Friday, 28 September 2018 08:34

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, September 29

 

Pilgrim Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:16 PM Eastern

 

Vineyard Sound is impossible to ignore, opening at 12/1. Sent to post at 15/1 in his debut last month at Saratoga in a turf sprint (7 furlongs), the race was moved to dirt. Sent to the front shortly after the start, Vineyard Sound led set fast fractions on the lead into the stretch before settling for 2nd in a big effort while earning an 81 Equibase figure in the process. To put that in perspective, favorite Opry made his career debut one week earlier in an off-turf 7 furlong dirt sprint, finishing a close-up third with a 75 figure before breaking his maiden in the With Anticipation Stakes by improving markedly to a 92 figure running in his first turf route. There is every reason to believe Vineyard Sound can repeat that same feat as Opry did in the With Anticipation by breaking his maiden in the Pilgrim Stakes, particularly as he's bred to adore the turf. Vineyard Sound is a full brother to multiple turf route stakes winner Bittel Road, who won as a 2 year old, and two of his other three siblings on the dam's side are also turf route winners. Veteran jockey Edgar Prado takes the call and Vineyard Sound has put in three recent workouts on turf coming into the race so be familiar with the surface.

 

Forty Under tried turf and two turns last month in his 2nd career start and showed a lot of maturity sitting off the pace in 2nd in the early stages before showing a nice kick to win. He's improving, gets a good inside post and the 93 Equibase figure earned is on par with the 92 Opry earned in winning the With Anticipation stakes, so likely to improve in his 3rd career start and 2nd route, Forty Under is another to be respected, particularly as his starting odds are 6/1.

 

Opry rounds out the main trio of contenders, already a stakes winner and with improving to do in his 3rd career start. The only knocks are his 9/5 starting odds.

 

There are a trio of horses who we can consider for the runner-up spot, starting with Social Paranoia, who finished 2nd to Forty Under last time out and who, like Vineyard Sound, is trying to break his maiden in a stakes race. Somelikeithotbrown finished 2nd to Opry in the With Anticipation Stakes and can improve, having broken his maiden by eight lengths before that, which helped make him the 6 to 5 favorite in the With Anticipation. Spirit Animal ran fourth in an off-turf race in his debut then improved nicely to break his maiden in a turf route in his second start. His 87 Equibase figure is lower than the other contenders and lower than the figure Vineyard Sound may improve to, but Spirit Animal has improving to do and can't be discounted as a contender.

 

Win or win/place bets: Vineyard Sound to win and place at 3 to 1 or more.

Consider a second win bet, on Forty Under, at 7 to 2 or higher, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

 

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

 

Exacta bets: Vineyard Sound, Forty Under and Opry over Vineyard Sound, Forty Under, Opry, Somelikeitbrown, Social Paranoia and Spirit Animal.

 

Doubles: Vineyard Sound, Forty Under and Opry in Race 9 with Diversify and Thunder Snow in Race 10.

Jockey Club Gold Cup – Race 10 at Belmont - Post Time 5:50 PM ET

 

If Mendelssohn puts pressure on Diversify early, Thunder Snow can win. Although Thunder Snow won the Dubai World Cup on the lead from start to finish, I doubt those tactics will be used in the Jockey Club Gold Cup because Diversify is a horse with a high cruising speed and a very strong desire to lead from the start. More likely, it will Mendelssohn who will be attending the pace early to keep the Diversify honest and insure he does not control the pace as he did when winning the 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup. The reason Thunder Snow went to the lead at the start in the World Cup was it had been shown earlier on the card that running style was beneficial compared to others, particularly as Mendelssohn had led from start to finish in winning the U.A.E. Derby by 18 lengths. Prior to the World Cup, Thunder Snow proved to be capable of tracking the pacesetter and running well, such as when winning the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 in February. The Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 was the second of three successive big efforts in which Thunder Snow earned 106, 111 and then 116 Equibase Speed Figures, before a tremendous 142 figure earned winning the World Cup. Since arriving at Belmont and coming out of quarantine, Thunder Snow put in a half-mile workout over the main track and moves back to dirt after a poor effort on turf last month and that could be the key to repeating his World Cup effort and collaring Diversify in the stretch to win the Gold Cup.

 

That being said, Diversify has proven time and again to be one of the toughest horses in the handicap division to pass in the late stages of a race. The first time Diversify ran the distance of one mile and one-quarter was in last year's Gold Cup, a breakout performance with a 119 figure and his second such figure in a row. After a pair of poor efforts last fall and this spring, Diversify recovered that form in April with a win in the Commentator Stakes with a 104 figure, improving to 114 winning the Suburban Stakes at the distance in July and then to a 118 figure easily winning the Whitney Stakes last month at Saratoga. Diversify has shown an incredible liking for the main track at Belmont, with six wins and two runner-up finishes in eight races, which helps make him the other horse with a high probability to win this race.

 

Any of the other six can finish third. With the exception of likely early pace presser Mendelssohn five of those six likely to be coming from far back in the early stages and hoping to rally past most of the rest.

 

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

 

Exacta: Box Diversify and Thunder Snow.

 

Trifecta: Diversify and Thunder Snow over Diversify and Thunder Snow over Carlino, Patch, Uno Mas Modelo and Discreet Lover.

 

The reason for the strategy based on the fact I have no interest in either Mendelssohn or Gronkowski finishing second. If Diversify wins, the trifecta turns a few bucks into a higher return than a win bet on Diversify. Of course, if Thunder Snow wins then the trifecta may pay handsomely.

 

Chandelier Stakes – Race 9 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:07 ET, 4:07 PT

 

Der Lu won as she pleased in her career debut last month in a sprint and as a daughter of Orb should stretch out and run even better. The 99 Figure is the best last race figure in the field and she's trained by Baffert (who also saddles Mother Mother) with Van Dyke riding back after being up in the debut, in which she ran very maturely as she stalked in 2nd early before drawing off. The only other horse with a better figure in any race is her stablemate, who regressed badly when second in the Del Mar Debutante four weeks ago, won by Bellafina, with Brill fourth. Bellafina, who opens at 9/5, regressed badly off the 101 figure earned in the Sorrento one month earlier, as did Brill and Mother Mother, which is of big concern as 2 year olds should be improving from race to race, not declining. As such, Der Lu has a big shot to post the mild upset here, opening at 4 to 1.

 

Del Mar May is the other horse we can consider as a win contender and bet as such. She led late then finished 2nd in her debut in July with an 85 figure then went into the Sorrento Stakes as a maiden. Although 2nd to Bellafina, Del Mar May improved to a 92 figure but unlike Bellafina, Del Mar May did not go in the Del Mar Debutante and so enters the race fresh and on an improving pattern.

 

Bets: Der Lu to win at 9 to 5 or more AND Del Mar May to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.

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

 

Doubles: Der Lu and Del Mar May in Race 9 with Queen Blossom, Vasilika and Cambodia in Race 10.

Also, ALL in race 9 with Queen Blossom in Race 10.

 

Pick 3: (Two Tickets)

Race 9 – Der Lu and Del Mar May

Race 10 – Queen Blossom, Vasilika and Cambodia

Race 11 – West Coast and Accelerate

 

Race 9 – Der Lu and Del Mar May

Race 10 – Queen Blossom

Race 11 – West Coast and Accelerate

 

 

Rodeo Drive Stakes – Race 10 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:41 PM ET, 4:41 PT

 

Queen Blossom, who opens at 8 to 1 odds, has as much probability to win as either of the two favorites, Vasilika and Cambodia, who open at much lower odds. Better still perhaps, Queen Blossom has run this 10 furlong turf trip, and further, previously, winning the Santa Barbara Stakes in April over the course at 12 furlongs and finishing 2nd in a pair of stakes since then at 10 and 11 furlongs, respectively. Prat rode her in all three recent "A" efforts, and he moves to Vasilika, but Geroux comes in to ride to there are no issues. With a career best Equibase figure of 112 earned one before last not far from the 115 and 113 figures Vasilika and Cambodia earned when finishing first and second, respectively, in their most recent race, with out of line odds and experience at the trip the favorites lack, Queen Blossom has every right to post the upset.

 

Vasilika goes for her seventh straight win, including her first graded stakes win four weeks ago in the John C Mabee Stakes. She loves to win and except for never having run this 10 furlong trip would be no surprise. Cambodia won the Yellow Ribbon Stakes in August before rallying from 9th to 2nd in the Mabee behind Vasilika. Another horse who loves to win and is immensely talented, she must be considered a win contender for any double and pick 3 tickets played but with such great value offered on Queen Blossom, Cambodia is a poor win bet.

 

Bets: Queen Blossom to win and place at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

 

Exactas: Box Queen Blossom and Vasilika. Box Queen Blossom and Cambodia.

 

Optional Double (particularly if live in the pick 3 with one of the two contenders in the ninth race winning):

Queen Blossom in Race 10 with West Coast and Accelerate in Race 11.

 

Note about race 11, the Awesome Again Stakes: There's no reason to bet that race in and of itself because a short six horse field is assembled and it would be a shock if either West Coast or Accelerate did not win. Value on one of these two winning the race comes solely in playing the doubles or pick 3.

Thursday, 27 September 2018 17:34

Evolution

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

 

September 27, 2018

Evolution

By: Jonathan Stettin


As a long time pick 6 player I’ve known for a while the bet is changing and is not what it once was. The wager has suffered shrinking pools for years, primarily due to the increase in 50 cent multi-race wagers and many more sharks and syndicates in the water.

There was a time, not that long ago, when the NYRA pick 6 pool could reach over 100k on non-carryover days. That created daily opportunities to be the only winner and take down six figures. That made it a worthwhile bet on non-carryover days, as the majority of sharks surfaced when there was a carryover. Snaking the pool we’d hit it and it is a wonderful feeling. For $30-$40k not so much, considering how tough the pick 6 is to hit.

California, especially Southern California, has been the exception when it came to the pick 6. Their pool has remained acceptable, even on non-carryover days. Regardless, Santa Anita has now switched to the 20-cent jackpot pick 6. Considering the success of the jackpot wagers, this should come as no surprise. NYRA has also pushed forward with getting a jackpot pick 6, so it is pretty clear, this 20-cent jackpot is the pick 6 of the future. The dinosaur pick 6 will at least remain in the Breeders’ Cup, as the two day event is just not long enough to support the jackpot format.

I always preferred the standard $2 format, as, I thought it separated a lot of the kids from the adults. With the shrinking pools however, I must admit it ceased being my main, “go-to,” wager, some time ago. With places like Maryland, New Jersey, California, soon New York, and of course Florida and Gulfstream, where it all started amongst others offering the 20-cent jackpot. I am once again very interested in the wager.

A lot of people knock the jackpot format and feel it is only worth it when the carryover is huge, or on mandatory payout days. I disagree. Many a day the pick 6 players have been caught sleeping and the pool was taken down by an astute and heads up player. I have also seen enough days where the shared payoff was more than worth it, based on the 20-cent investment.

On mandatory payout days it is one of the best bets around. Essentially you get a $2 pick 6 at a 20-cent cut rate of investment. If you are used to the $2 wager you get a lot of coverage for a lot less money.

The wager generates excitement and interest. Any wager that has the potential for six figure and above scores, is good for the game and the bettor. The 20-cent jackpot pick 6 requires a different approach and strategy than the old conventional one, but it is the future of the pick 6 and I think it should be welcomed and embraced.

Racing changes and evolves over time. As players, we too must adapt and play in the current arena. The jackpot pick 6 allows players who don’t normally play the pick 6 to get involved and become more familiar withthis challenging wager. The water is fine. Everybody in the pool.

Another new wager we are seeing for the first time this weekend is the transatlantic pick 4. NYRA has been hosting cross country pick 4’s, but this Saturday they offer one with two stakes from Longchamp, including the Prix De Arc’ de Triomohe, and two stakes from Belmont’s super Saturday. I love this concept. European racing is phenomenal for wagering. It is some of the best racing for wagering in the world and we here in the states pass it up way too often. The toughest part is getting quality past performances, but that can at times be a slight edge for those who diligently follow what goes on over there.

We should enjoy a weekend full of opportunities. May you all make at least one of them count.

 

Friday, 21 September 2018 08:33

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, September 22

 

PA Derby Champion Stakes – Race 8 at Parx - Post Time 3:41 PM Eastern

 

Collected opens as the 6/5 favorite and is a FALSE FAVORITE, on many counts, which makes the race exceptionally playable. "Never bet a Grade 1 winner making a comeback from a layoff in a non-graded race" is an old handicapping angle in play here. A non-graded race off a layoff for a previous grade 1 winner has to be considered a throwaway race, one which of course a horse can win, but on the other hand the trainer is telegraphing this isn't important one bit. Collected needs to get in at least one race before running in this year's Breeders' Cup Classic, having finished 2nd in the race last year, and needs this kind of race but coming back from eight months off, in a decent enough field, although he can win on class, it's just as likely if there's a battle in the stretch Smith is NOT going to ask him for all he has to offer because that would hurt his chances in six weeks.

 

On the other hand, there are a trio of horses with good form that can be played as overlays, starting with Exulting, shipping in from New York for McLaughlin. The five year old won just one of his first eight races but has won two in a row, the last with a career best 110 Equibase figure (the 2nd best last race figure in the field) and is on a pattern for another career best. Bravo gets the call and is a very strong rider for the barn with a 15 for 53 record going back the last two years, 3 for 9 in stakes. Opening at 10/1, Exulting is all but impossible to ignore given how easily he won his last two races.

 

Aztec Sense is another very playable horse at anywhere near his 6/1 starting odds. He's won six in a row, three over the course including a pair of $100K stakes like this one, earning 106 figures in his last two. He can win on the lead or from just off the pace and he's been in front at the 8th pole in all of those recent wins, giving no horse a shot to pass late. Having won ALL five two turn races in his career, and for the super high percentage Navarro barn, Aztec Sense would be no surprise.

 

Name Changer has won 7 of 15 career races including a three-for-four record this year. He won the G3 Monmouth Cup when last seen at the end of July and fired to win off a similar short layoff in May. Jose Ortiz rode him for the first time in the Monmouth Cup and rides back and repeating any of his last 3 efforts, with 116, 113 and 113 figures, if neither of the other two contenders jumps up, gets him another stakes win.

 

For exotics, we'll toss in Sunny Ridge, who until a 9th place effort when overmatched in the Woodward had good form to similar, and Zanotti, who has finished second in FIVE of SEVEN races this year and who has a lot of heart.

 

Bets: Exulting and Aztec Sense to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

Consider a win bet on Name Changer at odds of 5 to 2 or more as well.

 

When making multiple win bets, always a good idea in a race like this with a bad favorite, use a "Dutching" tool (like the free one at Amwager) which allows you to set the amount you want to win or the amount you want to spend, and allocates your wagers accordingly based on odds.

 

Exacta: Exulting, Aztec Sense and Name Changer over Exulting, Aztec Sense, Name Changer, Sunny Ridge and Zanotti.

 

Play the reverse of that exacta as well, because the reward is well worth the risk and if any two of the three main contenders finish 1st and 2nd, we win twice. That exacta is: Exulting, Aztec Sense, Name Changer, Sunny Ridge and Zanotti over Exulting, Aztec Sense and Name Changer.

 

Doubles: ALL in Race 8 with Still Having Fun and Seven Trumpets in Race 9.

 

Doubles (additional wager): Exulting, Aztec Sense and Name Changer in Race 8 with Still Having Fun, Seven Trumpets, Smooth B, Earned Success and Whereshetoldmetogo in Race 9.

 

For the pick 3, use the horses above in races 8 and 9 and just single Monomoy Girl in race 10 (an otherwise unplayable race).

 

Gallant Bob Stakes – Race 9 at Parx - Post Time 4:14 PM ET

 

Seven Trumpets finished second last month in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at odds of 32 to 1, beating second betting choice Firenze Fire by half-length, the latter having NO EXCUSE. Still, for some reason (one I won't complain about), Seven Trumpets opens at 12/1 here while Firenze Fire opens at 2/1 and although Firenze Fire isn't a totally false favorite like Collected is in the previous race, the likely high odds offered on Seven Trumpets are notable. Now first or second in his last SIX one-turn races, Seven Trumpets came back to work a half-mile in 46.8 which was the best of 78 on the day so his form can't be questioned. Considering his off-the-pace running style and considering Forced and War Giant are BOTH need-the-lead types likely to go 22 for the 1st quarter and 44 and chance for the half mile, Seven Trumpets gets a fantastic post to run into and repeating that last effort with a strong 106 Equibase figure may get him the upset win.

 

Another closer likely to benefit greatly from the early pace is Still Having Fun, who finished 5th (after being 8th early) in the Jerkens. Prior to that, he proved himself at the level with a win in the Woody Stephens on Belmont day and a 106 figure matching Seven Trumpets best effort. Rosario rides back and the colt has been first or second six or seven one turn races and therefore cannot be ignored for a second, opening at 12/1.

 

Earned Success opens at 10/1, ridiculously high odds for a horse trained by Chad Brown. Brown also saddles Engage, who has run okay in four of five this year but who has finished evenly in the last eighth of a mile for 2nd in three of those. Earned Success is three-for-four in his career and is on an improving pattern with 92 then 102 figures in his last two. He's only started four times so has more to show us and therefore rounds out the three main contenders for win bets.

 

That being said about the main contenders, there is really not a single horse in the field to be totally tossed out, even considering the likely pace duel, so the strategy will be to key on two or all three of the above, either with win/place bets or exactas.

 

Bets: Seven Trumpets and Still Having Fun to win at odds of 3/1, adding place bets at 6 to 1 or more (and/or playing the exactas below instead of place bets). Consider a win bet on Earned Success at 4 to 1 or higher.

 

Exacta: Seven Trumpets over ALL, AND the reverse which is ALL over Seven Trumpets

 

Exacta option 2: Seven Trumpets and Still Having Fun over ALL and (the reverse) ALL over Seven Trumpets and Still Having Fun.

 

Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash – Grade 3 - Race 10 at Laurel - Post Time 5 PM ET

 

The Man loves to win races, now with 10 victories in 15 starts, better still 6 for 7 at this basic six furlong trip. He has a great stalking running style and his last three races earned Equibase figures of 109, 109 and 107 which are better than all but one of favorite Switzerland's figures (the best earned on a sloppy track) and better than or as good as the last two figures earned by Always Sunshine. The Man has excellent tactical speed and should be in the top three from the start under Vargas, the only rider he's ever known since his career debut, more reasons to suspect a big effort at a square price as he opens at 8/1.

 

Always Sunshine and Switzerland are the logical win contenders for exotics but are likely to go to post at odds too low for a win bet, particularly when offered so much value on The Man. Always Sunshine won his last two races, both non-graded stakes, and has won over the track, but interestingly enough has the same number of career wins (6) at the trip as The Man. Switzerland disappointed at 3/1 last out in the Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga and will appreciate the class relief. He won three in a row prior to that with 103, 107 and 118 figures, the latter over a sloppy track but in a grade 3 stakes like this one.

 

Bets: The Man to win at 2 to 1 or more.

 

Exacta: Box The Man and Always Sunshine. Box The Man and Switzerland.

Trifecta: Box The Man, Always Sunshine and Switzerland.

 

Pennsylvania Derby – Race 11 at Parx - Post Time 5:45 PM Eastern

 

Axelrod gets slight preference among four horses I feel have more of a probability to win than the rest. Since stretching out to two turns on dirt in his third start as a three-year-old in June, Axelrod has really come to hand. In his first dirt route after two turf sprints this year, Axelrod finished second at 23 to 1 odds in the Affirmed Stakes while earning a career-best 106 Equibase Speed Figure then one month later he rallied gamely from last of nine to win the Indiana Derby with a 102 figure, before tying his career-best effort with an easy four length victory in the Smarty Jones Stakes last month. Jockey Joe Bravo rode Axelrod for the first time in the Smarty Jones and got along with the colt marvelously and the familiarity with the track may be an edge as well. In the Smarty Jones both horse and jockey had to wait for a clear path on the turn and when that path never materialized, Bravo swung Axelrod out eight paths wide into the stretch from where the horse accelerated in the blink of an eye to draw off. That's the same kind of effort I'm expecting of Axelrod in the Pennsylvania Derby, one that can help him post the upset for his third stakes win in a row.

 

Although away from the races for more than six months, McKinzie cannot be completely discounted as a contender when considering wagers in this race. There's little concern about racing around two turns off a long layoff insofar as trainer Bob Baffert is concerned as Stats Race Lens statistics reveal Baffert has a three-for-five record with horses returning off similar layoffs in two-turn stakes races over the past five years. With regular jockey Mike Smith aboard and with 106, 111 and 118 figures earned in his three dirt route races, McKinzie must be respected as a contender even though he's coming off an injury and a layoff.

 

Hofburg just ran the best race of his career when earning a 113 figure while geared down to a five length margin of victory in the Curlin Stakes at the distance of the Pennsylvania Derby. Although winning the Curlin easily, trainer Bill Mott is putting blinkers on for this race. Considering the stature of this Hall-of-Fame trainer I will not argue with the equipment change off a win, particularly considering the colt shows a portentous blinkers on/fast workout pattern as his recent half-mile workout was the best of 60 on the day. Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides once again and if there is any improvement from that last effort, Hofburg might put on quite a show.

 

Mr Freeze rounds out the quartet that I feel can win the race and opens at double digit odds. He has won three of his four races to date and missed by just a half-length in the other. He enters the Pennsylvania Derby off a career-best effort with a 102 figure in the West Virginia Derby, in which he drew off to win by eight lengths with plenty of gas left in the tank. This will be his toughest test to date, but it must be noted his sire To Honor and Serve won the 2011 running of this race. As the late bloomer in the field, having just begun his career in April, Mr Freeze may be capable of getting the job done.

 

Bets: Axelrod to win at 2 to 1 or more. Mr Freeze to win at 3 to 1 or more.

 

Exacta: Axelrod, Mr Freeze, Hofburg and McKinzie over Axelrod, Mr Freeze, Hofburg, McKinzie, Instilled Regard, King Zachary, Core Beliefs and Bravazo.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018 20:21

House Rules “Pay That Man His Money”

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September 19, 2018

House Rules "Pay That Man His Money"

By: Jonathan Stettin


The House makes the rules, and if you play you are going to play by those rules, whether you like it or not. The house has bet on you playing regardless of what the rules are, or how they interpret them. History has proven them right. Though attendance at racetracks is scarce most of the year, handle holds. This is as much a sign of the times as it is poor management and weak retention of players.

All gambling outlets deal with similar issues, and all have things stacked in their favor and against you. If you ask most serious gamblers if they would play poker against a stacked deck, you would get a resounding no. Shortly thereafter, they’ll log on to their ADW, go to the track or casino, or sit down at the poker table. Essentially, they are playing against a stacked deck. The house wins. Although, pari-mutual wagering is somewhat of a different animal. We, for the most part, play against each other, similar to poker, but the house is in the game. In poker you have the rake, in the Sport of Kings you have the takeout.

I find it very frustrating when people make decisions regarding my money. Normally, most of us would resist it. In racing, and in most gambling, we have taken it on the chin so often we accept it. We’ve become the kid who hands their lunch money to the bully without even making him have to take it. Just last week at Woodbine, a favored horse in a stake on one of their biggest days broke through the gate. The horse ran off before a great catch by the outrider saved him. He was brought back to the gate and inspected and allowed to run, presumably with no visible injury. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t injured or did not leave his race at the run off. The percentage of horses who break through the gate and run off winning is low. Most people do not want one as the favorite. House rules he ran, lost, and if you had him you got stuck with him, unless you were able to cancel your ticket. It might not be better if he had scratched. Then you get the favorite who you may have or may not have wanted. The only fair way to protect the “customer” is to have and allow alternative selections. Fair, simple, and the right way to protect your money. I’d prefer a refund to the current rules. That will never happen because we are not protected, and apparently most of us don’t care. I do.

We have evolved to accept we do not know what will happen following an inquiry, regardless of what the head on view shows. We have had what happens out of the gate does not impact the race rammed down our throats so much, that some of us actually believe it. Stewards don’t bet, or at least are not supposed to, yet they decide without accountability what happens to the money you bet.

Now for the latest. FanDuel declined to honor a $110 bet on the Broncos on Sunday that would have paid more than $82,000, due to an error in the odds-making process, the company said.

"The wager in question involved an obvious pricing error inadvertently generated by our in-game pricing system," a FanDuel spokesperson said in a statement. In these cases, the company policy and house rules clearly say they do not have to pay. Tough luck to the bettor who went to the window at the Meadowlands and made the bet and had a ticket at the posted, albeit incorrect odds in his hand. Interesting the house rules in this case, do not mirror New Jersey state rules. The state rules include an investigation prior to a determination, but it is the house rules that count, and they never favor or protect the customer. In gambling, the customer is always wrong. Now in fairness, Vegas books might pay this error, but when they do they almost always bar the player. Maybe that’s the one case they try and protect the gambler.

In all fairness, this wager was an obvious error and the player likely knew it was fishy. That said they made the mistake. They took his money and his bet. Had he lost there would have been no refund under the heading, but he lost. He didn’t lose. He won, and although at true odds he wins $18 not $80K you didn’t post those odds, did you? If you make a mistake at a casino or a racetrack, try telling them you really wanted red, or the #4. You will quickly see exactly where you stand. So, should FanDuel, in the words of Teddy KGB, “pay that man his money?"

 

Friday, 14 September 2018 00:00

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, September 15

 

Ricoh Woodbine Mile – Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:48 PM Eastern

 

Lord Glitters is a classy turf horse who ran big in three straight group 1 and group 2 stakes in England this spring and summer then won a group 3 stakes last month. He's on an IDENTICAL pattern to 2015 Ricoh Woodbine Mile winner Mondialiste and that should come as no surprise as Mondialiste was trained by David O'Meara as is Lord Glitters. He gets Lasix and Jamie Spencer is in from Europe, having ridden the horse to runner-up efforts in the Queen Ann Stakes at Royal Ascot (in a field of 15) and the Summer Mile Stakes, beating his stablemate Suedois by a nose for 2nd. It must be noted Suedois came in from Europe for O'Meara to win a grade 1 race, the Shadwell Turf Mile, last year. With two of his last four efforts earning him 122 Equibase figures that are by far top in the field, Lord Glitters should take some beating.

 

That being said, big changes in form are possible from Good Samaritan on the return to turf, where he started his career, winning his first two starts, on the Woodbine sod including the Summer Stakes. Rosario was up for those races, in which he ran without blinkers, which are removed today, with Rosario getting back on after a two race absence. Showing he can run on turf as a two year old and on dirt earlier this year when winning the New Orleans Handicap with a 116 figure competitive here if repeated, Good Samaritan is a second horse worth considering for a win bet, opening at 10/1.

 

Delta Prince is a turf miler to be sure, with four wins and two second place finishes in six starts at the trip. Castellano has been up for the last two, the first of which came after nine months off and was a win on the Woodbine turf at this mile trip in the Grade 2 King Edward. He was the only horse to close into lone frontrunner Voodoo Song last out in the Fourstardave, improving to a career best 117 figure, and any step forward 3rd off the layoff makes him a contender as well.

 

I'll consider Mr Havercamp (with inferior figures of 104 and107 compared to the top three contenders), Oscar Performance (who was pulled up last out but who won the Poker Stakes at a mile prior to that) and Stormy Antarctic (a European shipper like Lord Glitters who hasn't been facing the same quality as that one but may be good enough for a minor award) for second on exacta tickets.

 

Bets: Lord Glitters to win at 3 to 2 or higher, a low odds key overlay win bet.

For a smaller amount, consider a win bet on Good Samaritan at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at odds of 5 to 1 or higher.

 

Exacta: Box Lord Glitters, Good Samaritan and Delta Prince.

Exacta: Lord Glitters, Good Samaritan and Delta Prince over Lord Glitters, Good Samaritan, Delta Prince, Mr Havercamp, Oscar Performance and Stormy Antarctic.

 

Pick 3 and Pick 4: (Woodbine offers $0.20 bets so we can play a decent pick 4 ticket)

Race 8- Lord Glitters, Good Samaritan and Delta Prince

Race 9-Starship Jubilee, Inflexibility

Race 10- Ikerrin Road, Pink Lloyd, Kingsport

Race 11- English Illusion, Patterson Cross, Hawkbill, Mekhtaal, Tiz a Slam, Utmost, Johnny Bear

 

Canadian Stakes – Race 9 at Woodbine- Post Time 5:27 PM ET

 

I only see two horses that can win this race, Starship Jubilee and Inflexibility, and with the first of the two opening at 10/1 I'll start there. Starship Jubilee is a grade 2 winner in a grade 2 race, the other two of the remaining seven that have won grade 2 or grade 1 races being New Money Honey and Niigon's Eclipse. However, New Money Honey is a FALSE 2nd betting choice opening at 5/2 as she's not the same horse as last year at three when she won a pair of graded stakes. On the other hand, Starship Jubilee, who won the Nassau and Dance Smartly over the Woodbine turf last year, got back into the winner's circle last month off a layoff and pair of defeats and as the type that loves to win, now that she's back in form she can easily run another "A" race, as she did when winning five in a row last year and when putting together two big efforts in a row in January and February. Her last start was against much cheaper but we should consider it nothing more than a paid workout as she was eligible for the starter allowance condition and it was better than a morning drill and her 113 figure from last year's Canadian when she led late before settling for 3rd would make her very competitive if repeated here.

 

That being said, Inflexibility is a legitimate favorite, as she led late and settled for 2nd in the G2 Dance Smartly this year (which Starship Jubilee won last year). She didn't run nearly as well last month in the Beverly D at Arlington but winner Sistercharlie is pretty much unstoppable right now so back at the grade 2 level Inflexibility should be very tough.

 

For the minor awards (which means for use in second on exacta tickets), I'll consider Daring Duchess (part of a likely pace duel with others but who hangs around for second a lot), Niigon's Eclipse (first or second in seven of her last eight), Bletchley (second in the Nassau behind Niigon's Eclipse and capable of putting in a big rally on occasion) and Hallie Belle (scratched out of the Ladies Turf at Kentucky Downs last weekend for this and getting leading jockey Da Silva).

 

Bets: Starship Jubilee to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

Exacta (instead of a win bet): Inflexibility over Starship Jubilee, Daring Duchess, Niigon's Eclipse, Bletchley and Hallie Belle.

 

Exacta: Starship Jubilee and Inflexibility over Starship Jubilee, Inflexibility Daring Duchess, Niigon's Eclipse, Bletchley and Hallie Belle.

 

Consider double and pick 3 tickets if you did not play the pick 3 or pick 4 in race 8 or if none of the contenders won the first leg of the bet.

 

Bold Venture Stakes - Race 10 at Woodbine - Post Time 6:02 PM ET

 

When Pink Lloyd had his winning streak snapped by Kingsport on July 8, Kingsport was getting a six pound break in the weights. That may have been a factor, as may have been the contested pace Pink Lloyd had to deal with after a slow break and rushing up. The same thing may happen today and the beneficiary could easily be Ikerrin Road, who won this race last year with a 107 figure as good as either of Pink Lloyd's last two figures (106 and 104). Ikerrin Road gets a seven pound break from the favorite and got back into winning form last month with a big effort rallying from sixth of nine so is now on an IDENTICAL pattern to his prep before winning this race last year at 12/1. He opens at 15/1 here and is worth betting to be sure.

 

There's not much to say about Pink Lloyd, winner of 16 races in 19 tries. Although many of his wins came in restricted races he has won four open (not restricted) stakes in the past 15 months and although his last loss came at this 6 1/2 furlong trip he's won at 7 furlongs so it's not an issue either. His biggest problem is his tendency to break slowly, which he overcomes most of the time. I won't discount him so will definitely use him on exacta and multi-race tickets like the pick 3 and 4 but certainly we profit a lot more if one of the other two contenders posts the upset win.

 

Kingsport doesn't get a big break in weight like he got two back, today only two pounds lower than Pink Lloyd, but otherwise he could be the beneficiary once more as he cuts back from a route to a sprint just like he did for the win on July 8 and he could be closing into a fast pace. He finished fourth in the route before beating Pink Lloyd in July and this time he's cutting back in distance off a win, beating a very good horse in Melmich (who has earned nearly $1 million) so he must be respected.

 

We should add Yorkton and Sweet Little Man for second and/or third on exacta and trifecta tickets played, the former having finished second in two of his last three and the latter now with 15 runner-up finishes in his career to go along with eight wins.

 

Bets: Ikerrin Road to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 7 to 1 or more.

 

Exacta and Trifecta: Ikerrin Road, Pink Lloyd and Kingsport over Ikerrin Road, Pink Lloyd, Kingsport, Yorkton and Sweet Little Man.

 

Consider doubles if you are not alive in any of the pick 3 or 4 tickets started in earlier races.

 

Northern Dancer Stakes – Race 11 at Woodbine - Post Time 6:36 PM Eastern

 

There are TWO excellent longshot opportunities in this race, English Illusion and Patterson Cross, although for the pick 4 ticket started in race 8, and any pick 3 or double tickets started since, I am going to use seven horses because the $0.20 bet size allows for spreading in this race.

 

English Illusion is a true "stayer," meaning a horse that can run as far as the day is long. He won at 12 furlongs on turf last month and he won at 13 furlongs (1 5/8 miles) last fall. Last month when winning at this 12 furlong turf trip, he beat last year's Northern Dancer winner, Johnny Bear, on the square, and that win in the Halton Stakes served as the same prep Johnny Bear used for winning this race last year. The gelding was dropped in to a claiming race for the first time right before that last race, and he was immediately claimed because as a five year old he still may have a fine career on turf. Hernandez got on off the claim and rode him marvelously, and Hernandez and trainer Pion have had superb success at Woodbine the past few years. English Illusion earned a 106 Equibase figure last December at the 13F distance and that's the third best figure in the field so opening at 15/1 I think he's one of two I definitely don't want to miss if he runs big.

 

The other is Patterson Cross, who proved he belonged at this level and marathon distance with three superb efforts in a row last winter (2017), starting that January when leading late and missing by a length to be third in the McKnight Handicap, then missing by a head to world class Wake Forest in the Mac Diarmida Stakes before a neck defeat in the Pan American Stakes behind multiple graded stakes winner Sadler's Joy. He bettered the best Equibase figure (113) from those three efforts two months ago when missing in a four horse blanket finish at Saratoga with a 121 figure then rallied from seventh to second in the stretch in the Johns Call Stakes when he was impeded and finished fourth before being moved up to third when the runner-up was disqualified for interference. That effort earned a 118 figure so Patterson Cross enters the race off the two best efforts of his career so another "A" effort is forecast and as he opens at 10/1 he's very playable.

 

Favorite Hawkbill has run some races good enough to win and some clunkers. Last year in this race he led from the start as the 3 to 5 favorite but got nailed late by Johnny Bear. He ships in from Europe like last year and has run in three straight Group 1 Stakes against horses who would be odds on favorites to win if entered here, so he could be competitive if he's ready but he's tough to bet to win at low odds.

 

Many of these have some small chance to win and a bigger chance to finish second, and so with two of the win contenders opening at double digit odds we can take a shot with some exactas using as many as possible.

 

Bets: Patterson Cross and English Illusion to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you.

 

Exacta: Patterson Cross and English Illusion over Patterson Cross, English Illusion, Hawkbill, Mekhtaal, Utmost, Johnny Bear and Tiz a Slam.

 

Also, play the reverse of that exacta, which is Patterson Cross, English Illusion, Hawkbill, Mekhtaal, Utmost, Johnny Bear and Tiz a Slam over Patterson Cross and Tiz a Slam.

 

Thursday, 13 September 2018 13:33

Structures and Strategies

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September 13, 2018

Structures And Strategies

By: Jonathan Stettin


I am pretty sure Yogi Berra was talking baseball when he said “90% of this game is half mental.” I always understood Yogi and had a similar way of thinking. In racing 90% of this game is at least 50% knowing how to bet. Handicapping is unquestionably vital, but if you do not know how to bet and structure wagers effectively and efficiently, you will get swallowed as fast as a horse who goes 44 to the half in a mile and a quarter race.

 

I have written about my philosophy, which I often call a kill-shot, many times. I have bet the way I do now for a long time, but it also took me a long time to develop both the strategy and discipline it requires. While it may not be the only way to beat the game today, I am certain it is as good as any. The possible exception is those who play for rebates and by computer programs that cannibalize pools at everyone else’s expense.

 

Today I will share my outlook for those who may wish to consider it at times, or even as a matter of practice as I do. Keeping in mind, I think all who play should play to win, and you should do what works for you, especially if you are beating the game which is truly the only benchmark.

 

In pari-mutual wagering we are not playing against the house, as we do in say a casino. We are playing against each other, the take-out, the intangibles, and the computer syndicates I referenced earlier in this article. They are out there and have their hands or keyboards in not only the racetracks pockets, but all of ours as well. In a future Past the Wire article or broadcast I am going to talk more about “them” and how to beat “them” at their game. Does anyone who follows me think I would not at some point deal with that? Not if you know me, but that is for another day.

 

Keeping in mind this is indeed a skill game that has intangibles and luck, that we even out with odds and value. You have to have a solid game plan and stick with it to enjoy long term success. If you are hap hazard and fluctuate your approach, beating the game is next to impossible and you turn a game of skill into a game of chance. We all have seen that movie and know the ending.

 

Kill-shot wagering and the philosophy behind it goes against human nature and that makes it hard for most to employ. Most players want to cash as many tickets as possible and use as many horses they can afford to insure they do. I have come to learn that is a mistake and flawed approach in the long run. I want to make as few losing wagers as possible, minimizing my losses, and make it count or maximize my winnings when I am right. For example, I never box an exacta. Never. A three horse $1 exacta box costs $6. You start with in the hole with: the take-out, your expenses, the computer syndicates, and with 5 losing wagers. That is a lot to go in your red column. I would play one horse I like best over the other two. I will cash less, but win more, when I am right. That is what counts over time. The more you put in the red column, the more you have to dig out. So, while human nature is to cash as many tickets as you can by playing as many horses and combinations as you can afford, it is not the best road to long term success in the Sport of Kings. Additionally, if you go for the kill-shot and your budget for the exacta was $6, now you have the number for $3 instead of $1. Cash less, win more.

 

This style works well with every bet with the possible exception of the Pick 6. That is a whole different animal. In pick 4’s and 5’s however it does apply at least for me. As opposed to taking a multi-race wager for 50 cents, I will always have one or two short races or singles to allow me, within my budget, to have the sequence multiple times when I am right. If you can be good enough to be right 20-25% of the time and are not afraid of the board, you are in the game big time.

 

I have watched and studied racing long enough to know you can handicap for the winner, and even the second horse, but nobody can handicap for third, fourth or especially fifth. Nobody. There are way too many factors that influence those, placings, not the least of which is riders wrapping up when they know they can’t win. It happens daily. You can eliminate horses from all the meaningful placings, thus not needing the all button every time you play a triple or superfecta, but even that can be risky. I like to turn triples and superfectas into exactas. I will take one horse over two horses, and then take all in the third slot and in the fourth slot as well if it is a superfecta. If I am right and hit the exacta, I know I have the triple and superfecta. I won’t cash them as many times as some others might, but I am not in to cash the most tickets, I am in to win the most money.

 

What works for you is what I think you should do if you are coming out ahead, where you want to be at the end of the year or meet. If not, maybe try going for the kill-shot. If you can maintain the discipline and stick to it, I am confidant you will see improvement. You can’t be afraid to leave a horse out, or to miss a sequence. You have to believe in yourself and your ability, and know it is just a matter of time until you make it count. Here’s to making it count.

 

Friday, 07 September 2018 14:16

Riding Under the Radar

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

 

September 7, 2018

Riding Under the Radar

By: Jonathan Stettin


There are a lot of people, including some fine horsemen, who believe jockeys do not matter all that much. Allen Jerkens was as good as it gets and was known to give all riders a shot and felt anyone could win with the right horse. Theoretically, that is a true statement. However, my years of wagering professionally have taught me riders make a world of difference to a bettor looking to beat the game consistently.

Sure, one can argue the better riders get the better mounts, thus they win a high percentage of races. Another true statement but talent earns them those mounts. Even if an agent or connections get them the mounts in the beginning, to keep them you have to be able to ride. Not all riders are created equal. They are pound for pound among the toughest athletes in the world, but they are athletes in a ultra competitive game and some are just better than others.

To be a great rider there are certain essentials you must have. A keen sense of pace and timing, fearlessness, the ability to handicap, good instincts, great reflexes and a good memory are some of them. Great athleticism and strength are also needed.

As players we all know certain riders, especially at certain meets and even more so when they ride for certain outfits, are going to be over bet and decrease the value on their horse. While I never endorse betting against whom you think will win, and always say “there is NO value in a losing wager” I do like when the horse I land on has an under the radar great rider. There are always some out there, and some last, while others come to the masses attention. Today I will discuss a few I think are still under the radar and are great riders who can ride and hold their own with anybody on any circuit.

A few years ago, I gave Florent Geroux the High Five in a Past the Wire article and stated he was the best improved jockey in the country. A few months later he won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and look at his resume now. Years before that I had said Joel Rosario could be one of the best and while he’s had his ups and downs his resume is outstanding. Watching the New York colony growing up, being a Jockey Agent while a young man, being a student of the game and avid race watcher has taught me some things to look for. Knowing several riders and talking racing with them over the years has helped also.

Jose and Irad Ortiz can ride with the best of them. Mike Smith is a timeless all time great. Today we are going to look at what I will call “Under The Radar Love.”

Kendrick Carmouche- Kendrick is as good a rider as you will see today. As nice a guy as you will meet out of the saddle and in the saddle, he is a fierce competitor. He is aggressive and not afraid to put his horse in the race early or take the lead regardless of distance or surface. He made his bones at lesser tracks than his current NYRA home circuit but has demonstrated he can get it done. He finishes strong and can keep a horse going. A true speed rider who with a horse under him will make a race of it. Because he is so aggressive early he avoids many troubled trips and traffic.

Junior Alvarado- I used to watch Junior dominate good riders with more experience at Arlington and say to myself what is he waiting for to move to a major circuit? When he switched his tack to New York, I felt he was a sure thing to make it. While some injuries slowed him down a bit, Junior has shown he belongs on the big stage. He is a very strong rider he can take a good hold of a horse without having to strangle them. He is as strong a finisher as there is and has impeccable timing with closers. You definitely want him in a photo. On a live closer you know Junior will be coming.

Ricardo Santana Jr.- Ricardo does not have a visible weakness as a rider. He can go or take a hold and throws crosses down the lane as pretty as anyone. He’s aggressive, fearless, and hungry. All things as a player, owner or trainer you want in a jock. When he lost some big horses to bigger name riders he did not sulk, he rode harder and now he is likely to keep them or beat them. This guy can horseback.

Flavian Prat- While pretty popular in California, Flavian is just starting to get national recognition and become known as a go to money rider. He is extremely patient on a horse and has really nice hands. I bet you will start seeing him on more and more big horses in big races. I believe he will bring the goods and take it to the next level.

Luis Saez- Luis is so strong at times you will see his horses lug in or out but he is strong enough to straighten them right out. Super aggressive and gutsy, if he’s on a live one he is in the game. I’ve watched him develop since his South Florida and he has never stopped improving. He is powerful in the stretch and tough to get by or hold off. Luis on the best horse usually equals money.

Yes, there are many others. I can’t name them all, and I certainly did not intend to slight anyone out there riding. These are some of the ones I love to see on the horse I am betting.

Friday, 07 September 2018 12:08

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, September 8

 

Allied Forces Stakes – Race 4 at Belmont Park - Post Time 3:04 PM Eastern

 

Gidu is one of three to potentially get the pace scenario of his dreams, as Reed Kan (on the rail), Weather Report, Colonel Tom and World of Trouble have earned 12 of their 13 career wins combined LEADING FROM START TO FINISH. Reed Kan and Weather Report don't look as fast as the other two but drawn inside of World of Trouble and Colonel Tom, they will be sent hard, and it will only take two of the four to sizzle early to set up Gidu and the other two horses that can sit off the pace early. Gidu's last start is irrelevant as it was on dirt after seven races on grass so back on the grass and with a field high (BY FAR) 114 Equibase Figure to run back to, earned here at Belmont in May winning the similar Paradise Creek Stakes, he's the one to beat and even though low odds with a vulnerable favorite in World of Trouble, Gidu is a low odds overlay.

 

That being said, Totally Boss (8/1 morning line) and Dirty (7/2) might get the job done as well. Totally Boss moves back to the care of excellent trainer Lynch, having just run so-so in his first six races (three for Lynch), all on dirt, but taking to turf like a duck takes to water in his grass debut on 7/13. Although 4th off that race in the Quick Call Stakes on the turf at Saratoga, it must be noted winner World of Trouble got an easy and uncontested lead unlikely to occur today. None of the other top six runners except one have run back, but that one, who finished just behind Totally Boss, came back to win so there is upset potential here. Dirty rallied from 5th of 6 early to win by 5 like he was shot out of a cannon in a turf sprint in June, before that winning at this trip on the Belmont grass. He's 3 for 5 on turf and comes out of the same race on very wet turf as Totally Boss with the same comment in that winner World of Trouble is unlikely to repeat his easy score based on having the lead all to himself which should not occur here.

 

Bets: Gidu to win at even money (1/1) or higher, a low odds key overlay win bet.

Consider smaller win bets on Totally Boss and on Dirty at 7 to 2 or more.

 

Exacta: Box Gidu, Totally Boss and Dirty.

Trifecta: Gidu over Totally Boss and Dirty over all. (I prefer the trifecta over the exacta in this case to try to make more money with Gidu winning at low odds).

 

Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes – Race 8 at Kentucky Downs- Post Time 5:57 PM ET

 

Ruby Notion comes into the race off a win in the Caress Stakes at Saratoga at 5 1/2 furlong on turf, in a field of 9, a race in which she made a huge move on the turn to go from 2 1/2 lengths back to 2 lengths in front. Prior to that she made up 4 1/2 lengths in the stretch in another 5 1/2 furlong turf race, ending up a head shy of winning. Both those "A" efforts came in her 2nd and 3rd starts following 10 months off and both with Geroux in the saddle as today. She's won 5 of 13 overall but oddly enough has never finished 2nd, ending up 3rd three times, but her recent wins have earned 117 and 116 Equibase Figures which, except for one effort by Lull, are dominant in this field and that makes her the one to beat.

 

Lull also has five career wins on grass, in 15 races and if she wins or finishes 2nd she will go over the $1 million mark in career earnings. Better still, she loves this European style course where she's perfect in two tries including last year's Ladies Sprint Stakes. She won her first start of 2018 in March after four months off then disappointed in two since but that 3/31/18 stakes win earned a 117 figure as good as Ruby Notion earned last out and is certainly repeatable so this gal has the rest of the bulk of the probability to win this race.

 

Bets: Ruby Notion to win at odds of 3 to 2 or more, a low odds overlay key bet.

Lull to win at 2 to 1 or more.

 

To bet more than one horse in a race and to maximize value while doing so, use a "Dutching" tool like the free one available at Amwager.com, which enables you to enter how much you want to spend or how much you want to win and which then allocates your wagering dollars accordingly.

 

With the two contenders both at low odds, we will forego the exacta in lieu of the trifecta:

Trifecta: Ruby Notion over Lull over ALL.

Ruby Notion and Lull over ALL over Ruby Notion and Lull.

 

Doubles: Ruby Notion and Lull in Race 8 with Undrafted, Vici, Done Deal, White Flag and Blind Ambition in Race 9.

 

Pick 3: Ruby Notion and Lull in Race 8 with Undrafted, Vici, Done Deal, White Flag and Blind Ambition in Race 9 with Patterson Cross, Oscar Nominated, Big Bend and Bandua in Race 10.

 

Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint Stakes - Race 9 at Kentucky Downs - Post Time 6:27 PM ET

 

In a wide open 12 horse field, I'll start with Undrafted, the ONLY horse trained by Wesley Ward, as Master Merion ran on Thursday in the Old Friends Stakes and will be scratched. Undrafted hasn't won in four previous tries over the course, but could just as easily won last year's running of this race as he finished third, beaten a nose and a half-length on the wire with a rousing finish. Winner of over $1.4 million, the veteran (eight year old) missed by two necks in this race back in 2014 and has won at distances up to a mile so his 0-0-3 record in five career starts at the distance is deceiving. Getting the services of veteran Julio Garcia, who only rides for Ward, mostly in the morning, but enough in the afternoon to take notice (37 for 90 for Ward in the past 20 months), the gelding has won with Garcia in the past and should be rolling from far back late as usual.

 

Vici just won on 9/1 and comes back on six days rest. I won't argue with a trainer of the caliber of Mike Maker, who is usually in the top 3 in the trainer standings at Kentucky Downs each year, in knowing the easy win in a field of 12 didn't take much out of the gelding last week. The win came at the distance and the effort earned Vici a career best 110 Equibase figure, on par with the 110 figure Undrafted earned last year nearly winning this race. Similar to the Ward/Garcia tandem, jockey Jose Ortiz has a rock solid record for Maker in the past 20 months (52 for 258) and so this horse has a very good shot to earn his 2nd win at the meeting and opening at 15/1 must be played.

 

Done Deal is a perfect 2-for-2 on turf, both powerful wins by an average of 4 lengths. He was overmatched last time out (7/28) on dirt in the G1 Vanderbilt Handicap but won a stakes on dirt before that and is too hard to pass up as a contender for win bets and exactas opening at 8/1 considering his last 2 wins earned him 112 and 110 figures competitive with Vici and Undrafted if repeated.

 

White Flag and Blind Ambition round out the contenders, like the previous three contenders likely to benefit from a hot early pace as longshot Richiesinthehouse is likely to go for the early lead at breakneck speed, with Maniacal likely hot on his heels. White Flag won a turf sprint stakes last year on this weekend at Belmont with a 110 figure and enters the race off a strong win under Rosario, who has been aboard for his last three wins. Blind Ambition improved a lot after two poor efforts with the removal of blinkers last month at Saratoga when missing by 3/4 of a length with a 110 figure, having won the Elusive Quality Stakes three before that with a 116 figure, either effort repeated here likely to have him in the thick of the action on the wire.

 

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

Vici to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

Consider Done Deal for a win bet as well, at 4 to 1 or more.

 

Exacta and Trifecta: Box Undrafted, Vici, Done Deal, White Flag and Blind Ambition.

 

Double: Undrafted, Vici, Done Deal, White Flag and Blind Ambition in Race 9 with Patterson Cross, Oscar Nominated, Big Bend and Bandua in Race 10.

 

Note: If you played the pick 3 in race 8 and are alive there is no need to play the double above.

 

Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes – Race 10 at Kentucky Downs - Post Time 6:59 PM Eastern

 

Although Oscar Nominated won this race last year and can win again, Patterson Cross can post the upset if he draws into the race, opening at 12/1. Patterson Cross proved he belonged at this level and marathon distance with three superb efforts in a row last winter (2017), starting that January when leading late and missing by a length to be third in the McKnight Handicap (won by Oscar Nominated this year), then missing by a head to world class Wake Forest in the Mac Diarmida Stakes before a neck defeat in the Pan American Stakes behind multiple graded stakes winner Sadler's Joy. He bettered the best Equibase figure (113) from those three efforts two months ago when missing in a four horse blanket finish at Saratoga with a 121 figure then rallied from seventh to second in the stretch in the Johns Call Stakes when he was impeded and finished fourth before being moved up to third when the runner-up was disqualified for interference. That effort earned a 118 figure so Patterson Cross enters the Turf Cup off the two best efforts of his career, with both figures better than the 114 figure Oscar Nominated earned winning this race last year.

 

Oscar Nominated won last year's Kentucky Turf Cup with a 114 figure, followed by a career-best 122 figure when second in the Pattison Canadian International Stakes in October. He won the McKnight at the distance of the Turf Cup earlier this year but has run well only once in three races since, that when second (beaten under a length) in the Elkhorn Stakes in April. Still, considering he really likes the course at Kentucky Downs where he's undefeated in two races (the other being the Dueling Grounds Derby in 2016), Oscar Nominated must be given a lot of respect as a contender to win this race for the second year in a row.

 

Big Bend could also be worth a wager at double digit odds in this race. He's four for 12 on grass including his only previous try at Kentucky Downs when winning the 2017 Dueling Grounds Derby (the same race Oscar Nominated won in 2016) with a 113 figure. Big Bend won that race leading from start to finish at the distance of one mile and five-sixteenth, a very difficult task on this course. In his most recent race, Big Bend rallied from eighth to fourth in the Cape Henlopen Stakes with a 106 figure that may bear improvement as the horse that finished just in front of him, Utmost, improved to win the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes in his next race. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke rode Big Bend to his win last year in the Derby and comes in to ride again, having just won the riding title at the recently concluded meeting at Del Mar in California. As such, we might be kicking ourselves after the race if we ignored the chances of Big Bend in this race.

 

Another to consider if he draws into the race is Bandua, a Kentucky bred colt that started his career in Europe, racing four times before making his U.S. debut last month. That U.S. debut came in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes and he finished third of 13 in that race. The figure was just 99 but there is room to improve, and in Europe Bandua won on a turf course listed as "heavy," which is very wet. As such, if the course at Kentucky Downs is other than firm this colt has a chance to run well, perhaps even if the course is not wet based on the fact he's a three year old who has yet to fully mature physically and mentally.

 

Bets: Patterson Cross to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

Big Bend to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

Consider a win bet on Bandua as well, at 5 to 1 or more. t

 

Remember, To bet more than one horse in a race and to maximize value while doing so, use a "Dutching" tool like he free one available at Amwager.com, which enables you to enter how much you want to spend or how much you want to win and which then allocates your wagering dollars accordingly.

 

Exacta and Trifecta: Box Patterson Cross, Oscar Nominated, Big Bend and Bandua.

Note: If any of the contenders are scratched, there are no substitutes I would be comfortable using, so it just cuts down on the number of bets and cost of the bets.

 

 

Saranac Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:39 PM Eastern

 

March to the Arch is one of three main win contenders, but as he opens at 10/1 compared to 7/2 and 2/1 for the other two we have to start with him. Winner of the Toronto Cup Stakes last out on 7/28, the gelding has now run three "A" races in a row, the last yielding a 102 Equibase figure which can be improved upon 2nd off a seven week layoff. That was a KEY race as the 2nd and 3rd finishers both came back to win stakes out of the race, one of the wins coming on the turf here at Saratoga and the other in Canada. With Jose Ortiz aboard this gelding has every right to add to his strong career record to date of 3 wins and two runner-up finishes in his six races since a poor debut in February.

 

Up the Ante also comes out of a KEY race, the Manila Stakes which he won on7/4 at Belmont. Runner-up Raging Bull came back to win the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes and will be favored in this race, and both the 4th and 5th finishers also came back to win their next starts. Considering Raging Bull improved from a 95 Equibase figure effort in the Manila to 113 in the Hall of Fame, there is every reason to believe Up The Ante can similarly improve (as can March to the Arch) and with Castellano riding back from the ground saving rail and the colt possibly having an early pace edge on the field, he is very strong contender here.

 

Raging Bull has won 3 of 4 races, finishing 2nd in the other, so doesn't need much talking up. He won gamely by a nose in the Hall of Fame over Maraud after being soundly defeated by Up the Ante in the Manila one month earlier and his best effort should be good for an in-the-money finish at the least.

 

Bets: March to the Arch AND Up the Ante at odds of 5/2 or more, adding a place bet on March to the Arch at 5 to 1 or more. As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you.

 

Exacta: March to the Arch, Up the Ante and Raging Bull over ALL.

Box March to the Arch, Up the Ante and Raging Bull.

 

Doubles: March to the Arch, Up the Ante and Raging Bull in Race 9 with Restless Rider, Catherinethegreat and Chasing Yesterday in Race 10.

 

Tourist Mile Stakes – Race 8 at Kentucky Downs- Post Time 6:26 PM Eastern

 

The Wesley Ward trained pair of Bound for Nowhere and Master Merion, though uncoupled for wagering purposes, hold the upper hand here even in this wide open eight horse field competing for the winner's share of $750,000. Bound for Nowhere is UNDEFEATED in all four of his starts in the U.S., the other three in Europe against some of the best turf stars in the world. Beaten just 3/4 of a length when 3rd of 12 at Royal Ascot in June, he previously won the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes in April at Keeneland and although he's never run farther than 6 1/2 furlongs being by The Factor this mile trip is not an issue. Master Merion was (and may still be) the workmate for top turf star Lady Aurelia and was in fantastic shape at this time last September when winning the Franklin Simpson Mile Stakes over the course. He took the winter off following a win at Del Mar in November then missed by a half-length in his comeback this spring before a pair of irrelevant races, the first in his debut on All-Weather at Arlington and the most recent in the Royal Hunt Cup Stakes at Royal Ascot. Back in the U.S. and with a quintet of great turf workouts at Keeneland, most likely in company with Bound for Nowhere, this colt already proven over the tricky Kentucky Downs turf course has a big shot to win a stakes for the 2nd year in a row.

 

Bets: Bound for Nowhere AND Master Merion at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you.

 

Exactas: Box Bound for Nowhere and Master Merion.

Trifecta: Bound for Nowhere and Master Merion over ALL over Bound for Nowhere and Master Merion.

(The point of the trifecta above is to win if the two contenders finish 1st & 3rd as the exacta gets us the win if they finish 1st & 2nd)

 

 

 

 

Woodward Stakes - Race 11 at Saratoga - Post Time 6:47 PM Eastern

 

A 14 horse field in this Grade 1 stakes should be applauded and it gives us a possible sign of how big a field and how tough the Breeders' Cup Classic will be in two months. Of the 14, three appear to have an edge over the rest, albeit a slight one, and as there will be NO heavy favorite among the 14, we can and should take a swing for a big profit.

 

Term of Art opens at 30/1 but is as good as many here and is very playable on many levels. Winner of a graded stakes at the end of his two year old campaign in 2016, he lost eight races in a row through last summer, but all were graded stakes, including a 3rd place finish behind eventual Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway in the Affirmed Stakes in June. Rested 10 months and sent to the barn of sizzling hot Brad Cox, Term of Art rediscovered winning at a mile on dirt with a 102 Equibase figure then finished 2nd, beaten a neck in the Grade 3 West Virginia Governor's Stakes last month. That was a huge effort on many levels, not only as Term of Art improved to a 110 figure within 3-4 points of the best horses in this field, but because he battled head-and-head for the last six furlongs, losing by inches on the wire. Having turned a corner and not regressing 2nd off the layoff, Term of Art should run a lot better than his 30/1 odds suggest and that could help make us a lot of money in this race.

 

Seeking the Soul is another on a solid pattern for improvement off a narrow defeat last out, this one when beaten a head in the Schaeffer Memorial on 7/14. That was his first start after six months off, and he's moving forward nicely back to the form that saw him win the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at this 9 furlong trip last fall. He also won at this 9 furlong trip last summer at Saratoga, and it's a big sign that Castellano gets on for Stewart, who he rarely rides for. With a sharp five furlong workout coming into the race, expect another "A" effort from this horse who has now been1st or 2nd in 9 of 19 races for $1.4 million in earnings.

 

Sunny Ridge was last seen winning the non-graded State Dinner Stakes at Belmont in July, a big effort in which he beat highly regarded Timeline and You're to Blame, who just won here at Saratoga at this distance. Sunny Ridge has earned over $1 million to date and is proven at the level with a runner-up effort in the Brooklyn Stakes last June. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides back after being up for the last win and when riding for trainer Servis the pair have won at an amazing 33% clip (on 180 races) over the past year so another big effort from this hors can be expected.

 

With a field this big, we can make money in the exacta as well and as such I'll include these horses as contenders: Patch, Kurilov, Leofric and Zanotti.

 

Bets: Term of Art to win, place and show at 3 to 1 or more.

Seeking the Soul AND Sunny Ridge to win at 3 to 1 or more.

 

Exacta: Term of Art, Seeking the Soul and Sunny Ridge over Term of Art, Seeking the Soul, Sunny Ridge, Patch, Kurilov, Leofric and Zanotti.

 

For half whatever amount you play the exacta above, play the opposite and that way if the three contenders finish 1st & 2nd we hit the bet twice.

 

Double: Term of Art, Seeking the Soul, Sunny Ridge, Patch, Kurilov, Leofric and Zanotti in Race 11 with Lady Montdore, Summersault and Santa Monica in Race 12.

 

Glens Falls Stakes – Race 12 at Saratoga - Post Time 7:17 PM Eastern

 

Lady Montdore returned from 11 months away from the races and made her U.S. debut a winning one here on the Saratoga grass on 8/6, powering away by four lengths at this 11 furlong trip in an allowance race. That being a setup for this stakes at 11 furlongs is so obvious it isn't even funny, and with experience over the track, with improving to do 2nd off the layoff and as a stakes placed horse TWICE in Europe, she can post the mild upset, opening at 8/1.

 

Summersault is similarly able to run well at high odds, pretty ridiculous 10/1 in my opinion, as she was beaten just two lengths to Homeland Security and Savannah Belle in their common race in July at 12 furlongs on the Belmont Turf, a 100K stakes race. Two before that, Summersault won the non-graded Soaring Softly Stakes at this 11 furlong turf trip in Florida, and last April she won the Grade 3 Orchid Stakes at the distance on grass. She has all the credentials to run well and it won't take much improvement off her last effort to be in the exacta at the least, particularly as she's won twice on the Saratoga turf in her career.

 

Santa Monica opens as the 6/5 favorite and she's not suspect on any level but her low odds make her a poor win bet. She's won 2 of 3 since importing to the U.S. in April, at 10 furlongs and at 12 furlongs, the first of the two the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes in June at Woodbine. Ortiz is 2 for 2 when aboard and rides here and her last race 111 Equibase figure is the best in the field so it may be tough to beat her "IF" Lady Montdore doesn't improve and "IF" Summersault can't run back to her effort this part March or the previous April.

 

Additional possibilities for the exacta include Savannah Belle and Homeland Security, the one-two finishers in the River Memories Stakes on 7/8 in which Summersault finished third. Both of these fillies have ability, but the 104 and105 Equibase figures earned in that race, the best of their career, are just a bit shy of that any of the top three contenders appear capable of in my opinion.

 

Bets: Lady Montdore to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more. Summersault to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more.

 

Exactas: Santa Monica over Lady Montdore and Summersault, then also box Lady Montdore, Summersault and Santa Monica.

 

Also play an exacta consisting of Lady Montdore, Summersault and Santa Monica over Lady Montdore, Summersault, Santa Monica, Savannah Belle and Homeland Security.