Thursday, 18 July 2019 17:58

Not Over Yet

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


July 19, 2019

Not Over Yet

By: Jonathan Stettin

We are a little more than halfway through the racing year. The three year old male division is still pretty much up in the air. It is ripe for someone to step up and take all the honors.

We had a different winner in all the Triple Crown races, including a rare disqualification in the Kentucky Derby. We lost the winner who was put up, Country House. The horse who was disqualified, Maximum Security lost a prep race for the Haskell. Omaha Beach, the early Derby favorite scratched and is just now returning to training. Nobody has really stepped up and asserted any dominance of yet. That can change fast however.

Maximum Security runs in the Haskell on Saturday. I won’t be betting the Haskell, but I will be watching closely to see how things may look going forward. I expect a rebound good race from Maximum Security and without actually handicapping the race I suspect he will win. I don’t think Servis will send him out short or tired again, at least not now.

I love being in the minority in the Sport of Kings. Not much pleases me more then liking a horse not many others give a chance or are talking about. That happened in this year’s Kentucky Derby when I landed on Code of Honor. Again, I don’t mind being in the minority when I say this; I believe if it didn’t rain on the first Saturday in May he would have won the Derby. We will never know the answer to that. Code of Honor impressed me in his last race at Belmont. I like how he split horses in the stretch without hesitation and accelerated. Derby stuff wink wink. If he wins the Jim Dandy and Travers he is in the picture.

I don’t know what to expect from Omaha Beach coming back. I’m not sold he moves forward from where he was in the spring. Logic says with his breathing issue behind him he should, but is this a logical game?

Tacitus is another who can really step up and make noise in the division. He checks a lot of boxes on his resume. If he can win a major race to pair with his Wood Memorial victory, he can be heard from as a possible three year old champ.

I am not as fast as most to discredit a crop and label it weak or bad. I don’t think we truly know that yet. There is a lot more racing to be done and parody doesn’t automatically equate to weakness. Let’s see how that all plays out and how any of these may do against older horses a bit later in the year.

For now, most of this is subjective. Who knows it may remain that way. This column can age poorly or brilliantly. I think the two most likely to assert themselves in the second half of the year are Code of Honor and Tacitus. The filly Guarana can be better than all of them if she can strut her stuff around two turns the way she does around one. We will find that out this weekend barring a heat wave.

One mystery to me is where has Monomoy Girl been and why? It’s far from too late for her to be a major force in her division but Midnight Bisou and Elate really have the jump on her.

This is a good weekend to avoid the outside heat, log onto your AmWager account and create a different type of heat. We should have plenty of opportunities for some big swings. Enjoy and get lucky!

Friday, 12 July 2019 12:30

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, July 13

Hockessin Stakes - Race 6 at Delaware Park - Post Time 4:13 PM Eastern

For the purposes of the pick 3 ending in the Delaware Handicap, race 8, we should use all five particularly as there are horses in each of the next two races at decent odds, so if one of the favorites wins here the bet should still be worth the risk. All five of these sprinters can win, even Arthur’s Hope, who opens at the highest odds of the quintet at 8 to 1. He earned a 112 Equibase Figure winning a classified allowance last month over stakes winner Life in Shambles, for his 11th career win in 22 starts. That 112 figure is the second best last race figure in the field, with only Always Sunshine’s 117 figure better. Altissimo, who opens as the second highest price in the field at 9 to 2, has nearly won five in a row, all stakes, four of them for Ohio breds only. However, in the one defeat, he missed by a head to Colonel Sharp, who opens at 3 to 1 so Altissimo’s 9 to 2 odds are a bit higher than they should be as both horses have the same probability. There are no knocks on 8 to 5 favorite No Dozing but he’s no standout either. He won a classified allowance last July and the Bold Ruler in November then took seven months off. His comeback was poor as he faded from second early to seventh and he is NOT dropping in class.

Bets: Win bet on Arthur’s Hope and Altissimo at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

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

Pick 3’s (two tickets)
Race 6 ALL five
Race 7 Completed Pass, Parlor, O Dionysus, Just Howard
Race 8 Gotham Gala, Escape Clause

Race 6 ALL five
Race 7 Completed Pass
Race 8 Gotham Gala, Escape Clause, Elate, Blue Prize

Glasgow Stakes - Race 7 at Delaware Park - Post Time 4:49 PM Eastern

This race is a lot more wide open than the morning line odds would make you believe. The 3 to 2 starting odds on Parlor are as much based on the fact he’s dropping out of the Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes as anything else. However, he was 33 to 1 that day, and his last win came in a NW3X allowance race 14 months ago. He can win but he’s no standout, not even a little. Just Howard is winless in three races this year and like Parlor, earned his last win, 11 months ago, in an allowance race. His morning line odds are 5/2 and that’s just ridiculous as he has about a 20% chance to win at the most so they should be about 4 to 1 .O Dionysus, who won the 12 furlong Cape Henlopen Stakes on this turf course last year but who is winless since including a third place finish in that same race one week ago, opens at 9 to 2. They all have a chance but aren’t really playable except in pick 3 and double tickets.

On the other hand, Completed Pass is a superb bet anywhere near his 12/1 starting odds. This is one competitive horse as evidenced by six wins and three second place finishes in 11 races. He tried turf for the first time four races back in April and except for a fifth place effort in a grade 3 stakes on soft turf last out ran huge in all three races, winning one and missing by a neck in the other two. ALL THRE were 100K stakes races just like this one so the only question is whether he can run two turns as all three were five or five and one-half furlongs. Being as he’s only raced 11 times, there’s no reason he can’t get the distance and run as well, and certainly his Equibase figures are every bit as good as the three previously mentioned horses opening at much lower odds.

Bets: Win bet on Completed Pass at odds of 2 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

Exactas: Box Completed Pass and Parlor. Box Completed Pass and Just Howard. Box Completed Pass and O Dionysus.

If you did not play the pick 3 starting in race 6, or if none of the horses won that leg, or if you just want to press for more profit, here are some Doubles:

Completed Pass in race 7 with ALL in race 8.
Completed Pass in race 7 with Gotham Gala, Escape Clause, Elate, Blue Prize in race 8.
Completed Pass, Parlor, Just Howard and O Dionysus in race 7 with Gotham Gala, Escape Clause, Elate, Blue Prize in race 8.
ALL in race 7 with Gotham Gala and Escape Clause in race 8.

Delaware Handicap - Race 8 at Delaware Park - Post Time 5:25 PM Eastern

Gotham Gala has good upset potential in this race. She started her career on turf, went zero for two, then moved to dirt, where she won by 12 lengths last September. Two races later she won again, followed by a poorer effort which led to a six month layoff. After a third place finish in a two-turn race in May without a sprint prep first, Gotham Gala was entered in the Obeah Stakes where she cruised in front from start to finish, earning a career-best 94 Equibase Speed Figure which was an eight point improvement off her previous effort. Gotham Gala has the breeding to handle the 10 furlong trip of the Delaware Handicap as a daughter of Smart Strike so there are no concerns there. Although she led from start to finish in the Obeah, Gotham Gala proved last year she can come from off the pace to win. Jockey Danny Centeno has been aboard for all three of her career wins and rides today so from an inside post can take the early lead if no other horse wants it or can sit off the pace and rally in the stretch. Considering favorite Elate earned a 99 figure winning the Fleur de Lis last month, with logical improvement off the 94 figure effort Gotham Gala put forth last month, she can run as well or better than the favorite to win this year's Delaware Handicap.

Escape Clause is another upset possibility, if she can repeat the effort she put forth in the Apple Blossom Handicap in April. In that race, Escape Clause stalked in second, took the lead on the far turn and held it to just near the wire, coming up a nose short to Midnight Bisou, who returned to win the Ogden Phipps Stakes last month, a race in which Escape Clause was a well-beaten fourth. The 115 figure Escape Clause earned in the Apple Blossom is nearly as good as the 119 figure Elate earned winning the Personal Ensign Stakes last summer and the 117 figure Blue Prize (ARG) earned winning the Falls City Handicap in the fall of 2017 and the longer distance could help Escape Clause run back to her Apple Blossom effort, as she finished third, beaten only one length, in the 11 furlong Red Carpet Handicap on turf last fall. Having put in two workouts at Delaware Park, the first of which was a rock solid second best of 70 on the day at the distance of four furlongs, Escape Clause must be strongly considered a contender in this race.

Elate would go over the $2 million mark in career earnings with a win in the Delaware Handicap, having banked $1.69 million to date while winning six of 15 races and finishing second in five others. She won the 2018 edition of this race following eight months off and earning a 110 figure. She could run even better this year as she has had three races, most recently winning the Fleur De Lis Handicap last month with a 99 figure. She earned higher 105 and 111 figures, respectively, in the Azeri Stakes and Apple Blossom, although she was no threat to win either. However, back in winning form and having won back-to-back grade 1 stakes in the summer of 2017, Elate could be formidable in this situation.

Blue Prize (ARG) is a tough competitor who has been first or second in 15 of 19 races, earning $1.1 million in the process. She put together three straight graded stakes wins last year, including the Fleur de Lis, before a fourth place effort in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Her two races this year have been okay but not great, first finishing third in the La Troienne Stakes in May with a 99 figure, then regressing slightly to a 97 figure when beaten a length and one-half by Elate in this year's Fleur De Lis. As such, I think Blue Prize (ARG) can be a contender for a minor award and should be considered for exacta and trifecta tickets in this race, but it may be difficult for her to beat any of the three previously mentioned contenders.

Bets: Gotham Gala and Escape Clause to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

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

Trifecta: Box Gotham Gala, Escape Clause, Elate and Blue Prize.

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

Don’t let the fact this year’s Diana Stakes drew six horses, or the fact four are trained by Chad Brown, keep you from playing the race. ALL SIX can win, even Thais, who opens at 15/1. Highly regarded since coming to the U.S. two summers ago, she has won just once in eight races, BUT she is adding blinkers while making her second start after five months off. Brown’s record when adding blinkers in a turf route stakes race is amazing. I looked up the details of this and he’s only done it five times. I usually hate it when a trainer makes a blinker change for a stakes as it suggests the trainer doesn’t know that to do and is just trying something, but NOT CHAD BROWN, who has done this 12 times, with four of the horses winning and 11 hitting the board. Considering Thais pressed the pace in second from the start and was two lengths behind the leader from start to finish, perhaps the focus with blinkers will get her to run a big race. Mitchell Road, who opens at 8/1, is another potential win bet in spite of the Brown powerhouse of Rushing Fall, Sistercharlie and Homerique. Mitchell Road has done absolutely everything right in seven races for Bill Mott, winning five and finishing second in the other two. The 111 and 107 figures she earned in her last two stack up with the best in here (Rushing Fall 113, Sistercharlie 116 last fall and Homerique just 93 last month) so I must consider Mitchell Road a win contender in the same breath as the rest.

Bets: Thais and Mitchell Road 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.

Doubles: ALL in Race 9 with Payne in Race 10.

Friday, 05 July 2019 15:07

Using The Sheets

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


June 27th, 2019

Using The Sheets

By: Jonathan Stettin

When I refer to “sheets” I am referring to the Ragozins or Thoro-Graph. While both are speed figures there is something that separates them from the rest. They are not “raw” speed figure numbers. They encompass trip, things like ground loss, wide, inside, and more. Buyers, and most of the others are raw numbers that purport to tell us how fast a horse ran. I can look at the charts and see that.

There was a time, not all that long ago when you’d see a horse on the sheets that was flat out faster than the rest. Many times this horse would not be the favorite, and often would not have the best or fastest raw figures or Beyers. Many won at nice prices. You can peruse past performances for hours today and you could be hard pressed to find such a horse. If you do find a sheet standout, they will likely be a short price.

Like everything else to be successful and stay on top you must adapt. Things change. Today many more people use the sheets, so the fast sheet horses get a lot of play. Info is shared and sold reducing the price even more. Horses have more parody as well it seems. More trainers are taking more edges and more horses have similar figures and even pattens. Are the sheets still valuable? Absolutely. You just have to read and use them correctly for today’s game.

It was never as simple as who has the lowest or fastest number will win. It was always more about patterns and moving forward or regressing or bouncing as we like to day. That’s a conversation for another day and column. Today we will look at a way to use the sheets to help us make some money.

Knowing a horse likely won’t win can be as much of an edge as knowing one who likely will win. Even more sometimes especially if the horse is a short price. With how the game has evolved, and with the emphasis we have on multi race wagers like pick 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 6’s being able to eliminate or toss horses can be a significant edge. Sheets can help here.

When I read the sheets l like to look for horses who have two things going against them.
1- They are too slow on the sheets for the competition.
2- They don’t have a pattern or trend signifying a strong enough forward move to be competitive against the competition.
Finding one of these, sometimes even at shorter odds, is easier today than finding a faster horse “sheetwise” at longer odds. Rarely will a horse who has both these checkmarks beat you or knock you out of a multi race wager.

Eliminating horses who likely won’t knock you out of a multi race sequence is invaluable. It reduces your investment and also can allow you to add that live bomb difference maker. It lets you avoid the costly “all” button.

Most will still look at the sheets searching for that faster horse. I like to go the other way. Going against the grain and masses is never a bad idea in a pari-mutual system.

We have talked about some good angles of late. The more you have in your arsenal the better your chance to get an edge and separation. That’s what you need to help get you in position to beat this tough but skill game.

Let’s not think it is hopeless to find a faster horse on the sheets. It isn’t but if you want a faster horse at a price you will have to really know your patterns. Patterns repeat. You have to watch for changing or similar conditions when looking at patterns. If you can spot a forward move others miss and that forward move would put the horse ahead of the rest then you have your play.

We never stop evolving in this sport. It’s one of the great things about it.

Friday, 05 July 2019 02:08

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, July 6

Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes - Race 7 at Belmont - Post Time 4:30 PM Eastern
Olendon appears to have the goods here, even over very good distaff turf stakes winners like Newspaperofrecord, Concrete Rose and Cambier Parc, the latter two having posted upset wins over Newspaperofrecord in May and June. Olendon ships in off a bang-up second of 11 finish in the Group 1 Prix Saint Alary on May 26, at the 10 furlong trip of the Belmont Oaks. Only one other filly in the race (Jodie, shipping in from Japan) has run the distance, and Olendon did it against some of the best fillies in Europe, if not the world. With world-renowned trainer Pascal Bary still listed as her trainer, with John Velazquez set to ride, with the ground saving rail and with by far the highest last race Equibase figure in the field (116), Olendon should be tough to beat and easy to bet, as she opens at 9 to 2.
Cambier Parc stretched out to nine furlongs on turf last month when winning the Wonder Again Stakes over this course and she did so in a way that suggests the additional furlong won’t be an issue. She ran poorly with no excuse before that in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs on Derby weekend, that race won by Concrete Rose, with Newspaperofrecord second, but she won a stakes at Gulfstream before that and the way she rebounded in the Wonder Again suggests those two “A” races are what she’s capable of here. She’s one of three from the Brown barn but opens at 4 to 1 with Jose Ortiz aboard, who has been in the saddle for all three career wins to date. The 100 figures earned in the two wins don’t hold a candle to Olendon’s last race figure but it’s on par with Newspaperofrecord’s best (100) and better than the 93 Concrete Rose earned in the Edgewood so just repeating her last race could be good enough to get second and to win if I’m wrong about Olendon.
For exactas we will also use the Aiden O’Brien pair of Just Wonderful and Coral Beach, the former a fast closing fourth in her only previous U.S. start last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the latter having closed from last of 27 to get fourth a couple of weeks ago in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot. We will also use Jodie, the Japanese shipper, who finished third of 18 (beaten just a half-length) at this 10 furlong trip one race before last.
Olendon to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
Cambier Parc to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more. 
When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.

Exactas: Olendon and Cambier Parc over Olendon, Cambier Parc, Just Wonderful, Coral Beach and Jodie.
For about half whatever amount you play the exacta above, play the reverse, which is Olendon, Cambier Parc, Just Wonderful, Coral Beach and Jodie over Olendon and Cambier Parc.

My Dear Stakes - Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:45 PM Eastern
I assume a decent percentage of bettors at Woodbine know who Brad Cox is and what an amazing past couple of years he’s had. Still, considering Bayerly Seen opens at 6 to 1, I can only hope bettors of Woodbine races don’t pay attention to one of the top up-and-coming trainers in North America. Bayerly Seen won her only start by 12 lengths, geared down, at Indiana Grand (perhaps another reason for some bettors disregarding the filly) last month. Not only was the effort visually impressive, there was no doubt the filly wasn’t fully extended and has much more to show. She earned the win wire-to-wire and because she doesn’t wear blinkers I don’t think she’s a need the lead type so can sit off likely early leader Fast Scene and take over as needed. Before leaving her home base the filly put in a sharp half-mile workout which was the third fastest of 60 on the day, many of those older and more established runners. Cox gets local jockey Campbell to ride, which is good, and the trainer’s starters win back-to-back nearly 30% of the time, evidence Cox keeps his horses happy and healthy between races. 
Fast Scene may be the one to beat on paper with a sharp wire-to-wire score in her debut over the track last month. She ran fast from start to finish and then shipped back to trainer Hamm’s base at Presque Isle to put in a sharp half-mile workout before coming back up. Hernandez rode first time out and rides back and the trainer won this race in 2016 with Velvet Mood so knows what he’s doing. The only knock is she opens at 2 to 1.
Justleavitalone will be left alone by bettors as she’s a first timer in a stakes. She opens at 12/1 but appears to have a bit of talent as she worked a strong 46.4 half-mile on 6/26 which was the best of 32 at the distance on the day. Lest there be a doubt trainer Gonzalez is overreaching, he won this race in 2015 with a first time starter at 18/1. 
Bets: Bayerly Seen to win at odds of 2/1.
Minimum odds for a win bet on Fast Scene are 2/1 but she’s likely to go to post at lower odds.

For a smaller amount than on Bayerly Seen, bet Justleaveitalone to win at 5 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 7 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

Exactas: Box Bayerly Seen and Fast Scene.
Box Bayerly Seen, Fast Scene and Justleaveitalone

Trifecta: Bayerly Seen and Fast Scene over Bayerly Seen and Fast Scene over ALL.


Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes - Race 9 at Belmont - Post Time 5:44 PM Eastern

Cape of Good Hope can give world class trainer Aiden O’Brien his second win in this race. O’Brien shipped Deauville to win the 2016 edition of the Belmont Derby Invitational as well as saddled runner-up Adelaide in 2014. He also saddled Athena to win the 2018 Belmont Oaks Invitational so when he brings a horse from across the pond we can expect good things. Cape of Good Hope is one of only two horses in the field to have won at this mile and one-quarter turf trip, the win coming in the Blue Riband Trial Stakes in April. Sent to post at odds of 16/1 in the Prix du Jockey Club in June following the Trial, the colt had the benefit of stablemate Blenheim Palace to set the early pace and did rally from nearly last but could only manage fourth in the 15 horse field. However, that effort earned him a 116 Equibase Speed Figure, which is the top figure earned by any horse in this field. Dropped in class a bit for the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, Cape of Good Hope apparently didn’t like the soft turf and finished 10th. Not only is Cape of Good Hope proven at the distance and is in the hands of a trainer who has won the race previously with a horse shipping in from Europe, he is a full brother to champion Highland Reel, who won over $10 million including the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and he’s a full brother to Idaho, winner of over $1.6 million. As such, Cape of Good Hope is my top choice to win this year’s Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes.  

Rockemperor, one of four trained by Chad Brown, showed he fit at the top level when second, beaten a neck, in the Prix la Force Stakes in April. That effort earned a 108 Figure. Prior to that, Rockemperor won an allowance race at the mile and one-quarter distance of the Belmont Derby on an all-weather surface. Although sixth in the Prix du Jockey Club in his most recent race, Rockemperor improved to a career-best 111 figure. Trainer Brown is currently second in the trainer division on the North American Racing Leaders list with $12.8 million earned this year, but of that number $9.8 million has been earned by his starters on turf, where he excels, particularly with horses importing to the U.S. According to a STATS Race Lens query, Brown has won 25% of the time with foreign shippers in their first U.S. starts over the last five years, with 53% of those finishing in the top three. With Rockemperor having shown he belongs in top company and can handle the 10 furlong trip, I think he could be quite competitive in this race. 

Seismic Wave and Demarchelier finished second and first, respectively, in last month’s Pennine Ridge Stakes and could be close at hand in the Belmont Derby with similar efforts. Seismic Wave has done little wrong in six races, winning two and finishing second or third in three of the other four. In the American Turf Stakes on Derby day, Seismic Wave was eight paths wide turning for home and flew from 10th to fourth but was too late to catch winner Digital Age. That effort earned a career-best 100 figure and although he regressed to a 94 figure effort in the Pennine Ridge, the fact that race came over this inner turf course at Belmont may help him to run even better. Demarchelier is a perfect three-for-three in his career to date. Castellano has been in the saddle for all three and the colt continues to improve with each effort, earning a career best 95 figure in the Pennine Ridge. As such, I expect a good showing in the Belmont Derby but it is likely he will have to have another career-best effort to be competitive in this very deep and talented field. 

I can’t completely ignore Blenheim Palace although I suspect the reason he was entered was to insure a good early pace for his stablemate Cape of Good Hope as was the case in the Prix du Jockey Club. Blenheim Palace is the only other horse, besides his stablemate, to have won at this 10 furlong turf trip. He earned that win in April in a field of 16. Although he faded to 14thafter setting the pace in the Jockey Club, Blenheim Palace showed he can run well on his own when second thereafter in the Intern Stakes just one week ago. Blinkers are added for the Belmont Derby, strongly suggesting the tactic will be to go to the front and hold it for as long as he can. Noting that was the same tactic used by trainer O’Brien’s Hunting Horn in the Man o’War Stakes here at Belmont last month, and that one nearly pulled off the upset before fading to fourth very late in the race, there is reason to think Blenheim Palace could get brave on the lead and be in the hunt to the wire in this race.  

Bets: Cape of Good Hope to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.  

Rockemperor to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.

For smaller amounts than on Cape of Good Hope and Rockemperor, Seismic Wave and Demarchelier to win at odds of 9 to 2 or more.

Then, a minimum ($2 to $5) to win, place and show on Blenheim Palace at odds of 8 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.

 Doubles: Cape of Good Hope, Rockemperor, Seismic Wave, Demarchelier and Blenheim Palace in Race 9 with Catholic Boy, Preservationist, Marconi and Cordmaker in race 10. 

Then add a few horses in race 9 with my top pick in race 10 as follows:

Moon Colony, Standard Deviation, English Bee, Digital Age and He’s No Lemon in Race 9 with Preservationist in Race 10.


Suburban Stakes - Race 10 at Belmont - Post Time 6:18 PM Eastern

Preservationist never started as a two year old and only ran once as a three year old, finishing second, before going on the sidelines for almost all of his four year old year, finishing third in December, 2017. He won his first two starts as a five year old then went on the shelf again, this time for 11 months. After a sprint prep in which he finished third to start his five year old year he won, then lo and behold went on the sidelines again, this time for 15 months. His connections must think he’s supremely talented because off a comeback win in May over the track at the third allowance condition they are putting him in this grade 2 race. I AGREE with this as the 111 Equibase figure earned in that win over the track last month suggest he can post the mild upset here. Not only was that the BEST figure in the field earned by any horse last out, including those earned in stakes races by others, the ONLY two horses who have come back to run out of that race won their next starts. Trainer Jerkens, who also saddles Rocketry for the same owner, is a solid trainer and as this horse is making his second start off the long layoff he’s likely to improve, which makes him tough to beat. 

Catholic Boy has no knocks except that he’s likely to go to post as the heavy favorite. Proven in top company on turf and dirt, he began his four year old campaign off a six month layoff in May with a win on grass and he won the Travers last year at this distance on dirt off a turf win so putting in another “A” effort good enough to win is certainly within reach.

 Cordmaker may not be this good in terms of class but he doesn’t know it. Winner of six of 13 dirt races in his career, his 10th to third finish in the similar Pimlico Special one race before last suggests he fits with these. Carrasco rides him very well and the 110 and 107 figures from his last two wins also suggest it would be a mistake to keep him out of our exacta tickets at the very least, particularly as he opens at 12/1.

 Marconi has found a new lease on life in classic and marathon races, winning three straight stakes from 1 3/16 to 1 ½ miles, the most recent at Belmont in the grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational last month, a race like this one. Lezcano rode him marvelously in the Brooklyn, leading from start to finish, but Marconi has proven he doesn’t need the lead to win. With 108, 108 and 110 figures from those three wins, Marconi must be considered as a strong win contender.

 For a few exactas, I’ll use Rocketry (second to Marconi in the Brooklyn), Lone Sailor (who can put in a late kick on occasion), Wooderson (a half-brother to Rachel Alexandra who may improve off an allowance win) and Realm (a head behind Rocketry in the Brooklyn).

Bets: Preservationist to win at odds of 9 to 5.

For a smaller amount, Cordmaker and Marconi to win at odds of 9 to 2 or more.

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

 Exacta: Box Catholic Boy, Preservationist, Marconi and Cordmaker

Then, Catholic Boy, Preservationist, Marconi and Cordmaker over Catholic Boy, Preservationist, Marconi, Cordmaker, Rocketry, Lone Sailor, Realm and Wooderson.

Friday, 28 June 2019 14:29

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 29

King Edward Stakes - Race 6 at Woodbine - Post Time 2:53 PM Eastern

There are five horses that have some chance to win this year’s King Edward, but the best value comes in the form of Savage Battle, who opens at 20/1. I may admit to being a bit less objective than I should be, having picked him to run well in the Connaught Cup on June 1, but from that race he made my horses-to-watch list with the comment “Loaded at 14/1 and NOWHERE TO RUN FINAL 8th.” When I got email earlier this week he was entered in this race, I went back to watch the replay to insure I saw the same thing I saw weeks ago, and I did. The head-on is excruciating to watch, as he was bottled up with a wall of horses in front of him. I think the jockey hoped one of the horses would come off the rail, which never happened, and so instead of wheeling Savage Battle out and losing ground there was nothing he could do. In the final yards the jockey took him outside and he passed three horses for fourth in a few strides before the race was over. He gets Hernandez to ride and if the jockey keeps him a path or two off the rail and pulls him outside for the stretch, he can post the upset. Here’s the part of what I wrote a few weeks ago which still applies:

Savage Battle is a lightly raced five year old with just 16 races under his belt, 10 of those turf sprints. He has a fantastic record of 4-1-2 in those 10 races, including a runner-up effort in the Colonel Power Stakes at Fair Grounds in February. He earned a strong 108 Equibase figure winning a turf sprint in January before earning a 106 figure in the stakes in February, with those figures competitive with the best in here.

Synchrony opens as the 7/5 favorite on the strength of a neck defeat in the G2 Monmouth Stakes last month at 9 furlongs but his 1-2-0 record at the mile on turf compared to his 5-1-4 record in 11 turf races at longer distances suggests this may not be his best trip. I won’t leave him off exacta, double or pick 3 tickets but I am hoping one of the other contenders wins, if Savage Battle does not.

Those other contenders are Say the Word, Mr Ritz, Curlin’s Honor and Emmaus.

Savage Battle to win and place at 3 to 1 or more, a true KEY BET on the day.

Exactas: Box Savage Battle and Synchrony
Then, for a smaller amount box Savage Battle and Say the Word, Savage Battle and Mr Ritz, Savage Battle and Curlin’s Honor and top it off by boxing Savage Battle and Emmaus.

Savage Battle in race 6 with ALL in race 7.
Savage Battle in race 6 with Meyer, Another Breeze, Zoological, Money Matters, Scocciatore and Proven Strategies in race 7.
Savage Battle, Say the Word, Mr Ritz, Curlin’s Honor and Emmaus in race 6 with Another Breeze, Zoological and Scocciatore in race 7.

Pick 3 (which has a $0.20 minimum so we can make these two plays cheaply)-
Race 6 – Savage Battle
Race 7 – Meyer, Another Breeze, Zoological, Money Matters, Scocciatore and Proven Strategies
Race 8 – Holy Helena, Art of Almost, Starship Jubilee, Lift Up, Rock my Love

Race 6 – Savage Battle, Say the Word, Mr Ritz, Curlin’s Honor and Emmaus
Race 7 – Another Breeze, Zoological and Scocciatore
Race 8 – Starship Jubilee, Rock my Love

Race 7 at Woodbine - Post Time 3:28 PM Eastern

This maiden race is very interesting so in addition to using it as part of doubles and pick 3s started in the sixth there may be a play or two here. Scocciatore and Zoological both come from the Biamonte barn, both either owned in whole or in part by the trainer’s relative (wife or sister I assume). They’ve been working in company for over a month as the dates, distances and times are identical for both horses. Since both are bred to run well early, since the workouts for both are above average and signal the horses have talent, and since they are ridden by Contreras and Husbands, respectively, we must use both. Another Breeze is used because his 20/1 morning line is wacky considering he’s a half-brother to Gigantic Breeze, who won first out at Woodbine and who went on to win over $450K. The breeding is fine on the sire’s side of the family tree as well and it must be noted Gigantic Breeze had the same breeder, owner, trainer and jockey when winning first out a couple of years back. Proven Strategies and Meyer both come from the Casse barn, the former with a decent post and workouts for his debut and the latter, although getting the rail which might be intimidating, ran on from eighth to fourth in his debut four weeks ago as the favorite and can improve.

Bets: Scocciatore and Zoological at odds of 3/1. (Note: The win bet may not be necessary if the daily doubles are live and paying well).

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

Another Breeze to win and place at 6 to 1 or more.

If you played the pick 3 starting in race 6 and none of the contenders won that leg, you can consider doubles using the contenders from that pick 3 in this race and the next race.

Dance Smartly Stakes - Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:18 PM Eastern

Rock my Love makes her U.S. debut, adding Lasix after what appears to be a race warranting the addition because she finished eighth of nine and never ran a lick. That was a group 2 race in France last October and prior to that Rock my Love finished second, beaten just three-quarters of a length, in another group 2 stakes race. That race was run at the same 10 furlongs on turf as this one, and she had been in training at Belmont before shipping up to put in a five furlong workout on the Woodbine turf, a very sharp move. Her trainer, Jonathan Thomas, is rock solid as he’s the trainer of top turf star Catholic Boy, and Flavien Prat (the leading jockey in Southern California) takes the call.

Starship Jubilee is 12 for 26 on turf in her career, including four wins on the Woodbine turf. One of those came in this race in 2017, but last year she could only manage a sixth place finish. She’s been an in-and-out type since then, winning a pair of races including the Canadian Stakes in September, before a fourth place finish in the E.P. Taylor at this distance. She won a restricted stakes race in January then led by three before being passed and settling for second in the Nassau over the course last month. She won the Nassau in 2017 before winning the Dance Smartly and it’s likely she will be competitive to the wire but opening at 2/1 she’s a poor win bet.

Art of Almost will be the profit key for exotics, opening at 20/1. Trained by excellent trainer Attfield, this lightly raced three year old filly won her last two starts, both on the all-weather here at Woodbine, in ridden out fashion. As a daughter of Dansili, she can run all day so I have no concern about getting 10 furlongs either. Her best Equibase figure to date is 93, far short of the 107 Starship Jubilee earned winning this race in 2017 and the 111 figure Rock my Love earned in her group two runner-up effort last summer, but the pattern (74, 86, 93) and the fact she’s just three years old suggests she can run much better, perhaps outrunning her high odds to be in the mix at the end.

Holy Helena (9/5 morning line) is a nice mare but she’s never run better than when earning a 103 figure in the Very One Stakes in March and she finished a dismal third last year in this race as the favorite. Lift Up was scratched twice recently, maybe to run here, maybe not, and is making her first start off an eight month layoff. That’s not a concern considering who her trainer is (Dickinson, a genius at getting a horse fit off a layoff) but she’s never run this far and with four career runner-up finishes to go along with five wins, I’ll just use her in exactas. However it must be noted the distance is no issue as she missed by a neck in the Maple Leaf Stakes at this distance on the main track before going on the bench.

Bets: Rock my Love to win at 2 to 1 or more.
At least a minimum $2 or $5 win, place and show bet on Art of Almost at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

Exacta: Rock my Love over Holy Helena, Art of Almost, Starship Jubilee and Lift Up.
For $1 - Art of Almost over ALL, then the opposite, which is ALL over Art of Almost.
For $1 Art of Almost over Holy Helena, Starship Jubilee, Lift Up and Rock My Love, then the opposite, which is Holy Helena, Starship Jubilee, Lift Up and Rock My Love over Art of Almost.

Trifecta: Rock my Love over Holy Helena, Art of Almost, Starship Jubilee and Lift Up over Holy Helena, Art of Almost, Starship Jubilee and Lift Up.

Doubles: Rock my Love in race 8 with Wet Your Whistle, Extravagant Kid, White Flag and Caribou Club in race 9.

Art of Almost, Holy Helena, Starship Jubilee, Lift Up and Rock My Love in race 8 with Wet Your Whistle, Extravagant Kid, White Flag and Caribou Club in race 9.

Highlander Stakes - Race 9 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:51 PM Eastern

Wet Your Whistle gets slight preference among a quartet that appear most probable to win, if for no other reason than he is likely to go to post at the highest odds of the four. He won two of eight races last year and it took him six tries to earn his second career win which came in December, five months after he won his first career start. Nevertheless, only one of his eight races last year was a turf sprint. Starting off his four year old campaign in April and following four months off, Wet Your Whistle won a turf sprint rather easily when going from sixth, nearly five lengths back on the turn, to the lead and before drawing off by three lengths. Next time out on May 19, Wet Your Whistle won just as easily to take the Get Serious Stakes on the turf at Monmouth, improving to a career-best 117 Equibase Figure. To put that figure in perspective, when El Tormenta won the Connaught Cup Stakes last month over the Woodbine turf, he earned a 106 figure, and the winners of the last four editions of the Highlander earned 116, 105, 121 and 103 figures. As such, with logical improvement in his third start of the year, Wet Your Whistle could post the upset in this race.

Extravagant Kid also enters the Highlander off a stakes win, having won the Mighty Beau Stakes at Churchill Downs four weeks ago. The 116 figure earned was a career-best and as good as the figure Wet Your Whistle earned in his most recent race so there's little doubt Extravagant Kid can run well enough to win. He's also an extremely consistent horse as he's finished no worse than second in seven of his last eight races, all but one of those stakes races. Interestingly enough, although based in Kentucky with trainer Brendan Walsh, Wet Your Whistle shipped to Woodbine for the Jacques Cartier Stakes on the all-weather track in May and he wasn't disgraced one bit when second to the incomparable Pink Lloyd that day. Walsh knows how to keep his horses, particularly this one, happy and healthy as the trainer's record with back-to-back winners in similar situations is very good. Per a STATS Race Lens individual research query, over the last five years, Walsh has won with six of 19 horses in turf sprints which won their previous start. Getting local top jockey Hernandez is another sign Extravagant Kid has every chance to win this year's Highlander Stakes.

White Flag is pretty accomplished as well, with five wins in 13 career turf starts including the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship last fall at this six furlong turf trip. He stretched out to a mile for the Tropical Turf Stakes in January and faded to fourth after leading from the start, but the cut back to six furlongs suits him perfectly. Having earned 113 figures in three straight races before the Tropical Turf, White Flag would need only the slightest improvement to run as well as Wet Your Whistle and Extravagant Kid have run in their best races and be very competitive in this spot.

Caribou Club has the second highest career earnings in the field at $504,744. He's raced exclusively on grass in his career, winning seven of 18 races. The most relevant of those wins came last year at Woodbine when the won the Connaught Cup, earning a career-best 112 figure. Caribou Club duplicated that effort and the same figure twice since, winning the Seabiscuit Stakes in November around two turns then winning the Joe Hernandez Stakes in January down the hillside turf course at Santa Anita. Then, shipping half-way across the world for his next start on March 30 in the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai, Caribou Club trailed throughout and finished last of 13. He's come back to work well and if he can rebound to the form shown last year or in January, he certainly can run well enough to win. On the other hand, those 112 figure efforts aren't as good as the effort Wet Your Whistle put forth in his most recent race nor the effort Extravagant Kid put forth in his most recent race, so it might be hard to consider a win bet on Caribou Club at low odds.

El Tormenta appears to be a cut below the four main contenders but is not completely without a chance. He's a four year old who may have improving to do and enters the race off a win in the Connaught Cup Stakes over the course four weeks ago. The effort earned a decent 106 figure, which was a big improvement off the 94 figure earned in April in his first start of the year and following six months off. Considering potential improvement, El Tormenta does have a shot to run competitively in the Highlander Stakes.

Bets: Wet Your Whistle and Extravagant Kid 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: Wet Your Whistle, Extravagant Kid, White Flag and Caribou Club over Wet Your Whistle, Extravagant Kid, White Flag, Caribou Club and El Tormenta.

Trifectas: Wet Your Whistle and Extravagant Kid over Wet Your Whistle, Extravagant Kid, White Flag, Caribou Club, and El Tormenta over Wet Your Whistle, Extravagant Kid, White Flag, Caribou Club and El Tormenta.

Wet Your Whistle, Extravagant Kid, White Flag, Caribou Club and El Tormenta over Wet Your Whistle and Extravagant Kid over Wet Your Whistle, Extravagant Kid, White Flag, Caribou Club and El Tormenta.

Doubles to race 10, the Queen’s Plate Stakes:
Wet Your Whistle, Extravagant Kid, White Flag and Caribou Club in race 9 with Desert Ride, Pay for Peace, Skywire and Avie’s Flatter in race 10.

You can get my analysis for race 10 at Woodbine, the Queen’s Plate Stakes (also free) at the website of Woodbine Race Course.

Thursday, 27 June 2019 19:16

Summertime Blues

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


June 27th, 2019

Summertime Blues

By: Jonathan Stettin

It is going to be an interesting summer in our game. 

I remember a time not too long ago when the Saratoga meet was anticipated with as much excitement as any sport could bring to its fans. While I am sure it is still that way for many, for others it just is not the same. I’ll be the first to admit that if you were not around and in the game back when Saratoga was the August place to be as opposed to the summer place to be then you have no real frame of reference, and it is still an anticipated and exciting meet. If you were however, then you likely recognize that an aftermarket spoiler has been put on a red vintage Ferrari. You just don’t do that. It’s a rare case of when an addition intended as an enhancement devalues something. 

I attended every Saratoga meet in its entirety for the first 30 years of my life. Many others in part thereafter. It was absolutely the place everyone in the game wanted to be and where they wanted to win. I hit my largest Pick 6 there in excess of half a million dollars. There were plenty of others over 100K as well. I made my first significant bet, while pretty young, on It’s In The Air to upset Davona Dale in the Alabama. As an owner, I was lucky enough to run one horse there, and she won. One for one is how I’ll keep that record, at least for now. I never thought my excitement for the Spa would wane. 

While still a great meet by comparison to others, the changes to the game, racing in general, the times and the town have relegated it to just a small piece of what it was. Modernization and technology do not always improve everything they touch. Vintage is vintage for a reason. Saratoga was vintage. 

I think the main issue in changing the quality of the meet lies in the multiple extensions to it. For a long time, and through its heyday, it was four weeks of six days of racing. That amounted to a 24 day meet of high-quality thoroughbreds competing at what was recognized as the toughest circuit with the best outfits, trainers, and riders. Maiden Special Weight races featured many homebred horses from powerhouse farms and stables that wanted to outdo one another on the track, not in the sales ring and not join in partnerships. The competition was fierce, and so were the wagering opportunities with many less gimmicks or exotic bets. Allowance races were preps for bigger and better and not also optional claimers like we see today. There were very few if any maiden claiming races, and just a couple of lower level claiming races. While the sport probably can’t sustain such a meet today, trying over almost two months certainly changes what Saratoga was. It really was the Sport of Kings, and when you were there you felt like one. 

Whitney Day, Alabama Day, and of course Travers Day are still strong. The rest of the meet has far too many cards that could be run during the week at one of NYRA’s downstate tracks. It was never that way. Sometimes preserving is better than advancing. 

The late pick 5 being open to all bettors, not just NYRA Bets account holders and on track players, is one of a very limited few welcome additions. The pool which suffered under the previous restrictions will likely grow significantly. This is something that can really present some great opportunities. I wish it were a $2 wager, but hey, at this point we take what we can get in this game. 

I am not sure what to expect at Del Mar, another great meet that is also not what it was. Del Mar has publicly admitted they expect a horse shortage, limiting field sizes and race days. If they follow Santa Anita and ban Jerry Hollendorfer that will make things even tougher on the racing office to fill races and get the condition book to go. Santa Anita became a rough place to wager this last meet, and there is a good chance Del Mar has a lot of pass days for me as well. We will just have to see how it plays out. 

We are all awaiting word from the Breeders’ Cup on whether they stay at Santa Anita or move to Churchill Downs or even somewhere else. You would have to think this is the main point on the agenda for their meeting in the 27th. My guess is it remains at Santa Anita. First, it would be tough to change venues both contractually and logistically at this point. You also have all the prepaid flights and accommodations to think about. Second, while Santa Anita might not have handled the crisis of the fatal breakdowns as good as it could have, many of the changes they’ve implemented are consistent with the Breeders’ Cup philosophies and also European racing. I don’t think the Breeders’ Cup will be so fast on the draw to punish them for that. All that said, if they do move it I will be far from shocked. 

Stay tuned, it is going to be a long summer. 

Saturday, 22 June 2019 03:11


Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


June 21st, 2019


By: Jonathan Stettin

Last week we got to see the first time in the short career of Maximum Security that he did not cross the wire first. To many, it was an unexpected shocker, but should it have been? We'll look at that in the recent content of angles we've been discussing to help identify scores and bet against races alike.

We have recently talked about bank roll management, two year olds progressing past their earlier figures, and today, we will talk about a widely used but often confused term, "the bounce."

While the stumble at the start didn't help Maximum Security, he was ripe to regress. Knowing when a horse is ready to regress or bounce is a strong advantage or edge, especially if the horse is a favorite.

Maximum Security ran a very hard race while still inexperienced and lightly raced in the Kentucky Derby. He ran harder and further than he ever had before under less than ideal conditions. His trainer was noncommittal about his run in the Pegasus until he actually entered. He has even publicly said blood was drawn on Maximum Security as he was not quite right. These factors all point to a regression or bounce. Let's define bounce. A bounce is when a horse goes backward or runs significantly worse than they have in their last start or even last few starts.

Most horses will regress or bounce off a race where they exceeded their previous top performance by a decent measurable speed figure or just flat out performance. You don't need to use speed figures to spot a bounce, but they certainly can accelerate the process.

Sure some horses can regress and win, and Maximum Security certainly looked like he could be one of those in the field he faced in the Pegasus. That said, do you really want a short price on a horse that is not peaking or going forward when you have nicer price options on horses that are?

When looking for a horse to bounce, thus bet against at a short price, here are some things you can watch for:

1-   A horse who ran significantly faster than ever before in their last start.

2-   A horse who has strung together a series of faster than their norm races.

3-   A horse who appeared to visually run hard or work very hard in their last start.

4-   A horse who is coming back faster than they normally do, or that their trainer likes to do or usually does.

5-   A horse who ran well last out but is now being asked to do something they've shown in the past they do not excel at.

Are there other indicators or tells, sure and you should pay attention to any you have learned to recognize. One thing to be careful of is the "easy win" not telegraphing a possible bounce. Some years ago, and I have written about this before, I watched a race with Bobby Frankel. His horse jogged under wraps with Jerry Bailey up and went really fast. Nonetheless, it was done handily, easily with ears pricked up. Bobby cursed. I asked what could possibly be wrong with that race?

He said plainly, "too fast." Explaining further, "This was not the race I was pointing to, and now I have to worry about a bounce."

I replied, "Why it was so easy."

Here is where I was schooled and went into sponge mode and made many a score because of it. He told me when a horse runs fast, real fast, no matter how easy they do it, how it looks, or how they act after it before their next start, you always have to fear they will regress. He explained a fast race is almost always taxing regardless of how it may look to us. I never forgot that lesson, so to speak and it served me well many times.

The bounce is a real angle. It happens. Horses are not machines and form cycles last indefinitely very rarely. Looking for the bounce and accurately spotting it can land you on some nice winners and keep you away from some short priced losers. That's a win-win right there.


Race 7 at Monmouth - Post Time 4:30 PM Eastern


This wide open maiden race leads into the Iselin Stakes (Race 10) and offers profit opportunity, not only in doubles to race 10, but in this race itself. Rumors of Violence ran very well when second last month in a race scheduled for turf but run on the main track, which was his first start after five months off. Trainer Dickinson, always high percentage on few starters, is 6 for 13 on the year, including two for three at the meeting, BOTH ridden by Gallardo, who rides this gelding who should improve nicely second off the layoff.


Zieg may be second most likely in my opinion but as he opens at 15/1 he must be played as well. He improved nicely second time out in April to be third at seven furlongs and is absolutely bred to adore the turf. That race turned out to be a key race and the 82 Equibase Speed Figure he earned is close enough to the 86 figure Rumors of Violence earned in his most recent start that, with logical improvement, this horse can run as well.


Trinity must be considered a contender although he's likely to go to post favored in the betting as he was last month at 2 to 1 when he led for the first mile then tired to fifth. He had run very well in two prior, either of those good enough to win here if repeated.


Win Bets: Rumors of Violence to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.

Zieg to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.


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



Rumors of ViolenceZieg and Trinity over Rumors of ViolenceZiegTrinityAir AttackMedina RidgeSuperhighwayStorm Tower and Travel Agent.


DoublesRumors of ViolenceZieg and Trinity in Race 9 with Bal HarbourRunnin'toluvya and Diamond King in Race 10.


Rumors of ViolenceZiegTrinityAir AttackMedina RidgeSuperhighwayStorm Tower and Travel Agent in Race 9 with Runnin'toluvya in Race 10. (Optionally, also use Bal Harbour and Diamond King).


Iselin Stakes – Race 10 at Monmouth - Post Time 5 PM Eastern



Runnin'toluvya doesn't really know what losing feels like, having won 11 in a row and 13 of 17 races. All have been at Charles Town but one was the Charles Town Classic, in which he beat Diamond King and some other nice horses. He's a two-turn specialist with excellent tactical speed who can win on the lead or from just off the pace and it's great the trainer goes to a local jockey in Suarez. With the three post, Runnin'toluvya should be first or second early and should win for the 14th time in his career as his 110, 116 and 108 Equibase figures from his last three wins are as good or better than the other two win contenders, with the rest really a cut below.


Bal Harbour was third, two lengths behind runner-up Diamond King, in the Salvatore Mile over the track last month. That was his first race after four months off so he has room to improve and he does get seven pounds from Runnin'toluvya so he could improve off the effort on a couple of counts. Whether that improvement is good enough to win is a question as his last win came in November around one turn with a 105 figure. Diamond King adds blinkers, a bit odd for a stakes, but considering he led by a half-length in the stretch in the Salvatore Mile and was passed (albeit by a very good horse in Sunny Ridge) the blinkers could help. He's earned 108, 115 (when second to Runnin'toluvya) and 109 figures in his last three and is in the best form of his career.


Bets: Runnin'toluvya at 2 to 1 or more. (If live in the double, it's okay to skip the win bet).


Exacta: Runnin'toluvya over Bal HarbourDiamond King and Monongahela.


Race 8 at Belmont - Post Time 5:18 PM Eastern


I like this race not only because it provides opportunities to play doubles to the Wild Applause Stakes (Race 9) but also because I think Morgantown is a solid play and he opens at 10/1. A perfect two-for-two in his career to date, he has superb early speed and should have the lead to himself once again from his inside draw. He beat "open" (not statebred) company last out and Cancel, who rode him to his maiden win in April, gets back on and will send him from the gate to play "come catch me."


Bets: Morgantown to win at 5 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

Doubles: Morgantown in Race 8 with ALL in Race 9.

Also, ALL in Race 8 with Nova Sol in Race 9.


Wild Applause Stakes - Race 9 at Belmont - Post Time 5:51 PM Eastern


Nova Sol was very well meant in her U.S. debut and first start after seven months off last month in the Hilltop Stakes on Preakness weekend. Breaking last of 10 early, the filly was relaxed and far back, 15 lengths to be exact, after a half-mile, then began a steady rally to be second at the wire. The winner, Dogtag, is a multiple stakes winner and the third horse flattered both the winner and Nova Sol by winning a stakes next time out, improving her Equibase figure by 12 points. Since Nova Sol earned a field high 98 figure in the Hilltop, that kind of improvement makes her the one to beat by far, so she's going to be a low odds overlay in this race.


Bets: Nova Sol to win at odds of even money or higher. (Note: If the doubles are paying decently there's likely no need to play Nova Sol to win)


Wilshire Stakes - Race 8 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:36 PM Eastern (4:46 Pacific)


Ollies Candy had a phenomenal three year old campaign last year, never worse than second in five races, winning the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks and beaten necks in the Del Mar Oaks and San Clemente. She was short when returning in May trying nine furlongs without a prep but she's going to be a LOT tighter here as Sadler wins better than 20% of the time second off a layoff in a turf route. As such, she and has a big shot to post the mild upset, opening at 5/1.

Meal Ticket moved up comfortably inside from seventh to fourth last month in the Gamely and was third at the eighth pole before running into a roadblock from which she could not recover. She didn't quicken when asked but there was no reason to ask at the point where there was any room. The fact Smith is getting on says a LOT about her chances here, for a low profile trainer in Chew. She's been very consistent with seven first or second place finishes in 12 career races on grass, 11 if you ignore the Gamely, so opening at 8/1 she's a must to use on exotic tickets we play at the least.


Storm the Hill won the Ken Maddy Stakes last fall, a downhill sprint, when last seen, and she won last year's Wilshire at 9 to 1 right after shipping into the D'Amato barn from Kentucky. She last two races after that, one with some trouble, before the Maddy win, and although it's tough to win at a mile in top company off a seven month layoff like she's attempting to do today, it's not an impossible task for this trainer who has won four times from 25 starters over the last five years with these kinds of horses.


Bets: Ollies Candy AND Meal Ticket to win at odds 5 to 2 or more.


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


ExactasBox Ollies CandyMeal Ticket and Storm the Hill.

Then also Ollies CandyMeal Ticket and Storm the Hill over Ollies CandyMeal Ticket, Storm the HillSimply BreathlessGliding By and A Little Bit Me.


Ginger Punch Stakes - Race 5 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 2:49 PM Eastern


With Faith N Hope stretching out and likely to go for the early lead, running as fast or faster than she usually does, which is to say getting the opening half-mile in about 47, the race falls to the closers. Those are made up two distinct groups. The first group are horses like Aquemini, who has a career record of 3-10-5 which in my mind clearly states she doesn’t know how to win or is always closing too late to do so, as exampled by her most recent race when 18 lengths back early and second, beaten a half-length, at the end. Another in that group is Bitacora, with a career mark on turf of 4-8-1, her last win coming in this race one year ago and winless in eight races since although she has finished second twice and third (a neck from second) once. The last of the group is Supercommittee, who was second with an eighth of a mile to go in the similar Powder Break Stakes in late April, before (as usual) running evenly and ending up third.


The other group consists of two “WIN” types – Passion Plus and Una LunaPassion Plus has a record of 4-0-2 in 10 races on grass including the most important of those, her last race. On May 30 in her 2nd start following a long seven month layoff and her 2nd start after changing to the Sano barn, also her first with Zayas aboard, the filly rallied from 14 back to close with a flourish and be in front by two lengths at the eighth pole before coasting home. She should be stronger third off a layoff and with Zayas riding back could win again. Una Luna has a 4-2-2 record in 11 turf races and also won her most recent start, on 5/30, the same day Passion Plus won. Una Luna had Jaramillo riding that day, for the first time, and it was a career best effort the same as the career best effort Passion Plus put forth. Passion Plus earned a 90 Equibase figure for her win while Una Luna earned an 89 figure so it is very conceivable these two fillies could be fighting to the wire today if they repeat or improve upon those last efforts.


Win Bets: Considering Passion Plus opens at 12/1 while Una Luna opens at 3/1, Passion Plus is the much better bet, but I would bet them both to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more. I would also add a place bet on Passion Plus 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.



Box Passion Plus and Una Luna


Also, Passion Plus and Una Luna over Passion PlusUna LunaAqueminiBitacora and Supercommittee. Add Amaluna in the second position if she draws in from the also-eligible list.


For half-the amount you bet the above exacta (for example $1 if you bet $2 per combination on the above), play the opposite of the exacta above.


Trifecta: Passion Plus and Una Luna over ALL over Passion Plus and Una Luna.

 (This covers the possibility of Passion Plus and Una Luna finishing first and third)


Honey Bee Stakes - Race 10 at Monmouth - Post Time 5 PM Eastern


Servis is loaded with three horses in this race but all have similar ownership and two don’t have riders named so I suspect only one will run and that will be A Bit of Both, with Juarez named to ride. She’s VERY fast early, having wired the field in three straight, all on dirt. She reminds me of Servis’ top sprinter World of Trouble, who just runs the field off their feet nearly every time whether the race is on turf or on dirt. The only problem I see with A Bit of Both wiring the field is “IF” #11 Margie Is Livid gets in from the also-eligible list as that filly can run under 21 for the first quarter and she is absolutely a “need the lead” type the same as A Bit of Both is. So, for betting purposes I’ll use A Bit of Both but she won’t be my top pick.


That status goes to Queen of Bermuda who came back from five months off in April to finish sixth in a stakes as the 6 to 5 favorite, then improved last month to finish third of eight in another turf sprint stakes. She’s moving the right way and her third U.S. start could be her best yet. She won a group 3 stakes in September in an 11 horse field in Ireland so she has the best class in the race and with Bravo getting on it looks like all signs are GO.


Nightlife tried turf for the first time last out on 4/18 and won gamely by a nose. The race proved productive as the third place finisher won very nicely off the effort and with Ferrer, who really knows this turf course, getting on, an even better effort is likely particularly as this will be her second ever start on the grass.


There a lot of horses, six to be exact, to be used on some exacta tickets in the second position, including the two other Servis trainees – Golconda and Corn Off the Cob, as well as EyeintheskyMissmizzOrra Moor and the other also-eligible, Tide Storm.


Win BetsQueen of Bermuda at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Nightlife to win at odds of 7/2 or more.

Minimum odds for considering a win bet on A Bit of Both are 7 to 2 “if” Margie is Livid runs and 5/2 if Margie is Livid does not run.


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: Queen of BermudaNightlife and A Bit of Both over Queen of BermudaNightlifeA Bit of BothGolcondaCorn Off the CobEyeintheskyMissmizzOrra Moor and Tide Storm


Race 7 at Santa Anita- Post Time 7:03 PM Eastern


Trainer Shelbe Ruis of Ruis Racing moved most of their stable's horses out of California early this year and based them in Kentucky, near the family's Chestnut Farm, but has begun to return to California and for Sergio particularly that appears to be a good move as he broke his maiden in February over the track with a strong 85 Equibase figure effort. He was cutting back from seven furlongs to six that day off a third place finish and I view his cut back from a mile (on grass) last out to 6 1/2 furlongs today in a similar light, particularly as he pressed the pace only a length off the leader from the start and most importantly, through the point this race ends. With Satori, Polity and Senditlikechilly all wanting the lead from the start or to press the pace close at hand, Gutierrez can relax Sergio off the pace in fourth to sixth just as he was for that 2/28 winning effort, so that looks repeatable here in this race with eight of the other nine all possessing just one career win just like he does.


Sir Eddie has the biggest class edge in the field, having only run in a claiming race once in 16 starts, that race in January when in for a 50K maiden claiming price, leading late and finishing second. He won his next start, in April, at this 6 1/2 furlong trip, easily then ran poorly in a starter allowance and when completely overmatched in a Cal-bred allowance on the turf last month. Back on dirt, back at the distance of his win, reunited with Prat (who rode him to the win) and facing much easier, Sir Eddie has a fine shot to run back to that top effort which earned him an 88 figure.


Senditlikechilly has a shot to avoid the likely early all-out pace battle between Satori and Polity, the latter with apprentice Diaz likely to let the horse roll. From the outside, although close up, it’s possible with the jockey change to Arroyo, Senditlikechilly can sit just off the pace as he did three back on 4/20 when he drew off to win by three and one-half lengths with an 85 figure. Last time out on 5/25, the horse sat in third early and then passed the leaders to be up by two lengths in the stretch before being passed but beaten only a half-length while nearly three in front of the third horse, so he must be respected with a good post like the eight post he won from in April.


Win Bets:  Sergio and Sir Eddie at odds of 5/2 or more.

Senditlikechilly at 3/1 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.


Exactas: SergioSir Eddie and Senditlikechilly over SergioSir EddieSenditlikechillySatori, Kidmon, Surfside Sunset, Polity and Mo Dinero.


Double: SergioSir Eddie and Senditlikechilly in Race 7 with Desert Law in Race 8.


Thor’s Echo Handicap - Race 8 at Santa Anita- Post Time 7:36 PM Eastern


Desert Law has won four of 12 career starts on dirt, two of those at Santa Anita and three of them at this basic six furlong trip. Returning from a June to May layoff in an “open” (not restricted to Cal-Breds) allowance race, he pressed a very hot pace from the start then tired a bit to end up fourth. That prep sets him up nicely for a new career best effort, better than the one he put in in this race last June which preceded the layoff, in which he earned a solid 106 Equibase figure. He has the right off-the-pace style in this speed laden field and Bejarano, up for the win last June and the comeback last month, rides back. The works since raced have been top notch, the first two of the three both being “Bullet” (best of the day) workouts at five furlongs.


The reasons the race sets up nicely for Desert Law are as follows – Coil Me Home added blinkers last time out and ran hard early so should run as hard or harder here from the rail which forces him to go from the bell, To The Wire and Smiling Angelo have had the lead at the quarter mile mark in nearly every one of their nine combined career starts. Prodigal Son is yet another who may go for the front, or want to press the pace.


That leaves Fire When Ready as the only horse I want to use in exactas with Desert Law because Fire When Ready can take advantage of an outside post to stalk the pace and could benefit when the pacesetters and pressers tire.


Win Bets: Desert Law to win at odds of 3 to 2 or more (a true low odds overlay)

Exactas: Box Desert Law and Fire When Ready. Also Play Desert Law over Fire When Ready.