KEPP'S KORNER is a daily handicapping analysis designed for the simulcast player that focuses on trainer angles and spot plays.
Written by handicapping veteran and author Dean Keppler (@keppskorner on Twitter), KEPP'S KORNER provides exclusive analysis for tracks in New York, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana and Southern California using a combination of DRF Formulator, EdBain.com trainer stats and his own personal trainer-stat data records.
Player's Selection Guidelines:
3 Stars ***: LIVE LONGSHOT
4 Stars ****: TOP CONTENDER
5 Stars *****: BEST BET (Recommended single in both horizontal and vertical exotic wagers)
#8 Tybalt's Queen (3/1)- This Gulfstream shipper has been freshened; drops into Maiden Claimers for the first time, and makes the all-important 3rd career start for trainer Todd Pletcher. This conditioner clicks over 30% with both the class drop and layoff maneuver, and this 3-year-old filly is coming out of a key race which has produced a couple of next-out winners. This gal has been working steadily up at Saratoga for return, and appears to fit well in this spot. **** (4 Stars)
#5 Acapella (5/2)- Twice beaten favorite for trainer Chad Brown this 2-year-old filly by (G1) winner Majestic Warrior makes the all-important third career start this afternoon. This barn is a sharp 9 for 20 (45%) with 3rd after Debut runners sprinting the last 3 years. This filly was a game second in her most recent try at Belmont on October 16 when stumbling at the start; recovering to chase the pace while 5-wide; wrestled to the front to take command late, and held gamely for the place spot. It was a winning effort. Two-back she finished third in her debut to stakes-winner Melodic and recent Maiden-winner Louisville First. ***** (5 Stars)
#2 Afleet Opening (8/1)- Ships in off of 5 consecutive runner-up efforts at Presque Isle and Mountaineer, but adds blinkers today and drops back down to face Maiden Claimers. The 3-year-old gelding makes his 2nd start off the bench this afternoon, and trainer Greg Compton is 8 for 18 (44%) with 2nd after Layoff runners routing. The gelding will have to improve some on the Beyer scale; but draws well and could be much closer to today's pace with the equipment change. A solid longshot to add to the pick four ticket in what appears to be a wide open leg to start the sequence. *** (3 Stars)
#7 Diploma (5/1)- Returns to the turf for career start number three which is traditionally a juveniles best race. This colt by multiple (G1) winner Harlan's Holiday faced Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf 2nd place finisher Airoforce and next-out winner Bondurant in his Kentucky Downs debut on September 5, and deserves another chance today moving back to the turf for trainer Kellyn Gorder. This barn is 9 for 27 (33%) with 3rd after Debut runners routing the last 3 years, and also sports solid numbers with today's stretch-out. **** (4 Stars)
#7 Kronwall (5/2)- Showed much improved early zip when dropped to this level in last for trainer Doug O'Neill, and understandably tired late when battling through taxing fractions. This 3-year-old gelding by prolific sire Square Eddie makes the all-important 3rd career start this afternoon, and this conditioner is 13 for 52 (25%) with 3rd after Debut runners sprinting. An encouraging 5F snappy drill on October 28 adds to the appeal, and this gelding should be tough to reel in this afternoon with an alert break. **** (4 Stars)
#6 Miss Bliss (7/2)- Ran extremely well when coming off the 7 month layoff beaten only a neck against $40,000 Maiden Claimers, and is confidently moved back up to face Maiden Special Weights this afternoon for trainer Mike Puype. That Maiden Claiming race on October 2 has already produced a pair of next-out winners, and this filly shows three sharp a.m. drills on the work tab since that runner-up effort. This barn clicks close to 30% with 3rd after Debut runners sprinting. **** (4 Stars)
Gulfstream Park West:
#3 Boheme de Lavi (4/1)- Is coming off of a non-threatening fourth place finish at Monmouth Park on September 26, but takes a sizable class plunge this afternoon and will be making her second start off the bench for trainer Jorge Navarro. This barn clicks close to 40% with a positive ROI with 2nd after Layoff runners sprinting the last 3 years. This 4-year-old filly put together consecutive victories two and three back and should return to those winning ways with today's class drop. Jockey Edgard Zayas is 21 for 61 (34%) riding for these top connections the last 3 years. *** (4 Stars)
#2 Sadie (2/1)- This 2-year-old filly switches to the grass off of a fairly decent encouraging unveiling on September 19 at Parx where she chased the leader before tiring late. She is by In Summation who was a Grade 1 winner on synthetic and Grade 2 placed on turf, so today's surface change should not be an issue. She moves inside today; adds Lasix, and trainer Ed Plesa clicks close to 30% with 2nd Career Starters sprinting. The first (Eighth World) and second place (Blushing Humor) finishers from her debut have already come back to win again. A potential single to start today's pick four. ***** (5 Stars)
#2 Karla With a K (8/1)- Is one of two uncoupled entries for trainer Chris Dorris. This 4-year-old filly has been freshened since August 1, and has run extremely well from off the bench in the past as evidence by her sharp win back on February 28 at this oval. There appears to be an abundance of speed signed on in this spot, which could potentially set her up well late from off the pace. She's a multiple winner at the track and distance and the price will be right. *** (3 Stars)
#8 Elusive Joni (8/5)- Finished a sharp second in game try back on October 23 and looms a big threat returning 14 days later for trainer Gary Capuano. The 2-year-old filly by multiple (G1) winner Colonel John earned the field's best last-out Beyer (64), which is above par for this level. This barn is 9 for 30 (30%) with 2nd time starters sprinting at Laurel the last 5 years. This filly looks like a potential singl eto start today's pick five. ***** (5 Stars)
Dean Keppler has been handicapping Thoroughbreds for over 30 years, and is the former Director of DRF Press for Daily Racing Form. He's authored two handicapping books for DRF titled: “Trainer Angles” and “Betting the Kentucky Derby,” and has published several handicapping articles for Horseplayer Magazine. Keppler has a new e-book coming out this spring for DRF titled, “Form Reversal: Increasing Profits Using Formulator and Cutting-Edge Trainer Stats.” Keppler recently qualified for the NHC 17 in Las Vegas, and his work has appeared in the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, The Saratoga Special, and several other prolific publications.
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