Key Horse Races & Expert Handicapper Bets - May 08, 2021

hased her after her last race on March 26. Now in the hands of Brad Cox and with a trio of strong workouts since leaving Kentucky, the mare moves into grade 3 stakes competition with the BEST (by far) pair of recent Equibase figures, 106 then 110, as compared to the rest of the field. Last year’s Vagrancy winner, Victim of Love, who runs here, earned a 109 figure last year and French Empire has already run faster than that. She gets a great post outside in a field of seven and Castellano as well and she has a stalking style and nice kick shown with a quarter mile to run in her last four races. She may get bet down from her 7 to 2 starting odds but she’s still going to be a KEY OVERLAY win bet on the day at anything above about 9 to 5.

Victim Of Love has to be considered for our wagers here because she opens at 4/1 and that makes little sense. She won last year when the race was postponed until June, off a three month layoff, then finished third in the Grade 1 Ballerina and second six months later in late February in an allowance race. She fires fresh, she gets Rosario, and there is no reason to expect anything other than an “A” effort good enough to win.

Pacific Gale opens at 5 to 2 but went off at 4 to 5 in her last start when winning the G3 Hurricane Bertie Stakes at this distance in Florida. It was a big effort, but it only earned a 104 figure, and her best previous was 102 as well as she was third, beaten six lengths, in last year’s Vagrancy. Granted, she wasn’t in as good form as she is this year so that’s why she is included as a contender at least for exacta and pick 3/double tickets.

Handicapper Picks

WinFrench Empire to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.

Victim of Love at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. A Dutching tool lets you set the amount you want to bet or the amount you want to win, then based on the odds your bets are proportioned accordingly. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exacta: Box French Empire and Victim of Love, also Box French Empire and Pacific Gale

Pick 3 (two tickets):

Race 7: French Empire

Race 8: ALL

Race 9: Promise Keeper

Race 7: French EmpireVictim of LovePacific Gale

Race 8: ALL

Race 9: Promise Keeper

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Race 8 at Belmont – Post Time 4:38 PM Eastern

This is a wide open maiden race and with the possibility of a heavy favorite in In Italian (who opens at 5/2) but those odds are too low relative to probability as nearly every horse can win. In Italian is one of two from the Brown barn the other first time starter Infinite Potential. In Italian missed by a neck in her debut at the end of March at Tampa but got a very low (79) figure. Palamos, who also finished second in her most recent race (November) got an 89 figure and opens at 3 to 1. Then there are three horse I would absolutely consider betting a few bucks to win on – Lilly Simone (who opens at 20/1), Flaming Rouge (who opens at 8/1) and Bonkers (who opens at 12/1).

Lilly Simone makes her second start off a four month layoff and was only beaten three lengths in her turf sprint comeback. She goes from Cardenas to John Velazquez and essentially stretches out for the first time in her career, ignoring she debuted at a mile last summer. She’s a half-sister to a fantastic turf star in Vision Perfect who won the first time she stretched out on turf. Flaming Rouge makes her U.S. debut, for Clement, and adds Lasix. She’s a Kentucky bred and ALL FOUR of her siblings on the dam’s side are turf route winner. Rosario rides and Clement does very well with imports like this. Bonkers was fifth of 12 back in the summer of 2019 in her debut at a mile on turf, beaten just two lengths. In start #2 she led late and was passed by was beaten less than two lengths. Her next four races were on dirt. Coming back from five months off in March and in the barn of Mike Maker, she finished fourth of eight and has a TON of upside here because in that comeback the jockey lost his irons from the 3/16 pole to the 1/8 pole, denying her any chance at 2 to 1 odds. She opens at 12/1 odds here and cannot be ignored.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Bet two of these three – Lilly SimoneFlaming RougeBonkers – at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

Use the Dutching tool at Amwager to proportion your bets for the best edge.

Pick 3:

Race 8: ALL

Race 9: Promise Keeper

Race 10: GufoField PassSovereign

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Peter Pan Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont – Post Time 5:12 PM Eastern

Promise Keeper is the only horse I can see winning this year’s Peter Pan. The 7 to 5 starting favorite Risk Taker won the Withers at the distance in February then was never involved in the Wood Memorial on April 3 and I just can’t trust that kind of form. Nova Rags opens at out of what 5 to 2 odds, way too low, because he’s dropping off a fourth place finish in the Florida Derby. However, his only route before that was a non-threatening second in the Sam F. Davis Stakes with a miserably low 89 Equibase figure which doesn’t hold a candle to the 103 figure Promise Keeper earned at the distance last month in a visually impressive win at this distance at Keeneland. Saez rides Promise Keeper back and he’s likely to improve off the effort which makes him soundly the one to beat, opening at 7 to 2.

Handicapper Picks

WinPromise Keeper to win at odds of 6 to 5 or more, a KEY low odds overlay win bet.

Doubles: (which can be skipped if you played the pick 3 in races seven or eight and are still alive)

Race 9: Promise Keeper

Race 10: GufoField PassSovereign

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Man o’ War Stakes – Race 10 at Belmont Park – Post Time 5:44 PM Eastern

Gufo returns to racing following five months off but that is of no concern when coming back in a marathon on turf like the Man o’ War Stakes. Gufo won the second through fifth starts of his career starting in December, 2019, through July of last year when taking the Kent Stakes then just missed by a head in the $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational in August. Next, in his first and only start on the Belmont turf, Gufo won the Belmont Derby in October with a 104 Equibase Figure which was very strong for a three year old. In his final race of the year, Gufo was exceptionally game when rallying from last of 11 to be in a three horse photo on the wire, losing by a head and a neck with a 107 figure. The horses which beat him that day, Domestic Spending and Smooth Like Strait, are near the top of the turf division in North America having just finished first (in a dead heat) and third last weekend in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes. Now a more physically mature four year old, Gufo should run even better than he did last year and that makes him the one to beat in this year’s Man o’ War Stakes.

Field Pass is also a four year old and has a similar pattern to Gufo which suggests he could run a big race in this situation. Last summer, Field Pass proved his stakes quality when winning the Audubon Stakes and Transylvania Stakes in succession. In October, Field Pass earned a career-best figures of 109 when third in the Twilight Derby, won by Smooth Like Strait (who finished third in the Turf Classic last weekend). After winning the Ontario Derby on all-weather in November with a new career-best 110 figure, Field Pass finished fourth in the Mathis Brothers Mile Stakes (won by Smooth like Strait) before resting to begin his 2021 campaign. In his comeback race last month, Field Pass was not disgraced when finishing fourth of nine in the Maker’s Mark Mile and appears very well spotted to improve considerably in his second start of the year to be a factor in this race. Although he’s never run this far, as a son of Lemon Drop Kid he should have no problem successfully running the distance because a STATS Race Lens query reveals the sire has produced four top graded stakes winners at similar distances.

Sovereign (IRE) has been working steadily in Florida and New York for his U. S. debut. He is now in the barn of top trainer Chad Brown, who has a very strong knack with having his horses coming back from layoffs and making their U.S. debuts in top shape. A STATS Race Lens query reveals over the last five years, Brown has won with six of 22 (27%) similar starters in graded stakes. Sovereign (IRE) earned the biggest win of his career when winning the Irish Derby in 2019 easily by six lengths. Since then, Sovereign (IRE) has finished second or third in five races. One of those was when second to the incomparable mare Enable in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes last summer at Ascot, an effort which earned a 117 figure good enough to win the Man o’ War if repeated.

Honorable mention has to go to Ziyad (GB), who earned a 111 figure last October in his U.S. debut when third and beaten just two lengths in the Sycamore Stakes. Similarly, Channel Cat earned a 115 figure last month when second in the mile and one-half Elkhorn Stakes. As such I wouldn’t argue with anyone who considered them contenders to win this race. Also, Moon over Miami earned a decent 109 figure when second in the Pan American Stakes at a mile and one-half at the end of March and may fit as a contender as well. I don’t feel the same way about Shamrocket, who although earning a 109 figure at the end of March did so at a mile and one-eighth and in a non-graded stakes so appears a bit overmatched. So High (GB) is definitely overmatched in this field as his best effort earned an 89 figure and he is still eligible for the first allowance condition as well as was running in a claiming level race as recently as December.

Handicapper Picks

WinGufo and/or Field Pass to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.

This is another race where a DUTCHING tool does us a lot of good and helps us to make a profit. A Dutching tool, like the one which is free to use at, saves us doing the math to determine the right wagering amounts.


Box GufoField Pass and Sovereign

Optionally an additional exacta after the one above is:

Gufo and Field Pass over GufoField PassSovereignMoon of MiamiChannel CatZiyad and Shamrocket.

(Note: We’re leaving Sovereign out because we want to only use one of the two favorites in the win slot).

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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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