Ellis Starr's Blog - AmWager

  • 13

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, July 14

    Kent Stakes - Race 8 at Delaware Park - Post Time 4:56 PM Eastern

    Gunnison goes for his third straight win, the last two on turf including a non-graded stakes, so is a perfect fit at this grade 3 stakes level. He opens at 10/1 coming off a career best effort with Toledo in the saddle as today and he has shown the ability to win on the lead from start to finish (as he did in his maiden breaker in February), to come from far back (as he did when rallying from 7th one before last) or to come from off the pace (when 4th with a quarter mile to go last out). He was 2 to 1 in his last two races yet opens at 10/1 here for no other reason than the class of his competition appears less than some of the rest but we must remember this race is for three year olds only and there is a lot of improvement possible from one race to the next so there is no reason why Gunnison can't take another step forward to win at a price.

    Hot Springs also opens at odds that are out of line with his probability to win, at 6 to1, as he too is going for his 3rd straight win. He lost his debut in March badly but making a debut in a turf route is no easy question then when he returned on June 3 he won nicely by four lengths before another solid win at the end of the month. He's improving with each race and gets a solid turf jockey in Lynch for the Asmussen barn. Still with a long way to go before earning back the three-quarters of a million dollars he cost at auction in the summer of 2016 this colt is another with potential to earn his first graded stakes win.

    Likely favorite Untamed Domain can't be discounted as a contender to win as he rallied from eighth to second one before last in the Grade 2 American Turf and won the Grade 2 Summer Stakes last September as a two year old. Still, he's just 2 for 9 and is being bet based on his 4th place effort behind Catholic Boy and Analyze It in the Pennine Ridge last month, as those two came back to earn the same placings in last weekend's Belmont Derby. He's a bad win bet under about 3/1 but is a must to use on any exacta tickets played.

    Win Bets: Bet both Gunnison and Hot Springs to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

    When betting two or more horses to win it is a good idea to use a "dutching" tool to allocate your betting capital in order to get the best return. You can find one free at Amwager.com

    Exacta Bets: Gunnison, Hot Springs and Untamed Domain over ALL.

    Box Gunnison, Hot Springs and Untamed Domain.

    ALL over Gunnison and Hot Springs (this serves as a good play instead of a place bet).

    Double: Gunnison, Hot Springs and Untamed Domain in Race 8 with Teresa Z, Sneaky Betty, Mopotism and Unbridled Mo in Race 9.

    Gunnison, Hot Springs and Untamed Domain in Race 8 with Teresa Z and Unbridled Mo in Race 9.

    Race 8 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:18 PM Eastern

    This race serves as a nice springboard to the Forbidden Apple Stakes (Race 9) but it's playable on its own as well. Rumble Doll and Epping Forest are the two contenders for win bets and for the exacta but its Rumble Doll who interests me the most as she opens at 12/1 compared to 2/1 for Epping Forest. Rumble Doll won very nicely at this six furlong inner turf trip at Belmont last summer, at the one lower NW2X allowance level and as the 2 to 1 favorite. She finished third at this level at seven furlongs after that then was overmatched in a stakes race last November before taking the winter off. Returning off a six month rest last month at this level, Rumble Doll ran well considering the time off, missing third by a nose and second by another three-quarters of a length. Likely to run a ton better second off the layoff, this gal who has a record of 3-4-4 on the Belmont turf (barely missing the board) has a much better chance to run well then her double digit morning line odds give her credit.

    Epping Forest won at the same six furlong inner turf trip over the course in October, not running any better than Rumble Doll and at a lower level, as the even money favorite. She ran poorly six months later this April in her comeback but just as I suspect Rumble Doll will do today, Epping Forest improved a LOT second off the layoff last out on June 3 with a strong win at the trip under Rosario, who rides back. She could continue to improve in her third start of the year and should be coming from far back with a big late run as usual.

    Win Bet: Rumble Doll to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

    Exacta Bets: Rumble Doll and Epping Forest over ALL

    All over Rumble Doll (this can be instead of a place bet)

    Epping Forest over ALL (because Epping Forest is much lower odds than Rumble Doll so we would want to hit the bet twice if she wins).

    Doubles: Rumble Doll and Epping Forest in Race 8 with Blind Ambition and Disco Partner in Race 9.

    Delaware Handicap - Race 9 at Delaware Park - Post Time 5:35 PM Eastern

    The key to separating the win contenders from the rest appears to be a potentially contested early pace scenario in which need-the-lead types Proper Discretion, Nikki My Darling and Farrell are forced to go faster than average when vying for the early lead. That likely hot early pace sets up a quartet of contenders nicely, with a couple of them opening at double digit odds.

    First, I'll start with one that does not open at high odds, Unbridled Mo, who has won seven of 11 career races with one of her best efforts coming this year in April when she rallied from fourth, seven lengths back, to win the Apple Blossom Stakes, defeating heavy favorite Unique Bella in the process. That effort earned Unbridled Mo the second best Equibase Figure, 103. That effort came in her second start back following a 10 month layoff and she is on a similar pattern for a top effort in the Delaware Handicap as she returned from a layoff last month to finish third in the Ogden Phipps Stakes with a 98 figure. As a daughter of Uncle Mo and out of a mare by Unbridled, Unbridled Mo should have no issue running this 10 furlong trip for the first time, particularly as she should be a strong beneficiary of the contested early pace scenario.

    Teresa Z is a potentially live longshot, opening at 10/1. She is a lightly raced four year old coming off the best effort of her career and with prospect for even better in this situation. Last summer, Teresa Z earned a then career-best figure (94) when winning the Monmouth Oaks then took six months off following an eighth place effort in the Cotillion Stakes. She improved nicely last month in her third start off the layoff when winning the Obeah Stakes over the track with a new career-best 96 figure. Jockey Centeno rides her once again after not having been aboard in over a year and the experience over the track may help Teresa Z to run even better, particularly as she can save ground from the rail as the pacesetters battle it out in front of her. Another factor in her favor is the fact that her Monmouth Oaks win was her second in a row after losing four straight and she enters this year's Delaware Handicap off a win following three straight losses.

    Mopotism fits the race on class, having won the La Canada Stakes this past winter in California with the best figure (114) earned by any Delaware Handicap entrant this year. Since then, she has lost four straight races but one was in her first and only turf try and in the other three races Mopotism closed too late after the winners had drawn off, two of them by nearly nine lengths. If jockey Gutierrez can keep Mopotism reasonably close to the pacesetters in this race as he was able to do in the La Canada when she was just one length back after a half-mile had been run, she has a nice chance to earn her second graded stakes win of the year.

    For exotic bets like the exacta, honorable mention goes to Sneaky Betty, whose best efforts have earned her 93 figures. As a daughter of Mineshaft, Sneaky Betty is one of few bred to handle this distance with ease and trainer Claudio Gonzalez has a very strong record of 11 for 37 in dirt route stakes races over the past five years which helps establish that he knows where to place his horses. Considering Sneaky Betty has a closing style, and with some of the others likely to be tired near the end after going too fast in the early stages, she could get into the exacta at high odds.

    I must also mention Elate, who won back-to-back grade 1 stakes races last summer including the Alabama Stakes at this mile and one-quarter distance. She has done little wrong in her career with four wins in 10 races, and the 115 figure earned winning the Beldame Stakes last fall could make her tough to beat in the Delaware Handicap if repeated. However, trainer Mott has not won many stakes races around two-turns over the years with horses coming back from six months or more on the sidelines and although I believe Elate could run well enough to be second or third she may have a hard time winning versus others who have run more recently.

    Likewise, Farrell fits at the level following runner-up efforts in the La Troienne Stakes and in the Fleur de Lis Stakes, the latter earning her a 108 figure. However, having led from the start in her last four races and unable to hold the lead in the last eighth of a mile in the last two, with the likely pace pressure on her in the early stages from Proper Discretion at the very least, Farrell may be confined to a minor award.

    Win Bets: Unbridled Mo and Teresa Z at odds of 5 to 2 or higher. Add a place bet on Teresa Z at 5 to 1 or more.

    For a smaller amount, a win and place bet on Sneaky Betty is warranted at 5 to 1 or more as she opens at 20/1.

    In the off chance Mopotism goes to post anywhere near 5 to 1 she can be considered for a win bet as well.

    Exacta Bets: Teresa Z and Unbridled Mo over Teresa Z, Unbridled Mo, Sneaky Betty, Mopotism, Elate and Farrell.

    Exacta: Box Teresa Z, Unbridled Mo, Sneaky Betty and Mopotism.


    Forbidden Apple Stakes - Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:50 PM Eastern

    Blind Ambition ran as well winning the Elusive Quality Stakes over this turf course on April 28 as Disco Partner did winning the Grade 2 Jaipur Stakes over the course on June 9 but the former opens at 8 to 1 odds while the latter opens as the 9 to 5 favorite and is likely to be bet down even lower as he went to post at odds of 8 to 5 last time out and 7 to 5 before that. Both have won at this mile turf trip once but Blind Ambition may also have a tactical speed edge as Disco Partner rallies from fourth or further while Blind Ambition has been no further back than third early in his wins. With John Velazquez out of town, Pletcher goes to Saez which is just fine as it keeps the price high enough for a nice profit because if Blind Ambition runs back to that 4/28 effort he can post the upset and beat the favorite.

    Win Bet: Blind Ambition to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

    Exacta Bets: Box Blind Ambition and Disco Partner.

    Also play Blind Ambition over ALL and then play the reverse of that exacta which is ALL over Blind Ambition.

  • 06

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, July 7

    Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes - Race 7 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:11 PM Eastern

    Shaft of Light has won 10 of 23 races on dirt, six of those at this 7 furlong trip in 10 tries. The most important fact to note from his past performances is he has earned all 10 wins leading from start to finish. As a seven year old, I would not expect the best races of his career to have come lately three races back at this distance, Shaft of Light earned a then career best 119 Equibase figure before bettering it by one point to 120 winning the a non-graded stakes in April. Next time out when stretching his speed a bit further in the Salvatore Mile, Shaft of Light led from the start and almost held that lead to the end when beaten a half-length. With three exceptional five furlong workouts since that race and cutting back to his best distance, Shaft of Light could break out to an early lead and never look back.

    Limousine Liberal is also running seven furlongs as he won the Churchill Downs Stakes in 2017 and in 2018 at the distance. His 116 figure effort this year was the third best of his career, the best being a 120 figure when beaten a nose in the Phoenix Stakes in the fall of 2016. If he can run like that he would be on par with Shaft of Light and it's a good sign Jose Ortiz gets on as Ortiz rode him to both Churchill Downs Stakes wins.

    Whitmore has won 10 of 20 races in his career but has only attempted to run this seven furlong distance once, finishing fourth behind Limousine Liberal in this year's Churchill Downs Stakes. However, he ran exceptionally well at 6 1/2 furlongs recently when beaten a neck in the True North Stakes over the track. With a running style that usually sees him towards the back of the pack in the early stages, Whitmore would be the best beneficiary if Shaft of Light is tackled early by another horse and in that case he has the potential to pass the field for his 11th career win.

    Win Bet: Shaft of Light to win at odds of 2 to 1or more.

    Exacta Bets: Box Shaft of Light and Limousine Liberal. Box Shaft of Light and Whitmore.

    Doubles: Shaft of Light, Limousine Liberal and Whitmore in Race 7 with Paved, Capla Temptress and Fatale Bere in Race 8.

    Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes - Race 8 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:46 PM Eastern

    Capla Temptress has only run badly ONE time in six races, and in that start (when 7th of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last fall) she had significant traffic trouble. She ran her first three races in Europe, winning two and finishing a fine second to Juliet Capulet in a group 3 stakes in the other, before coming to North American last summer and winning the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes. The next two finishers in that race are two of the top 3 year old fillies in North America – Dixie Moon & Wonder Gadot, and beating them showed Capla Temptress fits with the best. After the Breeders' Cup she was allowed six months to mature and she was so highly regarded she returned in a Group 1 race in France worth nearly $600,000. In that race, Capla Temptress was surrounded inside other horses but when she saw daylight she exploded to be in a four horse photo for the win, beaten a neck and two heads on the wire. She gets Castellano for her trip back to the states and may be the one to beat based on that last effort and logical improvement 2nd off the layoff.

    Fatale Bere should NOT be 20/1 but I'm certainly glad those are her morning line odds. Last month in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Stakes, when sent to post as the 6/5 favorite, she had NO SHOT when the saddle slipped and the jockey lost control. That being the case, we must consider her race two back her last start, and that was a win in the Providencia Stakes with a 108 Equibase Figure which is a good as many fillies with much lower starting odds. Desormeaux takes the call and rode Fatale Bere in her U.S. debut last October to a win in the Surfer Girl Stakes before a BIG effort in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, in which she finished 5th, beaten just 2 lengths, and 2 lengths in front of Capla Temptress.

    Paved is another opening at absolutely ridiculous, and out of line, starting odds, in this case 12/1. She won the G2 Honeymoon last month as the second choice with 9/5 odds and two before that she beat males in the El Camino Real Derby with a 112 figure. She was beaten when third to Fatale Bere at 7 to 5 in the Providencia but she really has no knocks and a big shot to win here.

    Win Bets: Capla Temptress to win at 5 to 2 odds or more.

    For a lesser amount, Fatale Bere to win and to place at 4 to 1 or more and Paved to win and place at 4 to 1 or more.

    For maximizing return when wagering on multiple horses to win, use a "Dutching" tool like the one available for free at amwager.com

    Exacta: Capla Temptress, Fatale Bere and Paved over ALL.

    Play the reverse of that exacta as well, which is ALL over Capla Temptress, Fatale Bere and Paved.

    Doubles: ALL in Race 8 with Name Changer in Race 9

    Capla Temptress, Fatale Bere and Paved in Race 8 with Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify in Race 9.

    Suburban Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 6:18 PM Eastern

    Name Changer is a playable longshot in this year's Suburban because a few of the lower odds horses are not playable, at least as win bets at low odds. Although Hoppertunity is a 10 furlong stakes winner, as is Diversify, there is no guarantee Tapwrit (7/2 starting odds), War Story (5/1 starting odds) or Dr. Dorr (3/1) can win at 10 furlongs. Of that trio, Dr. Dorr appears the most capable off his runner-up effort in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita at the end of May and as he's by Lookin At Lucky, the same sire as winner Accelerate. Name Changer has only raced 13 times though a five year old and was well regarded at three including when 3rd in the West Virginia Derby behind Cupid. He won a nice stakes race at the end of that year and his two races as a four year old proved nothing more than there was an issue so he was given 11 months off between June, 2017 and May of this year. He won both starts and the most recent earned him a 116 figure which when put in perspective gives him a big shot as that figure is BETTER than the 113 figures Hoppertunity earned in the Tokyo City Stakes and in the Brooklyn Handicap and as good as War Story earned in the Charles Town Classic, also as good as Dr. Dorr in any of his three recent races that make him the 3/1 favorite. There's NO doubt Name Changer can get 10 furlongs as a son of Uncle Mo and Saez getting on is strong as the jockey is still underbet on the circuit. If Name Changer can repeat his most recent effort he can post a huge upset.

    Although both wins by Hoppertunity this year came at 12 furlongs, he has no issue at this 10 furlong trip as he won the 2016 Jockey Club Gold Cup over the track at the distance. He's 2 for 2 at Belmont and considering Baffert's amazing 47% back-to-back win rate in graded stakes dirt routes over the last few years, another "A" effort could be forthcoming. Like Name Changer, Hoppertunity may get some pace to chase if Diversify and Dr. Dorr keep each other honest on the front end.

    The pace scenario somewhat hinges on what Diversify and Dr. Dorr do in the early stages. They both have the ability to lead from the start but both have also demonstrated the ability to press the pacesetter and still win. Diversify won the 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup (the race Hoppertunity won in 2016) leading all the way with a 119 figure that makes him tough if he isn't pressed too hard early or if he can relax as he did in last month's Commentator Stakes. Likewise Dr. Dorr earned a decent 114 figure when second in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita last time out and has now run three big races in a row.

    Win Bet: Name Changer to win and to place at 5 to 1 or more, maybe even to win, place and show.

    Exacta Bets: Box Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify.

    Optional additional exacta: Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify over Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity, Diversify, War Story, Zanotti and Tapwrit.

    Doubles: Name Changer in Race 9 with ALL in Race 10.

    Also, ALL in Race 9 with Kingstar in Race 10.

    Also, Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify in Race 9 with Kingstar, Hunting Horn, Analyze It and Catholic Boy in Race 10.

    Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes - Race 10 at Belmont Park - Post Time 6:50 PM Eastern

    It's not just that I'm hoping for big day for Team Valor entrants but I really feel Kingstar may be the one to beat. Just he and Hunting Horn have run this far on turf and could give them a little experience edge. There's no question they fit on class and with Kingstar opening at 6/1 compared to 7/2 for Hunting Horn I'll start there. Kingstar finished 2nd in an important Group 3 stakes in only the 2nd start of his career last fall in France then when returning from eight months off last month won as he pleased. His French rider comes over for a very good trainer (Pia Brandt) and he fits on all counts off the win at a mile and five-sixteenths last out.


    Hunting Horn won as he pleased at Royal Ascot just a few weeks back, winning in a field of 16 by four lengths. Ryan Moore crosses the pond so we know the Coolmore gang is serious and the colt is 2 for 3 at 10 furlongs on turf.

    Catholic Boy and Analyze It finished one-two in the Pennine Ridge Stakes on the course at 9 furlongs last month, a unusual race in which Catholic Boy led early, passed by Analyze It in the stretch, who opened up a length, before Catholic Boy angled from the inside to the outside of Analyze It to pass him for the win by a neck. It is possible BOTH colts idled a bit after making the lead and that concerns me given the kick European runners like Kingstar and Hunting Horn are known for because there's no coming back from being passed by either of those colts.

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

    Make a second win bet, this one on Hunting Horn, if he is anywhere near 3 to 1 at post time.

    Exacta: Box Kingstar, Hunting Horn, Analyze It and Catholic Boy.

  • 29

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 30

    King Edward Stakes - Race 6 at Woodbine - Post Time 2:53 PM Eastern

    Caribou Club won the similar Grade 2 Connaught Cup on the Woodbine Turf on 6/2, the only real difference between that race and the King Edward is this race is one furlong further. In the Connaught Cup, Caribou Club beat Tower of Texas by one and one-half lengths, with Conquest Panthera another head back in third. Considering Tower of Texas had no excuse for not being able to beat Caribou Club (who was 8/1 at post time compared to 3/1, not that big of a difference), it is an absolute JOKE Tower of Texas opens as the 2/1 favorite here while Caribou Club opens at 6/1. It's a joke we can laugh at all the way to the bank, because Caribou Club won a 100K stakes at Laurel at a mile on turf prior to that and as he's making his 3rd start off a layoff, he's on a pattern to run another "A" race good enough to win, making him a very solid KEY BET.

    Win Bet: Caribou Club to win at 2 to 1 or more.

    Exacta Bets: Caribou Club over Tower of Texas, First Premio, Conquest Panthera and Delta Prince.

    Play the REVERSE of that exacta as well, which is Tower of Texas, First Premio, Conquest Panthera and Delta Prince over Caribou Club.

    Perfect Sting Stakes - Race 4 at Belmont Park - Post Time 3:09 PM Eastern

    This is more of a "Key Betting Race" than a "Key Bet" because ALL seven can win and a couple will offer odds well worth the risk. Using that premise as a starting point, Princess Gibraltar and Feeling Bossy get top billing. Princess Gibraltar came over from France last summer and ran only so-so in two races, finishing 3rd then 4th. Given six months off, she returned on 4/6 in Florida and was a different horse, more like the one that won 3 of 9 in France and Germany. Rallying from 7th of 8, she made the lead in the stretch, idled and almost lost it, but fought very gamely to win by a nose at the end. Rested 2 1/2 months, excellent trainer Clement has been working her on the Saratoga turf and with any improvement whatsoever off the 102 Equibase Figure effort (which is only a bit short of the 107 favorite La Sardane earned winning a grade 3 stakes last out), Princess Gibralter can post the upset.

    Similarly so, Feeling Bossy is placed to run big. She was racing mostly in allowance and NY Bred stakes races until Jerkens dropper her into an allowance optional claimer last October and considering she was 6 for 14 at the time Servis snapped her up. After a seven month break, Feeling Bossy resurfaced in the statebred Mt. Vernon Stakes and led from start to finish. The fact she barely held on by a neck after leading by 2 lengths in the stretch doesn't concern me because she was likely not 100% fit after that lengthy time off. Not only is the mare 5 for 9 on the Belmont grass, she is a "WIN TYPE" because she now has 7 wins in 16 races, with no second or third place finishes. With the ability to win leading from start to finish or from off the pace, and for the sizzling hot Servis barn which has won nearly one-third of its races this year and half of 28 starts at the meeting, Feeling Bossy would be no surprise if winning and as such she's very playable, opening at 6 to 1.

    Win Bets: Princess Gibralter and Feeling Bossy to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Consider an exacta consisting of ALL over Princess Gibralter and Feeling Bossy instead of a place bet.

    Eatontown Stakes – Race 9 at Monmouth - Post Time 4:55 PM Eastern

    Lift Up appears to be a star on the rise in the filly and mare turf division. Her first three starts were on dirt and consisted of a pair of runner-up finishes but when her feet hit the sod for the first time in the spring of 2017 she reeled off three straight wins. Trying all-weather last fall she ran poorly but back on the grass starting in May following seven and one-half months off she has won two in a row, most importantly the most recent on the Monmouth Turf in an obvious prep for this race. The 110 Equibase figure earned in that race, the Miss Liberty Stakes, is likely to be improved upon in the filly's third start off the layoff. As it is already the second best last race figure in the field, right behind the 114 Dream Awhile earned when third in the Distaff Turf Mile on Derby weekend, any improvement is good enough to earn the filly her first graded stakes win.

    Win Bet: Lift Up to win at odds of 8 to 5 or higher.

    Exacta Bets: Lift Up over Elyseas's World, Special Event, Dream Awhile and Viva Vegas.

    I will be playing the exactas above for two units (two times my normal exacta bet amount) then also playing the opposite of that exacta for one unit.

    Queen's Plate Stakes - Race 10 at Woodbine- Post Time 5:36 PM Eastern

    Trainer Graham Motion and owner/breeder Sam-Son Farm have a pair in this 16 horse field, Strike Me Down and Say the Word, who open at odds of 10/1 and 20/1, respectively, in an exceptional betting race because of the size of the field. Strike Me Down gets Jose Ortiz to ride and has every right to post the upset coming off a fine runner-up effort in a stakes on turf at Monmouth in which he stalked in third in the early stages before rallying to lead by two lengths then settling for second. That was his second start off a seven month layoff, his first being a trip to Woodbine on May 4 for a win over the track. As a son of Tapit, the 10 furlong trip is no problem at all and as a half-brother to Golden Sabre, who won the Durham Cup at Woodbine for this owner and trainer, this colt fits on all counts and is a KEY LONGSHOT bet on the day.

    His stablemate, Say the Word, also must be bet as he gets leading jockey Hernandez, who rode him last month in his first start around two turns on the all-weather surface and apparently wants to ride him back. Prior to that, Say the Word won easily by nearly five lengths at the distance of a mile and three-sixteenths, so this extra 16th of a mile is unlikely to be an issue. Considering his last two efforts earned 92 and 93 figures, Say the Word won't need much improvement to run as well as any of the much lower odds choices.

    The other two contenders are the filly Dixie Moon, winner of the Woodbine Oaks three weeks ago, and the morning line favorite Telekinesis, winner of the Plate Trial Stakes on the same date. Fillies have done very well in this race recently and Dixie Moon earned the same 97 Equibase figure in the Oaks that Telekinesis earned in the Plate Trial at the same trip. Both are very talented and very consistent and must be used on any tickets we play involving this race.

    For exactas we must use Wonder Gadot and Rose's Vision, the former beaten a head by Dixie Moon in the Woodbine Oaks after missing by a half-length in the Kentucky Oaks and the latter a strong second to Telekinesis in the Plate Trial.

    Bets: Strike Me Down and Say the Word to win and to place at 7 to 2 or higher.

    Consider a win bet on Dixie Moon at 7 to 2 or more. For making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool like the one free at Amwager, which helps you allocate your bets based on the amount you want to spend, or the amount you want to win.

    Exacta: In a 16 horse field we can absolutely play a six horse exacta box in my opinion and that's exactly what I plan to do by boxing Strike Me Down, Say the Word, Dixie Moon, Telekinesis, Wonder Gadot and Rose's Vision.

    Trifecta: Because the minimum trifecta wager at Woodbine is just $0.20, the cost of a six horse trifecta box is just $24 so we can box all six horses in the trifecta as well.

    United Nations Stakes - Race 11 at Monmouth- Post Time 6:01 PM Eastern

    The United Nations Stakes is the Race of the Week at Equibase so rather than copy that analysis here you can read it by clicking here to go to the Equibase web site.

    However, that analysis does not contain my betting strategy so here it is:

    Bets: Vettori Kin to win at 2 to 1 or higher. Also, Kurilov to win at 3 to 1 or more.

    Exactas: Vettori Kin and Kurilov over Vettori Kin, Kurilov, Funtastic, One Go All Go, Profiteer, Money Multiplier and Oscar Nominated.

    Consider playing the reverse of that exacta for half as much as with Vettori Kin and Kurilov on top.


  • 22

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 23

    Singspiel Stakes - Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:57 PM Eastern

    Pumpkin Rumble has banked more than $400K, over $300K of that on the grass. Interestingly enough, he earned his first turf win at Woodbine in his most recent race, three weeks ago, in an allowance optional claimer and that apparently impressed trainer Attard enough to bump him into this grade 3 stakes. Da Silva rode the gelding for the first time in a year and rides back and the pattern for improvement off 89 and 99 Equibase figure efforts following five months off is very solid. The horse won at 12 furlong on the main track last October so the distance is not a problem and the 8/1 odds compel me to make him the top pick as he's as good as two other win contenders who offer much less profit potential for win bets.


    Final Copy opens as the 5/2 second choice and Danish Dynaformer opens as the 2 to 1 favorite. Final Copy beat Danish Dynaformer by almost two lengths last time out on 5/25 with the latter not really having an excuse, but Danish Dynaformer sports a pair of wins at this marathon turf trip and although Final Copy missed by a nose at the distance last August he is winless in 3 tries. However, I don't see Danish Dynaformer reversing the finish position from that last race with Final Copy so I will only use him in 2nd on exacta tickets.


    As for the last of three main win contenders, Shahroze is 2 for 3 on grass since coming to the U.S. and is just a four year old so has improving to do off a neck win at Belmont last month following four months off. He is bred to run all day and with Graham motion shipping in from his Fair Hills base this horse has almost as much chance to post the upset as Pumpkin Rumble. Johnny Bear ran poorly in his 2018 debut last month following six months off but won the G1 Northern Dancer at the distance last year (off a win) so can be considered for exactas as well.



    Win Bets: Pumpkin Rumble to win at 5/2, adding a place bet at 4/1 or more.

    Make a second win bet on Shahroze at 7/2 or more, adding a place bet at 5/1 or more.

    I don't think Final Copy will go off at higher than fair odds of 3/1 but if he does he can be bet to win as well.

    Note: To allocate your bets with the best edge, use a dutching tool like the one at Amwager.

    Exacta Bets: Pumpkin Rumble, Final Copy and Shahroze over Pumpkin Rumble, Final Copy, Shahroze, Danish Dynaformer and Johnny Bear.

    Optionally, play the opposite of that exacta as well. This way if the top three come in first and second we win the best two times and otherwise we have some saver coverage.

    Race 5 at Santa Anita - Post Time 5 PM Eastern/ 2 PM Pacific

    There are a few starter handicaps on the Saturday card at Santa Anita and my strategy in these races is to find the horses that have either won a starter allowance race previously or recently qualified for the level by running for the claiming price that makes them eligible when not having done so previously. Other things I look for are horses recently claimed as that shows a trainer looking at the condition book of upcoming races when claiming.


    Any Questions was claimed one before last, out of a 3 lengths win at the 25K claiming level, then shipped to Golden Gate and run protected (not able to be claimed) in an allowance race. This was a smart move for veteran trainer Pederson to insure the horse kept in form. He won that mile turf race easily and he's still protected at this starter level for horses which raced for 25K or less. Prat rode him in that win over the course on 4/21 and gets back on, a superb sign for a repeat effort.


    Tough It Out gets the ground saving rail and like Any Questions has won two turf races in a row. Both wins came at a mile and the most recent in a starter allowance race. Both were with Desormeaux in the saddle as today and there's no sign of declining form.


    My Man Chuckles and Ky. Colonel have a decent shot to finish second and a minor chance to win. My Man Chuckles finished 2nd to Tough It Out last time out and Ky. Colonel won two of his last three races, both at the mile turf trip.


    Win Bets: Any Questions at 2/1 or higher AND Tough It Out at 5/2 or more.

    Exacta Bets: Any Questions and Tough It Out over Any Questions, Tough It Out, My Man Chuckles and Ky. Colonel.

    Play the opposite of that exacta as well.

    Ohio Derby – Race 10 at Thistledown - Post Time 5:10 PM Eastern

    Pace scenario: Last Drop of Wine stretches out from a sprint from the extreme outside post and looks likely to want to lead from the start, with Flameaway likely to be on his heels. Diamond King won the Federico Tesio Stakes in April and has early speed, as does last month's Tom Ridge Stakes winner Trigger Warning, who also stretches out to two turns off a number of sprints. Those are enough "Early" pace types to go fast and tire, setting up a trio for the major awards.

    Off a strong win around two turns in February and following two months off, Title Ready won strongly with a career-best 101 Equibase figure then tried his hand in the Rebel Stakes one month later. Setting the pace for the first six furlongs, Title Ready eventually gave way to finish fourth behind Magnum Moon. After finishing fourth once again one month later in the Northern Spur Stakes, Title Ready rebounded with a competitive effort in the Sir Barton Stakes on a sloppy track at Pimlico on Preakness Day. The race has turned out to be very productive as third place finisher Prince Lucky (who finished four lengths behind Title Ready) won the Easy Goer Stakes and the sixth place finisher won his next race. As such, with good tactical speed and bred to run well at this mile and one-eighth trip as a grandson of Monarchos, Title Ready gets top billing to win this year's Ohio Derby and in doing so can post the upset as his starting odds are 10 to 1.

    Core Beliefs ran the best race of his career last month in the Peter Pan Stakes. After battling head-and-head for the lead from the start, Core Beliefs opened up to a two and one-half length lead with an eighth of a mile to go and although outfinished by Blended Citizen was four lengths clear of the next horse. Earning a career-best 108 figure with that effort at the distance of the Ohio Derby, Core Beliefs is another who may be capable of settling into third or fourth early as the pacesetters battle on the front end before rallying strongly and must be respected as a contender to win the race.

    Lone Sailor is likely to be last, or nearly so, in the early stages of the Ohio Derby just as he was in the Louisiana Derby in March. In that race Lone Sailor began ninth of 10 and continually passed horses, making the lead with an eighth of a mile to go before engaging with eventual winner Noble Indy to be beaten a head on the wire. That effort earned Lone Sailor a strong 106 figure, which he duplicated in the Preakness with a rally from eighth in the early stages to be beaten two lengths at the wire. Since then, Lone Sailor has been working in spectacular fashion at his home base in Kentucky, his two most recent workouts being the best of 64 and the best of 30 on the day. Therefore, if able to navigate through traffic successfully, Lone Sailor could pass the other 11 entrants to win the Ohio Derby.

    As for Flameaway, who opens at 5 to 2 odds, he could definitely be there at the finish and should be considered for exacta tickets. However, in spite of earning a 106 figure in February when winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes, it appears the fact he likes to be in front early combined with the fact he was outfinished in the last eighth of a mile in both the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass Stakes suggests he doesn't have the capacity to outfinish the main contenders and win this race.

    O'Kratos has the figures and form to compete but has never run on conventional dirt nor has his trainer had much success transitioning horses from all-weather to dirt. Nevertheless I will use him in second on exacta tickets. I will also use Dream Baby Dream, who finished second in the Sunland Derby earlier this year and who is trained by Asmussen the same as Title Ready.

    Win Bets: Title Ready and Core Beliefs to win at odds of 3/1or higher. Add a place bet on Title Ready at 6 to1 or more.

    Exacta Bets: Title Ready, Core Beliefs and Lone Sailor over Title Ready, Core Beliefs, Lone Sailor, Flameaway, O'Kratos and Dream Baby Dream.

    Race 10 at Santa Anita- Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern/ 4:30 Pacific

    Premium Forest ships in from Northern California, where turf racing is done for a while since the end of the Golden Gate meeting, to run in this turf race for Cal-Breds only. He beat Cal-breds when facing them for the 1st time in his 2nd career start in February, easily by five lengths, and his only other try was in a stakes, also his first try on grass. That was also his 2nd try around two turns, but before that in his first route, Premium Forest finished fast to miss by nose on the wire. Last out on 5/27 he rallied from last of 5 to win nicely and on the ship in and (technically) a drop in class he gets leading man Prat and is tied for the best last race Equibase figure in the field. He fits well here as he has two wins and except for one horse (Unusual Meeting, who is completely off form) the rest either have one or two career wins. He gets an inside post and has a big kick so opening at 8/1 Premium Forest is a key bet on the day.

    Also worthy of consideration as a win contender is Save Ground, who took blinkers off for his last race, at this mile turf trip, and who earned his first win in his fifth career start. He was off 2 1/2 months then as now so can fire with a big shot.


    Six Point Rack rallied for 2nd twice in a row among his last three starts and can get a piece, as can Cool Green, who stretches out to two turns off a turf sprint win and has won at a mile on grass previously.

    Win Bets: Premium Forest to win at 2/1 or more and Save Ground to win at 5/2 or higher. Bet both using a dutching tool to help allocate you bankroll to your best advantage. You can do this easily using the tool at Amwager.

    Exacta bets: Premium Forest and Save Ground over Premium Forest, Save Ground, Six Point Rack and Cool Green.

    Doubles: Premium Forest and Save Ground in Race 10 with American Anthem, Touching Rainbows, Stone Hands and Dabster in Race 11.

    Also Premium Forest, Save Ground, Six Point Rack and Cool Green in Race 10 with Stone Hands and American Anthem in race 11.

  • 15

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Race 10 at Woodbine - Post Time 6 PM Eastern

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 08

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 9

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


    Those two are Manitoulin and Fashion Business.


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


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


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


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

    Exacta Bets: Manitoulin and Fashion Business over ALL

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

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

    Then also ALL in race 10 with Hofburg in Race 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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