Ellis Starr's Blog - AmWager

  • 12
    OCT

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 13

    Nearctic Stakes – Race 7 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:30 PM ET

    Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat and Lady Alexandra are the win contenders, the first two opening at superb double digit odds out of line with their probability to win (in my opinion) and Lady Alexandra very interesting if her connections choose this spot against males over the race at Belmont. Hemp Hemp Hooray has a record of 3-3-0 in seven races. I know he's run eight times but his race at Ascot doesn't count in my opinion. He adds blinkers worn for his first three races but not his next four and his three races in blinkers consisted of two wins and a neck loss last year in the G2 Summer Stakes here at Woodbine. He's been based here since coming back from England and has finished 2nd twice in stakes against three year olds only, both superb efforts to the same horse, who is not racing here. Hemp Hemp Hooray put in a two phenomenal workouts coming into the race and Hernandez, up for his last two "A" efforts, rides back. As such, all signs point to an odds beating effort.

     

    Similarly, if we bet Hemp Hemp Hooray was MUST ALSO BET Kitten's Cat, as they form an uncoupled entry owned by Ken & Sarah Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker. Since they share common ownership and this is a graded stakes they run uncoupled and that helps us because if they were coupled the entry would be 5 to 1 instead of the 20/1 on Hemp Hemp Hooray and the 12/1 starting odds on Kitten's Cat. Kitten's Cat was stakes placed as a three year old and just won at this six furlong turf trip over the track with leading rider Da Silva up for the first time, riding back again. The colt earned a career best 102 figure last out and has improving to do as he was flattered when both the runner-up and third finisher came back to win. By the way, Kitten's Cat won the Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes as a two year old so he's proven at the top level.

     

    I won't go over my analysis of why Lady Alexandra is a contender as I discussed that in detail earlier in the blog when going over the Floral Park Stakes. She led late and missed by a neck in the G1 Highlander Stakes, also versus males in June, North American leading rider Jose Ortiz up then and named to ride her here. Her back-to-back 113 Equibase figure efforts in April and June are some of the best in the field and she's a four year old so has improving to do.

     

    For the second position on exacta tickets, in addition to the three win contenders and because two of them open at double digit odds, we can spread with Yorkton, Bushrod and Ikerrin Road.

     

    Bets: BOTH Hemp Hemp Hooray and Kitten's Cat to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more. Add place bets at 6 to 1 or more. Bet Lady Alexandra to win at 7 to 2 or more as well. I think three win bets are acceptable here given the edge over the rest of the field.

     

    As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

     

    Exacta: Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat and Lady Alexandra over Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat, Lady Alexandra, Yorkton, Bushrod and Ikerrin Road.

     

    $0.20 Pick 3 (not necessarily a smart bet but one that could pay very well given the high odds contenders in this race and the ninth race)

    Race 7 - Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat and Lady Alexandra

    Race 8 – ALL

    Race 9 – Thundering Blue, Khan, Funtastic, English Illusion, Johnny Bear and Focus Group

    Floral Park Stakes – Race 8 at Belmont Park - Post Time 4:43 PM Eastern

    Lady Alexandra, who is also entered to run in the Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine on Saturday, gets slight preference among four win contenders if she runs here. She loves the Belmont turf where she's three-for-four including a stakes win the last time she ran here in April. We can completely ignore her most recent race which was on the all-weather at Presque Isle Downs and before that she ran huge when missing by a neck (after leading late) against males at the trip in the Grade 1 Highlander Stakes, winning the License Fee Stakes over the course prior to that. She put in a big workout at trainer Motion's Fair Hills base last week and is set for an "A" effort good enough to win given her back-to-back 113 Equibase figure efforts in the License Fee and Highlander.

    Next in terms of probability are a pair of horses at decent odds in Fire Key and Tillie's Lily with Fire Key having finished first or second in 13 or 22 career races including 11 of 16 on turf, even better still eight of nine at short sprints distances like this one. She put in three really bad efforts in a row in July and August but turned a corner last month winning a 100K stakes similar to this one with Pimental aboard, who comes in to ride from Maryland. Last fall when at the top of her game she ran three "A" races in a row for 113 and 112 figures comparable with the best Lady Alexandra has run and so she does have a shot to upset. The same holds true for Tillie's Lilly, who opens at lower odds than Fire Key, 5/1 compared to 8/1. Nevertheless this filly has a lot of talent as she won the first four races of her career, all turf sprints including her only try at Belmont. She ran poorly in her first stakes try at Saratoga but she was bumped and pinched at the start, denying her first or second position in the early stages she had in all four starts prior to that. She was on an improving pattern from 102 to 106 figures before last and has improving to do as a lightly raced four year old.

    Lull rounds out the win contenders, a bit of an underlay opening at 3/1 but a must to use on exacta, trifecta and double tickets. She made her four year old debut in March with a game win in the Grade 3 Honey Fox Stakes at a mile then finished third in the Grade 1 Just a Game on Belmont Stakes day, a big effort behind Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf bound A Raving Beauty. She finished third, then second, in a pair of stakes coming into the race, the most recent with a 112 figure comparable, but not superior, to two of the other three contenders and with a 5-4-3 record in 16 career turf starts she's prove quite competitive.

    Win Bet: Lady Alexandra to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more, Fire Key to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher and Tillie's Lily to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more.

    "IF" Lady Alexandra's connections choose to run in the Nearctic Stakes and scratch out of this race, the Win Bets are: Fire Key at odds of 5 to 2 or higher and Tillie's Lily to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher.

    As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

    Exacta bets: Box Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull. (If Lady Alexandra scratches play the remaining three horses).

    Trifecta bets: Lady Alexandra over Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull over ALL.

    Also play a trifecta box consisting of Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull. (If Lady Alexandra scratches play the remaining three horses).

    Doubles: Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull in Race 8 with Victorine in Race 9.

    Doubles: Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull in Race 8 with Victorine, Cool Beans and Got Stormy in Race 9.

    Doubles: Lady Alexandra in Race 8 with Victorine, Cool Beans and Got Stormy in Race 9.

     

    Pebbles Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont - Post Time 5:18 PM ET

    Victorine won two of her last three starts in France before a fourth of eight finish in the G2 Sands Point last month over the course. She did not race on Lasix for that race but adds Lasix today and that could easily be the key to running back to her best efforts. She cuts back in distance from nine furlongs to eight as she transitions to the strong Clement barn which is winning at nearly a 33% clip in the last month (on 39 races) and which is 22 for 88 with Rosario aboard (as today) in the past year. As such, we should expect big improvement and the slight upset win as the filly opens at six to one.

    Got Stormy and Cool Beans are the other two win contenders in my opinion. Got Stormy has won three straight and was dominant in her last two starts, both stakes at a mile on grass. She's won at four tracks in her career but just the same she's NOT A STANDOUT as her last three wins earned 102, 82 and 90 Equibase figures, compared to 95 for Victorine even when fourth in the Sands Point Stakes last month. Cool Beans offers excellent value for a second win bet (after Victorine) as she opens at 10 to 1. She only wins when she leads from the start but even if she does lead she doesn't necessarily win. However, she hangs on tremendously as she's been second in three of her last four starts, with a win in the other race, last time out at Saratoga with a 103 figure that compares very well with the best of these. Red hot Brad Cox has done a wonderful job with this gal and we must remember all of these are three year olds so there's no edge in the maturity department for any of them.

    For the runner-up spot on exacta tickets we will use Monte Cristo, Significand Form and Altea, the first two opening at fairly low odds of 7/2 and 5/1, respectively, although they get potentially disadvantageous outside posts.

    Bets: Victorine to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more. Consider a second win bet, for a smaller amount, on Cool Beans at odds of 4 to 1 or more. Got Stormy opens at 3 to 1 and the minimum odds I'd consider a win bet would be 7 to 2 so it's unlikely she would be a good win bet.

    Exacta: Victorine, Got Stormy and Cool Beans over Victorine, Got Stormy, Cool Beans, Monte Cristo, Significand Form and Altea.

     

    Pattison Canadian International – Race 9 at Woodbine - Post Time 5:41 PM ET

    Thundering Blue is the 2 to 1 starting favorite but does stand out even in a grade 1 stakes field. He won the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes on July 28 and finished third in a BIG effort behind Roaring Lion and Poet's Word (who beat him only a half-length for second) in the Group 1 Juddmonte International. He then ran a big effort in the 12 furlong Stockholm Cup International. There's no way to know who he beat in that one but it was a field of 12 and even if just a paid workout it served its purpose. He had trouble multiple times in the late stages of the York Stakes and jockey Berry has ridden him fantastically in four straight so accompanying the gelding across the pond is a big sign for another "A" effort good enough to win.

     

    Khan is another import, with a career best effort in his most recent race, the group 1 stakes in Germany. Similar to Thundering Blue, he may not have beaten much last time out but he powered home to win by six lengths after stalking the pace early on a soggy course so could run even better in this situation with the jockey that rode him last out also coming in to ride.

     

    Of the local contingent, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion are worth a look. Even though I feel Focus Group is the only one of the four worth a win bet I will STILL ALSO bet a few bucks on English Illusions so as not to be kicking myself later if he pays $60 to win. English Illusion was just a length behind Johnny Bear in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer last month and should not be double that one's odds (15/1 versus 8/1) on the morning line. Back to Focus Group, he's one of two trained by Chad Brown, getting Jose Ortiz to ride and coming off two career best efforts with 118 and 116 figures, the most recent at a mile and five-eighths, so getting this mile and one-half trip is not a question. He hasn't proven himself in a graded stakes yet but he's just four and I refuse to let Chad Brown beat me at 10/1 with a horse having a legitimate shot.

    Bets: Thundering Blue to win at odds of 3 to 2 or more.

    Second win bets may be warranted on Khan and on Focus Group at odds of 7 to 2 or more, adding place bets at 5 to 1 or higher.

    As mentioned previously, a WIN, PLACE and SHOW bet on English Illusion at odds of 10 to 1 or more.

    Exactas: Thundering Blue over Khan, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion

    Exactas: Thundering Blue, Khan and Focus Group over Thundering Blue, Khan, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion.

    Also play the reverse of that exacta, which is Thundering Blue, Khan, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion over Thundering Blue, Khan and Focus Group.

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  • 12
    OCT

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 13

    Nearctic Stakes – Race 7 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:30 PM ET

    Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat and Lady Alexandra are the win contenders, the first two opening at superb double digit odds out of line with their probability to win (in my opinion) and Lady Alexandra very interesting if her connections choose this spot against males over the race at Belmont. Hemp Hemp Hooray has a record of 3-3-0 in seven races. I know he's run eight times but his race at Ascot doesn't count in my opinion. He adds blinkers worn for his first three races but not his next four and his three races in blinkers consisted of two wins and a neck loss last year in the G2 Summer Stakes here at Woodbine. He's been based here since coming back from England and has finished 2nd twice in stakes against three year olds only, both superb efforts to the same horse, who is not racing here. Hemp Hemp Hooray put in a two phenomenal workouts coming into the race and Hernandez, up for his last two "A" efforts, rides back. As such, all signs point to an odds beating effort.

    Similarly, if we bet Hemp Hemp Hooray was MUST ALSO BET Kitten's Cat, as they form an uncoupled entry owned by Ken & Sarah Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker. Since they share common ownership and this is a graded stakes they run uncoupled and that helps us because if they were coupled the entry would be 5 to 1 instead of the 20/1 on Hemp Hemp Hooray and the 12/1 starting odds on Kitten's Cat. Kitten's Cat was stakes placed as a three year old and just won at this six furlong turf trip over the track with leading rider Da Silva up for the first time, riding back again. The colt earned a career best 102 figure last out and has improving to do as he was flattered when both the runner-up and third finisher came back to win. By the way, Kitten's Cat won the Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes as a two year old so he's proven at the top level.

    I won't go over my analysis of why Lady Alexandra is a contender as I discussed that in detail earlier in the blog when going over the Floral Park Stakes. She led late and missed by a neck in the G1 Highlander Stakes, also versus males in June, North American leading rider Jose Ortiz up then and named to ride her here. Her back-to-back 113 Equibase figure efforts in April and June are some of the best in the field and she's a four year old so has improving to do.

    For the second position on exacta tickets, in addition to the three win contenders and because two of them open at double digit odds, we can spread with Yorkton, Bushrod and Ikerrin Road.

    Bets: BOTH Hemp Hemp Hooray and Kitten's Cat to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more. Add place bets at 6 to 1 or more. Bet Lady Alexandra to win at 7 to 2 or more as well. I think three win bets are acceptable here given the edge over the rest of the field.

    As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

    Exacta: Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat and Lady Alexandra over Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat, Lady Alexandra, Yorkton, Bushrod and Ikerrin Road.

    $0.20 Pick 3 (not necessarily a smart bet but one that could pay very well given the high odds contenders in this race and the ninth race)

    Race 7 - Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat and Lady Alexandra

    Race 8 – ALL

    Race 9 – Thundering Blue, Khan, Funtastic, English Illusion, Johnny Bear and Focus Group

    Floral Park Stakes – Race 8 at Belmont Park - Post Time 4:43 PM Eastern

    Lady Alexandra, who is also entered to run in the Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine on Saturday, gets slight preference among four win contenders if she runs here. She loves the Belmont turf where she's three-for-four including a stakes win the last time she ran here in April. We can completely ignore her most recent race which was on the all-weather at Presque Isle Downs and before that she ran huge when missing by a neck (after leading late) against males at the trip in the Grade 1 Highlander Stakes, winning the License Fee Stakes over the course prior to that. She put in a big workout at trainer Motion's Fair Hills base last week and is set for an "A" effort good enough to win given her back-to-back 113 Equibase figure efforts in the License Fee and Highlander.

    Next in terms of probability are a pair of horses at decent odds in Fire Key and Tillie's Lily with Fire Key having finished first or second in 13 or 22 career races including 11 of 16 on turf, even better still eight of nine at short sprints distances like this one. She put in three really bad efforts in a row in July and August but turned a corner last month winning a 100K stakes similar to this one with Pimental aboard, who comes in to ride from Maryland. Last fall when at the top of her game she ran three "A" races in a row for 113 and 112 figures comparable with the best Lady Alexandra has run and so she does have a shot to upset. The same holds true for Tillie's Lilly, who opens at lower odds than Fire Key, 5/1 compared to 8/1. Nevertheless this filly has a lot of talent as she won the first four races of her career, all turf sprints including her only try at Belmont. She ran poorly in her first stakes try at Saratoga but she was bumped and pinched at the start, denying her first or second position in the early stages she had in all four starts prior to that. She was on an improving pattern from 102 to 106 figures before last and has improving to do as a lightly raced four year old.

    Lull rounds out the win contenders, a bit of an underlay opening at 3/1 but a must to use on exacta, trifecta and double tickets. She made her four year old debut in March with a game win in the Grade 3 Honey Fox Stakes at a mile then finished third in the Grade 1 Just a Game on Belmont Stakes day, a big effort behind Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf bound A Raving Beauty. She finished third, then second, in a pair of stakes coming into the race, the most recent with a 112 figure comparable, but not superior, to two of the other three contenders and with a 5-4-3 record in 16 career turf starts she's prove quite competitive.

    Win Bet: Lady Alexandra to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more, Fire Key to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher and Tillie's Lily to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more.

    "IF" Lady Alexandra's connections choose to run in the Nearctic Stakes and scratch out of this race, the Win Bets are: Fire Key at odds of 5 to 2 or higher and Tillie's Lily to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher.

    As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

    Exacta bets: Box Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull. (If Lady Alexandra scratches play the remaining three horses).

    Trifecta bets: Lady Alexandra over Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull over ALL.

    Also play a trifecta box consisting of Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull. (If Lady Alexandra scratches play the remaining three horses).

    Doubles: Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull in Race 8 with Victorine in Race 9.

    Doubles: Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull in Race 8 with Victorine, Cool Beans and Got Stormy in Race 9.

    Doubles: Lady Alexandra in Race 8 with Victorine, Cool Beans and Got Stormy in Race 9.

     

    Pebbles Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont - Post Time 5:18 PM ET

    Victorine won two of her last three starts in France before a fourth of eight finish in the G2 Sands Point last month over the course. She did not race on Lasix for that race but adds Lasix today and that could easily be the key to running back to her best efforts. She cuts back in distance from nine furlongs to eight as she transitions to the strong Clement barn which is winning at nearly a 33% clip in the last month (on 39 races) and which is 22 for 88 with Rosario aboard (as today) in the past year. As such, we should expect big improvement and the slight upset win as the filly opens at six to one.

    Got Stormy and Cool Beans are the other two win contenders in my opinion. Got Stormy has won three straight and was dominant in her last two starts, both stakes at a mile on grass. She's won at four tracks in her career but just the same she's NOT A STANDOUT as her last three wins earned 102, 82 and 90 Equibase figures, compared to 95 for Victorine even when fourth in the Sands Point Stakes last month. Cool Beans offers excellent value for a second win bet (after Victorine) as she opens at 10 to 1. She only wins when she leads from the start but even if she does lead she doesn't necessarily win. However, she hangs on tremendously as she's been second in three of her last four starts, with a win in the other race, last time out at Saratoga with a 103 figure that compares very well with the best of these. Red hot Brad Cox has done a wonderful job with this gal and we must remember all of these are three year olds so there's no edge in the maturity department for any of them.

    For the runner-up spot on exacta tickets we will use Monte Cristo, Significand Form and Altea, the first two opening at fairly low odds of 7/2 and 5/1, respectively, although they get potentially disadvantageous outside posts.

    Bets: Victorine to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more. Consider a second win bet, for a smaller amount, on Cool Beans at odds of 4 to 1 or more. Got Stormy opens at 3 to 1 and the minimum odds I'd consider a win bet would be 7 to 2 so it's unlikely she would be a good win bet.

    Exacta: Victorine, Got Stormy and Cool Beans over Victorine, Got Stormy, Cool Beans, Monte Cristo, Significand Form and Altea.

     

    Pattison Canadian International – Race 9 at Woodbine - Post Time 6:18 PM ET

    Thundering Blue is the 2 to 1 starting favorite but does stand out even in a grade 1 stakes field. He won the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes on July 28 and finished third in a BIG effort behind Roaring Lion and Poet's Word (who beat him only a half-length for second) in the Group 1 Juddmonte International. He then ran a big effort in the 12 furlong Stockholm Cup International. There's no way to know who he beat in that one but it was a field of 12 and even if just a paid workout it served its purpose. He had trouble multiple times in the late stages of the York Stakes and jockey Berry has ridden him fantastically in four straight so accompanying the gelding across the pond is a big sign for another "A" effort good enough to win.

    Khan is another import, with a career best effort in his most recent race, the group 1 stakes in Germany. Similar to Thundering Blue, he may not have beaten much last time out but he powered home to win by six lengths after stalking the pace early on a soggy course so could run even better in this situation with the jockey that rode him last out also coming in to ride.

    Of the local contingent, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion are worth a look. Even though I feel Focus Group is the only one of the four worth a win bet I will STILL ALSO bet a few bucks on English Illusions so as not to be kicking myself later if he pays $60 to win. English Illusion was just a length behind Johnny Bear in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer last month and should not be double that one's odds (15/1 versus 8/1) on the morning line. Back to Focus Group, he's one of two trained by Chad Brown, getting Jose Ortiz to ride and coming off two career best efforts with 118 and 116 figures, the most recent at a mile and five-eighths, so getting this mile and one-half trip is not a question. He hasn't proven himself in a graded stakes yet but he's just four and I refuse to let Chad Brown beat me at 10/1 with a horse having a legitimate shot.

    Bets: Thundering Blue to win at odds of 3 to 2 or more.

    Second win bets may be warranted on Khan and on Focus Group at odds of 7 to 2 or more, adding place bets at 5 to 1 or higher.

    As mentioned previously, a WIN, PLACE and SHOW bet on English Illusion at odds of 10 to 1 or more.

    Exactas: Thundering Blue over Khan, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion

    Exactas: Thundering Blue, Khan and Focus Group over Thundering Blue, Khan, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion.

    Also play the reverse of that exacta, which is Thundering Blue, Khan, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion over Thundering Blue, Khan and Focus Group.

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  • 05
    OCT

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 6

    Hill Prince Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:00 PM Eastern

    Have At It and Prioritize just finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the Better Talk Now Stakes at Saratoga, separated by a neck at odds of 7/1 and 9/1. In spite of running very well in a similar stakes, they open at 8/1 and, even more out of line, 15/1, because of the nature of how heavily Chad Brown's Raging Bull will be bet, opening at 6/5. However, these are ALL three year olds and when comparing the 98 Equibase Figure Raging Bull earned winning the Saranac Stakes to the 102 and 100 figures Have At It and Prioritize earned just five days earlier, the keys to profit in this race are obvious. Add to the mix Ride a Comet, who finished third behind Raging Bull in the Hall of Fame Stakes on August 3 then flattered that one by shipping to California to win the Del Mar Derby, with a field high and career best 113 figure on par with the 113 Raging Bull earned in the Hall of Fame. Both those figures would be dominant if repeated but with Raging Bull earning a 95 figure when second in the Manila before the Hall of Fame, the 113 figure effort looks to be an outlier. I'm not sure about the big effort Ride a Comet put in last out, but then again comparing his 3/1 starting odds to the odds offered on both Have At It and Prioritize, I'll still be happy keying on the two higher odds horses on exactas, with a very specific trifecta strategy below to cover the favorites running well.

    Win & Place Bets: Have At It to win at 5/2 or more, adding a place bet at 5/1, a KEY BET on the day.

    For a smaller amount, Prioritize to win at 7/2 or higher, adding a place bet at 5/1 or more.

    As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

    Exacta bets: We will split the favorites as there's no value in them finishing first and second, as follows:

    Box Have At It, Prioritize and Raging Bull. Box Have At It, Prioritize and Ride a Comet.

    Trifecta: Raging Bull and Ride a Comet over Have At It and Prioritize over Raging Bull, Ride a Comet, Have At It and Prioritize.

    Doubles: ALL in Race 9 with Trophy Chaser in Race 10

    Have At It and Prioritize in Race 9 with ALL in Race 10

    Raging Bull, Ride a Comet, Have At It and Prioritize in Race 9 with Trophy Chaser in Race 10

    Have At It and Prioritize in Race 9 with Endorsed, Trophy Chaser, Complexity, Call Paul and Aurelius Maximus in Race 10.

     

    Speakeasy Stakes – Race 4 at Santa Anita - Post Time 5:05 PM ET (2:05 PM PT)

    Mae Never No is a standout in this "Win & You're In" to the new Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Trained by Wesley Ward, who rarely ships to California, she's a filly facing males, which Ward does an incredible job with in spotting where his young fillies can beat boys. Although Keeneland, Ward's home base, is running the Indian Summer Stakes, another BC Juvenile Turf Sprint prep, Ward ships because he also has a very strong contender in that race, the filly Chelsea Cloisters. Mae Never No has won two of three, the most recent a stakes race when leading start to finish, the other in May in her debut from off the pace under Stevens, who gets the call here.

    For some doubles and pick 3's we will also use Hartel and Owning, who don't look as fast as Mae Never Know, but who appear so far superior to the other four that for the purposes of multi-race bets have to be considered, particularly as I am taking a shot for the upset in race 5.

    Bets: Mae Never Know to win at 8 to 5 or more, a low odds overlay KEY BET.

    Doubles: Mae Never Know in Race 4 with All in Race 5.

    ALL in Race 4 with Distinctive B in Race 5

    Mae Never Know, Hartel and Owning in Race 4 with Distinctive B in Race 5.

    Pick 3: (3 options:

    Race 4 – Mae Never Know, Hartel, Owning

    Race 5 – Roy H, Distinctive B, Ransom the Moon

    Race 6 – Miss Southern Miss, Fizzy Friday, Poster Girl, Rubilinda

    Race 4 – Mae Never Know

    Race 5 – Roy H, Distinctive B, Ransom the Moon

    Race 6 – Miss Southern Miss, Fizzy Friday, Poster Girl, Rubilinda

     

    Race 4 – Mae Never Know, Hartel, Owning

    Race 5 – Distinctive B

    Race 6 – Miss Southern Miss, Fizzy Friday, Poster Girl, Rubilinda

     

    Champagne Stakes – Race 10 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:35 PM ET

    The principal "Occam's Razor" suggests when there are two solutions, the simpler (or more obvious) is usually correct. When applied to handicapping, it means if a horse looks like the best horse, in the absence of contrary evidence, it usually is. Of course, applying the principal all the time just puts us on the same horse as most of the public (the favorite) and that's no fun. However, in this year's Champagne Stakes, the obvious horse, Trophy Chaser, opens at 10/1 and that has to be taken advantage of. Trophy Chaser, like most of the others in this race, broke his maiden in his most recent race. That was a six furlong sprint at Gulfstream Park. Not only did he win by 15 3/4 lengths, he earned a 115 Equibase figure, normally higher than the figure earned by the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile next month on a historical basis. The effort and figure do not appear to be inflated, as other speed figure makers have his figure the best in the field as well, and the figure wasn't earned leading from start to finish, rather the colts showed maturity sitting in 2nd in the early stages. With a strong workout coming into the race and a solid local jockey in Junior Alvarado riding, if this colt goes off anywhere near double digit odds it could prove to be a gift not only because of everything mentioned previously but also because the runner-up came back to win and the 3rd finisher improved to finish 2nd in his next start.

    The uncoupled Brown entry of Complexity and Aurelius Maximus are talented colts who win by 4 1/4 and 7 3/4 lengths, respectively, last out, with 104 and 95 figures to improve upon. Endorsed was very impressive rallying to get up by a neck with a 106 figure, and Call Paul won the Saratoga Special with a mediocre 88 figure but earned a 102 figure in his debut and is another talented colt. However, none of them offer the value Trophy Chaser offers.

    Bets: Trophy Chaser to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 4 to 1 or more.

     

    Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes – Race 5 at Santa Anita - Post Time 5:38 PM ET, (2:38 PM PT)

    In spite of the class of both Roy H and Ransom the Moon, I am going to take a shot with Distinctive B, who may be all alone on an easy early lead in this short field. Horses often outrun their own ability when on an easy early lead and can gain a confidence sometimes seen never before or after those kinds of efforts. Distinctive B earned a career-best 115 Equibase Speed Figure in his most recent start, on August 26, when coasting to an easy four and one-half length win, so it is presumed he could have run even faster. Last year, Roy H earned a 117 figure when second to Ransom the Moon in the Bing Crosby Stakes before winning the Santa Anita Sprint Championship and that is the kind of effort Distinctive B may be capable of that could propel him to the upset win.

     

    Ransom the Moon and Roy H don't need any talking up, each having won two of four meetings versus the other, with the former having won the Bing Crosby recently and the latter having won this race last year before winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

    Bets: Distinctive B to win at 2 to 1 or more.

    (note: If we are alive in doubles we don't need to make a win bet)

    Exactas: Box Distinctive B and Roy H. Box Distinctive B and Ransom the Moon

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    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, September 29

    Pilgrim Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:16 PM Eastern

    Vineyard Sound is impossible to ignore, opening at 12/1. Sent to post at 15/1 in his debut last month at Saratoga in a turf sprint (7 furlongs), the race was moved to dirt. Sent to the front shortly after the start, Vineyard Sound led set fast fractions on the lead into the stretch before settling for 2nd in a big effort while earning an 81 Equibase figure in the process. To put that in perspective, favorite Opry made his career debut one week earlier in an off-turf 7 furlong dirt sprint, finishing a close-up third with a 75 figure before breaking his maiden in the With Anticipation Stakes by improving markedly to a 92 figure running in his first turf route. There is every reason to believe Vineyard Sound can repeat that same feat as Opry did in the With Anticipation by breaking his maiden in the Pilgrim Stakes, particularly as he's bred to adore the turf. Vineyard Sound is a full brother to multiple turf route stakes winner Bittel Road, who won as a 2 year old, and two of his other three siblings on the dam's side are also turf route winners. Veteran jockey Edgar Prado takes the call and Vineyard Sound has put in three recent workouts on turf coming into the race so be familiar with the surface.

    Forty Under tried turf and two turns last month in his 2nd career start and showed a lot of maturity sitting off the pace in 2nd in the early stages before showing a nice kick to win. He's improving, gets a good inside post and the 93 Equibase figure earned is on par with the 92 Opry earned in winning the With Anticipation stakes, so likely to improve in his 3rd career start and 2nd route, Forty Under is another to be respected, particularly as his starting odds are 6/1.

    Opry rounds out the main trio of contenders, already a stakes winner and with improving to do in his 3rd career start. The only knocks are his 9/5 starting odds.

    There are a trio of horses who we can consider for the runner-up spot, starting with Social Paranoia, who finished 2nd to Forty Under last time out and who, like Vineyard Sound, is trying to break his maiden in a stakes race. Somelikeithotbrown finished 2nd to Opry in the With Anticipation Stakes and can improve, having broken his maiden by eight lengths before that, which helped make him the 6 to 5 favorite in the With Anticipation. Spirit Animal ran fourth in an off-turf race in his debut then improved nicely to break his maiden in a turf route in his second start. His 87 Equibase figure is lower than the other contenders and lower than the figure Vineyard Sound may improve to, but Spirit Animal has improving to do and can't be discounted as a contender.

    Win or win/place bets: Vineyard Sound to win and place at 3 to 1 or more.

    Consider a second win bet, on Forty Under, at 7 to 2 or higher, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

    As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

    Exacta bets: Vineyard Sound, Forty Under and Opry over Vineyard Sound, Forty Under, Opry, Somelikeitbrown, Social Paranoia and Spirit Animal.

    Doubles: Vineyard Sound, Forty Under and Opry in Race 9 with Diversify and Thunder Snow in Race 10.

    Jockey Club Gold Cup – Race 10 at Belmont - Post Time 5:50 PM ET

    If Mendelssohn puts pressure on Diversify early, Thunder Snow can win. Although Thunder Snow won the Dubai World Cup on the lead from start to finish, I doubt those tactics will be used in the Jockey Club Gold Cup because Diversify is a horse with a high cruising speed and a very strong desire to lead from the start. More likely, it will Mendelssohn who will be attending the pace early to keep the Diversify honest and insure he does not control the pace as he did when winning the 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup. The reason Thunder Snow went to the lead at the start in the World Cup was it had been shown earlier on the card that running style was beneficial compared to others, particularly as Mendelssohn had led from start to finish in winning the U.A.E. Derby by 18 lengths. Prior to the World Cup, Thunder Snow proved to be capable of tracking the pacesetter and running well, such as when winning the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 in February. The Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 was the second of three successive big efforts in which Thunder Snow earned 106, 111 and then 116 Equibase Speed Figures, before a tremendous 142 figure earned winning the World Cup. Since arriving at Belmont and coming out of quarantine, Thunder Snow put in a half-mile workout over the main track and moves back to dirt after a poor effort on turf last month and that could be the key to repeating his World Cup effort and collaring Diversify in the stretch to win the Gold Cup.

    That being said, Diversify has proven time and again to be one of the toughest horses in the handicap division to pass in the late stages of a race. The first time Diversify ran the distance of one mile and one-quarter was in last year's Gold Cup, a breakout performance with a 119 figure and his second such figure in a row. After a pair of poor efforts last fall and this spring, Diversify recovered that form in April with a win in the Commentator Stakes with a 104 figure, improving to 114 winning the Suburban Stakes at the distance in July and then to a 118 figure easily winning the Whitney Stakes last month at Saratoga. Diversify has shown an incredible liking for the main track at Belmont, with six wins and two runner-up finishes in eight races, which helps make him the other horse with a high probability to win this race.

    Any of the other six can finish third. With the exception of likely early pace presser Mendelssohn five of those six likely to be coming from far back in the early stages and hoping to rally past most of the rest.

    Bets: Thunder Snow to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Box Diversify and Thunder Snow.

    Trifecta: Diversify and Thunder Snow over Diversify and Thunder Snow over Carlino, Patch, Uno Mas Modelo and Discreet Lover.

    The reason for the strategy based on the fact I have no interest in either Mendelssohn or Gronkowski finishing second. If Diversify wins, the trifecta turns a few bucks into a higher return than a win bet on Diversify. Of course, if Thunder Snow wins then the trifecta may pay handsomely.

    Chandelier Stakes – Race 9 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:07 ET, 4:07 PT

    Der Lu won as she pleased in her career debut last month in a sprint and as a daughter of Orb should stretch out and run even better. The 99 Figure is the best last race figure in the field and she's trained by Baffert (who also saddles Mother Mother) with Van Dyke riding back after being up in the debut, in which she ran very maturely as she stalked in 2nd early before drawing off. The only other horse with a better figure in any race is her stablemate, who regressed badly when second in the Del Mar Debutante four weeks ago, won by Bellafina, with Brill fourth. Bellafina, who opens at 9/5, regressed badly off the 101 figure earned in the Sorrento one month earlier, as did Brill and Mother Mother, which is of big concern as 2 year olds should be improving from race to race, not declining. As such, Der Lu has a big shot to post the mild upset here, opening at 4 to 1.

    Del Mar May is the other horse we can consider as a win contender and bet as such. She led late then finished 2nd in her debut in July with an 85 figure then went into the Sorrento Stakes as a maiden. Although 2nd to Bellafina, Del Mar May improved to a 92 figure but unlike Bellafina, Del Mar May did not go in the Del Mar Debutante and so enters the race fresh and on an improving pattern.

    Bets: Der Lu to win at 9 to 5 or more AND Del Mar May to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.

    As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

    Doubles: Der Lu and Del Mar May in Race 9 with Queen Blossom, Vasilika and Cambodia in Race 10.

    Also, ALL in race 9 with Queen Blossom in Race 10.

    Pick 3: (Two Tickets)

    Race 9 – Der Lu and Del Mar May

    Race 10 – Queen Blossom, Vasilika and Cambodia

    Race 11 – West Coast and Accelerate

    Race 9 – Der Lu and Del Mar May

    Race 10 – Queen Blossom

    Race 11 – West Coast and Accelerate

    Rodeo Drive Stakes – Race 10 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:41 PM ET, 4:41 PT

    Queen Blossom, who opens at 8 to 1 odds, has as much probability to win as either of the two favorites, Vasilika and Cambodia, who open at much lower odds. Better still perhaps, Queen Blossom has run this 10 furlong turf trip, and further, previously, winning the Santa Barbara Stakes in April over the course at 12 furlongs and finishing 2nd in a pair of stakes since then at 10 and 11 furlongs, respectively. Prat rode her in all three recent "A" efforts, and he moves to Vasilika, but Geroux comes in to ride to there are no issues. With a career best Equibase figure of 112 earned one before last not far from the 115 and 113 figures Vasilika and Cambodia earned when finishing first and second, respectively, in their most recent race, with out of line odds and experience at the trip the favorites lack, Queen Blossom has every right to post the upset.

    Vasilika goes for her seventh straight win, including her first graded stakes win four weeks ago in the John C Mabee Stakes. She loves to win and except for never having run this 10 furlong trip would be no surprise. Cambodia won the Yellow Ribbon Stakes in August before rallying from 9th to 2nd in the Mabee behind Vasilika. Another horse who loves to win and is immensely talented, she must be considered a win contender for any double and pick 3 tickets played but with such great value offered on Queen Blossom, Cambodia is a poor win bet.

    Bets: Queen Blossom to win and place at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

    Exactas: Box Queen Blossom and Vasilika. Box Queen Blossom and Cambodia.

    Optional Double (particularly if live in the pick 3 with one of the two contenders in the ninth race winning):

    Queen Blossom in Race 10 with West Coast and Accelerate in Race 11.

    Note about race 11, the Awesome Again Stakes: There's no reason to bet that race in and of itself because a short six horse field is assembled and it would be a shock if either West Coast or Accelerate did not win. Value on one of these two winning the race comes solely in playing the doubles or pick 3.

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    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, September 22

    PA Derby Champion Stakes – Race 8 at Parx - Post Time 3:41 PM Eastern

    Collected opens as the 6/5 favorite and is a FALSE FAVORITE, on many counts, which makes the race exceptionally playable. "Never bet a Grade 1 winner making a comeback from a layoff in a non-graded race" is an old handicapping angle in play here. A non-graded race off a layoff for a previous grade 1 winner has to be considered a throwaway race, one which of course a horse can win, but on the other hand the trainer is telegraphing this isn't important one bit. Collected needs to get in at least one race before running in this year's Breeders' Cup Classic, having finished 2nd in the race last year, and needs this kind of race but coming back from eight months off, in a decent enough field, although he can win on class, it's just as likely if there's a battle in the stretch Smith is NOT going to ask him for all he has to offer because that would hurt his chances in six weeks.

    On the other hand, there are a trio of horses with good form that can be played as overlays, starting with Exulting, shipping in from New York for McLaughlin. The five year old won just one of his first eight races but has won two in a row, the last with a career best 110 Equibase figure (the 2nd best last race figure in the field) and is on a pattern for another career best. Bravo gets the call and is a very strong rider for the barn with a 15 for 53 record going back the last two years, 3 for 9 in stakes. Opening at 10/1, Exulting is all but impossible to ignore given how easily he won his last two races.

    Aztec Sense is another very playable horse at anywhere near his 6/1 starting odds. He's won six in a row, three over the course including a pair of $100K stakes like this one, earning 106 figures in his last two. He can win on the lead or from just off the pace and he's been in front at the 8th pole in all of those recent wins, giving no horse a shot to pass late. Having won ALL five two turn races in his career, and for the super high percentage Navarro barn, Aztec Sense would be no surprise.

    Name Changer has won 7 of 15 career races including a three-for-four record this year. He won the G3 Monmouth Cup when last seen at the end of July and fired to win off a similar short layoff in May. Jose Ortiz rode him for the first time in the Monmouth Cup and rides back and repeating any of his last 3 efforts, with 116, 113 and 113 figures, if neither of the other two contenders jumps up, gets him another stakes win.

    For exotics, we'll toss in Sunny Ridge, who until a 9th place effort when overmatched in the Woodward had good form to similar, and Zanotti, who has finished second in FIVE of SEVEN races this year and who has a lot of heart.

    Bets: Exulting and Aztec Sense to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

    Consider a win bet on Name Changer at odds of 5 to 2 or more as well.

    When making multiple win bets, always a good idea in a race like this with a bad favorite, use a "Dutching" tool (like the free one at Amwager) which allows you to set the amount you want to win or the amount you want to spend, and allocates your wagers accordingly based on odds.

    Exacta: Exulting, Aztec Sense and Name Changer over Exulting, Aztec Sense, Name Changer, Sunny Ridge and Zanotti.

    Play the reverse of that exacta as well, because the reward is well worth the risk and if any two of the three main contenders finish 1st and 2nd, we win twice. That exacta is: Exulting, Aztec Sense, Name Changer, Sunny Ridge and Zanotti over Exulting, Aztec Sense and Name Changer.

    Doubles: ALL in Race 8 with Still Having Fun and Seven Trumpets in Race 9.

    Doubles (additional wager): Exulting, Aztec Sense and Name Changer in Race 8 with Still Having Fun, Seven Trumpets, Smooth B, Earned Success and Whereshetoldmetogo in Race 9.

    For the pick 3, use the horses above in races 8 and 9 and just single Monomoy Girl in race 10 (an otherwise unplayable race).

    Gallant Bob Stakes – Race 9 at Parx - Post Time 4:14 PM ET

    Seven Trumpets finished second last month in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at odds of 32 to 1, beating second betting choice Firenze Fire by half-length, the latter having NO EXCUSE. Still, for some reason (one I won't complain about), Seven Trumpets opens at 12/1 here while Firenze Fire opens at 2/1 and although Firenze Fire isn't a totally false favorite like Collected is in the previous race, the likely high odds offered on Seven Trumpets are notable. Now first or second in his last SIX one-turn races, Seven Trumpets came back to work a half-mile in 46.8 which was the best of 78 on the day so his form can't be questioned. Considering his off-the-pace running style and considering Forced and War Giant are BOTH need-the-lead types likely to go 22 for the 1st quarter and 44 and chance for the half mile, Seven Trumpets gets a fantastic post to run into and repeating that last effort with a strong 106 Equibase figure may get him the upset win.

    Another closer likely to benefit greatly from the early pace is Still Having Fun, who finished 5th (after being 8th early) in the Jerkens. Prior to that, he proved himself at the level with a win in the Woody Stephens on Belmont day and a 106 figure matching Seven Trumpets best effort. Rosario rides back and the colt has been first or second six or seven one turn races and therefore cannot be ignored for a second, opening at 12/1.

    Earned Success opens at 10/1, ridiculously high odds for a horse trained by Chad Brown. Brown also saddles Engage, who has run okay in four of five this year but who has finished evenly in the last eighth of a mile for 2nd in three of those. Earned Success is three-for-four in his career and is on an improving pattern with 92 then 102 figures in his last two. He's only started four times so has more to show us and therefore rounds out the three main contenders for win bets.

    That being said about the main contenders, there is really not a single horse in the field to be totally tossed out, even considering the likely pace duel, so the strategy will be to key on two or all three of the above, either with win/place bets or exactas.

    Bets: Seven Trumpets and Still Having Fun to win at odds of 3/1, adding place bets at 6 to 1 or more (and/or playing the exactas below instead of place bets). Consider a win bet on Earned Success at 4 to 1 or higher.

    Exacta: Seven Trumpets over ALL, AND the reverse which is ALL over Seven Trumpets

    Exacta option 2: Seven Trumpets and Still Having Fun over ALL and (the reverse) ALL over Seven Trumpets and Still Having Fun.

    Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash – Grade 3 - Race 10 at Laurel - Post Time 5 PM ET

    The Man loves to win races, now with 10 victories in 15 starts, better still 6 for 7 at this basic six furlong trip. He has a great stalking running style and his last three races earned Equibase figures of 109, 109 and 107 which are better than all but one of favorite Switzerland's figures (the best earned on a sloppy track) and better than or as good as the last two figures earned by Always Sunshine. The Man has excellent tactical speed and should be in the top three from the start under Vargas, the only rider he's ever known since his career debut, more reasons to suspect a big effort at a square price as he opens at 8/1.

    Always Sunshine and Switzerland are the logical win contenders for exotics but are likely to go to post at odds too low for a win bet, particularly when offered so much value on The Man. Always Sunshine won his last two races, both non-graded stakes, and has won over the track, but interestingly enough has the same number of career wins (6) at the trip as The Man. Switzerland disappointed at 3/1 last out in the Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga and will appreciate the class relief. He won three in a row prior to that with 103, 107 and 118 figures, the latter over a sloppy track but in a grade 3 stakes like this one.

    Bets: The Man to win at 2 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Box The Man and Always Sunshine. Box The Man and Switzerland.

    Trifecta: Box The Man, Always Sunshine and Switzerland.

    Pennsylvania Derby – Race 11 at Parx - Post Time 5:45 PM Eastern

    Axelrod gets slight preference among four horses I feel have more of a probability to win than the rest. Since stretching out to two turns on dirt in his third start as a three-year-old in June, Axelrod has really come to hand. In his first dirt route after two turf sprints this year, Axelrod finished second at 23 to 1 odds in the Affirmed Stakes while earning a career-best 106 Equibase Speed Figure then one month later he rallied gamely from last of nine to win the Indiana Derby with a 102 figure, before tying his career-best effort with an easy four length victory in the Smarty Jones Stakes last month. Jockey Joe Bravo rode Axelrod for the first time in the Smarty Jones and got along with the colt marvelously and the familiarity with the track may be an edge as well. In the Smarty Jones both horse and jockey had to wait for a clear path on the turn and when that path never materialized, Bravo swung Axelrod out eight paths wide into the stretch from where the horse accelerated in the blink of an eye to draw off. That's the same kind of effort I'm expecting of Axelrod in the Pennsylvania Derby, one that can help him post the upset for his third stakes win in a row.

    Although away from the races for more than six months, McKinzie cannot be completely discounted as a contender when considering wagers in this race. There's little concern about racing around two turns off a long layoff insofar as trainer Bob Baffert is concerned as Stats Race Lens statistics reveal Baffert has a three-for-five record with horses returning off similar layoffs in two-turn stakes races over the past five years. With regular jockey Mike Smith aboard and with 106, 111 and 118 figures earned in his three dirt route races, McKinzie must be respected as a contender even though he's coming off an injury and a layoff.

    Hofburg just ran the best race of his career when earning a 113 figure while geared down to a five length margin of victory in the Curlin Stakes at the distance of the Pennsylvania Derby. Although winning the Curlin easily, trainer Bill Mott is putting blinkers on for this race. Considering the stature of this Hall-of-Fame trainer I will not argue with the equipment change off a win, particularly considering the colt shows a portentous blinkers on/fast workout pattern as his recent half-mile workout was the best of 60 on the day. Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides once again and if there is any improvement from that last effort, Hofburg might put on quite a show.

    Mr Freeze rounds out the quartet that I feel can win the race and opens at double digit odds. He has won three of his four races to date and missed by just a half-length in the other. He enters the Pennsylvania Derby off a career-best effort with a 102 figure in the West Virginia Derby, in which he drew off to win by eight lengths with plenty of gas left in the tank. This will be his toughest test to date, but it must be noted his sire To Honor and Serve won the 2011 running of this race. As the late bloomer in the field, having just begun his career in April, Mr Freeze may be capable of getting the job done.

    Bets: Axelrod to win at 2 to 1 or more. Mr Freeze to win at 3 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Axelrod, Mr Freeze, Hofburg and McKinzie over Axelrod, Mr Freeze, Hofburg, McKinzie, Instilled Regard, King Zachary, Core Beliefs and Bravazo.

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    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, September 15

    Ricoh Woodbine Mile – Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:48 PM Eastern

    Lord Glitters is a classy turf horse who ran big in three straight group 1 and group 2 stakes in England this spring and summer then won a group 3 stakes last month. He's on an IDENTICAL pattern to 2015 Ricoh Woodbine Mile winner Mondialiste and that should come as no surprise as Mondialiste was trained by David O'Meara as is Lord Glitters. He gets Lasix and Jamie Spencer is in from Europe, having ridden the horse to runner-up efforts in the Queen Ann Stakes at Royal Ascot (in a field of 15) and the Summer Mile Stakes, beating his stablemate Suedois by a nose for 2nd. It must be noted Suedois came in from Europe for O'Meara to win a grade 1 race, the Shadwell Turf Mile, last year. With two of his last four efforts earning him 122 Equibase figures that are by far top in the field, Lord Glitters should take some beating.

    That being said, big changes in form are possible from Good Samaritan on the return to turf, where he started his career, winning his first two starts, on the Woodbine sod including the Summer Stakes. Rosario was up for those races, in which he ran without blinkers, which are removed today, with Rosario getting back on after a two race absence. Showing he can run on turf as a two year old and on dirt earlier this year when winning the New Orleans Handicap with a 116 figure competitive here if repeated, Good Samaritan is a second horse worth considering for a win bet, opening at 10/1.

    Delta Prince is a turf miler to be sure, with four wins and two second place finishes in six starts at the trip. Castellano has been up for the last two, the first of which came after nine months off and was a win on the Woodbine turf at this mile trip in the Grade 2 King Edward. He was the only horse to close into lone frontrunner Voodoo Song last out in the Fourstardave, improving to a career best 117 figure, and any step forward 3rd off the layoff makes him a contender as well.

    I'll consider Mr Havercamp (with inferior figures of 104 and107 compared to the top three contenders), Oscar Performance (who was pulled up last out but who won the Poker Stakes at a mile prior to that) and Stormy Antarctic (a European shipper like Lord Glitters who hasn't been facing the same quality as that one but may be good enough for a minor award) for second on exacta tickets.

    Bets: Lord Glitters to win at 3 to 2 or higher, a low odds key overlay win bet.

    For a smaller amount, consider a win bet on Good Samaritan at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at odds of 5 to 1 or higher.

    Exacta: Box Lord Glitters, Good Samaritan and Delta Prince.

    Exacta: Lord Glitters, Good Samaritan and Delta Prince over Lord Glitters, Good Samaritan, Delta Prince, Mr Havercamp, Oscar Performance and Stormy Antarctic.

    Pick 3 and Pick 4: (Woodbine offers $0.20 bets so we can play a decent pick 4 ticket)

    Race 8- Lord Glitters, Good Samaritan and Delta Prince

    Race 9-Starship Jubilee, Inflexibility

    Race 10- Ikerrin Road, Pink Lloyd, Kingsport

    Race 11- English Illusion, Patterson Cross, Hawkbill, Mekhtaal, Tiz a Slam, Utmost, Johnny Bear

    Canadian Stakes – Race 9 at Woodbine- Post Time 5:27 PM ET

    I only see two horses that can win this race, Starship Jubilee and Inflexibility, and with the first of the two opening at 10/1 I'll start there. Starship Jubilee is a grade 2 winner in a grade 2 race, the other two of the remaining seven that have won grade 2 or grade 1 races being New Money Honey and Niigon's Eclipse. However, New Money Honey is a FALSE 2nd betting choice opening at 5/2 as she's not the same horse as last year at three when she won a pair of graded stakes. On the other hand, Starship Jubilee, who won the Nassau and Dance Smartly over the Woodbine turf last year, got back into the winner's circle last month off a layoff and pair of defeats and as the type that loves to win, now that she's back in form she can easily run another "A" race, as she did when winning five in a row last year and when putting together two big efforts in a row in January and February. Her last start was against much cheaper but we should consider it nothing more than a paid workout as she was eligible for the starter allowance condition and it was better than a morning drill and her 113 figure from last year's Canadian when she led late before settling for 3rd would make her very competitive if repeated here.

    That being said, Inflexibility is a legitimate favorite, as she led late and settled for 2nd in the G2 Dance Smartly this year (which Starship Jubilee won last year). She didn't run nearly as well last month in the Beverly D at Arlington but winner Sistercharlie is pretty much unstoppable right now so back at the grade 2 level Inflexibility should be very tough.

    For the minor awards (which means for use in second on exacta tickets), I'll consider Daring Duchess (part of a likely pace duel with others but who hangs around for second a lot), Niigon's Eclipse (first or second in seven of her last eight), Bletchley (second in the Nassau behind Niigon's Eclipse and capable of putting in a big rally on occasion) and Hallie Belle (scratched out of the Ladies Turf at Kentucky Downs last weekend for this and getting leading jockey Da Silva).

    Bets: Starship Jubilee to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

    Exacta (instead of a win bet): Inflexibility over Starship Jubilee, Daring Duchess, Niigon's Eclipse, Bletchley and Hallie Belle.

    Exacta: Starship Jubilee and Inflexibility over Starship Jubilee, Inflexibility Daring Duchess, Niigon's Eclipse, Bletchley and Hallie Belle.

    Consider double and pick 3 tickets if you did not play the pick 3 or pick 4 in race 8 or if none of the contenders won the first leg of the bet.

    Bold Venture Stakes - Race 10 at Woodbine - Post Time 6:02 PM ET

    When Pink Lloyd had his winning streak snapped by Kingsport on July 8, Kingsport was getting a six pound break in the weights. That may have been a factor, as may have been the contested pace Pink Lloyd had to deal with after a slow break and rushing up. The same thing may happen today and the beneficiary could easily be Ikerrin Road, who won this race last year with a 107 figure as good as either of Pink Lloyd's last two figures (106 and 104). Ikerrin Road gets a seven pound break from the favorite and got back into winning form last month with a big effort rallying from sixth of nine so is now on an IDENTICAL pattern to his prep before winning this race last year at 12/1. He opens at 15/1 here and is worth betting to be sure.

    There's not much to say about Pink Lloyd, winner of 16 races in 19 tries. Although many of his wins came in restricted races he has won four open (not restricted) stakes in the past 15 months and although his last loss came at this 6 1/2 furlong trip he's won at 7 furlongs so it's not an issue either. His biggest problem is his tendency to break slowly, which he overcomes most of the time. I won't discount him so will definitely use him on exacta and multi-race tickets like the pick 3 and 4 but certainly we profit a lot more if one of the other two contenders posts the upset win.

    Kingsport doesn't get a big break in weight like he got two back, today only two pounds lower than Pink Lloyd, but otherwise he could be the beneficiary once more as he cuts back from a route to a sprint just like he did for the win on July 8 and he could be closing into a fast pace. He finished fourth in the route before beating Pink Lloyd in July and this time he's cutting back in distance off a win, beating a very good horse in Melmich (who has earned nearly $1 million) so he must be respected.

    We should add Yorkton and Sweet Little Man for second and/or third on exacta and trifecta tickets played, the former having finished second in two of his last three and the latter now with 15 runner-up finishes in his career to go along with eight wins.

    Bets: Ikerrin Road to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 7 to 1 or more.

    Exacta and Trifecta: Ikerrin Road, Pink Lloyd and Kingsport over Ikerrin Road, Pink Lloyd, Kingsport, Yorkton and Sweet Little Man.

    Consider doubles if you are not alive in any of the pick 3 or 4 tickets started in earlier races.

    Northern Dancer Stakes – Race 11 at Woodbine - Post Time 6:36 PM Eastern

    There are TWO excellent longshot opportunities in this race, English Illusion and Patterson Cross, although for the pick 4 ticket started in race 8, and any pick 3 or double tickets started since, I am going to use seven horses because the $0.20 bet size allows for spreading in this race.

    English Illusion is a true "stayer," meaning a horse that can run as far as the day is long. He won at 12 furlongs on turf last month and he won at 13 furlongs (1 5/8 miles) last fall. Last month when winning at this 12 furlong turf trip, he beat last year's Northern Dancer winner, Johnny Bear, on the square, and that win in the Halton Stakes served as the same prep Johnny Bear used for winning this race last year. The gelding was dropped in to a claiming race for the first time right before that last race, and he was immediately claimed because as a five year old he still may have a fine career on turf. Hernandez got on off the claim and rode him marvelously, and Hernandez and trainer Pion have had superb success at Woodbine the past few years. English Illusion earned a 106 Equibase figure last December at the 13F distance and that's the third best figure in the field so opening at 15/1 I think he's one of two I definitely don't want to miss if he runs big.

    The other is Patterson Cross, who proved he belonged at this level and marathon distance with three superb efforts in a row last winter (2017), starting that January when leading late and missing by a length to be third in the McKnight Handicap, then missing by a head to world class Wake Forest in the Mac Diarmida Stakes before a neck defeat in the Pan American Stakes behind multiple graded stakes winner Sadler's Joy. He bettered the best Equibase figure (113) from those three efforts two months ago when missing in a four horse blanket finish at Saratoga with a 121 figure then rallied from seventh to second in the stretch in the Johns Call Stakes when he was impeded and finished fourth before being moved up to third when the runner-up was disqualified for interference. That effort earned a 118 figure so Patterson Cross enters the race off the two best efforts of his career so another "A" effort is forecast and as he opens at 10/1 he's very playable.

    Favorite Hawkbill has run some races good enough to win and some clunkers. Last year in this race he led from the start as the 3 to 5 favorite but got nailed late by Johnny Bear. He ships in from Europe like last year and has run in three straight Group 1 Stakes against horses who would be odds on favorites to win if entered here, so he could be competitive if he's ready but he's tough to bet to win at low odds.

    Many of these have some small chance to win and a bigger chance to finish second, and so with two of the win contenders opening at double digit odds we can take a shot with some exactas using as many as possible.

    Bets: Patterson Cross and English Illusion to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

    As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you.

    Exacta: Patterson Cross and English Illusion over Patterson Cross, English Illusion, Hawkbill, Mekhtaal, Utmost, Johnny Bear and Tiz a Slam.

    Also, play the reverse of that exacta, which is Patterson Cross, English Illusion, Hawkbill, Mekhtaal, Utmost, Johnny Bear and Tiz a Slam over Patterson Cross and Tiz a Slam.

     

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