Marisa Richardson - AmWager

Marisa Richardson

Marisa Richardson

Friday, 16 November 2018 13:11

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, November 17

Race 7 at Aqueduct - Post Time 3:17 PM Eastern

This could get a little complicated because of the snow and rain that fell Thursday through Thursday night but with a day and one-half of fair weather, I'm hoping the race stays on the turf as scheduled. Greek Alphabet gets preference because in a field in which at least five horses have a decent probability to win, he opens at ridiculously high 15/1 morning line odds. Like most, Greek Alphabet won a maiden special weight and NW1X allowance level race to belong at this NW2X condition and like many, one of his wins came on grass. That was his maiden win and it was his ONLY turf start to date among five career races, in July at Belmont and in that race Greek Alphabet ran professionally, leading from start to finish on solid fractions in a field of six with Maragh aboard. He won next out in an off-turf race by 5 lengths with Maragh up then ran last of 9 in September before taking two months off. The turf win in July came off a layoff since the previous September so this two month rest is of no concern, and this royally bred son of Medaglia d'Oro who cost $875K at auction and who is handled by very good trainer McLaughlin has every right to run a winning race today.



Gucci Factor and Dr. Edgar finished 2nd and 1st, respectively, on July 11 at this distance on grass at the one lower NW1X allowance level a big effort for both. Dr. Edgar came out of that race to win on 8/26 only to be disqualified to 2nd then won powerfully and without being dq'd on 9/16. Meanwhile, Gucci Factor moved into New York bred stakes company for the Cole Stakes on 9/23 and closed well for 3rd, beaten a half-length by next out winner Offering Plan. With Gucci Factor dropping from stakes back to allowance company and having won three of his last four non-stakes races in a row on turf and with Dr. Edgar having won three of his last four (not counting the DQ), these two could have a big say in the outcome here.


Clyde's Image returned from a lengthy 20 month layoff last month to win as if he had never been away, at the one lower NW1X allowance level at this trip on turf by a nose. He had finished 1st or 2nd in three straight before the rest and as he should be stronger physically in his 2nd start off the layoff, he must be given a lot of respect as his 8/1 morning line odds are a bit high given his probability. Adonis Creed also opens a bit too high to ignore at 8/1. Even though he just won a non-winners of 3 lifetime claiming race rather than an allowance race, Adonis Creed did so with authority.


"IF" this race gets taken off turf, without doubt Greek Alphabet and Gucci Factor are win contenders as both have excellent form on dirt. In addition, Lunaire would be a contender off a win in an off-turf race last month.


Bets: Greek Alphabet to win at 7 to 2 or higher odds, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.

Consider win bets on Clyde's Image and Adonis Creed at 9 to 2 or more.

It's unlikely either Gucci Factor or Dr. Edgar will reach the odds necessary for a win bet worth the risk in this field, but if either happens to be 7 to 2 odds or higher near post time, they can be bet to win as well.

For dirt, Lunaire is playable as win bet at odds of 4 to 1 or higher.


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

Personally, I will be passing exacta bets in favor of doubles to race 9. You are certainly able to play them but I feel there are a lot of "ifs" about this race and would rather play doubles.


Doubles: Greek Alphabet, Clyde's Image, Adonis Creed, Gucci Factor and Dr. Edgar in Race 8 with Zulu Alpha, Soglio and Bigger Picture in Race 9.


"IF" race 8 moves to dirt due to weather, add Lunaire to the horses to use in doubles with the contenders in race 9.

Red Smith Stakes – Race 8 at Aqueduct - Post Time 3:47 PM Eastern

Zulu Alpha won three of the first 16 races of his career through May of this year. However, starting in August when blinkers were removed, he has become a different horse entirely winning three of four races and missing by a neck in the other. Along the way, trainer Michael Maker claimed the horse for $80,000 in September and immediately rewarded new owner Michael Hui with $60,000 of that claim price with a win in the Sycamore Stakes at a mile and one-half, earning a 111 Equibase Figure in the process. Cutting back to a mile and three-eighths is not an issue, and considering Zulu Alpha earned career-best 116  figure when winning in September just before the Sycamore, he fits here perfectly as last year's Red Smith winner (Spring Quality) earned a 109 figure in victory. Additionally, having beaten the 2016 Red Smith winner Bigger Picture in the Sycamore, Zulu Alpha has already proven capable of performing well enough to win at this level.

Bigger Picture is a pro, having won 10 of 31 career starts on the grass and having earned $1.3 million in the process. On the other hand, he is winless in seven starts since taking the John B. Connally Stakes in January and he was no match for Zulu Alpha in the Sycamore last month when checking in a non-threatening third. One race before that, Bigger Picture missed by a half-length in the Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes, earning a strong 118 figure and finishing a neck ahead of Soglio, who came back to win one month later. In 2016, Bigger Picture missed by a nose in the Sycamore before winning the Red Smith and so it would be no surprise if he steps up with his biggest effort of the year in this situation.

Soglio has won three of nine races this year and although none were stakes, he's proven to be very tough in his four year old season. He won at this 11 furlong turf trip in May with a 118 figure that is good enough to win if repeated and he's run very consistently since then. Following the win in May, Soglio finished third in three straight races, two of those stakes including when just a neck behind Bigger Picture in the Kentucky Turf Cup.  His figures for those efforts of 120, 113 and 118 are all strong enough to have him in the thick of the action on the finish line if repeated.

Three more horses deserve honorable mention and should at the least be considered for exacta tickets as they can finish second if they run their best. Call Provision has been first or second in 11 of 19 career races including seven of eight at this 11 furlong turf trip. He rallied from eighth to finish second in last year's Red Smith to earn a 108 figure and he's earned 121 and 118 figures since then, the latter when beaten a nose on the wire by Focus Group in the John's Call Stakes in August. Postulation was a dual stakes winner last year when victorious in the Cape Henlopen and American St. Leger then went off form.  However, since changing trainers to Michael Matz he has put in two good efforts, especially his most recent when second in the Point of Entry Stakes at a mile and one-half with a career best 118 figure. Focus Group won the John's Call Stakes at one mile and five-eighths in August with a 118 figure, then wasn't disgraced a bit when third of 11 in the Canadian International last month so rounds out this trio of potential contenders for the exotics.

Bets: Win bets on whichever two of these three have the highest odds near post time, of at least 5 to 2 or more:

Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture, Soglio.

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

Exactas: Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture and Soglio over Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture, Soglio, Call Provision, Postulation and Focus Group.

Then also play the reverse of the above exacta to cover the three main contenders finishing 2nd. We also win twice of two of the three main contenders finish 1st & 2nd: Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture, Soglio, Call Provision, Postulation and Focus Group over Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture and Soglio.

Optionally, you can play the first exacta as a trifecta as well, because at the $0.50 minimum it has a cost of $18. That bet is Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture and Soglio over Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture, Soglio, Call Provision, Postulation and Focus Group over Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture, Soglio, Call Provision, Postulation and Focus Group.

Bob Hope Stakes – Race 8 at Del Mar - Post Time 7 PM Eastern / 4 PM Pacific

Sparky Ville is already a stakes winner, having won the Sunny Slope Stakes at Santa Anita last month at 6 1/2 furlongs. This seven furlong trip is insignificantly longer and in the Sunny Slope he ran a very mature race when sitting in fourth early before rallying to draw off. In this race, Sparky Ville will also be able to rally nicely as I don't see any other early pace scenario except one wherein Mucho Gusto and Savagery (both who earned their only wins leading from start to finish and both who wear blinkers) duel on fast early fractions. The 96 Equibase figure is the second best last race figure in the field, with Extra Hope having the best (101) but earned against maidens and not winners as Sparky Ville earned his against. So with improving to do and with Stevens riding back after being up for the stakes win last month, Sparky Ville gets top billing in this year's Bob Hope Stakes.

Sueno may look overmatched on paper and as he opens at 15/1 but he has a shot to upset here. Not only does he have a stalking style that should benefit from the pace scenario, as well as a good post to sit and watch the other six jostle for position, he gets a jockey change Kent Desormeaux for his brother Keith and that is a very sneaky angle that has paid well in the past.

Metropol is one of two from the Baffert barn, the other being morning line favorite Mucho Gusto, whose chances may be compromised by the pace battle with Savagery. Metropol closed from 2nd early to win in his debut last month with a 93 figure which can be improved upon and Baffert won this race last year with Mastery off a debut maiden win so perhaps the only thing that needs to happen for Metropol to give Baffert another win in this race is to break well and establish position. The rail may not offer the best opportunity for that so that's why  he's rated as third most probable, but he can't be discounted as a win contender.

Extra Hope can be included in the exacta, which will use Sparky Ville as a key in first and second position.

Bets: Sparky Ville to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more, a true low odds overlay key bet.

For a smaller amount, Sueno to win at odds of 5 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 7 to 1 or higher.

To finish off the three win contenders, Metropol can be bet to win at 3 to 1 or higher.

Don't forget, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge.

Exactas: Sparky Ville over Metropol, Sueno and Extra Hope. Play the reverse of that wager as well, which is Metropol, Sueno and Extra Hope over Sparky Ville.

Doubles: Sparky Ville, Metropol and Sueno in Race 8 with Go Ghetto and Baby Bear's Soup in Race 9.

Race 9 at Del Mar - Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern / 4:30 Pacific

This may be just an $8K claiming race but there are two vulnerable, if not false, favorites in Matriculate and Vending Machine, which makes the race playable. Matriculate comes back from six months off after finishing second and being claimed but with the claim being voided, likely because of an issue. He has won 2 of his last 8, gets the rail which isn't great for this distance, and may be overbet. Vending Machine was claimed for $40K in June, finishing 12th, 8th and 6th in three starts since then, most recently at the $32K claiming level just 23 days ago. He's dropped to the bottom 8K level, suggesting even a trainer like Mullins doesn't know what to do to get him to run well and just wants someone to claim him.


On the other hand, Baby Bear's Soup is the likely "lone frontrunner" in this otherwise paceless race and with seven pound apprentice jockey Fuentes riding can lead this weak group from start to finish. Off for 2 1/2 months from August to three weeks ago, Baby Bear's Soup showed speed for the first five furlongs through 21.6 and 44.8 fractions before tiring and in his 2nd start off the rest and with the apprentice aboard he may get an easy lead and never stop. If he does stop, Go Ghetto is the one to run him down, just as the horse did three back on 8/15 here at Del Mar when rallying from 5th and missing by a neck on the wire, at this identical 8K claiming level and with jockey Payeras riding as today. Go Ghetto won at 7 furlongs in January so this 6 1/2 furlong trip is of no concern, and the horse put in a sharp 47.6 workout in preparation for this race for a trainer (Clark) who also owns the horse and who has won nearly 25% of his claiming races in the past year.


For the exacta, I'll throw in Louden's Gray, who finished second under similar conditions last month but who I think has distance limitations as his two wins this year came at the shorter distance of 5 1/2 furlongs.


Bets: Baby Bear's Soup and Go Ghetto (either or both) to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Of course, if you played the doubles to these two in race 8 and are live you can skip the bets.


Exactas: Box Baby Bear's Soup, Go Ghetto and Louden's Gray

Friday, 09 November 2018 12:21

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, November 10

Juvenile Fillies Sprint Stakes – Race 5 at Gulfstream Park West- Post Time 2 PM Eastern

Lovesick opens at 9 to 2 odds and if those odds hold up, or even if she drifts down to about 2 to 1, the odds could prove to be a gift as I think she's an absolute standout in this eight horse field of Florida breds. In her debut on August 19, Lovesick made short work of a similar field when leading but lapped-on in the early stages and continuing powerfully to the wire in front by a length and one-half. The 80 Equibase Figure doesn't do justice to how well she ran and now three months later, more mature physically and mentally, she's not facing much tougher than she did over the summer as she beat "open" (not restricted) company that day and is facing statebreds here. This gal is bred to be a good one, as three of her siblings on the dam's side are winners, two of them stakes winners, including her full brother Patternrecognition (4 for 10) who won the G1 Kelso Stakes this year. With Lopez riding and little if any other early pace in the race, Lovesick should blast out on top and never look back.

Bets: Lovesick to win at 3 to 2 or higher odds, a true low odds overlay win bet.


Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes – Race 8 at Gulfstream Park West - Post Time 3:36 PM Eastern

Decorated Ace is already a stakes winner, on grass, at a mile, which are the identical conditions to this race, with one exception. The exception is the stakes race Decorated Ace won, the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth on September 1, was an "Open" race and this is a race restricted to Florida breds. She ran poorly in her only start following that win, when overmatched in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo Stakes (won by eventual Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Newspaperofrecord), so facing much easier and having proven herself capable under all these conditions, Decorated Ace has a nice shot to win, and to make us a profit as she opens at 6 to 1.

Likewise, Vow to Recover, who starts at 10 to 1 odds, is another to be greatly respected here. As with Decorated Ace, Vow to Recover will benefit nicely from a hot early pace battle between Lovely Luvy and Jolie Bay, who open as the two favorites at 3 to 1 and 5 to 2, respectively, and who are vulnerable favorites because of the likelihood neither will get the front to themselves in the early stages. Vow to Recover tried turf and two-turns for the very first time one month ago and took to the grass like a duck takes to water, rallying from seventh to draw off late over this course at Gulfstream Park West under Paco Lopez, who rides right back. The filly has room to improve in her second start on turf and should be flying late.

Bets: Decorated Ace and Vow to Recover to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

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

Trifectas (instead of exactas): Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace over Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace over ALL

Then play the two contenders in case they come in fist and third (since the above bet covers them coming in first and second): Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace over ALL over Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace.

Doubles: Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace in Race 8 with Yes I'll Go, Shanghai Starlet, Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak in Race 9.

Also Vow to Recover and Decorated Ace in Race 8 with Yes I'll Go and Shanghai Starlet in Race 9.

Millions Distaff Stakes – Race 9 at Gulfstream Park West - Post Time 4:06 PM Eastern


Yes I'll Go is one of five contenders, in a 10 horse field, but with no strong favorite it can be a profitable race for betting purposes. Yes I'll Go opens at the second highest odds (10/1) of the quintet and that doesn't make sense because we can easily draw a line through her last three past performances and look to her fourth back as the race she can run today to win. Her last race was on turf and therefor irrelevant. Her second race back was irrelevant because a horse fell in front of her and she was steadied hard to avoid falling herself. Her third race back was irrelevant as she was ridden badly, dueling for the lead, and tired late against multiple stakes winner Curlin's Approval, who would be the odds-on favorite if running in this race. FOUR races back, on July 12, Yes I'll Go stalked in third early and won going away, at this seven furlong trip. She did the same three races before that in April and she won on this course at Gulfstream Park West previously. The key to a big effort is leading jockey Lopez taking over and a strong quartet of workouts over the track in preparation for the race.

Shanghai Starlet opens at 9 to 2 odds and although much lower than 10/1 on Yes I'll Go they are HUGE for this horse trained by Todd Pletcher. She won three of five races on dirt after her turf debut in March, including a win in the Panama City Stakes, a race nearly identical to this. Zayas was up for that win and the win that preceded it, both at the distance of a mile around one turn, so she'll love this seven furlong trip. She ran poorly in her most recent start but that was completely irrelevant as it was on grass. Back on dirt, with pace to chase as Heavens Pulpit goes way too fast for her own good, Shanghai Starlet can repeat her Panama City effort for the win here.

Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak are four other win contenders and none of them should be a surprise if victorious, even Ms Meshak (who opens at 12/1). Oola Gal finished second in the restricted Barely Even Stakes in August before a fourth of 10 finish in the similar Sheer Drama Stakes in September, but it was her winning effort one before the Barely Even when drawing off to win by a couple lengths that gives her a shot to be competitive here if repeated. Starship Bonita was third behind Shanghai Starlet in the Panama City but won the Sheer Drama next time out on September 8, with Ms Meshak clearly second in that 10 horse field. Heiressall is going for her fourth straight win, the most recent over the track. She's never raced this far but won at 6 1/2 furlongs so should get the trip and she's a talented filly. As previously pointed out, Ms Meshak finished second in an identical stakes race last out and as she was first and second in her two starts prior to that her 12/1 starting odds are out of line.

Bets: Yes I'll Go and Shanghai Starlet to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.

Consider an additional win bet, for a smaller amount than on Yes I'll Go and Shanghai Starlet, on any of the other four – Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak, preferably just the one that goes to post at the highest odds, at 4 to 1 odds or higher.

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

Exacta: Yes I'll Go and Shanghai Starlet over Yes I'll Go, Shanghai Starlet, Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak.

Optionally, play the reverse of that exacta, which is Yes I'll Go, Shanghai Starlet, Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak over Yes I'll Go and Shanghai Starlet.

Doubles: Yes I'll Go, Shanghai Starlet, Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak in Race 9 with He'll Do, Mega Bucks, Lucky Mike and Stirling Drive in Race 10.

Also Yes I'll Go, Shanghai Starlet, Oola Gal, Starship Bonita, Heiressall and Ms Meshak in Race 9 with He'll Do and Mega Bucks in Race 10.

Juvenile Turf Stakes - Race 10 at Gulfstream Park West - Post Time 4:36 PM Eastern

He'll Do took to turf like a duck takes to water last month when trying grass for the first time in his second career start. He led from start to finish because no one wanted the lead but the slow fractions and pace figures, particularly his final quarter, tell me he can run just as well from off the pace. Keibar Coa rode him last out and rides back for the Proctor Stable and the colt goes from "Open" (not restricted) company to Florida breds only so it's really not a raise in class as this nine horse field is composed of FOUR horses which are still maidens and three others who have won just once the same as he has. Likely to improve nicely off his second career start, first on turf and first around two turns, He'll Do will do nicely as a win bet as he opens at 4 to 1.

Mega Bucks is the other horse with the bulk of the probability to win, opening at 3 to1 but NOT the favorite as that will be Stirling Drive. Mega Bucks, like He'll Do, ran awful in his debut on dirt but ran HUGE when trying turf for the first time as he missed by a neck on the wire. Rested seven weeks, Mega Bucks returned on 10/27 and rallied from 8th in a very mature fashion to win by a neck on the wire. With the rail to save ground and with Zayas riding back after being up for the first time in victory last month, over this course, Mega Bucks just needs to find a place to run in the stretch and he may be passing them all for the score.

Lucky Mike (12/1 morning line) and Stirling Drive (2/1 morning line) are the other horses which can win or finish second. Lucky Mike finished fast from 10th to 4th, beaten just a length and one-half, in the race Mega Bucks won on 10/27. Although he's a maiden facing winners he should be good for a share at the least so has to be used on exacta tickets we play and we must bet at least a couple of bucks on him to win so we don't kick ourselves later should he post the upset. Stirling Drive can win but shouldn't open at 2 to 1. He ran exactly the same, no better, than He'll Do and Mega Bucks when winning his 2nd career start, first on grass, in September, then he finished third in an "open" stakes race at the end of the same month. However, although he did have some traffic trouble early in an allowance race over the course on 10/25, there was still no excuse for his 4th place finish and there's no telling if he will improve or regress in this situation.

Bets: He'll Do and Mega Bucks to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.

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

Exactas: Box He'll Do, Mega Bucks, Lucky Mike and Stirling Drive. 

Friday, 19 October 2018 08:16

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 20

Maid of the Mist Stakes – Race 7 at Belmont - Post Time 3:42 PM ET

Today is Empire Showcase day at Belmont and most of the state bred races are ho-hum affairs consisting of horses who take turns beating one another. Not so for the stakes for two year olds, this one for fillies and the Sleepy Hollow Stakes (Race 8) for males. This race features a field of 12, all running a one-turn mile for the first time, and there are some shots to take with horses who may be coming in under the radar of most bettors.


Kept True ran the FASTEST of any of these when earning an 87 Equibase Figure in her debut, drawing off by a couple of lengths after showing a lot of maturity when stalking in fourth early and rallying in spite of being bumped at the 3/16 mark. Maragh rides back and she gets a similar outside post to go along with logical improvement physically and mentally off the debut. She opens at 6/1, more than a square price because if we assume most young horses improve at the same rate she still the fastest of this bunch. Sadie Lady opens at twice the odds of Kept True, 12/1, in spite of John Velazquez riding and a strong win last month in her debut when leading from start to finish. She adds Lasix for this race and may have the inside speed to get the lead again and get comfortable, making her tough to catch once more. The 80 debut figure was decent enough that if improved upon she can post the upset. Cartwheelin Lulu opens as the 7 to 2 morning line favorite on the strength of two wins including in a similar stakes for NY breds last month. That win was earned leading from start to finish and earned an 81 figure on par with Sadie Lady but we must note Cartwheelin Lulu earned a 68 figure first time out, so if Sadie Lady similarly improves 13 points she can win and if Kept True improves 10 or more points (even if the others do as well) she's the one to beat. Time Warp opens at hard to ignore 15 to 1 odds because she finished fifth in her last two races. However, a case can be made to ignore those two races and look to her effort three back as representative of what she's capable of. Last out in a two-turn race at Keeneland against open (not state bred) company, she led early and tired late and before that she broke through the gate before the race and was still allowed to run even though she may have expended too much energy before the gates open. Three back, at 7 furlongs, Time Warp stalked in second early and won easily and although she only earned a 70 figure it's very difficult to ignore a McPeek starter in a NY state bred race, a level at which the trained has had a good deal of success.


For exactas we'll also use She's Trouble and Elegant Zip, the fourth and third finishers in the stakes won by Cartwheelin Lulu last month.


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

For a smaller amount, Sadie Lady and Time Warp to win at 7 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at odds of 5 to 1 or more.


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

Exacta (recommendation 1 – two bets): Kept True over Sadie Lady, Time Warp, Cartwheelin Lulu, She's Trouble and Elegant Zip. Also play the reverse of the above exacta, which is Sadie Lady, Time Warp, Cartwheelin Lulu, She's Trouble and Elegant Zip over Kept True.

Exacta (recommendation 2): Kept True, Sadie Lady, Time Warp and Cartwheelin Lulu over Kept True, Sadie Lady, Time Warp, Cartwheelin Lulu, She's Trouble and Elegant Zip

Doubles: Kept True, Sadie Lady, Time Warp and Cartwheelin Lulu in Race 7 with Poppy's Destiny, Strive for a Cure, Albie, La Fuerza and True Gold in Race 8.


Sleepy Hollow Stakes – Race 8 at Belmont Park - Post Time 4:15 PM Eastern

Albie ran very well in his debut, not only because he won in a route, and on turf, without a prep first, but because he did so with a lot of maturity as he stalked the pacesetter in second then took over with an eighth of a mile to go and drew off a bit. The 92 Equibase figure is the best last race figure in the field and since it was his debut we can expect even better. I have no concern about him running as well on dirt as his dam (a Thunder Gulch mare) has produced dirt route winners and trainer Dilger is off to a very good start at the meeting, with a 4-1-2 record from 11 starts at the meeting and a very strong 12 for 60 record on the year. He opens at 12/1 which is way too high to ignore for a legitimate win contender. True Gold must draw into the race from the also-eligible list but if he does he's got a nice shot as he followed morning line favorite Dugout around the track in second in the similar NY Breeders' Futurity Stakes last month. Dugout won't be able to lead from start to finish as he did last out as there are AT LEAST four, possibly six, other horses with having the lead from the opening bell on their minds. Before that race, True Gold finished very well from sixth to miss by a nose and if he gets into the race we can expect that kind of closing kick and improvement off the 88 figure earned in that race which may be good enough to win. Strive for a Cure shipped in to NY from trainer Capuano's base in Maryland to win with a big rally from eighth last month in his debut then shipped back out for three drills. He ships back in and can improve a lot off the 76 figure effort with a fast pace in his favor so opening at 15/1 he must not be ignored. Poppy's Destiny finished second to a six length runaway winner in the Bongard Stakes last month after winning his debut and he's another who could be passing many here in the late stages. La Fuerza was third in the NY Breeders' Futurity, less than two lengths behind runner-up True Gold. He won the first two starts of his career in June and July including a NY Bred stakes race then won another on 9/8 before the Futurity so his 8/1 morning line makes him hard to ignore, particularly with John V riding for Pletcher.

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

If True Gold draws in, a win bet at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

For smaller amounts, win and place bets on Strive for a Cure at 5 to 1 or more.

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

Exacta: Box Poppy's Destiny, Strive for a Cure, Albie, La Fuerza and True Gold.

Exacta (option 2): Albie over ALL and (the reverse) ALL over Albie.

"IF" True Gold draws into the race, I plan on expanding the above to Albie and True Gold over ALL and (the reverse) ALL over Albie and True Gold.

Race 8 at Keeneland - Post Time 4:57 PM ET (with Doubles to Race 8–The Raven Run Stakes)

Superiority Complex fits the NW2X allowance conditions perfectly as she won her U.S. debut in August on turf at Arlington Park at the one lower NW1X level. Although not disgraced after that when 4th in a non-graded stakes at Woodbine on the all-weather surface, for the most part that race is irrelevant and it's the 8/18 effort which is the one to take note of and to predict improvement from. That effort earned a solid 99 Equibase figure, better than the 95 figure 2/1 morning line favorite Peru earned in her most recent start, also a win, and since Superioritycomplex was successful at 10 furlongs in Europe and is bred to run all day and then some (by Hard Spun out of a Galileo mare) there are no doubts if she improves or repeats that 8/18 effort she can win in an upset, opening at 10/1. Shezaprado won at a mile and five-sixteenth at Kentucky Downs on 9/6 then ran in the $360K Ramsey Farm Stakes and although overmatched finished to split the 10 horse field. Gaffalione rode her in both and rides back and the filly should be making a strong late run here as she goes for her 6th career win in her 18th career race on turf, just one behind the favorite Peru. Peru can't be discounted as a win contender but will be overbet like she was last month when winning at 4 to 5. That win came in a starter allowance race and prior to that she won at this level but was in for the optional claiming price of $62,500 that day, which leaves her eligible to run at the condition again. Jose Ortiz was up for the last win and rides back and except for being a poor win bet she must be considered a contender for all wagers involving this race.

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

For a smaller amount, Shezaprado to win at 3 to 1 or higher.

Exacta: Box Superioritycomplex, Shezaprado and Peru.

Exacta: Superioritycomplex over ALL and also (the reverse) ALL over Superioritycomplex.

Doubles: Superioritycomplex, Shezaprado and Peru in Race 8 with Alter Moon, Chauncey and Moonshine Memories in Race 9.

Doubles: Superioritycomplex, Shezaprado and Peru in race 8 with Alter Moon, Chauncey, Moonshine Memories, Divine Queen, Shamrock Rose and Nootka Sound in Race 9.

Race 12 at Woodbine - Post Time 6:45 PM ET

Salieri won an identical race at the first allowance level and 7 furlong trip on the main track on 8/25 but was disqualified because, when full of run and blocked, he bulled his way through horses. He was 7/2 that day but opens at 10/1 here and his two race since are considered completely irrelevant as both were on turf. Back on the main track if he can run back to the 8/25 effort and rock solid 96 Equibase figure he can post the upset. Chiricahua Signal also moves back to the main track after an irrelevant turf try, having won three back although at a lower level but with a 94 figure under Kimura, who rides back. Trainer Ensom is having a huge meeting with 65 first or second place finishes from 163 starts and the gelding can be competitive with his best effort. Blu Without You is a nice longshot play opening at 20/1 as the Fairlie barn has been stealthy and quietly posting a good number of upsets at the meeting. The horse just won by four lengths at the 7 furlong trip and although it was a claiming race, because he also won his last race at 7 furlongs on the main track in July his chances can't be discounted here. He broke his maiden in straight maiden company in the summer of 2016 at the trip then was off for 21 months but has a lot of potential to outrun high odds.


Bets: Salieri to win at 7 to 2 or higher, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more. The same for Chiricahua Signal (who also opens at 10/1). For a smaller amount and so as not to be kicking ourselves after the race, Blu Without You can be bet for a least a few bucks to win and place at 5 to 1 or more.

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

Exacta: Salieri, Chiricahua Signal and Blue Without You over Salieri, Chiricahua Signal, Blue Without You, Magical Man, Malibu Secret, Cash Dividend and Waldorf.

Thursday, 26 July 2018 20:14

A Better Way

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July 26, 2018

A Better Way

By: Jonathan Stettin

Too often the Sport of Kings has questions with no answers. On better days we have more questions than we do answers. That’s usually not a good place to be. Today I’ll talk about an ongoing problem and source of frustration, but I will also suggest a solution albeit not an original one. Nobody here is looking for credit, just a viable solution.

I love International Racing. The more I learn about it and study it, the more fond of it I grow. I have always liked it, but don’t think I truly appreciated it until I accepted the evolution of racing here in the US for what it has become.

I love the large fields. I love the big spreads in the odds. I love that they run not only uphill but downhill as well. I love that they run the wrong way and that sometimes they just go straight. I love that you get the odds at which you wagered. I love that they primarily train in their own yards. I love that they run with no race day medications, including Lasix, and for the most part it doesn’t reduce the field size. I love that they breed and train for stamina and not all speed, speed, speed. I love the competitiveness, wagering opportunities, atmosphere and almost everything else.

What l love most is how they deal with inquiries, fouls, and disqualifications. Who among us has not been frustrated by a disqualification they felt was unjust? Who has not witnessed blatant inconsistencies with no acceptable or plausible explanation? Who has not wanted to scream at another, who thought the foul didn’t cost the other horse a “chance” at a better placing? I have written about so many poor decisions and rulings over the years it has grown tiresome. I’ve seen way too many people reduce their handle and stop playing certain racetracks, because of mostly inconsistent rulings, but just plain bad and wrong ones also.

World class rider Frankie Dettori will be missing some very important and significant mounts at Goodwood this weekend. He won’t be riding Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup or Without Parole in the Quatar Sussex Stakes. He also won’t be riding Coronet in a Group 1 at Ascot. Dettori rode Angel’s Hideaway for John Gosden to a second place finish to Pretty Pollyanna in the Dutchess of Cambridge Stakes recently.

Here is how the ruling went down at a hearing;

The filly caused interference by moving to her right, pushing Main Edition on to La Pelosa.

BHA disciplinary panel chairman David Fish said: "The basis of our finding is he didn't take corrective action sufficiently quickly. We take the view he had sufficient time to take preventative action before he actually did.”

"We take the view considerable interference was caused to two horses, in particular the ones ridden by Mr. Doyle (Main Edition) and Mr. Buick (La Pelosa). We take into account the period over which this careless riding occurred.”

Clearly in the US this would have likely resulted in a disqualification from second place to at least fourth for Angel’s Hideaway. Bettors who needed her for second would be out of luck. They would be penalized for picking the right horse and betting it correctly, when they in fact did nothing wrong. Does anyone see a problem with that? Bettors put up their money, only to have people not putting up money make decisions regarding theirs. Expletive expletive! That doesn’t really work for me and I have seen way too many preposterous calls to trust the right call will be made.

In Europe and Japan, they have a different philosophy. They go hard at the rider with fines and suspensions. They don’t automatically allow a rider to ride in important stakes while on suspension. They will take away a purse, but rarely a winning ticket. The bettor is valued and protected, and this system results in far less inquiries and careless riding incidents. It reminds me of when NYRA stewards would look at gate fouls, herding and incidents hard, and disqualify a horse when warranted. There was less herding out of the gate. The horses and their tendencies have not changed.

It may not be perfect, as there will be times you are cost a placing by a horse that does not get disqualified. We all know that is frustrating, but I think in light of the wild nonsensical and inconsistent rulings we have seen in the last 10 years or so, it just may be the better way to go. I will take objectivity as opposed to subjectivity every time.

Thursday, 19 July 2018 17:21

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

Friday, 22 June 2018 13:05

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 23

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

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


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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

Play the opposite of that exacta as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 01 June 2018 12:10

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Box Encumbered, Hawkish and Maraud

Saturday, 26 May 2018 13:32

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.


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.


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.


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.

Friday, 18 May 2018 12:00

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.

Thursday, 10 May 2018 13:28

Betting It Right 101

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo



May 10, 2018

Betting It Right 101

By: Jonathan Stettin

Last Saturday we saw a memorable and historic Kentucky Derby. Justify went in not only as the favorite, but also as one of the most hyped horses in recent memory. In addition to winning one of the toughest races to capture, he had to take down the dreaded Apollo curse which dated back to the 1800’s. Justify delivered on all fronts, and as I have written for the past few years, all the so-called Kentucky Derby rules and do’s and don’ts mean absolutely nothing. They all go down, and none should influence your wagering strategies.

I always say there is NO VALUE IN A LOSING bet. Despite this being a factual statement, many people claimed they liked Justify, but wouldn’t bet the favorite. I apologize for being redundant, as I have also said this for years, but there is always value to be had on the first Saturday in May, regardless of who you like and who wins. If you like the chalk or a bomb, if you are right and bet smart, you will get paid.

Betting smart, or money management, is as important to success in this game as handicapping. I know plenty of good handicappers who are terrible bettors and thus have almost no chance of beating the game. Ticket structuring falls under the smart betting or money management heading. I did see a lot of great plays and expertly structured tickets on the Derby Saturday, and even though the favorite won, all these people were handsomely rewarded. They were not scared or run off from their choice because he happened to be favored, and I’d wager most of these people would have bet a longshot had that been where they landed the same way. The fiddle is out for all the players who “liked Justify but wouldn’t take 3-1.” You don’t get paid betting against your opinion.

The superfecta in the Kentucky Derby is almost always a great bet. The large field and lack of the 10-cent minimum practically guarantee with the large pool you will get paid if you’re right. People have a tendency to get lured into the multi-race wagers, but on Derby day the superfecta is a smart play.

I have a way I approach the superfecta. I like to turn the superfecta into an exacta. Let’s say I like the #1 to win the race. I will look at the horses I think can or are likely to run second and I will play the superfecta accordingly. If the horses I like for second are the say #2, #3, and #4, I’ll play 1 with 2,3,4 with all with all. This assures me that if I am right about the exacta, I am absolutely hitting the superfecta. Additionally, it affords the opportunity of having a very high-priced bomb crash the number in the third or fourth slot. I am talking the type of horse it would be extremely difficult to get to handicapping alone. You don’t need many of these to really turn a day or meet around.

If you think about it logically, can you really handicap who will run third or fourth? Racing is difficult when everyone is all in, but in the third or fourth slots, you have riders easing up, tired horse pulling up, horses running on past tiring ones and many other intangibles making for, shall we say, some fluky results. I like to eliminate that risk and as aforementioned turn it into an exacta. As a kill-shot player, I will usually only use my horse in the win slot, and usually also play the exacta and triple the same way. If I’m right, I get it all. On occasion, when the situation warrants, I might also use my horse in the second or third slot in the supers, but generally that is when the horse is a very generous price.

On some occasions, I may take a horse or two out of the all slot. This is dangerous, and I realize it can sting once in a while, but if a horse or two just look like a waste of resources to include, I will gamble and cut them off the play.

For the sake of discussion let’s say Justify waltzes to Maryland to face a small field he seems to have overmatched. You handicap the race and you feel he is the winner. Your dilemma is he is 1-5 or thereabouts. Many, when faced with this scenario, will bet a higher priced horse just because they are a higher price. I don’t bet against my opinion. My options would be to pass, or to create some value. I might bet a cold exacta, or if the other races in any multi race sequences have vulnerable favorites, go after them with my horse singled. This all goes back to money management. I think, fundamentally you don’t bet against who you think the winner is.

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