Note: With the potential for awful weather at Saratoga which may lead to off-turf or soft-turf races, I have decided to focus on some of the wide open races on West Virginia Derby day at Mountaineer, plus one race on the dirt at Saratoga. Check the very end for a couple of bonus races picks as well.
Senator Robert C. Byrd Stakes – Race 6 at Mountaineer - Post Time 4:25 PM Eastern
Heartwood, Awesome Gent and Colonel Sharp are the three win contenders in my opinion, based on a very fast and contested early pace courtesy of Sevier and Shadow Tracer, drawn next to each other on the outside in the gate. It makes no sense whatsoever Balandeen is the morning line favorite off one win this year, at Will Rogers Downs, and the 4/1 starting odds on Line Judge, although likely correct as Amoss trains, is good because he appears overmatched as a horse whose last four wins came in claiming races and only one was fast enough to threaten any of the three win contenders if repeated. Heartwood is a stakes winner (last fall) in winning form off a strong victory last month with a 107 Equibase figure. He has put wins back-to-back before and can stalk the pace or close from far back. Awesome Gent is 8 for 16 in his career including THREE wins in a row since the Cowans claim back in July of 2017. That was the first and ONLY time he was ever risked for a tag and the race he won on 6/26 of this year was a KEY race from which the 2nd, 3rd AND 4th finishers all came back from to win. Considering he had been off for eight months, Awesome Gent should improve off the effort and run another "A" race. Colonel Sharp won 2nd off a layoff and trainer change (to his current trainer) in February, won two later in April then missed by a neck before a decent 3rd of 12 in a stakes at Presque Isle. He's at home on dirt and all-weather and his 4/27 win (3 races back) earned a 108 figure on par with Heartwood's last effort and Awesome Cat's five from last August and the one he's going to improve to today.
Bets: Bet ANY or ALL of the three contenders – Heartwood at 5 to 2 or higher, Awesome Gent and Colonel Sharp at 3 to 1 or higher, to win. To make multiple win bets for the best advantage use a "Dutching Tool" like the free one at Amwager.com
Exactas: Awesome Gent, Colonel Sharp and Heartwood over Awesome Gent, Colonel Sharp, Heartwood and Line Judge.
West Virginia Governor's Cup – Race 7 at Mountaineer- Post Time 4:55 PM Eastern
Secret Passage, Rated R Superstar and Leofric are the three that I feel strongly can win, and with the two starting favorites (Hawaakom and Matrooh) suspect at best this could be a very profitable race. Secret Passage changed barns in March, won 2nd off the change in April then improved mightily to a CAREER BEST effort on 6/1 at Belmont, with a field HIGH 110 Equibase figure. Trainer Diodoro, who wins at a high percentage as it is, is 3 for 6 in graded stakes in the past 18 months and David Cohen, up for the last win, rides back. You can forget every race this gelding ran before the new connections took over and from the rail Secret Passage can save every inch of ground until the far turn then go by the field for the win. Leofric is one of two from the highly potent Cox barn, the other Term of Art (who appears overmatched). Leofric gets the #1 jockey for the barn in Geroux, who ride him to a win in a classified allowance race last month which followed four months off. With a 5 for 10 record and with 107 and 109 figures in two of his last 3 races including when 2nd to Hawaakom in the G3 Razorback Handicap in February, Leofric can be counted on to be there at the wire today as he's been in six of his last seven races. Rated R Superstar shows up about half the time but when he does he's very tough as in April when taking the Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland with a 109 figure. He didn’t like the slop in the Pimlico Special after that and has been rested two and one-half months, which is fine as he won in January off a similar layoff. Having earned over a half-million to date and with leading jockey Quinones riding, count Rated R Superstar in as another win contender.
Bets: Although I give slight preference to Secret Passage as a win contender, that won't stop me from betting ANY or ALL of the three contenders – Secret Passage, Leofric and Rated R Superstar, at 3 to 1 or higher, to win.
To make multiple win bets for the best advantage use a "Dutching Tool" like the free one at Amwager.com
Exacta: Although we may be making win bets on all three contenders I want to also key them on top in the exacta so the play is Secret Passage, Leofric and Rated R Superstar over ALL.
Test Stakes – Race 8 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:10 Eastern
Minit to Stardom is undefeated in three races, each better than the rest and the most recent on 5/27 off nearly six months on the bench. She's been working over the track and not only can fire big to win off a layoff but may get a dream trip in third early behind Classy Act and Mia Mischief, who should duel for the early lead exactly as they did in the Victory Ride Stakes last month. Minit to Stardom gets a great outside post to stalk the pacesetters and has a bright future in the female sprint division as her only sibling, a full sister one year older, is 4 for 10 and also a very fast sprinter. Separationofpowers won the G1 Frizette last fall on the circuit in her third career start then tried two turns and finished 4th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Rested eight months, her rallying 8th to 4th effort in the Victory Ride was VERY GOOD considering she had lost ALL CHANCE at the start when she stumbled. Ortiz is the only pilot she's ever known and 2nd off the layoff, as well as with a clean start, Separationofpowers should be a contender for all the marbles. Alter Moon was privately purchased by Peter Brant following her easy win in the Azalea Stakes in Florida and sent to Chad Brown, who also saddles Separationofpowers. Alter Moon has run two superb race in a row, the last when stalking in 3rd in the early stages, and another big effort is likely forthcoming.
Bets: Minit to Stardom to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.
Both Separationofpowers and Alter Moon can be bet to win at 2 to 1 or more, but personally I will pick the one at the highest odds near post time for a second win bet, sticking with the exacta below to cover the possibility of the other winning.
Exacta: Any of these can finish 2nd so similar to the West Virginia Governor's Cup we can consider the exacta wheel with all three as well. The exacta is Minit to Stardom, Separationofpowers and Alter Moon over ALL. Consider a separate three horse box with the three win contenders as well.
West Virginia Derby – Race 8 at Mountaineer - Post Time 5:35 Eastern
Mr. Freeze has done nothing wrong in three starts, winning his first two then missing by a half-length to High North in the Iowa Derby last month. He's still improving, gets Albarado (who was up for all 3 races to date), gets a good outside post, and is bred to adore this 9 furlong trip. Lionite was third in the Iowa Derby from the six post but gets the rail here which helps him to save ground as he did right before that when winning the Prairie Mile Stakes. Cabrera rode him to the win in the Prairie Mile, not to eh runner-up effort last out, and gets back on and this exceptionally well bred son of Quality Road may be destined for his first graded stakes win today. Rugbyman and High North both warrant consideration for exotic tickets, the former coming out of the much tougher Dwyer Stakes in which Firenze Fire made a mockery of the field, missing by a neck in the Easy Goer Stakes before that to prove he belongs at this level, and the latter winning the Iowa Derby last out and the Northern Spur Stakes two before that.
I am going to take a stand against the two favorites, Once on Whiskey and Draft Pick, at least as win contenders, as I feel their one-two finish in the Los Alamitos Derby was not as good as it appears on paper. Ax Man isn't a two-turn horse and the others behind them may not be much plus they are coming back three weeks later and may regress.
Bets: Mr Freeze to win at 2 to 1 or more.
Lionite to win at 5 to 2 or more.
Exacta: Mr Freeze, Lionite, Rugbyman and High North over Mr Freeze, Lionite, Rugbyman, High North, Once on Whiskey and Draft Pick.
Whitney Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga- 5:46 PM Eastern – Backyard Heaven to win at 2 to 1 or higher. Exacta: Box Backyard Heaven, Mind Your Biscuits and Diversify.
Downs at Albuquerque Handicap – Race 6 at Albuquerque – Post time 10:10 Eastern (8:10 Mountain) - Leadem in Ken to win at 9 to 5 or higher.
August 1, 2018
Nobody Was Better
By: Jonathan Stettin
If you missed the 70’s and 80’s in horse racing, you truly missed some glory years when the Sport of Kings was so much more than what it has been reduced to today. If you missed those years, it is hard to put in perspective. However, imagine almost every Saturday having a “huge card” and major day feel to it. The track was crowded, even during the week, and there was almost always a buzz in the air.
Saratoga was the August place to be and the premier meet in the country. At 24 days, or 4 short weeks long, the racing was the most competitive in the world. It’s where everyone who was anyone in the game was, and where they wanted to win. Claiming races were few and far between and the optional claimer was not even on the racing secretaries’ radar yet. There was no need for them, as allowance races filled regularly. Horses ran through their conditions on their way to the stakes ranks. And the Spa cards often had stake quality horses running all week in non-winners of one, two, three, and even four allowance races. There was a good stake just about every day and there were no days, absolutely none, when the track was not packed.
Saratoga was the toughest meet in the country. When you factor that in, it makes Angel Cordero Jr’s streak of 11 straight riding titles at Saratoga, all that much more special. From 1976 through 1987, nobody was better at Saratoga than Angel. He was as dominant a rider as you could ever see, and everyone knew it.
Angel had no weakness on the back of a racehorse. He was aggressive, he was fearless, he was as good on the lead as he was off the pace. He would do things others didn’t, wouldn’t or couldn’t. He would open up 10 lengths and win by a nose. He would fall 10 lengths behind the last horse and win by a nose. He would speed pop the gate. He would outride any challenger and push the race riding limits to the max to get every single win he could. There was nobody you wanted your case money on more than Angel, and I know he considered that an honor.
When Angel rode, he not only rode his horse, but he rode the other riders’ horses as well. He knew all their strengths and weaknesses. He was ready to exploit any one of them. He knew who lugged in and who lugged out and he was sitting right where the hole would open. If it didn’t, he would open it. He would taunt riders during the race and get inside their heads. He was a fierce competitor, as one would have to be to take 11 straight titles at the Spa. He could switch hands faster than any rider and was equally adept with his right as with his left. He could get lower than anyone on a horse and carry one home when he had to. Angel once told me he loved to ride in the slop because other jockeys hated it. When the jockey’s room would fill up and it was raining and sloppy, the jockeys would complain, Angel loved it. It gave him an edge, not that he did not already have one.
After coming from Puerto Rico, Angel had a rough time in Saratoga in 1962, 63, and 64. He could barely afford a place to stay and had a hard time lasting the meet. That would change however, and those memories are part of what motivated him to dominate the Spa, as nobody before or after him has done.
Angel managed to win his first title in Saratoga in 1967. It would be 9 years later when he took the next one to begin his streak of 11. Angel told me it was hard work that propelled him there. He worked a lot of horses in the mornings, working harder than anyone else. Trainers recognized this and would ride him. Even trainers like Mack Miller, Sidney Waters, Elliott Burch and especially Allen Jerkens would ride Angel at Saratoga, even though they did not ride him as much downstate. They all pointed their horses, and they had good ones, for Saratoga, just as Angel pointed to it.
If you were fortunate to be at the track every day and watch this athletic dominance day in and day out, it was a treat. I have seen many riders in the groove, but nobody was better than Angel at the Spa.
King Corrie Stakes – Race 5 at Woodbine - Post Time 3:05 PM Eastern
Run Away won the first three starts of his career last spring and summer, including a pair of stakes. One of those was the important G2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. Not disgraced when 3rd behind Bolt d'Oro in the Del Mar Futurity after the trio of wins, Run Away won a non-graded stakes then ran badly and was given the winter off to mature. Starting late for a three year old, in May, Run Away ran poorly in three races, all stakes, but gets a NEW LEASE ON LIFE starting today as he ships out of California and changes trainers while trying all-weather for the first time. He should love the surface, as the ONLY other foal of his dam is Si Si Tequila, who broke her maiden impressively over the track last week, and as sire Run Away and Hide has sired a pair of stakes winners at Woodbine. Trainer Carroll has had good success (5 for 19) with horses moving from dirt to all-weather and FOUR of those have been ridden by Contreras, who picks up the mount today with a good outside post to stalk and wait until rallying for the possible upset.
Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town are the other two contenders but open as the two favorites so although we must use both on exacta and trifecta tickets they don't offer enough return for win bets. Hemp Hemp Hurray returns from Ascot where his connections gave him a shot but he didn't run well. That form should reverse as right before that, in his first and only all-weather sprint, he won by 11 in handy fashion with a 100 Equibase figure about as good as Run Away earned in his career best race to date (102) and Wyatt's Town earned in his best race (104). Leading jockey Hernandez gets on and if Hemp Hemp Hurray runs the kind of race he did on 3/31 he could be tough to beat. Wyatt's Town improved markedly first off the McKnight claim last out to win by 3 with a 104 figure. He was only entered in a claiming race once, right before that, and was scooped up for a hefty 50K tag so should prove a profitable claim as he won the race he was claimed out of by nearly 8 lengths. His knocks are he tries all-weather for the first time and although he does have the breeding on the sire's (Speightstown) for the surface none of his dam's foals have ever run on it. The #1 winning jockey (Da Silva) for the barn rides and so he must be respected as a contender.
Bets: Run Away to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
Fair odds on both Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town are also 2 to 1 but I don't believe either will get anywhere near that threshold.
Exactas: Box Run Away and Hemp Hemp Hurray. Box Run Away and Wyatt's Town.
Trifecta: Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town over Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town over Run Away.
Vanderbilt Handicap – Race 8 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:02 PM Eastern
Done Deal returned from 20 months off in May and was as well regarded as when he went on the sidelines (winning a 1st level allowance race) as he came back in a 2nd level allowance race at Churchill Downs, finishing on even terms with another horse but five clear of the next one. Rested seven weeks, Done Deal came back in the Iowa Sprint Handicap and crushed the field of eight easily by four lengths in geared down fashion. Entering the race with a sensational best of 41 five furlong workout at Saratoga and now with four wins in seven races as well as on an improving pattern in his third race off a layoff, with no sign of regression coming, the gelding gets a great post and has potential to run down heavy favorite Imperial Hint to post the upset, opening at 8/1.
Imperial Hint is a win machine, with 10 wins in 16 races but better still with a 6-2-0 record in 9 races at this six furlong trip. One of those losses came in last fall's Breeders' Cup Sprint, which followed five straight wins. Castellano was up for his last four wins and rides back and like Done Deal, Imperial Hint has been working sensationally in the morning. HOWEVER, those workouts have been at Parx unlike Done Deal, who worked locally, and as we all know Saratoga can be a very tricky track, as well as the "graveyard of favorites" so although I will use Imperial Hint on exacta and double tickets played, he may not be the lock his prohibitive post time odds make it appear.
For exactas and doubles, there are some strategies to use which involve NOT using Imperial Hint with any of the low odds horses, as below.
Bets: Done Deal to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.
Exacta: Box Done Deal and Imperial Hint. (Note: I intend to bet this combination many times)
Exacta: Imperial Hint over Petrov, Warrior's Club, Mr. Crow and Done Deal.
Exacta: Done Deal over ALL
Trifecta: Imperial Hint over Switzerland over Petrov, Warrior's Club, Mr. Crow and Done Deal.
Trifecta: Imperial Hint over Switzerland over Done Deal.
Doubles: Imperial Hint and Done Deal in Race 8 with Highland Sky, Channel Maker, Bigger Picture, Glorious Empire and Manitoulin in Race 9.
Doubles: Imperial Hint in Race 8 with Highland Sky, Channel Maker, Bigger Picture, Glorious Empire and Manitoulin in Race 9.
Doubles: Done Deal in Race 8 with ALL in Race 9 except #4 Sarrasin.
Doubles: ALL in Race 8 with Highland Sky and Manitoulin in Race 9.
Bowling Green Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:40 Eastern
Manitoulin and Highland Sky, who both open at double digit odds, are the key to profit in this race in which ALL but Sarrasin can win. Lower odds contenders such as Hi Happy, Sadler's Joy and Money Multiplier can all win, but as we witnessed with the running of the G1 Manhattan Stakes on Belmont Day, with a six horse blanket finish and won by longshot Spring Quality, there's no standout in these kinds of turf marathons. Manitoulin was my top pick in the Manhattan and ran very well to be beaten three necks on the wire at 30 to 1 odds. Two before that he won the G2 Hollywood Turf Cup and he has run well on the Saratoga turf. With just a bit of racing luck he can earn his first grade 1 win here. Similarly, Highland Sky can win at a price. As a three year old in 2016 he ran big when missing by a neck in the Pennine Ridge Stakes and Belmont Derby Invitational. Winless in eight races in a row before winning last month at Belmont at this 11 furlong trip, now that the gelding is back in top form and with a strong workout on this turf course he won over previously, another "A" effort would get him into the mix late at high odds.
Bets: Manitoulin and Highland Sky to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher. To bet more than one horse to win, use a DUTCHING TOOL like the one available for free at Amwager as it helps allocate your win bets in the most efficient manner possible.
Exacta: Manitoulin and Highland Sky over ALL, then ALSO the reverse (which also serves as a place bet), which is ALL over Manitoulin and Highland Sky.
California Dreamin' Stakes – Race 7 at Del Mar - Post Time 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific
Fly to Mars took blinkers off for his last start on June 10 after seven races in a row. Although he won two of the previous seven in the hood, the difference with the blinkers off was phenomenal, as he raced close up in 2nd in the early states and drew off as he pleased. That was also a mile following four sprints, and it was also his first race with Prat in the saddle since Prat rode him to a 3 length win in a turf sprint last fall. The 113 Equibase figure is the best last race turf route figure in the field except for the 117 figure Well Developed earned when beaten a head and a neck in a similar Cal-Bred stakes race in May, but the race is turning out to be a productive race runners are improving out of, as the runner-up was fourth then won and as the 4th place finisher won the opening day Oceanside Stakes in an upset.
Alsatian opens at 20/1 and all I can say to start is "BEWARE." He finished 2nd in a nearly identical stakes last May on the sod and then put blinkers on, running poorly in six races. Just like Fly to Mars, when the blinkers were removed came a big form reversal, as Alsatian won gamely on the turf at Santa Anita with a 112 stakes quality figure. Franco rode him for the first time that day and again last out on 6/3 in an irrelevant race when the colt was asked to run 12 furlongs. Back at a distance he can handle, as a previously stakes placed horse and with his sibling on the dam's side (Lucky J.H.) having won $630K and a number of similar Cal-Bred stakes, Alsatian has a big shot to outrun his odds here and perhaps to post a big upset for our profit.
B Squared is very consistent and game and deserves our respect as he's been first or second in nine of 18 races including a number of similar stakes. He was beaten a head in the common Crystal Water Stakes in May won by Soi Phet¸ finishing a neck in front of Well Developed, and so he has to be included on any and all exacta tickets we play involving this race. Soi Phet does as well, and his 12/1 odds which are a joke won't hold up. He was sent to post at 7 to 2 favorite in the Bertrando Stakes on dirt last month following his Crystal Water Stakes win and he's a six time Cal-Bred stakes winner who can string big races together.
Accountability was 3rd behind Fly to Mars last out and as the horses on either side of him ran well he must be considered for exotics particularly as he opens at 20/1. Grecian Fire was third in the Bertrando and is another we can use in exotics in a race which could pay off handsomely if we're right about Alsatian and Fly to Mars. Ashleyluvssuger has earned $1.3 million and was just a head and two necks behind Soi Phet in May so rounds out the contenders.
Bets: Fly to Mars to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.
Alsatian to win and to place at odds of 7 to 2 or more.
Consider B Squared for a win bet at 4 to 1 or more and also consider Soi Phet for a win bet at 4 to 1 or more.
Exacta: Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared and Soi Phet over Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared, Soi Phet, Grecian Fire, Ashleyluvssuger, Well Developed and Accountability.
Exacta: Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared, Soi Phet, Grecian Fire, Ashleyluvssuger, Well Developed and Accountability over Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared and Soi Phet.
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.
Find Key Races & Bets for Friday, July 20th Below
Ontario Colleen Stakes – Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:47 PM Eastern
Trainer Graham Motion has a pair in this race, Peach of a Gal (5/2 morning line) and Armoricaine (15/1 morning line). Both are stakes winners on turf, the former last month in Delaware in an overnight stakes with a 50K purse and the latter in France last fall in a $70K purse race versus MALES. She ran poorly on heavy turf in April in a group 3 stakes following six months off then imported to the U.S where she was put in a very tough field in the Wonder Again Stakes at Belmont. Losing all chance when leaping in the air at the start she wasn't asked after that. She's apparently still highly regarded by one of the best trainers in North America who ships up from his Fair Hills base and gets Garcia to ride. These two teamed up to win the Singspiel Stakes over the course on 6/23 in a mile upset at 5 to 1. The filly will really appreciate the easier company as this field contains three last out allowance level winners and two restricted stakes winners. She ran big on firm turf in her first two races last July and August in France at a mile and the 93 Equibase figure earned in her October win is the THIRD best figure earned by any entrant in this race, ever.
Got Stormy and Peach of a Gal are the two other logical contenders, but open as the two favorites at 7 to 5 and 5 to 2. Got Stormy ships up from New York on the heels of two straight stakes wins at this mile trip, the first of the two with a 102 figure. Peach of a Gal ships up from Delaware off a career best 102 figure effort in a stakes and has really won two in a row because her race in between the wins was the Hilltop Stakes on Preakness weekend when the course was a bog. Hernandez rides, which is a good sign, but it's interesting to note that no matter how good the jockey is overall on turf (25 for 119 in turf routes over the past year), he is 0 for 9 in graded stakes turf routes over the same period.
Bets: Armoricaine to win and place at odds of 4 to 1 or more.
In the event either Got Stormy or Peach of a Gal are anywhere near 5 to 2 odds near post time, make a win bet on either or both.
Exacta: Armoricaine over ALL and (reverse) ALL over Armoricaine
Box Armoricaine and Got Stormy & Box Armoricaine and Peach of a Gal
Diana Stakes – Race 10 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:55 PM Eastern
Hawksmoor is the one to catch, and to beat. Back in the fall of 2016, Hawksmoor nearly posted the upset in her U.S. debut when coming up a head and nose short on the wire in the QE II Stakes. Following that she ran badly and took the winter off. Last May when she returned, she led from start to finish in the Beaugay Stakes before an even stronger effort winning the New York Stakes leading every step of the 10 furlong trip. Following two runner-up efforts in top company in the First Lady Stakes and Matriarch Stakes last fall including a career-best 114 Equibase Figure in the latter race, Hawksmoor took the winter off once again then ran big in her 2018 debut when stalking the pacesetter early and coming up inches short of winning. She was then sent to post as the even money favorite in the Gamely and lost all chance after a stumbling start denied her to be in front or second at the beginning of the race. In the Diana, there is no real need-the-lead type except this mare and in a seven horse field Leparoux will have the luxury of going to the lead from the start and establishing a leisurely pace or sitting in second if another horse and rider wants the lead more. As a horse that likes the lead, and considering that Hawksmoor can run the last quarter mile about as fast as any other horse in the race (22.7 seconds in the First Lady Stakes), she should be able to continue in front to the wire and win this race. A Raving Beauty has done nothing wrong since coming to North America from Europe, winning the Beaugay Stakes in May (the same race Hawksmoor won the previous year) with a 108 figure followed by a win in the Just A Game Stakes last month, improving to a 112 figure. She may have more improving to do third off the layoff as well and although both her races in the U.S. were shorter than the mile and one-eighth distance of the Diana, A Raving Beauty should have no problem with the nine furlongs which she won at last August in Germany and so she must be given a lot of respect as a contender to win this race. Sistercharlie has also done little wrong since importing to the states last summer, missing by a neck to New Money Honey in the Belmont Oaks Invitational before taking time off. When she returned this past April, Sistercharlie ran as if she had never been away from the races, rallying from eighth to win the Jenny Wiley Stakes and earning a career-best 117 figure that is the best of any entrant in this race. She ran nearly as well last time out in the New York Stakes when rallying from almost 30 lengths back to come up a nose short on the wire with a 110 figure. Shortening up from a mile and one-quarter to a mile and one-eighth for the Diana, Sistercharlie should be putting in a strong late run and it may just be a question of how much ground she has to make up on likely early leader Hawksmoor and how much gas that filly has left in the tank if allowed to lope along on an easy early lead.
Bets: Hawksmoor to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
Exacta: Hawksmoor over Sistercharlie, Proctor's Ledge and A Raving Beauty and then also the opposite, which is Sistercharlie, Proctor's Ledge and A Raving Beauty over Hawksmoor.
San Diego Handicap – Race 7 at Del Mar - Post Time 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific
Harlan Punch looks very capable of posting the upset here as he ships in from Monmouth for Jacobson off a five length win in the Iselin Stakes last month. That win came when leading from start to finish but he does not need the lead to win, having won the Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct in March from 2nd in the early stages and having won a classified allowance before that when fourth for the first half-mile. Those two wins were part of a three race streak started in February and since his win last month came after a trio of losses following the last of the trio, he's set to hold his top form for a couple more races. Likely to improve 2nd off a layoff for Jacobson, who wins with a good percentage of 2nd off layoff starters in dirt routes, Harlan Punch's best two efforts this year earned 113 and 115 Equibase figures. Those don't match up with any of the last four Accelerate has earned (119 and 120) BUT Harlan Punch opens at 8/1 compared to 8/5 and he gets an eight pound break in the weights, which could help him to post the upset.
Sharp Samurai also has an upset chance, opening at 6/1. He's won 7 of 11 races, six on turf, and he may be underbet because even though he's a multiple Grade 2 stakes winner running in a grade two stakes those wins came on turf. The win on dirt was just fine so there's no reason he can't transition back to the main track and his effort on 6/17 (a win), which came following seven months off should be improved upon in his 2nd start off a layoff. His recent work on dirt was exceptional, five furlongs in 59.8 and the 4th best of 66 on the day, and Stevens, who has been aboard for his last five wins, rides him back. Last year when winning the Twilight Derby on turf he earned a 114 figure then 117 when beaten a length in the Hollywood Derby and with his comeback effort good for a 114 figure and improvement likely, he's got a shot to run as well or better than the favorite at a better price.
Accelerate doesn't have any knocks except low odds. Winner of this race last year by 8 lengths after adding blinkers, he's won or placed in five straight, all top efforts good enough to win here, so we have to use him on any and all exacta, trifecta and multi-race bets made. We don't have to bet him to win, however.
Dr. Dorr and Two Thirty Five are two to use for exactas and trifectas in the 2nd and 3rd positions. Dr. Dorr won the Californian in April with a 115 figure before a 2nd place finish behind Accelerate with a 114 figure in the Gold Cup. He may have not liked Belmont or didn't ship well when 9th in the Suburban two weeks ago, and it may be he doesn't like Del Mar either (which as Baffert's excuse for Arrogate) as he hasn't hit the board in two tries. However, if it's not the case he hates Del Mar he could be part of the exacta. Two Thirty Five has run three "A" races since moving to the Baltas barn in March and although a cheap horse for his career prior to that his last effort earned a 112 figure at the trip so he must be respected as he may not have run his best race yet.
Bets: Harlan's Punch and Sharp Samurai to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher. To bet more than one horse to win, use a DUTCHING TOOL like the one available for free at Amwager as it helps allocate your win bets in the most efficient manner possible.
Exacta: Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai and Accelerate over Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai, Accelerate, Dr. Dorr and Two Thirty Five.
Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai, Accelerate, Dr. Dorr and Two Thirty Five over Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai and Accelerate.
Trifecta: Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai and Accelerate over Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai, Accelerate, Dr. Dorr and Two Thirty Five over Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai, Accelerate, Dr. Dorr and Two Thirty Five.
Double: Harlan's Punch¸Sharp Samurai and Accelerate in Race 7 with Animosity, Ms Bad Behavior and Miss Sienna in Race 8.
San Clemente Stakes – Race 8 at Del Mar - Post Time 8:30 PM Eastern/5:30 PM Pacific
Animosity is one of three in here proven at this Grade 2 level, 2nd last out in the Honeymoon Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita. She won her first two races before that and with Honeymoon winner Paved not here this gal inherits top honors. She improved from a 91 figure first out, to 97, then to 102 when 2nd in the Honeymoon, her first turf route, leading from the start and coming up short late but clearly 2nd. She doesn't need the lead to win as she finished well from 5th in her debut and with it very likely War Heroine and Pursuing the Dream (plus perhaps others) will go way too fast early from outside posts for their own good, Animosity can get up in time.
Ms Bad Behavior nearly wired the field in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes when last seen in April, beating Paved in the process, who came back to win the Honeymoon over Animosity. That puts Ms Bad Behavior squarely on the radar today with as much probability as Animosity. She earned a 105 figure in the Providencia and prior to that, in her first turf route, Ms Bad Behavior lagged five lengths back early before winning so we know she doesn't need the lead as others do, more reasons to expect a big effort.
Miss Sienna was making her U.S. debut in the Honeymoon and was decently regarded at six to one, but ran just so-so to end up fourth. Blinkers go on as does Smith, a BIG sign she could run back to either of her two efforts in France in March and April, a win and a neck defeat. As such, she is also a contender but just a bit less probable than the top two in my opinion.
Ollie's Candy is unbeaten in three starts including her first route last out, on dirt, in the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks. She is bred to adore the turf but the 14 post at this mile turf trip could be problematic. Rockin Ready and Flammetta finished 2nd and 1st, respectively, separated by a nose, in a high rated downhill turf sprint last month, each earning 100 figures. Both won at a mile on turf prior to that and are not need-the-lead types so have to be used on exacta tickets played, possibly on multi-race tickets like the double and pick 3 as well.
Bets: Animosity and Ms Bad Behavior to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.
Exacta: Animosity and Ms Bad Behavior over ALL, and also the reverse, which is ALL over Animosity and Ms Bad Behavior.
Trifecta: Box Animosity, Ms Bad Behavior, Miss Sienna, Ollie's Candy, Rockin Ready and Flammetta.
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
July 19th, 2018
"What! It Can't Be"
By: Jonathan Stettin
It is easy to talk about the big wins and scores and at one point or another most, if not all, of us do it. I remember them all, but we know this game takes us through the highest highs and lowest lows, regardless of what part of it you are in. One thing I learned long ago is that you have to take the good with the bad. I remember the tough beats and I talk about them as much as the wins. Two that will always stand out are Swain for the Pick 6 and Pick 4 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I hit both with Awesome Again, but Swain meant so much more and how he lost still stings. Another one is needing Dancing House for the whole Breeders’ Cup Pick 6 pool, which was just north of a cool mil, the year my other single Beholder won the Distaff. Dancing House was a 20-1, or thereabouts, single and she did go on to win stakes, albeit on the dirt later but that didn’t help.
Timing is so much in all aspects of life. I think the beat I will discuss today has as much to do with the timing of it, and how it occurred, as the monetary loss alone. The very large majority of my Saratoga memories are great, and the meet has been generous to me consistently over the years. This particular day, things did not fall my way although for a minute or two I believed they did, and thus I know how I would have felt had it played out that way.
It was Travers day 2008. I was having a rough time and a rough meet. The life of a professional player has more ups and downs than that of a conventional lifestyle, and this was definitely a down period in every way imaginable on and off the track.
Worry, who me? No way. I could right the ship with one big and bold correct move and that is precisely what I planned to do. I had done it many times before and I was going to do it again, and this was the day.
I loved Mambo in Seattle in the Travers. He was the horse that was going to save the day. I was sure he would win, but my question was how to bet him to maximize the score, which I needed to do. Betting to win wouldn’t do it. The field was big which helped the exacta probable payoffs, but I was torn for who I liked to finish second. The pick 4, had a big pool. If I ended with Mambo in Seattle as a single the pay outs should be good, as the first three legs were pretty wide open, in my opinion. I thought if I could stay alive to Mambo, and I get a little lucky in a leg or two leading up to the Travers, I could really get back on track. Funny how this game is, I never even considered the prospect of him losing. I just needed to stay alive as he was going to win the Travers.
I drove to Calder to bet and planned to watch from home, as I often did back then. I called my Dad and told him to watch and to root, but not to give me any results or to call me. I would be driving home during the races and wanted to watch without results. He said he won’t say anything if he called, but I told him that his voice would give it away. He knew what it meant to me.
My budget, which pretty much was all there was between me and poverty, allowed for an $10 pick 4 with Mambo in Seattle the only single in the last leg the Travers. Just to help the cause a bit, I also bet two exactas with Mambo in Seattle over both Colonel John and Harlem Rocker. There was no reason to reverse either one of them. I knew the winner, I just had to have the right second horse.
I made it home about two minutes to post for the Travers. I couldn’t watch it live as I had to watch the other three legs first. It was tough, but that was how I wanted it.
Porte Bonheur at something like $25 was just the start I needed, and I felt I was already in a good spot after the first leg.
Shakis at something like $10 or $12 kept me going but second place finisher War Monger who was my top choice would have been nicer. I was not complaining.
After a $15 winner kept me alive and the Pick 3 paid around $1800 for two dollars I thought I was in good shape.
I fast forwarded to the walking into the gate. I didn’t even pause for the will pays into the Pick 4. I had a $10 ticket alive to Mambo in Seattle and that was going to be sweet. I also had the two exactas which would ice the cake if I was right.
The race ran just about how I thought it would through the early stages. Mambo in Seattle was pretty far back but by the time they hit the backstretch they were bunching up in front of him which is what you want if the pace is slow, which it was.
On the turn Robbie Albarado let Mambo go and he made a big wide move into contention and my eyes were on him. He didn’t get a call yet from Tom Durkin but he looked like he would be right there to me.
In the stretch I could tell it would be close, and the horses it was between were the ones I needed. Mambo was coming wide with Harlem Rocker and Colonel John. Colonel John and Garrett Gomez had saved all the ground and were running big. But, Robbie avoided a lot of bumping by being so wide and had the momentum. He was going to get up, he was coming, he made it and I knew it. Tom Durkin called it too close to call, but I knew I won. Robbie Albarado knew it too and pumped his fist. I figured it had to be about 75 or 80K for the pick 4 and maybe another 10 or 12K for the exacta.
While watching the gallop out I called my Dad to celebrate. He answered very solemnly. I became concerned about him immediately and asked what was wrong.
He said, “Did you see the race?”
“Yes, we won,” I said.
“No, he didn’t he got beat,” he replied.
“What are you talking about I just watched it, he won, Albarado pumped his fist. Are you sure?”
“He expletive lost,” he said.
I fast forwarded to real time, "What! It can’t be!"
The highest highs and lowest lows.
Kent Stakes - Race 8 at Delaware Park - Post Time 4:56 PM Eastern
Gunnison goes for his third straight win, the last two on turf including a non-graded stakes, so is a perfect fit at this grade 3 stakes level. He opens at 10/1 coming off a career best effort with Toledo in the saddle as today and he has shown the ability to win on the lead from start to finish (as he did in his maiden breaker in February), to come from far back (as he did when rallying from 7th one before last) or to come from off the pace (when 4th with a quarter mile to go last out). He was 2 to 1 in his last two races yet opens at 10/1 here for no other reason than the class of his competition appears less than some of the rest but we must remember this race is for three year olds only and there is a lot of improvement possible from one race to the next so there is no reason why Gunnison can't take another step forward to win at a price.
Hot Springs also opens at odds that are out of line with his probability to win, at 6 to1, as he too is going for his 3rd straight win. He lost his debut in March badly but making a debut in a turf route is no easy question then when he returned on June 3 he won nicely by four lengths before another solid win at the end of the month. He's improving with each race and gets a solid turf jockey in Lynch for the Asmussen barn. Still with a long way to go before earning back the three-quarters of a million dollars he cost at auction in the summer of 2016 this colt is another with potential to earn his first graded stakes win.
Likely favorite Untamed Domain can't be discounted as a contender to win as he rallied from eighth to second one before last in the Grade 2 American Turf and won the Grade 2 Summer Stakes last September as a two year old. Still, he's just 2 for 9 and is being bet based on his 4th place effort behind Catholic Boy and Analyze It in the Pennine Ridge last month, as those two came back to earn the same placings in last weekend's Belmont Derby. He's a bad win bet under about 3/1 but is a must to use on any exacta tickets played.
Win Bets: Bet both Gunnison and Hot Springs to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.
When betting two or more horses to win it is a good idea to use a "dutching" tool to allocate your betting capital in order to get the best return. You can find one free at Amwager.com
Exacta Bets: Gunnison, Hot Springs and Untamed Domain over ALL.
Box Gunnison, Hot Springs and Untamed Domain.
ALL over Gunnison and Hot Springs (this serves as a good play instead of a place bet).
Double: Gunnison, Hot Springs and Untamed Domain in Race 8 with Teresa Z, Sneaky Betty, Mopotism and Unbridled Mo in Race 9.
Gunnison, Hot Springs and Untamed Domain in Race 8 with Teresa Z and Unbridled Mo in Race 9.
Race 8 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:18 PM Eastern
This race serves as a nice springboard to the Forbidden Apple Stakes (Race 9) but it's playable on its own as well. Rumble Doll and Epping Forest are the two contenders for win bets and for the exacta but its Rumble Doll who interests me the most as she opens at 12/1 compared to 2/1 for Epping Forest. Rumble Doll won very nicely at this six furlong inner turf trip at Belmont last summer, at the one lower NW2X allowance level and as the 2 to 1 favorite. She finished third at this level at seven furlongs after that then was overmatched in a stakes race last November before taking the winter off. Returning off a six month rest last month at this level, Rumble Doll ran well considering the time off, missing third by a nose and second by another three-quarters of a length. Likely to run a ton better second off the layoff, this gal who has a record of 3-4-4 on the Belmont turf (barely missing the board) has a much better chance to run well then her double digit morning line odds give her credit.
Epping Forest won at the same six furlong inner turf trip over the course in October, not running any better than Rumble Doll and at a lower level, as the even money favorite. She ran poorly six months later this April in her comeback but just as I suspect Rumble Doll will do today, Epping Forest improved a LOT second off the layoff last out on June 3 with a strong win at the trip under Rosario, who rides back. She could continue to improve in her third start of the year and should be coming from far back with a big late run as usual.
Win Bet: Rumble Doll to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.
Exacta Bets: Rumble Doll and Epping Forest over ALL
All over Rumble Doll (this can be instead of a place bet)
Epping Forest over ALL (because Epping Forest is much lower odds than Rumble Doll so we would want to hit the bet twice if she wins).
Doubles: Rumble Doll and Epping Forest in Race 8 with Blind Ambition and Disco Partner in Race 9.
Delaware Handicap - Race 9 at Delaware Park - Post Time 5:35 PM Eastern
The key to separating the win contenders from the rest appears to be a potentially contested early pace scenario in which need-the-lead types Proper Discretion, Nikki My Darling and Farrell are forced to go faster than average when vying for the early lead. That likely hot early pace sets up a quartet of contenders nicely, with a couple of them opening at double digit odds.
First, I'll start with one that does not open at high odds, Unbridled Mo, who has won seven of 11 career races with one of her best efforts coming this year in April when she rallied from fourth, seven lengths back, to win the Apple Blossom Stakes, defeating heavy favorite Unique Bella in the process. That effort earned Unbridled Mo the second best Equibase Figure, 103. That effort came in her second start back following a 10 month layoff and she is on a similar pattern for a top effort in the Delaware Handicap as she returned from a layoff last month to finish third in the Ogden Phipps Stakes with a 98 figure. As a daughter of Uncle Mo and out of a mare by Unbridled, Unbridled Mo should have no issue running this 10 furlong trip for the first time, particularly as she should be a strong beneficiary of the contested early pace scenario.
Teresa Z is a potentially live longshot, opening at 10/1. She is a lightly raced four year old coming off the best effort of her career and with prospect for even better in this situation. Last summer, Teresa Z earned a then career-best figure (94) when winning the Monmouth Oaks then took six months off following an eighth place effort in the Cotillion Stakes. She improved nicely last month in her third start off the layoff when winning the Obeah Stakes over the track with a new career-best 96 figure. Jockey Centeno rides her once again after not having been aboard in over a year and the experience over the track may help Teresa Z to run even better, particularly as she can save ground from the rail as the pacesetters battle it out in front of her. Another factor in her favor is the fact that her Monmouth Oaks win was her second in a row after losing four straight and she enters this year's Delaware Handicap off a win following three straight losses.
Mopotism fits the race on class, having won the La Canada Stakes this past winter in California with the best figure (114) earned by any Delaware Handicap entrant this year. Since then, she has lost four straight races but one was in her first and only turf try and in the other three races Mopotism closed too late after the winners had drawn off, two of them by nearly nine lengths. If jockey Gutierrez can keep Mopotism reasonably close to the pacesetters in this race as he was able to do in the La Canada when she was just one length back after a half-mile had been run, she has a nice chance to earn her second graded stakes win of the year.
For exotic bets like the exacta, honorable mention goes to Sneaky Betty, whose best efforts have earned her 93 figures. As a daughter of Mineshaft, Sneaky Betty is one of few bred to handle this distance with ease and trainer Claudio Gonzalez has a very strong record of 11 for 37 in dirt route stakes races over the past five years which helps establish that he knows where to place his horses. Considering Sneaky Betty has a closing style, and with some of the others likely to be tired near the end after going too fast in the early stages, she could get into the exacta at high odds.
I must also mention Elate, who won back-to-back grade 1 stakes races last summer including the Alabama Stakes at this mile and one-quarter distance. She has done little wrong in her career with four wins in 10 races, and the 115 figure earned winning the Beldame Stakes last fall could make her tough to beat in the Delaware Handicap if repeated. However, trainer Mott has not won many stakes races around two-turns over the years with horses coming back from six months or more on the sidelines and although I believe Elate could run well enough to be second or third she may have a hard time winning versus others who have run more recently.
Likewise, Farrell fits at the level following runner-up efforts in the La Troienne Stakes and in the Fleur de Lis Stakes, the latter earning her a 108 figure. However, having led from the start in her last four races and unable to hold the lead in the last eighth of a mile in the last two, with the likely pace pressure on her in the early stages from Proper Discretion at the very least, Farrell may be confined to a minor award.
Win Bets: Unbridled Mo and Teresa Z at odds of 5 to 2 or higher. Add a place bet on Teresa Z at 5 to 1 or more.
For a smaller amount, a win and place bet on Sneaky Betty is warranted at 5 to 1 or more as she opens at 20/1.
In the off chance Mopotism goes to post anywhere near 5 to 1 she can be considered for a win bet as well.
Exacta Bets: Teresa Z and Unbridled Mo over Teresa Z, Unbridled Mo, Sneaky Betty, Mopotism, Elate and Farrell.
Exacta: Box Teresa Z, Unbridled Mo, Sneaky Betty and Mopotism.
Forbidden Apple Stakes - Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:50 PM Eastern
Blind Ambition ran as well winning the Elusive Quality Stakes over this turf course on April 28 as Disco Partner did winning the Grade 2 Jaipur Stakes over the course on June 9 but the former opens at 8 to 1 odds while the latter opens as the 9 to 5 favorite and is likely to be bet down even lower as he went to post at odds of 8 to 5 last time out and 7 to 5 before that. Both have won at this mile turf trip once but Blind Ambition may also have a tactical speed edge as Disco Partner rallies from fourth or further while Blind Ambition has been no further back than third early in his wins. With John Velazquez out of town, Pletcher goes to Saez which is just fine as it keeps the price high enough for a nice profit because if Blind Ambition runs back to that 4/28 effort he can post the upset and beat the favorite.
Win Bet: Blind Ambition to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.
Exacta Bets: Box Blind Ambition and Disco Partner.
Also play Blind Ambition over ALL and then play the reverse of that exacta which is ALL over Blind Ambition.
July 11th, 2018
"The Belmont Derby"
By: Jonathan Stettin
This past Saturday we saw the most exciting edition of the Belmont Derby in the short history of the race.
Martin Panza, of the New York Racing Association, had a great idea implementing this race on the New York circuit. He recognized a void and filled it, and then some, building a new super day and card, anchored by the new race. The Dwyer, and Suburban were moved to Belmont Derby day, a filly counterpart was added, the Belmont Oaks, along with the Belmont Sprint Championship. There is something for everyone and in keeping with the now trend in racing, another huge event was created.
The Belmont Derby and Oaks were designed to attract International horses, and as such both are turf races for three-year-old horses over 1 ¼ mile. Prior to the Belmont Derby and Oaks, there were really no distance turf races of note for this category at this time of year.
What Martin did was actually do away with the Jamaica Handicap, a race that had seen a fair share of changes including age, distance and surface. It was a Grade 1 despite the staggered history and the Belmont Derby kept that status. It was first run under the current name in 2014. In the first four years there has been one winner from overseas, Deauville in 2016. There has also been plenty of other contenders from across the Atlantic, so I would say we can call it a success on that front.
In this year’s running we saw Catholic Boy give Analyze It a rematch from their odd race, just a little over a month ago in the Pennine Ridge. In that race, Catholic Boy decided he was a front runner, only to be passed in the stretch by favored and previously unbeaten Analyze It. Catholic Boy and rider Javier Castellano had to avoid Analyze It and Jose Ortiz who came in on them after making the lead, angle out and re-rally to out game them at the finish. It is rare for a horse on the lead to be passed and come back again. It shows heart, a will to win, and determination.
In the Belmont Derby the pair were joined by Hunting Horn, a highly regarded runner from the powerhouse Aidan O’Brien stable, and Hawkish, the Penn Mile winner who also had his share of supporters. My Boy Jack and four others rounded out the field.
The race unfolded differently, but with the same result. Analyze It went out for the lead but was overtaken by Catholic Boy, who again set the pace. Analyze It kept him in range and again overtook him to look like he was on his way to a revengeful victory. Catholic Boy would have none of it however, and this time without having to overcome trouble, re-rallied on the inside to out game Analyze It and beat him on the square again. It was a great race, one for the books, and proved beyond any doubt Catholic Boy is one gutsy racehorse.
While the race was great and noteworthy, a rivalry it was not. Catholic Boy has handled Analyze It twice now, both times coming again to snatch victory from defeat. To be a true rivalry, Analyze It would have to beat Catholic Boy one of these days. Now we just have two great races. Professional media people and social media calling this a great rivalry, as some have done, is at best premature and at worst plain silly. Are we that desperate to generate false hype in our game? I don’t know, but we shouldn’t be, as we have had two recent Triple Crown winners and a slew, no pun intended, of other great horses in the last 10 years. There is no need to over hype things and distort the facts and history of this great sport.
Frankly, there has been too much of that in our game. When we see things like Mind Your Biscuits, as nice a horse as he is, getting an NTRA vote for the top horse in the country, without a single win in North America, it reminds me of California Chrome getting a vote for top turf horse a few years ago in the Eclipse ballots. While so much of our game is subjective, a lot of it isn’t. Those votes display a lack of understanding of the game and discredit the voting process and any awards attached thereto. That’s just my opinion as a long-time student of the game. This is nothing new however, two of our most well-known horses, Secretariat and Ruffian, have so many falsehoods believed about them and some of the people around them. It makes one who knows the stories and what occurred and what didn’t occur, question the journalistic integrity of our sport. That is not a good place to be, but I guess if enough people believe the myths, it doesn’t matter. The worst part is, some historians and journalists are aware of these fables and just sit idly by and allow them to continue to exist. You know, just like tote companies don’t implement real time instant odds to correlate with when wagers are made, nobody cares.
That said, we saw one heck of a race and the best Belmont Derby to date on Saturday.
Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes - Race 7 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:11 PM Eastern
Shaft of Light has won 10 of 23 races on dirt, six of those at this 7 furlong trip in 10 tries. The most important fact to note from his past performances is he has earned all 10 wins leading from start to finish. As a seven year old, I would not expect the best races of his career to have come lately three races back at this distance, Shaft of Light earned a then career best 119 Equibase figure before bettering it by one point to 120 winning the a non-graded stakes in April. Next time out when stretching his speed a bit further in the Salvatore Mile, Shaft of Light led from the start and almost held that lead to the end when beaten a half-length. With three exceptional five furlong workouts since that race and cutting back to his best distance, Shaft of Light could break out to an early lead and never look back.
Limousine Liberal is also running seven furlongs as he won the Churchill Downs Stakes in 2017 and in 2018 at the distance. His 116 figure effort this year was the third best of his career, the best being a 120 figure when beaten a nose in the Phoenix Stakes in the fall of 2016. If he can run like that he would be on par with Shaft of Light and it's a good sign Jose Ortiz gets on as Ortiz rode him to both Churchill Downs Stakes wins.
Whitmore has won 10 of 20 races in his career but has only attempted to run this seven furlong distance once, finishing fourth behind Limousine Liberal in this year's Churchill Downs Stakes. However, he ran exceptionally well at 6 1/2 furlongs recently when beaten a neck in the True North Stakes over the track. With a running style that usually sees him towards the back of the pack in the early stages, Whitmore would be the best beneficiary if Shaft of Light is tackled early by another horse and in that case he has the potential to pass the field for his 11th career win.
Win Bet: Shaft of Light to win at odds of 2 to 1or more.
Exacta Bets: Box Shaft of Light and Limousine Liberal. Box Shaft of Light and Whitmore.
Doubles: Shaft of Light, Limousine Liberal and Whitmore in Race 7 with Paved, Capla Temptress and Fatale Bere in Race 8.
Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes - Race 8 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:46 PM Eastern
Capla Temptress has only run badly ONE time in six races, and in that start (when 7th of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last fall) she had significant traffic trouble. She ran her first three races in Europe, winning two and finishing a fine second to Juliet Capulet in a group 3 stakes in the other, before coming to North American last summer and winning the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes. The next two finishers in that race are two of the top 3 year old fillies in North America – Dixie Moon & Wonder Gadot, and beating them showed Capla Temptress fits with the best. After the Breeders' Cup she was allowed six months to mature and she was so highly regarded she returned in a Group 1 race in France worth nearly $600,000. In that race, Capla Temptress was surrounded inside other horses but when she saw daylight she exploded to be in a four horse photo for the win, beaten a neck and two heads on the wire. She gets Castellano for her trip back to the states and may be the one to beat based on that last effort and logical improvement 2nd off the layoff.
Fatale Bere should NOT be 20/1 but I'm certainly glad those are her morning line odds. Last month in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Stakes, when sent to post as the 6/5 favorite, she had NO SHOT when the saddle slipped and the jockey lost control. That being the case, we must consider her race two back her last start, and that was a win in the Providencia Stakes with a 108 Equibase Figure which is a good as many fillies with much lower starting odds. Desormeaux takes the call and rode Fatale Bere in her U.S. debut last October to a win in the Surfer Girl Stakes before a BIG effort in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, in which she finished 5th, beaten just 2 lengths, and 2 lengths in front of Capla Temptress.
Paved is another opening at absolutely ridiculous, and out of line, starting odds, in this case 12/1. She won the G2 Honeymoon last month as the second choice with 9/5 odds and two before that she beat males in the El Camino Real Derby with a 112 figure. She was beaten when third to Fatale Bere at 7 to 5 in the Providencia but she really has no knocks and a big shot to win here.
Win Bets: Capla Temptress to win at 5 to 2 odds or more.
For a lesser amount, Fatale Bere to win and to place at 4 to 1 or more and Paved to win and place at 4 to 1 or more.
For maximizing return when wagering on multiple horses to win, use a "Dutching" tool like the one available for free at amwager.com
Exacta: Capla Temptress, Fatale Bere and Paved over ALL.
Play the reverse of that exacta as well, which is ALL over Capla Temptress, Fatale Bere and Paved.
Doubles: ALL in Race 8 with Name Changer in Race 9
Capla Temptress, Fatale Bere and Paved in Race 8 with Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify in Race 9.
Suburban Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 6:18 PM Eastern
Name Changer is a playable longshot in this year's Suburban because a few of the lower odds horses are not playable, at least as win bets at low odds. Although Hoppertunity is a 10 furlong stakes winner, as is Diversify, there is no guarantee Tapwrit (7/2 starting odds), War Story (5/1 starting odds) or Dr. Dorr (3/1) can win at 10 furlongs. Of that trio, Dr. Dorr appears the most capable off his runner-up effort in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita at the end of May and as he's by Lookin At Lucky, the same sire as winner Accelerate. Name Changer has only raced 13 times though a five year old and was well regarded at three including when 3rd in the West Virginia Derby behind Cupid. He won a nice stakes race at the end of that year and his two races as a four year old proved nothing more than there was an issue so he was given 11 months off between June, 2017 and May of this year. He won both starts and the most recent earned him a 116 figure which when put in perspective gives him a big shot as that figure is BETTER than the 113 figures Hoppertunity earned in the Tokyo City Stakes and in the Brooklyn Handicap and as good as War Story earned in the Charles Town Classic, also as good as Dr. Dorr in any of his three recent races that make him the 3/1 favorite. There's NO doubt Name Changer can get 10 furlongs as a son of Uncle Mo and Saez getting on is strong as the jockey is still underbet on the circuit. If Name Changer can repeat his most recent effort he can post a huge upset.
Although both wins by Hoppertunity this year came at 12 furlongs, he has no issue at this 10 furlong trip as he won the 2016 Jockey Club Gold Cup over the track at the distance. He's 2 for 2 at Belmont and considering Baffert's amazing 47% back-to-back win rate in graded stakes dirt routes over the last few years, another "A" effort could be forthcoming. Like Name Changer, Hoppertunity may get some pace to chase if Diversify and Dr. Dorr keep each other honest on the front end.
The pace scenario somewhat hinges on what Diversify and Dr. Dorr do in the early stages. They both have the ability to lead from the start but both have also demonstrated the ability to press the pacesetter and still win. Diversify won the 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup (the race Hoppertunity won in 2016) leading all the way with a 119 figure that makes him tough if he isn't pressed too hard early or if he can relax as he did in last month's Commentator Stakes. Likewise Dr. Dorr earned a decent 114 figure when second in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita last time out and has now run three big races in a row.
Win Bet: Name Changer to win and to place at 5 to 1 or more, maybe even to win, place and show.
Exacta Bets: Box Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify.
Optional additional exacta: Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify over Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity, Diversify, War Story, Zanotti and Tapwrit.
Doubles: Name Changer in Race 9 with ALL in Race 10.
Also, ALL in Race 9 with Kingstar in Race 10.
Also, Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify in Race 9 with Kingstar, Hunting Horn, Analyze It and Catholic Boy in Race 10.
Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes - Race 10 at Belmont Park - Post Time 6:50 PM Eastern
It's not just that I'm hoping for big day for Team Valor entrants but I really feel Kingstar may be the one to beat. Just he and Hunting Horn have run this far on turf and could give them a little experience edge. There's no question they fit on class and with Kingstar opening at 6/1 compared to 7/2 for Hunting Horn I'll start there. Kingstar finished 2nd in an important Group 3 stakes in only the 2nd start of his career last fall in France then when returning from eight months off last month won as he pleased. His French rider comes over for a very good trainer (Pia Brandt) and he fits on all counts off the win at a mile and five-sixteenths last out.
Hunting Horn won as he pleased at Royal Ascot just a few weeks back, winning in a field of 16 by four lengths. Ryan Moore crosses the pond so we know the Coolmore gang is serious and the colt is 2 for 3 at 10 furlongs on turf.
Catholic Boy and Analyze It finished one-two in the Pennine Ridge Stakes on the course at 9 furlongs last month, a unusual race in which Catholic Boy led early, passed by Analyze It in the stretch, who opened up a length, before Catholic Boy angled from the inside to the outside of Analyze It to pass him for the win by a neck. It is possible BOTH colts idled a bit after making the lead and that concerns me given the kick European runners like Kingstar and Hunting Horn are known for because there's no coming back from being passed by either of those colts.
Bets: Kingstar to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.
Make a second win bet, this one on Hunting Horn, if he is anywhere near 3 to 1 at post time.
Exacta: Box Kingstar, Hunting Horn, Analyze It and Catholic Boy.
King Edward Stakes - Race 6 at Woodbine - Post Time 2:53 PM Eastern
Caribou Club won the similar Grade 2 Connaught Cup on the Woodbine Turf on 6/2, the only real difference between that race and the King Edward is this race is one furlong further. In the Connaught Cup, Caribou Club beat Tower of Texas by one and one-half lengths, with Conquest Panthera another head back in third. Considering Tower of Texas had no excuse for not being able to beat Caribou Club (who was 8/1 at post time compared to 3/1, not that big of a difference), it is an absolute JOKE Tower of Texas opens as the 2/1 favorite here while Caribou Club opens at 6/1. It's a joke we can laugh at all the way to the bank, because Caribou Club won a 100K stakes at Laurel at a mile on turf prior to that and as he's making his 3rd start off a layoff, he's on a pattern to run another "A" race good enough to win, making him a very solid KEY BET.
Win Bet: Caribou Club to win at 2 to 1 or more.
Exacta Bets: Caribou Club over Tower of Texas, First Premio, Conquest Panthera and Delta Prince.
Play the REVERSE of that exacta as well, which is Tower of Texas, First Premio, Conquest Panthera and Delta Prince over Caribou Club.
Perfect Sting Stakes - Race 4 at Belmont Park - Post Time 3:09 PM Eastern
This is more of a "Key Betting Race" than a "Key Bet" because ALL seven can win and a couple will offer odds well worth the risk. Using that premise as a starting point, Princess Gibraltar and Feeling Bossy get top billing. Princess Gibraltar came over from France last summer and ran only so-so in two races, finishing 3rd then 4th. Given six months off, she returned on 4/6 in Florida and was a different horse, more like the one that won 3 of 9 in France and Germany. Rallying from 7th of 8, she made the lead in the stretch, idled and almost lost it, but fought very gamely to win by a nose at the end. Rested 2 1/2 months, excellent trainer Clement has been working her on the Saratoga turf and with any improvement whatsoever off the 102 Equibase Figure effort (which is only a bit short of the 107 favorite La Sardane earned winning a grade 3 stakes last out), Princess Gibralter can post the upset.
Similarly so, Feeling Bossy is placed to run big. She was racing mostly in allowance and NY Bred stakes races until Jerkens dropper her into an allowance optional claimer last October and considering she was 6 for 14 at the time Servis snapped her up. After a seven month break, Feeling Bossy resurfaced in the statebred Mt. Vernon Stakes and led from start to finish. The fact she barely held on by a neck after leading by 2 lengths in the stretch doesn't concern me because she was likely not 100% fit after that lengthy time off. Not only is the mare 5 for 9 on the Belmont grass, she is a "WIN TYPE" because she now has 7 wins in 16 races, with no second or third place finishes. With the ability to win leading from start to finish or from off the pace, and for the sizzling hot Servis barn which has won nearly one-third of its races this year and half of 28 starts at the meeting, Feeling Bossy would be no surprise if winning and as such she's very playable, opening at 6 to 1.
Win Bets: Princess Gibralter and Feeling Bossy to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.
Exacta: Consider an exacta consisting of ALL over Princess Gibralter and Feeling Bossy instead of a place bet.
Eatontown Stakes – Race 9 at Monmouth - Post Time 4:55 PM Eastern
Lift Up appears to be a star on the rise in the filly and mare turf division. Her first three starts were on dirt and consisted of a pair of runner-up finishes but when her feet hit the sod for the first time in the spring of 2017 she reeled off three straight wins. Trying all-weather last fall she ran poorly but back on the grass starting in May following seven and one-half months off she has won two in a row, most importantly the most recent on the Monmouth Turf in an obvious prep for this race. The 110 Equibase figure earned in that race, the Miss Liberty Stakes, is likely to be improved upon in the filly's third start off the layoff. As it is already the second best last race figure in the field, right behind the 114 Dream Awhile earned when third in the Distaff Turf Mile on Derby weekend, any improvement is good enough to earn the filly her first graded stakes win.
Win Bet: Lift Up to win at odds of 8 to 5 or higher.
Exacta Bets: Lift Up over Elyseas's World, Special Event, Dream Awhile and Viva Vegas.
I will be playing the exactas above for two units (two times my normal exacta bet amount) then also playing the opposite of that exacta for one unit.
Queen's Plate Stakes - Race 10 at Woodbine- Post Time 5:36 PM Eastern
Trainer Graham Motion and owner/breeder Sam-Son Farm have a pair in this 16 horse field, Strike Me Down and Say the Word, who open at odds of 10/1 and 20/1, respectively, in an exceptional betting race because of the size of the field. Strike Me Down gets Jose Ortiz to ride and has every right to post the upset coming off a fine runner-up effort in a stakes on turf at Monmouth in which he stalked in third in the early stages before rallying to lead by two lengths then settling for second. That was his second start off a seven month layoff, his first being a trip to Woodbine on May 4 for a win over the track. As a son of Tapit, the 10 furlong trip is no problem at all and as a half-brother to Golden Sabre, who won the Durham Cup at Woodbine for this owner and trainer, this colt fits on all counts and is a KEY LONGSHOT bet on the day.
His stablemate, Say the Word, also must be bet as he gets leading jockey Hernandez, who rode him last month in his first start around two turns on the all-weather surface and apparently wants to ride him back. Prior to that, Say the Word won easily by nearly five lengths at the distance of a mile and three-sixteenths, so this extra 16th of a mile is unlikely to be an issue. Considering his last two efforts earned 92 and 93 figures, Say the Word won't need much improvement to run as well as any of the much lower odds choices.
The other two contenders are the filly Dixie Moon, winner of the Woodbine Oaks three weeks ago, and the morning line favorite Telekinesis, winner of the Plate Trial Stakes on the same date. Fillies have done very well in this race recently and Dixie Moon earned the same 97 Equibase figure in the Oaks that Telekinesis earned in the Plate Trial at the same trip. Both are very talented and very consistent and must be used on any tickets we play involving this race.
For exactas we must use Wonder Gadot and Rose's Vision, the former beaten a head by Dixie Moon in the Woodbine Oaks after missing by a half-length in the Kentucky Oaks and the latter a strong second to Telekinesis in the Plate Trial.
Bets: Strike Me Down and Say the Word to win and to place at 7 to 2 or higher.
Consider a win bet on Dixie Moon at 7 to 2 or more. For making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool like the one free at Amwager, which helps you allocate your bets based on the amount you want to spend, or the amount you want to win.
Exacta: In a 16 horse field we can absolutely play a six horse exacta box in my opinion and that's exactly what I plan to do by boxing Strike Me Down, Say the Word, Dixie Moon, Telekinesis, Wonder Gadot and Rose's Vision.
Trifecta: Because the minimum trifecta wager at Woodbine is just $0.20, the cost of a six horse trifecta box is just $24 so we can box all six horses in the trifecta as well.
United Nations Stakes - Race 11 at Monmouth- Post Time 6:01 PM Eastern
The United Nations Stakes is the Race of the Week at Equibase so rather than copy that analysis here you can read it by clicking here to go to the Equibase web site.
However, that analysis does not contain my betting strategy so here it is:
Bets: Vettori Kin to win at 2 to 1 or higher. Also, Kurilov to win at 3 to 1 or more.
Exactas: Vettori Kin and Kurilov over Vettori Kin, Kurilov, Funtastic, One Go All Go, Profiteer, Money Multiplier and Oscar Nominated.
Consider playing the reverse of that exacta for half as much as with Vettori Kin and Kurilov on top.
June 27th, 2018
"A Very Long List"
By: Jonathan Stettin
When AmWager asked me to write about either my favorite or the best filly or mare I have personally seen, I knew it would be difficult. The issue is, I have about 20 or more favorites or best fillies and mares I have been fortunate to see. I had to put my thinking cap on and as I love to do go back.
Let me start by saying I am firmly in the camp that comparing horses from different eras is entirely subjective. Identifying greatness is not.
When you talk about eras, you get into who did who beat and the quality of the competition. You also, as a horsemen or women, have to realize these animals are competitive and react to their competition. Much like an athlete who plays better when facing better athletes and plays down when the competition softens. This renders the different era discussion moot and 100% opinion.
When it comes to the best ever in the filly and mare department, Ruffian stands out. This is something I discussed when on a debate the greats panel at the first Equestricon convention. There have been many greats, but she has some distinctions that are shared by none. The book I wrote about her was called “All 1’s” for a reason. She led at every call of all 10 races she finished. She was never headed and won at distances from 5 furlongs to a mile and a half. Most remarkably, in my opinion, is that she equaled or broke the track or stakes record in all 10 of her wins. She never raced without breaking or at least equaling the track or stakes record. You just can’t find that in any other horses’ past performances, and it is not something one could label subjective. It is as objective and factual as it gets.
Ruffian had an advantage many horses don’t. Speed. She was fast and could carry that speed. You can’t beat what you can’t catch. She made her luck. Speed horses and even stalkers can do that. Closers, especially deep closers, do not have that advantage and are more pace dependent. When you have a horse, say like Zenyatta, who comes from way off the pace and strings together victories like she did, it is special considering she has to do it no matter what is happening up front.
Once I began thinking about my favorite race gals and the best ones I have seen, I started remembering my earliest days and memories at the track. Days when the grandstands and clubhouses were full, and the atmospheres were like a super bowl or world series every weekend. Quickly, I realized it would take a book to talk about the great ones I saw. One did come to mind however. She was one of my first favorites and she could run with the best of them. I learned all about a swishing tail in the stretch from her, as I had never seen that before and didn’t know what it could mean. You don’t hear much about her today, probably because she like many great race mares didn’t turn out to be a great producer. But on the racetrack, you better be ready to race if she was in the gate.
Shuvee was by the great Nashua out of the Nasrullah mare Levee. She was the second filly in history to win the Triple Tiara, the filly version of the Triple Crown in New York which consisted of The Acorn, The Mother Goose, and The Coaching Club American Oaks. I became a fan early on after seeing her win The Frizette. She had a habit of swishing her tail in the stretch, that caught my attention and I asked about it. Some horses, especially fillies or mares did it when they were tiring, some did it playfully, and some just had a nuance. After sweeping the filly Triple Crown I watched her win The Alabama and even then, as a young boy knew she was something special. I didn’t know the best was yet to come.
A few short years later I was surprised to see her entered against the boys, in what was then one of the most prestigious and grueling races in the country, The Jockey Club Gold Cup, then run at two miles. An ambitious spot for any filly, but Shuvee came through swishing tail and all. That iced her champion older mare and she came back the next year to try The Jockey Club Gold Cup again. She made it back to back wins in the tough race and scored her second champion older mare title. She was inducted into the Racing hall of Fame in 1975 I believe, just 4 years after her second Gold Cup win.
I will never forget rooting for that filly I bet to beat the colts with the swishing tale. I can still hear Fred Caposella calling her name. Ah Shuvee, one of the greats.
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.