This week in horse racing: Grass greener at Keeneland

By Jeremy Plonk  (Xpressbet Editor-in-chief) 


A sentimental renewal of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup and the turf marathon known as the Sycamore Stakes will put Keeneland’s grass course front and center during the second week of its Fall Meeting.

Friday’s $300,000 Sycamore is three weeks and a day out from the Breeders’ Cup Turf and could provide a member or two to that field. The Sycamore includes $3 million earner Arklow; 2020 Sycamore winner Red Knight fresh off a score in the Kentucky Downs Turf Cup; Grade 1 Man o’ War winner Highland Chief; and 2020 Eclipse Award-winning older turf male Channel Maker, who won April’s Elkhorn at Keeneland at the ripe age of 8.

With top American 3-year-old turf filly Spenderella having not posted a workout since her Del Mar Oaks score and missing the race, the QE2 figures to be a more wide-open event on Saturday. For those betting Keeneland, here are some early stats from the first weekend of the Keeneland Fall Meet:

Percentage of Winning Favorites: 35% 

Average Win Odds: 6.4-1 

Hot Trainers: Al Stall Jr. (3-6, 50%), Todd Pletcher (3-7, 43%, all 3 wins Grade 1 stakes), Wayne Catalano (2-4)  

Hot Jockeys: E.T. Baird (2-2, 100%), Irad Ortiz Jr. (3-11, 27%), Joel Rosario (4-18, 22%), Florent Geroux (3-14, 22%)

What To Watch For This Week

Because of the holiday Monday card at Santa Anita, there will be no live racing there this Friday. Action resumes Saturday and Sunday with a mandatory payout in the Rainbow 6 on Saturday … The world’s top-ranked horse, Flightline, is scheduled for his next Breeders’ Cup Classic workout this Saturday at Santa Anita, and will be available at … Saturday morning, international racing fans can enjoy Champions Day at Ascot as Europe’s top horses compete across multiple divisions, including the final career start for the unbeaten Baaeed … Also on the international docket, late Friday night Eastern Time, the prestigious Caulfield Cup from Australia also will be available for wagering at 1/ST BET and Xpressbet.

Friday Weekend Firestarter

Trainer Al Stall Jr. got off to a flying start opening weekend at Keeneland with three victories. His super-fast sprinter Peaceful Waters should be hard to beat in Keeneland’s Race 6 allowance on Friday. #4 Peaceful Waters exits a blowout win at Saratoga and early speed was dangerous in the opening days of the Keeneland Fall Meet. Catch him if you can.

1/ST BET App Top Handicapping Tracks of Week

The free 1/ST BET app allows you to apply millions of data points across dozens of handicapping factors in mere seconds and immediately place your wagers. Here’s where the artificial intelligence was most dialed-in last week by win percentage:

53% Zia Park 

41% Thistledown 

39% Charles Town 

38% Hawthorne 

38% Belterra

Tracks With Most Reliable Favorites Last Week (By Win %) 

53% Zia Park 

49% Thistledown 

46% Finger Lakes 

46% Hawthorne 

45% Santa Anita

Tracks That Were Longshot Havens Last Week (Most Winners 10-1 or More) 

7 Keeneland 

5 Belmont-at-Aqueduct 

5 Laurel Park 

5 Delta Downs

America’s Hot Jockeys Last Week 

Luis Fuentes (6-9, 67%) // Zia Park 

Miguel Vasquez (10-25, 40%) // Gulfstream Park 

Arnaldo Bocachica (6-16, 38%) // Charles Town 

Thiago Canuto (7-20, 35%) // Belterra Park 

Abner Adorno (7-20, 35%) // Parx, Penn National, Meadlowlands, Delaware Park 

Jamie Rodriguez (9-28, 32%) // Meadlowlands, Delaware Park

America’s Hot Trainers Last Week 

Robertino Diodoro (5-10, 50%) // Remington, Delta Downs, Santa Anita  

Anthony Farrior (8-21, 38%) // Charles Town, Laurel 

Peter Miller (5-14, 36%) // Santa Anita 

Todd Pletcher (5-15, 33%) // Gulfstream, Keeneland, Belmont-at-Aqueduct, Meadowlands 

Brad Cox (6-19, 32%) // Keeneland, Belmont-at-Aqueduct, Indianapolis, Woodbine.

Keeneland Contest Saturday

Horseplayers can take part in Keeneland’s annual Grade 1 Gamble handicapping contest Saturday online at Xpressbet. The $3,500 contest has a $2,500 live money bankroll format and includes all live races on the Keeneland card. Available wagers include Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta and Daily Double. To register and for more info, visit

– Statistics courtesy Betmix 


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