Ellis Starr's Blog - AmWager

  • 15
    JUN

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 16

    Preface: Looking back at last week's blog, at first glance I was disappointed as none of the recommended win bets came through. Then after reviewing the charts of those races I noted Talk Veuve to Me made the lead with a quarter mile to go and although second was beaten by the Kentucky Oaks winner and four clear of the next horse. In the Manhattan, Manitoulin lost a three horse photo by two necks at 30/1 and Fashion Business was another neck back at 43 to 1 and in the Honeymoon Stakes at Santa Anita, Animosity went to post at 10/1 and led with a quarter mile to go then settled for second. In the Belmont, I was wrong taking a shot against Justify but I'd do it again over and over with an odds-on favorite. Good Luck today!

    Ginger Punch Stakes – Race 5 at Gulfstream Park- Post Time 2:47 PM Eastern

    Madame Uno opens at 6 to 5 odds here based on three wins in a row including a similar stakes race following joining the Fawkes barn in January. However, she had no excuse for a 6th of 11 finish following that and then she went on the bench for nearly two months. On the other hand, she was beaten just three lengths and that last race has turned out to be a key race from which the 2nd and 3rd finishers returned to finish 2nd and 1st, respectively, in another stakes race. On the other, other, hand, Madame Uno earned both the wins leading from start to finish and was 2nd early in the other and she wears blinkers to will be in front early or up close to what may be a HOT early pace because from the seven post Magalie has to go as that's the only way she can win.

    The better value lies with a trio of other runners and a longshot. Admiral's Win won three back the last time he faced Florida breds only as he's doing here and that effort earned a 99 figure as good as the 101 Madame Uno earned in her statebred stakes win in March. Batista was up for her last three wins and this mare has good tactical speed and the rail so I expect her to be third to fifth early and finding a seam late for the win.

    Bitacora and Princess Victoria both come from the strong Walder barn and although Princess Victoria opens at the much better odds (15/1) so must be used on exacta tickets, Bitacora is the one with a higher probability to win. She was three-quarters of a length behind Admiral's Win in that 2/14 race I think is similar to this race and she won her most recent start with Gaffalione up as today. She also finished 2nd , beaten a half-length, in last year's running of this race. It must be noted, however, she has nearly twice as many 2nd place finishes (7) as wins (4) in her career.

    Warranty opens at 3/1 and deserves a lot of respect having won three straight on turf, the last two at Gulfstream. Privately purchased since her last win on 1/21, and with her last race 102 Equibase figure one of the top in the field, she may not be a great win bet compared to others but must be used on any tickets we play.

    Win Bets: Admiral's Win to win at 3 to 1 or more

    For smaller amounts, Bitacora at 7 to 2 or more, Warranty at 7 to 2 or more.

    I was going to skip a win bet on Princess Victoria but as she opens at 15/1 and is running first off the Walder claim we might end up kicking ourselves if we didn't bet a few dollars to win and place.

    Exacta Bets: Admiral's Win and Warranty over Admiral's Win, Madame Uno, Bitacora, Warranty, Princess Victoria and Magalie.

    Exacta Bets: Bitacora over Admiral's Win, Madame Uno, Warranty, Princess Victoria and Magalie and ALSO the opposite, which is Admiral's Win, Madame Uno, Warranty, Princess Victoria and Magalie over Bitacora.

    Obeah Stakes – Race 7 at Delaware Park - Post Time 4:15 PM Eastern

    Mannerly is unlikely to go to post anywhere near her 10/1 starting odds as she was 5 to 2 last time out in a tough allowance field at Keeneland, but she is still likely to go to post well above odds that make sense given her high probability to win. The filly is 2 for 4 on turf and 2 for 5 on dirt and if you take out the three sprints that started her career and look at routes only she is 2 for 4 on turf and 2 for 3 on dirt. With very consistent 99, 98 and 96 Equibase figures in her last three victories, with a good off the pace running style, with veteran Pino riding and coming back off a short rest while having earned three of her four wins off similar short rests, she could take some beating.

    A Place to Shine is another opening at 10/1 with a much higher chance of success than is suggested by those odds. Second in her most recent start on 5/12 off a five month layoff, in a stakes and with a career best 97 figure, A Place to Shine has a lot of upside here and is very consistent to boot with nine first or second place finishes from 15 career main track starts. She put in a splendid half-mile drill coming into the race which was the 2nd best of 68 so she's ready to run big.

    Power of Snunner drops in class having faced much tougher in the Grade 3 DuPont Distaff on Preakness weekend. She won this race last year on an IDENTICAL pattern and has shown she can snap back to winning form previously. Fuhriously Kissed and Teresa Z have small chances to be part of the exacta so we'll include them.

    Win Bets: Mannerly to win at odds of 5/2 or more.

    Add a win bet on A Place to Shine and on Power of Snunner at odds of 7 to 2 of more.

    To bet more than one horse to win, use a DUTCHING TOOL like the one available for free at Amwager as it helps allocate your win bets in the most efficient manner possible.

    Exacta Bets: Mannerly, A Place to Shine and Power of Snunner over Mannerly, A Place to Shine, Power of Snunner, Fuhriously Kissed and Teresa Z.

    You can consider playing the opposite of that exacta as well, but for a smaller amount. The reason for doing this is not only coverage but we win twice if the exacta consists of two of the top three picks.

    Dancing Renee Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:50 PM Eastern

    Still There is a standout in my opinion here and opening at 4 to 1 with Holiday Disguise opening at 6 to 5 and likely to go to post as the prohibitive favorite, this is an opportunity a low odds overlay. Still There is a perfect two-for-two in her career and won about as easily as a horse can win last month (5/27) over the track, she was 7 1/2 lengths in front and geared down about 70 yards from the wire. That win came in a 10 horse field of NY Breds and these are no tougher plus she's improving and Cohen rides her right back after getting along with her sensationally last time out. Kobiskie wins nearly 33% of the time back to back, about the same as Rice, who trains favorite Holiday Disguise, and the only reason Still There opens at 4/1 is the perception of a class edge on the part of Holiday Disguise, who has won four stakes races but who is NO faster (best figure 105) than the improving Still There.

    Win Bets: Still There at 3 to 2 or higher, a true KEY BET on the day.

    Exacta Bets: Box Still There and Holiday Disguise the most times, then also box Still There and Absatootly, Still There and Cozzy Spring and Still There and Picco Uno.

    Race 10 at Woodbine - Post Time 6 PM Eastern

    Dakota Diva is a STANDOUT play in this maiden field. She debuted last August in a turf sprint at Laurel and rallied from 10th to 5th after breaking slowly then in her 2nd start in one of those deep maiden races at Kentucky Downs (with a $135K purse) she finished fast again, from 10th to 3rd. given the fall and winter off to grow up, Dakota Diva returned on 5/25 at a mile, off an eight and one-half month layoff, which is a very tough task even though the one mile turf trip at Woodbine is a one-turn race. She was well regarded at 5/1 in a 12 horse field and broke 6th of 12, was in contention only a length and one-half from the lead with a quarter mile to go, then through no fault of her own or her jockey completely lost any path she might have had until too late. It was a HORRIBLE trip and still near the wire when she did get a chance to stretch her legs she closed for third and galloped out on top on the turn. Likely to improve a TON 2nd off the layoff and with a HUGE clean run on the outside in this one-turn mile and one-eighth trip she's bred to adore as she's by Cape Blanco out of a Cozzene mare, we can expect a ton of improvement. As she may get lost in the shuffle in this 11 horse field, we may get decent odds to boot.

     

    Ambitious Moon finished from 8th to 2n in that same race, her 3rd career start, 2nd on turf and 2nd off a layoff. She got within a head of the leader with an 8th of a mile to go and although she did not go on she was game to the wire. With first time Lasix and also with a good outside post, she should run as well or better.

     

    Love Thy Kitten (2n in her last start, on turf), Via Ann (4th in the common race with Dakota Diva after making the lead with an 8th of a mile to go) and Show Girl (2nd in her last start) all should be used on exotic tickets played.

     

    Win Bets: Dakota Diva to win at 2/1 with a place bet added at 4 to 1 or more, a true KEY BET on the day.

    Make a second win bet, on Ambitious Moon, at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

    Exacta Bets: Dakota Diva over Ambitious Moon, Love Thy Kitten, Via Ann and Show Girl.

    Play the exact opposite of that bet as well, which is Ambitious Moon, Love Thy Kitten, Via Ann and Show Girl over Dakota Diva.

    $0.20 Trifecta: Dakota Diva over Ambitious Moon, Love Thy Kitten, Via Ann and Show Girl over ALL.

    Then also, Ambitious Moon, Love Thy Kitten, Via Ann and Show Girl over Dakota Diva over ALL.

    Read more...
  • 08
    JUN

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 9

    Acorn Stakes – Race 4 at Belmont Park - Post Time 1:24 PM Eastern

    Talk Veuve to Me doesn't have Mia Mischief to hold her off in the stretch this time as happened last month in the Eight Belles Stakes, but this filly who is making ONLY the 4th start of her career and 2nd of the year following 7 months off has a lot of upside out of that race. She earned a 103 figure in her 3 year old debut then 107 in the Eight Belles and those numbers match up with the figures Monomoy Girl earned in the Rachel Alexandra and Ashland Stakes before a freakishly good 114 figure in the Kentucky Oaks. With Talk Veuve to Me likely to run even better in her 3rd start off the rest I think she can put in an effort good enough to beat Monomoy Girl, who I have a lot of respect for but don't want to bet her to win as the odds on favorite instead of getting 9/2 which is the morning line on Talk Veuve to Me.

     

    Monomoy Girl needs no talking up, because if not for the neck defeat in the Golden Rod Stakes last fall she'd be undefeated in seven starts. She MUST be considered a win contender for exactas and multi-race wagers at the least.

     

    Spectator won the first two starts of her career last summer like a good thing in California including the G2 Sorrento Stakes then finished 3rd in the Del Mar Debutante. Given time off to mature and grow up she returned in March and won a sprint prep then stretched out to a mile and one-sixteenth around two turns and although no match for Midnight Bisou in the Santa Anita Oaks she was clearly second. She's been working regularly and her comeback win earned her a 108 figure on part with the other two so opening at 8/1 I have no issue betting her to win in addition to Talk Veuve to Me.

     

    Win Bets: Talk Veuve to Me to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

    Make a second win bet, on Spectator, at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

    Exacta Bets: Box Talk Veuve to Me, Monomoy Girl and Spectator

    Manhattan Stakes – Race 10 at Belmont - Post Time 5:40 PM Eastern

    After a few minutes of looking at the entrants in this race, I quickly came to the conclusion that with a few exceptions nearly every horse in the field can win. Even those that have a small probability to win can finish second. Because this is a "Chaos" race where nearly anything can happen, I starting to ask "Why Not?" regarding the contenders, starting with those at the highest odds, rather than "Why?" The result was finding two horses at high odds I could not make a strong case against.

     

    Those two are Manitoulin and Fashion Business.

     

    Manitoulin has won 5 of 15 turf races and nearly $400K. He won the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup in his last start as a four year old this past November, with Mike Smith in the saddle for the very first time. He was 1 for 11 before being gelded and 3 for 5 after being gelded last year. He returned to the races in May off a five and one-half month layoff, beaten three lengths while 6th of 9 in the Fort Marcy, won by Robert Bruce, with Spring Quality second. Smith did not ride in the comeback but gets back on and that is the key, as the comeback was just that, a comeback. Today is the big shot and trainer Toner wants the jockey that got the horse to run his absolute best, which he did because in the Turf Cup Manitoulin earned a 116 Equibase figures which is about as good as any horse in the field, most who open at much lower odds than 20/1 as he does.

     

    Fashion Business opens at even higher odds, 30/1, and that makes a bit more sense as the gelding has never won a stakes. He did miss by a head last summer in the G3 La Jolla Stakes before a 5th place finish in the Del Mar Derby and 8 months off. Coming back last month at a mile, Fashion Business rallied fast from 8th to draw off with a career best 111 figure effort. Likely to improve a ton 2nd off the layoff, the gelding is a 4 year old son of world class sire Frankel and he does have a win at 10 furlongs, the 2nd start of his career, back in January 2017, so I think he is going to surprise a LOT of people with how well he runs.

     

    Robert Bruce, One Go All Go, Hi Happy, #8 Sadler's Joy, Channel Maker, Beach Patrol, #12 Multiplier & Spring Quality all have a shot to succeed and should be used on multiple race bets like the double, pick 3 and pick 4.

     

    Win Bets: Win & Place bets on Manitoulin at 4 to 1 or more and on Fashion Business at 5 to 1 or more.

    Exacta Bets: Manitoulin and Fashion Business over ALL

    Then the opposite exacta as well, which is ALL over Manitoulin and Fashion Business.

    Doubles: Manitoulin and Fashion Business in Race 10 with ALL in Race 11

    Then also ALL in race 10 with Hofburg in Race 11

    For a smaller amount, also play ALL in race 10 with Blended Citizen and Vino Rosso in Race 11.

    Honeymoon Stakes – Race 8 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern/ 3:30 Pacific

    Animosity was entered in this race as well as the Grade 3 Wonder Again Stakes on Friday at Belmont, which ended up being won by an up and coming star in La Signare, whose name we should remember. It was a good decision on the part of owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and trainer Gallagher, as this field isn't nearly as strong as the Wonder Again. A perfect 2-for-2 in her career, this daughter of Animal Kingdom won her debut sprinting on turf in March then stretched out to two turns on all-weather at Golden Gate to romp easily. She won the debut off the pace and led from finish on slow fractions in her 2nd start. She's improving fast, is very talented, and can post the slight upset here opening at 6/1.

    Animosity's main competition will come in the form of Fatale Bere, winner of the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes when last seen two months ago. She had won the Surfer Girl Stakes in her U.S. debut last October then finished a creditable 5th of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. After a really poor effort in the Jimmy Durante Stakes she took four and one-half months off and won the Providencia, no easy task. She put in a pair of strong half-mile workouts since the race so appears to be holding top form.

    Ms Peintour, like Animosity, was a strong winner at the first allowance condition in her most recent race, earning a 95 Equibase figure on par with the 97 Animosity earned in her last win. Flattered when the runner-up improved to win her next start, Ms Peintour is the other horse in the field with a reasonable chance to win.

    For second on some exacta tickets we should also use Miss Sienna, who makes her U.S. debut and may be on the lead early or just off the pace as that is how she ran her last two races, and Paved, a bit vulnerable as one of the morning line favorites off a non-threatening third place finish in the Providencia behind Fatale Bere with no excuse as the 7 to 5 favorite.

    Win Bets: Animosity to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.

    Exacta Bets: Animosity, Ms Peintour and Fatale Bere over Animosity, Ms Peintour, Fatale Bere, Miss Sienna and Paved

    Belmont Stakes – Race 11 at Belmont Park - Post Time 6:46 PM Eastern

    In the Kentucky Derby and when confronted by traffic and trouble he had never encountered previously, Hofburg ran creditably, rallying from 16th to seventh in spite of being bumped at the start, steadied in traffic off another horse's heels, steadied again and forced to alter his path. Since then Hofburg has been training in the quiet surroundings at Saratoga and should improve off his Florida Derby effort and 107 figure, which compares to the 108 to 110 figures Justify has earned 108 to 110 figures in his last three races. Considering how many fewer horses Hofburg will have to deal with and considering as it will not take much improvement on the part of Hofburg to run well enough to win the Belmont, he's my top choice. Additionally, any concerns about being able to successfully run the mile and one-half distance of the Belmont can quickly be put to rest looking at Hofburg's pedigree and connections. Trainer Mott won the 2010 Belmont with Drosselmeyer while sons of his sire, Tapit - Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016) and Tapwrit (2017), won three of the last four editions of the race. Belmont Stakes winners in his pedigree do not stop there, as the sire of Hofburg's dam Soothing Touch is Touch Gold, who won the race in 1997. With 10 fewer horses to deal with in the Belmont compared to the Derby and with likely improvement off his Florida Derby effort, Hofburg is my pick to win this year's Belmont Stakes.

    Vino Rosso finished ninth in the Derby, skipped the Preakness, and is another poised to improve on his effort prior to the Derby, in this case when winning the Wood Memorial with a career-best 106 figure. In the Derby, Vino Rosso broke last in the field of 20 at the start but ended up ninth, so with 10 fewer horses to pass in the Belmont he should run much better. Taking a few weeks off after the Derby, Vino Rosso returned to trainer Todd Pletcher's home base in New York and put in a sparkling half-mile workout that was the best of 36 on the day to show he is in top form. In terms of pedigree, there is little doubt Vino Rosso can successfully run a mile and one-half. As a son of Curlin, whose son Palace Malice won the Belmont in 2013 (for Pletcher), and out of a mare whose sire is Tapit, Vino Rosso should have the stamina to contest the marathon distance without issue and therefore he is a strong candidate to run well enough to win.

    Blended Citizen may not have the breeding for the 12 furlong Belmont trip others have but has a good number of factors in favor of running well. Since adding blinkers prior to the Jeff Ruby Steaks in March, Blended Citizen has won two of three races, including the Peter Pan Stakes four weeks ago with a career-best 110 figure that is as good as the best figure Justify has earned to date. Since shipping to Belmont Park a few weeks ago, Blended Citizen showed a strong liking for the surface with a half-mile workout that was the best of 35 on the day. Furthermore, in recent history horses coming back from running in the stakes race for three-year-olds at Belmont in the first 10 days of May have done well one month later. In 2010, that race was the Dwyer Stakes which was won by eventual Belmont winner Drosselmeyer (trained by Hofburg's trainer Bill Mott). In 2014 that race was the Peter Pan Stakes, won by eventual Belmont winner Tonalist. In the Peter Pan, Blended Citizen showed he could race much closer to the early pace than previously thought as he was under two lengths from the leader from just after the start until a quarter mile to run. Although three lengths back with an eighth of a mile to go, Blended Citizen put in a strong late run to draw off late and that running style could serve him very well in the Belmont Stakes if he races in third or fourth in the early stages.

    Anytime a horse is undefeated that is a reason to respect them as it shows not only physical talent but mental toughness and an alpha quality as well. Justify has demonstrated all that and then some in winning all five of his races to date and within a span of 13 weeks. After earning a career-best 110 figure in the Derby, Justify only slightly regressed with a 109 figure effort in the Preakness on a rain-soaked track but in that race he did show evidence of racing a lot in a short period of time as Bravazo was gaining with every stride in the final yards, the word "lasted" in the chart callers comment very apropos to the end of the race. Since the Preakness, Justify put in a very fast half-mile workout that was the best of 43 on the day so evidently he is still in top shape, but running the mile and one-half of the Belmont is a whole different matter compared to the Derby and to the Preakness. The good news for Justify's chances of winning the Belmont and the Triple Crown is he may be able to dictate the tempo in the race as it is likely jockey Mike Smith will use the colt's early speed to be in front at the start or at the least, in second shortly after the gate opens. Additionally, trainer Bob Baffert is a master at getting a horse to hold his form as a query from Stats Race Lens yields a remarkable record of 43 for 93 for Baffert in dirt route races over the last few years when his horse won its previous start. On the other hand, I can find little in Justify's pedigree similar to the pedigree of either Hofburg or Vino Rosso in terms of siblings, sires or other relatives who have run well at the distance of the Belmont. Horses have won the Belmont in the past on raw talent alone and that may be the case with Justify, who I will be rooting for in my heart but betting against with my money.

    Bravazo raced fairly close up when third in the early stages of the Preakness then dropped back to fifth on the turn, giving every indication he had nothing left to offer. Maybe it was the mud in his face or some other factor that caused him to lose interest or momentum, but with a sixteenth of a mile to go, Bravazo found new life and energy, surging in the final yards to miss by a half-length. As I had explained in my Preakness analysis, with 12 fewer horses in the Preakness compared to the Derby, I felt Bravazo would rebound to the form shown when winning the Risen Star Stakes in February with a career-best 110 figure and he nearly did, earning a 108 figure. Since the Preakness, four-time Belmont winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas put Bravazo through a mile workout in preparation for the race, knowing if nothing else he wanted the colt to have the stamina to contest the mile and one-half. Likely to be fairly close up to the early pacesetters in the Belmont, Bravazo should be putting in a strong late run just as others are feeling the effects of running a distance they have never run previously and that gives the colt a square shot at posting the upset win.

    Tenfold, like Hofburg, has only run four times. His best effort came three weeks ago when rallying for third in the Preakness to earn a career-best 108 figure. As a son of Curlin, who not only sired 2013 Belmont winner Palace Malice but also 2017 Belmont runner-up Irish War Cry and 2016 Rags to Riches Invitational Stakes winner Theogony, and as a grandson of Tapit, there is little doubt Tenfold has the breeding to run well at the distance. There certainly is room to improve off his Preakness effort so on that count Tenfold must be considered a contender. On the other hand, with the exception of American Pharoah, recent Preakness runners who have run in the Belmont haven't fared that well, most notably 2014 Preakness winner California Chrome (fourth) and 2013 winner Oxbow (second). It just could be coming back on three weeks rest is too much to ask a young horse, but then again Tenfold could have gas left in the tank as he only ran three times prior to the Preakness and if that is the case he could certainly be in the hunt in the final stages of the Belmont.

    Win Bets: Hofburg to win at 3 to 1 or more.

    For a smaller amount, Blended Citizen and Vino Rosso at 5 to 1 or more.

    Just to complete the contenders and the minimum odds I would consider a win bet – Bravazo 7 to 1, Tenfold 9/1.

    Justify is a win contender but his likely prohibitive odds make him a poor win bet.

     

    The strategy for exactas is mostly "go big or go home" so the tickets will be constructed to exclude Justify in the win position. However, for ANY multi-race bets started in earlier races he must be used because pick 3, 4 and similar tickets demand a different strategy.

    Exacta Bets: Box Hofburg, Vino Rosso, Blended Citizen, Bravazo and Tenfold.

    Also play Hofburg, Vino Rosso and Blended Citizen over Justify, Hofburg, Vino Rosso, Blended Citizen, Bravazo and Tenfold.

    Read more...
  • 01
    JUN

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 2

    Pennine Ridge Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:50 PM Eastern

    Analyze It may be unbeaten but he opens at 4/5 odds. It's not that he can't win as he certainly fits all the criteria as he's a dual grade 3 stakes winner on grass and his average margin of victory in three races is five lengths. Just the same, he's only run three times and there's another horse in the race as good as he is AND more important as probable to win as he is and that horse is Untamed Domain, who opens at 5/1. Untamed Domain won the G2 Summer Stakes last September before a bang-up 2nd behind Mendelssohn in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Given three months off he disappointed when third in the Dania Beach and then when he otherwise would absolutely would have improved if kept on turf, the connections thought to put him on the Derby trail and try dirt for the first time in the Tampa Bay Derby, where he finished 6th. Blinkers came off for the American Turf Stakes last month and he ran HUGE, rallying from 8th at the top of the stretch to get 2nd (in a dead heat) while winner Maraud (who runs today in the Penn Mile) was already in high gear. The 110 Equibase figure Untamed Domain earned in the American Turf is likely to be improved upon today in his 2nd start without blinkers and he has every right to win and post the mild upset because of that.

    Analyze It ran off a four and one-half month layoff in April as if he had never been away, capturing the G3 Transylvania Stakes the same way he took the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes in November. With 108, 109 and 111 figure in his three starts to date and never giving any horse a shot to catch him in the last 8th of a mile in any of those 3 races, Analyze It must be considered a win contender, but not a GOOD win bet as the odds-on favorite.

    Hawkish is also entered in the Penn Mile and I hope he goes there because that is an easier spot. He's improved in every start and his allowance win when last seen on 4/15 earned a 105 figure good enough to be competitive if improved upon as it likely will be. The horse we MUST use for profit in exotics at the least, and for a small win bet so we don't end up kicking ourselves later is Channel Cat. Opening at a healthy 20/1, the colt ran BETTER THAN IT APPEARS when 6th in the American Turf (won by Maraud with Untamed Domain in a dead head for 2rd). In the race, Channel Cat got pinched at the start and began 12th of 13 and was still 10th at the top of the stretch but made up good ground very late to end up 6th. With ONLY seven other horses in this field, Channel Cat is likely to be closer up early, more like he was right before that when putting in a nice win on the turf with a 98 figure and the figure he earned in the American Turf, 105, was the same figure Hawkish earned so at the least Channel Cat has about the same probability to win as that one.

    We will include Catholic Boy in the 2nd position on exact tickets as he moves back to turf, where he won the With Anticipation Stakes last summer at Saratoga in only the 2nd start of his career. He was flat when last seen in the Florida Derby and may need one race to get back to form good enough to win but he could hit the board.

    Bets:

    Untamed Domain to win at 2 to 1 or more as a true KEY BET on the day.

    Channel Cat to win and place at 5 to 1 or more. (For a much smaller amount than on Untamed Domain).

    IF Hawkish should run here rather than the Penn Mile, he is worth considering for a win bet at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

    Exactas:

    Untamed Domain over Hawkish. Catholic Boy, Analyze It and Channel Cat

    Hawkish, Catholic Boy, Analyze It and Channel Cat over Untamed Domain

    Untamed Domain over ALL then also (the opposite) ALL over Untamed Domain

    Hawkish, Analyze It and Untamed Domain over Hawkish, Analyze It, Untamed Domain, Catholic Boy and Channel Cat

    Snow Chief Stakes – Race 7 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern/3:30 PM Pacific

    Huddle added blinkers for his last start, the 3rd of his career and 2nd turf route, and he blazed along on the lead through fractions of 22.6 and 46.2 on the way to a wire-to-wire win. Not only will the competition be tougher in this stakes race, there are two, possibly three, other horses that may want the lead early, and even if left alone on the front end, a 46.2 half-mile split is really going to set up the late kick of a couple of runners here, most notably Hardboot, who just WON a very similar stakes race for California bred horses. In that race, the Silky Sullivan Stakes at Golden Gate, Hardboot rallied from last of 10 and was still seventh with a quarter mile to go before circling the field to win going away. He had run similarly well last November at Del Mar in the 2nd start of his career and first turf route when breaking his maiden. With a career best 103 Equibase figure (that's the 2nd best last race figure in the field) to improve upon, Hardboot is going to be very tough to keep from passing them all once more.

    Waya Ed tried turf for the first time when last seen on 4/15 over the track and ended up 3rd after leading from the start. He led on slow fractions and does not wear blinkers and so it may have been the case of no other horse wanting the lead. He had been off for 3 months prior and in his last start since, his 2nd career start and first route, on the all-weather at Golden Gate, Waya Ed rallied from just off the pace so as he's NOT a need-the-lead type as it appears others in here are he could get a ground saving trip and run very well at odds too high to ignore.

    Take the One O One is the stablemate of Waya Ed, owned by Jay Em Ess Stable and trained by Brian Koriner. He led from the start in his most recent race, on the main track, before settling for 3rd, and it doesn't appear he has the ability to relax in the early stages so he could be tired late BUT two of his last 3 efforts resulted in 104 and 106 figures that are the best in the field and so I will use him on exotic tickets played but will prefer either or both of the other two contenders for win bets.

    Bets:

    Hardboot to win at 2 to 1 or more

    Waya Ed to win at 3 to 1 or more.

    The best way to insure a profit betting two horses to win is to use a "Dutching" tool like the one at Amwager which helps allocate your total bankroll for optimal profit.

    Exactas:

    Box Hardboot, Waya Ed and Take the One O One

    Box Hardboot and Waya Ed again

    Pick 3: (two tickets)

    Race 7 - Hardboot, Waya Ed and Take the One O One

    Race 8 - Lemon Crush, Z Z Tiger, Paprika and Rocketann

    Race 9 – Mopotism, La Force, Vale Dori and Unique Bella

    Race 7 – Hardboot and Waya Ed

    Race 8 – Lemon Crush, Z Z Tiger, Paprika and Rocketann

    Race 9 – Mopotism, La Force and Unique Bella

    Beholder Mile – Race 9 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern/ 4:30 Pacific

    Mopotism wheels back on six days rest off a last of 7 finish in the Gamely Stakes last weekend when trying turf for the first time. Trainer O'Neill is tossing the effort and so can we. O'Neill knows his horses and has a pretty strong record of 9 for 45 bringing horse back on a 5-10 day rest over the last few years, with a 31% flat bet profit and with 50% of the 45 horses hitting the board. Considering Mopotism opens at 20/1 in spite of having won the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes over the course in January with a 114 Equibase figure that stacks up EXCEEDINGLY well with heavy favorite Unique Bella's best efforts (with one exception), Mopotism could be a KEY longshot bet on the day.

    We must also note that Vale Dori, who opens at 2/1, finished 2nd in this race last year off a win in the Adoration, the Santa Margarita, the Santa Maria and the La Canada. Mopotism won the La Canada, finished 2nd (to Unique Bella) in the Santa Maria and finished third in the Santa Margarita before the irrelevant try in the Gamely. That's pretty much the same pattern and similar form which gives us more reasons to believe Mopotism has a big shot.

    Unique Bella has no knocks except for being the odds-on favorite. She was beaten when 2nd at 1 to 5 in the Apple Blossom when last seen but other than that, and her inexplicably bad effort in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last fall, she's tough as nails and could take some beating. Just the same, her two-turn wins, except in the Santa Maria in February (128 figure) have been good but not exceptional, with 112, 112 and 100 figures, so she's not unbeatable.

    La Force is the horse to use on any and all exotic and multi-race tickets played, and to make a small win/place bet on so we're not kicking ourselves later. Beaten inches by Mopotism when third in the La Canada, the filly should improve off a 4th place finish last month in the Adoration Stakes after two months off and if she can run back to her La Canada effort with a 113 figure, she could be in the picture at the end.

    Except for one pick 3 ticket, I'm taking a stand against Vale Dori, who ran poorly with no excuse at 8/5 in the Adoration Stakes last month, her first start following 9 months off. I just can't imagine her improving enough to beat either Mopotism or Unique Bella. As for Paradise Woods, she's highly suspect as the 2/1 second favorite on the morning line as she didn't show a thing when fourth in the Santa Monica Stakes in March, her first start off three months off. She's going to be fresh and have the lead early but not to herself as Vale Dori and Unique Bella will be right there from the start. We don't make money in the long term using two favorites in the exotics so I'm leaving Paradise Woods off my exacta tickets, except one with La Force because that one opens at 20/1.

    Bets:

    Mopotism to win and to place at 3 to 1 or more

    Consider a small win and place bet on La Force at 6 to 1 or more

    Exactas: Mopotism over ALL and (the opposite) ALL over Mopotism

    Box Mopotism and Unique Bella

    Penn Mile Stakes – Race 9 at Penn National - Post Time 7:45 PM Eastern

    Encumbered makes his first start since finishing 13th of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last fall and although it may be tough to return off a seven month layoff and run well enough to win a graded stakes race like the Penn Mile, I believe this colt can do just that. In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Encumbered broke well to secure a good spot in third shortly after the start and held that position just outside eventual winner Mendelssohn before tiring with less than a quarter mile to go. Ignoring his poor try on dirt prior to that against Bolt d'Oro in the Frontrunner Stakes, Encumbered proved himself at the level, winning the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes in September after breaking his maiden in his first turf route. Those two efforts earned 98 and 97 Equibase Figures, respectively, which are better than any of the figures likely favorite Maraud earned during his two year old campaign. Working like clockwork since his return to the track in April, Encumbered also may have the benefit of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf being a "KEY RACE" as six of the other 12 horses won their next starts, four of those in either March or April and off long layoffs like the one Encumbered is returning from. Trainer Callaghan has also shown the ability to get horses to win running turf routes off long layoffs, having done so a couple of times in the past two years, with one of those having come off a layoff to win a stakes race. Much more physically mature than when last seen in the fall, Encumbered may be tough to beat in this year's Penn Mile Stakes.

    It must be noted Hawkish is also entered to run in the Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont the same day as the Penn Mile but if trainer Toner chooses this race, the horse must be taken very seriously. Sent to post at 3 to 1 odds in the Palm Beach Stakes in March, only the second start of his career, Hawkish finished fourth of seven and three lengths behind Maraud, who was sent to post at just slightly lower odds of 5 to 2. Given six weeks off, Hawkish returned on April 15 to dominate a field of seven at this mile trip on turf, winning in a hand ride by nearly five lengths to earn a career-best 105 figure, as good as Maraud earned winning the Palm Beach. The race Hawkish won in April turned out to be a "KEY RACE" as well, with both the runner-up and fourth finishers flattering the horse by winning their next starts. With perhaps the best closing kick in the field (22.4 for the last quarter mile in his most recent race), Hawkish is definitely a contender in this race.

    Maraud has won three of four races this year including two stakes races. He won the Palm Beach in March with a 105 figure before a poor fifth place effort in the Transylvania Stakes in April. Maraud redeemed himself last month with a strong win in the American Turf Stakes with a career-best, and field high, 113 figure. That type of effort can win the Penn Mile if repeated and if none of the others improve but he is likely to the prohibitive favorite and as such may not offer good return potential for win bets.

    Bets:

    Encumbered to win at 2 to 1 or more.

    A second win bet, this one on Hawkish, appears warranted at 5 to 2 or higher.

    Exactas:

    Box Encumbered, Hawkish and Maraud

    Read more...
  • 26
    MAY

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, May 26

    Gold Cup at Santa Anita – Race 5 at Santa Anita - Post Time 5:30 PM Eastern/ 2:30 Pacific

    Pavel can post the mild upset opening at 5/1.Rested a couple of months and back on Lasix off a 4th of 10 finish in the Dubai World Cup, the newly turned four year old may appear to be no match for either Accelerate or for City of Light, the former having beaten him (when he finished 4th) in the San Pasqual Stakes over the track in February and the latter having beaten him (when fourth as well) in the Malibu Stakes in December. HOWEVER, in the first he was prepping for longer as he isn't really a sprinter and in the latter he had HORRIBLE traffic trouble that cost him dearly as he as stopped not once, but twice. When finally clear, much too late, he finished up nicely. Last summer after a strong win in the Smarty Jones Stakes, Pavel faced older for the first time and gave multi-millionaire Keen Ice all he could handle fighting for 2nd in the Jockey Club Gold Cup as the winner easily controlled things on the front end from start to finish. That effort earned him a 117 figure and his troubled San Pasqual effort a 113 figure but Accelerate earned a 120 figure which is what Pavel is capable of with his best effort here.

    Prince of Arabia finished 2nd to runaway seven length winner Dr. Dorr last month in the Californian and with Dr. Dorr opening at 5 to 2 compared to 12 to 1for Prince of Arabia, the latter is very playable. Not only that but before that race, Prince of Arabia won a highly rated dirt route, beating Soi Phet in the process, that one winning the Crystal Water Stakes on Sunday and paying $96 to win. Now having shown he can run just fine on dirt, and with the ability to rally from far back or lay close to the pace, Prince of Arabia must be given consideration as a contender here anywhere near his double digit starting odds.

    Accelerate has no real knocks as he's as tough as they come, having finished first or second in 11 of 18 races. On the other hand he has nearly as many second place finishes (5) as wins (6) in his career, including a loss last month by a nose at low odds in the Oaklawn Handicap. City of Light won the Oaklawn Handicap but tries 10 furlongs for the first time. He has never finished worse than 2nd in seven races but his 9/5 odds are too low for a win bet and also appear out of line with his true probability to win given the fact he lacks experience at the trip and others don't. Dr. Dorr sports the same comment at Accelerate as he's never run 10 furlongs. His last two efforts were the best of his career but again the low morning line odds of 5/2 make him tough to consider for a win bet.

    Bets:

    Pavel to win at 2 to 1 or more.

    Prince of Arabia to win at 7 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher, and for a smaller amount than the win bet on Pavel.

    Exactas:

    Pavel over Accelerate, Prince of Arabia, City of Light and Dr. Dorr.

    Prince of Arabia over Pavel, Accelerate, City of Light and Dr. Dorr for a smaller amount than the exactas with Pavel on top.

    Pavel, Accelerate, City of Light and Dr. Dorr over Prince of Arabia for a smaller amount than the exactas with Pavel on top.

    Doubles: Pavel and Prince of Arabia in race 5 with Flaboyant, Itsinthepost, Ritzy A.P. and Syntax in race 6.

    Pavel, Accelerate, City of Light, Dr. Dorr and Prince of Arabia in race 5 with Syntax in race 6.

    Pavel in race 5 with Flaboyant, Itsinthepost, Ritzy A.P. and Syntax in race 6.

     

    Salvatore Mile Stakes  – Race 11 at Monmouth - Post Time 5:58 PM Eastern

    Sunny Ridge should really love the sizzling hot pace set by very likely early leader Shaft of Light, who is stretching out off a pair of wire-to-wire sprint wins. The last time he ran two-turns, Shaft of Light opened up fast while running the opening quarter of 22.8 and the opening half in 46.4, fractions way to fast to have any energy in the late stages. With Chip Leader also a horse that likes to have the lead from the start, although not as fast, the early pace should be hot and allow Sunny Ridge to repeat his closing wins last January (2017) and March in the Jazil Stakes and in the Stymie Stakes, particularly as this is his 2nd start back off a 10 month layoff and off a fine 2nd place finish last month.

    Great Stuff stretches out as well but is NOT a need-the-lead type, having rallied for his last two wins. Bravo gets on for Jacobson and as the horse is a graded stakes winner, having won the Toboggan Stakes in January, he fits on all counts at this grade 3 stakes level.

    I won't play exactas here but we should play doubles with race 12, the Monmouth Stakes. On some of those double tickets we can also use Shaft of Light in this race because we have horses in race 12 that may offer value as we are taking a stand against the likely favorite.

    Bets: Sunny Ridge to win at 9 to 5 of higher.

    Great Stuff to win at 3 to 1 or more.

    Doubles: Sunny Ridge, Great Stuff and Shaft of Light in race 11 with Projected, Force the Pass and Doctor Mounty in race 12.

    Monmouth Stakes  – Race 12 at Monmouth - Post Time 6:29 PM Eastern

    Doctor Mounty was scratched out of the off-turf Dixie Stakes (as was Divisidero) last weekend at Pimlico and he's a lightly raced horse who has run very well in his few turf races, winning two of his last four excluding the Tampa Bay Stakes in February when he fell. Returning two months later in the Clark Stakes o 4/21, Doctor Mounty rallied fast from 8th to 2nd and appears all set to run back to his win on 1/14 on the grass, the only time Gallardo rode him previously. Hall-of-Fame trainer McGaughey uses Gallardo occasionally but when they team up they are 5 for 10 in the past year which says a lot about the chances for Doctor Mounty to post the upset here, opening at 8/1.

    Force the Pass had been away from the races for a hefty 20 months when returning on May 5 in the Cliff Hanger Stakes on this turf course. Running as if he had never been away, Force the Pass won by a nose with a huge effort. Before the layoff he earned over $1 million on the turf including a win in the 2015 Grade 1 Belmont Derby and as he's likely to run even better 2nd off the layoff than earlier this month he must be considered strongly as a contender.

    Projected missed by a neck around this time last year in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes, following a runner-up finish to World Approval in the 2017 Dixie, with World Approval having won the Breeders' Cup Mile last fall. Rested after winning the Grade 2 Baltimore-Washington Turf Cup in September, Projected returned in April and ran very well when finishing fast from 9th to 2ndbehind Fire Away in the Danger's Hour Stakes, that one winning the off-turf Dixie last weekend. As such, Projected is another likely to improve 2nd off the layoff and rounds out a strong trio of contenders in this race.

    Bets:

    Since all three contenders - Doctor Mounty, Force the Pass and Projected, have a strong probability to win, the best way to bet for profit is to bet the TWO of the THREE at the highest odds, perhaps all three, at odds of 5 to 2 or more. When betting more than one horse to win in a race it is best to use a "Dutching" tool like the one at Amwager, which helps allocate your bankroll for the best return.

     

    Gamely Stakes  – Race 8 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7 PM Eastern/ 4PM Pacific

    Although having never run on the grass, Mopotism is my top choice to win this year's Gamely Stakes. Second in the field in career earnings with $649,200, Mopotism has proven very capable in being competitive with some of the best fillies and mares in training over the past two years. Starting last summer with a head defeat in the Summertime Oaks, Mopotism ran in four straight grade one stakes races facing the likes of Elate, Forever Unbridled and Unique Bella. When none of those were among the entrants, she won the La Canada Stakes in January before a second when facing Unique Bella again, this time in the Santa Maria Stakes in February. Coming into the Gamely off a third place finish behind Fault (who won again) in the Santa Margarita, the main question is whether Mopotism can transition that top form to the grass. Considering sons and daughters of her sire Uncle Mo win graded stakes races on turf as they do on dirt that is easily answered with "Yes." For example, Uncle Mo's son Motown won the Hollywood Derby last fall and his daughter Ultra Brat won the Gallorette Stakes on the grass last weekend. As such, Mopotism appears well suited to earn her first graded stakes win on the turf in this race.

    Madam Dancealot won the similar Santa Ana Stakes at this distance over the Santa Anita turf in March, rallying from 14 lengths back early to win by a half-length. Two races prior to that, Madam Dancealot ran big again when finishing second in the American Oaks. If she can improve upon her 11th to seventh place effort last month at a shorter distance in the Distaff Turf Mile she could easily be in the thick of the action at the finish.

    Uni ships cross country for the strong Chad Brown barn, bringing along regular rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., giving up an entire day of mounts at Belmont for this race (and three others on the day). Last month, Uni returned from six months off and won as if she had never been away from the races when victorious in the Plenty of Grace Stakes with a career-best 105 figure. Last summer, Uni ran very well in the Lake Placid Stakes when second, following that up with a win in the Sands Point Stakes. As she makes her second start as a four year old, Uni can improve off her Plenty of Grace effort and that makes her a fairly strong contender in the Gamely.

    Beau Recall won the Royal Heroine Stakes over the course last month with a very strong rally from last of nine early and passing six horses in the stretch to win. Beau Recall also is a four year old with room to improve and as she proved herself at the distance of the Gamely last summer when coming up a nose shy of victory in the Del Mar Oaks she must has a good chance to succeed in this event.

    Midnight Crossing has early speed and can be around for a share, as can Hawksmoor, but it is just as likely they tire each other out on the front end as one of them gets loose, in either case likely getting run down late but still capable of finishing second.

    Bets: Mopotism to win at 2 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

    A second win bet, this one on Madam Dancealot, appears warranted at 2 to 1 or higher.

    Exactas: Mopotism, Madam Dancealot, Uni and Beau Recall over Mopotism, Madam Dancealot, Uni, Beau Recall, Midnight Crossing and Hawksmoor.

    Read more...
  • 18
    MAY

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, May 19

    Maryland Sprint Stakes – Race 10 at Pimlico - Post Time 4:05 PM Eastern

    Lewisfield has done little wrong in his career, with five victories in 7 races including a win in a restricted stakes when last seen in March. Bocachica has been the only pilot he's known and rides back and the horse has proven capable of winning when leading from the start or if he has to sit in 2nd or 3rd in the early stages. The 114 Equibase figure put forth in his last win was a career best and tops in the field and there's every reason to believe that effort can be repeated or bettered here.

    Heartwood can ALSO be bet if for no other reason than he opens at 15/1 and has a legitimate shot. He posted the 15/1 upset in a tough classified allowance field on a sloppy track one before last and he won at stakes race with a 200K purse last fall so there's no doubt he fits at the level. Geroux was up for the April upset and rides back as the colt cuts back from a mile to six furlongs, which helps his chances to be closing strongly in the final stages.

    Long Haul Bay has won 3 of 4 career starts and the one he didn't win led to a layoff so can be ignored. He returned from 10 months off last month to win nicely and was flattered when the runner-up came back to win. That win earned a 103 figure that should be improved upon 2nd off the layoff but still isn't in range of the 114 effort Lewisfield put forth but considering Brown's success this year (and before that) the colt could improve enough to win.

    Irish Colonel, like Heartwood, opens at double digit odds that warrant scrutiny. He missed by a neck when last seen at the end of March and won prior to that, the win earning a 111 figure similar to the 110 figure effort put forth last November at the distance. As a horse that's been 1st or 2nd in 15 of 30 career starts, he is an absolute must for inclusion on any exacta tickets we play at the very least. We should also add Fellowship to the bottom of exacta tickets played as he could run as he did in February on a sloppy track when finishing fast for second.

    Bets: Lewisfield to win at 2 to 1 or more.

    Heartwood to win at 7 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

    Irish Colonel to win at 4 to1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or higher.

    Exacta: Lewisfield, Heartwood, Long Haul Bay and Irish Colonel over Lewisfield, Heartwood, Long Haul Bay, Irish Colonel and Fellowship.

     

    Preakness Stakes – Race 13 at Pimlico - Post Time 6:48 PM Eastern

    Bravazo will be my top choice to win the Preakness Stakes by repeating his effort when winning the Risen Star Stakes in February, posting the upset and returning $44 for $2. At the time, Bravazo was making his second start as a three year old and second following a layoff, coming off a 104 Equibase Speed Figure effort when winning one month earlier. In the Risen Star, Bravazo won gamely by a neck to earn a career best 110 figure when improving nicely in his second race off the rest. In the Louisiana Derby, I cannot say what went wrong when as the second betting choice (5 to 2) Bravazo faded badly to eighth after being up close in third in the early stages. However, his effort two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby was pretty good as he rallied four to five paths wide while moving up from eleventh to fourth over the course of three furlongs until he flattened out in mid-stretch to end up sixth. In the Preakness Bravazo will have to deal with a lot less traffic and if jockey Luis Saez is able to get him into second or third with about a half-mile to go, as was the case in the Risen Star, this colt can post the upset because the 110 figure earned in that race is as good as the figure Justify earned winning the Kentucky Derby. Lukas is no stranger to posting the upset in this race, having done so with Oxbow a few years back, who like Bravazo was owned by Calumet Farm and was a son of Awesome Again .

    Justify is unbeaten in four starts and has improved his Equibase figure in each, going from 106 in his career debut to 110 winning the Kentucky Derby. In the Derby, Justify was able to beat 18 other horses out of the gate to secure second position early, avoiding the mud and water flying everywhere over the very sloppy track and that had to have been a significant factor in his success as he held his two and one-half length margin over Good Magic the entire last eighth of a mile. With many less horses to be in front of at the start of the Preakness, Justify is as likely, or even more so, to be in front in the opening strides, but in the event Quip or Diamond King (who are drawn inside of Justify in the gate) get the lead that should not be an issue as he has raced in second or third in the early stages in two of his four victories. As such, it would come as no surprise that the Derby winner takes the Preakness, following in the footsteps of I'll Have Another (2012), California Chrome (2014) and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015).

    Good Magic ran his heart out in the Derby, chasing Justify for the final half-mile but making up no ground. After a poor effort in his 2018 return to the races when third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes in March, Good Magic redeemed himself nicely with victory in the Blue Grass Stakes, earning a 104 figure in the process. In spite of being no match for the Derby winner, Good Magic improved to a 106 figure in the race and is set to improve again back to the form shown when winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last fall with a 109 figure. Considering how close that effort would be to the one Justify put forth two weeks ago and considering Good Magic is making his fourth start of 2018 compared to Justify making his fifth start of the year, it is conceivable Good Magic may have enough improvement forthcoming to turn the tables on his nemesis in the Preakness.

     

    Lone Sailor is not a win contender in my opinion but can certainly be second or third at the end to complete any exacta or trifecta tickets played. Lone Sailor improved markedly in the Louisiana Derby with a career best 106 figure, that being his third start of the year. He then had a trip similar to Bravazo in the Kentucky Derby in which Lone Sailor moved up from 15th to sixth with an eighth of a mile to go before flattening out and ending up eighth. With less traffic in the Preakness, Lone Sailor may be passing many of these late and could earn a big chunk of the purse.

    Bets: Bravazo to win at 2 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic over Lone Sailor, Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic.

    Trifecta: Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic over Lone Sailor, Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic over Lone Sailor, Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic.

    Doubles: Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic in Race 13 with Phil's Cocktail, Ugottahaveheart, Iredell and Appealing Future in Race 14.

    Race 14 at Pimlico – Post Time 7:35 Eastern

    Phil's Cocktail is a tough claiming pro, with 11 first or second place efforts in his last 21 races. He qualified for this 5K starter allowance race when he raced for 5K last December, likely something Brooks noticed when he claimed the horse for 7,500 out of a runner-up effort on 3/30. Winning two later, just SIX days ago, easily at the 15K level in the mud OVER THE TRACK, Phil's Cocktail has a big shot to win once again and make even more profit off the claim six weeks ago.

    Appealing Future is 5 for 15 in his career, not bad at all, including a win in a 50K allowance race in Pennsylvania one before last on 4/7. He finished 2nd over a sloppy track prior to that and 4th since then against open allowance company so this is a DROP in class as this 5K starter level is the equivalent of a 10K claiming race. With Javier Castellano staying around for the last race on a big card, for high percentage trainer Servis, there is every reason to believe Appealing Future is live and has the talent to win the nightcap.

    Ugottahaveheart and Iredell are both proven at the level, hence open as the top two betting choices at 3/1 and 5/2, respectively. Ugottahaveheart won at this level twice in January and in his most recent start on 3/30 but has never raced over the Pimlico surface, a small knock, while Iredell moves back to dirt after a poor effort on turf and won by 6 lengths, over Ugottahaveheart, on 2/15 as well as won at Pimlico last May. He has more 2nd place finishes (10) than wins (8) so although a MUST to use on exacta tickets he doesn't have to win.

    Bets: Phil's Cocktail to win at 5 to 2 or more.

    Appealing Future to win at 3 to 1 or higher.

    Exactas: Phil's Cocktail and Appealing Future over Phil's Cocktail and Appealing Future, Ugottahaveheart and Iredell.

    Then also the reverse of the above, which is Phil's Cocktail and Appealing Future, Ugottahaveheart and Iredell over Phil's Cocktail and Appealing Future.

    Frans Valentine Stakes – Race 9 at Santa Anita – Post Time 8 Eastern (5 Pacific)

    Shy Carmelita has mostly run on dirt throughout her 14 race career, with 3 wins in 11 races on the main track. However, she won on the turf when last seen on 4/1 in her 3rd turf try and was 2nd in another last summer before taking seven months off. With a lot of improvement to show us 3rd off the layoff, this gal who is a full sister to multiple winner Grazenette and who moves from open (not restricted) 2nd level allowance company to this statebred stakes level (a lateral class move and possibly a drop in class) has a big shot to run as well as she did when last seen on the course, earning a field high last race 112 Equibase figure that beats these on the square if repeated, for the always dangerous D'Amato barn and with Talamo riding right back.

    Barbara Beatrice is another very competitive mare, with 9 first or 2nd place finishes in 18 races, a subset of which is a 7 for 10 record first or second on turf. She's won at this mile trip and she's won at Santa Anita and she was 2nd in a similar Cal-Bred stakes race (but on dirt) last November so she fits on all counts for a top effort.

    Cordiality won at this mile turf trip one race before her last, in March, at the same openNW2X allowance condition Shy Carmelita won at (but sprinting) last time out. The mare is7 for 20 in her career with another six runner-up efforts for good measure but oddly enough even though a Cal-Bred hasn't run in one of these restricted stakes races. Baze rode her to her last three wins, all when leading or 2nd in the early stages, and although her outside post may not be the best for her style there's no taking away from the fact her best effort may be good enough to win.

    Moonless Sky finished 2nd in an identical race last summer and was 2nd in last year's edition of this stakes. She won last fall at a mile on grass in an open NW2X level race similar to the other contenders and the only knock relative to those is she opens at the lowest odds, 7/2 on the morning line.

    Longshot consideration must be given to Speakers and Lynne's Legacy, the former with the ground saving rail and coming out of a very troubled effort, before that with a win at this mile trip over the course, and the latter running first off the O'Neill claim, out of the first time she was EVER eligible to be claimed, and a decent runner-up effort at that. She's a multiple turf route winner versus Cal-Breds and her 15/1 morning line is intriguing. O'Neill also saddles How About Zero, who stretches back out to a mile off a pair of sprints and who missed by a head in that mile turf race three back after leading in the stretch.

     

    Bets: Shy Carmelita to win at 5 to 2 or more.

    Barbara Beatrice to win at 3 to 1 or more.

    Cordiality to win at 7 to 2 or higher.

    When making or considering multiple horses for win bets, use a "Dutching" tool like that found at Amwager, which helps allocate your betting dollars for the best return.

    Exacta: Box Shy Carmelita, Barbara Beatrice, Cordiality and Moonless Sky.

    Exacta: Shy Carmelita, Barbara Beatrice, Cordiality and Moonless Sky over Shy Carmelita, Barbara Beatrice, Cordiality, Moonless Sky, Speakers, Lynne's Legacy and How About Zero.

    Read more...
  • 11
    MAY

    Key Bets & Races for Saturday, May 12th

    Vagrancy Handicap – Race 3 at Belmont Park - Post Time 2:34 PM Eastern

    Kirby's Penny is six for 11 in her career. Better still, she's 5 for 7 on dirt, all since last April. She finished second in the other two dirt starts. She's absolutely ready for grade 3 competition as she faces today with John Velazquez riding as for two big wins last summer at Saratoga and her most recent win, on April 8, came off a 6 month layoff and the effort should be improved upon 2nd off the rest. Opening at 6 to 1, she's exceptionally playable.

    Swing and Sway is another very playable horse, opening at 12 to 1, having just won the Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn and two before that the American Beauty Stakes. She's now 5 for 15 in her career and could also be very competitive here. There are no real knocks on any of the other four, but Holiday Disguise, who opens at 9/5, hasn't any more probability than the rest. Sure, she won the similar G3 Distaff Stakes last month at Aqueduct, but it wasn’t any better of an effort nor was the horse she beat, Sounds Delicious (who was disqualified from 2nd to 4th) anything really special in terms of this field.

    Win Bets: Kirby's Penny at odds of 2 to 1 or more and Swing and Sway at odds of 3 to 1 or more. Place bets may be warranted at 5 to 1 or higher.

    The most efficient way to bet multiple horses to win is to use a "Dutching" tool like the one available at Amwager, which helps allocated your betting dollars for the best return.

    Runhappy Stakes – Race 8 at Belmont Park- Post Time 5:14 PM Eastern

    Always Sunshine is EVERY bit as likely to win as favorite's Skyler's Scramjet and Westwood, but opens at 12/1. He returns from a layoff since last July but won his 2017 debut by four lengths off a layoff since the previous October so that's not an issue. Winner of nearly $400,000 in his career and first or second in 10 of 18 dirt races, he will be ignored by many in this race compared to others. Back in 2016, Always Sunshine finished 2nd in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Stakes on the circuit, the same race Skyler's Scramjet won in March of this year. Later that spring he won the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint with a career best 118 Equibase Figure and in his last start of 2017 earned a 109 figure which stacks up favorably against the favorites here if repeated.

    King Kranz goes for his 3rd win in a row since moving to the Rodriguez barn and Iran Ortiz, Jr. rides back after being up for the first time last month in a strong win. The comeback win in March earned a 108 figure and opening at 9/2 we cannot rule him out as a contender to win.

    Skyler's Scramjet can't be labeled a vulnerable favorite as the drop from grade 1 company in the Carter Handicap last time out helps his chances to return to winning form, and Westwood is another with a shot although his first graded stakes attempt last month wasn't good as he faded to 5th in the stretch after leading.

    Win Bets: Always Sunshine to win and to place at 2 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Always Sunshine and King Kranz over Always Sunshine, King Kranz, Skyler's Scramjet and Westwood (as there's no point in using the two favorites with each other for 1st & 2nd), then ALSO the opposite, which is Always Sunshine, King Kranz, Skyler's Scramjet and Westwood over Always Sunshine and King Kranz.

    Peter Pan Stakes – Race 10 at Belmont Park – Post Time 6:18 Eastern

    Just Whistle earned the best last race Equibase figure, 106, when winning last month at Keeneland. That was his second start of the year and a big improvement off his runner-up effort one month prior which followed six months away from the races. As a son of Pioneer of the Nile there is little doubt Just Whistle can successfully negotiate the mile and one-eighth distance of the Peter Pan. As a horse on a pattern for significant improvement in his third start off a layoff, he appears to be the one to beat in this race.

    High North earned his first win last fall in his third career start, then tried stakes company and was not disgraced when fourth of 14 in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. After taking the winter off, he was entered in the Risen Star Stakes without a prep first and ran poorly, then again in the Rebel Stakes. Adding blinkers for the Northern Spur Stakes next out, he returned to top form, earning a 105 figure when drawing off by two and one-half lengths in a field of eight. Trainer Brad Cox is still on a high from winning the Kentucky Oaks with Monomoy Girl last weekend and his 30% success rate with back-to-back winners in dirt routes over the past two years is another reason supporting High North potentially winning his second stakes race in a row.

    Blended Citizen needs a hot pace in front of him to succeed, as occurred in March when rallying to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks by a neck with a 109 figure. Following that effort, Blended Citizen tried to earn enough points for a Kentucky Derby start by running in the Blue Grass Stakes but could only manage a fifth place finish. In the Peter Pan, with the prospect for a hotly contested pace unlikely, Blended Citizen may be hard pressed to pass the field to win but it is not an impossible task and so he will round out the three horses with the best chance to win this year's Peter Pan Stakes.

    I'm completely taking a stand against Core Beliefs, shipping out from California and overbet off his 3rd place effort in the Santa Anita Derby behind Justify.

    Win Bets: Just Whistle at 2 to 1 or more, a TRUE KEY BET on the day.

    A win bet on High North is warranted at 3 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Box Just Whistle, High North and Blended Citizen.

    Man O' War Stakes – Race 11 at Belmont Park – Post Time 6:50 Eastern

    Postulation can post the upset in this year's Man O'War, or even finish 2nd for a big profit. He SHOULD NOT be 20/1 on the morning line considering his record in similar races, including a head loss in the Kentucky Turf Cup last summer and a win in the American St. Leger prior to that. The jockey change to Vargas, mostly unknown to local betters, helps his odds but there is no concern because Vargas was aboard for BOTH the aforementioned stakes efforts. After the Kentucky Turf Cup, Postulation finished 8th of 10 in the Canadian International (run on a very soft course) then took time off. When returning last month off a six month layoff, he ran BIG by rallying from 4th to battle down the stretch before tiring just a bit to be beaten a pair of necks on the wire. With 8 first or second place finishes in 16 turf races and nearly $400K in earnings, and proven at marathon distances, and possibly more importantly much stronger 2nd off the layoff, Postulation gets a BIG push here.

    Almost as likely and certainly as playable is One Go All Go, upset winner of the similar Elkhorn Stakes last month at Keeneland. He's now run BIG in five of his last six races since Dickey took over his training. Even though in four of those he finished 2nd he was never far afield and in two of those he finished just behind Hi Happy and Sadler's Joy, who open at much lower odds than the 6/1 starting odds for One Go All Go. As with the Elkhorn, there is very little of any other early pace in the race so if Landeros gets One Go All Go to the lead easily and slows things down, he could win his 2nd graded stakes in a row.

    There are no real knocks on Sadler's Joy, Hi Happy or some of the rest, but the key for profit is getting either Postulation or One Go All Go home on top, or even second.

    Win Bets: Postulation to win and place at 3 to 1 or more. One Go All Go to win and place at 3 to 1 or more.

    Exactas: Postulation and One Go All Go over ALL, then also the opposite, which is ALL over Postulation and One Go All Go.

    Read more...