Key Bets & Races for Saturday, December 9


Don’t forget to check the very bottom of this blog for a “BONUS” race, with a big longshot, that has a post time of 2:26 PM Eastern Time



Willa on the Move Stakes – Race 6 at Laurel – Post time 3:00 PM Eastern Time

It is rumored Absatootly is going to pass this race to run in a stakes in New York so I am not including her as a contender. If that is not the case and Absatootly runs in this race, she would be my top pick. However, as it is Ms Locust Point appears very tough to beat. Except for her debut, in which she finished 2nd, and when overmatched when 5th in the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes, Ms Locust Point has urn big, winning by an average of four lengths. She gets a great outside post to stalk the pace and if no other horse wants the lead she’s capable of controlling the pace on the front end and never looking back just as happened the ONLY other time she ventured from trainer Servis’ base at Parx to Laurel, winning the Gin Talking Stakes in December. She won last month following 9 months off and is on the improve so should be very tough to beat. My Magician has won 3 of five since joining the Gonzalez barn, the last win coming in her most recent start, here at Laurel. With strong Equibase figures of 100, 98 and 94 in three of her last 5 stacking up nicely with the 97 and 92 best figures Ms Locust Point earned in her two best races, and opening at 8 to 1 (whereas Ms Locust Point opens at 5/1), My Magician offers us another great win bet opportunity. Shimmering Aspen won the Twixt Stakes in August here at Laurel, against older, so moving from 3 year olds to older here is of no concern, She did run poorly when 3rd at 7 to 5 last month but she’s moves back to 6 furlongs where she’s 1 for 1 and with a 5 for 9 career record discounting her chances would be at our peril. Likely favorite Ivy Bell should be used on exacta tickets but I think she’s a but suspect as the favorite. She’s been consistent with 9 first or second place finishes in 14 races but she has finished second five times and is beatable.

Bet Ms Locust Point AND My Magician to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher

Play an exacta consisting of Ms Locust Point, My Magician and Shimmering Again over Ms Locust Point, My Magician, Shimmering Again and Ivy Bell.



Carribbean Classic Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream Park– Post time 4:45 PM Eastern Time

This, as well as most of the races on the Saturday card at Gulfstream, is restricted to horses representing countries in the Carribbean. As such, it may be many American bettors might be flummoxed  by trying to handicap a field of horses, all without traditional running lines. Using the same handicapping methodology I would use if the entrants were from Europe or Asia, similar to a Breeders’ Cup race, the top contenders can be isolated pretty easily. El Cubita won his debut and has finished second in all three starts since then, ALL Group 1 races. He’s earned nearly $350K with just a maiden win to his credit, and finished 2nd in fields of 14 and 11 in his two most recent starts. He’s won from 6 furlongs to a mile and one-half to this 9 furlong trip is no issue. However, he does open at 3 to 1 so may be the favorite at post time. La De  Horacio has earned $1 million in HER career of 11 races and beat males at this 9 furlong trip in August in a Group 3 stakes before a runner-up effort in a Group 1 race at 10 furlongs in September. Recently 4th of 14 in a Group 1 stakes worth nearly $1 million, in which El Cubita finished 2nd, La De Horacio gets John Velazquez and appears to be a strong contender yet opens at 8 to 1. Immenso opens at 12/1 odds, odd considering he’s 8 for 8 this year. I have no idea who he’s been running against in the Dominican Republic but he’s crushed the field more than once and Joel Rosario riding is a good sign. Equibase has a way to create speed figures for foreign races on the same scale as North American races and this colt has earned 104 figures in 3 of his last four starts which stacks up against the best figures earned by La De Horacio and by El Cubita so we will round out a trio of contenders with him.


Bet El Cubita to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.

Bet La De Horacio to win at 3 to 1 or higher.

Bet Immenso to win at 4 to 1 or higher.

Play an exacta box consisting of El Cubita, La De Horacio and Immenso.


Cash Call Futurity – Race 3 at Los Alamitos Race Course – Post time 4:58 Eastern Time (1:58 Pacific Time)

Runaway Ghost appears to be the controlling speed and in a short field that can be very dangerous. He dominated from start to finish in the Golden Nugget stakes at Golden Gate Fields last month with a career-best 102 Equibase figure, and he can improve a ton going long for the first time as well as making his 2nd start following five months off. Sons and daughters of Ghostzapper have won 24 of 99 dirt route graded stakes races in the last five years (with last year’s top two-year-old McCraken one of them) and the dam of Runaway Ghost (Rose’s Desert) won 10 of 15 career races, finishing second in the other five, earning over $600,000. Hopefully, Talamo gets out to an easy lead on slower fractions than the colt has had to run to date in his sprints, gets Runaway Ghost into a strong rhythm, and plays “come catch me” with the rest of the field. Opening at 8/1, Runaway Ghost is a KEY bet in this race and among the races available for betting today.


Solomini has come up second best in two of the biggest races for two year olds in North America, in the FrontRunner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in the latter earning a career-best 107 figure. In the Futurity, perhaps Solomini will be the one to dominate and certainly on paper he appears to be a strong contender, but he should have to run down Runaway Ghost in the stretch to win. McKinzie wasn’t a typical Bob Baffert first time starter when he entered the gate for his career debut on October 28 as there wasn’t a lot of buzz about his ability and he went to post at 7 to 2. However, that all changed following his dominant five and one-half length win with a field high and stakes quality 116 figure. Flattered when both the third and fifth place finishers from that race returned to win their next starts, McKinzie is bred to stretch out fine and with Smith back in the saddle it is certainly possible the colt will win easily once again and in doing so stamp himself as a horse to reckon with on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2018.


Bet Runaway Ghost to win at 2 to 1 or more.

Instead of a place bet, play an exacta consisting of Solomini and McKinzie over Runaway Ghost

Play a double using Runaway Ghost in race 3 with ALL (5 horses) in race 4.

Play an addition double using Runaway Ghost in race 3 and using Piedi Bianchi, Dream Tree and War Heroine in race 4.

If you play the pick 3 or any other multi-race tickets, use Runaway Ghost on main tickets and use Solomini and McKinzie on backup tickets.



Starlet Stakes – Race 4 at Los Alamitos Race Course – Post time 5:28 Eastern Time (2:28 Pacific Time)

Although War Heroine opens at 9 to 5, it is likely she will go to post as the second choice as Baffert’s Dream Tree, who opens at 8/5, went to post at 4 to 5 and even money in her two starts. War Heroine is not just a better bet than the likely favorite, she’s more likely to win. When Dream Tree won in his debut on 10/7 at Santa Anita he won by a nose with a 93 Equibase figure then he improved to a 101 figure winning the Desi Arnaz Stakes by a nose. When War Heroine broke her maiden at first asking on 11/12 she won by 6 3/4 in ridden out fashion with a tank of gas left and with a 94 figure so if she moves forward in start #2 the way Dream Tree did in her 2nd start, War Heroine should win. There are no issues about going long and Miller’s starters win nearly 1/3 of the time back-to-back. Other than Dream Tree, Piedi Bianchi is the other win contender but opens at 5 to 2. She finished 5th of 13 in the BC Juvenile Fillies and was a neck from 2nd in the Grade 1 Chandelier before that, her only two turn starts to date. That two turn experience, that Dream Tree lacks, gives Piedi Bianchi more probability to win than Dream Tree.

Bet War Heroine to win at 1 to 1 (even money) or more.

If you play any pick 3 or other multi-race tickets, use all three horses listed above.


Bonus Race – Race 4 at Woodbine – Post Time 2:26 Eastern Time

I am going to take a flyer on Dante’s Blu Grass in this race, opening at 30/1. This is a maiden race with no standouts and this filly made her debut last month in a route like this one, without a prep, a very tough question to ask a 2 year old particularly on all-weather. She didn’t run a lick, finishing 8th of 10, but that’s not a concern. The ONLY other foal of the dam went 6 for 25 and earned over $200K, better still winning in its 2nd start for the same owner and trainer after a dreadful debut just like the filly put in last month, here at Woodbine. The dam herself went 3-3-2 in 14 races and broke her maiden in her 2nd career start as well. Trainer Scott Fairlie has won with 3 of 12 second time starters in the past year and 2 of 6 who add Lasix for the first time, both which apply to this filly. As such, I am personally a going to Bet Dante’s Blu Grass to win, place and show and recommend the same wager to all of you.

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Ellis Starr

Ellis is a well respected handicapper and contributor of AmWager. He has been a public handicapper for more than twenty years, educating racing fans of all skill levels with detailed commentary few other handicappers provide.

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