Please read the below 10 Rules to Beating Keeneland and enjoy.
10 Rules To Beating Keeneland
By Dan Cronin, “FatBaldGuy”
Rule 1: Bet Pick 4 and Bet Straight. Believe in your opinion, have a system and a plan daily
The Pick 4 is where the money is at Keeneland and also averages a healthy rebate with a rebate shop like BetPTC.com. The average payoffs are decent and the fields are short enough to go after with multiple tickets. Our FBG Pool hit one 32 times in the fall meet. It can be done. Our system is clear; we single, and we have ALL somewhere, then we trim ALL to who we like and bet it many times.
#1 w 234 w 234 w ALL. $45 for a $.50 base ticket.
#1 w 234 w 234 w 15 for $9. We play a $.50 ticket so we repeat it until we hit our budget. If we catch the right horses we can have many, many times. If we catch a bomb then we only need it 1 or 2 times to make a healthy profit. We play $500 budget tickets with our pools. We start each meet with $10,000 and we have a goal to double the money. You can’t be afraid to lose and you can’t be nervous about trying to drill your top pick.
Betting straight is the key to having action and being able to have winning days without high risk. Keeneland hands out a few winners each day. We use the 5 Star system.
2 Star $10 28% hit rate
3 Star $25 41% hit rate
4 Star $35 44% hit rate
5 Star $50 55% hit rate
We bet to win only unless the price is about 5-1 then we back it up with the same place bet.
Rule #2: Trainer Wesley Ward owns 2yr old races in April Not October
Wesley Ward every spring meet wins 75% of the 2yr old races, but in the fall meet it’s not like that.
April 2013 I believe Ward won 5 of the 7 baby races. It’s like that every year. So make those races easy; don’t try to beat him just take the even money and run. Single in Pick 3 or Pick 4 plays and be happy.
His new trick is to run two horses in one race. Ignore the rumors. Ignore the board, take them both!
In October though, it is a ‘must’ to take a look at Todd Pletcher, especially now that we are back to dirt racing. Look at Ken McPeek firsters’ and many others, like Larry Jones, Michael Stidham and Graham Motion. Mike Maker and Al Stall, Jr. are others to watch out for.
In April it is Ward, Ward, Ward and maybe a little Casse. That is it. Stick to this rule.
The thing to remember here is Ward in SPRING; in fall look elsewhere.
Rule #3 Gulfstream Park Shippers at Keeneland in Spring. Saratoga Shippers in Fall
This might be the most important rule of them all
The fall meet it will be Saratoga horses shipping in. The racing at The Spa in August is simply higher quality than the other tracks that will be shipping to Keeneland.
In both cases the turf courses at Gulfstream and Saratoga get really quick and hard and it’s tough on the closers to get up so you see a lot of 3rd and 4th place finishes that will come to Keeneland and run over the top of them down the lane. It’s a very strong angle for straight bets.
Kentucky Downs will have many value plays, so don’t toss out as they can win .
Rule #4 Avoid all California, Hawthorne, and Turfway Park shippers.
California horses have won a few races when in the proper post position in short fields on dirt but have struck out year after year on the grass. During the fall meet of 2014 ZERO California shippers won a race, ZERO. Hawthorne/Arlington dirt horses are cheap compared to the NYRA horses they are running against. Avoid them at all costs. Turfway shippers come in with high speed figures and many times get bet down to 2-1 or below but rarely win.
Of course there is always an outlier or two, so we must judge each race separately. However, trying to eliminate horses from these tracks instead of making a case for them is a great way to cut down the field to the horse we will pick.
In the fall, we are also looking at Saratoga/Churchill shippers but must be careful with them also. It is not a much higher level of horse flesh at Churchill then the places we are looking to toss ; Arlington shippers in cheap claiming races are OK. Kentucky Downs shippers in the fall are also great plays and get prices here. Fairgrounds shippers are OK too if there are no Saratoga invaders in the race.
Let’s get back to Kentucky Downs shippers for a moment. 12 won in the fall meet 2014. Yes, 12. Some well-known handicappers say to toss that form; well, let them do it and we will keep getting 6-1 on KY Downs Shippers
So, #1 in fall is Saratoga, followed by #2 Ky Downs #3 Churchill shippers
Rule #5: Stick to Stalking Speed or horses 5 lengths or closer to the lead. The opposite works on the GRASS.
The charts don’t lie. In the fall many horses won from very close to the pace and the inside posts going two turns dominated. The days of the dead closers are gone. Yes in a couple big stakes races the horses came from way back, and we will watch for that moving forward but in the everyday races don’t run around picking dead closers. The horses with the best success were just off the pace a few lengths but no more than 4 or 5 lengths. The Pletchers did extremely well in two turn races coming in from NY.
On grass we want the outside posts like 6-9 holes, we can deal with 10-12, we don’t want the 1 2 3 holes. Why? Keeneland has big fields and a long stretch, so middle/outside runners have time to get good positions and get out and launch by just getting over and sitting in 2 path or 3 path. We do not want to get stuck in on the rail and as horses go up and down small hills on the backside. The far turn is a slight incline before they turn the bend and the inside gets the worst of it. 1 2 3 is not a good post going two turns on grass at Keeneland.
Rule #6: Sprinting stick to outside posts as much as possible. Read the Form outside in!
Again if we look at the information, posts from 5 on out simply win at a higher percentage and the inside two holes are a play against for the last few years. A few of the winners from the 1 hole this year came in 6 horse fields and 2 of them were 4.5 furlong 2yr old race which doesn’t count in our homemade stats.
If you have a full field of 8 or more you must start your handicapping from the outside and work in. If you like a horse in the 5-10 and he is a shipper from Saratoga or Ky Downs with a top connection; boom we are good. There is not a handicapper out there who will preach, read your forms from the outside in on all sprints at Keeneland. I cannot say it loud enough “OUTSIDE IN!” When we see a favorite in the #1 hole this is the race we want to attack.
When we see a Churchill/Saratoga horse in the 8 hole, then we attack. The outside rule gets even more important on 6.5 and 7 furlong races. It is a huge difference. Please do not overlook any horse on the outside in these races, the perfect spread race is when all the outsides have a shot and the inside are the favorites. The perfect posts for sprinting are 8, 9, and 10
Rule #7: Graded Stakes AVOID the favorite
From what I’ve seen, Keeneland had the lowest percentage of winning favorites in the big events. Stay to the outside and stalkers on the graded sprints; stay to the inside on the routes. Since dirt has returned the fall meet the Graded Stakes races didn’t change. The prices were raining down and horses like Close Hatches at 1-5 ran up the track. My theory is the races are so tough the price horses are just a hair behind the favorites and these trainers point to these and have them ready. The short stretch and the pile up on the turn can result in some wild results.
Rule #8: Never take a California Shipper in Graded Stakes on Grass
California trainers are very consistent in trying the big graded races on grass at Keeneland; the problem is they never win. It’s one of the surest things in horse racing. In the last seven years flip thru the stats and find me one that has won. The reasons are long so I will keep it short. California grass horses are not as good … period. They come to Kentucky overhyped and are not used to running on a deep uncut high grass course. They are used to running on a golf course, fairway-type grass, that’s hard as a rock and speed favoring many times. The turns are also very sharp and the races are ridden differently.
These horses get to Kentucky and the ground is soft very often, the turns are sweeping, and the grass is eight inches long up to their ankles. This doesn’t even touch the fact of the travel, new weather, and better horses they will be facing.
The last thing is that since the stretch run at Keeneland is just further, it gives the closers a chance to make up ground and the California horses struggle with the European-type sprint home.
Many times they are facing a Euro shipper that has targeted this race for many weeks or even months. I think we all know very well you must take the Euro shipper over the Cal shipper every single day.
So what happened last fall? Five more Cali horses tried the graded stakes in the fall, and five more failed. Many will come, avoid them, spread to Euro’s, spread to layoff’s, and spread to GP shippers. Eventually one Cal shipper will beat us but so far it’s about 100 to 0.
Rule #9: Stick with the top trainers, top owners, jockeys, and outfits that lay and wait for this meet.
There are certain trainers Ken McPeek, Mike Maker, Graham Motion, Jonathan Sheppard who wait and wait for this meet. They will prepare their horses, they will give their horses a run at Gulfstream or Saratoga to get them ready. They will hide a 3yr old first time starter, and they will have horses from Europe they purchased just waiting to cash on the Keeneland meet. The top two owners to watch Augustin Stables and Ken Ramsey. Team Valor also likes to win at Keeneland with Euro shippers.
I spoke at length to Ken McPeek and his entire training methods are targeting the Keeneland meets. Mike Maker and the Ramseys go to Gulfstream just waiting to claim turf horses to bring them back to Keeneland. Mike Maker has had huge Keeneland meets by placing his horses in claiming races where he towers over the field. Ken McPeek will come to Keeneland off of a sometimes dismal record at Saratoga, but he is successful at Keeneland because of the way he trains his horses.
We must also add Todd Pletcher back to this list. His fall meet, with the return to the dirt, was awesome. He had several live horses and I believe he will be ready once again this year.
Rule #10: Don’t be afraid of layoff horses by top trainers and owners
Like I said earlier on, the top barns at Keeneland lay and wait for this meet. They will have a horse ready for weeks and just wait for Keeneland. They have Kentucky owners who want to win at Keeneland, so it’s a big deal for them. There were horses this past meet that won off 3 yr layoffs, 2 yr layoffs, and a ton that won with 4-8 months off. We can’t worry about layoffs when doing our handicapping.
The Maker/Ramsey combo won with a 5yr old first time starter last year. This is extremely important in the spring meet as many trainers give their horses the winter off and get to Keeneland early. They get three or four works in at Keeneland where you can get a clockers view or get the free view from the Keeneland clocker on their website. In the fall meet many horses that just love Keeneland were given time off or maybe one start at Saratoga or Arlington then ship in. So when seeing a horse that hasn’t run since November but he is a Motion horse owned by Augustin Stables don’t worry about the layoff; he will have them primed and ready. If it is a Euro shipper I guarantee you they are live off the six months layoff. Don’t fret about the layoff, just ignore it.