Ellis Starr's Blog - AmWager

  • 01
    JUN

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 2

    Pennine Ridge Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:50 PM Eastern

    Analyze It may be unbeaten but he opens at 4/5 odds. It's not that he can't win as he certainly fits all the criteria as he's a dual grade 3 stakes winner on grass and his average margin of victory in three races is five lengths. Just the same, he's only run three times and there's another horse in the race as good as he is AND more important as probable to win as he is and that horse is Untamed Domain, who opens at 5/1. Untamed Domain won the G2 Summer Stakes last September before a bang-up 2nd behind Mendelssohn in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Given three months off he disappointed when third in the Dania Beach and then when he otherwise would absolutely would have improved if kept on turf, the connections thought to put him on the Derby trail and try dirt for the first time in the Tampa Bay Derby, where he finished 6th. Blinkers came off for the American Turf Stakes last month and he ran HUGE, rallying from 8th at the top of the stretch to get 2nd (in a dead heat) while winner Maraud (who runs today in the Penn Mile) was already in high gear. The 110 Equibase figure Untamed Domain earned in the American Turf is likely to be improved upon today in his 2nd start without blinkers and he has every right to win and post the mild upset because of that.

    Analyze It ran off a four and one-half month layoff in April as if he had never been away, capturing the G3 Transylvania Stakes the same way he took the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes in November. With 108, 109 and 111 figure in his three starts to date and never giving any horse a shot to catch him in the last 8th of a mile in any of those 3 races, Analyze It must be considered a win contender, but not a GOOD win bet as the odds-on favorite.

    Hawkish is also entered in the Penn Mile and I hope he goes there because that is an easier spot. He's improved in every start and his allowance win when last seen on 4/15 earned a 105 figure good enough to be competitive if improved upon as it likely will be. The horse we MUST use for profit in exotics at the least, and for a small win bet so we don't end up kicking ourselves later is Channel Cat. Opening at a healthy 20/1, the colt ran BETTER THAN IT APPEARS when 6th in the American Turf (won by Maraud with Untamed Domain in a dead head for 2rd). In the race, Channel Cat got pinched at the start and began 12th of 13 and was still 10th at the top of the stretch but made up good ground very late to end up 6th. With ONLY seven other horses in this field, Channel Cat is likely to be closer up early, more like he was right before that when putting in a nice win on the turf with a 98 figure and the figure he earned in the American Turf, 105, was the same figure Hawkish earned so at the least Channel Cat has about the same probability to win as that one.

    We will include Catholic Boy in the 2nd position on exact tickets as he moves back to turf, where he won the With Anticipation Stakes last summer at Saratoga in only the 2nd start of his career. He was flat when last seen in the Florida Derby and may need one race to get back to form good enough to win but he could hit the board.

    Bets:

    Untamed Domain to win at 2 to 1 or more as a true KEY BET on the day.

    Channel Cat to win and place at 5 to 1 or more. (For a much smaller amount than on Untamed Domain).

    IF Hawkish should run here rather than the Penn Mile, he is worth considering for a win bet at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

    Exactas:

    Untamed Domain over Hawkish. Catholic Boy, Analyze It and Channel Cat

    Hawkish, Catholic Boy, Analyze It and Channel Cat over Untamed Domain

    Untamed Domain over ALL then also (the opposite) ALL over Untamed Domain

    Hawkish, Analyze It and Untamed Domain over Hawkish, Analyze It, Untamed Domain, Catholic Boy and Channel Cat

    Snow Chief Stakes – Race 7 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern/3:30 PM Pacific

    Huddle added blinkers for his last start, the 3rd of his career and 2nd turf route, and he blazed along on the lead through fractions of 22.6 and 46.2 on the way to a wire-to-wire win. Not only will the competition be tougher in this stakes race, there are two, possibly three, other horses that may want the lead early, and even if left alone on the front end, a 46.2 half-mile split is really going to set up the late kick of a couple of runners here, most notably Hardboot, who just WON a very similar stakes race for California bred horses. In that race, the Silky Sullivan Stakes at Golden Gate, Hardboot rallied from last of 10 and was still seventh with a quarter mile to go before circling the field to win going away. He had run similarly well last November at Del Mar in the 2nd start of his career and first turf route when breaking his maiden. With a career best 103 Equibase figure (that's the 2nd best last race figure in the field) to improve upon, Hardboot is going to be very tough to keep from passing them all once more.

    Waya Ed tried turf for the first time when last seen on 4/15 over the track and ended up 3rd after leading from the start. He led on slow fractions and does not wear blinkers and so it may have been the case of no other horse wanting the lead. He had been off for 3 months prior and in his last start since, his 2nd career start and first route, on the all-weather at Golden Gate, Waya Ed rallied from just off the pace so as he's NOT a need-the-lead type as it appears others in here are he could get a ground saving trip and run very well at odds too high to ignore.

    Take the One O One is the stablemate of Waya Ed, owned by Jay Em Ess Stable and trained by Brian Koriner. He led from the start in his most recent race, on the main track, before settling for 3rd, and it doesn't appear he has the ability to relax in the early stages so he could be tired late BUT two of his last 3 efforts resulted in 104 and 106 figures that are the best in the field and so I will use him on exotic tickets played but will prefer either or both of the other two contenders for win bets.

    Bets:

    Hardboot to win at 2 to 1 or more

    Waya Ed to win at 3 to 1 or more.

    The best way to insure a profit betting two horses to win is to use a "Dutching" tool like the one at Amwager which helps allocate your total bankroll for optimal profit.

    Exactas:

    Box Hardboot, Waya Ed and Take the One O One

    Box Hardboot and Waya Ed again

    Pick 3: (two tickets)

    Race 7 - Hardboot, Waya Ed and Take the One O One

    Race 8 - Lemon Crush, Z Z Tiger, Paprika and Rocketann

    Race 9 – Mopotism, La Force, Vale Dori and Unique Bella

    Race 7 – Hardboot and Waya Ed

    Race 8 – Lemon Crush, Z Z Tiger, Paprika and Rocketann

    Race 9 – Mopotism, La Force and Unique Bella

    Beholder Mile – Race 9 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern/ 4:30 Pacific

    Mopotism wheels back on six days rest off a last of 7 finish in the Gamely Stakes last weekend when trying turf for the first time. Trainer O'Neill is tossing the effort and so can we. O'Neill knows his horses and has a pretty strong record of 9 for 45 bringing horse back on a 5-10 day rest over the last few years, with a 31% flat bet profit and with 50% of the 45 horses hitting the board. Considering Mopotism opens at 20/1 in spite of having won the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes over the course in January with a 114 Equibase figure that stacks up EXCEEDINGLY well with heavy favorite Unique Bella's best efforts (with one exception), Mopotism could be a KEY longshot bet on the day.

    We must also note that Vale Dori, who opens at 2/1, finished 2nd in this race last year off a win in the Adoration, the Santa Margarita, the Santa Maria and the La Canada. Mopotism won the La Canada, finished 2nd (to Unique Bella) in the Santa Maria and finished third in the Santa Margarita before the irrelevant try in the Gamely. That's pretty much the same pattern and similar form which gives us more reasons to believe Mopotism has a big shot.

    Unique Bella has no knocks except for being the odds-on favorite. She was beaten when 2nd at 1 to 5 in the Apple Blossom when last seen but other than that, and her inexplicably bad effort in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last fall, she's tough as nails and could take some beating. Just the same, her two-turn wins, except in the Santa Maria in February (128 figure) have been good but not exceptional, with 112, 112 and 100 figures, so she's not unbeatable.

    La Force is the horse to use on any and all exotic and multi-race tickets played, and to make a small win/place bet on so we're not kicking ourselves later. Beaten inches by Mopotism when third in the La Canada, the filly should improve off a 4th place finish last month in the Adoration Stakes after two months off and if she can run back to her La Canada effort with a 113 figure, she could be in the picture at the end.

    Except for one pick 3 ticket, I'm taking a stand against Vale Dori, who ran poorly with no excuse at 8/5 in the Adoration Stakes last month, her first start following 9 months off. I just can't imagine her improving enough to beat either Mopotism or Unique Bella. As for Paradise Woods, she's highly suspect as the 2/1 second favorite on the morning line as she didn't show a thing when fourth in the Santa Monica Stakes in March, her first start off three months off. She's going to be fresh and have the lead early but not to herself as Vale Dori and Unique Bella will be right there from the start. We don't make money in the long term using two favorites in the exotics so I'm leaving Paradise Woods off my exacta tickets, except one with La Force because that one opens at 20/1.

    Bets:

    Mopotism to win and to place at 3 to 1 or more

    Consider a small win and place bet on La Force at 6 to 1 or more

    Exactas: Mopotism over ALL and (the opposite) ALL over Mopotism

    Box Mopotism and Unique Bella

    Penn Mile Stakes – Race 9 at Penn National - Post Time 7:45 PM Eastern

    Encumbered makes his first start since finishing 13th of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last fall and although it may be tough to return off a seven month layoff and run well enough to win a graded stakes race like the Penn Mile, I believe this colt can do just that. In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Encumbered broke well to secure a good spot in third shortly after the start and held that position just outside eventual winner Mendelssohn before tiring with less than a quarter mile to go. Ignoring his poor try on dirt prior to that against Bolt d'Oro in the Frontrunner Stakes, Encumbered proved himself at the level, winning the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes in September after breaking his maiden in his first turf route. Those two efforts earned 98 and 97 Equibase Figures, respectively, which are better than any of the figures likely favorite Maraud earned during his two year old campaign. Working like clockwork since his return to the track in April, Encumbered also may have the benefit of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf being a "KEY RACE" as six of the other 12 horses won their next starts, four of those in either March or April and off long layoffs like the one Encumbered is returning from. Trainer Callaghan has also shown the ability to get horses to win running turf routes off long layoffs, having done so a couple of times in the past two years, with one of those having come off a layoff to win a stakes race. Much more physically mature than when last seen in the fall, Encumbered may be tough to beat in this year's Penn Mile Stakes.

    It must be noted Hawkish is also entered to run in the Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont the same day as the Penn Mile but if trainer Toner chooses this race, the horse must be taken very seriously. Sent to post at 3 to 1 odds in the Palm Beach Stakes in March, only the second start of his career, Hawkish finished fourth of seven and three lengths behind Maraud, who was sent to post at just slightly lower odds of 5 to 2. Given six weeks off, Hawkish returned on April 15 to dominate a field of seven at this mile trip on turf, winning in a hand ride by nearly five lengths to earn a career-best 105 figure, as good as Maraud earned winning the Palm Beach. The race Hawkish won in April turned out to be a "KEY RACE" as well, with both the runner-up and fourth finishers flattering the horse by winning their next starts. With perhaps the best closing kick in the field (22.4 for the last quarter mile in his most recent race), Hawkish is definitely a contender in this race.

    Maraud has won three of four races this year including two stakes races. He won the Palm Beach in March with a 105 figure before a poor fifth place effort in the Transylvania Stakes in April. Maraud redeemed himself last month with a strong win in the American Turf Stakes with a career-best, and field high, 113 figure. That type of effort can win the Penn Mile if repeated and if none of the others improve but he is likely to the prohibitive favorite and as such may not offer good return potential for win bets.

    Bets:

    Encumbered to win at 2 to 1 or more.

    A second win bet, this one on Hawkish, appears warranted at 5 to 2 or higher.

    Exactas:

    Box Encumbered, Hawkish and Maraud

    Read more...
  • 26
    MAY

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, May 26

    Gold Cup at Santa Anita – Race 5 at Santa Anita - Post Time 5:30 PM Eastern/ 2:30 Pacific

    Pavel can post the mild upset opening at 5/1.Rested a couple of months and back on Lasix off a 4th of 10 finish in the Dubai World Cup, the newly turned four year old may appear to be no match for either Accelerate or for City of Light, the former having beaten him (when he finished 4th) in the San Pasqual Stakes over the track in February and the latter having beaten him (when fourth as well) in the Malibu Stakes in December. HOWEVER, in the first he was prepping for longer as he isn't really a sprinter and in the latter he had HORRIBLE traffic trouble that cost him dearly as he as stopped not once, but twice. When finally clear, much too late, he finished up nicely. Last summer after a strong win in the Smarty Jones Stakes, Pavel faced older for the first time and gave multi-millionaire Keen Ice all he could handle fighting for 2nd in the Jockey Club Gold Cup as the winner easily controlled things on the front end from start to finish. That effort earned him a 117 figure and his troubled San Pasqual effort a 113 figure but Accelerate earned a 120 figure which is what Pavel is capable of with his best effort here.

    Prince of Arabia finished 2nd to runaway seven length winner Dr. Dorr last month in the Californian and with Dr. Dorr opening at 5 to 2 compared to 12 to 1for Prince of Arabia, the latter is very playable. Not only that but before that race, Prince of Arabia won a highly rated dirt route, beating Soi Phet in the process, that one winning the Crystal Water Stakes on Sunday and paying $96 to win. Now having shown he can run just fine on dirt, and with the ability to rally from far back or lay close to the pace, Prince of Arabia must be given consideration as a contender here anywhere near his double digit starting odds.

    Accelerate has no real knocks as he's as tough as they come, having finished first or second in 11 of 18 races. On the other hand he has nearly as many second place finishes (5) as wins (6) in his career, including a loss last month by a nose at low odds in the Oaklawn Handicap. City of Light won the Oaklawn Handicap but tries 10 furlongs for the first time. He has never finished worse than 2nd in seven races but his 9/5 odds are too low for a win bet and also appear out of line with his true probability to win given the fact he lacks experience at the trip and others don't. Dr. Dorr sports the same comment at Accelerate as he's never run 10 furlongs. His last two efforts were the best of his career but again the low morning line odds of 5/2 make him tough to consider for a win bet.

    Bets:

    Pavel to win at 2 to 1 or more.

    Prince of Arabia to win at 7 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher, and for a smaller amount than the win bet on Pavel.

    Exactas:

    Pavel over Accelerate, Prince of Arabia, City of Light and Dr. Dorr.

    Prince of Arabia over Pavel, Accelerate, City of Light and Dr. Dorr for a smaller amount than the exactas with Pavel on top.

    Pavel, Accelerate, City of Light and Dr. Dorr over Prince of Arabia for a smaller amount than the exactas with Pavel on top.

    Doubles: Pavel and Prince of Arabia in race 5 with Flaboyant, Itsinthepost, Ritzy A.P. and Syntax in race 6.

    Pavel, Accelerate, City of Light, Dr. Dorr and Prince of Arabia in race 5 with Syntax in race 6.

    Pavel in race 5 with Flaboyant, Itsinthepost, Ritzy A.P. and Syntax in race 6.

     

    Salvatore Mile Stakes  – Race 11 at Monmouth - Post Time 5:58 PM Eastern

    Sunny Ridge should really love the sizzling hot pace set by very likely early leader Shaft of Light, who is stretching out off a pair of wire-to-wire sprint wins. The last time he ran two-turns, Shaft of Light opened up fast while running the opening quarter of 22.8 and the opening half in 46.4, fractions way to fast to have any energy in the late stages. With Chip Leader also a horse that likes to have the lead from the start, although not as fast, the early pace should be hot and allow Sunny Ridge to repeat his closing wins last January (2017) and March in the Jazil Stakes and in the Stymie Stakes, particularly as this is his 2nd start back off a 10 month layoff and off a fine 2nd place finish last month.

    Great Stuff stretches out as well but is NOT a need-the-lead type, having rallied for his last two wins. Bravo gets on for Jacobson and as the horse is a graded stakes winner, having won the Toboggan Stakes in January, he fits on all counts at this grade 3 stakes level.

    I won't play exactas here but we should play doubles with race 12, the Monmouth Stakes. On some of those double tickets we can also use Shaft of Light in this race because we have horses in race 12 that may offer value as we are taking a stand against the likely favorite.

    Bets: Sunny Ridge to win at 9 to 5 of higher.

    Great Stuff to win at 3 to 1 or more.

    Doubles: Sunny Ridge, Great Stuff and Shaft of Light in race 11 with Projected, Force the Pass and Doctor Mounty in race 12.

    Monmouth Stakes  – Race 12 at Monmouth - Post Time 6:29 PM Eastern

    Doctor Mounty was scratched out of the off-turf Dixie Stakes (as was Divisidero) last weekend at Pimlico and he's a lightly raced horse who has run very well in his few turf races, winning two of his last four excluding the Tampa Bay Stakes in February when he fell. Returning two months later in the Clark Stakes o 4/21, Doctor Mounty rallied fast from 8th to 2nd and appears all set to run back to his win on 1/14 on the grass, the only time Gallardo rode him previously. Hall-of-Fame trainer McGaughey uses Gallardo occasionally but when they team up they are 5 for 10 in the past year which says a lot about the chances for Doctor Mounty to post the upset here, opening at 8/1.

    Force the Pass had been away from the races for a hefty 20 months when returning on May 5 in the Cliff Hanger Stakes on this turf course. Running as if he had never been away, Force the Pass won by a nose with a huge effort. Before the layoff he earned over $1 million on the turf including a win in the 2015 Grade 1 Belmont Derby and as he's likely to run even better 2nd off the layoff than earlier this month he must be considered strongly as a contender.

    Projected missed by a neck around this time last year in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes, following a runner-up finish to World Approval in the 2017 Dixie, with World Approval having won the Breeders' Cup Mile last fall. Rested after winning the Grade 2 Baltimore-Washington Turf Cup in September, Projected returned in April and ran very well when finishing fast from 9th to 2ndbehind Fire Away in the Danger's Hour Stakes, that one winning the off-turf Dixie last weekend. As such, Projected is another likely to improve 2nd off the layoff and rounds out a strong trio of contenders in this race.

    Bets:

    Since all three contenders - Doctor Mounty, Force the Pass and Projected, have a strong probability to win, the best way to bet for profit is to bet the TWO of the THREE at the highest odds, perhaps all three, at odds of 5 to 2 or more. When betting more than one horse to win in a race it is best to use a "Dutching" tool like the one at Amwager, which helps allocate your bankroll for the best return.

     

    Gamely Stakes  – Race 8 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7 PM Eastern/ 4PM Pacific

    Although having never run on the grass, Mopotism is my top choice to win this year's Gamely Stakes. Second in the field in career earnings with $649,200, Mopotism has proven very capable in being competitive with some of the best fillies and mares in training over the past two years. Starting last summer with a head defeat in the Summertime Oaks, Mopotism ran in four straight grade one stakes races facing the likes of Elate, Forever Unbridled and Unique Bella. When none of those were among the entrants, she won the La Canada Stakes in January before a second when facing Unique Bella again, this time in the Santa Maria Stakes in February. Coming into the Gamely off a third place finish behind Fault (who won again) in the Santa Margarita, the main question is whether Mopotism can transition that top form to the grass. Considering sons and daughters of her sire Uncle Mo win graded stakes races on turf as they do on dirt that is easily answered with "Yes." For example, Uncle Mo's son Motown won the Hollywood Derby last fall and his daughter Ultra Brat won the Gallorette Stakes on the grass last weekend. As such, Mopotism appears well suited to earn her first graded stakes win on the turf in this race.

    Madam Dancealot won the similar Santa Ana Stakes at this distance over the Santa Anita turf in March, rallying from 14 lengths back early to win by a half-length. Two races prior to that, Madam Dancealot ran big again when finishing second in the American Oaks. If she can improve upon her 11th to seventh place effort last month at a shorter distance in the Distaff Turf Mile she could easily be in the thick of the action at the finish.

    Uni ships cross country for the strong Chad Brown barn, bringing along regular rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., giving up an entire day of mounts at Belmont for this race (and three others on the day). Last month, Uni returned from six months off and won as if she had never been away from the races when victorious in the Plenty of Grace Stakes with a career-best 105 figure. Last summer, Uni ran very well in the Lake Placid Stakes when second, following that up with a win in the Sands Point Stakes. As she makes her second start as a four year old, Uni can improve off her Plenty of Grace effort and that makes her a fairly strong contender in the Gamely.

    Beau Recall won the Royal Heroine Stakes over the course last month with a very strong rally from last of nine early and passing six horses in the stretch to win. Beau Recall also is a four year old with room to improve and as she proved herself at the distance of the Gamely last summer when coming up a nose shy of victory in the Del Mar Oaks she must has a good chance to succeed in this event.

    Midnight Crossing has early speed and can be around for a share, as can Hawksmoor, but it is just as likely they tire each other out on the front end as one of them gets loose, in either case likely getting run down late but still capable of finishing second.

    Bets: Mopotism to win at 2 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

    A second win bet, this one on Madam Dancealot, appears warranted at 2 to 1 or higher.

    Exactas: Mopotism, Madam Dancealot, Uni and Beau Recall over Mopotism, Madam Dancealot, Uni, Beau Recall, Midnight Crossing and Hawksmoor.

    Read more...
  • 18
    MAY

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, May 19

    Maryland Sprint Stakes – Race 10 at Pimlico - Post Time 4:05 PM Eastern

    Lewisfield has done little wrong in his career, with five victories in 7 races including a win in a restricted stakes when last seen in March. Bocachica has been the only pilot he's known and rides back and the horse has proven capable of winning when leading from the start or if he has to sit in 2nd or 3rd in the early stages. The 114 Equibase figure put forth in his last win was a career best and tops in the field and there's every reason to believe that effort can be repeated or bettered here.

    Heartwood can ALSO be bet if for no other reason than he opens at 15/1 and has a legitimate shot. He posted the 15/1 upset in a tough classified allowance field on a sloppy track one before last and he won at stakes race with a 200K purse last fall so there's no doubt he fits at the level. Geroux was up for the April upset and rides back as the colt cuts back from a mile to six furlongs, which helps his chances to be closing strongly in the final stages.

    Long Haul Bay has won 3 of 4 career starts and the one he didn't win led to a layoff so can be ignored. He returned from 10 months off last month to win nicely and was flattered when the runner-up came back to win. That win earned a 103 figure that should be improved upon 2nd off the layoff but still isn't in range of the 114 effort Lewisfield put forth but considering Brown's success this year (and before that) the colt could improve enough to win.

    Irish Colonel, like Heartwood, opens at double digit odds that warrant scrutiny. He missed by a neck when last seen at the end of March and won prior to that, the win earning a 111 figure similar to the 110 figure effort put forth last November at the distance. As a horse that's been 1st or 2nd in 15 of 30 career starts, he is an absolute must for inclusion on any exacta tickets we play at the very least. We should also add Fellowship to the bottom of exacta tickets played as he could run as he did in February on a sloppy track when finishing fast for second.

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

    Heartwood to win at 7 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

    Irish Colonel to win at 4 to1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or higher.

    Exacta: Lewisfield, Heartwood, Long Haul Bay and Irish Colonel over Lewisfield, Heartwood, Long Haul Bay, Irish Colonel and Fellowship.

     

    Preakness Stakes – Race 13 at Pimlico - Post Time 6:48 PM Eastern

    Bravazo will be my top choice to win the Preakness Stakes by repeating his effort when winning the Risen Star Stakes in February, posting the upset and returning $44 for $2. At the time, Bravazo was making his second start as a three year old and second following a layoff, coming off a 104 Equibase Speed Figure effort when winning one month earlier. In the Risen Star, Bravazo won gamely by a neck to earn a career best 110 figure when improving nicely in his second race off the rest. In the Louisiana Derby, I cannot say what went wrong when as the second betting choice (5 to 2) Bravazo faded badly to eighth after being up close in third in the early stages. However, his effort two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby was pretty good as he rallied four to five paths wide while moving up from eleventh to fourth over the course of three furlongs until he flattened out in mid-stretch to end up sixth. In the Preakness Bravazo will have to deal with a lot less traffic and if jockey Luis Saez is able to get him into second or third with about a half-mile to go, as was the case in the Risen Star, this colt can post the upset because the 110 figure earned in that race is as good as the figure Justify earned winning the Kentucky Derby. Lukas is no stranger to posting the upset in this race, having done so with Oxbow a few years back, who like Bravazo was owned by Calumet Farm and was a son of Awesome Again .

    Justify is unbeaten in four starts and has improved his Equibase figure in each, going from 106 in his career debut to 110 winning the Kentucky Derby. In the Derby, Justify was able to beat 18 other horses out of the gate to secure second position early, avoiding the mud and water flying everywhere over the very sloppy track and that had to have been a significant factor in his success as he held his two and one-half length margin over Good Magic the entire last eighth of a mile. With many less horses to be in front of at the start of the Preakness, Justify is as likely, or even more so, to be in front in the opening strides, but in the event Quip or Diamond King (who are drawn inside of Justify in the gate) get the lead that should not be an issue as he has raced in second or third in the early stages in two of his four victories. As such, it would come as no surprise that the Derby winner takes the Preakness, following in the footsteps of I'll Have Another (2012), California Chrome (2014) and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015).

    Good Magic ran his heart out in the Derby, chasing Justify for the final half-mile but making up no ground. After a poor effort in his 2018 return to the races when third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes in March, Good Magic redeemed himself nicely with victory in the Blue Grass Stakes, earning a 104 figure in the process. In spite of being no match for the Derby winner, Good Magic improved to a 106 figure in the race and is set to improve again back to the form shown when winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last fall with a 109 figure. Considering how close that effort would be to the one Justify put forth two weeks ago and considering Good Magic is making his fourth start of 2018 compared to Justify making his fifth start of the year, it is conceivable Good Magic may have enough improvement forthcoming to turn the tables on his nemesis in the Preakness.

     

    Lone Sailor is not a win contender in my opinion but can certainly be second or third at the end to complete any exacta or trifecta tickets played. Lone Sailor improved markedly in the Louisiana Derby with a career best 106 figure, that being his third start of the year. He then had a trip similar to Bravazo in the Kentucky Derby in which Lone Sailor moved up from 15th to sixth with an eighth of a mile to go before flattening out and ending up eighth. With less traffic in the Preakness, Lone Sailor may be passing many of these late and could earn a big chunk of the purse.

    Bets: Bravazo to win at 2 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic over Lone Sailor, Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic.

    Trifecta: Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic over Lone Sailor, Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic over Lone Sailor, Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic.

    Doubles: Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic in Race 13 with Phil's Cocktail, Ugottahaveheart, Iredell and Appealing Future in Race 14.

    Race 14 at Pimlico – Post Time 7:35 Eastern

    Phil's Cocktail is a tough claiming pro, with 11 first or second place efforts in his last 21 races. He qualified for this 5K starter allowance race when he raced for 5K last December, likely something Brooks noticed when he claimed the horse for 7,500 out of a runner-up effort on 3/30. Winning two later, just SIX days ago, easily at the 15K level in the mud OVER THE TRACK, Phil's Cocktail has a big shot to win once again and make even more profit off the claim six weeks ago.

    Appealing Future is 5 for 15 in his career, not bad at all, including a win in a 50K allowance race in Pennsylvania one before last on 4/7. He finished 2nd over a sloppy track prior to that and 4th since then against open allowance company so this is a DROP in class as this 5K starter level is the equivalent of a 10K claiming race. With Javier Castellano staying around for the last race on a big card, for high percentage trainer Servis, there is every reason to believe Appealing Future is live and has the talent to win the nightcap.

    Ugottahaveheart and Iredell are both proven at the level, hence open as the top two betting choices at 3/1 and 5/2, respectively. Ugottahaveheart won at this level twice in January and in his most recent start on 3/30 but has never raced over the Pimlico surface, a small knock, while Iredell moves back to dirt after a poor effort on turf and won by 6 lengths, over Ugottahaveheart, on 2/15 as well as won at Pimlico last May. He has more 2nd place finishes (10) than wins (8) so although a MUST to use on exacta tickets he doesn't have to win.

    Bets: Phil's Cocktail to win at 5 to 2 or more.

    Appealing Future to win at 3 to 1 or higher.

    Exactas: Phil's Cocktail and Appealing Future over Phil's Cocktail and Appealing Future, Ugottahaveheart and Iredell.

    Then also the reverse of the above, which is Phil's Cocktail and Appealing Future, Ugottahaveheart and Iredell over Phil's Cocktail and Appealing Future.

    Frans Valentine Stakes – Race 9 at Santa Anita – Post Time 8 Eastern (5 Pacific)

    Shy Carmelita has mostly run on dirt throughout her 14 race career, with 3 wins in 11 races on the main track. However, she won on the turf when last seen on 4/1 in her 3rd turf try and was 2nd in another last summer before taking seven months off. With a lot of improvement to show us 3rd off the layoff, this gal who is a full sister to multiple winner Grazenette and who moves from open (not restricted) 2nd level allowance company to this statebred stakes level (a lateral class move and possibly a drop in class) has a big shot to run as well as she did when last seen on the course, earning a field high last race 112 Equibase figure that beats these on the square if repeated, for the always dangerous D'Amato barn and with Talamo riding right back.

    Barbara Beatrice is another very competitive mare, with 9 first or 2nd place finishes in 18 races, a subset of which is a 7 for 10 record first or second on turf. She's won at this mile trip and she's won at Santa Anita and she was 2nd in a similar Cal-Bred stakes race (but on dirt) last November so she fits on all counts for a top effort.

    Cordiality won at this mile turf trip one race before her last, in March, at the same openNW2X allowance condition Shy Carmelita won at (but sprinting) last time out. The mare is7 for 20 in her career with another six runner-up efforts for good measure but oddly enough even though a Cal-Bred hasn't run in one of these restricted stakes races. Baze rode her to her last three wins, all when leading or 2nd in the early stages, and although her outside post may not be the best for her style there's no taking away from the fact her best effort may be good enough to win.

    Moonless Sky finished 2nd in an identical race last summer and was 2nd in last year's edition of this stakes. She won last fall at a mile on grass in an open NW2X level race similar to the other contenders and the only knock relative to those is she opens at the lowest odds, 7/2 on the morning line.

    Longshot consideration must be given to Speakers and Lynne's Legacy, the former with the ground saving rail and coming out of a very troubled effort, before that with a win at this mile trip over the course, and the latter running first off the O'Neill claim, out of the first time she was EVER eligible to be claimed, and a decent runner-up effort at that. She's a multiple turf route winner versus Cal-Breds and her 15/1 morning line is intriguing. O'Neill also saddles How About Zero, who stretches back out to a mile off a pair of sprints and who missed by a head in that mile turf race three back after leading in the stretch.

     

    Bets: Shy Carmelita to win at 5 to 2 or more.

    Barbara Beatrice to win at 3 to 1 or more.

    Cordiality to win at 7 to 2 or higher.

    When making or considering multiple horses for win bets, use a "Dutching" tool like that found at Amwager, which helps allocate your betting dollars for the best return.

    Exacta: Box Shy Carmelita, Barbara Beatrice, Cordiality and Moonless Sky.

    Exacta: Shy Carmelita, Barbara Beatrice, Cordiality and Moonless Sky over Shy Carmelita, Barbara Beatrice, Cordiality, Moonless Sky, Speakers, Lynne's Legacy and How About Zero.

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  • 11
    MAY

    Key Bets & Races for Saturday, May 12th

    Vagrancy Handicap – Race 3 at Belmont Park - Post Time 2:34 PM Eastern

    Kirby's Penny is six for 11 in her career. Better still, she's 5 for 7 on dirt, all since last April. She finished second in the other two dirt starts. She's absolutely ready for grade 3 competition as she faces today with John Velazquez riding as for two big wins last summer at Saratoga and her most recent win, on April 8, came off a 6 month layoff and the effort should be improved upon 2nd off the rest. Opening at 6 to 1, she's exceptionally playable.

    Swing and Sway is another very playable horse, opening at 12 to 1, having just won the Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn and two before that the American Beauty Stakes. She's now 5 for 15 in her career and could also be very competitive here. There are no real knocks on any of the other four, but Holiday Disguise, who opens at 9/5, hasn't any more probability than the rest. Sure, she won the similar G3 Distaff Stakes last month at Aqueduct, but it wasn’t any better of an effort nor was the horse she beat, Sounds Delicious (who was disqualified from 2nd to 4th) anything really special in terms of this field.

    Win Bets: Kirby's Penny at odds of 2 to 1 or more and Swing and Sway at odds of 3 to 1 or more. Place bets may be warranted at 5 to 1 or higher.

    The most efficient way to bet multiple horses to win is to use a "Dutching" tool like the one available at Amwager, which helps allocated your betting dollars for the best return.

    Runhappy Stakes – Race 8 at Belmont Park- Post Time 5:14 PM Eastern

    Always Sunshine is EVERY bit as likely to win as favorite's Skyler's Scramjet and Westwood, but opens at 12/1. He returns from a layoff since last July but won his 2017 debut by four lengths off a layoff since the previous October so that's not an issue. Winner of nearly $400,000 in his career and first or second in 10 of 18 dirt races, he will be ignored by many in this race compared to others. Back in 2016, Always Sunshine finished 2nd in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Stakes on the circuit, the same race Skyler's Scramjet won in March of this year. Later that spring he won the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint with a career best 118 Equibase Figure and in his last start of 2017 earned a 109 figure which stacks up favorably against the favorites here if repeated.

    King Kranz goes for his 3rd win in a row since moving to the Rodriguez barn and Iran Ortiz, Jr. rides back after being up for the first time last month in a strong win. The comeback win in March earned a 108 figure and opening at 9/2 we cannot rule him out as a contender to win.

    Skyler's Scramjet can't be labeled a vulnerable favorite as the drop from grade 1 company in the Carter Handicap last time out helps his chances to return to winning form, and Westwood is another with a shot although his first graded stakes attempt last month wasn't good as he faded to 5th in the stretch after leading.

    Win Bets: Always Sunshine to win and to place at 2 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Always Sunshine and King Kranz over Always Sunshine, King Kranz, Skyler's Scramjet and Westwood (as there's no point in using the two favorites with each other for 1st & 2nd), then ALSO the opposite, which is Always Sunshine, King Kranz, Skyler's Scramjet and Westwood over Always Sunshine and King Kranz.

    Peter Pan Stakes – Race 10 at Belmont Park – Post Time 6:18 Eastern

    Just Whistle earned the best last race Equibase figure, 106, when winning last month at Keeneland. That was his second start of the year and a big improvement off his runner-up effort one month prior which followed six months away from the races. As a son of Pioneer of the Nile there is little doubt Just Whistle can successfully negotiate the mile and one-eighth distance of the Peter Pan. As a horse on a pattern for significant improvement in his third start off a layoff, he appears to be the one to beat in this race.

    High North earned his first win last fall in his third career start, then tried stakes company and was not disgraced when fourth of 14 in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. After taking the winter off, he was entered in the Risen Star Stakes without a prep first and ran poorly, then again in the Rebel Stakes. Adding blinkers for the Northern Spur Stakes next out, he returned to top form, earning a 105 figure when drawing off by two and one-half lengths in a field of eight. Trainer Brad Cox is still on a high from winning the Kentucky Oaks with Monomoy Girl last weekend and his 30% success rate with back-to-back winners in dirt routes over the past two years is another reason supporting High North potentially winning his second stakes race in a row.

    Blended Citizen needs a hot pace in front of him to succeed, as occurred in March when rallying to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks by a neck with a 109 figure. Following that effort, Blended Citizen tried to earn enough points for a Kentucky Derby start by running in the Blue Grass Stakes but could only manage a fifth place finish. In the Peter Pan, with the prospect for a hotly contested pace unlikely, Blended Citizen may be hard pressed to pass the field to win but it is not an impossible task and so he will round out the three horses with the best chance to win this year's Peter Pan Stakes.

    I'm completely taking a stand against Core Beliefs, shipping out from California and overbet off his 3rd place effort in the Santa Anita Derby behind Justify.

    Win Bets: Just Whistle at 2 to 1 or more, a TRUE KEY BET on the day.

    A win bet on High North is warranted at 3 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Box Just Whistle, High North and Blended Citizen.

    Man O' War Stakes – Race 11 at Belmont Park – Post Time 6:50 Eastern

    Postulation can post the upset in this year's Man O'War, or even finish 2nd for a big profit. He SHOULD NOT be 20/1 on the morning line considering his record in similar races, including a head loss in the Kentucky Turf Cup last summer and a win in the American St. Leger prior to that. The jockey change to Vargas, mostly unknown to local betters, helps his odds but there is no concern because Vargas was aboard for BOTH the aforementioned stakes efforts. After the Kentucky Turf Cup, Postulation finished 8th of 10 in the Canadian International (run on a very soft course) then took time off. When returning last month off a six month layoff, he ran BIG by rallying from 4th to battle down the stretch before tiring just a bit to be beaten a pair of necks on the wire. With 8 first or second place finishes in 16 turf races and nearly $400K in earnings, and proven at marathon distances, and possibly more importantly much stronger 2nd off the layoff, Postulation gets a BIG push here.

    Almost as likely and certainly as playable is One Go All Go, upset winner of the similar Elkhorn Stakes last month at Keeneland. He's now run BIG in five of his last six races since Dickey took over his training. Even though in four of those he finished 2nd he was never far afield and in two of those he finished just behind Hi Happy and Sadler's Joy, who open at much lower odds than the 6/1 starting odds for One Go All Go. As with the Elkhorn, there is very little of any other early pace in the race so if Landeros gets One Go All Go to the lead easily and slows things down, he could win his 2nd graded stakes in a row.

    There are no real knocks on Sadler's Joy, Hi Happy or some of the rest, but the key for profit is getting either Postulation or One Go All Go home on top, or even second.

    Win Bets: Postulation to win and place at 3 to 1 or more. One Go All Go to win and place at 3 to 1 or more.

    Exactas: Postulation and One Go All Go over ALL, then also the opposite, which is ALL over Postulation and One Go All Go.

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  • 04
    MAY

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, May 5

    Sheepshead Bay Stakes – Race 6 at Belmont Park - Post Time 3:30 PM Eastern

    Santa Monica showed a ton of promise as a future stakes star in her U.S. debut last month at Keeneland. That was her 1st start after 4 1/2 months off and first on Lasix and she swept past the field from last of 8 to be in front by 2 lengths at the 8th pole, drawing off from there. This step up from 2nd level allowance to grade 2 stakes is no big deal because Santa Monica was a group 3 stakes winner in Ireland last June and European group 3 races are equivalent to grade 2 races in the states. Likely to improve markedly 2nd off the layoff, Brown wastes no time taking a shot at a nice purse and although Gaffalione has never ridden here I have no issues because the jockey is 6 for 18 riding for Brown in the last 18 months. Even opening at 5/2 odds, or a bit lower, Santa Monica is truly a KEY BET because the favorite, Holy Helena, is vulnerable on many counts in this field. She won the Grade 2 Very One Stakes in March at Gulfstream Park when last seen but only earned a 98 Equibase figure in doing so, and a 97 prior to that winning a classified allowance. Santa Monica earned a 102 figure in her allowance win and whereas Holy Helena has run the same race twice, Santa Monica has upside in her 2nd race off the layoff.

     

    For the exacta, I'll try to keep Holy Helena out entirely and use Estrechada and Summersault, both having won at 11 furlongs or father on the grass so having no issues with this 11 furlong trip. Estrechada won the Grade 3 Waya Stakes last summer at Saratoga and her fourth place finish in her only start of the year can be improved upon, while Summersault won the non-graded Soaring Softly Stakes in March at Gulfstream Park at this trip and the last time she got into top form she held that form for three straight races including the Grade 3 Orchid Stakes at this distance on turf.

    Win Bets: Bet Santa Monica to win at 6 to 5 or higher, a true low odds overlay.

    Consider small win bets on Estrechada and Summersault at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

    Exacta: Box Santa Monica, Estrechada and Summersault.

    Then also play an exacta of Santa Monica over Estrechada and Summersault.

     

    Fort Marcy Stakes – Race 10 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:48 PM Eastern

    Robert Bruce was a perfect six-for-six in his native Chile, winning at distances ranging from six furlongs to a mile and one-half. He won one of the biggest turf races in South America last fall, a group 1 with a purse of $160K U.S. and he's been training steadily in Florida this spring for Brown, who gave him a whirl on the Belmont training track last week. Gaffalione rides and if Santa Monica runs as expected in the Sheepshead Bay that could give Brown and Gaffalione two stakes wins on the day. Brown is exceptional with horses coming off layoffs so the return from six months off is no issue, nor is it being his first start in the U.S. because again that is something Brown is exceptional at, winning with 25% (8 for 34) of his foreign imports in the past couple of years. As such, Robert Bruce could keep his perfect record intact with a win in this year's Fort Marcy Stakes.

     

    That being said, Lucullan SHOULD NOT BE 12/1 as he is on the morning line. With three wins in six turf races to date, the colt has shown a lot of talent and he's not overmatched at this grade 3 level as in his only stakes start last year he missed by inches to Yoshida in the Hill Prince Stakes at this trip last October. Lucullan won his 2018 debut in February nicely in allowance company then ran on late but too late, from 11th to 6th, in the Muniz Stakes at the end of March. He's another that has put in some nice works in the morning coming into the race and to ignore this exceptionally well-bred and competitive McLaughlin runner at these odds may prove to be a mistake.

     

    Spring Quality is another tough horse, with a record nearly as good as that of Robert Bruce. Spring Quality has five wins in nine races. Only one of those was on turf BUT it was a graded stakes, the Red Smith, last November. Graham Motion, like Brown, is one of those trainers I have no qualms about when they bring a horse back from a layoff so the fact Spring Quality hasn't raced since the November win is of no concern and he may actually have a shot of picking up where he left off, with a stakes win on grass.

     

    For the exacta, I will add Markitoff, who opens at 15/1. I am taking a stand against Blacktype (9/2 morning line) because his comeback on 4/8 just didn't indicated he could bounce up to the form necessary to win. I am also taking a stand against morning line favorite Silverwave, because I believe Robert Bruce should be the favorite. Silverwave is also trained by Brown but Chad goes to Carmouche and no matter that Kendrick is a good jockey he's just 1 for 7 for Brown in the last 18 year compared to 6 for 18 for the Brown/Gaffalione combination. Silverwave was last seen running in the Arc de Triomphe and that's the reason for his low odds but he was 87/1 in the race and ran like it when last of 18. His body of work before that includes 3 stakes wins at 12 furlongs so there is NO reason to believe he can win at this 9 furlong trip.

     

    Win Bets: Robert Bruce at 9 to 5 or higher, other low odds overlay Key Bet.

    Make a win bet on Lucullan at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 8 to 1 or higher.
    Additionally, a win bet on Spring Quality may be warranted at 5 to 1 or higher, for a smaller amount than either Robert Bruce or Lucullan.

    Exacta: Box Robert Bruce, Lucullan, Spring Quality and Markitoff.

    Westchester Stakes - Race 11 at Belmont Park - Post Time 7:07 Eastern

    This race marks the comeback of Cloud Computing, who opens at even money. Although the odds are a complete joke compared to the horse's probability to win, they are right because the public will bet him solely because he won the Preakness last year. Let's not forget, Cloud Computing was 13/1 that day, and then he ran pitifully in the Jim Dandy (5th) and Travers (8th) before going on the bench for more than a short respite, in this case eight months. Cloud Computing won his debut at six furlongs on the now gone Inner Dirt at Aqueduct and that's about as irrelevant is it can get comparing that to a start in a graded stakes at a mile around one turn. His best Equibase figure where he was even competitive was 101 in the Preakness and although he's likely stronger as a four year old even adding points to that, Cloud Computing isn't even close to how fast three others in here can run.

     

    First, Moe Trouble opens at 30/1, the exact opposite as Cloud Computing in terms of how bad the line is compared to reality. The horse has FIVE wins and SIX runner-up finishes in 16 races and $220K in the bank. Sure, he's been beating up on Pennsylvania breds but he's still a son of top sire Uncle Moe and his trainer is TOP NOTCH. Gonzalez is 40 for 160 on the year and 10 for 33 in stakes the past two years. The trainer has shipped to New York seven times in the past five years, with two wins and three runner-up efforts. Trainer Gonzalez likely looked at who was likely to enter here and said to himself "I can win the winner's share of this 200K purse, or at least a big piece of it and that's more than my horse can earn at Parx." Carmouche takes the call and with an inside position on the only other horse that may want the lead, Conquest Big E, Moe Trouble can finish first or second here as the longest shot in the field because in his last start, a two-turn mile, he led until the top of the stretch and settled for 2nd with a field high 117 Equibase figure that is a grade 2 level figure in this grade 3 stakes. Additionally, if you look at the Hardacre Mile on 3/31 won by Conquest Big E, with Tommy Macho 3rd, or any of Tommy Macho's losses in the Kelso or Forego you have to note he was beaten by a horse who controlled the pace. The only reason Tommy Macho won the Hooper was Conquest Big E hopped at the start. Therefore I think Moe Trouble is going to do what Conquest Big E did last out and lead from start to finish at double digit odds.

     

    If I'm right about Conquest Big E being forced to yield the early lead to Moe Trouble, he'll likely be in the second sport early. Although he's earned his last three wins leading start to finish, he did prove he could close when he hopped at the start, rallying from 6th to be beaten just 3/4 of a length. Batista comes up from Florida to ride the hard knocking gelding and his best race, with a 111 Equibase figure, is good enough to win if repeated if he can relax off the early speed of Moe Trouble and go by that one late.

     

    If I'm wrong about the pace and Conquest Big E and Moe Trouble hook up, Tommy Macho repeats his Fred Hooper score with a 107 figure, or his 2017 Hal's Hope win at the same one turn mile trip with a 114 figure. He could offer low odds value as well anywhere near his 5/2 morning line considering how overbet Cloud Computing is likely to be.

     

    Bets: Moe Trouble to win and place at 3 to 1 or more.

    Also consider a win bet on Conquest Big E at 7 to 2 or higher

    Consider a win bet on Tommy Macho at 2 to 1 or more, especially if you believe Conquest Big E and Moe Trouble are going to battle each other on the front end.

     

    Exactas: Moe Trouble over ALL and (The opposite) ALL over Moe Trouble.

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  • 27
    APR

    Key Races & Bets for Saturday, April 28

    Woodbine – Race 7 - Post Time 4:27 PM Eastern

    We can play two races here, making some win and exacta wagers in this race and then tying the race in doubles to the Whimsical Stakes (Race 8) for added value.

     

    In this race, Singandcryindubai is one of two from the very high percentage McKnight barn, the other Abbaa. Although both can win, Singandcryindubai opens at 10/1 so that's where I'll start. The gelding is 3 for 6 at Woodbine, accounting for all but 1 of his career wins, and moves back to his favorite track after wintering at Oaklawn where he went 0 for 4. He's in for the optional claiming price ($60K) since he's already won at the level and the key to a BIG effort is Contreras getting on. Not only is Contreras off to a fast start with 5 wins from his first 16 races at the meeting but he was up for the horse's last two wins including one last October in which he rallied from eighth. The other was a race in which he led from start to finish so with that kind of versatility Singandcryindubai has a big shot to return to winning form.

     

    Abbaa missed by a neck last time out just three weeks ago at Oaklawn, first off the claim by McKnight, who as of a few days ago was 4 for 6 at the meeting so far. The veteran horse has won 10 times in his career but is trying all-weather for the first time. However, the 3 furlong drill just six days ago has him familiar with it so we can expect another "A" effort good enough to win.

     

    Circle of Friends makes his 2018 debut, for Tiller, who is pretty good with his comebackers at the start of the meeting. The horse won his 2017 debut by a head at this five furlong trip and as his last two start of 2017 were in blinkers and poor efforts, the blinkers come off for this race. With a very sharp half-mile drill on 4/9 following by a more moderate one, we can assume the horse is fit and can run as well today as he did last year at this time.

     

    Win Bets: Bet Singandcryindubai to win at 3 to 1 or more and add a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

    Exacta: Box Singandincrydubai, Abbaa and Circle of Friends.

    Doubles: Singandcryindubai, Abbaa and Circle of Friends in Race 7 with Scotty's Model, Moonlit Promise and Sky Flower in Race 8. (You can also box those three horses in an exacta in race 8 as well).

     

    Santa Barbara Stakes – Race 4 at Santa Anita - Post Time 4:30 PM Eastern (1:30 Pacific)

    Causeforcommotion is the horse to beat here, and to bet, in spite of the 8/5 starting odds on Plein Air and the 2/1 starting odds on Pantsonfire. Causeforcommotion opens at 6/1 even though her last two efforts were the best of her short career (12 races) to date. She's never run this marathon 12 furlong trip but of the others, none has won at it except Plein Air anyway but Causeforcommotion is bred to run all day, as she's by Americain (a son of Dynaformer) and out of a mare by the late Giant's Causeway. She's just a four year old and has room to improve and jockey Franco (who replaces Roman) is underrated but has impressed with his prowess on the grass. The 107 last race Equibase figure is as good as Pantsonfire (who opens at one-third the odds) and MUCH better than the 94 figure Plein Air earned. Baltas saddled FOUR of the six here but no matter two of them (Space Cadet and Plein Air) both have the same "early" running style, those two should wear each other out mentally even on slow fractions while Causeforcommotion gets a great stalking trip for her 3rd win in a row, particularly as the race she won turned out to be strong with the runner-up coming back to win TWO in a row and the 3rd horse beaten a neck.

     

    Lucy De, Pantsonfire and Plein Air all have races in their recent past good enough to compete here and any can win but none offer value for win bets. We can use all three plus Causeforcommotion on any multi-race tickets played like the pick 3 and 4 and key them with Causeforcommotion on exacta tickets but the main play will be Causeforcommotion to win.

     

    Win Bets: Causeforcommotion to win at 2 to 1, a true KEY BET on the day.

    Exacta: Causeforcommotion over Lucy De, Pantsonfire and Plein Air, then also turn that around and play Lucy De, Pantsonfire and Plein Air over Causeforcommotion.

    Belmont - Race 8 – Post Time 5:18 Eastern

    Similar to what we did at Woodbine, the eighth at Belmont is very playable and we can tie it with the Elusive Quality Stakes, Race 9.

     

    Jewel Can Disco opens at 10/1 and is the one to catch, and beat, even though it looks like there is other early speed in the race. Davis, who rode him to a runner-up finish last out and to a win before that, jumps to Cerretalto (who is also a contender) but I love the jockey change to Rosario, who is as good as any jockey at nursing a horse on the lead. Jewel Can Disco was 5 to 1 at this level just 17 days ago but opens at 10/1 here which makes no sense at all as he was gamely second by a head after setting fast fractions and as he's won at this 7 furlong trip before, the stretch out from 6 furlongs is no issue.

     

    Cerretalto is two for two since adding blinkers and comes off a career best effort with a 101 Equibase figure in February in statebred allowance company. He won that race off a two month rest and is coming back from a similar layoff and he could get a great trip behind Jewel Can Disco to win again.

     

    Salute With Honor won his 4 year old debut in February at Gulfstream then missed by a half-length at this level in Florida as well with a much improved 106 figure, the 2nd best last figure in the field. He's put in a nice work over the track and fits on all counts, his only knock that he opens at 3/1 so isn't nearly as good a win bet as the other two.

     

    Favorite Polar Jet (6/5 morning line) has finished 2nd in three straight, all at low odds, losing ground in the last 8th of a mile in the last two. He can win but I'd rather believe that when push comes to shove he is lacking the spirit to put his head down and will settle for 2nd once again and will play exactas that way. I will also use Emancipation and Professor Snape in the second slot.

     

    Bets: Jewel Can Disco to win at 3 to 1 or more. Make a win bet on Cerretalto as well, at 3 to 1 or more. Use a "Dutching" tool like the one at Amwager when betting more than one horse to win to help allocate your bets.

    Exactas: Jewel Can Disco, Cerretalto and Salute With Honor over Jewel Can Disco, Cerretalto, Salute With Honor, Emancipation, Professor Snape and Polar Jet.

    Doubles: Jewel Can Disco, Cerretalto and Salute With Honor in Race 8 with Undrafted, Conquest Panthera, Commend and Commute in Race 9.

    Elusive Quality Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont – Post Time 5:50 Eastern

    Undrafted is an exceptional turf sprinter who comes back from nearly six months off, which is not an issue as he won last year in April following a similar layoff. That win in 2017 earned a strong 112 Equibase Speed Figure which he bettered when last seen in November, winning a turf sprint with a 115 effort. Joel Rosario gets the call and rode Undrafted in that 2017 comeback win so he knows how to get the horse to relax and makes his patented late run from far back. Although no races at the seven furlong distance of the Elusive Quality Stakes appear in his recent history, Undrafted has won a mile on the grass in his career so there are no questions about being capable of the distance. Trainer Wesley Ward is having an exceptional 2018 to date, wining more than one-quarter of his 125 races so far. With a pattern of very consistent workouts coming into the race at the trainer's home base in Kentucky, including the last two on the grass, Undrafted looks ready to earn the ninth win of his career in this year's Elusive Quality Stakes. Conquest Panthera may come in under the radar of many bettors, making his second start of 2018 and with a non-threatening fifth place finish in his comeback effort last month. However, Conquest Panthera was asked to run a mile following nearly five months off and ran very well in spite of the layoff as he moved up from eighth in a field of nine to get within a length and one-half in the stretch before tiring. Not only should he be more physically fit in his second start off the layoff, but the cut back in distance should help sharpen up his closing kick. Last summer, Conquest Panthera won the Play the King Stakes at the distance of the Elusive Quality and he earned a career best 121 Figure when third in the Turf Sprint Championship Stakes last fall so his best effort is certainly good enough to win.

    Commend has finished first or second in seven of 14 career races. 13 of those have been on the turf including a runner-up effort when beaten a half-length in the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint last summer. Freshened two months since a poor sixth place finish in the Colonel Power Stakes, Commend is reunited with Jose Ortiz, who rode him to victory last May on the Belmont turf course then two races later last summer at Saratoga. The 110 figure Commend earned in the Turf Sprint was a career best and as the horse put in a very solid workout less than two weeks ago that was the best of 37 on the day, we might expect a top effort in this race. Commute makes his second start following nine months off, having rallied from eighth to fourth in the Shakertown Stakes last month. Commend appears to run much better in his second start off a layoff, as evidenced by winning last May with a strong 108 figure on the all-weather surface at Woodbine before a 108 figure effort when coming up a nose short of victory in the Connaught Cup Stakes at the distance of the Elusive Quality. Additionally, Commute possesses a win at this seven furlong distance at Belmont, which came in the spring of 2016 so if he improves second off the layoff as he has done previously, Commute should be considered a contender to win the Elusive Quality as well.

    Win Bets: Bet Undrafted to win at 2 to 1 or more. Consider a second win bet on Commend (as he opens at 12/1) at 4 to 1 or higher.

    Exacta & Trifecta: Box Undrafted, Conquest Panthera, Commend and Commute.

     

    Powder Break Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream – Post Time 6:13 Eastern

    As her name suggests Glory to Kitten is a daughter of Kitten's Joy, bred by Ken & Sarah Ramsey. Claimed away from the Ramsey's out of her fourth career start in February, 2017, she finished in-the-money in five of six races, all on turf, including some tough allowance races in new York. Dropped in for a claiming price this January, trainer Jorge Abreu claimed her for $25K and immediately earned owner Michael Dubb the price back with a win in a $60K stakes race. She ran poorly in a grade 3 stakes after that but these are much easier and the jockey change to Jaramillo is telling. Now with a 5 for 6 record on the Gulfstream turf and in the hands of a very sharp former assistant to Chad Brown, Glory to Kitten should take some beating here with a nice pace to run at courtesy of Conquest Hardcandy, Madame Uno and the newly blinkered Sylphide.

    King's Ghost is the other horse with the bulk of the probability to win. She moves to the Gargan barn and noting how Gargan's other runner, Inside Out, improved markedly when beaten a nose after moving to his care, she should run back to the form shown last fall when winning a very similar turf stakes over the course. The jockey change to Juarez certainly helps the chances of King's Ghost while the jockey change for her stablemate Inside Out to Reyes does not help that one's chances although we will use her in the 2nd spot on exacta tickets. We will also use Madame Uno and Island Reward in the second position.

    Win Bets: Bet Glory to Kitten to win at 2 to 1 or more, a KEY BET to be sure. Consider a win bet on King's Ghost (who opens at 8/1) at 3 to 1 or more for a smaller amount.

    Exacta: Glory to Kitten and King's Ghost over Glory to Kitten, King's Ghost, Inside Out, Madame Uno and Island Reward.

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