know Best, who ran freakishly well over this turf course in the Spring Meet. Jet Away Sue is by Quality Road, also sire of sharp Kee turf sprinter Hootenanny.
Second-level allowance/optional claimers route 1-1/16 miles with a small field of 7 entered. Inside posts are advantaged strongly in small-field races at this trip, so give Desert Honeys and Angel Heritage an extra look. Tactically, Brian Hernandez Jr. rides these short-field 1-1/16 miles races superbly, winning 11 such events on the Kee dirt, most of any jockey. He partners with True Dream, who will be a drop-back closer from the outside and will need the pace to come back to her. The aforementioned overlooked sire Archarcharch here on the Kee dirt will have Bo Peep making her local debut and is worth a look off the pace in a race with plenty of early pressure to go with favorite Jump Ruler, last seen in the G1 Cotillion.
The G3 $150,000 Valley View Stakes matches 3YO fillies at 1-1/16 miles on turf. Favorites have lost 11 straight editions of this race (split divisions in 2009, 2011) and the average winner during that span has been nearly 12-1 odds. Four straight, and 6 of the last 7, winners stretched out a bit off mile preps. In fact, 2 of the last 3 exited turf mile preps at Indiana Grand, such as High Tech, Beach Waltz and Sirenusa. Chad Brown (Reversethedecision, Mighty Scarlett) has 20 turf stakes wins at Kee since 2009, an incredible number, but surprisingly has not won the Valley View. He won last week’s G1 QE2 Challenge Cup in this 3YO turf filly division with his A-lister Rushing Fall. Daddy is a Legend bypassed that race in favor of this easier spot. She’s twice run well over this course and is respected. Colonia will try to give Graham Motion his third win in the Valley View in the last 4 years. He won it in 2015 (Tiger Ride) and 2016 (Quidura) stretching out off miles; this filly will try to cut back from 2 longer trips most recently). The last cut-back in trip to win this race was Bel Air Beauty in 2007.
Seven-furlong 2YO MSW colts clash in the finale in one of those potential future-star races at Keeneland we adore. Similar to Races 4 & 7 on Thursday, note favorites were 8-for-17 in these spots since 2015, and only 1 winner was above 6-1 on the tote. Experienced runners own a 15-7 edge over debut performers overall and have won 9 of the last 10 offerings in 2017-’18 until Thursday's score by Gold Credit in Race 4. Saratoga preppers won the first 2 such races this meet, but Churchill historically owns a resounding 11 wins in 22 all-time offerings, including Thursday's 7th by Sense of War. Locally Owned looks strong with a stout pedigree for the trip and chasing the promising Preamble at Churchill last out. Note how Preamble runs in today’s Race 3 ALW for more barometer. Sultry Samurai is by Midnight Lute, who had a big week here last week with 3 winners, and is the most compelling of the rookies.