Thursday, 16 May 2019 20:06

Nobody Knows

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo

 

May 16th, 2019

Nobody Knows

By: Jonathan Stettin


 

It is easy to use Maximum Security as an example, and I am going to take the low hanging fruit. First off, when people refer to Maximum Security as a claimer that is just not correct. He ran for a tag once, only once and it was in his debut. That does not make him a claimer. A claimer runs for tags often, or surely more than just once.

 

When Maximum Security ran and won first out, nobody knew what he was, or could be. Nobody. Had anyone had an inkling, he would have been claimed. I have heard but not confirmed that trainer Saffie Joseph had a claim form filled out for him but didn’t like what he saw in the paddock or just changed his mind. If true Maximum Security will forever by the one that got away.

 

Whatever your opinion of Jason Servis is, he is an excellent horseman. He gives his horses time and runs them where they belong. He wins first out and off layoffs, both signs someone can train. You can rest assured Jason did not know Maximum Security’s potential when he debuted for 16K. How can that be?

 

We have all heard the term “morning glory.” Some horses work fast, exceptionally so at times but can’t reproduce that effort in the afternoon under race conditions and pressure. Some are the opposite. They don’t work well or particularly fast, but show up to race. Horses fool everyone. Gamblers, Breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys, Bloodstock Agents, Jockey Agents, you name it, if you are in this game at any level you have been fooled. Horses humble all of us. Some more than others but if you play in the Sport of Kings you have been humbled or you will be humbled.

 

You see it in the past performances every day. Horses with high price tags dropping and running for sale in maiden claimers. Some of the wealthiest and most influential people in the world go to the sales. They spend millions. They write checks with plenty of zeroes often after a complicated vetting process. They check heart and lung capacity, blood flow, you name it. Bloodlines, speed figures, whatever can be quantified will be quantified. All that and they still couldn’t beat Mine That Bird or Dumb Ass partners and California Chrome when it counted. You gotta love a level playing field.

 

One of the beauties of the sport is how our calculations and insight is right just often enough to keep us assured it is indeed science and talent. There are maybe 10-12 times a year I feel I absolutely know who will win a race. In my mind I am just so sure, barring some unforeseen fluke, this horse will win. 95% of those do win. If I only bet those, it’s a win-win, but that would get boring. Funny it is the few that you don’t remember a la A Raving Beauty at Saratoga.

 

The game gives hope to those who spend less than the mega outfits and buyers when on any given race day you can open the form and like a 50K auction maiden purchase more than one that cost half a million or more. And when you realize that even when we know, we really don’t, you know they don’t either. That levels the field and we can beat em all.

Friday, 10 May 2019 11:44

Pace Makes the Race: Past Tense

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo

 

May 10th, 2019

Pace Makes the Race: Past Tense

By: Jonathan Stettin


 

We have all heard the saying:

“Pace Makes the Race.”

For years pace has proven to be a deciding factor in the outcome of horse races. Fast contested paces lead to closers having an advantage and often winning. Slow walk the dog and uncontested paces often lead to wire to wire, or front end wins. Handicapping books have been written in this though I personally have never read one. Most Past Performances now include a pace projector. The pace is thought of be that important, and I myself have been a long believer in this. My school of thought is changing. Not entirely but somewhat.

I don’t use any type of pace projectors. I calculate that myself. If I can’t figure out the projected pace more accurate than a computer program that can’t factor nuances and intangibles, I need to find something else to do. I certainly would not want to wager on a race I could not accurately, actually very accurately, project the pace and who would be setting it, contesting it, stalking it, and trying to close into it.

In the recently run Kentucky Oaks, there were about 5-6 pace horses. I felt Serengeti Empress would indeed get the early lead, but that she would be challenged often and hard. She wasn’t, and Jose Ortiz was able to keep her in front the whole way. He seized the race, and the other riders let him do it. No pace projector can anticipate one speed horse going while all the others take back. We can, knowing certain rider tendencies, but it was hard to fathom in advance that in the Oaks everyone but Jose would sit back.

In looking back at the Oaks, lack of a hot or contested pace may have made the race. However, seeing that play out that way in advance, and landing on Serengeti Empress because of it, probably has close to lottery winning likelihood.

The Derby was a little different. I was at a loss in understanding how any handicapper could not clearly see Maximum Security would be on the lead. I’d have gone all in on that bet. More perplexing were the people who were saying their “pace projectors” were telling them Maximum Security would not be on the lead, and or his splits were not fast enough. Frankly, I was more interested in if anyone could keep him company early. I did not like him to win but was sure he’d set the pace. He went 46 and change and won the Derby on the front. Justify went 45 and change and won it also. Bodemeister went that fast and almost won it. I started thinking and looking at a lot of charts. A lot.

I did not compile statistics. I did make an observation though. Speed seems to hold better now than say some years back. Horses tend to keep going, and we see many re-break in the stretch. We saw them come to Maximum Security and also saw him pull back away.

I have said for a long time the good handicappers evolve continually and change with the game. The game is changing. Pace is not as guaranteed an influence on the outcomes as it used to be. How many of these full of speed turf sprints do we see where one horse goes out and just doesn’t quit or stop?

We train for speed. We emphasize it at the sales and in many of our stallions. Is this contributory if you agree with my observations? I think yes, at least in part.

We have the large majority of our horses on Lasix. Is this part of the equation? I’d bet yes. If it helps them keep going just a bit, it’s a factor.

We play today in an environment that is laden with cheating allegations, innuendos, positive tests, super trainers, high percentages, and more and more drugs, both therapeutic and otherwise available. Do you really think any pace projector can piece together that puzzle based on some splits? All of the above comes into play.

As a betting man if you ask me regardless of pace will the speed hold much of the time! You bet.

#P6K

 

 

Ballade Stakes - Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:59 PM Eastern

 

Blurricane appears set to post an upset in this race she won in 2017 off the same long layoff since the previous year she’s coming back from today. She didn’t run in this race last year but again fired nicely off the bench, finishing second following six months off last June. She put in two very sharp four furlong workouts coming into the race and trainer Drexler has a strong nearly 25% win rate with horses coming back from layoffs over the past five years. There really are no knocks on this hard-knocking mare who has finished first or second in 20 of 33 career races on the Woodbine main track so opening at 10/1 we need to consider her strongly as a contender in this race.

 

Summer Sunday opens at 6 to 1 and those odds may hold up even though she has won four of six career starts, including a perfect four-for-four record at Woodbine on all-weather. The reason she may be a bit ignored in the wagering compared to others is she finished sixth of six, beaten 14 lengths, in her comeback from a year on the bench last month. However, trainer Simon has done this before, with a FOUR for EIGHT record with horses at Woodbine the past few years making their second starts off layoffs, with two of those having run just as poorly at Keeneland prior to winning. Apparently he uses conventional dirt prep as a way to get his horses fit enough to win. Since that effort last month, Summer Sunday put in two exceptional workouts at Woodbine and with a jockey change to Hernandez, up for her win in the Fury Stakes over the track a year ago, Summer Sunday is another who has every right to win at more than fair odds.

 

Scotty’s Model, who won this race last year, makes her second start of the year. Last year she ran in March on dirt at Oaklawn then missed by a half-length in the Grade 3 Whimsical Stakes at Woodbine before dropping in class to this restricted stakes level and winning the Ballade. This year she finished ninth in the Grade 3 Honey Fox Stakes at Gulfstream so even though she is taking the same drop, her effort coming into the race isn’t nearly as good. Just the same, McKnight is winning at better than a 33% clip and the mare’s best effort is good enough to win.

 

Without a Doubt, who opens at 20/1, and Zestina, who opens at 9/2, are two more contenders to consider for exacta wagers although I think they are a cut below the top three listed contenders. Without a Doubt finished a poor sixth in her first start of the year in 2018 but may be a bit more fit this year. Last year she had some workouts on a farm before one four furlong workout at Woodbine which apparently wasn’t enough. This year she’s been in training at Woodbine since March, with two very solid four furlong workouts in April and a three furlong blowout coming into the race. She finished second in the similar Passing Mood Stakes last summer and the Victorian Queen Stakes in the fall of 2017 so she could help us profit by another similar effort. Zestina has never missed the board in 10 career starts, winning four times, but only once on the main track (the rest were on turf). She can improve off her third place finish in the Whimsical, the prep Scotty’s Model used last year when winning this race, but as it appears she likes turf better than all-weather it’s tough to give her a big endorsement as a win contender.

 

Silent Sonnet, who opens as the 2 to 1 favorite, appears vulnerable. She won five of 13 in 2017 and 2018 but hasn’t shown the same spirit in three races this year. As an exacta strategy, we should not play the two favorites Silent Sonnet and Scotty’s Model, but because the top two choices open at decent odds of 10/1 and 6/1 we should play some exactas keying them with Silent Sonnet as well and those are listed below.

 

 

Bets:

Win Bets: Blurricane and Summer Sunday to win at odds of 7 to 2 or higher.

 

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

 

Exactas: Blurricane, Summer Sunday and Scotty’s Model over Blurricane, Summer Sunday, Scotty’s Model, Without a Doubt and Zestina.

 

Then also play the reverse of that exacta, which is Blurricane, Summer Sunday, Scotty’s Model, Without a Doubt and Zestina over Blurricane, Summer Sunday and Scotty’s Model.

 

Box Silent Sonnet and Blurricane and Box Silent Sonnet and Summer Sunday.

 

 

Big Drama Stakes – Race 10 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 5:34 PM Eastern

 

Front Loaded returned to the races last month following six months off and won like a good thing in a classified allowance race over the track at six furlongs. He’s won at the one-turn mile trip at Gulfstream and at this seven furlong trip so the extra distance is no issue and he should improve nicely in his second start off a layoff, also his second since joining the Nicks barn. With Nicks winning at a strong 25% clip and with Zayas riding right back, and with a hot pace to set up his late kick courtesy of Kroy and Royal Squeeze both being need-the-lead types, that pair perhaps pressed by Sarasota County from the start, Front Loaded can win his second in a row and post the mild upset opening at 10/1.

 

Garter and Tie has run big in his last five one-turn races including a nose loss month. He’s a three year old facing older for the first time and it may be a bit early in the year to take on elders but he is very talented and could easily add to his five for 10 first or second career record.

 

Royal Squeeze could get into a battle with Kroy and possibly Sarasota County from the start but he’s coming off the two best efforts of his life, both following the Dobles claim. The last was a five length win at the distance with Camacho up for the first time, who rides back. On occasion the gelding has relaxed a bit early so if Camacho lets Kroy go but sits close he could go by to make the lead, perhaps holding off the closers Front Loaded and Garter and Tie for the win.

 

Another potential for the pace battle is Driven by Thunder, who returns to the main track after a pair of turf races. He proved only to be a need-the-lead type last winter and spring but two races back on April 6, with Berrios in the saddle as today, he rallied from fourth, three lengths back. Considering he opens at 20/1 I’d hate to not use him on exacta tickets just in case he gets a stalking position again and gets into the picture. One horse I’m leaving out entirely is Mr. Jordan, who in spite of having won 10 times in his career and over $800K, is just 1 for 20 on the main track at Gulfstream and whose last three races have been abysmal.

 

Bets:

Win Bets: Front Loaded to win at 3 to 1 or more.

Although it’s unlikely Garter and Tie will go to post at 3 to 1 or higher, he can be bet to win at those odds.

For a smaller amount, Royal Squeeze to win at 4 to 1 or higher.

 

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

 

Exacta: Front Loaded, Garter and Tie and Royal Squeeze over Front Loaded, Garter and Tie, Royal Squeeze, Sarasota County, Driven by Thunder and Kroy.

 

Then, turn that around and play Front Loaded, Garter and Tie, Royal Squeeze, Sarasota County, Driven by Thunder and Kroy over Front Loaded, Garter and Tie and Royal Squeeze.

 

Runhappy Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:51 PM Eastern

 

Bon Raison, who opens at 8 to 1, has as much chance to win in my opinion as lower odds horses Skyler’s Scramjet (2/1) and Recruiting Ready (8/5). He gets a good outside post in a six horse field, just like he got three back on March 30 in the Peeping Tom Stakes at Aqueduct, a race in which he sat third early, six lengths back, before launching a bold bid to draw off by four lengths at the end. He’s won seven of 18 races on dirt and I like the jockey change to Rosario, who hasn’t ridden him since October, when over the track the horse rallied from fourth to draw off late, just as he may do today.

 

Killybegs Captain has never missed the board in 10 races, with five wins and four runner-up finishes. He won his 2019 debut in a little stakes at Tampa then missed by a half-length to Flameaway in another stakes, from which the third finisher came back to win the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland. Castellano gets on and another competitive effort should be forthcoming.

 

Of the two favorites Recruiting Ready and Skyler’s Scramjet, Recruiting Ready is the one I think can win but his starting 8 to 5 odds are too low to consider for a win bet. Skyler’s Scramjet can finish second but as happened last year when he ended up second, he’s a little too susceptible to being passed in the last eighth for my tastes. Recruiting Ready had some traffic trouble in the Commonwealth Stakes last month which cost him tactical position and he can win, but he’s no standout on any level.

 

Bets:

Win bets: Bon Raison to win at 2 to 1 or more.

For a smaller amount (half to two-thirds of what we bet on Bon Raison), Killybegs Captain to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

 

Exactas: We need to split the favorites here and will not be combining them on any exacta ticket to maximize profit, as follows:

Box Bon Raison, Killybegs Captain and Recruiting Ready.

Box Bon Raison, Killybegs Captain and Skyler’s Scramjet

 

Doubles: Bon Raison, Killybegs Captain, Recruiting Ready and Skyler’s Scramjet in Race 10 with Zulu Alpha, Arklow, Focus Group and Epical in Race 11.

 

 

Man o’War Stakes – Race 10 at Belmont Park - Post Time 6:24 PM Eastern

 

Epical appears to be a lone frontrunner in this 11 furlong turf race and he fits on all counts, having just won the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita in wire-to-wire fashion. He won in November and December in the same manner so although he was just one for seven before his 11/15 race he’s three for four since and on a tear. As an improving four year old he may have not run his best and he can control the tempo here and post the upset, opening at 10/1. Even if that scenario doesn’t play out I’m not concerned, because Epical has shown he can relax early and finish late, as when second in the San Marcos Stakes right before the San Luis Rey.

 

Arklow’s last race can be ignored, as he lost the jockey at the start. There’s some reason to believe he wasn’t completely prepared and as a horse with a five for 12 record on grass (ignoring that race) including two big races at 12 furlongs last year, he must be respected. He was 7 to 2 in that tough allowance field and 2/1 last fall in the Sycamore Stakes, won by Zulu Alpha, with Arklow just a couple lengths back, so the fact he opens at 8 to 1 here compared to 4/1 for Zulu Alpha compels us to take advantage and bet Arklow as well as Epical because if any other horse does take on Epical, or if Arklow stays within range, he could out finish that one for the win.

 

Focus Group opens at 5 to 2 and may go lower given Chad Brown is his trainer and he won the similar Pan American Stakes last time out at the end of March. He has won five of 12 but when he doesn’t win he’s off the board most of the time and his 0 for four record on the Belmont turf (with just one third place finish) does raise a small red flag so he’s not a good win bet, but leaving him off of double, exacta and trifecta tickets is not a good idea.

 

Similarly, Zulu Alpha has turned into a marathon pro over the last seven months, winning three graded stakes at distances ranging from this 11 furlong trip to a mile and one half. Although he made the lead and was out finished, ending up third, in the Elkhorn Stakes last month, he still ran his race, and so his chances can’t be discounted for a second.

 

For exactas and trifectas we should also consider the filly Magic Wand, one of two from the O’Brien barn (the other Hunting Horn). Magic Wand ran pretty well when fourth of 14 last fall racing in the U.S. for the first time, in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, then second this January in the Pegasus Turf Cup behind Bricks and Mortar, who won again last weekend. She has no problem competing against males and jockey Lordan follows her from Europe to ride.

 

Channel Maker won a pair of graded stakes on the circuit last summer and fall and can improve off a fourth place finish behind Zulu Alpha last time out in March, while Kulin Rock is trained by Mike Maker the same as Zulu Alpha, and it must be noted since the claim by Maker last fall the gelding has run extremely well, for example when beaten one length at 44 to 1 in the Mac Diarmida Stakes in March. Considering Maker’s ability to turn these types of horses he claims into multiple winners at marathon distances on turf, leaving Kulin Rock off exacta tickets at double digit odds may prove costly. Village King isn’t as fast early as Epical in my opinion, but if he gets a stalking trip he could be part of the exacta or trifecta and considering he opens at 15/1 for Pletcher and Velazquez, he’s another to use on exacta tickets with the top two contenders at fairly high odds.

 

Bets:

Win bets: Epical to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Arklow to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

 

Exacta: Epical and Arklow over ALL, then the reverse as well, which is ALL over Epical and Arklow.

Optionally: Focus Group over ALL (this is instead of a win bet on Focus Group at low odds).

 

 

Jacques Cartier Stakes - Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:40 PM Eastern

 

Extravagant Kid missed by three-quarters of a length in last year’s edition of this race, to Pink Lloyd, who also returns, but Extravagant Kid has a race this year and Pink Lloyd does not and that may be how the former turns the tables on the latter. Extravagant Kid won a sprint stakes on dirt at Tampa in March when last year he was returning from 13 months off. Contreras rode him last year in this race, not before or since, and with a good post to stalk the likely dueling leaders Yorkton and Wyatt’s Town and opening at 6/1, Extravagant Kid gets top billing.

 

Ikerrin Road finished a well-beaten sixth in this race last year but won his last two start of the year including the Grade 2 Kennedy Road Stakes over the track before taking the five months off he’s returning from today. He put in a SPARKLING best of 70 five furlong work over the track recently and has every right to pick up where he left off in December with a top effort good enough to win, opening at 8/1.

 

There’s not much to say about Pink Lloyd which hasn’t been said and as evidenced by his 16-for-21 career record at Woodbine including this race last year. He has been working well for his return and won this race last year off a similar layoff. However, it must be noted he tailed off badly at the end of the year with fifth and fourth place finishes.

 

Bets:

Win Bet: Both Extravagant Kid and Ikerrin Road should be bet to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

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

 

Exacta: Box Extravagant Kid, Ikerrin Road and Pink Lloyd.

 

Honey Ryder Stakes – Race 10 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 5:08 PM Eastern

 

Don’t Make Fun stretches out to two turns for the first time, in her fourth lifetime start, and as daughter of Kitten’s Joy could excel at the trip, making her 10/1 starting odds look like a gift. She finished a close-up fourth in her career debut last December in a turf sprint then won nicely in January, also in a sprint, before a poor sixth place effort on paper which actually serves as an exceptional sprint prep for this two-turn race as she was about 6 lengths behind the leader from start to finish. With veteran Prado riding and with room to improve off a sharp 93 Equibase figure from the win which is the second best figure by any horse in the field, Don’t Make Fun gets slight preference of three potential longshot worth considering for our wagering dollars.

 

Perspire opens at 20/1 only for the fact she’s never run on turf. She won at a mile on a sloppy track last month at 11/1 at the first allowance level and she’s never been in a claiming race. She rallied nicely in the win and earned an 87 figure she can improve on and she’s certainly bred to do just as well on turf.

 

Peaceful Feeling made her three year old debut in February at a mile on the course and won as she pleased by three lengths at 2 to 1 before a third place finish also at a mile, a race in which she rallied from third to lead before getting passed. The issue of getting passed may be remedied by the addition of blinkers and as a daughter of War Front there’s little doubt routing on turf may be her forte, so opening at 12/1 she’s yet another to consider.

 

For exactas, we can also consider Devious Charm, Vow to Recover and Itsmyluckycharm, the latter being the 3/1 morning line favorite who is in form and who has won five of 10 career starts but who is also no standout.

 

Bets:

Win Bet: Bet two of these three to win going to post at the highest odds and at 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or higher: Don’t Make Fun, Perspire, Peaceful Feeling.

 

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

 

Exacta: Don’t Make Fun, Perspire and Peaceful Feeling over Don’t Make Fun, Perspire, Peaceful Feeling, Devious Charm, Vow to Recover and Itsmyluckycharm.

 

Also (the opposite of the above exacta): Don’t Make Fun, Perspire, Peaceful Feeling, Devious Charm, Vow to Recover and Itsmyluckycharm over Don’t Make Fun, Perspire, Peaceful Feeling.

 

Westchester Stakes – Race 11 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:40 PM Eastern

 

Hoffenheim finished third a little over a month ago in a non-graded stakes at seven furlongs, his first start back from eight months off. He’s bound to move forward and ran exceptionally well at Belmont last spring when second to stakes winners Timeline and Recruiting Ready so with second off the layoff improvement likely he’s the one we look to first for profit as he opens at 15/1.

 

Realm opens at even higher odds, 20/1, odd considering he lead in the stretch last time out (3/29) in the Skip Away Stakes at Gulfstream Park at 19/1 and was beaten only a half-length and neck on the wire at the end. He had been away for six months before that, has won at Belmont, and gets hot Carmouche to ride so must be respected as it’s very probable he’ll run better than his high odds suggest.

 

Prince Lucky opens as the prohibitive 4 to 5 favorite and although his chances can’t be discounted he’s no standout. He won the Hal’s Hope Stakes and Gulfstream Park Mile in succession this year but the 112 and 105 Equibase figures aren’t standout figures as Hoffenheim earned a 107 figure and can improve, and Realm earned a 107 figure and can improve.

 

Stan the Man won at this one turn mile trip at Aqueduct in February as well as at Belmont last May and has now been first or second in 10 of 16 career dirt starts. Dylan Davis rides him exceptionally well as he’s been aboard for ALL five wins so the gelding rounds out a quartet who can win and who can complete the exacta.

 

Sunny Ridge, who opens at 7/2, isn’t a win contender in my opinions as he appears to be happy finishing second or third. We’ll just use him on exacta tickets in the second position.

 

Bets:

Win bets: Hoffenheim and Realm to win at 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or higher.

Consider a win bet on Stan the Man at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

 

Note: This is a race we can, and should, bet at least two of the horses above to win, and when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

 

Exacta: Hoffenheim, Realm, Prince Lucky and Stan the Man over Hoffenheim, Realm, Prince Lucky, Stan the Man and Sunny Ridge.

 

 

Bonus Race

 

Kentucky Derby – Race 12 at Churchill Downs - Post Time 6:50 PM Eastern

 

Although the Derby can’t be bet via Amwager, here are my thoughts.

 

#17 Roadster - Minimum odds 3/1

#9 Plus Que Parfait - Minimum odds 6/1

#8 Tacitus - Minimum odds 6/1

#3 By My Standards - Minimum odds 6/1

#7 Maximum Security - Minimum odds 10/1

#14 Win Win Win - Minimum odds 12/1

 

Wagering strategy for win, win/place or win/place/show bets: I think it is a good idea to consider betting more than one contender to win, using the minimum odds as a guide and starting with the top listed contender. I would also bet to place/show at 8 to 1 odds or more.

 

Wagering strategy for exotic wagers are at the bottom following the analysis of the race and the main contenders. As always, I write this analysis for me and share it with everyone who wishes to read it and these wagers are ones which, as of this writing, I intend to make myself.

 

 

As I do every year, I list six win contenders, believing the winner will be among that group. I would never list six win contenders in most fields of 8 or 10 or even 12, but in the Derby even that may not be sufficient to catch the right one who becomes a man among men in the Derby. This is a race to take the rubber band off the wallet and to bet in ways we would not otherwise consider, because the return for the risk on some of the wagers warrants it. In addition there are a number of horses who I believe can finish second or third, and there are some serious lines in the sand which need to be drawn to come up with that list as well. Those horses are #2 Tax, #5 Improbable, #6 Vekoma, #10 Cutting Humor and #16 Game Winner.

 

 

Overview: The 145th running of the Grade 1, $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve is one of the more wide open editions of the race in recent memory because only one horse, Tacitus, has won two “Road to the Derby” races in succession and because many of the favorites in prep races for the Derby have failed to live up to expectations. For example, Game Winner, the Eclipse Award champion two year old of 2018, has finished second as the prohibitive favorite in both of his races this year. Similarly, Improbable, who like Game Winner was undefeated as a two year old, has also finished second in both his starts as a three year old. Bob Baffert, who has won the Derby five times including two of the last four years with Triple Crown Champions Justify and American Pharoah, trains Game Winner as well as Improbable. Baffert also trains Roadster, who has won both races this year though the first of the two was not a stakes race. Roadster made his second start of the year in the Santa Anita Derby, the same stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby which produced last year’s winner Justify, as well as 2014 Derby winner California Chrome and 2012 winner I’ll Have Another. Other major Derby prep race winners include Wood Memorial Stakes winner Tacitus, who overcame significant traffic trouble to win, as well as Toyota Blue Grass Stakes winner Vekoma, Louisiana Derby winner By My Standards, Florida Derby winner Maximum Security, United Arab Emirates Derby winner Plus Que Parfait, Sunland Derby winner Cutting Humor and a slew of horses who finished second or third in those prep races.

 

Main contenders:

Roadster showed me what I needed to see in the Santa Anita Derby to make be believe he has the tools to win the Kentucky Derby this year. Although jockey Mike Smith rode both Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby and Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby and opted for the latter (although now scratched), what Smith did in the Santa Anita Derby with Roadster is the reason I believe Roadster can win this year’s Kentucky Derby. In early stages of the Santa Anita Derby, Roadster was fifth of six on the inside of other horses and two lengths behind the leader when Smith let the colt drop back of his own accord, going to nearly five lengths behind the leader with a quarter-mile to run. Roadster was then allowed to go to the outside although there were no horses inside of him until an eighth of a mile to go, the colt continually accelerated and was head-and-head with the leaders in mid-stretch, eventually pulling away to win by a half-length. I believe what Smith was doing was educating Roadster to get ready for one of the longest stretch runs in any track in North America at 1,234 feet, and that education may serve him very well in the Kentucky Derby. Having continually improved since his debut last July when he earned a 90 Equibase Speed Figure, Roadster finished third behind Game Winner in the Del Mar Futurity with a 96 figure effort then was given six months off to mature. He certainly did mature over the winter, running two-turns for the first time and winning in March without a prep race first while earning a 104 figure, then improving to 106 in the Santa Anita Derby. Being as the Kentucky Derby will be his third start off a layoff, Roadster should peak in this race and given he’s already been educated as to how to run down the long stretch at Churchill Downs I believe he can win.

 

Plus Que Parfait showed talent as a two year old when beaten a neck in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill downs last November, but his first two races as a three year old were complete clunkers, first finishing fifth in the LeComte Stakes and then finishing 13th in the Risen Star Stakes. However, he was an entirely different horse in his next start on March 30 in the United Arab Emirates Derby. Adding blinkers for that race, Plus Que Parfait was in traffic until about an eighth of a mile to go when he found room to run in between horses, accelerated and got the lead. He continued to run strongly to the wire, holding off the late challenge of Gray Magician with minimal effort. When we can identify the reason for a turnaround in performance, as is the case with Plus Que Parfait adding blinkers, we can more easily assess whether the effort was a fluke or can be repeated. The effort earned a 112 Equibase figure which is even a bit better as now scratched favorite Omaha Beach earned winning the Rebel Stakes and if he can repeat the effort and if Roadster does not move forward as expected in his third start as a three year old, Plus Que Parfait could post the upset.

 

Tacitus also showed a lot of physical toughness, as well as heart, in his most recent race when victorious in the Wood Memorial last month. Near the start of the race, Tacitus was bumped pretty hard and caused jockey Jose Ortiz to momentarily lose his balance. Shortly after that, a horse nearly crossed in front of Tacitus going into the first turn and he clipped that horse’s heels, nearly falling. Recovering nicely but finding himself seven lengths behind the leader with about three-quarters of a mile to run, Tacitus shows a big burst of speed on the turn to get the lead by a head with an eighth of a milt to run, holding off the challenge of Tax to win by a length and one-quarter at the finish. As with others, Tacitus is on a pattern for a peak effort in the Derby as he’s making his third start of the year and Equibase figures of 105 and 106. As a son of Tapit, sire of multiple graded stakes winners such as Frosted, Cupid, Creator and Tonalist, there is little doubt Tacitus has anything but the makings of a potential Derby winner and so he’s another deserving of respect when considering who can win this year.

 

By My Standards doesn’t appear to be as fast as either Roadster or some of the others, as he earned just a 93 Equibase figure when winning for the first time (in his fourth career start) in February and then a 96 figure when winning the Louisiana Derby. However, By My Standards showed the mental toughness of a top level horse in the Louisiana Derby, a race in which he as stuck behind a wall of horses turning for home, slowing his momentum, before jockey Saez guided him to the inside for running room, at which point By My Standards accelerated nicely to take the lead. By all reports, By My Standards has improved both physically and mentally since the race, with a pair of exceptional workouts at Churchill Downs. Mental toughness is a key to running well in the Kentucky Derby given the 20 horse field and the likelihood for traffic trouble, and as By My Standards has excellent tactical speed to allow him to be towards the front of the pack, he may be able to spring the upset by improving off his last effort.

 

Maximum Security is undefeated in four races, including a dominant three and one-half length win in the Florida Derby on March 30. That was his first race around two turns and he passed the test with flying colors as he controlled the tempo on the front end from start to finish. Although he led from the start in the Florida Derby as well as prior to that (in February) in a seven furlong sprint, Maximum Security demonstrated he does not need the lead to win when rallying from third to win in January. Having earned a career-best 109 figure winning the seven furlong race on February 20, it might seem like a regression to a 102 figure effort in the Florida Derby, but considering Maximum Security had no challengers for nearly the entire race, he could have run faster. Trainer Jason Servis trains his horses rather unconventionally by working them very slowly and at longer distances than most other trainers. As such, Maximum Security has been galloping a mile nearly every day at three-quarter speed and if nothing else, he may be the most fit horse entering the Derby. Considering the winners of the Florida Derby in 2013 (Orb), 2016 (Nyquist) and 2017 (Always Dreaming) all won the Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security could add to that list with a top effort.

 

Win Win Win rounds out my annual sextet of main contenders and although I don’t believe he has the same probability to win as any of the other five, he has a high probability to finish second or third at the least and help us profit in the exacta or trifecta. Racing around two turns for the first time in the Tampa Bay Derby in March, Win Win Win closed from far back in seventh to finish third behind Tacitus, who improved to win the Wood Memorial the next month. Win Win Win then entered the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and although no threat to three and one-half length winner Vekoma, Win Win Win showed a good deal of ability after being steadied in traffic and losing momentum with five-sixteenths of a mile to run, rallying from eighth to pass all but the winner in the final stages. In a recent workout at Churchill Downs, Win Win Win showed a strong competitive instinct because even though he was not in company with two other Derby entrants (Country House and Tacitus), when he saw them in front of him he insisted on accelerating past them to be in front. This competitive desire could prove very helpful in the late stages of the Derby and as Win Win Win is likely to go to post at high odds given he did not win his most recent Derby prep race, he is definitely a horse I want to use on any exacta or trifecta tickets I play.

 

Notes about others: Game Winner and Improbable did not move forward as three year olds as compared to their two year old campaigns, both finishing second in their two races each this year, beaten most recently by Roadster and Omaha Beach, respectively. They didn’t run badly, but in predicting which horses may peak in the Derby, it is tough to consider either more probable than a horse like Roadster or some of the others. Similarly, as Tax was beaten by Tacitus in his most recent race, I can’t envision a scenario where the finish is reversed in the Derby. Cutting Humor is included as a minor contender as I respect Todd Pletcher and the colt is improving, but he doesn’t appear to be of the caliber of the top contenders. Vekoma won the Blue Grass rather impressively, but regressed to a 97 figure off the 104 figure earned in the Fountain of Youth and I suspect it may have been due to the longer distance, so I have concerns about his running as well at 10 furlongs.

 

Exotic wagering options:
Exactas: (Options below are dependent on how risk averse or risk tolerant you feel, here are the options)

Box 3,7,8,9,14,17 (cost $30 at the $1 minimum level)

Key 17 over ALL (cost $19 at the $1 minimum level)

Key 17 over 3,7,8,9,14 (cost $5 at the $1 level)

 

 

Trifecta:

17 over 14 over ALL and ALSO 17 over ALL over 14

With these bets we win if Roadster wins and then if Win Win Win finishes second or third. The cost of both bets at the $0.50 min level is $17.

 

Race 7 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:23 PM Eastern

 

Town Classic, a very consistent gelding with 11 first or second place finishes in 21 races on dirt or all-weather, opens at 12/1 odds which are impossible to ignore and so the horse becomes the key to profit in this excellent betting race. First or second in his last four races at Hawthorne and Mahoning Valley, to most of the public it’s an unknown how he’ll take to the Tapeta all-weather surface but looking at his lifetime PPs I believe it won’t be an issue, something trainer Santangelo (who wins nearly 25% of his races on all-weather) likely noticed when deciding to ship him to Woodbine from Ohio. Town Classic broke his maiden and finished second at the NW1X allowance condition at Woodbine in 2016, with the runner-up effort coming at this seven furlong trip, so the return to Woodbine helps his chances of running competitively again. Cutting back from two-turns to one-turn today off a big effort when beaten a head on the wire helps as well by giving him some extra later energy, and the gelding put in a workout on the all-weather at Presque Isle Downs before shipping up so is ready for another big effort.

 

Cooler Mike has been first or second in five of eight career races at Woodbine. He comes back from nine months off but finished second, beaten just a half-length, in his 2018 comeback and he broke his maiden first time out so he could fire nicely here for a piece at the least. Sweet Little Man has 16 career runner-up finishes to go along with eight wins. He too makes his 2019 debut and he ran well in his 2018 debut when winning. Fire for Effect ran poorly on conventional dirt at Oaklawn but won last November and August at Woodbine so the return to the all-weather should help him run back to competitive form as well.

 

For the most part, I’m taking a stand against morning line favorite Shakhimat, who has a record of 0-1-1 in 9 races this year and last and who is very fast early but has been found wanting in the late stages many times and who hasn’t won on the all-weather surface since 2015.

 

Bets:

Win Bet: Town Classic to win at odds of 3 to 1, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or higher.

 

Exacta: Town Classic over ALL and then the opposite, which is ALL over Town Classic.

Exacta: Box Town Classic, Cooler Mike, Sweet Little Man and Fire for Effect.

 

Note: The analysis of race 8, the Woodstock Stakes, can be found on the Woodbine web site here so I don’t want to double up. However, because there are value in both that race and the seventh race above, I feel playing doubles between the two races offers a very strong profit possibility.

 

Doubles: Town Classic, Cooler Mike, Sweet Little Man and Fire for Effect in Race 7 with Powell, Yes I Am Free and Tiz Breathtaking in Race 8.

 

Elusive Quality Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont - Post Time 5:51 PM Eastern

 

Big Handsome proved to be a very talented colt in his three year old season in 2017, breaking his maiden in March by four lengths at Gulfstream then winning at the first allowance level on the Belmont turf and then taking the Paradise Creek Stakes in May of 2017 at this seven furlong trip on this turf course. He missed by inches in the Manila Stakes in July then led late and was beaten under a length in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes. In both those races the horse that won, Bricks and Mortar, has become a superstar on the turf, taking the Pegasus World Cup Turf earlier this year, so the fact Big Handsome was so close to Bricks and Mortar really shows his class. After another neck defeat in a stake race, in the summer of 2017, apparently he had issues as he was away from October to April then another two months, then off from June of last year to March of this year. The comeback last month was superb as he rallied from six back to be beaten just three-quarters of a length and so in his second start bac off the rest, with red hot Franco riding, and proven capable of winning stakes races at this distance on the course, Big Handsome may be very tough to beat.

 

The other horse with the bulk of the probability to win appears to be Emmaus, who is making his U.S. debut after importing from Ireland and becoming acclimated to U.S. racing. He’s been in training in Kentucky and gets Jose Ortiz for the race, a very good sign, and his last effort before the rest in Ireland was a second of 11 finish, beaten a nose, at this seven furlong trip on grass. As such, if he picks up where he left off as it appears he can, he should be first or second, particularly as his late kick as well as that of Big Handsome, should benefit from a likely hot early pace battle between Abiding Star and Fixed Point, who are next to each other in the gate.

 

Bets:

Win Bet: Big Handsome to win at odds of 8 to 5 or higher.

For a slightly smaller amount, Emmaus to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

 

Exacta: Box Big Handsome and Emmaus.

Trifecta: Big Handsome and Emmaus over ALL over Big Handsome and Emmaus.

(playing the trifecta and exacta in this way means we cash the bet if the two horses finish first and second, or first and third)

 

Powder Break Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 6:04 PM Eastern

 

Quebec gets slight preference among three win contenders and keys to exotic wagering profit, as she opens at 10/1 odds. The mare has won five of 20 career starts on grass, finishing second in five others, and she makes her second local start after shipping out from California and joining the Dibona barn. In her local debut, in the similar Sand Springs Stakes, Quebec ran evenly for the last three-eighths of a mile as she was two lengths behind the leader the entire time. Blinkers go on and she shows a strong blinkers on/fast workout pattern with a 46.8 half mile drill on 4/12 which was the best of 19 followed by an even better 48.2 workout which was the sixth best of 71. She has not worn blinkers for her last three races, all so-so efforts BUT she did wear blinkers for her last two wins, the best of which was last August at Del Mar when she rallied from fifth to win a second level allowance race at 3 to 1 odds with a 106 Equibase figure which is one of the best in the field. As such, if the blinkers help her to run back to that race, she can post the upset.

 

Supercommittee finished third in her most recent start, a stakes on the turf at Tampa, behind winner Crown and Sugar and runner-up Bitacora. I think she can turn the tables on those two back at Gulfstream, where she won two in a row prior to that, because she gets a much better post (4) than Crown and Sugar (12) and because she gets a jockey change to Jaramillo while Bitacora gets a jockey change to Rendon, who isn’t as good as Jaramillo, particularly on turf. Supercommittee has a very consistent 3-2-2 record in nine career races on grass and put in a very sharp 47.4 turf workout at Palm Meadows coming into this race which suggests she could run an “A” race good enough to win.

 

Crown and Sugar loves to win races, with 11 wins in 23 starts including a five for 10 record on grass. However, this is her first start on the Gulfstream Turf, while the previously mentioned horses have won five or 12 on the course combined. Still, Crown and Sugar has won five in a row and in each was in front at the eighth pole and unchallenged the rest of the way, as well as gets her regular jockey Gallardo in from Tampa to ride.

 

Bets:

Win bets: Quebec to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Supercommittee to win at 7 to 2 or more.

Crown and Sugar to win at 7 to 2 or more.

 

Note: This is a race we can, and should, bet at least two of the horses above to win, and when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

 

Exacta: Quebec, Supercommittee and Crown and Sugar over ALL

 

Trifectas:

Quebec, Supercommittee and Crown and Sugar over Quebec, Supercommittee and Crown and Sugar over ALL.

Quebec, Supercommittee and Crown and Sugar over ALL over Quebec, Supercommittee and Crown and Sugar.

 

BONUS Race- Sunday, April 28

Steve Sexton Mile Stakes – Race 7 at Lone Star Park - Post Time 6:40 PM Eastern

 

Minister of Soul will get slight preference among four horses I feel have the bulk of the probability to win this year's Steve Sexton Mile Stakes. Disregarding his two career starts on grass as irrelevant, Minster of Soul has a six-for11 record on dirt, including four wins last year and two in 2019 to date. Primarily based at Turf Paradise in Arizona, the gelding has won at Lone Star Park, Albuquerque Downs and Turf Paradise. Minister of Soul earned his biggest wins this year, taking the Hank Mills, Sr. Stakes in January with a career-best 114 Equibase figure effort, then following that up with an easy three length win in the Phoenix Gold Cup Stakes. Although he has never run around two turns as he is doing in the Steve Sexton Mile, Minister of Soul is bred to run as well or better at the distance as he's done sprinting, because according to a STATS Race Lens pedigree search, his dam has produced multiple dirt route winners Image of Joplin ($283K earned) and Raised a Secret ($492K earned). With a sharp five furlong workout over the track on April 21 since shipping in from Arizona, another positive factor for Minister of Soul is that he gets the services of top jockey Lindey Wade as well. Wade's record on the Texas circuit of Lone Star and Sam Houston (via a STATS Race Lens query) is excellent, with 15 wins in 58 races in the past year and a +33% profit on win bets on those starters. As such, I think Minister of Soul can post the mild upset to win this race.

 

Mocito Rojo loves to win races, evidenced by a 13-for-21 overall record including a 12-for-16 record on dirt. Mocito Rojo shows up and gives his best nearly every time he runs as he has won or been beaten less than a length in his last seven races including four stakes. The best of those came when winning the Delta Mile Stakes at this distance in November with a career-best 115 figure which could make him very tough to beat in this race if repeated. Jockey Filemon Rodriguez has been aboard for 12 of Mocito Rojo's 13 wins and certainly has shown an affinity for getting the horse to run his best, which makes Mocito Rojo a definite win contender in the Steve Sexton Mile.

 

King Abner is an excellent dirt miler, having won twice and coming up a half-length short of victory the other time. He has won five of 15 races on dirt and his most recent race was the best of his career. In the Tiznow Stakes last month at Santa Anita, King Abner pressed the pacesetter for most of the race, took over to lead by a head with an eighth of a mile to go and was beaten just a half-length on the wire, earning a 118 figure. The horse which beat him, Edwards Going Left, had earned over a half-million dollars going in and was a multiple stakes winner so King Abner's runner-up effort was no disgrace. Jockey Tyler Baze comes in from California to ride the gelding, who has excellent tactical speed and who may find himself just behind the stretching out

Minister of Soul in the early stages. From there, he has every right to run well enough to win.

 

Title Ready may not possess the record of success of the other three and as a matter of fact has more runner-up finishes (five) than wins (three) in his career. Still, Title Ready can win the race if he repeats or improves upon his most recent effort when second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct. That effort earned a career-best 113 figure and as a four year old Title Ready may not have run his best race yet. Likely to be sent to post as the favorite, Title Ready may not offer the return for a win bet any of the other three win contenders might offer, but as he has been first or second combined in eight of 16 races, he must be respected when considering exacta wagers in this race.

 

Bets:

Win bets: Minister of Soul to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more

Mocito Rojo to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

 

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

 

Exacta: Box Minister of Soul, Mocito Rojo, King Abner and Title Ready.

 

Trifecta: Box Minister of Soul, Mocito Rojo, King Abner and Title Ready.

 

Thursday, 25 April 2019 13:12

Troubled Trips & Value

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo

 

April 25th, 2019

Troubled Trips & Value

By: Jonathan Stettin


 

Most of us watch a lot of races over the course of a week.

The normal tendency when watching races or even replays is to watch either the horse you bet on or the leader. We also tend to watch a horse making a move or one the track announcer brings to our attention. When looking for troubled trips, you have to train yourself to watch all the horses in the race and see things that might not be the focal point of most other spectators. Sure the running lines will identify some troubled trips for you, but those are the ones everyone will know about. To gain an advantage or edge it helps to see some that are

“for your eyes only.”

There are many different types of troubled trips. Some result from bad racing luck, post position, poor rider decisions, pace, and all sorts of other intangibles. Sometimes something can happen right in front of a horse that causes them to check and lose either ground, momentum or both. The troubled trips identified in past performances usually result in underlays so it is important to understand not all troubled trips are automatically a playback and actually some may offer better value betting against.

In my opinion, a troubled trip is one that prevented a horse from running better than they would have sans the trouble. It may be they checked, were blocked, were hemmed in by a rider or horse, went wide or were carried wide, lost ground or momentum, or were on the worst part of the track. Sometimes they can be prevented and sometimes they can’t. A horse can also have trouble, and it may not have been enough to have an impact on how they ran. Experience will show you the difference over time. There is no shortcut.

When a horse returns from a troubled trip, you have to handicap the race they are running back in using the troubled trip to help you gauge how the horse would have run without the trouble. Then you need to look at the new race as if the horse ran as you envision they would have. You have to look at the conditions and class as well as the pace in the new race. Just because we upgrade a horse because of trouble in their last start, doesn’t mean we like that horse in this field and under these circumstances today. Once again, there are no shortcuts.

Along those very same lines there will be times you see a horse get blocked, steadied or trapped and know they would have won that day and should win the race they are in today. Personally, I love when that happens, especially if it is a horse I spotted whose trouble does not appear in the past performances. I try and share this type of information and how to spot it for yourself through my Tracking Trips service. You can learn more about that here or on the link above. https://www.pastthewire.com/tracking-trips-info/

When handicapping a race and you see a horse coming off a troubled trip, or even one that ran with or against a true bias, I would suggest handicapping the race as if you didn’t know that first. Once done, I would then factor in what you know and upgrade or downgrade the horse accordingly.

“Betting a horse off a troubled trip can be one of the best bets at the track, knowing which ones to bet and which ones to pass is key.”

In the end, it comes down to doing your homework and learning how to use the troubled trip as a tool to help you bet or bet against. If a horse off a troubled trip that should win today takes more money than normal because of the trouble, a lot of people will bet against claiming there is no value in that horse. I don’t believe that. I never have. I believe there is no value betting a loser or horse you don’t like to win because of the price. The Sport of Kings offers many wagering opportunities that allow us to create value in most circumstances.

Value can mean different things to different people. Value is not simply high or long odds. Most people believe 10-1 is great value. You win $100 from just a $10 bet. If the horse has almost no shot and only really stands about a one in 20 chance or even higher of winning the race then there’s no value in betting on it. I see this mistake often, and even when lost referred to as a good value albeit a losing wager.

Along those same lines, most will say even money is never a good value. A lot of or at least some of those people bet on sports where even money, actually a little less, is considered fair. Interesting thought process and I get there are only two teams against multiple horses. To understand value you have to look at it like this. If the horse at even money is likely to win this race 99 out of a 100 times they run it; then even money is pretty fair value isn’t it?

“Value is not all price, it’s price against the horse's probability to win that given race.”

To me the following scenarios are good value;

If a horse goes off longer than expected or they should based on their ability and probability to win. (an overlay)

If a horse offers a good or better than fair return on investment.

If a horse is getting overlooked because of another hot horse, or some streak or statistic that means little on this day in this race.

Sure there are other situations, but you should get the picture.

Betting good value is as important as anything at the races. It’s up there with money management, ticket structure, and good old handicapping. It is essential for not only beating this very tough skill game but also for survival in it without a limitless well.

We will be talking about all this and more relative to the Kentucky Derby and Derby Day’s late pick 4 on our annual Derby Webinar brought to you by AmWager. To join and “be with us” check out the link here….

https://www.pastthewire.com/product/past-the-wire-kentucky-derby-2019-webinar/

 

Race 8 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:28 PM Eastern

 

Although the championship meeting at Gulfstream is behind us and although this isn’t a stakes race, the eighth race at Gulfstream is a KEY RACE because I’ve been waiting for Rose Velvet to return to the races since her last start in July, 2018. The mare was purchased privately by Team Valor prior to her U.S. debut in March, 2018, following two races in Italy which were both very good as the first was a runner-up effort in a field of 13, followed by a win by four lengths against males in a field of seven. She took a while to get acclimated to U.S. racing and was off for 14 months but her U.S. debut effort was rock solid when fourth in a blanket finish at this first allowance condition, well regarded at 5 to 1 odds. She came back three months later last June and stalked in second early before making the lead in the stretch but tired badly to fifth then the next month when sent to Monmouth came an effort in a race she absolutely should have won if not for tremendous traffic trouble. She was the best horse by far in that field when sent to post at 2 to 1 but she was without room to run from the quarter pole to the eighth pole and pretty much came to a complete stop when full of run at the sixteenth pole, ending up third. She has been working steadily for her comeback, she gets Lasix for the first time, and hustling jockey Juarez gets on. Her starting odds of 8 to 1 will likely be corrected a bit but considering 7 to 5 morning line favorite Ferdinanda will be overbet and loves to finish second (career record 2-7-0 in 13 turf starts), we still should get decent odds for a win bet on Rose Velvet, who should win if she gets a clean trip.

 

For the exacta, we should use the favorite (Ferdinanda) as well as Chilled Milk, who has won two in a row on the course.

 

Bets:

Win Bet: Rose Velvet to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.

 

Exacta: Box Rose Velvet and Ferdinanda. Box Rose Velvet and Chilled Milk.

 

Pick 3 at Laurel in Races 9 – 10 – 11

Weber City Miss Stakes - Race 9 at Laurel - Post Time 5:12 PM Eastern

Federico Tesio Stakes – Race 10 at Laurel – Post time 5:42 PM Eastern

Henry S. Clark Stakes - Race 11 at Laurel - Post Time 6:12 PM Eastern

 

The reason I’m taking a shot with this three race sequence is the first two legs are “free squares” in my opinion and in the third race of the sequence, there are two contenders for turf and one if the race is moved to dirt. The pick three may not pay a lot but if the payoff is $10 for every $1, considering the very high probabilities of the contenders winning, it could be found money. In the Weber City Miss, Las Setas stands out as she just won two similar stakes in a row, beating some of these, by five lengths each and there’s not much different about this race of this field to conspire to beat her. In the Federico Tesio, Alwaysmining proved he could handle two turns for the first time when winning the Private Terms Stakes last month and making his third start off a layoff should run even better as he goes for his sixth win in a row.

 

I’ll cover the Henry S. Clark Stakes later in the blog, but if the race stays on turf the winner should be Phlash Phelps or Irish Strait and if moved to dirt, Cordmaker is a standout.

 

Pick 3:
Race 9 – Las Setas

Race 10 – Alwaysmining

Race 11 – Phlash Phelps, Irish Strait, Cordmaker

 

Dance to Bristol Stakes – Race 10 at Charles Town - Post Time 5:01 PM Eastern

 

Lake Ponchatrain sticks out here and opens at 2 to 1 but went to post as the 4 to 5 favorite when winning a similar stakes at this distance over the track last month, so I think she will once again be the prohibitive favorite. That’s okay, considering the four contenders in race 11, the Charles Town Classic, are unlikely to be favored and may go to post at decent odds, allowing for some actual value in doubles. There may be value in the trifecta as well. Lake Ponchatrain has won 12 of 23 at Charles Town and as the nice win last month came following three months off there’s improving to do as well. Isotope finished second but was well beaten in that race and although she gets a jockey change to Castellano I don’t think she can turn the tables, but opening at 6 to 1 offers value in the exotics. Tweeting has finished second five times in her 17 race career, to go along with just a pair of wins, including runner-up finishes in her last two races, so she’s the other to play in the trifecta under the logical winner.

 

Bets:

Win Bet: In the unlikely event Lake Ponchatrain goes to post at 6 to 5 or better, she would be a good win bet given her probability to win projects to fair odds of 4 to 5.

 

Trifecta: Lake Ponchatrain over Isotope and Tweeting over ALL.


The best bet involving this race is the Double to the Charles Town Classic, as follows:

Double: Lake Ponchatrain in Race 10 with Diamond King, Rally Cry, Runnin’toluvya and Unbridled Juan in Race 11.

 

Charles Town Classic Stakes – Race 11 at Charles Town - Post Time 5:37 PM Eastern

 

There are a number of vulnerable low odds horses is year's edition of the Charles Town Classic. Something Awesome won the race last year and Imperative won in 2014 and again in 2017. However, Something Awesome finished 10th in both races this year and enters this year’s Classic off a totally different pattern then last when having won a stakes at Laurel one month earlier. Imperative has been beaten nearly 60 lengths in his last three starts and is winless and uncompetitive in top company since his 2017 win. 2018 Charles Town Classic runner-up War Story enters the race off both a very poor effort and a five month layoff and Discreet Lover, winner of last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup at 45 to 1, returns off a five month layoff, having finished sixth in last year’s race, with no signs he can run competitively off the bench.

 

That leaves us with four contenders:

Runnin'toluvya doesn't have any of the questions regarding form, fitness, recent races or the ability to win at the distance of the Charles Town Classic which many of the other entrants have. Going back to June of last year, Runnin'toluvya has reeled off eight straight wins and if not for a neck defeat last May would be going for his 11th win in a row. Many of the wins came against similar horses bred in West Virginia only, but Runnin'toluvya proved superior to his competition in all those races as he was in front with an eighth of a mile to go and coasted home each time. Two of those wins came at the mile and one-eighth distance of the Classic including a then career-best 107 Equibase Speed Figure effort last November in the A Huevo Stakes. Rested for more than four months, Runnin'toluvya returned last month in the local prep for the Classic, the Russell Road Overnight Prep Stakes at seven furlongs and he picked up where he left off in the fall with an easy win. In the Russell Road, Runnin'toluvya earned a new career-best figure of 110 which was better than the 108 figure Imperative earned winning the race in 2017. Although the figure was not as good as the 118 figure Something Awesome earned winning the Classic last year, considering Runnin'toluvya will be making his second start off a layoff and stretching out from seven to nine furlongs, which he did to win the West Virginia Breeders' Classic Stakes last fall, a new best effort and figure are possible which gives him a nice chance to post the upset and win this year's Charles Town Classic.

 

Diamond King is another Classic entrant who has no questions of fitness as he just ran on March 22. That was his first effort against older horses and he passed the test with flying colors as he earned a career-best 108 figure winning by three and three-quarter lengths. On this weekend last year, Diamond King won the Federico Tesio Stakes when stretching out from one-turn to two-turns as he is doing here and as the colt is making his second start following nearly six months off, a new career-best effort is entirely possible.

 

Rally Cry returns from more than seven months off but since his trainer is Todd Pletcher it is unlikely he will need a race before showing his best. According to STATS Race Lens, in the past two years, Pletcher has a strong 13 for 31 record with horses returning from a layoff of 180 days or more in a dirt route. John Velazquez rode Rally Cry to his biggest win when victorious by eight and three-quarter lengths in the Alydar Stakes in the summer of 2017 and at the distance of the Classic and that effort earned the horse a career-best 125 figure which, if repeated, would make him tough to beat. Winless in four races since then, Rally Cry had only two starts in 2018, resulting in fourth place finishes. However, considering Pletcher won this race in 2012 with Caixa Eletronica and again in 2016 with Stanford, I think Rally Cry may be up to the task.

 

Unbridled Juan shows up every time as evidenced by 16 first or second place finishes in his 29 race career including a five for seven first or second record at this nine furlong trip. He earned 106 figures when third and beaten a pair of necks in the John B. Campbell Stakes in February and when winning the Richard W. Small Stakes last November and another top effort would be no surprise.

 

Bets:

Win bets: Runnin’toluvya to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.

Diamond King and Rally Cry to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

Unbridled Juan to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.

 

Note: This is a race we can, and should, bet at least two of the horses above to win, and when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

 

Exacta: Box Diamond King, Rally Cry, Runnin’toluvya and Unbridled Juan.

Trifecta: Box Diamond King, Rally Cry, Runnin’toluvya and Unbridled Juan.

 

Henry S. Clark Stakes – Race 11 at Laurel - Post Time 6:12 PM Eastern

 

If we are live in the Pick 3 started in race 9 at Laurel, there may be no reason to play this race individually and every reason to sit back and root for the pick 3 to get home. However, if we aren’t, or if the odds on the contenders offer an edge, we should play. On turf, Phlash Phelps and Irish Strait looks most probable, with the former the better value for win bets starting at 9 to 2 compared to 2 to 1. Phlash Phelps missed by a half-length in the Maryland Millions Turf Stakes when last seen in October, on a yielding course, and missed by a head to the very talented Unbridled Juan in an off-turf race (run on dirt) two before that. He shows up nearly every time and no matter the surface the race is run on could be very tough from start to finish. Irish Strait won a classified allowance race in January on the grass before being overmatched but beaten just over a length in the grade three Tampa Bay Stakes in February. He’s won on dirt as well and should fire a nice shot fresh no matter the surface this race is run on. If the race is moved to dirt, in spite of Phlash Phelps and Irish Strait having a good shot to be competitive, Cordmaker is the on to beat based on his big win last month in the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes over the track, beating the aforementioned tough cookie Unbridled Juan in the process. A lightly raced four year old, he’s four for 11 overall with all four wins coming on the Laurel main track including two stakes.

 

Bets:

Win bet: Phlash Phelps to win at odds of 2 to 1 (turf or dirt).

If the race is run on dirt, Cordmaker to win at odds of 6 to 5 or more.

 

Exacta: On turf, box Phlash Phelps and Irish Strait.

On dirt, box Phlash Phelps, Irish Strait and Cordmaker.

Race 8 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:28 PM Eastern

 

Although the championship meeting at Gulfstream is behind us and although this isn’t a stakes race, the eighth race at Gulfstream is a KEY RACE because I’ve been waiting for Rose Velvet to return to the races since her last start in July, 2018. The mare was purchased privately by Team Valor prior to her U.S. debut in March, 2018, following two races in Italy which were both very good as the first was a runner-up effort in a field of 13, followed by a win by four lengths against males in a field of seven. She took a while to get acclimated to U.S. racing and was off for 14 months but her U.S. debut effort was rock solid when fourth in a blanket finish at this first allowance condition, well regarded at 5 to 1 odds. She came back three months later last June and stalked in second early before making the lead in the stretch but tired badly to fifth then the next month when sent to Monmouth came an effort in a race she absolutely should have won if not for tremendous traffic trouble. She was the best horse by far in that field when sent to post at 2 to 1 but she was without room to run from the quarter pole to the eighth pole and pretty much came to a complete stop when full of run at the sixteenth pole, ending up third. She has been working steadily for her comeback, she gets Lasix for the first time, and hustling jockey Juarez gets on. Her starting odds of 8 to 1 will likely be corrected a bit but considering 7 to 5 morning line favorite Ferdinanda will be overbet and loves to finish second (career record 2-7-0 in 13 turf starts), we still should get decent odds for a win bet on Rose Velvet, who should win if she gets a clean trip.

 

For the exacta, we should use the favorite (Ferdinanda) as well as Chilled Milk, who has won two in a row on the course.

 

Bets:

Win Bet: Rose Velvet to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.

 

Exacta: Box Rose Velvet and Ferdinanda. Box Rose Velvet and Chilled Milk.

 

Pick 3 at Laurel in Races 9 – 10 – 11

Weber City Miss Stakes - Race 9 at Laurel - Post Time 5:12 PM Eastern

Federico Tesio Stakes – Race 10 at Laurel – Post time 5:42 PM Eastern

Henry S. Clark Stakes - Race 11 at Laurel - Post Time 6:12 PM Eastern

 

The reason I’m taking a shot with this three race sequence is the first two legs are “free squares” in my opinion and in the third race of the sequence, there are two contenders for turf and one if the race is moved to dirt. The pick three may not pay a lot but if the payoff is $10 for every $1, considering the very high probabilities of the contenders winning, it could be found money. In the Weber City Miss, Las Setas stands out as she just won two similar stakes in a row, beating some of these, by five lengths each and there’s not much different about this race of this field to conspire to beat her. In the Federico Tesio, Alwaysmining proved he could handle two turns for the first time when winning the Private Terms Stakes last month and making his third start off a layoff should run even better as he goes for his sixth win in a row.

 

I’ll cover the Henry S. Clark Stakes later in the blog, but if the race stays on turf the winner should be Phlash Phelps or Irish Strait and if moved to dirt, Cordmaker is a standout.

 

Pick 3:
Race 9 – Las Setas

Race 10 – Alwaysmining

Race 11 – Phlash Phelps, Irish Strait, Cordmaker

 

Dance to Bristol Stakes – Race 10 at Charles Town - Post Time 5:01 PM Eastern

 

Lake Ponchatrain sticks out here and opens at 2 to 1 but went to post as the 4 to 5 favorite when winning a similar stakes at this distance over the track last month, so I think she will once again be the prohibitive favorite. That’s okay, considering the four contenders in race 11, the Charles Town Classic, are unlikely to be favored and may go to post at decent odds, allowing for some actual value in doubles. There may be value in the trifecta as well. Lake Ponchatrain has won 12 of 23 at Charles Town and as the nice win last month came following three months off there’s improving to do as well. Isotope finished second but was well beaten in that race and although she gets a jockey change to Castellano I don’t think she can turn the tables, but opening at 6 to 1 offers value in the exotics. Tweeting has finished second five times in her 17 race career, to go along with just a pair of wins, including runner-up finishes in her last two races, so she’s the other to play in the trifecta under the logical winner.

 

Bets:

Win Bet: In the unlikely event Lake Ponchatrain goes to post at 6 to 5 or better, she would be a good win bet given her probability to win projects to fair odds of 4 to 5.

 

Trifecta: Lake Ponchatrain over Isotope and Tweeting over ALL.


The best bet involving this race is the Double to the Charles Town Classic, as follows:

Double: Lake Ponchatrain in Race 10 with Diamond King, Rally Cry, Runnin’toluvya and Unbridled Juan in Race 11.

 

Charles Town Classic Stakes – Race 11 at Charles Town - Post Time 5:37 PM Eastern

 

There are a number of vulnerable low odds horses is year's edition of the Charles Town Classic. Something Awesome won the race last year and Imperative won in 2014 and again in 2017. However, Something Awesome finished 10th in both races this year and enters this year’s Classic off a totally different pattern then last when having won a stakes at Laurel one month earlier. Imperative has been beaten nearly 60 lengths in his last three starts and is winless and uncompetitive in top company since his 2017 win. 2018 Charles Town Classic runner-up War Story enters the race off both a very poor effort and a five month layoff and Discreet Lover, winner of last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup at 45 to 1, returns off a five month layoff, having finished sixth in last year’s race, with no signs he can run competitively off the bench.

 

That leaves us with four contenders:

Runnin'toluvya doesn't have any of the questions regarding form, fitness, recent races or the ability to win at the distance of the Charles Town Classic which many of the other entrants have. Going back to June of last year, Runnin'toluvya has reeled off eight straight wins and if not for a neck defeat last May would be going for his 11th win in a row. Many of the wins came against similar horses bred in West Virginia only, but Runnin'toluvya proved superior to his competition in all those races as he was in front with an eighth of a mile to go and coasted home each time. Two of those wins came at the mile and one-eighth distance of the Classic including a then career-best 107 Equibase Speed Figure effort last November in the A Huevo Stakes. Rested for more than four months, Runnin'toluvya returned last month in the local prep for the Classic, the Russell Road Overnight Prep Stakes at seven furlongs and he picked up where he left off in the fall with an easy win. In the Russell Road, Runnin'toluvya earned a new career-best figure of 110 which was better than the 108 figure Imperative earned winning the race in 2017. Although the figure was not as good as the 118 figure Something Awesome earned winning the Classic last year, considering Runnin'toluvya will be making his second start off a layoff and stretching out from seven to nine furlongs, which he did to win the West Virginia Breeders' Classic Stakes last fall, a new best effort and figure are possible which gives him a nice chance to post the upset and win this year's Charles Town Classic.

 

Diamond King is another Classic entrant who has no questions of fitness as he just ran on March 22. That was his first effort against older horses and he passed the test with flying colors as he earned a career-best 108 figure winning by three and three-quarter lengths. On this weekend last year, Diamond King won the Federico Tesio Stakes when stretching out from one-turn to two-turns as he is doing here and as the colt is making his second start following nearly six months off, a new career-best effort is entirely possible.

 

Rally Cry returns from more than seven months off but since his trainer is Todd Pletcher it is unlikely he will need a race before showing his best. According to STATS Race Lens, in the past two years, Pletcher has a strong 13 for 31 record with horses returning from a layoff of 180 days or more in a dirt route. John Velazquez rode Rally Cry to his biggest win when victorious by eight and three-quarter lengths in the Alydar Stakes in the summer of 2017 and at the distance of the Classic and that effort earned the horse a career-best 125 figure which, if repeated, would make him tough to beat. Winless in four races since then, Rally Cry had only two starts in 2018, resulting in fourth place finishes. However, considering Pletcher won this race in 2012 with Caixa Eletronica and again in 2016 with Stanford, I think Rally Cry may be up to the task.

 

Unbridled Juan shows up every time as evidenced by 16 first or second place finishes in his 29 race career including a five for seven first or second record at this nine furlong trip. He earned 106 figures when third and beaten a pair of necks in the John B. Campbell Stakes in February and when winning the Richard W. Small Stakes last November and another top effort would be no surprise.

 

Bets:

Win bets: Runnin’toluvya to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.

Diamond King and Rally Cry to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

Unbridled Juan to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.

 

Note: This is a race we can, and should, bet at least two of the horses above to win, and when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

 

Exacta: Box Diamond King, Rally Cry, Runnin’toluvya and Unbridled Juan.

Trifecta: Box Diamond King, Rally Cry, Runnin’toluvya and Unbridled Juan.

 

Henry S. Clark Stakes – Race 11 at Laurel - Post Time 6:12 PM Eastern

 

If we are live in the Pick 3 started in race 9 at Laurel, there may be no reason to play this race individually and every reason to sit back and root for the pick 3 to get home. However, if we aren’t, or if the odds on the contenders offer an edge, we should play. On turf, Phlash Phelps and Irish Strait looks most probable, with the former the better value for win bets starting at 9 to 2 compared to 2 to 1. Phlash Phelps missed by a half-length in the Maryland Millions Turf Stakes when last seen in October, on a yielding course, and missed by a head to the very talented Unbridled Juan in an off-turf race (run on dirt) two before that. He shows up nearly every time and no matter the surface the race is run on could be very tough from start to finish. Irish Strait won a classified allowance race in January on the grass before being overmatched but beaten just over a length in the grade three Tampa Bay Stakes in February. He’s won on dirt as well and should fire a nice shot fresh no matter the surface this race is run on. If the race is moved to dirt, in spite of Phlash Phelps and Irish Strait having a good shot to be competitive, Cordmaker is the on to beat based on his big win last month in the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes over the track, beating the aforementioned tough cookie Unbridled Juan in the process. A lightly raced four year old, he’s four for 11 overall with all four wins coming on the Laurel main track including two stakes.

 

Bets:

Win bet: Phlash Phelps to win at odds of 2 to 1 (turf or dirt).

If the race is run on dirt, Cordmaker to win at odds of 6 to 5 or more.

 

Exacta: On turf, box Phlash Phelps and Irish Strait.

On dirt, box Phlash Phelps, Irish Strait and Cordmaker.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 20:07

Derby Day Value: The Kill Shot

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo

 

April 16th, 2019

Derby Day Value: The Kill Shot

By: Jonathan Stettin


 

Now that the Derby points races are complete and we know the likely runners, I start thinking about all the betting opportunities there will be the first Saturday in May.

There is always value to be had on Kentucky Derby Day. Always. Regardless of who wins, and at what price, if you go after the right spots there will be value.

This year it looks like we will have a favorite at maybe 3-1 or 7-2. I would think final odds will fall somewhere around there, but if it were as high as 5-1 I would not be surprised. This year value should be especially easy to find. You just have to be right because there is never any value in a losing wager.

Far too many people will tie up the bulk of their bankroll in pick 4’s and pick 5’s. Those bets are fun and offer great value if you beat a few shorter price horses, but they can also disappoint if you get some logical results with so many people in the 50 cent pools.

I love to go after some other bets on Kentucky Derby Day or any big day really. Exactas, doubles, superfectas, and triples can offer some serious value with their big pools, and so many people focusing on multi-race bets.

If I have a single in any multi-race wager on Derby Day, and I will, one thing I surely will do is bet the horse alone, and also in doubles, exactas, triples, and superfectas. This allows for two possibilities. One is the kill shot I always go for. If my single wins and I hit everything built around it bang, Kill Shot, that’s why I play. The other scenario is if I lose the multi-race bet, or one of the others, I can still win if my single wins. It all comes back to being right. The First Saturday in May is a good time to get it right.

I’ll use numbers to demonstrate how I structure one of my big day kill shots. Of course the longer the price, the more I like it. Price won’t deter me one way or the other. If my horse is long odds, obviously value is built in. If not, and the horse is short, I’ll create the value, and if it wins, that will sort itself out. Long or short odds, I just want to be right.

So let’s say the sequence is races 8,9,10, and 11. My single is in the 9th race, and we will use number 1. My pick 4 would look something like this:

8- 2,5,7

9- 1

10- 3,4,5

11- 2,6

Remember I am just using numbers to illustrate how I structure a Kill Shot bet. For 50 cents this bet would cost $9. For $10 it would cost $180. Both fair amounts depending on your budget.

Now the multi-race wager is out of the way. From there I play doubles.

Race 8, 2,5,7 with 1. If I like either the 2,5, or 7 more than the others, I go back at the double cold.

Race 8 double, 5-1. That takes care of that.

In race 9 I will bet the 1 to win, but only if I am out of the pick 4, which means I am also out of the double. If I am alive, I will bet exactas, triples, superfectas and more doubles. In the out scenario, I will make these bets but also the win bet.

Race 9 will look like this:

1 to win.

1 over 2,4,6 in the exactas. I don’t reverse, and I don’t box. My money goes on me being right, that means the 1 must win for me to score.

1 with 2,4,6, with 2,4,6,9,10 is one triple.

1 with 2,4,6, with all is the second triple. If I hit the exacta, I will hit the triple; it is just a question of how many times.

I am not done.

Race 9 superfectas.

1 with 2,4,6, with 2,4,6,9,10 with all.

1 with 2,4,6, with all, with all. Again if I hit the exacta, I am going to also hit the super, it’s just how many times.

I did say Kill Shot, so no I am not done. I have more doubles.

Race 9 double, 1 with 3,4,5. Again if I lean to one of those more than the others, I go back at that one. 1-5 double cold.

This style is not for everyone. It works for me and took me several years to lock into it. The rewards have been indescribable. Especially those days where things are breaking right, and you can feel in your bones you are taking down everything. The best thing a teller ever said to me was on one of those days.

“Would you like me to see if I can find a bag?”

Actually, he or I should say I didn’t need one. The track, Calder, which was owned by Churchill Downs at the time didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay me. The mutual manager asked if I could come back a few days later. I happily agreed. They paid me in bricks. That’s what a Kill Shot can do, and once you do it, you want to do it again.

This game and this style are not for the faint of heart, however. You have to be able to shake it off. Big time. Some years back I bet a horse named Giacomo in the Derby this way. I blew every exotic - every single one. It was a numbing experience. It was a very long walk to the car. That year I was still perfecting my style. I did not bet win as I was too greedy. I thought I should be making a score. Had Afleet Alex beaten Closing Argument for second I would have. He didn’t, and he was about ten lengths better than Closing Argument on his off days. Like I said you gotta be right and this is not for the faint of heart.

It’s Derby time; I’ll focus on the wins for now.