The first full week of the Keeneland
meet is in the books. Double-digit win payouts were the norm for
most races held over the Polytrack. Astute handicappers were scoring
left and right. Some of the winners stood out as good plays, yet
these horses were dismissed at long odds. Let's take a closer look
at the primary factors to which horse players should pay attention.
Polytrack has been in use long enough to
gather relevant data about which sire's offspring have a proclivity
for artificial surfaces. Sires who are hot (3 or more runners) right
now at Keeneland:
Ghostzapper. Smart Strike (6 starters, 67%
Indian Charlie (5 starters, 60% ITM);
Harlan's Holiday, Medaglio d'Oro,
Unbridled's Song (7 starters, 43% ITM);
Dixie Union, Eurosilver, Officer, Scat Daddy
(4 starters, 50% ITM);
Bellamy Road, Mr. Greeley, Offlee Wild,
Speightstown & Stormy Atlantic (3 starters, 2 ITM);
Other sires who are doing well:
Catienus, Henny Hughes, Johar, Malibu Moon,
Scrimshaw, Sky Mesa (2 starters, 100% ITM)
Stallions whose offspring aren't hitting the
board so far:
Afleet Alex, Dynaformer, Tiznow (0-5)
Birdstone, Congrats, Flatter, Hard Spun,
This isn't an all inclusive list, but sires
to watch include:
Any given Saturday, Big Brown, Broken Vow,
Candy Ride, City Zip, Closing Argument, Distorted Humor,
Leroidesanimaux, Out of Place, Proud Accolade, Ready's Image, Smoke
Glacken, Spring At Last, Street Boss, Street Hero, Swain, Tapit,
Tribal Rule, With Distinction, With Approval, Wildcat Heir, War
Front, War Pass, Yankee Gentleman.
Many of the competitors will have superior
Poly breeding but with 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.
One contender stood out on the basis of her
works. QUEEN'S AWARD
Note her five furlong :58 2/5 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.
These diamonds in the rough aren't easy to
find and you may only pick up three or four during an entire race
meet. Here are a couple more with the same pattern:
is entered on October 14, Race 2,
a claiming race. Take a look at her works:
She's 4/1 morning line.
LEMONS AND ROSES (by Any Given Saturday) a
two year old maiden filly.
The 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 one who is working at Churchill
in 1:02, is a Yankee Gentleman who finished 5/6/5 in his three runs
on dirt and is now at Keeneland and worked :47/2, 1:00, 1:00. These
are the kind that pay $20-40 and are just gimmes. And that extends
far beyond two year olds as 7 year old Golden Yank proved in April –
he had never run on Poly and was entered in a race with Successful
Dan, was just completely forgotten about and ended up going off at
56/1. The exacta with Successful Dan paid a mind blowing $211.
We kept track of where the horses shipped in
from. Here are some notes worth a look:
First time starters in Maiden/Maiden
Claiming sprints were more likely to complete the exotics than win.
(39 starters, 2 winners, 8 ITM). There was one winner, 2 ITM from 5
starters at route distances.
Arlington Park – sprinters performed
better than allowance or stakes runners (10 starters, 2 winners, 2
Sprinters from Kentucky Downs transfer
their turf form to Polytrack. 3 of 8 sprinters hit the board while
only 3 routers from ten starters did the same.
From 12 races overall, Saratoga runners won
only twice and hit the board 3 times. Ellis Park runners fared the
worst. From ten sprinters, none won while two placed. The route
runners went 0-10.
No surprise that the majority of the
entrants shipped in from Presque Isle Downs, Turfway, Ellis Park and
Kentucky Downs. Those from Presque Isle fared best, with a 21% win
and 41% ITM with sprints and 13%, 38% in two-turn races. Kentucky
Downs runners kept their form with 27% wins, 47% ITM sprinting, but
only 8% wins, 17% ITM in routes. Saratoga claimers in routes
surprised with a winner and ITM runner from three starters, but only
one sprinter hit the board.
Once again, Kentucky Downs
best. Out of 10 runners, five hit the board. Turfway runners went
Saratoga overwhelmed the entry box with 19
stakes runners. Of those, two won and three were ITM.
Starters: From 9 starters, only 1 placed.
Maidens did very well over turf routes (6 starters, 3 winners, 1
ITM). Also, one of two stakes winners hit the board.
Out of five
runners from Woodbine, two won and one placed.
The lone shippers
from Calder and Europe won their starts.
runners represented Monmouth Park, but they do very well. Out of
seven runners across all class designations, five won or placed.
Churchill runners are mostly a play against. From 13 starters, only
2 hit the board. Runners from Woodbine are hit or miss. Stakes
runners performed the best. Half hit the board in route races and two
of three turf runners did the same.
Post #5, #6 and #10 gain the most winners in main track sprints, while the longer races play more evenly. Posts #4, #5 and #7 are the place to be in turf routes.
leads the meet with the number of runners/winners, but keep an eye on
Julio Garcia. From just seven mounts, he's won with two and placed
three times. Jose Lezcano and Javier Castellano are also doing well
over the Poly. Lezcano has won with two of his four turf mounts
while Castellano has
one winner from four starters. Corey Lanerie has three winners from
nine turf mounts.
Who do you want
to ride your two year olds? Julio Garcia has two winners from five
starters. Bridgmohan, Leparoux and Lanerie each have multiple
Leparoux is king
of the maidens/claimers with six winners from19 mounts. He and
Lezcano each own two stakes winners.
sits atop the trainer standings by number of wins. From 22 starters,
he has five winners and six ITM. Keep an eye on runners from Charles
Lopresti (6-2-0-1), Eduardo Caramori (6-2-0-0) and Tim Richardson's
As usual, Wesley
Ward and Wayne Catalano sent out the most two year olds. Each trainer
owns three wins. Bill Mott rules the allowance turf contests with two
winners from four starters. Todd Pletcher seems to take home all of
the candy when it comes to stakes races. Not at Keeneland. His
embarrassment of riches includes 15 starters in stakes, with only two
winners. Compare that to Dale Roman's seven stakes starters with the
same number of winners. Underdog Charles Lopresti sent out one
stakes horse, which found the winner's circle.
Of course, not all of the longshots will be this easily recognizable. If they were, they woudln't be longshots. Barring a work over polytrack, look for runners who have decent breeding for the surface. Previous class is also an indicater as are speed figures. If you do your homework, you can reap huge rewards at Keeneland.