Ellis Starr's Blog - AmWager

  • 10
    AUG

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, August 11

    Flaming Page Stakes – Race 6 at Woodbine - Post Time 3:38 PM Eastern

    It always nice when the reason for a turnaround in a horse's form jumps off the page, and so it is with Giovannna Blues, who took blinkers off after six clunkers wearing them and who rallied from last of nine, into a horribly slow pace, to get 2nd at 20/1 last month in a turf marathon like this one. Pino was up for the first time and follows the mare up from Maryland for Dickinson. The mare earned the BEST last race Equibase figure in the field, 99, and should improve 2nd off a two month layoff as well so opening at 6 to 1 is the key to profit here.

    Bets: Giovanna Blues to win at 2 to 1 or higher.

    Exactas: Giovanna Blues over Daring Duchess, Creative Thinking, Lottie and Liberty Kitten.

    Also, play the reverse of that exacta in case Giovanna Blues is a bit too late and ends up second again.

    Fourstardave Handicap – Race 8 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:02 PM Eastern

    Made You Look was a decent horse in his nine career starts before his last start of 2017 in July, winning the With Anticipation Stakes as a two year old and the Dania Beach Stakes as a three year old, both graded stakes on turf. After four poorer efforts he was given 10 months off, returning in May in the care of Chad Brown and winning with a career best 106 Equibase figure. Improving off that race although not wining when 2nd and beaten a length in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes in June, Made You Look earned a very strong 115 figure as good as Heart to Heart earned nearly winning the similar G1 Shoemaker Mile in his most recent start and one point better than Yoshida earned winning the G1 Turf Classic Invitational in May before venturing to Ascot. Considering there are very few G1 races on the grass for two year olds, the With Anticipation win here at Saratoga two years ago was equivalent to a grade 1 effort and the colt should improve once again in his third start off a layoff so in spite of being the third choice on the morning line is the one to beat.

     

    Delta Prince has had a lot of starts and stops in his career, running just eight times in three years. However, he's NEVER been worse than third and is a Grade 2 Stakes winner. Like Made You Look, Delta Prince should improve off his last effort in June which followed nine months off. From a tremendous family that includes champion Royal Delta ($4.8 million in earnings) and being a true miler, with a 4 for 5 record at the trip, this horse who earned 116 and 115 figures last year before going on the shelf can improve significantly back to that level off his 106 effort last out and has a very strong chance to succeed.

    Favorites Heart to Heart and Yoshida can win but both have enough issues to split them in exactas and try to beat them with win bets on others.

    Bets: Made You Look and Delta Prince to win at 2 to 1 or more. To bet more than one horse to win and to allocate your betting dollars for the best reward use a dutching tool, like the free one at Amwager.com

    Exactas: Box Made You Look, Delta Prince and Yoshida.

    Box Made You Look, Delta Prince and Heart to Heart.

    Pick 3:

    Race 8 – Made You Look, Delta Prince, Yoshida and Heart to Heart

    Race 9 – Patternrecognition, Always a Suspect, Phi Beta Express, Mask and Breaking the Rules

    Race 10 – Blacktype and Mr. Cub

    Note: If you want to cut the cost of the ticket down, use only Patternrecognition and Always a Suspect in Race 9.

    Race 9 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:40 Eastern

    Since I am playing the race as part of the pick 3 started in race 8 we can also make some bets here because the two main contenders may go to post at odds worth a wager or two. Always a Suspect is a four year old with a lot of life left who was just claimed for $40K by Diodoro, an exceptionally sharp trainer off the claim and actually overall. The gelding had only been entered for a claiming price once before that last start on 7/21, on 6/17, but no one claimed him as he finished fast from 9 lengths back to 4th, beaten just under two lengths. Improving markedly last month here at Saratoga, Always a Suspect gamey fought down the lane to win by a neck over Forge, a stakes level horse, with a decent 103 figure he can improve upon and that puts him in range of the top contenders here, most who open at much lower odds than his 8/1. With Cohen riding very well when Diodoro gives him a leg up, this tough sprinter who has been first or second in 7 of 16 career main track races could run big right back.

     

    Patternrecognition opens as the 9 to 5 favorite off a runner-up effort at the level with a strong 108 figure. However, he now has FIVE runner-up finishes in his career to go along with just two wins and has been beaten at 6 to 5 or so four times in eight races. I will have to use him as a win contender for pick 3's but otherwise let's hope Always a Suspect runs big as expected.

    Bets: Always a Suspect to win at 5 to 2 or higher.

    Exacta: Box Always a Suspect and Patternrecognition

    Then also Always a Suspect and Patternrecognition over Always a Suspect, Patternrecognition, Breaking the Rules and Spikes Shirl.

    Note: Although I am including Phi Beta Express and Mask in the pick 3 ticket recommendations in race 8 because of the value offered by most of the contenders in race 9 and 10, I am otherwise not using them on exacta tickets in this race.

    Lure Stakes – Race 10 at Saratoga - Post Time 6:18 Eastern

    Postponed from last week when torrential rains fell on Saratoga, the Lure Stakes offers a poor favorite and second choice in my opinion. Projected (5/2 morning line) has nine runner-up finishes to go along with six wins in his career and finished 2nd in two identical non-graded stakes this year with no excuse. Inspector Lynley also has more second place finishes (5) than wins and has lost five straight, three of those allowance races and not even stakes.

    On the other hand, Mr. Cub not only has won two of his last three, including a non-graded stakes like this, he ran huge to streaking Mr. Misunderstood when last seen in the G2 Wise Dan Stakes in June, fading late to miss by a half-length. He's the lone speed here and Landeros can get him on the front end from where they can slow the pace and kick on nicely just as he did in the Opening Verse Stakes in May, making us a nice profit as he opens at 6 to 1.

     

    Blacktype opens at ridiculous 8/1 odds considering he's 10 for 33 in his career and recently surpassed the $800K mark in career earnings. Winner of the G2 Knickerbocker Stakes last fall, he went off form for four races but won his last start and since the last time he won off a losing streak he earned two wins in a row he has to be taken very seriously in this spot.

     

    Bets: Mr. Cub and Blacktype to win at 2 to 1 or more.

    To bet more than one horse to win and to allocate your betting dollars for the best reward use a dutching tool, like the free one at Amwager.com

    Exacta: Mr. Cub and Blacktype over Mr. Cub, Blacktype, Projected, Inspector Lynley and Conquest Panthera.

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  • 03
    AUG

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, August 4

    Note: With the potential for awful weather at Saratoga which may lead to off-turf or soft-turf races, I have decided to focus on some of the wide open races on West Virginia Derby day at Mountaineer, plus one race on the dirt at Saratoga. Check the very end for a couple of bonus races picks as well.

    Senator Robert C. Byrd Stakes – Race 6 at Mountaineer - Post Time 4:25 PM Eastern

    Heartwood, Awesome Gent and Colonel Sharp are the three win contenders in my opinion, based on a very fast and contested early pace courtesy of Sevier and Shadow Tracer, drawn next to each other on the outside in the gate. It makes no sense whatsoever Balandeen is the morning line favorite off one win this year, at Will Rogers Downs, and the 4/1 starting odds on Line Judge, although likely correct as Amoss trains, is good because he appears overmatched as a horse whose last four wins came in claiming races and only one was fast enough to threaten any of the three win contenders if repeated. Heartwood is a stakes winner (last fall) in winning form off a strong victory last month with a 107 Equibase figure. He has put wins back-to-back before and can stalk the pace or close from far back. Awesome Gent is 8 for 16 in his career including THREE wins in a row since the Cowans claim back in July of 2017. That was the first and ONLY time he was ever risked for a tag and the race he won on 6/26 of this year was a KEY race from which the 2nd, 3rd AND 4th finishers all came back from to win. Considering he had been off for eight months, Awesome Gent should improve off the effort and run another "A" race. Colonel Sharp won 2nd off a layoff and trainer change (to his current trainer) in February, won two later in April then missed by a neck before a decent 3rd of 12 in a stakes at Presque Isle. He's at home on dirt and all-weather and his 4/27 win (3 races back) earned a 108 figure on par with Heartwood's last effort and Awesome Cat's five from last August and the one he's going to improve to today.

    Bets: Bet ANY or ALL of the three contenders – Heartwood at 5 to 2 or higher, Awesome Gent and Colonel Sharp at 3 to 1 or higher, to win. To make multiple win bets for the best advantage use a "Dutching Tool" like the free one at Amwager.com

    Exactas: Awesome Gent, Colonel Sharp and Heartwood over Awesome Gent, Colonel Sharp, Heartwood and Line Judge.

    West Virginia Governor's Cup – Race 7 at Mountaineer- Post Time 4:55 PM Eastern

    Secret Passage, Rated R Superstar and Leofric are the three that I feel strongly can win, and with the two starting favorites (Hawaakom and Matrooh) suspect at best this could be a very profitable race. Secret Passage changed barns in March, won 2nd off the change in April then improved mightily to a CAREER BEST effort on 6/1 at Belmont, with a field HIGH 110 Equibase figure. Trainer Diodoro, who wins at a high percentage as it is, is 3 for 6 in graded stakes in the past 18 months and David Cohen, up for the last win, rides back. You can forget every race this gelding ran before the new connections took over and from the rail Secret Passage can save every inch of ground until the far turn then go by the field for the win. Leofric is one of two from the highly potent Cox barn, the other Term of Art (who appears overmatched). Leofric gets the #1 jockey for the barn in Geroux, who ride him to a win in a classified allowance race last month which followed four months off. With a 5 for 10 record and with 107 and 109 figures in two of his last 3 races including when 2nd to Hawaakom in the G3 Razorback Handicap in February, Leofric can be counted on to be there at the wire today as he's been in six of his last seven races. Rated R Superstar shows up about half the time but when he does he's very tough as in April when taking the Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland with a 109 figure. He didn’t like the slop in the Pimlico Special after that and has been rested two and one-half months, which is fine as he won in January off a similar layoff. Having earned over a half-million to date and with leading jockey Quinones riding, count Rated R Superstar in as another win contender.

    Bets: Although I give slight preference to Secret Passage as a win contender, that won't stop me from betting ANY or ALL of the three contenders – Secret Passage, Leofric and Rated R Superstar, at 3 to 1 or higher, to win.

    To make multiple win bets for the best advantage use a "Dutching Tool" like the free one at Amwager.com

    Exacta: Although we may be making win bets on all three contenders I want to also key them on top in the exacta so the play is Secret Passage, Leofric and Rated R Superstar over ALL.

    Test Stakes – Race 8 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:10 Eastern

    Minit to Stardom is undefeated in three races, each better than the rest and the most recent on 5/27 off nearly six months on the bench. She's been working over the track and not only can fire big to win off a layoff but may get a dream trip in third early behind Classy Act and Mia Mischief, who should duel for the early lead exactly as they did in the Victory Ride Stakes last month. Minit to Stardom gets a great outside post to stalk the pacesetters and has a bright future in the female sprint division as her only sibling, a full sister one year older, is 4 for 10 and also a very fast sprinter. Separationofpowers won the G1 Frizette last fall on the circuit in her third career start then tried two turns and finished 4th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Rested eight months, her rallying 8th to 4th effort in the Victory Ride was VERY GOOD considering she had lost ALL CHANCE at the start when she stumbled. Ortiz is the only pilot she's ever known and 2nd off the layoff, as well as with a clean start, Separationofpowers should be a contender for all the marbles. Alter Moon was privately purchased by Peter Brant following her easy win in the Azalea Stakes in Florida and sent to Chad Brown, who also saddles Separationofpowers. Alter Moon has run two superb race in a row, the last when stalking in 3rd in the early stages, and another big effort is likely forthcoming.

     

    Bets: Minit to Stardom to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.

    Both Separationofpowers and Alter Moon can be bet to win at 2 to 1 or more, but personally I will pick the one at the highest odds near post time for a second win bet, sticking with the exacta below to cover the possibility of the other winning.

    Exacta: Any of these can finish 2nd so similar to the West Virginia Governor's Cup we can consider the exacta wheel with all three as well. The exacta is Minit to Stardom, Separationofpowers and Alter Moon over ALL. Consider a separate three horse box with the three win contenders as well.

    West Virginia Derby – Race 8 at Mountaineer - Post Time 5:35 Eastern

    Mr. Freeze has done nothing wrong in three starts, winning his first two then missing by a half-length to High North in the Iowa Derby last month. He's still improving, gets Albarado (who was up for all 3 races to date), gets a good outside post, and is bred to adore this 9 furlong trip. Lionite was third in the Iowa Derby from the six post but gets the rail here which helps him to save ground as he did right before that when winning the Prairie Mile Stakes. Cabrera rode him to the win in the Prairie Mile, not to eh runner-up effort last out, and gets back on and this exceptionally well bred son of Quality Road may be destined for his first graded stakes win today. Rugbyman and High North both warrant consideration for exotic tickets, the former coming out of the much tougher Dwyer Stakes in which Firenze Fire made a mockery of the field, missing by a neck in the Easy Goer Stakes before that to prove he belongs at this level, and the latter winning the Iowa Derby last out and the Northern Spur Stakes two before that.

     

    I am going to take a stand against the two favorites, Once on Whiskey and Draft Pick, at least as win contenders, as I feel their one-two finish in the Los Alamitos Derby was not as good as it appears on paper. Ax Man isn't a two-turn horse and the others behind them may not be much plus they are coming back three weeks later and may regress.

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

    Lionite to win at 5 to 2 or more.

    Exacta: Mr Freeze, Lionite, Rugbyman and High North over Mr Freeze, Lionite, Rugbyman, High North, Once on Whiskey and Draft Pick.

    BONUS PICKS:

    Whitney Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga- 5:46 PM Eastern – Backyard Heaven to win at 2 to 1 or higher. Exacta: Box Backyard Heaven, Mind Your Biscuits and Diversify.

    Downs at Albuquerque Handicap – Race 6 at Albuquerque – Post time 10:10 Eastern (8:10 Mountain) - Leadem in Ken to win at 9 to 5 or higher.

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  • 27
    JUL

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, July 28

    King Corrie Stakes – Race 5 at Woodbine - Post Time 3:05 PM Eastern

    Run Away won the first three starts of his career last spring and summer, including a pair of stakes. One of those was the important G2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. Not disgraced when 3rd behind Bolt d'Oro in the Del Mar Futurity after the trio of wins, Run Away won a non-graded stakes then ran badly and was given the winter off to mature. Starting late for a three year old, in May, Run Away ran poorly in three races, all stakes, but gets a NEW LEASE ON LIFE starting today as he ships out of California and changes trainers while trying all-weather for the first time. He should love the surface, as the ONLY other foal of his dam is Si Si Tequila, who broke her maiden impressively over the track last week, and as sire Run Away and Hide has sired a pair of stakes winners at Woodbine. Trainer Carroll has had good success (5 for 19) with horses moving from dirt to all-weather and FOUR of those have been ridden by Contreras, who picks up the mount today with a good outside post to stalk and wait until rallying for the possible upset.

     

    Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town are the other two contenders but open as the two favorites so although we must use both on exacta and trifecta tickets they don't offer enough return for win bets. Hemp Hemp Hurray returns from Ascot where his connections gave him a shot but he didn't run well. That form should reverse as right before that, in his first and only all-weather sprint, he won by 11 in handy fashion with a 100 Equibase figure about as good as Run Away earned in his career best race to date (102) and Wyatt's Town earned in his best race (104). Leading jockey Hernandez gets on and if Hemp Hemp Hurray runs the kind of race he did on 3/31 he could be tough to beat. Wyatt's Town improved markedly first off the McKnight claim last out to win by 3 with a 104 figure. He was only entered in a claiming race once, right before that, and was scooped up for a hefty 50K tag so should prove a profitable claim as he won the race he was claimed out of by nearly 8 lengths. His knocks are he tries all-weather for the first time and although he does have the breeding on the sire's (Speightstown) for the surface none of his dam's foals have ever run on it. The #1 winning jockey (Da Silva) for the barn rides and so he must be respected as a contender.

     

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

    Fair odds on both Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town are also 2 to 1 but I don't believe either will get anywhere near that threshold.

     

    Exactas: Box Run Away and Hemp Hemp Hurray. Box Run Away and Wyatt's Town.

     

    Trifecta: Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town over Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town over Run Away.

     

    Vanderbilt Handicap – Race 8 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:02 PM Eastern

    Done Deal returned from 20 months off in May and was as well regarded as when he went on the sidelines (winning a 1st level allowance race) as he came back in a 2nd level allowance race at Churchill Downs, finishing on even terms with another horse but five clear of the next one. Rested seven weeks, Done Deal came back in the Iowa Sprint Handicap and crushed the field of eight easily by four lengths in geared down fashion. Entering the race with a sensational best of 41 five furlong workout at Saratoga and now with four wins in seven races as well as on an improving pattern in his third race off a layoff, with no sign of regression coming, the gelding gets a great post and has potential to run down heavy favorite Imperial Hint to post the upset, opening at 8/1.

    Imperial Hint is a win machine, with 10 wins in 16 races but better still with a 6-2-0 record in 9 races at this six furlong trip. One of those losses came in last fall's Breeders' Cup Sprint, which followed five straight wins. Castellano was up for his last four wins and rides back and like Done Deal, Imperial Hint has been working sensationally in the morning. HOWEVER, those workouts have been at Parx unlike Done Deal, who worked locally, and as we all know Saratoga can be a very tricky track, as well as the "graveyard of favorites" so although I will use Imperial Hint on exacta and double tickets played, he may not be the lock his prohibitive post time odds make it appear.

    For exactas and doubles, there are some strategies to use which involve NOT using Imperial Hint with any of the low odds horses, as below.

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

    Exacta: Box Done Deal and Imperial Hint. (Note: I intend to bet this combination many times)

    Exacta: Imperial Hint over Petrov, Warrior's Club, Mr. Crow and Done Deal.

    Exacta: Done Deal over ALL

    Trifecta: Imperial Hint over Switzerland over Petrov, Warrior's Club, Mr. Crow and Done Deal.

    Trifecta: Imperial Hint over Switzerland over Done Deal.

    Doubles: Imperial Hint and Done Deal in Race 8 with Highland Sky, Channel Maker, Bigger Picture, Glorious Empire and Manitoulin in Race 9.

    Doubles: Imperial Hint in Race 8 with Highland Sky, Channel Maker, Bigger Picture, Glorious Empire and Manitoulin in Race 9.

    Doubles: Done Deal in Race 8 with ALL in Race 9 except #4 Sarrasin.

    Doubles: ALL in Race 8 with Highland Sky and Manitoulin in Race 9.

    Bowling Green Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:40 Eastern

    Manitoulin and Highland Sky, who both open at double digit odds, are the key to profit in this race in which ALL but Sarrasin can win. Lower odds contenders such as Hi Happy, Sadler's Joy and Money Multiplier can all win, but as we witnessed with the running of the G1 Manhattan Stakes on Belmont Day, with a six horse blanket finish and won by longshot Spring Quality, there's no standout in these kinds of turf marathons. Manitoulin was my top pick in the Manhattan and ran very well to be beaten three necks on the wire at 30 to 1 odds. Two before that he won the G2 Hollywood Turf Cup and he has run well on the Saratoga turf. With just a bit of racing luck he can earn his first grade 1 win here. Similarly, Highland Sky can win at a price. As a three year old in 2016 he ran big when missing by a neck in the Pennine Ridge Stakes and Belmont Derby Invitational. Winless in eight races in a row before winning last month at Belmont at this 11 furlong trip, now that the gelding is back in top form and with a strong workout on this turf course he won over previously, another "A" effort would get him into the mix late at high odds.

    Bets: Manitoulin and Highland Sky to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher. 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: Manitoulin and Highland Sky over ALL, then ALSO the reverse (which also serves as a place bet), which is ALL over Manitoulin and Highland Sky.

     

    California Dreamin' Stakes – Race 7 at Del Mar - Post Time 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific

    Fly to Mars took blinkers off for his last start on June 10 after seven races in a row. Although he won two of the previous seven in the hood, the difference with the blinkers off was phenomenal, as he raced close up in 2nd in the early states and drew off as he pleased. That was also a mile following four sprints, and it was also his first race with Prat in the saddle since Prat rode him to a 3 length win in a turf sprint last fall. The 113 Equibase figure is the best last race turf route figure in the field except for the 117 figure Well Developed earned when beaten a head and a neck in a similar Cal-Bred stakes race in May, but the race is turning out to be a productive race runners are improving out of, as the runner-up was fourth then won and as the 4th place finisher won the opening day Oceanside Stakes in an upset.

     

    Alsatian opens at 20/1 and all I can say to start is "BEWARE." He finished 2nd in a nearly identical stakes last May on the sod and then put blinkers on, running poorly in six races. Just like Fly to Mars, when the blinkers were removed came a big form reversal, as Alsatian won gamely on the turf at Santa Anita with a 112 stakes quality figure. Franco rode him for the first time that day and again last out on 6/3 in an irrelevant race when the colt was asked to run 12 furlongs. Back at a distance he can handle, as a previously stakes placed horse and with his sibling on the dam's side (Lucky J.H.) having won $630K and a number of similar Cal-Bred stakes, Alsatian has a big shot to outrun his odds here and perhaps to post a big upset for our profit.

     

    B Squared is very consistent and game and deserves our respect as he's been first or second in nine of 18 races including a number of similar stakes. He was beaten a head in the common Crystal Water Stakes in May won by Soi Phet¸ finishing a neck in front of Well Developed, and so he has to be included on any and all exacta tickets we play involving this race. Soi Phet does as well, and his 12/1 odds which are a joke won't hold up. He was sent to post at 7 to 2 favorite in the Bertrando Stakes on dirt last month following his Crystal Water Stakes win and he's a six time Cal-Bred stakes winner who can string big races together.

     

    Accountability was 3rd behind Fly to Mars last out and as the horses on either side of him ran well he must be considered for exotics particularly as he opens at 20/1. Grecian Fire was third in the Bertrando and is another we can use in exotics in a race which could pay off handsomely if we're right about Alsatian and Fly to Mars. Ashleyluvssuger has earned $1.3 million and was just a head and two necks behind Soi Phet in May so rounds out the contenders.

    Bets: Fly to Mars to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.

    Alsatian to win and to place at odds of 7 to 2 or more.

    Consider B Squared for a win bet at 4 to 1 or more and also consider Soi Phet for a win bet at 4 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared and Soi Phet over Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared, Soi Phet, Grecian Fire, Ashleyluvssuger, Well Developed and Accountability.

     

    Exacta: Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared, Soi Phet, Grecian Fire, Ashleyluvssuger, Well Developed and Accountability over Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared and Soi Phet.

     

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  • 20
    JUL

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, July 21

     

    Find Key Races & Bets for Friday, July 20th Below

     

    Ontario Colleen Stakes – Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:47 PM Eastern

    Trainer Graham Motion has a pair in this race, Peach of a Gal (5/2 morning line) and Armoricaine (15/1 morning line). Both are stakes winners on turf, the former last month in Delaware in an overnight stakes with a 50K purse and the latter in France last fall in a $70K purse race versus MALES. She ran poorly on heavy turf in April in a group 3 stakes following six months off then imported to the U.S where she was put in a very tough field in the Wonder Again Stakes at Belmont. Losing all chance when leaping in the air at the start she wasn't asked after that. She's apparently still highly regarded by one of the best trainers in North America who ships up from his Fair Hills base and gets Garcia to ride. These two teamed up to win the Singspiel Stakes over the course on 6/23 in a mile upset at 5 to 1. The filly will really appreciate the easier company as this field contains three last out allowance level winners and two restricted stakes winners. She ran big on firm turf in her first two races last July and August in France at a mile and the 93 Equibase figure earned in her October win is the THIRD best figure earned by any entrant in this race, ever.

     

    Got Stormy and Peach of a Gal are the two other logical contenders, but open as the two favorites at 7 to 5 and 5 to 2. Got Stormy ships up from New York on the heels of two straight stakes wins at this mile trip, the first of the two with a 102 figure. Peach of a Gal ships up from Delaware off a career best 102 figure effort in a stakes and has really won two in a row because her race in between the wins was the Hilltop Stakes on Preakness weekend when the course was a bog. Hernandez rides, which is a good sign, but it's interesting to note that no matter how good the jockey is overall on turf (25 for 119 in turf routes over the past year), he is 0 for 9 in graded stakes turf routes over the same period.

    Bets: Armoricaine to win and place at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

    In the event either Got Stormy or Peach of a Gal are anywhere near 5 to 2 odds near post time, make a win bet on either or both.

    Exacta: Armoricaine over ALL and (reverse) ALL over Armoricaine

    Box Armoricaine and Got Stormy & Box Armoricaine and Peach of a Gal

     

    Diana Stakes – Race 10 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:55 PM Eastern

    Hawksmoor is the one to catch, and to beat. Back in the fall of 2016, Hawksmoor nearly posted the upset in her U.S. debut when coming up a head and nose short on the wire in the QE II Stakes. Following that she ran badly and took the winter off. Last May when she returned, she led from start to finish in the Beaugay Stakes before an even stronger effort winning the New York Stakes leading every step of the 10 furlong trip. Following two runner-up efforts in top company in the First Lady Stakes and Matriarch Stakes last fall including a career-best 114 Equibase Figure in the latter race, Hawksmoor took the winter off once again then ran big in her 2018 debut when stalking the pacesetter early and coming up inches short of winning. She was then sent to post as the even money favorite in the Gamely and lost all chance after a stumbling start denied her to be in front or second at the beginning of the race. In the Diana, there is no real need-the-lead type except this mare and in a seven horse field Leparoux will have the luxury of going to the lead from the start and establishing a leisurely pace or sitting in second if another horse and rider wants the lead more. As a horse that likes the lead, and considering that Hawksmoor can run the last quarter mile about as fast as any other horse in the race (22.7 seconds in the First Lady Stakes), she should be able to continue in front to the wire and win this race. A Raving Beauty has done nothing wrong since coming to North America from Europe, winning the Beaugay Stakes in May (the same race Hawksmoor won the previous year) with a 108 figure followed by a win in the Just A Game Stakes last month, improving to a 112 figure. She may have more improving to do third off the layoff as well and although both her races in the U.S. were shorter than the mile and one-eighth distance of the Diana, A Raving Beauty should have no problem with the nine furlongs which she won at last August in Germany and so she must be given a lot of respect as a contender to win this race. Sistercharlie has also done little wrong since importing to the states last summer, missing by a neck to New Money Honey in the Belmont Oaks Invitational before taking time off. When she returned this past April, Sistercharlie ran as if she had never been away from the races, rallying from eighth to win the Jenny Wiley Stakes and earning a career-best 117 figure that is the best of any entrant in this race. She ran nearly as well last time out in the New York Stakes when rallying from almost 30 lengths back to come up a nose short on the wire with a 110 figure. Shortening up from a mile and one-quarter to a mile and one-eighth for the Diana, Sistercharlie should be putting in a strong late run and it may just be a question of how much ground she has to make up on likely early leader Hawksmoor and how much gas that filly has left in the tank if allowed to lope along on an easy early lead.

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

    Exacta: Hawksmoor over Sistercharlie, Proctor's Ledge and A Raving Beauty and then also the opposite, which is Sistercharlie, Proctor's Ledge and A Raving Beauty over Hawksmoor.

    San Diego Handicap – Race 7 at Del Mar - Post Time 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific

    Harlan Punch looks very capable of posting the upset here as he ships in from Monmouth for Jacobson off a five length win in the Iselin Stakes last month. That win came when leading from start to finish but he does not need the lead to win, having won the Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct in March from 2nd in the early stages and having won a classified allowance before that when fourth for the first half-mile. Those two wins were part of a three race streak started in February and since his win last month came after a trio of losses following the last of the trio, he's set to hold his top form for a couple more races. Likely to improve 2nd off a layoff for Jacobson, who wins with a good percentage of 2nd off layoff starters in dirt routes, Harlan Punch's best two efforts this year earned 113 and 115 Equibase figures. Those don't match up with any of the last four Accelerate has earned (119 and 120) BUT Harlan Punch opens at 8/1 compared to 8/5 and he gets an eight pound break in the weights, which could help him to post the upset.

     

    Sharp Samurai also has an upset chance, opening at 6/1. He's won 7 of 11 races, six on turf, and he may be underbet because even though he's a multiple Grade 2 stakes winner running in a grade two stakes those wins came on turf. The win on dirt was just fine so there's no reason he can't transition back to the main track and his effort on 6/17 (a win), which came following seven months off should be improved upon in his 2nd start off a layoff. His recent work on dirt was exceptional, five furlongs in 59.8 and the 4th best of 66 on the day, and Stevens, who has been aboard for his last five wins, rides him back. Last year when winning the Twilight Derby on turf he earned a 114 figure then 117 when beaten a length in the Hollywood Derby and with his comeback effort good for a 114 figure and improvement likely, he's got a shot to run as well or better than the favorite at a better price.

     

    Accelerate doesn't have any knocks except low odds. Winner of this race last year by 8 lengths after adding blinkers, he's won or placed in five straight, all top efforts good enough to win here, so we have to use him on any and all exacta, trifecta and multi-race bets made. We don't have to bet him to win, however.

     

    Dr. Dorr and Two Thirty Five are two to use for exactas and trifectas in the 2nd and 3rd positions. Dr. Dorr won the Californian in April with a 115 figure before a 2nd place finish behind Accelerate with a 114 figure in the Gold Cup. He may have not liked Belmont or didn't ship well when 9th in the Suburban two weeks ago, and it may be he doesn't like Del Mar either (which as Baffert's excuse for Arrogate) as he hasn't hit the board in two tries. However, if it's not the case he hates Del Mar he could be part of the exacta. Two Thirty Five has run three "A" races since moving to the Baltas barn in March and although a cheap horse for his career prior to that his last effort earned a 112 figure at the trip so he must be respected as he may not have run his best race yet.

    Bets: Harlan's Punch and Sharp Samurai to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher. 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: Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai and Accelerate over Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai, Accelerate, Dr. Dorr and Two Thirty Five.

    Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai, Accelerate, Dr. Dorr and Two Thirty Five over Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai and Accelerate.

    Trifecta: Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai and Accelerate over Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai, Accelerate, Dr. Dorr and Two Thirty Five over Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai, Accelerate, Dr. Dorr and Two Thirty Five.

    Double: Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai and Accelerate in Race 7 with Animosity, Ms Bad Behavior and Miss Sienna in Race 8.

    San Clemente Stakes – Race 8 at Del Mar - Post Time 8:30 PM Eastern/5:30 PM Pacific

    Animosity is one of three in here proven at this Grade 2 level, 2nd last out in the Honeymoon Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita. She won her first two races before that and with Honeymoon winner Paved not here this gal inherits top honors. She improved from a 91 figure first out, to 97, then to 102 when 2nd in the Honeymoon, her first turf route, leading from the start and coming up short late but clearly 2nd. She doesn't need the lead to win as she finished well from 5th in her debut and with it very likely War Heroine and Pursuing the Dream (plus perhaps others) will go way too fast early from outside posts for their own good, Animosity can get up in time.

     

    Ms Bad Behavior nearly wired the field in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes when last seen in April, beating Paved in the process, who came back to win the Honeymoon over Animosity. That puts Ms Bad Behavior squarely on the radar today with as much probability as Animosity. She earned a 105 figure in the Providencia and prior to that, in her first turf route, Ms Bad Behavior lagged five lengths back early before winning so we know she doesn't need the lead as others do, more reasons to expect a big effort.

     

    Miss Sienna was making her U.S. debut in the Honeymoon and was decently regarded at six to one, but ran just so-so to end up fourth. Blinkers go on as does Smith, a BIG sign she could run back to either of her two efforts in France in March and April, a win and a neck defeat. As such, she is also a contender but just a bit less probable than the top two in my opinion.

     

    Ollie's Candy is unbeaten in three starts including her first route last out, on dirt, in the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks. She is bred to adore the turf but the 14 post at this mile turf trip could be problematic. Rockin Ready and Flammetta finished 2nd and 1st, respectively, separated by a nose, in a high rated downhill turf sprint last month, each earning 100 figures. Both won at a mile on turf prior to that and are not need-the-lead types so have to be used on exacta tickets played, possibly on multi-race tickets like the double and pick 3 as well.

     

    Bets: Animosity and Ms Bad Behavior to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

    Exacta: Animosity and Ms Bad Behavior over ALL, and also the reverse, which is ALL over Animosity and Ms Bad Behavior.

    Trifecta: Box Animosity, Ms Bad Behavior, Miss Sienna, Ollie's Candy, Rockin Ready and Flammetta.

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  • 19
    JUL

    Key Races & Bets for Friday, July 20

    Schuylerville Stakes – Race 8 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:02 PM Eastern

    Opening day at Saratoga features two excellent stakes races which warrant starting the Key Races & Bets blog a day early. The first is the Schuylerville, a stakes race for two year old fillies in which there are not one, but two, 12/1 shots who demand our attention, Congrats Gal and Fightress.

     

    Congrats Girl won her debut last month about as easily as a horse can win, ridden out by six lengths. It wasn't just the ease in which she won that was impressive, it was the fact she ran the field off their feet by establishing a three length lead shortly after the start. Since then, Congrats Gal put in a very sharp 58.8 five furlong drill to demonstrate she's in fine form. Trainer Lynch doesn't ship from the Maryland base to New York much but is two-for-two with the move recently including a 10/1 winner in June and I think this filly is very capable of repeating her debut while mostly ignored in the wagering given the presence of much more notable trainers and horses in the group.

     

    Fightress won by nearly five lengths in her only start, last month at Churchill Downs, which was impressive because she broke slowly then rushed up right after the break. That kind of expenditure of energy can be costly but not for this gal, who earned an 87 Equibase figure (Congrats Gal earned an 82 figure for her win). That 87 figure is on par with the best in the group – Lady Apple (89), Blame the Fog (87) and Eyeinthesky (87) and like many of the other fillies in this race, improvement is very likely in her 2nd career start.

     

    Nonna Madeline is the other main contender in this race, as she won under wraps in her career debut last month. It is always odd when Pletcher ships out of New York to race at Monmouth as he did here, as it suggests a horse is not among his "A" group, but that was not the case with this filly who is a half-sister to 2016 Adirondack Stakes winner Nonna Mela. Considering Pletcher's very high 31% win rate with last out maiden winners in two-year-old stakes races over the last couple of years, this gal would be no surprise if winning right back.

     

    Catherinethegreat and Tapping Pearl were to more impressive maiden winners last out who have come back to work well since, likely in company on 7/13 over the track as Casse trains both. However, their 79 and 77 figures are well below the figures of the three contenders above and at this stage the assumption is they may all move forward at

     

    Bets: BOTH Congrats Gal and Fightress to win at 3 to 1 or 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 instead of a place bet: ALL over Congrats Gal and Fightress

    Exacta: Nonna Madeline over ALL.

    Exacta: Congrats Gal, Fightress and Nonna Madeline over Congrats Gal, Fightress, Nonna Madeline, Catherinethegreat, Tapping Pearl, Eyeinthesky and Lady Apple.

    Double: Congrats Gal, Fightress and Nonna Madeline in Race 8 with ALL in Race 9.

     

    Double: ALL in race 8 with Goodthingstaketime and Going Out in Race 9.

    Lake George Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:40 PM Eastern

    There are two horses I am going to try to make a profit with in this race, one a legitimate favorite opening as the third choice on the morning line, the other opening as the longest shot in the field, and for NO good reason. Goodthingstaketime is the former, having run well in all four races since coming to the U.S. last fall. After breaking her maiden on the grass in November in California, she came back to miss by a head in the Florida Oaks to prove she belongs at the level, finished 3rd on a wet course in April to some of the top 3 year old turf fillies in the country (Rushing Fall and Thewayiam), then third again to one of the horse who beat her two months earlier and another who is an up-and-coming star (Got Stormy). This year's Lake George field features a decided LACK OF EARLY PACE and if Jose Ortiz (known for front running tactics as it is) sends Goodthingstaketime to the front, the pace may be dawdling and she can earn her first stakes win.

    The longshot is Going Out, an exceptionally well bred filly by Tapit out of champion Forever Together, who won the Diana Stakes (run tomorrow) in 2009. Going Out debuted on turf last summer and missed by a half-length, won on dirt, ran badly then was off for five months. Her first race back, on dirt, was poor but when adding blinkers last out on 6/17 she rallied form 7th in the last 1/4 mile to win by a nose and so excellent trainer Matz is moving her into stakes company against a mediocre group of fillies who have a combined 2 for 21 record on the year. Saez rides and I expect significant improvement off her last race in what is essentially her 2nd start off the layoff.

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

    Going Out to win and place at 4 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Going Out over ALL then also the reverse of that wager which is ALL over Going Out.

    Goodthingstaketime over ALL

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  • 13
    JUL

    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.

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