by Rich Nilsen
Several years ago Howard Battle, who for four decades served as the Racing Secretary at Keeneland, had this to say about his beloved racetrack: “Keeneland should be the national park of racing. The beauty of spring with the clean, clear air and the blooms of the pears, crab apples and dogwoods are excelled only in October by the yellows, golds, ambers, oranges and reds of the same flora. Besides the aesthetic atmosphere and multitudinous contradictions to most racing establishments — tree-lined parking, one-mile-and-a-sixteenth course, two finish lines, facing the sun, and being near the horses in their natural setting — we are still the best road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) and now the Breeders’ Cup in the fall.”
It’s true that few, if any, tracks rival Keeneland in both its beauty or history. The Lexington, Kentucky track also offers a unique and popular race meet. Handicappers should understand the motivation of the connections (owners and trainers) as well as how the short condition book is written. With few claiming races written, the racing cards cater to the high profile barns that ship in from out of state for the short meet. The only turf races are allowance events and stakes. To many owners, winning a race at Keeneland is equivalent to capturing multiple events at another track.
Many of the best barns point for this meeting and have their runners primed to run their best races. There are also many fine local Kentucky trainers, like Phil Sims and Andrew McKeever, who do well during the spring and fall meets, and knowing who they are behooves the horseplayer. Knowing how they win is even more important.
Regular AGameofSkill.com contributor Art Parker publishes his Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns book twice a year, and going into this fall meet, he has compiled 24 trainers who he has termed, “The Kings of Keeneland.” These two dozen trainers have dominated Keeneland over the past several years:
Al Stall, Jr.
You can discover more about how the Kings of Keeneland win, day in and day out, by tapping into Art’s book, “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns – 2015 Fall Meet”
KEENELAND BONUS TIP
Pay Attention Early for a Track Bias
Pay attention to the first couple of races each day at Keeneland to determine if any bias is at play. On many days the track will play fair but, if you can catch a bias early, the rest of your day could prove very lucrative. On a day when the track is favoring speed, you’ll see the early pace horses hanging on well and closers having a difficult time making up any ground.
Look to take advantage of the 1 1/16-mile races. The starting gate for this commonly run Keeneland dirt distance is close to the first turn and the stretch run is short, making it conducive to speed horses breaking from inside posts. Stretch runners typically do not have time to succeed with their lates run.
Also, keep in mind that when it rains, the track has a tendency to be speed favoring.Click here for reuse options!
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