Not the same Keeneland

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Horses were pre-entered on Monday for the 2020 Breeders’ Cup to be held at Keeneland in Lexington Kentucky Nov. 6-7. Those pre-entries will be announced to the public Wednesday, along with the wagering menu and guaranteed pools. Advanced handicapping materials will be available Friday.

As horseplayers start the handicapping process, here are four potential key handicapping factors to keep in mind for this year’s Breeders’ Cup:

• The turf races held at Keeneland in July may not be a true indication of a horse’s ability to handle the same course in November. The annual Keeneland spring meet was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and a short one-week meet in July was implemented when racing resumed.

The hot July weather resulted in numerous course records over very firm turf, and early speed benefited from the conditions. Expect a much softer, slower turf course during Breeders’ Cup.

• One-turn dirt mile races at Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Park and Laurel include a long straight run down the backstretch and a long stretch run. At Keeneland, the two-turn dirt mile has a short run into the first turn and a short stretch with the wire located at the sixteenth pole. Horses that like a one-turn configuration may not be as effective around two turns.

• The 1 1/16 mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile also have a short stretch run and end at the sixteenth pole. Youngsters that did their prep work in one-turn races like the Champagne and Frizette at Belmont Park will be facing a completely different challenge. Far outside post positions will be a challenge for the two-year-olds.

• At the recently concluded Keeneland fall meet, horses drawing the rail in six-furlong dirt races, the distance of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, went 0-for-39 according to BRISNET. This may be an aberration, since horses drawn on the rail have won at a 15.1 percent rate at the distance since Keeneland returned to a dirt surface in 2014. Still, the recent trend suggests that drawing inside in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint has to be a major concern.

Post positions for both Breeders’ Cup days will be drawn Monday. We will take a closer look at several live runners in our Breeders’ Cup analysis next week.

Del Mar opens Saturday

Del Mar’s fall meet opens Saturday. Licensed owners will be allowed to come and watch their horses, but just like summer, the race meet will be held spectator-free.

The Turf Festival over Thanksgiving weekend the highlight of the meet, and announcer Larry Collmus will be back as regular caller Trevor Denman remains at home due to the pandemic.

Important turf Stakes races like the Matriarch for older fillies and mares and the Hollywood Derby for three-year-olds have proven to be popular with shippers due to limited turf racing on the east coast in late November.

After opening weekend, Del Mar will race Fridays through Sundays with the exception of the four-day Thanksgiving closing weekend. First post time daily will be 12:30 p.m. Pacific, with the only exception being the traditional early 11 a.m. start on Thanksgiving Day.

Del Mar will experiment with a $.50 minimum Pick Six that includes a jackpot provision during the fall. Tickets with six winners will split up 80 percent of the pool after takeout, with the remaining 20 percent of the pool going towards a jackpot pool to be given out when there is a single winning ticket.

The lower minimum gives smaller players a chance, but all players must remember the effective takeout on the jackpot wager amounts to 38.944 percent on a daily basis when there is no single ticket winner.

Gryder the Rider set to retire

Jockey Aaron Gryder announced over the weekend that he will retire at the end of the Del Mar meet. Gryder has won over 3,900 races during his 34 year career and his horses have amassed earnings of over $129 million.

His biggest career win came in the 2009 $6 million Dubai World Cup aboard Well Armed.   Gryder will have to update his business card, which simply says “Gryder the Rider.”  He will be missed.

Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Belmont Park, Friday Race 9: Superfecto (No. 10):  With a wet track likely, this three-year-old from the Ralph Nicks stable has good tactical speed and an outside post to avoid getting mud kicked in his face. He is bred to like off tracks and should be bigger and stronger returning from a six-month vacation.

About the Author

Jon Lindo

Jon Lindo is a syndicated handicapper, long-time thoroughbred owner, and publisher of the Lindo Report. Jon is also a regular contributor to Race Day Las Vegas Radio show on KSHP 1400 in Las Vegas and Thoroughbred Los Angeles Radio show, heard in Las Vegas at thoroughbredla.com.

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