Handicapping Keeneland Dirt the ALL-Ways Way

Profile Picture: Ed DeRosa

Ed DeRosa

September 30th, 2014

Keeneland Race Course opens its fall meeting on Friday, and—if this The Handicapper’s Edge poll is any indication—the Lexington track is in for record handle on the heels of installing a new dirt surface as its main track following eight years with Polytrack.

It’s easy to forecast record handle based on those poll results because any increase would result in a record considering last year’s fall meeting is the current high water mark.

The track might have a tough go toward a record on opening day, however, as field size for the eight main track races is down 13.1%, and a weather forecast that portends an “off” track doesn’t help either.

Bruno De Julio will write later this week about main track observations (his Santa Anita thoughts ahead of its opening was fantastic), and I’ll definitely pepper his thoughts into my mix, but my main handicapping ammunition will come from a report I made using ALL-WAYS based on the strength of certain Ultimate Past Performances handicapping factors on other dirt tracks.

The idea is that the database of information at dirt tracks where similar horses as the ones at Keeneland run will yield better clues about the outcome of Friday’s races than would using Polytrack stats from the past eight years or dirt track information from before 2006.

The four tracks I chose are Belterra Park, Churchill Downs, Indiana Downs, and Saratoga Race Course. Belterra because—like Keeneland—it’s a new track this year and the others because their range of class matches what we’ll find at Keeneland.

There were no real surprises regarding what factors point out more winners relative to their odds: the best last-out Speed Rating, Prime Power, and an ALL-Ways-exclusive figure called Comprehensive Rating are three strong indicators.

If armed with nothing but the Ultimate Race Summary, I’d feel confident playing the top horses in either the Speed Rating or Prime Power categories at the right price, but ALL-WAYS takes things a step further and weighs these factors separately and against each other and handicaps the race accordingly with cardinal picks (e.g. who will win) as well as a fair odds line.

The ALL-WAYS report will not be my gospel when handicapping Keeneland opening weekend, but it will be a solid epistle to guide my thoughts. I’ll certainly consult the Predicteform pace-adjusted performance figures with form-cycle analysis for positive (or negative) patterns, and Bruno With The Works will also help identify who’s ready to fire (or not).

We’ll be back later in the week with actual picks for the opening weekend cards, including direct looks at the ALL-Ways reports my dirt profile generates.