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 Wednesday, October 21, 2020
What to Watch for Today: The final week of the 2020 Fall Meet gets underway with an 8-race card that boasts a Race 7 allowance with 3-year-old fillies coming out of some of the season’s most important divisional races. Note that Races 4 and 5 will be part of the early and late pick five. The jackpot super high five carryover is $24,224 entering Wednesday’s races.
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: Mostly sunny skies and a warm-up back into the upper-70s is forecasted.
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!
Maiden claimers route 1-1/16 miles to start closing week. Favorites are just 5-22 in MCL races at the meet, including 2-12 in these elder MCL events. Maiden special weight class droppers have won 9 of the 12 such offerings this meet, though only Hero of Love makes that plunge and is impossible to recommend. But the higher-level MCL class droppers from $30K like Tale of Mona and Crafty Lady have the class edge. Trainer Dale Romans has won 2 elder MCL races at the meet teamed with Joe Talamo and they’ll have Not a Ready Gal lined up.
Claimers in the non-winners of 2 lifetime (N2L) condition sprint 6-1/2 furlongs to start the early pick four. We’ve had 10 N2L claimers the first 3 weeks of the meet, and favorites have just 1 win. Forevernoa was the meet’s first run-back winner Sunday, in a N2L claimer at that, and we have Algebraic coming back quickly off a local maiden breaker impressively. Trainers Steve Asmussen (Tkoctchke) and Chris Hartman (Passageway) have been outstanding here in Week 4 of Fall Meets over the past few years. Passageway’s wire Cairo Prince has had 3 winners and 2 runner-ups at the meet, along with 2 winners during the short summer stand.
Two-year-olds go a turf mile in maiden special weight company with a full field split behind rookies and experienced runners. The 5 held so far this meet have been split evenly between preppers from Kentucky Downs (2) and Churchill (2), as well as first-time starters (1). Don’t be afraid to fish here for prices. We’ve had as many winners 10-1 or more than there have been favorites looking at the 61 held at route distances in past Fall Meets. Experienced horses have a 50-11 edge over debut runners. Half the winners ran a mile or more last out, so don’t overemphasize previous distance. Trainers D. Wayne Lukas (Excessive Lady) and Ian Wilkes (Menzel/Nota Bene) have accounted for 8 of the 2YO MSW turf route wins between them, but were successful between 2014-’17 with a drought since. Wilkes has been effective during Week 4 of recent Fall Meets, saving some bullets to fire, as well as Steve Asmussen (Madame Ready). Asmussen won a similar race here Fall 2018 with a first-time starter.
Maiden claiming 2-year-olds dash 6 furlongs in the first of 2 swing races in today’s early and late pick fives. Previously mentioned strong Week 4 barns here in recent years, Steve Asmussen (Snowblind) and Ian Wilkes (Giant’s Gateway) are represented. These 2 runners drop from maiden special weight, a move that’s won 7 of the 10 such 2YO MCLs at the Fall Meet. Heart Rhythm also makes the MSW-to-MCL plunge via Indiana Grand, a circuit which has produced 3 of the 10 winner this meet in this situation – a strong showing. Giant’s Gateway’s sire Carpe Diem, winner of the Blue Grass here, has sired a trio of 2YO winners here in the past 2 fall meets, including impressive Saffa’s Day on Oct. 11. Meanwhile, Brad Cox, who won 3 races on Sunday to take the meet’s lead in the standings, has Bump in his debut.
The second of 2 swing races in the early and late pick fives, this 1-1/16 miles claimer also kicks off the late pick four. Historically strong Week 4 barns are prevalent here with Chris Hartman (Street to Indy), Robertino Diodoro (Jungle Warfare/Lone Rock) and Mike Maker (Mi Tres Por Ciento). Street to Indy’s sire Street Sense has had another strong Kee meet. Dirt claiming races are a successful spot for run-backs second time at the Fall Meet over the years, and Mi Tres Por Ciento makes the quick turnaround after dumping his rider Tyler Gaffalione at the start Oct. 11 and now drops into an easier spot. Classy Interpid heart returns to the scene of his promising 2019 Spring Meet allowance victory. This is a stout $40,000 claimer.
Turf allowance performers match up in this one over 1-1/16 miles. Favorites are 7-for-12 in turf ALW races this Fall Meet with 10 of the 12 winners 7-2 or less (2 crazy longshots round out the dozen). Trainer Paulo Lobo has had limited starts at the meet but has popped with 2 very impressive winners. He’ll bring Sea Dream off a long layoff. Tyler Gaffalione has won 4 of the 12 turf ALW races at the meet and pilots Carpe Vinum, exiting a Dueling Grounds Oaks that has produced the winners of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup and Valley View Stakes at the meet as well as an opening day allowance victor.
Entry-level (N1X) allowance sprinters take to the 7-furlong trip. Impeccable Style drops in class after finishing second in the G3 Indiana Oaks to next-out G1 Kentucky Oaks winner Shesharesthedevil. Aurelia Garland also has an impressive last-out running line when fourth this meet in allowance company to Blame Debbie, who returned Sunday on short rest to become the first 3-year-old filly ever to win the G3 Dowager Stakes. Never Forget exits a third-place run in the G2 Eight Belles, and earlier this year Storie Blue was third in the G3 Santa Ysabel on the west coast. O Seraphina was runner-up in Oaklawn’s 2020 Martha Washington to ill-fated star Taraz. What a lineup! Trainer Chad Brown has a pair of dirt ALW wins at the meet and sends out Union Maiden. Aurelia Garland’s cutback to 7F is the same route-to-7F move that another Constitution offspring made successfully on Sunday when Forevernoa was the meet’s first run-back winner second time at the meet.
Elder turf maiden special weight performers stretch out to 1-3/16 miles to close the curtain on Wednesday. We had only single MSW races at this trip in Fall Meets in 2015, ’17 and ’19 and they produced nothing of consistency in the small sampling. And there’s been a dearth of elder turf MSW races at this Fall Meet (just 3 to date). Kentucky Downs preppers won 2 of those 3 (first-time starter the other). KD preppers have won 7 of the 19 Fall Meet elder turf MSWs going back over the last 4 years. That’s a plus for Margaret’s Joy, Champagne Diet and Fortuna. Trainer Graham Motion’s 14 Kee turf wins at 1-3/16 miles or longer since Fall 2007 are tied with Mike Maker for the most. Motion has both Fortuna and Safari Queen; Maker is curiously absent.