Friday, 16 August 2019 14:06

Free, Pay, Play or Go Away

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


August 16, 2019

Free, Pay, Play or Go Away

By: Jonathan Stettin

There has been a lot of talk recently about the cost of past performances and all the handicapping information available to bettors. Most of the information is based on past performances, which are usually provided by Equibase. Equibase is owned by the Jockey Club. There is a hint of a conflict here, in my opinion. One of the functions of the Jockey Club should be to promote the sport of horse racing. It would be a tough sell to try and say promoting the sport should not include at the least basic past performances being made available to bettors free of charge.
In sports betting basic statistics are readily available and free. In poker, there are all kinds of free information available on any type of hand you may draw. The basic information needed to make a somewhat informed decision differs from more tailored and pinpoint type of information. For example, basic past performances from the Daily Racing Form are one thing. Formulator is something entirely different. Formulator provides a lot of customizable options, and that is something even a bettor can expect to pay for.
The issue goes even deeper. Entries and results being dissimulated have been restricted at times to entities paying for that information which is readily available. I think any reasonable person would want to see any company that serves their industry make a profit, but there comes the point where bettors and the good and growth of the game should come into play. If we continue to alienate and drive both bettor/customers away in addition to entities trying to promote or break into the game, there eventually will be no game. Everybody loses in that scenario. Well almost everybody, maybe not PETA.
At some point racing shot callers are going to have to quit the seminars and round tables and get on the same page. Without a central governing body and a Commissioner that seems next to impossible. Implementing an organization and finding individuals to fill the roles will be harder than staggering post times of stake races. It’s a huge long-shot we could ever get that done.
Racing likes to boost on just about every big day and following every “big” meet that the all sources handle was broken. As far as I know, these figures are thrown out there and not subject to any audit I have ever heard or read about. Assuming they are accurate, it doesn’t paint a true picture. Inflation is growing faster than any handle increase we can boast about, and any article or figures I have ever reviewed on the subject shows our numbers are down considerably when inflation is factored. Who are we misleading and why?
Racing has operated as if they are the only game in town for so long, and have taken not only the bettors their customers, but all participants for granted so long I am not even sure they realize it anymore. Look at the recent case of Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. He was banned by four racetracks without even being given a hearing or any due process whatsoever. I am not sure a form reason has ever been provided to anyone, Hollendorfer included. We were told he had a number of breakdowns at a specific meet. Nobody mentioned for a few years prior to that he had none. Now I am not saying or opining on his situation beyond stating the obvious. Why he was banned is a mystery to the masses, and there was no due process. The Hall of Famer filed for an injunction in an outside court, and it was granted. That should tell the industry something.
These issues, while all problematic along with inconsistencies, takeout, and drugs both illegal and otherwise, pale in comparison to our slaughter and aftercare issues. We are an industry plagued with problems and operating like a ship in the ocean with no rudder. This falls on all the shot callers who want more than their current paychecks but the guaranteed continuance of the Sport of Kings and maybe even a return to its glorious history. I know, it’s is a bet against.
If in the near future we do not develop a systematic way to identify, and more importantly correct, all the issues the game faces what we see now as a crossroads is going to look like the good old days when we still had racing.

Friday, 16 August 2019 12:49

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, August 17

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Del Mar Handicap - Race 7 at Saratoga- Post Time 8 PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific

Oscar Dominguez was 5 to 2 at post time in his most recent start, in June in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Stakes at one mile and three-quarters on turf. He ran very well as he was three paths wide at multiple points in the race and he closed creditably from eight back early to be beaten a half-length at the wire when second. Oscar Dominguez won at nine furlongs on grass prior to that, that race his second following nearly three months off and second since Baltas claimed him, with none of the three races since the claim races in which the horse could be claimed. This goes to how this top trainer feels about the gelding, which is important because he has a MUCH bigger chance to win then is suggested by his 12/1 opening odds here. Nearly one year ago to the day, Oscar Dominguez made a big move from seventh to lead in the stretch at this 11 furlong grass trip at Del Mar, run down late by Marckie’s Water but clearly second at 3 to 1 odds. Marckie’s Water went on to win the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham in May for Baltas, who apparently remembered how well Oscar Dominguez ran when deciding to claim in February. Now with two “A” races in a row under his belt, reunited with Talamo, who rode him to a win last October, and with the ground saving rail, Oscar Dominguez is a top contender in this race.

Ritzy A.P. also opens at high 12/1 odds and has something in common with Oscar Dominguez in that he was a head behind Marckie’s Water when third in the Grade 2 Eddie Read Stakes over the course last month. He missed by a half-length off a long nine month layoff before that and his third off the layoff effort could be a big effort.

Marckie’s Water has no knocks as he’s one-for-one at this 11 furlong turf trip and a Grade 2 stakes winner on turf. Pereira has ridden in three straight to two wins and the runner-up effort last month in the Eddie Read and the horse could easily win for the seventh time in his 18th career turf race.

We have value trying multiple exacta combinations because two of the three main contenders open at double digit odds so we will include United, The Great Day and Itsinthepost on some exacta tickets as well as on pick 3 tickets we play.

Bets: Both Oscar Dominguez and Ritzy A.P. to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more. “IF” Marckie’s Water is near 3 to 1 at post time I wouldn’t hesitate making a win bet on him as well.

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

Exacta Boxes:
Oscar Dominguez, Ritzy A.P., Marckie’s Water and The Great Day.
Oscar Dominguez, Ritzy A.P., Marckie’s Water and Itsinthepost.
Oscar Dominguez, Ritzy A.P., Marckie’s Water and United

Doubles: Oscar Dominguez, Ritzy A.P. and Marckie’s Water in Race 7 with Into Chocolate, Classic Fit and Hollywood Hills in Race 8.

Torrey Pines Stakes – Race 8 at Del Mar - Post Time 8:30 PM Eastern, 5:30 Pacific

With a hot early pace expected courtesy of Kim K, Colonel Creed, Sneaking Out and Fighting Mad, all who have only shown a tendency to want to be in front and all who are drawn outside and will have to go fast to clear each other as well as the inside horses, Into Chocolate can get it done even if she is bet down below a ridiculous 12/1 morning line. She has improved in each of her last two starts, both at this mile trip, following her sprint debut, from 77 to 86 to a 99 Equibase figure and even though second last out that figure is second only to Fighting Mad as the best in the field, with that one’s figure earned in a sprint. Smith stays on and blinkers go on because in the stretch last out Into Chocolate didn’t pass after rallying on the turn. Those changes and the rail which allows her to sit tight in fourth early as the speedballs duel should help get her home on top here.

Classic Fit has done little wrong in five races, winning three times in a row before a runner-up effort in the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont. That was a ONE TURN race but she did win around two turns twice before that. The problem is the Mother Goose was a low rated race which only earned Classic Fit a 79 figure which gets her nothing here if repeated. However she had been off for six months before that so I expect her to improve.

Hollywood Hills won the seven furlong Fleet Treet Stakes for Cal-breds over the track last month, a career-best effort. She can get the extra furlong and loves to win, leading the field with a 6-for-12 career mark. Leparoux is in to ride other stakes and takes the call and the jock fits her closing style so opening at 12/1 we must consider her a contender.

Bets: Into Chocolate to win at odds of 3/1, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.
For a slightly smaller amount, Hollywood Hills to win at 5 to 1, adding a place bet at 7 to 1 or more.

Exactas: Box Into Chocolate, Classic Fit and Hollywood Hills.
Into Chocolate, Classic Fit and Hollywood Hills over ALL (because one of the pacesetters could hold on for second).

Del Mar Oaks - Race 9 at Del Mar - Post Time 9 PM Eastern, 6 Pacific

Hidden Message gets the slightest preference in a race in which nearly every one of the can win. Leading jockey Prat picks this filly making her U.S. debut and for good reason as she may have a class edge on these. She finished fourth, beaten a neck for third in the Group 3 Prix de Sandringham Stakes in June then she won a stakes race last month. She gets Lasix and has a mean kick and appears ready to run as well here as she did in Europe, which means she is likely better than any of these as those European fillies are much further along at this time of year.

Cambier Parc is the best of the rest as she’s one of two shipping in from New York for Brown with the other being Dogtag. Cambier Parc has won ALL three turf races she’s been in when the top three year old turf filly in the country, Concrete Rose, hasn’t been in the race. She got the last eighth of a mile in the Wonder Again Stakes on June 6 in 11 seconds, which is flying, so expect a big finish from this gal.

Both Hard Legacy and Maxim Rate have starting odds completely out of line with their probability to win in my opinion, with Mucho Unusual about the right odds (5/1) for her chances of success. Hard Legacy won a graded stakes at this nine furlong trip, the Regret Stakes, when last seen two months ago and Leparoux comes in to ride, giving up a whole day of mounts in New York. Hard Legacy won the first two starts of her career as well, both turf routes, so getting back into winning form after a couple of defeats following those first wins signals another big race could be forthcoming. Maxim Rate won the Senorita Stakes in May after coming up a nose shy at this nine furlong trip in the Providencia Stakes in April. She didn’t run as well in the Honeymoon (won by Lady Prancealot) but rallied pretty nicely at a mile in the San Clemente Stakes last month and could be putting in a nice late run at double digit odds. Mucho Unusual rallied from last of 10 under Smith to win the San Clemente, her third straight victory, and figures to be a factor once again.

Apache Princess, Dogtag, Lady Prancealot and Out of Balance have a look at the outcome as well in a wide open race.

Bets: This is where paying attention to the odds, and using a dutching tool, can come in especially handy. Hidden Message gets first preference for win bets at 5 to 2 or higher, with Cambier Parc playable to win at the same level but that’s unlikely as she may be bet heavily.

Hard Legacy, Maxim Rate and Mucho Unusual can be played for lesser amounts if 9 to 2 or higher, adding a place bet on any of them at 7 to 1 or more.

Exacta: Probably just for $1, Box Hidden Message, Cambier Parc, Hard Legacy, Maxim Rate and Mucho Unusual.

Doubles: ALL in race 9 with Campaign in race 10.
Hidden Message, Cambier Parc, Hard Legacy, Maxim Rate and Mucho Unusual in race 9 with Quip and Seeking the Soul in race 10.

Pacific Classic - Race 10 at Del Mar - Post Time 9:30 PM Eastern, 6:30 Pacific

Campaign is a lightly raced four year old who knows how to win, with five victories in 10 starts. Having shifted to the barn of top trainer John Sadler prior to his first start of 2019 in February, Campaign won that race with a stirring rally from ninth. He then stepped up in class to compete in the Santa Anita Handicap where he was not disgraced checking in fourth. Just eight days later on April 14, Campaign won the Tokyo City Stakes before shipping to New York to miss by a total of three-quarters of a length in a four horse blanket finish in the Brooklyn Handicap. Returning to his home base in southern California, Campaign won the Cougar II Handicap over the track last month in his most recent race. Those last four efforts earned strong Equibase figures of 110, 112, 109 and 111 which are as good as the 109 figure Seeking the Soul earned winning the Stephen Foster Stakes in June which will likely be one of the reasons Seeking the Soul is favored by the public to win this race. Cutting back from 12 furlongs to 10 furlongs is one factor in Campaign running as well or better in the Pacific Classic as he did in the Cougar. Another is the fact that John Sadler is one of the best trainers on the circuit, if not in North America, in graded stakes dirt routes. A STATS Race Lens query yields over the last five years Sadler has won 28 of 117 starts in these types of races, with 49% of those runners finishing in the money as well. As such, Campaign gets top billing to win this year's Classic.

Quip is another lightly raced horse with tremendous upside potential as we move towards the Breeders' Cup Classic in November. Not only has he won four of nine career starts, we can make cases two of the five he did not win are irrelevant as one was his only try on a sloppy track he did not care for and the other came in a race where he had significant traffic issues. Consistently improving this year from a 100 figure when third in the Hal's Hope Stakes in February, to a 105 figure in the Oaklawn Handicap in April, Quip took another big step forward in the Stephen Foster. Facing the much more accomplished Seeking the Soul, Quip battled head and head for the lead with Tom's d'Etat for most of the early portions of the race then with Seeking the Soul for the length of the stretch before yielding by a neck on the wire. That effort earned a 108 figure and with another logical step forward Quip could turn the tables on Seeking the Soul at the least and very possibly run well enough to win.

Seeking the Soul makes his third start since traveling half way across the world to compete in the Dubai World Cup in March so he could run even better than when winning the Foster in June with a 109 figure. He earned the same figure in January when well beaten but clearly second in the Pegasus World Cup and his best effort came in the fall of 2017 when winning the Clark Handicap with a 117 figure. The one question regarding Seeking the Soul winning the Classic¸ however, is the same one facing nine of the 10 entrants in the race, as only Tenfold has won at the distance.

Honorable mention and consideration for use on exacta tickets must go to Tenfold, Mongolian Groom and Draft Pick. Tenfold won the 2018 Jim Dandy Stakes at nine furlongs with a 108 figure. What followed was a three race losing streak before he won the Pimlico Special at the distance of the Classic in May with a 102 figure. He was ninth in the Foster while never showing a bit of interest but if he rebounds to his Pimlico Special form he can run well. Mongolian Groom and Draft Pick ran well over the track last month in the San Diego Stakes, with winner Catalina Cruiser passing the Classic. Earning 114 and 112 figures, respectively, I can see either or both of these two horses being in the money in the Classic to complete the exacta or trifecta.

Bets: Campaign to win at 2 to 1 or more.
For a slightly smaller amount, Quip to win at 5 to 2 or more.

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

Exacta: Campaign, Quip and Seeking the Soul over Campaign, Quip, Seeking the Soul, Tenfold, Mongolian Groom and Draft Pick.

For half to two-thirds the amount of the exacta above (for example $1 if you play $2 on the combinations above):
Campaign, Quip, Seeking the Soul, Tenfold, Mongolian Groom and Draft Pick over Campaign, Quip and Seeking the Soul.

Friday, 09 August 2019 17:39

Sucker or Skill Game

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


August 9, 2019

Sucker or Skill Game

By: Jonathan Stettin

When it comes to horse racing I have known for quite sometime, the answer is a skill game. I was surprised to learn through a recent conversation on social media that many play the races who do not really feel as I do. More bettors then I'd imagine actually expect to lose annually and continue to play. I really can't get my arms around that. Even if you are playing for fun per se, is the fun not the expectation of winning or at least the possibility of your study and handicapping turning you a profit?
There are two groups in my educated opinion who beat the races. The first would be the player who grinds out a small profit from meet to meet or annually. The second would be the player who actually makes a living playing the races. The latter means their sole or primary income is derived from playing the races, and if they don't win or have a large bankroll to fall back on they are in trouble. Two groups, each a little different but both beating the game in their own respective way.
A point of contention in the aforementioned conversation was what percentage of active bettors actually beat the game by falling into one of the two categories I explained. My best estimation is somewhere between 5 and 10% collectively. To my surprise, there were quite a few people who thought I was outright nuts, which I very well may be but not because of this opinion. These people felt the percentage was 1 or even less than 1 percent. On one hand that's discouraging on many levels; on the other, a personal one, I'm fine with the majority of people playing believing that and I welcome them all into the pools.
What is discouraging about that opinion, and mind you these are opinions as nobody truly knows the percentage of winning players, is that so many people play thinking they will likely not win. I usually feel I have a pretty good chance of winning every bet I make or frankly I won't make it. Do I win them all, of course not, but if I thought I had a 1 percent chance or less I'd stay home.
For many years I played the races for a living. The game was different then but not really a whole lot easier. During that time, I was going to the track daily. I knew the few other players there who also beat the game and played for a living. I do not know all the grinders as they were a bit more under the radar. There were maybe three or four making a living at my home track back then. Maybe one or two, I did not know. Today I still know three or four people making a living betting the races. This makes me comfortable with my 5-10% estimate.
What a lot of people do not realize about playing professionally, and I think you truly must grasp this before opining on any percentage is that it is a full-time job. It takes as many hours per week as owning a business and more than a 9-5. Most don't have that discipline or dedication. It is an unconventional lifestyle — no car loans. Cash only. Try putting down professional gambler on an auto loan application and see how that goes. Mortgage, not a conventional one anyway. Relationships, good luck when Friday night is your study night and Saturday you are exhausted after the California races end. Oh yeah, Sunday is a race day.
These types of sacrifices are necessary to have a shot at playing for a living — every week. A day away is a possible missed opportunity you can't afford. Bad runs will leave you stressed about the life you have chosen and how you are going to cover this month's expenses. It is not for the faint of heart. It is however, doable if you have the talent to go with the discipline and dedication. Will everyone who tries, make it? No. But 5-10% just might.
I think we can all agree there are times when the results of a race convince you that it is possible to use those past performances to your benefit. There are probably at least a few races a day on your card of choice that fall into that category. Sure there are always head-scratchers, but on at least some of them, if you dig in enough afterwards, you can at least make sense of them. This equals a skill game to me.
Takeout is a problem. We have to deal with it, and it certainly makes our task tougher. This is where the other talent to go along with your handicapping comes in. You have to find value and structure your wagers properly. These are not the elements of a sucker's game, and if less than 1% are winning, that is exactly what it would be. Glad I don't have to hang up my tack just yet. 

Friday, 09 August 2019 11:15

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, August 10

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Saratoga Special Stakes - Race 8 at Saratoga- Post Time 5:11 PM Eastern

This is a salty group of two year olds with seven of eight having won their most recent start. However, the horse that didn’t win, King Snake, is the most interesting. He was beaten a nose on the wire by Peruvian Boy after opening up by two and one-half lengths in the stretch. That was after he made the lead in a 12 horse field, got headed then drew off. That was also on the polytrack at Arlington Park so that 22.2 first quarter fraction projects as tops in this field. He’s come back to put in a pair of sensational half-mile workouts and he gets leading rider Jose Ortiz. Another reason he may have been beaten last out was he was making his career debut while the winner had a race under his belt to this time around with improvement off the experience, King Snake can win.

Zyramid showed good maturity, also improving off his debut, coming from just off the pace in second early to win last month at Saratoga. Santana rides for Asmussen and this well bred colt has every right to improve and win again. Green Light Go opens as the favorite off a three length win in his debut at Belmont last month. He was flattered when the runner-up came back to win and he put in a sizzling half-mile workout at Saratoga four days ago. He did earn his win leading from start to finish and it appears he won’t be able to get the lead over King Snake here but if he can rate this talented colt will be there at the wire.

Bets: King Snake and Zyramid to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

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

Exacta Box: King Snake, Zyramid and Green Light Go

Doubles: King Snake, Zyramid and Green Light Go in race 8 with Got Stormy and Uni in race 9.

Fourstardave Handicap – Race 9 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:46 PM Eastern

The two females in this group of 10 appear to have a slight edge, not because they get a little break in the weight versus the males, but because they are the best closers in the field and they are the best MILERS in the group. Uni is a perfect 5 for 5 at the trip and Got Stormy is 6 for 10. Got Stormy comes back on six days rest after winning a restricted stakes race at this trip last Saturday. She had been off three months so I’m not concerned about the short turnaround and she won three mile turf stakes in a row last spring and summer, one on three weeks rest and the other on four weeks rest. Casse knows his fillies as trained the phenomenal Tepin so I have little concerns about this gal putting in anything other than an “A” race again and getting the last quarter mile in 22 and change like she did one week ago. She opens at 6 to 1 compared to 5 to 2 for Uni so gets slight preference from a betting perspective.

That being said, Uni ran a sub-22 last quarter in the Perfect Sting Stakes at Belmont last time out at the end of June. That was her fifth straight win, including last year’s De La Rose, the same race Got Stormy won last week. Rosario has been aboard just three times, accounting for her last three starts. One of three from the Brown barn, this mare has done little except win and may do so again in this situation.

March to the Arch proved to some extent his upset win in the Wise Dan Stakes in June was no fluke when rallying fast in the last eighth of a mile in the Forbidden Apple Stakes last month, missing by just over a length with traffic trouble to boot. Opening at 10/1 he makes a nice companion horse to use on exacta and trifecta tickets. Raging Bull does as well but opens at 3 to 1. He added blinkers for the first time when last seen in the Manhattan Stakes on Belmont day but those didn’t help much as he ran evenly in the stretch to end up third. Perhaps the mile and one-quarter was too far and he has won two of four at this mile trip so he deserves some respect. I’ll toss in Hembree and Made You Look for exotics as well, as they finished second and fourth in the Forbidden Apple Stakes last month.

Bets: Got Stormy to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more. “IF” Uni is 2 to 1 or higher near post time she can be bet as well.
I wouldn’t rule out a small win bet on March to the Arch at 5 to 1 or higher.

Exactas: Uni and Got Stormy over Uni, Got Stormy, Raging Bull and March to the Arch
Uni and Got Stormy over Uni, Got Stormy, Hembree, Made You Look, Raging Bull and March to the Arch

Best Pal Stakes - Race 8 at Del Mar - Post Time 8:30 PM Eastern

Similar to the Saratoga Special, this is a very strong group of maturing two year olds but I think one of the favorites is vulnerable if not false and that opens the race up for making profit. The vulnerable favorite is Fore Left, who opens at 5 to 2. He won the Tremont at Belmont two months ago, in wire to wire fashion, and from an outside post it’s not impossible he can do the same thing. Still, I think a few others will leap frog over him in terms of form and certainly if another horse like Thanks Mr. Eidson or We’re Still Here, both wearing blinkers, show early speed, Fore Left may be in a situation he’s not used to.

That’s why I’ll start with Collusion Illusion, who opens at 8 to 1. He showed a ton of maturity in his debut three weeks ago at Del Mar, rallying from fourth in the last eighth of a mile to win by a half-length. The 91 Equibase figure is as good as Fore Left and tied for the best in the field, and as he’s only raced once there’s a lot of room for improvement. Prat gets off him, as well as Wrecking Crew, to stay with Schrodinger, who is a win contender as well, but because of that, even though Talamo is winning at a strong 20% clip at the meeting, this colt could be ignored in the wagering for our benefit.

Wrecking Crew loses Prat but gets Smith and that’s more than fine with me. This horse also showed the maturity of a horse who had raced even though it was his debut as he won his only start, two weeks ago, rallying from third in the early stages. His 82 figure needs improvement but with red hot Miller in his corner and logical second start improvement, particularly opening at 4 to 1, Wrecking Crew must be strongly considered as a win contender.

Schrodinger opens as the 2 to 1 favorite and is fairly legitimate as he too didn’t win leading from start to finish in his maiden breaker at the end of June, his only start. Prat rode him then as now and the 87 figure was solid so he will round out a trio that can win.

Bets: Collusion Illusion and Wrecking Crew to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Exacta: Box Collusion Illusion, Wrecking Crew and Schrodinger.

Doubles: Collusion Illusion, Wrecking Crew and Schrodinger in race 8 with Rockin Ready, Miss Hot Legs, Hello Bubbles and Flower Point in race 9.

Race 9 at Del Mar - Post Time 9 PM Eastern

We will wrap up this week’s blog with the second half of what could be a profitable double, but the race is playable in and of itself too as it’s a turf sprint with a fairly full field. Flower Point did what is pretty difficult to do and that is win at first asking in a turf sprint, particularly at 5 furlongs. In that debut in April at Santa Anita, she rallied from ninth of 10, still fifth at the top of the stretch, and won by a half-length. She was no secret that day as she went to post as the favorite. Stretching out to a mile, Flower Point bombed badly next time out as she finished a poor seventh, beaten nearly twenty lengths. Then, returning to this sprint trip, she rallied from 11th to miss third by a neck and the win by another length. Now, Smith gets on for the first time and this field is so heavily laden with “early” pace types she should be able to repeat her debut win.

Also likely to benefit from a speed duel between as many as five of the others, Miss Hot Legs rallied for second in her debut in a turf sprint at this distance then won at the trip one month later. At this allowance level last month off the win, she made a middle move from fifth to second then ran evenly and ended up third. With the pace hotter than in her last start, Miss Hot Legs will find herself farther back than in any of her three races to date, but that may be to her benefit as she can begin picking tiring horse off one-by-one to get into the thick of the action late.

Rockin Ready, or her connections, don’t know whether she likes two turns or one turn, as she’s raced in four routes and four sprints to date. Her sprints have been excellent although she’s winless, but she did miss by a nose in two of them and with Prat getting on for the first time she could be there at the wire with the other contenders. Hello Bubbles also has eight career starts, her best effort coming in a downhill sprint on the turf at Santa Anita in March in which she made up three lengths in the last three-sixteenths of a mile. Van Dyke gets on for the first time and the jockey is holding a sizzling hand at the meet, particularly on turf. Coming into the week Van Dyke was tied with Prat for leading jockey so this gal will round out a quartet which can win or complete the exacta.

Bets: In a race with three of four legitimate win contenders, we can let the odds decide our wagers, betting to win on two of the group which go to post at the highest odds among the four, as follows:
Flower Point and/or Miss Hot Legs at 3 to 1 or more.
Rockin Ready and/or Hello Bubbles at 7 to 2 or more.

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

Exacta Box, Optional Trifecta Box: Flower Point, Miss Hot Legs, Rockin Ready, Hello Bubbles

Friday, 02 August 2019 12:33

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, August 3

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Fasig -Tipton Lure Stakes - Race 7 at Saratoga- Post Time 4:31 PM Eastern

Lukewarm morning line favorite Lucullan (3/1) could be very tough here as he returned from a 14 month layoff last month to win a turf route as if he’d never been away, beating graded stakes winner Noble Indy pretty easily. Saez was up for the first time for the win and we can expect even better second off the layoff for this lightly raced five year old who is four for eight on grass and who missed by a neck to Yoshida (seen later today in the Whitney Stakes) in the fall of 2017 in a stakes on turf at Belmont. The 113 Equibase figure is the best ANY horse in the field has earned, ever, so repeating or improving upon the effort, particularly if no other horse improves markedly, means Lucullan is going to be tough to beat.

That doesn’t make the race unplayable, because for exactas, as well as for a small win bet at decent odds, we have Say the Word, who is an improving four year old dropping out of the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes at the end of June where he ran a respectable third behind Synchrony. Prior to that, Say the Word took blinkers off for the first time and that resulted in a very nice seventh to first rallying win on the Belmont turf. Alvarado was up for both races and rides back. The 106 figure Say the Word earned last out was a career-best and although short of the 113 effort Lucullan put forth there’s potential for it to be improved upon as the horse is in the best form of his life. Considering he opens at 12/1 he has potential to help make a profit.

Projected and Ticonderoga are horses to use on a “b” pick 3 ticket we can start here, as well as in exactas as they do have some chance to run well. Projected finished second in this race last year as the 2 to 1 favorite and drops from Grade 2 stakes. Before that he missed by a head in a stakes similar to this one. Ticonderoga won in March following seven months off then was overmatched in the Grade 1 Turf Classic. Last time out in the Poker Stakes at Belmont he lost nearly all chance at the start when he stumbled but was closing fast late and was beaten under two lengths by the winner.

Bets: Lucullan to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
For a smaller amount, Say the Word to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

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

Lucullan over Say the Word, Projected and Ticonderoga.
For $1 box Say the Word, Projected and Ticonderoga.
For $1 also play Say the Word, Projected and Ticonderoga over Lucullan.

Pick 3: (two tickets)
Race 7 Lucullan
Race 8 ALL seven horses
Race 9 Vino Rosso, McKinzie, Yoshida

Race 7 Lucullan, Say the Word, Projected and Ticonderoga.
Race 8 Covfefe
Race 9 Vino Rosso, McKinzie, Yoshida

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

Although drawing 12 horses, this race quickly boils down to two win contenders in my opinion – Sir Anthony and Silver Dust. Sir Anthony opens at higher odds (5/1) so I’ll start with this tough knocking colt who won four of nine last year including the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at this distance last December. He was zero for three this year before taking the Grade 3 Cornhusker Stakes last month in a career- best tying effort with a 107 Equibase Figure. Cotto was the key as he got back on after four races with other jockeys and had ridden Sir Anthony to a win last November, the only other time he was in the saddle. Sir Anthony does come from far back so will need to avoid trouble but Cotto took him four wide last out and in spite of that the horse did his thing, as he can again today to earn his sixth career win on conventional dirt in his 11th start on the surface.

Silver Dust battled head-and-head the entire length of the stretch last month, coming up a head short of the very tough Pioneer Spirit in a non-graded stakes at Indiana Grand. Earlier this year the gelding proved he belonged in graded stakes by winning the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap and coming up three-quarters of a length short when second in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap. He went off form for one race but the rebound last out shows he will be as tough as nails here and as he’s been first or second in 10 of 21 career races he’s almost a shoe-in for the exacta if he doesn’t win. Note also he worked four furlongs at Churchill Downs on July 26 in preparation for the race, the same date and distance West Virginia Derby favorite Mr. Money worked, who is also trained by Bret Calhoun. It’s pretty likely they worked in company and so Calhoun has potential to get a stakes double on the card.

Bets: Sir Anthony to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more. “IF” Silver Dust is 2 to 1 or higher near post time he can be bet as well.

Since Mr. Money in the West Virginia Derby (Race 8) is a free square in my opinion, we can play a very inexpensive double to make some money.

Double: Sir Anthony and Silver Dust in race 7 with Mr. Money in race 8.

Longines Test Stakes - Race 8 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:06 PM Eastern

Covfefe is the fastest horse in the field on many levels, having zipped 107.6 for six furlongs at Pimlico on Preakness weekend while destroying a good field by eight lengths with gas left in the tank. She faced OLDER fillies last time out and was beaten three-quarters of a length and now returns to her own age group ready to rumble with a scintillating 1:11 six furlong workout on 7/19 followed by a half-mile in 47.8. She has earned all three wins leading from start to finish, the same as the last four wins for Serengeti Empress, who is drawn inside, and the same for Please Flatter Me, but Please Flatter Me was the one eight lengths behind Covfefe in the Miss Preakness Stakes in May and with Serengeti Empress coming out of longer races, even with fast workouts, I think it’s pretty probable Covfefe runs the rest off their feet early and duplicates her big win.

With that in mind and with Covfefe opening at 5 to 2 the question is how to make money in the race. The morning line favorite is Bellafina, not seen since finishing fifth in the Kentucky Oaks. She has won at seven furlongs, that win coming in January with a 102 figure which wouldn’t hold a candle to Covfefe if both repeated their best efforts to date, and she may be prepping for two turns where she won the Santa Anita Oaks in April so may not be asked 100% if push comes to shove. If Bellafina ends up as the favorite, then a win bet on Covfefe at her 5 to 2 morning line odds is an overlay win bet in my opinion. Otherwise, we have the pick 3’s we started in the last race and the pick 3 we can start here to make some profit with her winning, and in case she doesn’t win, if Lucullan won the last race we can sit back and root for the longest shot on the board to win since we played “ALL” on one ticket in this leg of the pick 3.

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

Pick 3:
Race 8 Covfefe
Race 9 Vino Rosso, McKinzie, Yoshida
Race 10 Desert Isle, Got Stormy, Capla Temptress
(Optionally, use “ALL” in the 10th race)

Whitney Stakes - Race 9 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:46 PM Eastern

I think Yoshida (JPN) can post the upset win just as he did last year when victorious in the Woodward Stakes over the track. That was his first start on dirt in his 11th career start and it was a thing of beauty as he rallied from 10th of 15 to earn a career-best 116 Equibase figure. Two months later in the Breeders' Cup Classic, Yoshida put in another big rally as he was 13th of 14 with a quarter mile to go, but the rally fell just a bit short as he finished fourth, a neck from Thunder Snow and two lengths from the winner. The key here is the jockey change to Joel Rosario, who had never ridden the horse prior to the Woodward last year and who has not ridden the horse in four races since then. Mott has the horse ready to run big in my opinion and in his second start off the return from Dubai I feel Yoshida can repeat his effort at Saratoga last year and earn a trip to the Classic for the second year in a row.

McKinzie is a tough competitor who has only finished worse than second one time in 11 races, that poor effort coming in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic. Since then, McKinzie has won the Malibu Stakes and the Alysheba Stakes while placing in three other graded stakes, most recently in the Metropolitan Mile with a 117 figure. That effort in the Met Mile came in spite of traffic trouble and I believe he might have won without the issues he encountered. Smith usually doesn’t make the same mistake twice so McKinzie should be considered a very strong contender to win the Whitney, albeit at short odds.

Vino Rosso is an improving four year old who tied his career-best 114 figure winning the Gold Cup at Santa Anita at the end of May. Not seen since then, Vino Rosso has been in steady training for this race at Saratoga. Winner of the 2018 Wood Memorial Stakes at the distance of the Whitney, Vino Rosso may only need to step up his game the slightest bit to be very competitive in this race, which is certainly possible as he's a four year old and still not fully mature.

Thunder Snow does not have the probability to win, in my opinion, of the three previously mentioned horses, but he could easily run well enough to be part of the exacta or trifecta as he's been in his last five races. Thunder Snow missed by a head last fall in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and in his most recent race, following this year's World Cup win, he finished third in the Met Mile, beaten a neck by McKinzie with the same 117 figure.

For the exacta I’ll throw in Monongahela for second as an improving type coming off one of the best efforts of his career when winning the Iselin Stakes at Monmouth in June. I’ll take a stand against Preservationist, who I adored last time out, because this is a much tougher group and his career best 110 figure doesn’t figure to be improved upon and isn’t good enough to beat either of the three win contenders.

Bets: Yoshida to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.
A smaller win bet on Vino Rosso is warranted at 7 to 2 or more.

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

Exacta: Yoshida, McKinzie and Vino Rosso over Yoshida, McKinzie, Vino Rosso, Thunder Snow and Monongahela.

Friday, 02 August 2019 12:18

The Race After

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


August 2, 2019

The Race After

By: Jonathan Stettin

We've all heard the phrase "The Morning After" but today we will talk about the race after. In keeping with one of our recent themes, we will again look at an angle which can translate to some nice scores. That's what it is all about. 

Last weekend we saw two of the most impressive sprint performances in years. Imperial Hint smoked a field that included Met Mile winner Mitole. It wasn't just that he smoked the field; it was also how he did it and how fast he did it. Anytime a horse breaks a track or stakes record it is indeed impressive. When they break one at Saratoga, you just can't help but think about how many great ones raced there at that distance, whatever that distance may be. In Imperial Hint's case, it was 6 furlongs, and he needed just 1.07:92 to run it. That's what they call racehorse time and a new Saratoga track record. 

The very next day, we witnessed another epic sprint performance. Shancelot needed just 1:14.01 to run 6 and a half furlongs. That's flat out fast. Unnoticed by many, not us of course, was that Shancelot ran 6 furlongs in 1:07.63 which was actually faster than Imperial Hint. He won't get track record credit in the books, but we can all have a footnote here that says "wow" or something like that. Not only did these two run as fast as polished steel, they were visually impressive as well. Imperial Hint looked like he was toying with the field. Shancelot looked like he was in his own race. 

Of course, accolades came in on both runners after their respective races. Rightfully so. These were two impressive sprints. People were already talking about where they'd run next, and how much they'd win those races by. If racing history as taught us anything, anything at all, it's not so fast! 

One of my favorite angles is betting against short priced horses coming off monster efforts. You can rest assured both these sprinters will be well bet in their next starts. Before we even talk about a bounce or regression, let us ask this. Is it reasonable to expect either of these horses to repeat a performance like their last one in their next start? History and past performances say no. It is much more likely they don't repeat those performances than they duplicate them. I doubt either goes forward as well, although I must admit I'd enjoy seeing that. Wouldn't we all? 

A fast race, no matter how easily the horse may have made it look is always taxing. Time doesn't lie, and fast times will take a toll even on a horse who makes it look easy or wins under wraps with their ears up. Think about it. Do you really think either of these two could have gone three quarters of a mile in 7 flat or less? Not too likely. 

When horses run monster races most bettors assume they will win their next race and bet them hard accordingly. You just can't be sure of that, and it is even harder to spot in the morning with a good horse. Good ones have that alpha trait. They may train well, eat well, and act on their game after a big race. When they actually run and regress even hall of fame trainers will say, "they fooled me." 

The key for me evaluating how to handle this type in their best race is simple. I try and anticipate the regression and handicap asking the question can they regress and still win? Often that answer is no, and they are for me a big bet against or toss. If the answer is yes, I may use, but I prefer the former scenario. Tossing a favorite or short priced horse off a big race can be a key to a nice score. This is a situation I like to get aggressive with, and I will be looking for just such an opportunity when Imperial Hint and Shancelot run back. I'll be in the minority, but that has never stopped or hurt me before. 

Friday, 26 July 2019 11:56

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, July 27

Race 8 at Saratoga- Post Time 5:09 PM Eastern

Before three straight stakes races there’s the interesting six furlong allowance sprint, which kicks off the Grand Slam. If you’ve never played it, it’s a fun bet where you win by having a horse hit the top three in the first three legs and pick the winner in the last leg. The basic strategy is to try to beat favorites in the first three legs and go shallow then pick a few win contenders in the last leg. Unfortunately, the last leg is the Jim Dandy Stakes which, unless we’re lucky is likely to be won by a favorite.

In this race the contenders are Fortune’s Fool, Morning Breez, Dark N Cloudy and Overdeliver. Before I get into why they may have a shot to win or be in the exacta, the most important thing to note is only Morning Breez (6/1 morning line) and Dark N Cloudy (10/1) are usable in the Grand Slam in my opinion, as the other two open at odds of 2/1 and 3/1. We could use all four, because we can win the bet multiple times, but I’d rather take a shot at a better payoff.

Morning Breez gets blinkers AND Irad Ortiz, Jr, both pretty good signs for improvement off his last start which is irrelevant as it was on turf. He finished second twice in a row on dirt at the level before that and repeating either of those efforts may get him the win. Dark N Cloudy also adds blinkers. He finished behind Morning Breez in third in both his last two starts and won easily before that. He shows a strong “blinkers on/fast workout” pattern as he put in the 9th best of 127 works coming into the race, here at Saratoga. Overdeliver ran a non-threatening fourth last out at the level and was second at the condition before that. He’s got a shot but is no standout. Fortune’s Fool broke his maiden one before last then led late but was no match for the winner in the last 50 yards or so.

Morning Breez and Dark N Cloudy over Morning Breez, Dark N Cloudy, Fortune’s Fool and Overdeliver.

Also, Morning Breez, Dark N Cloudy, Fortune’s Fool and Overdeliver over Morning Breez and Dark N Cloudy.

Grand Slam:
Race 8 Morning Breez, Dark N Cloudy
Race 9 Mitole, Imperial Hint
Race 10 Arklow, Sadler’s Joy, Channel Maker
Race 11 Laughing Fox, Tacitus, Global Campaign

Pick 3:
Race 8 Morning Breez, Dark N Cloudy, Fortune’s Fool and Overdeliver
Race 9 Mitole, Imperial Hint, Firenze Fire, Do Share
Race 10 Arklow, Sadler’s Joy, Channel Maker

You’ll note the Pick 3 has some different horses from the Grand Slam. That’s because we are NOT trying to beat the favorites in the pick 3 because we need winners, like we are in the grand slam where we just need horses to finish in the top 3 in the first three legs.

Vanderbilt Stakes - Race 9 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:44 PM Eastern

Do Share is the interesting horse here and the one we will need to win or finish second to make any kind of profit involving this race. Opening at 15/1, Do Share fits here as he’s earned nearly $600K in his career winning six of 12 at the basic six furlong trip. He finished second in the 2018 Tom Fool Stakes at the trip to a very fast horse in Skyler’s Skramjet and he won this year’s Tom Fool in the sizzling time of 1:08.6. That was a legitimate time as the effort earned a Grade 1 type Equibase figure of 127. He has run badly in two since but both were seven furlongs, not the six furlong trip he returns to today, and in the first of the two, when sent to post at 6 to 1 in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Stakes, he was bumped at the start and began 10th of 11 then was very wide on the far turn. I like Saez taking over and “If” the gelding can run back to his Tom Fool effort, he can win in an upset.

Mitole will be the prohibitive favorite as he’s going for his eighth straight win and fits on all counts. He doesn’t need me to talk him up but his last three Equibase figures of 118, 119 and 118 aren’t that much superior to others and NOT to the 127 Do Share earned last March. Firenze Fire, like Do Share, returns to the six furlong trip of his best effort, when winning the Runhappy Stakes in May by almost five lengths with a 119 figure. Imperial Hint hasn’t been seen since a third place effort in the Dubai Golden Shaheen in March but won this race last year and has been working tremendously in the morning so could be the repeat winner of this race.

Bets: Win and place bet on Do Share at odds of 4 to 1 or more, OR exactas of Do Share over Mitole, Imperial Hint and Firenze Fire then the also opposite, which is Mitole, Imperial Hint and Firenze Fire over Do Share. You can make all three bets but I feel the win/place bet is the equivalent of the exacta bet, and vice-versa.

Pick 3:
Race 9 Mitole, Imperial Hint, Firenze Fire, Do Share
Race 10 Arklow, Sadler’s Joy, Channel Maker
Race 11 Laughing Fox, Tacitus, Global Campaign

Bowling Green Stakes - Race 10 at Saratoga - Post Time 6:18 PM Eastern

Arklow has had some very tough luck in all three starts this year. First, he wasn’t ready for the start and lost the jockey in his April comeback, then he came up a neck short in both the Man o’War and the Belmont Gold Cup. With the exception of last fall’s Breeders’ Cup turf and the race in which he lost the jockey, Arklow has shown up in five straight races at the level and today, from the rail, he should be able to sit in second or third behind likely early leader Argonne and get his first grade 2 win in two years.

Still, Channel Cat and Sadler’s Joy may have something to say about Arklow winning. Channel Cat won this race in a dead heat last year then ran two more huge races finishing second in the Sword Dancer over the course before winning the Turf Classic Invitational. After finishing well back in 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, he returned to run poorly in two straight but rebounded big time to win the Man o’War over Arklow by a neck. Next came another disappointing effort when fourth in the Manhattan after getting to within a head of the lead at the eighth pole. Still, the pattern is unmistakable as he won this race last year off an eighth place finish in the Manhattan, so the drop from grade 1 to grade 2 may to the trick in getting this hard knocking horse approaching the $2 million mark in earnings into the winner’s circle. Sadler’s Joy comes from far back and that can be problematic in full field races like this one as he rarely finds the winner’s circle these days. He won two of eight in 2017 and just one of eight last year but not for lack of trying. He was flying from last of 13 in last year’s Manhattan and came up a neck short and lost by just a few inches more in last year’s running of this race. He also missed by a pair of necks in this race two years ago. Returning from eight months off is not a concern in a marathon like this and he proved capable of winning fresh when taking the Mac Diarmida in March, 2018, a similar grade 2 stakes, so perhaps with a little racing luck and considering his best race is good enough to win, and considering he’s two for six on the Saratoga grass, he rounds out a trio to get the job done here.

Bets: Arklow to win at odds of 2 to 1.
For a slightly smaller amount, Sadler’s Joy to win at 7 to 2 or higher.
Channel Maker can be bet at 7 to 2 or more as well but I feel like he is going to go to post at lower odds.

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

Exacta: Box Arklow, Channel Maker and Sadler’s Joy.

Jim Dandy Stakes – Race 11 at Saratoga - Post Time 6:51 PM Eastern

A lot of people are looking forward to this year’s Jim Dandy but I’m not one of them. Sure, War of Will, Tacitus and Tax all ran against each other in the Derby and are meeting again, but since I didn’t think too highly of Tax going in and wasn’t a huge fan of the other two, although they were on my list of six win contenders, I’m not over the moon about their meeting, not to mention there’s no value as Tacitus opens at 7 to 5 and War of Will at 2 to 1.

What is interesting is Global Campaign, who did post the ever-so-slight upset in the Peter Pan. I was hoping he’d run in the Belmont but had no complaints when Peter Pan runner-up Sir Winston ended up there and made us a lot of money. Perhaps Global Campaign was pointing to this all along, or perhaps he had a slight issue. Nevertheless, in this field he’s likely the LONE FRONTRUNNER and will be tough to catch if allowed an easy lead. Other than that, he has no edge and so that’s why I’m taking a shot with Laughing Fox over the track labeled the “graveyard of champions.” Laughing Fox opens at 15/1 and has every right to win. He does come from far back so he and Tacitus will be fighting each other to see who is farther back early but I believe Santana may have different plans because the jockey had him in fourth of 12 in January in his third career start, first route, a race he won by a neck. Three later he won the Oaklawn Park Invitational with a strong rally from ninth of 11 early, earning a 99 figure he bettered although just fifth of 13 in the Preakness. He won’t have to run into a 46 second half mile here so that’s another reason he could be close up early and get into top gear well before Tacitus does. At 15/1 on the morning line I can take a chance of that happening.

There’s no doubt Tacitus can win as he’s run four similar races earning 105, 106, 107 and 103 figures, the best of the bunch coming at this distance when winning the Wood Memorial in April. War of Will can also win, “IF” and only if he runs as he did in the Preakness, perhaps in about the same spot in third or fourth in the early stages as he was that day. I’m taking a stand he won’t so that’s why I didn’t use him on pick 3 and grand slam tickets started in earlier races.

Bets: Laughing Fox to win and place at odds of 5 to 1 or more.
Hopefully, we’re alive in the pick 3 and grand slam to don’t even have to consider win bets on Global Campaign, or Tacitus, neither likely to go to post at odds which make a win bet a decent proposition.

Exacta: Box Laughing Fox and Tacitus.
For a smaller amount box Laughing Fox and Global Campaign and box Laughing Fox and War of Will.

Friday, 26 July 2019 11:46

Trust Your Eyes

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


July 26, 2019

Trust Your Eyes

By: Jonathan Stettin

There is more information available today for the horseplayer than ever before. We have multiple past performance choices, speed and pace figure choices, selections services, pace projectors, analysis, and just about everything else you can think of and might need to speculate on the outcome of a horse race. We can even see who ran more feet and inches than another. True, most if not all of these tools are subjective and open to interpretation which is where skill and experience come in, but if so many people are looking at the same data it stands to reason many will fall on the same horse. It is a lot more difficult to find an edge or a hidden gem in this environment. 

I have always said race watching, including replays, is a learned art — a vital one in today’s game. One of the reasons I love wagering on European races so much lately is that the past performances are scarce on information compared to here in the states. Contrary to what your first thought maybe, I like that. While I am definitely a fan of the more info, the better, nobody in Europe asked me so I am left to deal with the limited info and I welcome it. This places an even greater amount of significance on my ability to watch races and see things for what they are and will be. 

Most people watch a race or replay looking at the winner, leader, or who they bet. That’s fine for round one. To get a feel for a race and how it will play out going forward, you have to watch it a few times. You have to get away from what everyone else is watching and watch the middle of the pack runners and the back markers. This is where you will find the hidden gems. It takes time and patience but can really pay off and create an edge. 

Personally, I like to look for horses who were in uncomfortable spots. This will often hinder a horses chances and also at times prompt a rider to save a horse for another day. Horses who are between horses will catch my eye. Horses who are pinned on the inside will also catch my eye. Horses who get challenged when they try and move also get my attention. There are many scenarios to look for and what I love most about all of these is you are trusting your own eyes. 

We have all seen Beyer numbers that don’t make sense to us and even conflict with other Beyer numbers. We have seen races where we question the fractions only to find out they were not accurate. I have seen trip notes in past performances that simply do not match what I saw and my notes. Data is only as good as entered, but your own eyes won’t lie to you, and you can grit them. 

We all see all the different opinions every day. History has shown when money is involved there are always people that will play games. Maybe we can’t always trust the information fed to us, but we can always trust what we can see. 

Last week we got to see Maximum Security return to form and take the Haskell. This week we will get to see the Jim Dandy. I suspect whoever takes that race will be right behind Maximum Security leading the three year old division. Across the Atlantic, the great Enable heads to post also. Her resume is starting to point her out as one of the best of all time. That alone should make you want to tune in. Who knows if you watch closely you may pick up a Breeders’ Cup Winner or two. 

Last, when watching races, it can also help to isolate horses who had it their own way or fell into a perfect scenario. A bet against or a toss can be as valuable as a bet on at times. 

Enjoy the races this weekend and always. 

Friday, 19 July 2019 13:51

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, July 20

Molly Pitcher Stakes - Race 8 at Monmouth Park - Post Time 3:27 PM Eastern

There’s really no analysis here. Midnight Bisou is likely to have a paid workout as she prepares for bigger races and she’s a “Free Square” for the pick 3 starting in this race. She won the Phipps last month about as easily as a horse can win and she’s likely banging down the stall doors with energy so Asmussen figures it’s better to race her than to give her a morning workout.

Pick 3
Race 8 Midnight Bisou
Race 9 Fig Jelly, Justaholic, Mai Ty One On
Race 10 Lemonade Thursday, Coal Front, Monongahela

Wolf Hill Stakes - Race 9 at Monmouth Park - Post Time 3:56 PM Eastern

Justaholic returned to the races last month following a year off and ran a big race in his very first turf sprint, easily winning in a 10 horse field to earn a career best and last race best in the field 107 Equibase figure. Only better is logically forthcoming second off the layoff and sprinting over the course again. Trainer Clark took a few years off and this was his first starter and first winner since 2016, with more to come from this 20% career winning trainer.

Fig Jelly is still eligible for the NW2X allowance level but opens at 2 to 1 compared to Justaholic, who opens at 9 to 2 after winning at that level. The reason for the lower odds is likely the fact he calls the Servis barn home and Saez is riding. The gelding has six career runner-up finishes to go along with just two wins but one of those came in a stakes 11 months ago at Saratoga so his best effort may be good enough to win.

Mai Ty One On ran poorly when fifth of six in a turf sprint at Belmont but that was a classified allowance and possibly a tougher field. He finished second sprinting on turf before that and won four of nine last year, all but one a turf sprint. He gets a good post to stalk whoever leads early and with Lopez taking over could be up in time.

Bets: Win bet on Justaholic at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Exactas: Box Justaholic, Fig Jelly and Mai Ty One On.

Monmouth Cup - Race 10 at Monmouth Park - Post Time 4:29 PM Eastern

Lemonade Thursday returned from eight months off last month and destroyed a short field of six to win by eight lengths. Lopez rides back and the colt is one of only two four year olds in the field (the other Bal Harbor) so not only hasn’t run his best yet he should improve second off the layoff. Trainer Delacour likely had this race in mind when he entered the race last month and since the win Lemonade Thursday returned to the trainer’s base at Fair Hills to put in a very sharp 59.2 five furlong drill to put him on edge for another top effort, particularly as that last race earned a 110 Equibase figure, a level favorite Coal Front has exceeded just once, in September of 2017.

Monangahela is another horse with a sharp local win, and an even better figure (114) which is better than all but one of Coal Front’s seven winning figures. Since joining the Servis barn the horse has been first or second in all three races from 1 1/16 to 1 1/8 miles and Lezcano rides back after being up for the win in the Iselin Stakes last month so we can easily expect another “A” race good enough to win.

Coal Front can win but doesn’t have to. He’s 7 for 10 in his career but only two of those were around two turns. One was in February in the Razorback Handicap with a 105 figure and the other came in March in the Godolphin Mile in Dubai. He ran one of the worst races of his career after that last month in the Met Mile, where he wasn’t that well regarded at 10/1 in spite of his record, and so I’ll use him defensively but am hoping either Lemonade Thursday or Monangahela gets the win.

Bets: Lemonade Thursday to win at 2 to 1 or more and Monangahela to win at 3 to 1 or more.

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

Exacta: Box Lemonade Thursday, Monangahela and Coal Front.

Daisycutter Stakes - Race 6 at Del Mar - Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern

Trainer Phil D’Amato has a pair of runners in here for owner Nick Alexander, running as an uncoupled entry. Both are by Alexander’s top sire Grazen. The proven runner is S Y Sky, opening at 7 to 2, with a fantastic record of 7-5-1 in 13 races including 3-1-0 in four starts on turf, all sprints. Four of her seven wins came in stakes. Just Grazed Me is the other, opening at sweet 8 to 1 odds. She has been first or second in all six starts with three wins each and returns from a seven month layoff, trying turf for the first time. If D’Amato has Just Grazed Me in this stakes, you can be assured he thinks she can handle the turf and at the higher odds she’s a great bet. Grazen’s three previous foals are all turf winners and if you take away what S Y Sky has done, the other foals have three wins and a second place finish in eight races so that’s another reason to bet both but hope Just Grazed Me posts the upset.

Painting Corners and A Little Bit Me are the other contenders here, the former a stakes winner at this five furlong trip in April who can win on the lead or from just off the pace and the latter a stakes winner in Kentucky in May in a short turf sprint like this one.

Bets: Just Grazed Me and S Y Sky to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

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

Exacta and Trifecta box: Just Grazed Me, S Y Sky, Painting Corners and A Little Bit Me.

San Clemente Stakes - Race 8 at Del Mar - Post Time 8:30 PM Eastern

Keeper ofthe Stars
broke a 17 year track record for 1 1/16 miles on grass at Golden Gate last month, her third straight win, and gets the rail. She earned all three wins leading from start to finish but doesn’t need the lead. Formerly a Hollendorfer trainee, she’s now in the hands of very high percentage trainer Jonathan Wong and Bejarano gets on. That effort was no fluke as the 103 Equibase figure is the best last race figure in the field, even better than horses coming out of stakes, and at 12/1 on the morning line this gal is very playable.

Playable to a lesser extent, I keep coming back to Kalliniki, who opens at 20/1. The reason is a simple one. The top turf jockey on the circuit, and probably the top jockey on the circuit, Flavien Prat, gets on this longshot who has only run twice. The second of the two races was her only turf route, at this mile trip. She handled it like a champ leading from start to finish on decent fractions, gamely hanging on by a head at 54 to 1 at the end of May. That win came after EIGHT months off, with NO prep first, so she’s got to be even more fit for this. Prat and his agent are nobody’s fool and if they took this mount is could be for a very good reason.

Bets: Keeper ofthe Stars to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.
For a smaller amount, Kalliniki to win at odds of 7 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 10 to 1 or more.

For my analysis of the Haskell Stakes, go here to the Equibase web site.
My top pick is King for a Day, with win betting minimum odds of 2 to 1. I am playing him in exactas with Everfast, Mucho Gusto and defensively with Maximum Security, who I think gets worn down again, this time because of an early pace battle with Joevia and Bethlehem Road.