Ellis Starr's Blog - AmWager

  • 18
    JAN

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, January 19

    Pasco Stakes - Race 7 at Tampa Bay Downs - Post Time 3:10 PM Eastern

    It appears Win Win Win and Cave Run are the only two which can win this year's Pasco Stakes, but they open as the morning line favorite at 5/2 and the third choice on the morning line at 7/2 so there may not be a lot of value on win bets. Therefore the main play in this race is a pick 3 to race nine, the Gasparilla Stakes. Still, there may be opportunity for a low odds overlay win bet. Cave Run, who opens at the higher odds of the two contenders at 7/2, has a slight edge over Win Win Win as he won over the track. The win came in his only start, on 12/15, and he not only showed a lot of maturity in victory when relaxing in third in the early stages before rallying to draw off by six lengths, he also earned the best Equibase figure of any horse in the field, 99. With improving to do in his second start and with a good outside post to once again stalk whoever decides to lead early, Cave Run has a big shot to win a stakes in only the second start of his career.

     

    Win Win Win won the first two starts of his career then finished second, all at Laurel. The runner-up finish came in a stakes and at this seven furlong trip so he does have a slight experience edge over Cave Run. He improved from an 84 figure in his debut to 92 then to 95 last time out so he's likely to run in the range of Cave Run if that one just repeats his last effort, but on the other hand I expect Cave Run to improve in his second lifetime start the same way Win WinWin did in his so perhaps Win Win Win will just be running for second.

     

    Bets: Cave Run to win at odds of 9 to 5 or higher.

     

    $0.50 Pick 3 ticket:

    Race 7 – Win Win Win, Cave Run

    Race 8 – Ponti Scheme, Flossie, Summer Sweet

    Race 9 – Molto Bella

     

    Race 8 at Tampa Bay Downs - Post Time 3:40 PM Eastern

    Flossie is the main play here, with Ponti Scheme and Summer Sweet to be used on pick 3 tickets and exacta tickets. Flossie won her debut last June with a lot of maturity in a 10 horse field at Churchill Downs in a sprint then came back a month later and ran poorly. Not deterred by that effort, the next month she was stretched out to two turns and tried on grass, and voila, she ran huge, leading from start to finish and gamely winning by a head in a 10 horse field. Rested since the end of August and moved to the barn of Correas, the filly finds a weak field for the allowance level and appears to be fit as she's put in six workouts in just over a month. Cannon is an underrated jockey, especially on turf, and the trainer is 2 for 2 in recent history with horses coming back in turf routes off layoffs of 4 to 6 months.

     

    Bets: Flossie to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

     

    Race 9 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 3:45 PM Eastern

    This race is playable on its own because the favorite is legitimate and there's a horse opening at 20/1 whose odds should be much lower. Additionally, it offers some nice pick 3 action ending in race 11, the Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes. Central Command is the legitimate favorite, opening at 9 to 5 on the heels of a 9 month layoff following a win in his only start. He's in the Chad Brown barn and Castellano rides and he won that only start last March easily and impressively by four lengths as the 8 to 5 favorite. He's been in steady training for his comeback and his workout three weeks ago (12/29) was superb, the 2nd best of 88 on the day for a half-mile. He finds a lackluster field of horses which are either stuck at the allowance condition or are better in claiming races and Brown continues to win at an above average 26% rate with horses coming back from long layoffs.

     

    The horse coming in under the radar is Time to Travel, an impressive winner in his 2nd career start in April, 2017 at Gulfstream and at this 7 furlong trip. He got a late start on his career so the connections took a shot at Derby points in the Lexington Stakes but he finished fourth after leading mid-race. He finished 2nd in another stakes, tried turf and failed miserably then was given nine months off. After being beaten 42 lengths he was rested again and when returning last month he ran well enough, setting the pace for the opening quarter mile then fading to fifth in a race he had to need. Since that start, Time to Travel changed barns and today he shows up without blinkers and, more importantly, with Jose Ortiz riding. Likely without blinkers, Time to Travel put in a scintillating 46.4 four furlong work over the track on January 12 and this kind of "blinkers off/ fast workout" pattern cannot be ignored because back in 2017 when winning he earned a 102 figure. As such, Time to Travel is an upset candidate.

     

    For exactas, we will use three horses who like to hit the board – Star Juancho, Articulator and Empire Power.

     

    Bets: Time to Travel to win and to place at 4 to 1 or higher.

    Exacta: Central Command and Time to Travel over Central Command, Time to Travel, Star Juancho, Articulator and Empire Power.

    Pick 3 tickets: There are three tickets to play starting in this race, one singling a horse in race 11 and one singling a horse in race 9 so if both win and if we get the other two races right we can win the bet three times.

     

    Race 9 – Central Command, Star Juancho, Articulator, Empire Power, Time to Travel

    Race 10 – Mrs. Ramona G., Southern Sis

    Race 11 – Dalmore, Forevamo, Mr. Jordan, Noble Drama, Jay's Way, Souper Tapit

    The cost of this bet at the $0.50 level if all horses run is $30

     

    Race 9 – Central Command, Star Juancho, Articulator, Empire Power, Time to Travel

    Race 10 – Thinkin Cowtown, Picara, Mrs. Ramona G., Southern Sis, Starship Jubilee

    Race 11 – Forevamo

    The cost of this bet at the $0.50 level if all horses run is $12.50

     

    Race 9 – Central Command

    Race 10 – Thinkin Cowtown, Picara, Mrs. Ramona G., Southern Sis, Starship Jubilee

    Race 11 – Dalmore, Forevamo, Mr. Jordan, Noble Drama, Jay's Way, Souper Tapit

    The cost of this bet at the $0.50 level if all horses run is $15

     

    Gasparilla Stakes - Race 9 at Tampa Bay Downs - Post Time 4:10 Eastern

    Molto Bella is a standout in this race based on her efforts in July, September and October. She won her only career start at this seven furlong trip in July in career start #2, then nearly two months later ran a much better race even though second, before venturing into stakes company to finish second in the Rags to Riches Stakes, a one-turn mile race at Churchill Downs. The winner of that race was Mother Mother, who has since missed by a head and a neck in the Grade 1 Starlet and finished second recently to multiple graded stakes winner Bellafina in the Santa Ynez Stakes. Likely more mature as a three year old and shipping down from trainer Wilkes' base at Palm Meadows, Molto Bella meets a fairly suspect field and opens at 6 to 1 in a race in which the morning line favorite (7/2), Bella Ciao, finished third in a stakes last month at gulfstream but really didn't run well at all.

     

    Bets: Molto Bella to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

     

    Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes - Race 11 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:47 Eastern

    Forevamo, opening at 6 to 1 is one of only two entrants in this race to have even won at this nine furlong trip, with horses like second morning line favorite (3/1) Mr. Jordan having a record of 0-3-1 in five races and morning line favorite Souper Tapit (2/1) having a record of 0-2-0 in two races at the trip. Forevamo just won the Zia Park Championship Handicap at the trip, with a career best 107 Equibase figure, very similar to what Jay's Way earned (108) winning this race last year. Jay's Way is the only other horse to have a win at the trip but finished fifth in the Sunshine Millions Classic Preview and 10th in his most recent start (albeit on turf). Meanwhile, Forevamo gets Castellano and a great post (2) to stalk the likely dueling leaders Dalmore and Jay's Way, who are both need-the-lead types, enabling him to win his second stakes in a row.

    Any number of horses can finish second, including the aforementioned Dalmore and Jay's Way, as well as Mr. Jordan, Noble Drama and Souper Tapit. You'll note one of the pick 3 tickets started in race 9 and ending in this race, used all six horses, because in case Dalmore or Jay's Way gets to the front by themselves, anything can happen.

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

    Exacta: Forevamo over Dalmore, Jay's Way, Mr. Jordan, Noble Drama and Souper Tapit.

    Play the opposite of that exacta as well, which is Dalmore, Jay's Way, Mr. Jordan, Noble Drama and Souper Tapit over Forevamo

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  • 11
    JAN

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, January 12

    Tropical Turf Stakes - Race 9 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 3:45 PM Eastern

    Heart to Heart might win. He might not. Opening at 4/5 we have incentive to take the latter opinion and try to beat him. Although his best effort can win this grade 3 stakes, he is coming back from three months off and was badly beaten in his 2018 debut last year at 3/5 over the course. He's an 8 year old now and we all know where he can be found after the gate opens, in front, but there are some serious questions of condition and his ability to win off the layoff.

     

    With a vulnerable favorite the race becomes very playable, starting with Doctor Mounty, who opens at 10/1. The jockey change from Boyce to Castellano is HUGE (no knock on Boyce) and the horse's winning effort in the similar grade 3 Baltimore Washington Turf Cup in September at this mile trip (with a 109 Equibase figure) beats all of these on the square if Heart to Heart doesn't show up.

     

    White Flag is just about as probable to win, except he's only run a mile or more a few times in his career and none were very good efforts. On the other hand, Jose Ortiz gets on for Clement and the horse has only run 12 times on grass, winning five including a 100K stakes like this one (although non-graded). That effort, in the Allied Forces Stakes in 2017, earned a 108 figure and he comes into the race off a win in a 125K stakes on turf, although at 6 furlongs.

     

    Since we're adopting the strategy of "go big or go home" by trying to beat Heart to Heart, Mr Freeze and Your Only Man will be used on some exacta tickets and some pick 3 tickets. Mr Freeze (opening at 15/1) is trying turf for the first time and coming back from nearly four months off. The former is NOT an issue as ALL FOUR other foals of his dam have had success on the turf, most in stakes including Capitano ($576K) and Dilemma ($367K). Winner of the West Virginia Derby last summer, the colt may need a race but if not, or even if not ready to win but in good enough shape to hit the board, he could help us make a profit. Your Only Man opens at ridiculous odds of 30/1 as he's getting a jockey change to 2018 North American leading jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. He may appear cheap on paper as he raced in claiming races this spring and summer, but since moving to the Vitali barn he's run very well, second in his last two races, both over the course, with 106 Equibase figures good enough to in the money if repeated.

     

    Bets: Doctor Mounty and White Flag to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher.

     

    When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

    I'm also making a token win and place bet on Mr Freeze at 6 to 1 or more and a win, place and show bet on Your Only Man at 7 to 1 or more.

     

    Exactas: Box Doctor Mounty, White Flag, Mr Freeze and Your Only Man

     

    $0.50 Pick 3 ticket: Doctor Mounty and White Flag in race 9 with ALL in race 10 (a wide open maiden race) with Bellavais, Bombshell, Valedictorian and Rose Tree in race 11. (If all 11 run in race 10 the cost of the ticket is $44 but remember if we beat Heart to Heart the payoff could be huge).

    Marshua's River Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:47 PM Eastern

    There's a suspect favorite in this race as well, just not one which opens at 4 to 5. La Signare won the similar grade 3 Wonder Again Stakes last June off a two month layoff and in her 2nd U.S. start. She had won one of two (a maiden race) in Europe before a runner-up effort prior to the win and then she finished 10th off the win before going on the bench. There is NOTHING to suggest she's a standout here particularly as the Wonder Again effort earned her a 94 Equibase figure which is marginal at best in this field. Bombshell may be the most likely to win, having nearly won four in a row since joining the Delacour barn last July. She missed by a nose and a neck in one and won the other three, two on turf. For her return off less than two months, she gets red hot Saez and the win in July was off a four month rest so firing with a win off a layoff is in her wheelhouse.

     

    Bellavais moved to the Pletcher barn last fall and off an 11 month layoff won a classified allowance at Belmont as if she'd never been away She took two months off and was 4th in the similar My Charmer Stakes here at GP last month BUT that was in a 14 horse field. With only seven others to contend with here she could return to the form shown right before that with a 105 figure effort rock solid among this group.

     

    Valedictorian has won or placed in her last four turf starts, all routes. Two of those were minor stakes but her win in the 150K All Along Stakes last September was very strong and if repeated gives her a shot to earn her 10th career win. Rose Tree was 2 to 1 when winning easily on the main track here at GP last month. She's earned $325K, all on dirt or all-weather, but has fine turf breeding and is handled by veteran Jonathan Sheppard, so she cannot be ignored when considering our wagers in this race as she opens at 20/1.

     

    Bets: Bombshell and Bellavais to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.

     

    When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

     

    Exacta: Box Bombshell, Bellavais, Valedictorian and Rose Tree.

     

    La Canada Stakes - Race 8 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:04 PM Eastern/ 4:04 Pacific

    K P Wildcat shipped into Santa Anita from New Mexico last week and put in a workout over the track to get familiar with it under the watchful eye of Jeff Mullins, who is listed as her trainer for the race. The mare comes back from just under two months away and won the Albuquerque Distaff Handicap off a similar layoff in August with the second best Equibase figure (100) of her career. She won another stakes the next month before a runner-up effort in October before being shortened up to a sprint for her final start of 2018, where she finished third. Jockey Roimes Chirinos, one of the top jockeys on the New Mexico circuit which includes Sunland Park, Zia Park and Ruidoso downs, has ridden K P Wildcat in 13 of her 21 career races, including nine of her 13 wins, and comes in to ride her in the La Canada which helps ensure another top effort good enough to win.

     

    Escape Clause is another mare with an excellent winning spirit, evidenced by a 9 for 13 record in 2018 and an 8 for 11 record the previous year. Most of those races took place in Canada, but since coming to California in November she has held her own. When trying turf for the first time in the Kathryn Crosby Stakes in her Southern California debut, Escape Clause finished second but was awarded the win via a disqualification, before third and fourth place finishes in graded stakes. Her last three efforts yielded 105, 104 and 112 figures and her best previous effort on dirt earned her a 106 figure so Escape Clause has every right to be in the photo on the wire in this group.

     

    True Royalty deserves respect as the only graded stakes winner in the field. In August at a mile on dirt, True Royalty earned a career best 96 figure when winning the Torrey Pines Stakes easily by three lengths. After that, True Royalty tried and failed when sixth in a turf sprint. She then stepped up to grade two company while trying some tough sprinters in the Raven Run Stakes, finishing 12th behind eventual Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Shamrock Rose. Considering the career best effort and stakes win in the Torrey Pines came the only time True Royalty raced in a two-turn race on dirt, she must be considered strongly as a win contender in this year's La Canada Stakes.

     

    Bets: Bet one or two of these three which are at least 5 to 2 odds near post time: K P Wildcat, Escape Clause and True Royalty.

     

    When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

     

    Double: K P Wildcat, Escape Clause and True Royalty in race 8 with R Cha Cha, Lauren's Ladd, Incensed, Cool Green and Baby Bear's Soup in race 9.

    Race 9 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:34 Eastern / 4:34 Pacific

    It appears Tough But Nice, Storminside, Elwood J and also-eligible Silver Summer will all want the early lead at any cost, setting up any number of stalkers and closers. R Cha Cha won at this downhill sprint trip under apprentice Figueroa three back in October and has finished 2nd in two since so rates top billing as he continues in top form and is proven at the trip and level.

     

    Lauren's Ladd moved back to the Baltas barn after Jacobson left California in November and the trainer made the odd choice to race the horse a mile on dirt (originally scheduled for turf) even off a 3 month rest. I view that as a workout as the horse pressed the pace for 7 furlongs then tired. He has run big at the trip, winning in June then finishing 2nd, and now making his 2nd start off a layoff and shortening up after that tightener could be very tough.

     

    Incensed has won twice down the hill, as recently as June, and won his last start, scheduled for turf but run on dirt. He's got a good stalking style and good post and Roman got him to relax in 4th early last out so if the same tactics are employed he could be getting first run on the tiring leaders and hang on today.

     

    Cool Green gets the disadvantageous rail for the trip but won from the 3 post at the distance in May and when Kent Desormeaux gets on for his brother Keith, as is occurring here, we must take note as that is a profitable angle. Kent rode the horse to his maiden win 3 years ago on the SA turf so I would not want to leave this horse out as a contender and be kicking myself later.

     

    Baby Bear's Soup has never raced at the trip and only twice on turf in 22 races, but he missed by a neck the last time he did and he's in excellent recent form with two wins and a third place finish. He gets a good post and rounds out a quintet of contenders in the nightcap.

     

    Trifecta: Box R Cha Cha, Lauren's Ladd, Incensed, Cool Green and Baby Bear's Soup

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  • 04
    JAN

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, January 5

    Ginger Brew Stakes - Race 5 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 2:05 PM Eastern

    What a Beaut won her only start, four weeks ago at this identical 7 1/2 furlong trip on turf. All eight (who are entered for turf) are newly turned three year old fillies and she opens high at 12/1 because she is the most lightly raced in the field, but that doesn't mean she can't win because she showed a lot of maturity when establishing good early position in third early, five lengths off the leader, and getting up to win by a neck in a field of 12. Lopez rides back and vast improvement is possible off the experience of a race. The 90 Equibase figure earned in her debut is the same as favorite Pivottina earned in her U.S. debut last September and not that far from the 96 earned when third in the Jimmy Durante Stakes in her most recent start, which provides more reasons to believe What a Beaut can win this year's Ginger Brew Stakes.

    Beechwood Ella is the other main contender for betting purposes, making her U.S. debut and third career start. She imported from Europe in November and has put in six local works for Biancone. She gets blinkers and Lasix and Biancone has won with an import in a similar spot, using Maragh as he's doing here as well. She earned the equivalent of a 92 Equibase figure in her 2nd start so fits on all counts.

    Pivottina, Boxwood and Fortunate Girl all can contend but none is a standout by any means.

    Bets: What Beaut and Beachwood Ella to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more. Add a place bet on What a Beaut if 5 to 1 or higher.

    When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

    Exactas:

    What a Beaut and Beachwood Ella over What a Beaut, Beachwood Ella, Pivottina, Boxwood and Fortunate Girl.

    Play the reverse of that exacta as well, which is What a Beaut, Beachwood Ella, Pivottina, Boxwood and Fortunate Girl over What a Beaut and Beachwood Ella.

    $0.50 Pick 3: What a Beaut and Beachwood Ella in race 5 with ALL in race 6 with Fancy Dress Party in race 7.

    Glitter Woman Stakes – Race7 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 3:08 PM Eastern

    Fancy Dress Party is a standout in this restricted stakes race, having won impressively in her debut last fall at Keeneland when rallying from seventh of 10 and drawing away powerfully, then proving that to be no fluke when drawing off to a two and one-quarter length win near the end of November at Churchill Downs in a field of 10. She's been working at Tampa and I imagine trainer Colebrook sees this spot as no more difficult than the second allowance level the filly is eligible for so ships her to Gulfstream and gets red hot Saez to ride. The logical choice for the runner-up spot is Brunette Princess, who has never been worse than second in three races and who gets John Velazquez to ride.

    Bets: Fancy Dress Party to win at odds of 8 to 5 or more.

    Exacta: Fancy Dress Party over Brunette Princes, also BOX Fancy Dress Party and Brunette Princess.

    $0.50 Pick 3: Fancy Dress Party in race 7 with ALL in race 8 with Moon Colony and Bourbon in May in race 9.

    $0.50 Pick 3: Fancy Dress Party in race 7 with ALL in race 8 with Royal Urn, Moon Colony, Bourbon in May, Dakota's Dude and Henley's Joy in race 9.

    Kitten's Joy Stakes - Race 9 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:10 PM Eastern

    Bourbon in May opens at 10/1 and although that morning line won't hold up because Pletcher trains and leading jockey Saez rides, she will still be underbet relative to her probability to win. Bourbon In May debuted at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf last fall at Keeneland and finished well for second in a field of 10, then improve nicely to win by a pair of lengths in a field of 12 over this course on 12/1, at this 7 1/2 furlong turf trip. Saez was up then as now and the colt is bred to be something special so should continue to improve. The reason his odds will likely remain higher than they should is Henley's Joy opens at 3 to 5. That's just a bad morning line because when winning the Pulpit Stakes over the track on 12/8, Henley's Joy went to post at 6 to 5 and earned a 93 figure, no better than the 93 figure Bourbon in May earned in his debut, that figure tied for the best figure earned by any horse in the field.

    Moon Colony has won his last two turf routes, in October and at the end of November. He ran poorly on dirt in between the wins but that effort is irrelevant. Jose Ortiz rides and the maiden win earned a 92 figure nearly on par with the best figures Bourbon in May and Henley's Joy so Moon Colony, who opens at 8/1,deserves a lot of respect when considering which horses we want to bet to win in this race.

    I wouldn't talk anyone out of ANY other horse in the field given the fact if Henley's Joy goes to post as the prohibitive favorite there could be excellent value on many others.

    Bets: Bourbon in May and Moon Colony to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more. Consider place bets on either or both if their odds are 5 to 1 or more near post time.

    When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

    Exacta: Bourbon in May and Moon Colony over ALL.

    Sham Stakes - Race 9 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:04 Eastern / 4:04 Pacific

    Sueno can post the upset in this race based on the way he took to two-turns last month when winning the Gold Rush Stakes. Having been away from the races for three months, Sueno maturely rallied from fifth to draw off late and earn a career-best 95 Equibase Speed Figure. Although the Gold Rush was run on all-weather, Sueno proved capable on dirt prior to that with a four and three-quarter length win in a field of 10. Kent Desormeaux gets the mount for the first time on Sueno and that's a very positive angle according to STATS Race Lens. In the past five years, horse trained by Keith Desormeaux which get a jockey change to Kent Desormeaux have won 25% of the time on 72 races and betting those 72 horses to win has returned a healthy 25% profit. The dam has produced four other horses besides Sueno, and all four are dirt route winners, which provide more reasons to suggest Sueno can improve nicely off his first route win last time out and post the upset in this year's Sham Stakes.

    Gunmetal Gray won his two-turn debut in August by nearly seven lengths. He followed up that effort with a career-best 100 figure earned when second to four and one-half length winner Game Winner in the American Pharoah Stakes in September. Like Game Winner, Gunmetal Gray returned five weeks later to run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile but he did not run as well, finishing fifth after being as far back as 12th in the 13 horse field. Rested two months in preparation for his three year old campaign, Gunmetal Gray gets the services of Mike Smith and has stakes experience three others in the field lack, including likely favorite Coliseum. As such, if Gunmetal Gray can logically improve off his American Pharoah effort as a much more physically mature three year old, he can run well enough to win this race.

    Gray Magician broke his maiden impressively in his most recent race, by nine and one-half lengths, but facing stakes competition could be a whole different matter. However, Gray Magician earned a 98 figure while winning at this mile trip and following two months off so improvement is possible. Gray Magician has excellent breeding for the trip as well, as his half-brother Lombo won the 2018 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (in February) at Santa Anita. Grey Magician also showed a lot of maturity in his most recent race as he rallied from third, five lengths back, to win by nearly 10 lengths.

    I feel I must mention Coliseum as he may be the betting favorite based on his easy six and three-quarter length win in his only race, in which he led from nearly start to finish and earned a field high104 figure. That style may be problematic in the Sham as Savagery puts blinkers back on and will likely be sent to the front from the start. However, Coliseum does have history on his side because his trainer, Bob Baffert, has won 33% of the time (14 for 42) when starting a horse off a debut maiden win in a stakes race over the last five years, including Midnight Hawk in this race back in 2014.

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

    Exacta: Sueno over ALL, and the reverse, which is ALL over Sueno.

    Exacta: Gray Magician and Gunmetal Gray over Sueno, Gray Magician, Savagery, Easy Shot and Much Better. (Leaving Coliseum off the runner-up spot because it will be a low paying exacta). 

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  • 28
    DEC

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, December 29

    Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes – Race 7 at Laurel - Post Time 3 PM Eastern

    Forever Liesl shows up nearly every time, this year off the board just once in seven races. She ships in from New York for Nevin and the last time she came to Maryland she won, in August, at this one turn mile trip here at Laurel. Carrasco rode her then as well as to a six length win two starts later in September and the filly wasn't disgraced a bit when second to a six length winner in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap, herself six clear of the next horse. Carrasco rode Lady Vicky to a win three weeks ago over the track and chooses this filly which is another sign for a big effort. With the favorite, Sower, a contender but not a standout, but opening at 2/1 and likely going to post at those odds or lower, we may get around the 5/1 morning line on this gal and that would make her a good bet.

     

    Lake Ponchatrain may be underbet as well, opening at 6/1, as she ships in from Mahoning Valley. She ran 2nd in a similar stakes at Laurel in July and was 5 to 2 that day and she won her last start nicely. Like Forever Liesl, Lake Ponchatrain shows up nearly every time, evidenced by 11 first or second place finishes in 13 races this year. Rosado rode her beautifully the last three times he was in the saddle, winning twice and missing a nose in the other race.

     

    Sower is 4 for 8 in her career and ships in from Belmont for Rice, who does very well with shippers to Maryland, particularly with Karamanos aboard as here. The jockey rode the filly to her first two wins this spring in Maryland, before she went to New York and won a stakes. She may not be as good now as then as she's only 1 for 5 since and her mediocre effort earlier this month when third in a non-graded stakes similar to this one would see her beaten here if repeated, so she's going to need to run the race she ran before that but that was in the mud and she's going to need to prove she can win at a mile as she's trying the distance for the first time, whereas Forever Liesl has won at the trip. I'm defensively using her but mostly trying to beat her.

     

    Bets: Forever Liesl to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher, AND Lake Ponchatrain at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.

     

    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.

     

    Exactas:

    Forever Liesl and Lake Ponchatrain over ALL.

    Box Forever Liesl, Lake Ponchatrain and Sower.

     

    Doubles: Forever Liesl, Lake Ponchatrain and Sower in race 7 with Cautious Giant, Midtowncharlybrown, Laki and Colonel Sharp in Race 8.

    Dave's Friend Stakes – Race 8 at Laurel - Post Time 3:30 PM Eastern

    Colonel Sharp is 4-for-8 this year and in my mind has won two in a row. He won his most recent race, at Laurel on 11/16 and he won on 9/1 at Timonium. Before the last win he ran on turf and before that he was overmatched badly in the DeFrancis Stakes. The 9/1 race was a stakes like this one and last out he beat a classified allowance field easily. He can win on the lead or from off the pace and Acosta, who was up for both recent wins, rides back. The cut back from seven furlongs to six doesn't hurt and he's earned four of his seven career wins at the basic six furlong trip as well. Opening at 5 to 1, he could definitely be a great bet.

    Midtowncharlybrown just posted the 10/1 upset in the $200K Fabulous Strike Stakes at the trip, beating a solid group of sprinters. He won back to back last fall and is 8 for 16 in his career. Like Colonel Sharp, Midtowncharlybrown has the capacity to win on the lead or from off the pace. I think morning line second choice Altissimo is vulnerable because even though he's 13 for 32 the wins have been earned in Ohio versus Ohio Breds and his trainer is just 3 for 38 with shippers the past two years, none in Maryland. With a potentially overbet second choice in the race, Midtowncharlybrown, who opens at 9/2, gives us a decent return for the risk with a horse who has every right to earn his 9th career win.

    Cautious Giant is a must use on any exacta tickets because he's been first or second in 13 of 19 races this year and last. He ships in from Gulfstream where he won at 75K stakes one before last so he fits, while Laki is another must use off his win three weeks ago over the track. However, that win came in a stakes for Maryland breds only and his other two wins this year came when moved up to first via a disqualification and in an allowance race.  We'll throw in a nice longshot for 2nd in Team Tim, who opens at 20/1. He's not much for winning but he puts in a late kick to pass many horses a lot.

    Bets: Colonel Sharp and Midtowncharlybrown to win at 5 to 2 or higher. Consider a win bet, for a lesser amount, on Cautious Giant at 3 to 1 or more.

    Always try to use a "Dutching" tool when making multiple win bets as it provides help with maximizing profit. Amwager offers you one for free along with many other perks.

    Exacta: Colonel Sharp, Midtowncharlybrown, Cautious Giant and Laki over Colonel Sharp, Midtowncharlybrown, Cautious Giant, Laki and Team Tim.

    Alex M. Robb Stakes – Race 8 at Aqueduct - Post Time 3:47 PM Eastern

    I usually forego statebred stakes, unless there's value to be had, and I think Winston's Chance offers superb value in this race, opening at 8/1. Favorites Mr. Buff (2/1 morning line) and Control Group (9/5 morning line) are just two of FOUR horses who appear incapable of rating off the pace as all I see are "1s" in their pp lines in the early stages. Mr. Buff draws the two hole and will go, but Black Tide will have to go from his outside post and Control Group just doesn't have anything but a need-the-lead style as well. Hit It Once More has shown speed on occasion and considering his trainer (Sciacca) also has deep closer Testosterone in the race, the early pace, no matter how slow, should be hotly contested. Winston's Chance rallied from fifth to win a sprint for NY breds only (like this one) in October and finished second to nine length winner Gold for The King (a very good horse) last out at seven furlongs over the track. He won his ONLY nine furlong race, in the summer of 2017 at Saratoga, and the stretchout from seven to nine furlongs is a pattern I really like, therefore I expect Winston's Chance to be gaining with every stride in the stretch and post the mild upset.

    I'll also consider a win bet on Testosterone, who finished well from seventh of 11 last out to win at a mile and who is likely to benefit from the pace, as well as has won at this distance and has earned nearly half a million dollars so he's no slouch but just was off form for a long time before his win 13 days ago. He opens at 20/1, which makes him hard to ignore.

    Bets: Winston's Chance to win at 2 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 3 to 1 or higher, a true KEY BET on the day.

    Make a smaller win and place bet on Testosterone at 5 to 1 or higher.

    Robert J. Frankel Stakes - Race 4 at Santa Anita - Post Time 4:34 PM Eastern (1:34 Pacific)

    Excellent Sunset should be a low odds overlay, opening at 7/2, with every right to win this Grade 3 race just as she won the non-graded Crosby Stakes last month at Del Mar. Although overmatched off that win in the Grade 1 Matriarch, she managed to rally nicely from 13th to be beaten four lengths at the end. She's run very well in all four U.S. starts after importing from England in July, winning two and missing by a neck in the other. She gets a good post to sit in second early off the speedy Fahan Mura and can return to winning form in this situation.

     

    Fahan Mura, as usual, is the one to catch as she likes to lead from the start. She too was overmatched in the Matriarch and faded to 12th of 13 BUT she was 2nd in the tougher G2 Goldikova Stakes one month earlier, here at SA, and won the Swingtime Stakes which was the same level as the Crosby so she has the same probability to win as Excellent Sunset here and would be no surprise.

     

    Amboseli shipped from Cassidy's home base at SA in October to run in a pair of races in Kentucky, the first a 5th of 9 finish but the 2nd much better when rallying from 10th to 2nd to miss by a half-length at this 9 furlong trip. That was just about the best race of her career and she could run as well BUT she really doesn't like to win, evidenced by a 2-4-8 career record, so although she must be used on exacta and pick 3 tickets we must get decent odds before betting her to win. Escape Clause has won 9 of 12 this year, all on dirt except her last two on turf. She was moved up to 1st in the Crosby after Excellent Sunset was disqualified and the was beaten a pair of half-lengths in the G3 Red Carpet Stakes last month at the longer distance of 11 furlongs. Cutting back to 9 furlongs she could be rallying strongly once again and be in the thick of the action on the wire.

     

    Bets: Excellent Sunset to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

    Consider a second win bet, for a smaller amount, on Amboseli at 4 to 1 or more.

     

    Trifecta: With three of the four contenders also being the lowest odds on the morning line, I prefer playing the trifecta over playing the exacta, as follows (two tickets):

    Excellent Sunset over Escape Clause, Fahan Mura and Amboseli over Escape Clause, Fahan Mura and Amboseli.

     

    Fahan Mura and Amboseli over Excellent Sunset over Escape Clause, Fahan Mura and Amboseli.

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  • 23
    DEC

    Key Races & Bets for Wednesday, December 26

    La Brea Stakes - Race 6 at Santa Anita - Post Time 5 PM Eastern/ 2 PM Pacific

    Spiced Perfection gets slight preference among a quartet of fillies which can win, with a great outside post to avoid any potential traffic trouble early and coming off a CAREER BEST effort at this 7 furlong trip in the Betty Grable Stakes last month. Although that was a statebred race, the 111 Equibase figure earned lines up favorably here compared to likely favorite Dream Tree, who earned a 106 winning the Grade 2 Prioress Stakes in her most recent start. Since adding blinkers, Spiced Perfection is 2-for-2 in dirt sprints and Prat, who rode her to victory last month when aboard for the first time, ride back. That last race has already become a KEY RACE as both the runner-up and third finishers came back to win and as a filly who has been ultra-consistent in her career, evidenced by a 5-4-1 record in 11 dirt races, Spiced Perfection could help us profit nicely in the race.

     

    Mo See Call is another "NOW" horse, having won three in row, two in a row since moving from turf to dirt. She may not have beaten much in her two recent allowance wins by earned 103 and 111 figures, the most recent with Smith aboard, who rides back. Smith rode Dream Tree to victory in the Prioress when she traveled to New York and although Van Dyke has become Baffert's #1 rider of late it still is intriguing Smith and his agent take this mount. With three wins and a narrow defeat since adding blinkers in August and in the best form of her life, Mo See Cal is as strong a win contender as Spiced Perfection in my opinion.

     

    Happy Like a Fool has one knock and that's the rail as she has good early speed but she's shown the ability to sit as far back as third early and still run big so she could be okay. She comes in off a sharp win with a 105 figure and won the Miss Preakness Stakes in May with a 111 figure. Trainer Ward shipped her in to train over the track over a month ago, a big sign he's been pointing her to this race and wants her ready on all counts. Ward is just so good at this level (32% wins on over 150 dirt sprints in the last year) we must respect this filly's chances to earn her 5th career win.

     

    Dream Tree is going to be used defensively as she's likely to be the prohibitive favorite but I can't discount her as a win contender. She's undefeated in five start including three graded stakes and she won her only start at the trip.  She does have question marks as she was off from February to September then off until now, so she must have some issues. On the other hand she put in a stellar five furlong work on 12/9 followed by a pair of maintenance works and Baffert continues to win at a solid 25% clip with horses off layoffs, whether 2 to 6 months or 6 months or more.

    Bets: Spiced Perfection and Mo See Cal to win at 5 to 2 or more. (Add a place bet if 5 to 1 or higher).

    Minimum odds on Happy Like a Fool are 7 to 2.

     

    When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

    Exactas:

    1. Spiced Perfection and Mo See Cal

    2. Box Spiced Perfection, Mo See Cal, Happy Like a Fool and Dream Tree.

    Doubles and Pick 3's: Use ALL four horses.

    Mathis Brothers Mile Stakes – Race7 at Santa Anita - Post Time 5:30 PM Eastern/ 2:30 Pacific

    Shivermetimbers finds a field lacking in proven milers on grass and can win this race in his turf debut, particularly if likely favorite River Boyne doesn't cut back successfully from 9 furlongs to 8 furlongs. Shivermetimbers is bred to handle grass just fine as Shanghai Bobby has sired a number of turf winners and he has the right style to take advantage of what should be a very hot early pace. Snazzy Dresser, an absolute need-the-lead types, gets the extreme outside post and has to go fast to get to the rail, but Gemonteer and possibly Gidu will also be on or near the font early. Shivermetimbers rallied from 4th in his last two wins, BOTH under Smith, who rides back and who was also up for the colt's other win. His last two efforts yielded 113 and 114 Equibase figures which match up nicely with the 115 likely favorite River Boyne earned in the Twilight Derby so Shivermetimbers has every much of a chance to win as the favorite but will go to post at better odds.

     

    River Boyne has no real knocks as he shows up every time. After making the lead by a length and one-half in the Hollywood Derby on 12/1, he was beaten near the wire by Raging Bull but was nearly three lengths clear of the next horse. He hasn't run a mile in nine months but won the non-graded Pasadena Stakes the last time he did and in terms of turf and stakes experience he is the one to beat.

     

    Choo Choo forms an uncoupled Hollendorfer entry with Shivermetimbers and has a slight chance to win but a big chance to be in the exacta or trifecta. His two wins to date have come on turf and all-weather and his most recent effort when second and beaten under a length in the restricted Let It Ride Stakes last month earned him a career best 112 figure. That was his first start after six months off, second since adding blinkers, and better can be expected here particularly as Rosario fits his late running style nicely.

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

    "IF" Choo Choo should go to post anywhere near 7 to 2 or higher, make a smaller win bet on him as well.

    Exactas:

    1.Shivermetimbers and River Boyne

    2. Box Shivermetimbers, River Boyne and Choo Choo.

    3. Shivermetimbers, River Boyne and Choo ChooShivermetimbers, River Boyne, Choo Choo, Sejo, Gidu, Desert Stone, Gemonteer and Snazzy Dancer.

    Doubles and Pick 3's: Use Shivermetimbers, River Boyne and Choo Choo.

    San Antonio Stakes - Race 8 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6 PM Eastern/ 3 Pacific

    Beach View has a decent upset shot here and gets slight preference in a race where four horses (of 9) have almost all the probability to win in my opinion. Of his 11 career starts, 8 were on turf and of the other three, only two were routes. However, both those efforts were exceptional. Both were at 12 furlongs but he's run well at a mile on turf so I'm not concerned about his ability to handle the trip. He returned from four months off last month and rallied decently enough for 3rd in the G2 Hollywood Turf Cup at 12 furlongs. He might have run even better but was blocked during a critical portion of the stretch run. Even though that trouble may be enough to back him here, it's his effort prior to that which, if repeated, could help him earn the upset as when winning the G3 Cougar II Handicap by five lengths in dominating fashion he not only earned a career best tying 112 figure which isn't far from the best in the field, he beat multi-millionaire Hoppertunity with ease. Bejarano was up for both efforts, the only two times he's ridden the horse, and rides back, which provides me with enough reasons to take a big swing with Beach View.

    Gift Box is very interesting here as he shipped west sometime in the past few months after being privately purchased (from Farish, with Chad Brown as his trainer) by Hronis racing and sent to the Sadler barn. Considering Sadler's success with dirt stakes stars the past year, this five year old could turn into something special. Even though it took him six tries to move through the 2nd allowance level, he was very competitive, missing twice by inches before an eight length win in March with a career best 114 figure. The only knock is coming back from 9 months off around two turns and in a graded stakes BUT the works are excellent, Rosario rides, and if Sadler is confident I won't argue.

    Battle of Midway and Dabster are likely to be the two favorite and both are logical contenders, but not standouts. Battle of Midway has yet to run as well as when winning the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in the fall of 2017 but got close in his last two efforts, particularly his win in the G3 Native Diver at this trip last month with a 117 figure. Dabster was neck shy of his foe in the race, BUT we must note it was essentially a match race, a three horse field in which the other horse was never involved.

    Bets: Beach View to win at odds of 5/2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

    For a slightly smaller amount, Gift Box to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

    Exacta and Trifecta: Box Beach View, Gift Box, Battle of Midway and Dabster.

    Doubles: Use all four horses.

    Malibu Stakes - Race 9 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern/ 3:30 Pacific

    Bobby's Wicked One ships in from Louisiana by way of Ohio, having just missed by a nose in a $250K sprint for three year olds. It was his second start after coming back from six month off and he's on a pattern for an even better effort here. Based on the barn of top trainer Al Stall, the well bred colt is bred to handle 7 furlongs just fine although to date he has a runner-up and third place finish at the trip and the previously mentioned pattern off 101 and 109 Equibase figures, with a great post and a lot of early pace to stalk, Bobby's Wicked One could post the upset in this year's Malibu.

    Copper Bullet was thought to be a Derby prospect last summer (2017) after winning the Saratoga Special but had issues which kept him on the shelf for 15 months. He returned last month at Churchill Downs as if he had never been away, winning easily by 3 1/2 lengths in a new career best effort (110 figure) and has every right to take a big step forward 2nd off the layoff. Asmussen has been pointing him to this race as he shipped the colt in right after the last win for three works over the track and getting Jose Ortiz (2nd in the jockey race for 2018 and just behind his brother  Irad Ortiz, Jr.) the colt would be no surprise if winning this race.

    McKinzie and Kanthaka are very likely to go to post as the first and second betting choices here based on their performances in graded stakes this year and both can win or be part of the exacta but they are not standouts. McKinzie moves back to three year olds only after finishing 12th of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He won the San Felipe Stakes over the track in March with a 118 figure then had issues and was off for nine months, returning to win the Pennsylvania Derby. The 114 figure in the PA Derby was fine and he broke his maiden at this distance. He's been working fine but this year's Malibu drew a very strong field compared to what he faced in the PA Derby and he has his work cut out for him although he could be up to the task and that's why I'm not completely taking a stand against him. Kanthaka is a ONE-TURN horse, proven by winning the San Vicente Stakes over the track at the distance in February with a 113 figure, then by running not nearly as well around two turns in the San Felipe and Blue Grass, then by winning the Barrera Stakes in May when turned back to this trip. Rested since then, he's working like he can pick up where he left off and must be respected as a contender as well.

    Bets: Bobby's Wicked One to win and place at 7 to 2 or more.

    Copper Bullet to win at 7 to 2 odder or more.

     

    When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

    Exactas:

    Copper Bullet and Bobby's Wicked One

    Copper Bullet, Bobby's Wicked One, Kanthaka and McKinzieCopper Bullet, Bobby's Wicked One, Kanthaka, McKinzie, Axelrod and Nero

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  • 14
    DEC

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, December 15

    Race 7 at Gulfstream - Post Time 3:03 PM Eastern

    Gran Causeway will likely go to post favored depending on how heavily bet the two Pletcher first time starters (Bebeau and French Revolution) get, BUT Thetrashmanscoming is the best bet (to win at least) of four contenders to win this race. Thetrashmanscoming is finally coming around after running his best race yet last month in his fifth career start. At the same one-turn mile trip as today's race, he broke slowly, REALLY slowly, to be last of 12 and 17 lengths back, but by the end he was third and moving nicely. He is bred exceptionally well as six of the other seven foals of his dam broke their maidens in straight maiden races on dirt like this one and the 88 last race Equibase figure is the best in the field so if he improves upon it he can post the mild upset, opening at 10/1. Gran Causeway ran on from 11 lengths back early when 5th to get second at the end into a five length winner and can improve, but will need to as the effort earned only a 66 figure. The other two foals of his dam have run well, with 7 wins and 7 runner-up finishes in 26 races. There's nothing special to report about the Pletcher pair but Todd continues to win with 25% of his first time starters in straight maiden races at Gulfstream so they are mostly ready to run and spotted right.

     

    Bets: Thetrashmanscoming to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

     

    Double (Races 7 and 8) and Pick 3 (Races 7, 8 and 9):

    Race 7 – Thetrashmanscoming, Gran Causeway, Bebeau, French Revolution

    Race 8 – Electric Forest, Tweeting

    Race 9 – Bellavais, La Moneda

     

    Rampart Stakes – Race 8 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 3:38 PM Eastern

    Electric Forest can be any kind of filly sprinter as she makes her 2nd start after 6 1/2 months off to end her three year old campaign and began her four year old campaign. She won impressively first out in April then ran poorly before taking the six month break she returned from last month, repeating the 94 Equibase figure effort in a romp and with a lot of improving she can do here 2nd off the layoff for Brown, with Ortiz riding. We all know how Brown has had a career best year but looking at a subset of that, which applies to this filly, really tells a story. Moving horses up from allowance to stakes off a win in the last five years, Brown is 17 for 87 including a 6 for 19 record in the last 12 months.

     

    Tweeting was claimed for a pretty paltry 40K in April then sent to Casse at Woodbine where she finished 2nd in an all-weather route. Moved to Navarro for her next start, first on dirt in 14 months, she destroyed the field by 12 before leading late and coming up a half-length short on the wire in a little stakes at Laurel near the end of September. Given a couple more months off, if she runs as well as she did off the layoff in August she can win, given that effort earned her a 96 Equibase figure. However, as stated previously a lot will depend on how big a step forward Electric Forest takes off her comeback win last month.

     

    Bets: Electric Forest to win at 3 to 2 or more, a true low odds overlay.

    Double (Races 8 and 9), Pick 3 (Races 8, 9 and 10), Pick 4 (Races 8, 9, 10 and 11):

     

    Race 8 – Electric Forest, Tweeting

    Race 9 – Bellavais, La Moneda

    Race 10 – Awestruck, Stormy Embrace, Dream Pauline, Surprise Wedding

    Race 11 – Glorious Empire, Projected, Qurbaan, Hi Happy, Mr Havercamp

     

    My Charmer Stakes  - Race 9 at Gulfstream Park- Post Time 4:05 PM Eastern

    La Moneda shows up EVERY TIME, with four wins and a runner-up effort in her last five races, all on grass, the last two in stakes. Even though those last two were against statebred company in New York, the 105 and 107 Equibase figures are as good as any in here who have run well recently in "open" (not restricted) company. Those five "A" efforts all came when Morley was the named trainer, and the trainer saddled her to a win and a runner-up effort last year in two races under his care as well, so we can expect a top effort and I just hope her 5/1 starting odds hold up.

    Bellavais took 11 months off from November to October and returned in the Pletcher barn to win at a mile on grass at Belmont, in a decent classified allowance field. She was no slouch before that, with 3 wins in 10 career tries on turf and a stakes win so moving into this grade 3 level is no issue, particularly as Castellano (up for the first time last out) rides back and she gets the rail. Off the 11 month layoff, Bellavais earned a 105 figure and so with logical 2nd off the layoff physical improvement looming she is the other gal with the bulk of the probability to win this race.

    For exactas and trifectas I'll also use Conquest Hardcandy, possibly a lone front runner and a filly who has been first or second in six of 11 career turf races.

    Bets: La Moneda and Bellavais to win at odds of 2 to1 or more.

    When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

    Exacta: La Moneda and Bellavais over La Moneda, Bellavais and Conquest Hardcandy.

    Trifectas (two tickets):

    La Moneda and Bellavais over La Moneda, Bellavais and Conquest Hardcandy over ALL.

    La Moneda and Bellavais over ALL over La Moneda, Bellavais and Conquest Hardcandy.

     

    Sugar Swirl Stakes - Race 10 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:36 PM ET

    Stormy Embrace was completely over her head in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf Sprint last month but before that she was top notch, winning four of her six races this year including the tougher Grade 2 Princess Rooney Stakes in June over the track. That effort earned a 110 Equibase figure, no fluke as she had earned a 107 figure three months earlier winning a handicap at Tampa Bay Downs easily. She can win on the lead or from off the pace and is the one to beat.

    In spite of Stormy Embrace being the one to beat, Awestruck opens lower at 2/1 (compared to 3/1 for Stormy Embrace). I suppose it's because she finished a troubled second behind solid sprinter Vertical Oak in a stakes last month at Churchill but she wasn't going to beat the other filly in spite of traffic issues on the backstretch and the effort earned her a 99 figure, the third time this year she's earned that figure and it's not good enough to beat Stormy Embrace if she repeats her 6/30, 3/10 or 1/21 efforts in this situation. Just the same, Awestruck does have a shot if the top pick doesn't fire.

    Also worth a look, particularly for pick 3 and 4 tickets, are Dream Pauline and Surprise Wedding. Dream Pauline is a lightly raced filly with a two-for-three record. She was third and three lengths behind Awestruck in that stakes won by Vertical Oak last month but she had trouble as well. She earned a 96 figure winning before that and has a nice shot to step up and run a career best race today. Surprise Wedding gets Jose Ortiz and a good outside post as she moves back to dirt off an irrelevant try on turf. She won her last dirt start handily with a 99 figure and was a stakes winner (vs Florida breds only) a year ago so can't be ruled out opening at 8/1.

     

    Bets: Stormy Embrace to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

     

    Exacta: Stormy Embrace and Awestruck over Stormy Embrace, Awestruck, Dream Pauline and Surprise Wedding. For about half the above wager, play the reverse as well, which is Stormy Embrace, Awestruck, Dream Pauline and Surprise Wedding over Stormy Embrace and Awestruck.

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