US Licensed, Regulated and Trusted since 2009.

Ellis Starr's Blog - AmWager

Ellis Starr's Blog

Ellis Starr's Blog (2)

  • 13

    Key Bets & Races for Saturday, October 14

    Get more analysis and recommended wagers for other races this weekend on my Key Races & Bets Podcast

    Futurity Stakes – Race 8 at Belmont – Post time 4:46 PM ET

    Barry Lee and Happy Like a Fool are the two main contenders in my opinion, both with about a 33% probability to win, which equates to 2 to 1 odds. Considering Barry Lee opens at 5/1 compared to 5/2 for Happy Like a Fool, I'll start with him. Barry Lee won like a good thing in his career debut on 7/14 then folded like a cheap tent in the Saratoga Special one month later. However, he showed the poor effort at Saratoga to be a fluke when winning the Arlington Washington Futurity on 9/9 with a mature rally from fifth of seven in the early stages. He adds blinkers for the Futurity but I think that is much more for focus as it is for early speed and with Joel Rosario getting aboard, for the very barn of Sagamore private trainer DePaz, which is winning nearly 30% of the time this year, Barry Lee could post the mild upset here as he is the ONLY previous stakes winner in the field.

    Happy Like a Fool is a filly facing colts, which is okay with two year olds and even more okay when the trainer is Wesley Ward, who often takes advantage of the slight break in weight for females against males, in this case five pounds. Happy Like a Fool broke her maiden on dirt and at first asking in April at Keeneland with an easy four length win, then went to Europe to try to duplicate the success of Ward's Lady Aurelia one year earlier. She finished second in the Queen Mary Stakes in a field of 23 then ran poorly when sixth in the Lowther Stakes in August. Back in the states and returning to her regular training grounds at Keeneland, Happy Like a Fool ships in with blinkers off and Gaffalione on and in this short field may be sent to the front, from where she may not be caught as was the case in her only other start on dirt.

    Red Peril won with a lot of maturity in his debut in August in Florida and gets no respect opening at 12/1 although his trainer is very competent, while favorite Engage is certainly a nice horse coming off a maiden score in his second career start but is no standout and will be overbet as many of Brown's starters are.

    Bets: Play Barry Lee  to win at odds of 2/1 or more or use the Dutching Tool at Amwager to bet both Barry Lee  and Happy Like a Fool, who also has fair odds of 2/1 but who opens at lower odds (5/2) than Barry Lee.

    Play two exacta boxes, the first consisting of Barry Lee, Happy Like a Fool and Red Peril  and the second consisting of Barry Lee, Happy Like a Fool and Engage.

    Doubles: I am not writing analysis of race 9, the Pebbles Stakes, for this blog BUT here are some doubles you can consider:

    Race 8 – Barry Lee

    Race 9 – Adorable Miss, Rubilinda, Thais, Party BoatBellavais and Scheme

    Race 8 – ALL six horses

    Race 9 – Adorable Miss, Bellavais

    Victorian Queen Stakes - Race #8 at Woodbine – Post Time 4:54 PM ET

    Line of Vision won her debut like a special horse in August, rallying maturely from fifth to draw off powerfully with a strong 80 Equibase figure. To put that figure in perspective, Rosemere earned an 84 figure in her debut, but in a stakes race. Line of Vision subsequently came back in the Muskoka Stakes 19 days after her maiden win, finding herself 10th of 11 early but passing most of the field to be 3rd at the end. That race turned out to be a HIDDEN KEY RACE, with both the 5th and 7th finishers having come back to win since, and this filly also happens to be a half-sister to a horse that won the Kingvarie Stakes here at Woodbine as a two year old a few years back. With a BIG jockey change to leading rider DaSilva and having improved to a FIELD HIGH 86 figure last time, Line of Vision is likely to take another nice step forward and post the mild upset opening at 6/1. She's the Berries missed by a head in her debut, at Belmont, in June before finishing fourth in the Nandi Stakes, the race Rosemere finished 2nd in. She's the Berries then dropped back into the maiden ranks and won by a nose with a decent 78 figure and should be closing strongly again. Likewise, Rosemere has finished 2nd in both starts, as she went back to the maiden ranks after her Nandi Stakes runner-up effort and finished 2nd again. However, she adds Lasix for the first time and gets a great outside post for the red hot Casse barn so although not a good win bet opening at 3/1 she certainly should be considered a win contender.

    Bets: Play Line of Vision to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

    Play an exacta box consisting of Line of Vision, She's the Berries  and Rosemere and then play an exacta of those three over Mega Monster, who finished second in the Shady Well Stakes in her most recent race.

    Play a trifecta consisting of Line of Vision, She's the Berries, and Rosemere over Line of Vision, She's the Berries, Rosemere and Mega Monser, over ALL.

    Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup Stakes - Race #9 at Keeneland – Post Time 5:30  PM ET

    Wuheida has run six times in her career, winning twice and finishing no worse than fourth in any of her races against some of the best female turf stars in Europe, if not the world. After winning the Prix Marcel Boussac last year in her 2nd career start, she took nine months off and came back to finish 2nd to older filly Roly Poly in the Falmouth Stakes. After a third place finish in the German Oaks (Preis der Diana), Wuheida again took on older horses including the rock solid Hydrangea and was fourth in the Matron Stakes before again facing her elders just 13 days ago finishing a head and two necks from Rhododendron and Hydrangea in the Prix de l'Opera on this year's Arc day. All of those fillies would be odds-on choices here and with jockey William Buick coming over from Europe to ride and having ridden Wuheida to victory in the Prix Marcel Boussac, Wuheida appears to be a standout on class even among this group. Dream Dancing may be the best among the U.S. based contingent, even though it may be by a narrow margin. She enters the race having beaten three other entrants in the Del Mar Oaks this summer in California, rallying from 9th with a quarter mile to go. Leparoux rides her once again and if he can get her outside of the field when they turn for home as he did in the Oaks, Dream Dancing will be seen passing many if not all of these in the late stages. Madam Dancelot and Beau Recall are both owned by Slam Dunk Racing but have different trainers and will race uncoupled in the wagering, so there could be value on one or both. Madame Dancelot won the San Clemente Stakes in July at Del Mar then was beaten a nose and a neck when third in the Del Mar Oaks. Beau Recall rallied from eighth to second in the Oaks and both fillies could easily have a big impact here.

    Bets: Make a win bet on Wuheida  at odds of 9 to 5 or more.

    Consider win bets on the other three at these odds or higher: Dream Dancing  3 to 1, Madame Dancelot  and Beau Recall  4 to 1.

    All 11 of these fillies might be part of the exacta so I am not making any recommendations in a wide open race.

    California Distaff Handicap- Race #6 at Santa Anita– Post Time 6:02 PM ET

    Moonless Sky ran too good to lose when last seen on 8/11 in the Solana Beach Stakes at Del Mar, coming up a nose short on the wire with a strong 101 Equibase Figure. Two before that, at a mile on the turf at Santa Anita, Moonless Sky earned a 108 figure that would top these if repeated. Desormeaux rode her to both "A" efforts as well as to her wins in March and April on the grass and is riding with a lot of confidence at the meeting so Moonless Sky might be very tough to beat here.

    Barbara Beatrice and Long Hot Summer both come from the competent barn of Phil D'Amato, with Barbara Beatrice the more intriguing of the pair as she opens at 6 to 1 compared to 5 to 2 for Miss Sunset. Barbara Beatrice is 3 for 8 on grass and drops out of the grade 2 Bayakoa to this Cal-Bred Stakes level. She won the last time she ran down the unique hillside turf at Santa Anita, in October, at 10/1, and although we are unlikely to get as generous odds today she certainly has a chance to win with a repeat of that effort.

    Long Hot Summer and Miss Sunset are both contenders but open at 5 to 2 and 2 to 1 odds, respectively, and don't warrant wagering at those levels as neither stands out.

    Bets: Play Moonless Sky to win at 2 to 1 or more and consider a second win bet on Barbara Beatrice  at 3 to 1 or more. You can also use the Dutching Tool at Amwager to insure a fair return on a win bet on both horses.

    Bet an exacta consisting of Moonless Sky and Barbara Beatrice  over Moonless Sky, Barbara Beatrice, Miss Sunset  and Long Hot Summer.

    Play a trifecta box consisting of those four horses as well.

    In addition to this blog, you can get analysis and recommended wagers for other races this weekend on my Key Races & Bets Podcast at

    This weekend's podcast will contain some of these races and in addition I will be tackling a couple of the big stakes on Sunday at Woodbine including the Pattison Canadian International.

    Written by Published in Ellis Starr's Blog
  • 05

    Key Bets & Races for Saturday, October 7

    Cross Country Pick 4 – Starts at 4:13 PM with Race 8 at Belmont Park, the Champagne Stakes

    Ticket A

    Leg 1 (Belmont Park race 8) – Bahamian, Aveenu Malcainu, Honorable Treasure, Enticed

    Leg 2 (Keeneland race 8) – Ezmosh, Bourbon Resolution, Enticed, Free Drop Billy, Givemeaminit

    Leg 3 (Belmont race 10) – Diversify, Rally Cry

    Leg 4 (Keeneland race 9) – Suedois, Mondialiste, Miss Temple City, Heart to Heart

    The cost at the $0.50 minimum bet amount is $60 or $64, depending on which race Enticed (who is entered in two races) runs in. 

    Ticket B

    Leg 1 (Belmont Park race 8) – Bahamian, Aveenu Malcainu, Honorable Treasure, Enticed

    Leg 2 (Keeneland race 8) – Ezmosh, Bourbon Resolution, Enticed, Free Drop Billy, Givemeaminit

    Leg 3 (Belmont race 10) – Diversify, Rally Cry, Pavel, Keen Ice

    Leg 4 (Keeneland race 9) – Suedois, Mondialiste

    The cost at the $0.50 minimum bet amount is $60 or $64, depending on which race Enticed (who is entered in two races) runs in. 

    If you played all the contenders and did not cut legs 3 or 4 the total cost at the $0.50 minimum would be $160

    Champagne Stakes – Race 8 at Belmont – Post time 4:13 PM ET

    The morning line choice is Good Magic, and he's still a maiden. He finished second as the odds-on favorite in his debut on 8/26 at Saratoga and it was a decent effort but on the other hand he ran 2nd from start to finish, which suggests he will be on or near the lead in this 12 horse field with other "early" pace types to contend with. The main reason he opens at low odds is because his trainer is Chad Brown, and I think we can take a stand against him in a deep field which opens up profit opportunities. Bahamian ships out from California, having skipped last weekend's Juvenile prep (the FrontRunner Stakes) for what will likely turn out to be an easier spot as there's not Bold d'Oro  (who won impressively) in this field. With "California" types speed, Bahamian may be on an easy lead in this one-turn mile (another reason his trainer likely opted for this spot) and never look back considering he's likely to improve off what is already one of the best/fastest last races among this group, Bahamian having earned a 96 Equibase Speed Figure, just one-two points below the top figure earners in the field. Better still, the horse that beat Bahamian, Solomini, finished a solid 2nd behind Bolt d'Oro in the FrontRunner. Aveenu Malcainu is a New York bred who just won the (aptly named) Funny Cide Stakes and who is now two-for-two. The race has turned out to be a KEY race as both the 4th and 5th finishers came back to win. The 98 Equibase figure is tops in the field and as a 2 year old the colt can improve upon it. Trainer Englehart scratched the colt out of the $200K New York Breeders' Futurity on 9/30 to run in this open race and considering the trainer is red hot in the last month I'll side with his feeling this horse fits with the best 2 year olds in the country right now. Honorable Treasure debuted in a turf route and ran poorly then stayed in a sprint scheduled for turf and moved to dirt and romped home by 6 lengths with a 97 figure. This one turn mile is just fine considering the win came at 7 furlongs and he's likely to take a big step forward as well. Enticed is entered in both this race and the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland but will likely opt for this spot. He's the first foal from $1.6 million earner It's Tricky and won with a lot of maturity from off the pace in his debut. Considering McLaughlin only wins with 6% of his first time starters, that says a lot about this colt's ability. 

    Fair odds for win bets are as follows: Bahamian 5/2, Aveenu Malcainu 3/1, Honorable Treasure 3/1, Enticed 4/1

    I would consider win bets on at least two of them at above those thresholds. 

    Play an exacta and trifecta box among those four horses as well. 

    Claiborne Breeder's Futurity - Race #8 at Keeneland – Post Time 5:10  PM ET

    Ezmosh has run three times and has improved each time. Although he is running around two-turns for the first time his win at a mile (around one-turn) last month was very impressive with the best last race Equibase figure (93) in the field. Javier Castellano rarely rides for this trainer, Brad Cox, who wins a lot of races (149 so far in 2017) and at a very good clip (26%), but when they team up they are 7 for 17 (40%) and that is notable. Ezmosh showed excellent early speed in that win last month and from a good inside post can either take the lead, or if another horse and jockey wants it more, can sit in 2nd or 3rd in the early stages. Bred to like this distance and then some as a grandson of Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus and with improving to do once more, Ezmosh gets slight preference among five win contenders. Bourbon Resolution is another horse that has run three times and who comes into the race off a career best effort, a win. That win earned the best last race figure of any horse in the field, 94, and he too is bred to run even better around two turns so improvement isn’t just possible, it's likely. Showing he is holding top form nicely, Bourbon Resolution put in a strong five furlong morning workout that was the 2nd best of 49 on the day at the distance eight days ago as well. Enticed, who is also entered in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont, gets what could be a disadvantageous outside post in this mile and one-sixteenth race, but he comes from behind so I'm hoping jockey Lezcano just lets him drop back to mid-pack so as to not go too wide into the first turn and on the backstretch. He won  his only start and although he's the first foal of his dam, that dam (It's Tricky) was a multiple grade 1 winner who earned better than $1.6 million so this colt could be any kind as he improves both physically and mentally. Free Drop Billy and Givemeaminit were a nose apart when finishing 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the Hopeful Stakes last time out and can move forward too.

    Fair odds for win bets are as follows: Ezmosh 2/1, Bourbon Resolution 5/2, Enticed 7/2

    I would consider win bets on at least two of them at above those thresholds. 

    I would play an exacta box consisting of Ezmosh, Bourbon Resolution, Enticed, Free Drop Billy & Givemeaminit.

    Jockey Club Gold Cup- Race #10 at Belmont – Post Time 5:23 PM ET

    Diversify has won six of nine starts, finishing 2nd in two of the other three. Although he rallied from off the pace once (ending up beaten a nose) Diversify likes to lead early and for the most part puts away any challengers in the opening strides and cruises around the track in front to the wire. Although his wins have come in statebred races, the Equibase Speed Figures Diversify has earned, particularly his most recent (118) when dominating by 11 lengths, are as good as those of the horses who have run well in open like the 119 Keen Ice earned when second to Gun Runner in the Whitney Stakes in August. As such, I expect Diversify to prove an elusive target on the front end in this situation.

    Rally Cry is one of three entrants saddled by North American leading trainer Todd Pletcher, the other two being Destin and Keen Ice. Rally Cry is the least accomplished of the group, with his only stakes win coming in the Alydar Stakes in August. However, like Diversify, Rally Cry dominated in the Alydar (winning by nearly 9 lengths) and earned a 119 figure. Rally Cry has something else in common with likely betting favorite Keen Ice in that he was second to division leader Gun Runner the Woodward in his most recent race, which gives Rally Cry has every right to win. Pavel is a rapidly improving three year old, having earned a 97 figure when fourth in the Jim Dandy behind Good Samaritan before a 110 figure effort when dominating by six lengths in the Smarty Jones Stakes last month. With a running style that should see him sitting second in the early stages behind likely pacesetter Diversify, it is possible Pavel may get first run on the closers like Keen Ice, Good Samaritan and Highland Sky and prove tough to run down in the final stages to post the upset. Keen Ice continues to run big races on occasion and disappoint just as often. He has run 23 times in his career, with just two wins other than his maiden win, but those two wins were huge efforts that helped earn the bulk of the $3.2 million he has banked in his career. First, he beat American Pharoah I the 2015 Haskell Invitational, then nearly two years later Keen Ice won the Suburban Handicap rather authoritatively by three lengths. Most recently second to Gun Runner in the Whitney Stakes with a career best 119 figure, Keen Ice is the kind of horse that, if he shows up with his best, can win.

    Fair odds for win bets are as follows: Diversify 2/1, Rally Cry 3/1

    (I would set fair odds on Pavel at 3/1 but he opens at 5/2 so wouldn't likely be a win play)

    Shadwell Turf Mile- Race #9 at Keeneland – Post Time 5:45 PM ET

    Suedois and Mondialiste share the same owner and trainer, but because this is a graded stakes they don't run coupled (example 1A and 1B) for betting purposes. That is great for bettors, because they will both offer good odds, particularly Suedois, who has earned $766,000 compared to $1.8 million for Mondialiste, the latter somewhat known to North American bettors as he won the Grade 1 Arlington Million in 2016 and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Mile in 2015 here at Keeneland, also winning the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile in 2015. Mondialiste finished 4th in that same race this year, but that's just fine, as he was last of 12 early and was only beaten a nose for 3rd. He's earned the majority of his $1.8 million at this mile trip and is truly a Grade 1/Group 1 miler whereas others in the field are grade 1 types but not at a mile or grade 2/3 types. Suedois just won a group 2 stakes at a mile in Ireland and gets Lasix for the first time, with regular rider Tudhope taking the call, which is interesting as Tudhope rode Mondialiste to win the 2016 Arlington Million. Back in the summer of 2016, Suedois finished 2nd in the Group 1 Darley July Cup so he's proven at the level and could potentially post the upset here. Both look to be very competitive, with jockey Lynch taking the mount on Mondialiste.

    Miss Temple City is the best of the North American contingent, as she not only beat males in the spring of 2016 in the Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland, she duplicated the feat winning the 2016 Shadwell Turf Mile. Fifth in the Breeders' Cup Mile after that, Miss Temple City finished off a big 2016 campaign with another grade 1 win before taking time off. Disappointing in England in June off a layoff, Miss Temple City got back into top form with a win last month at this mile trip in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes and is as fit as she was entering last year's Shadwell Mile, but does face tougher competition. Just the same the Equibase Figure she earned winning the 2016 Maker's 46 Mile (124) is the best figure by any in here, with Mondialiste's best 119 and Hear to Heart's Best 118. Still, that was 18 months ago and her best figure this year is 108 so she will have to be at her best to repeat.

    Heart to Heart will be 1st or 2nd from the start as he nearly always is, having now won 12 times in 23 turf races for $1.2 million in earnings. He led every step of the way in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap last month at Saratoga and missed by a neck in this spring's Maker's 46 Mile so fits on all counts. Although all the other trainers know what Heart to Heart's strategy will be (go to the front), it's unlikely any horse will challenge him early for fear of compromising their own chances, and if eft to his own devices, Hear to Heart will dig in and be there all the way to the finish as he was when 2nd in the 2016 Maker's 46 Mile behind Miss Temple City or when beaten a neck this spring in that same race

    Fair odds for win bets are as follows: Suedois 3/1, Mondialiste 3/1 (but I would bet both regardless of odds)/

    I would play an exacta and trifecta box consisting of Suedois, Mondialiste, Miss Temple City and Heart to Heart

    Written by Published in Ellis Starr's Blog