In the Bluegrass State the leaves are on the trees, the weather is warming up and the grass is…green. It’s spring in Lexington and it is party time! The only thing you need to know about April in Kentucky is Keeneland. That’s it. That’s the blog. That’s all you need.
Keeneland is, in addition to a Zen-like state of mind, a racetrack in Lexington, formally known as Keeneland Race Course, that hosts two premier race meetings per year – one in spring and one in fall. Opened in October 1936, Keeneland has developed a reputation as a showplace for high quality racing. Year after year, the Keeneland race meetings attract the best trainers and jockeys in the game. Naturally, StableDuel is there! We could not possibly be more excited to kick off opening weekend with great contests starting on Friday, April 8 and going all weekend – including the huge $12,500 Blue Grass Bounty game on Saturday for the grade 1 (that’s the highest level of race in thoroughbred racing) Blue Grass Stakes (the last major prep race in Kentucky for the Kentucky Derby).
So, before we start our homework and dive into the PPs, let’s take a brief look at last year’s leading jockeys and trainers. The leading jockeys at the 2021 Spring meet were:
|Rank||Jockey Name||Starts||1st||2nd||3rd||Win %||Top 3 %|
|5||John R. Velazquez||51||10||6||9||20%||49%|
|6||Corey J. Lanerie||65||6||10||6||9%||34%|
|7||Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.||50||7||7||6||14%||40%|
|8||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||24||5||7||3||21%||63%|
|10||Julien R. Leparoux||42||4||5||4||10%||31%|
The leading trainers were:
|Rank||Trainer Name||Starts||1st||2nd||3rd||Win %||Top 3 %|
|1||Wesley A. Ward||55||20||10||9||36%||71%|
|2||Brad H. Cox||29||10||6||2||34%||62%|
|3||Todd A. Pletcher||19||9||1||5||47%||79%|
|4||Chad C. Brown||24||5||7||2||21%||58%|
|5||Michael J. Maker||39||5||7||5||13%||44%|
|6||William I. Mott||13||5||1||2||38%||62%|
|7||Kenneth G. McPeek||20||3||3||1||15%||35%|
|8||George R. Arnold, II||18||4||5||3||22%||67%|
|10||Mark E. Casse||19||2||3||1||11%||32%|
Now, let’s take a deeper dive into some of the particulars the Spring meet. Some handicappers believe that post position matters – after all horses on the part of the track closest to the inside rail travel a shorter distance to the wire, right? Let’s see! Here are the results by post position, from a total of 90 races on dirt and 42 races on turf:
|Program #||# Wins on Dirt||% W on Dirt||# Wins on Turf||% W on Turf|
Interestingly, there seems to a bias toward the first (16% win percentage) and fifth (17% win percentage) post positions on the dirt course and the second and third (17% win pct.) stalls on the turf course.
Another angle that handicappers might employ is running style. Running style is how a horse customarily places itself in a race. Running styles vary from (1) front-runners (horses that typically break well from the gate and assume the lead from the start of the race), (2) stalkers (horses that break from the gate well, but don’t immediately take the lead), (3) raters (horses that will sit mid-pack or towards to the rear of the pack) and (4) closers (horses that are at the rear of the field and make one run to the front at the end of the race). Here’s how those 4 styles played out last spring (by winning percentage):
OK! So, now that we have few tools in the toolbox, let’s get to handicapping! Tomorrow, we start our analysis of some Hero Horses on opening day and preview the big Saturday stakes!