You know its
spring when the horses converge on Keeneland Racetrack for a month of
spectacular racing. Last April, there were on average, two to three
double-digit win payouts per day. Astute
handicappers were scoring left and right. Some of the winners stood
out as good plays, yet these horses were dismissed at long odds.
What works at Keeneland doesn't always work at other tracks. Let's
take a closer look at the primary factors to which horse players
should pay attention.
has been in use long enough to gather relevant data about which
sire's offspring have a proclivity for artificial surfaces.
for offspring by these sires. This isn't an all inclusive, list, but
most of the populuer sires are represened below:
Tap, Ghostzapper. Smart Strike, Indian Charlie, Harlan's Holiday,
Kitten's Joy, Medaglio d'Oro, Unbridled's Song, Dixie Union,
Eurosilver, Officer, Scat Daddy, Bellamy Road, Mr. Greeley, Offlee
Wild, Speightstown, Stormy Atlantic, Catienus, Henny Hughes, Johar,
Malibu Moon, Scrimshaw, Sky Mesa, and Aragorn.
of the competitors will have superior Poly breeding but only so-so dirt
running lines. Watch the works very carefully on any horses
switching from dirt, they will tell you a ton about how they feel
about Poly. Here is a classic work that illustrates this point:
October 12, Race
8, Allowance, 3 YO +, for fillies & mares, 6 ½ F.
stood out on the basis of her works. QUEEN'S
AWARD (by Medaglio d'Oro):
Note her handily
breeze over the Keeneland surface, which is a full two seconds faster
than any of her works over dirt. She was the only filly in the race
to have a recent breeze at Keeneland. She also owned the third
highest late pace figure in the race (88). So, a mare by a good
polysire with a sharp breeze at Keeneland and a good late pace figure
would, in my estimate, make Queen's Award one to including in my
bets. Queen's Award won by 4 ½ lengths and paid $60.20 to win.
diamonds in the rough aren't easy to find and you may only pick up
three or four during an entire race meet.
improvement doesn’t have to be that stark. Look for horses that
were breezing four furlongs in :50/:51
or five furlongs in 1:02/1:03 over dirt that run :48's or 1:00 at
Keeneland. The ideal candidate is a horse by a Polysire who worked
over dirt in 1:02 or slower and who finished mid-pack in his attempts
on dirt. At Keeneland this is a totally different animal. They'll
breeze in 1:00 or less. These are the kind that pay $20-40 and are
just gimmes. And that extends far beyond three year olds as 7 year
old Golden Yank proved last April – he had never run on Poly and
was entered in a race with Successful Dan. Golden Yank was
completely forgotten about and ended up going off at 56/1. The exacta
with Successful Dan paid a mind blowing $211.
is the place to be in the spring and fall. Horses from New York to
California and everywhere inbetween took part in the meet. Horses
from some tracks fared great in the maiden class but not so good at
the allowance level. Shippers from some tracks couldn't win over the
Poly, but constantly hit the board over the lawn...and vice versa.
from Gulfstream, Oaklawn (especially past a mile) and first time
starters won the most races. Horses from Churchill making a start
off of a layoff were also good plays. Over the lawn, it was
Gulfstream and Oaklawn runners who fared best. Tampa Bay and Turfway
horses didn't perform so well. Over the lawn, Fairgrounds shippers
and first time starters were cold, with a combined 17 starters and
zero wins. Here are the stats from last year's spring meet:
Fair Grounds shippers naturally made up the bulk of the claiming
ranks at Keeneland last spring. Both were represented by 16% winners
and Fair Grounds runners finished in the money more often at 43%
compared to Gulfstream's 36%. Runners from Keeneland won only 18% of
the time, but placed or showed 55% over Polytrack. They fared better
over the lawn, with nine of 20 starters hitting the board. Shippers
from Mountaineer were 0-14 and Churchill runners coming off of a
layoff were suprisingly 0-5. Keep an eye on those Woodbine horses.
Only five started, but three finished in the money.
24 Fair Grounds
shippers competed at Keeneland last spring in sprinting allowance
races. They performed poorly, with only one winner and seven in the
money. Gulfstream runners prefered main track routes over sprints
and loved the lawn. Watch out for those Churchill shippers in main
track allowance sprints. Six of eight runners hit the board.
Horses whose last
start was at Churchill are an automatic play in Keeneland stakes
races. Out of eight horses sent over for feature events, only one
failed to hit the board. Gulfstream shippers love the Keeneland turf.
Out of 18 starters in turf routes, three won and seven completed the
riders joined Keeneland's jockey colony last spring.
races were conducted over the main track during last year's Keeneland
hit with 17% or higher with five or more starters:
Velazquez – 42% wins, 67% ITM
– 40% wins, 60% ITM
Castellano, Manoel Cruz – 29% wins, 64% ITM
Lezcano, Joel Rosario – 20% wins, 60% ITM
Leparoux – 20% wins, 46% ITM
Sanchez – 18% wins, 64% ITM
– 17% wins, 33% ITM
were contested over the main track. Leparoux
rode the most horses in races a mile or farther with 35 mounts. He
won with 17%, 54% ITM. James Graham rode 24 mounts for 17% wins and
29% ITM. Javier Castellano was also hot, with 13 mounts, 23% wins and
64% ITM. James Graham is a better turf jock. From 47 main track
sprint mounts, he won at 9% with 38% ITM.
with a decent percentage were:
Velazquez – 13% wins, 38% ITM
Desormeaux - 6 mounts, 2 wins, 1 ITM
Castanon – 9 mounts, 2 wins, 3 ITM
With only 5
turf sprints conducted during last year's meet, many jockeys were
lucky to get a ride. Julien Leparoux went 0-5 in the win department,
but hit the board with three of them. Javier Castellano was the best
bet for a turf sprint. From only four mounts, he won once and placed
twice. Robbie Alberado had three mounts, winning with one and
placing with one. Edgar Prado also had three mounts. He was
win-less, but two of the three hit the board.
were held at a mile or longer over the lawn. Whose the best rider?
No surprise here. Julien Leparoux, hogging 29 mounts and running the
tally to 31% wins and 55% ITM. James Graham was popular, earning
four wins and three seconds with 22 mounts. Edgar Prado rode very
strong, winning or hitting the board with half of his 16 horses.
Johnny V. showed his typical strength with three wins, five ITM from
13 mounts. Garret Gomez was good for the exotics. He was 0-15, but
finished ITM with 40%. Javier Castellano was worth a play too. From
12 mounts, he hit the winners' circle only once, but lit the tote
with 67% ITM.
sent 631 horses into competition last year.
sent ten or more horses to the post in the main track sprints. Wesley
Ward and Wayne Catalano were the busiest, saddling 24 runners a
piece. That's where their similarities ended. Ward's charges hit the
finish line first 33% of the time and were in the money 67%.
Catallano had only two winners and 29% in the money.
One of the
most overlooked trainers was Andrew McKeever, who raced ten horses.
Three won and four hit the board. Mike Maker and Charles Lopresti
also had their charges prepared. Each sent out ten horses, and hit
the board with half of them. Todd Pletcher did his usual thing. He
only raced three horses, but made it count, with a win and two in the
money finishes. Christophe Clement is best known for prowess with
turf runners. Don't dismiss him with main track sprinters. He sent
out five runners, one had it's picture taken while two others hit the
board. Graham Motion equaled Clement's feat. Tom Amoss ran eight
horses, two won and four hit the board.
excelled with two-turn types. He sent out 29 runners, the most of any
trainer. Four won (14%), and 13 (59%) were ITM. Trainers with large
barns didn't fare as well as the little guys. Vicky Foley hit with
all three of her runners, getting two victories and a runner-up. Ian
Wilks was heard from too. Three of his four representatives hit the
board. Alex Clarkson's two runners hit the board as well.
So how did
the popular trainers fare? Pletcher sent out five runners, one
winner, one placed. Mott had four starters, one placed. Baffert went
sent more than one horse to the post in turf sprints. Wesley Wart
sent three, one hit the board. Steve Asmussen sent out two runners,
both finished in the money.
competed for 30 winners' circle photos.
Attfield's name appeared most in past performances for horses running
a mile or farther over the Keeneland lawn. Only one of his 17
starters won, but five finished in the exotics. Graham Motion and
Shug McGaughey sent out 13 and 12 runners respectively, 50% or more
earning checks. Bill Mott sent out 11 horses, only one returned a
win, but five finished in the money. Barkley Tagg on turf? Yep, out
of five runners, two won and two placed. Todd Pletcher sent out four
runners with one winner and two in the money. Chad Brown, known for
his turf prowness, sent out nine runners, one earned a victory while
one placed. Christophe Clement surprisingly had only one winner
from nine starters, but five of those nine hit the place/show spot.
Keeneland is known as a Polytrack merry-go-round. No surprise that
43% of the the sprinters that set/pressed the pace won the race. But
not so fast, 35% were closers. It didn't matter if the race was six
furlongs or 1 1/8 miles. Route runners carried their speed to 40%
wins, with 38% closers.
the turf? The rail has two settings. 15' or 0'.
races were held when the rail was at 0'. Two horses won from the
back of the pack and a mid-pack runner won the third race.
rail wasn't set out, ten front runners were successful, with six
winning from the back of the pack. However, when the rail was set at
15', the closers had the advantage with six wins while only two front
runners got the job done. Mid-pack runners didn't care either way,
three each won when the rail was at 0 and 15'.
Post five is
the place to be. An overwhelming 26% win and 56% ITM runners scored
from the middle. The rest of the posts were averaging between 6 –
10% wins, execpt post 7, which had only 3% winners. Other than post
5, post three hit second/third place with a large 40%.
Post 5 was
NOT the place to be going a mile or farther – only 5% won. Post 4
has the greatest impact with 23% winners. Posts 1 and 11 each scored
with 20% winners.
races were held, no horse won more than once from any post. Two
horses each finished in the money from posts 4 and 5.
Posts 5 and
7 proved to be the most profitable for winners, with 23 and 21% wins.
Post four was the worst spot, 0-30 in the win department. Post 12
also fared poorly with a 0-7 rating. Definate bias agasint the 9 –
11 posts. Only one winner in double digit starts.
Special Thanks to Steve Thygersen for the Keeneland Spreadsheets.