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.

Friday, 12 April 2019 13:49

A Win is a Win

 

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

 

April 12th, 2019

A Win is A Win

By: Jonathan Stettin


 

In these times of most wagering being done off track through ADW’s and simulcasting, we miss a lot of the true day to day racetrack experiences. As someone who went to the track literally every racing day for decades, I can say confidently it was a world within itself with a full cast of Damon Runyon characters, and all the stories and tales that go with them.

Those experiences are hard to explain or share with the new generation of players, even those who frequent the tracks on weekends. Sure, you still have a die-hard few every day regulars, but through attrition and poor management, they are fading away fast and not being replaced.

Playing the races is one of the few experiences where winning can feel like losing. Have you ever singled a horse in a multi-race wager and have it win at a price but you were already knocked out of the sequence? If you bet that horse to win, as I likely would in that scenario, and get your money back with a small profit, it feels like a loss.

If you have ever been alive with two horses to close a pick 6, one paying 50k, the other paying 250k and the smaller one noses out the longer one, you’ll win but feel like you lost.

The Sport of Kings affords many of these scenarios. Fortunately, there is indeed a fair share that tip in our favor as well. At the end of the day however, a win is a win. Be grateful for them.

A term I grew up hearing among hardcore race trackers that I rarely hear today is “bail out.” The once frequently used term that I still personally use, as old habits do die hard, describes being down or losing a considerable amount of money on the races, then winning it back on the last race or sequence. It’s a wonderful feeling, to get your own money back as we used to say. Even if you come up a little short, say winning back $4,700 of a $5,000 deficit, it feels like a win.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I have been a very disciplined player for a long time. Unless you're well is bottomless that is a requirement for long term survival and profitability. That said however I have at times done what was necessary to “bail out” as have many of us hardcore players. Some of these stories are true racetrack classics.

When I used to go to the races every day, most with my Dad, I would bet a lot more than he would and a lot more aggressively. On one of those days at the now gone and all but forgotten Calder, I was losing several thousand dollars on the day. I really did not like anything in the last race being simulcasted from Belmont, and I was pondering whether to hit the ATM to try and bail out. While pondering my Dad must have read my face and asked how much I was down.

"You don’t wanna know," I replied. He knew what that meant, and I followed with, "I'll be right back."

"Where are you going," he asked.

I said, "The ATM."

"How much money do you have?"

"$7," I answered, "not enough to try and bail out."

"Give it to me," he said, and I did.

My Dad, who I always called Giuseppe, looked deep into his racing form. He motioned the roving teller Christine over and bet seven $1 superfectas. I did not think there was much hope, and I was sure I should have hit the ATM and handled this myself.

The race went off, and I watched on the small TV on our regular table with a defeated feeling. To my surprise, Giuseppe nailed the super. I don’t remember the horse, though I wish I did, but Jorge Chavez rode him. The superfecta netted Giuseppe almost 8k for the $1 bet. He collected with Christine, gave her $100, took $200, and put the rest on the table and said “never forget the time I bailed you out with $7.”

I never forgot.

 

 

Important Note: There is an all stakes Pick 4 at Keeneland on Saturday which starts in Race 7, the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes. Because that race is my free race on the Keeneland web site, there’s no reason to duplicate it here. You can get it by clicking anywhere on this link. You can play the double from the win contenders in race 7 to the win contenders in race 8 below, as well as a pick 3 linking the win contenders in races 7, 8 and 9.

 

Giant’s Causeway Stakes - Race 8 at Keeneland - Post Time 4:57 PM Eastern

 

Excessivespending is one of four win contenders I feel will take advantage of what could be a very hot early pace scenario as Seeknthegiantpearl, Student Body, Luvin Bullies and Morticia all have getting to the lead from the start at any cost on their minds. Excessivespending won a very similar stakes at Fair Grounds in February and won a classified allowance race on the Keeneland turf at this trip last fall, Leparoux up then as now, so could be the one making the last move to win.

 

La Dame Blanche couldn’t pass Student Body when second in a stakes like this one last month at Fair Grounds but did beat Excessivespending home by a neck. Student Body won’t have an easy lead today and like Excessivespending, La Dame Blanche has a win at the trip on the Keenleand grass (also last October) so would be no surprise if running well enough to win. Considering she opens at 12/1, even though Excessivespending opens at 6/1, we should be making a win bet on her as well if those odds hold up.

 

Surrender Now ships out of California for the strong Miller barn with a perfect 2-for-2 record in turf sprints, the last a classified allowance win where she sat in fourth early and pulled off late. Her career best 100 Equibase figure from that race is a bit shy of the 109 to 111 figures Excessivespending and La Dame Blanche have earned in similar races but she’s making her first start as a four year old and could run even better than when last seen in August. As she opens at 7/2 it’s unlikely she will be a good win bet but must be used in any exactas and multiple race tickets we play such as the pick 3 and pick 4.

 

A Little Bit Me is another with a good closing style to benefit from the hot early pace scenario. She won off the claim by Baltas at Santa Anita in January with a rally from fifth then only managed third but wasn’t disgraced as she was beaten six length while the winner won by almost five. She hasn’t run as well in flat turf sprints compared to the downhill sprints at Santa Anita, but she’s in good form, consistent, and has the right running style to be part of the exacta at the least.

 

Bets:

Win Bets: Excessivespending to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

La Dame Blanche to win at odds of 7 to 2 or higher.

 

Note: 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 Excessivespending, La Dame Blanche, Surrender Now and A Little Bit Me.

 

Doubles: Excessivespending, La Dame Blanche, Surrender Now and A Little Bit Me in race 8 with Anothertwistafate, Sueno and Shang race 9. Then ALSO Excessivespending, La Dame Blanche, Surrender Now and A Little Bit Me in race 8 with Anothertwistafate in race 9.

 

Pick 3:

Race 8 - Excessivespending, La Dame Blanche, Surrender Now and A Little Bit Me.

Race 9 - Anothertwistafate, Sueno and Shang.

Race 10 – Bellavais, Rushing Fall and Rymska

 

 

Stonestreet Lexington Stakes - Race 9 at Keeneland - Post Time 5:30 PM Eastern

 

In my opinion, three horses combined have the bulk of the probability to win and they are Anothertwistafate, Sueno and Shang. That being said, Anothertwistafate sticks out a bit over the other two and that’s the horse to concentrate on for most of our double, pick 3 and pick 4 tickets, particularly as he opens as the 2 to 1 favorite. Certainly we should use Sueno and Shang on some of those multi-race tickets as well.

 

Anothertwistafate has run two “A” races in a row (first with a career-best 102 figure then followed by a 103 figure effort) and unless another horse jumps up big time he’s going to earn enough points (combined with those he has) to punch his ticket to the Derby. He dominated in three straight in December, January and February, including a seven length win in the El Camino Real Derby, all on the all-weather surface at Golden Gate. Then he was sent to the Sunland Derby and although jockey Juan Hernandez is among the top jockeys in Northern California, he was outridden by one of the best in John Velazquez on winner Cutting Humor. Even though Cutting Humor and Velazquez slipped away in the stretch, Anothertwistafate was cutting into the margin in the last strides to come up a neck short on the wire and with the jockey change to Javier Castellano and with the colt’s last two efforts likely to be improved upon, he’s the one to beat. Another benefit Anothertwistafate will have is a likely pace battle between stretching out Hawaiian Noises and need-the-lead type Zenden, who has to go from the nine post position. This allows Castellano to get a great trip in third in the early stages and move for the lead in this race which ends at the first of two finish lines at Keeneland.

 

Sueno finished second in the Sham Stakes in California in January (with a career best 99 Equibase figure) then second again in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn in February before a disappointing third place finish in the Louisiana Derby last month. I say disappointing because he was second for most of the race and weakened late. The cut back to a mile and one-sixteenth helps his chances as does the pace scenario and if Anothertwistafate doesn’t fire he can win. The same holds true for Shang, who is going for his fifth straight win. However, the previous four were all against Louisiana Breds only. The last two were around two turns and stakes, and Irad Ortiz, Jr takes the call. One before last he earned a 102 Equibase figure, on par with the 102 and 103 Anothertwistafate earned in his two most recent races, but he regressed to a 91 figure although he won easily after that. He should be close to the pace as well and could be moving at the same time as Anothertwistafate, making the race very interesting to the wire.

 

Bets:

Win Bets: Anothertwistafate to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.

 

For a smaller amount, Sueno to win at 3 to 1 or more and Shang to win at 4 to 1 or more.

 

Note: 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 Anothertwistafate, Sueno and Shang.

 

Doubles: Anothertwistafate, Sueno and Shang in race 9 with Bellavais, Rushing Fall and Rymska in race 10. Then also Anothertwistafate in race 9 with Bellavais, Rushing Fall and Rymska in race 10.

 

 

Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes – Race 10 at Keeneland - Post Time 6:03 PM Eastern

 

Bellavais, who opens at 8/1, looks every bit as probable to win at Rushing Fall (6/5) and Rymska (5/2). Although a stakes winner at the age of three, she came into her own last fall when moved to the Pletcher barn, winning a classified allowance race at a mile on grass with a career-best 109 Equibase figure then two later taking the Grade 3 Marshua’s River Stakes at Gulfstream at this 1 1/16 mile turf trip when improving to a new best 112 figure. Last time out and off the Marshua’s River win and two months off, Bellavais wasn’t disgraced at all when third, beaten ¾ of a length for second with the winner another ½ length ahead in first. The runner-up came back to win the Sand Springs Stakes recently and if this gal repeats either of those three efforts cited, all in similar company, she can post the upset here.

 

There’s little doubt how good Rushing Fall is and how much she loves this course, as she’s 3-for-3 over it including the Grade 1 QE II Challenge Cup last fall. She fires big fresh and Brown and Castellano know how to get her happy and ready to win. She has no knocks but then again she is facing older for the first time ad her best efforts last year yielded 108 figures which are good enough to win but NOT superior to the best figures of the other two contenders.

 

Rymska, trained by Brown the same as Rushing Fall, is 7 for 13 in her career including four graded stakes. She won the Grade 2 Hillsborough Stakes last month with Ortiz up then as now and she has showed up in all but one of her last eight races by finishing first or second so her chances of winning can’t be discounted for even a second.

 

Bets:

Win bets: Bellavais to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

 

Exacta: Box Bellavais, Rushing Fall and Rymska.

 

 

Bonus: Arkansas Derby

 

Although Oaklawn Park if one of a few tracks you can’t wager on via the excellent wagering site Amwager, I thought I would include my analysis here anyway because of the implications for the Kentucky Derby.

 

Galilean will be my top choice to win this year’s Arkansas Derby as I’m expecting big improvement off his third place finish last month in the first division of the Rebel Stakes won by Long Range Toddy. Galilean nearly won his first four races, all stakes, including his debut, as his only defeat in those races came by a neck in the second start of his career. Galilean closed out his two year old campaign with a nine length win when tried in a route for the first time in the King Glorious Stakes. He returned off two months of rest in February and won the California Cup Derby as if he had never been away, winning by four and one-half lengths. His next start came in the Rebel, in which he stalked the pace early in third, moved up to battle neck and neck for about a half mile before settling for third behind Long Range Toddy and Improbable. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer takes blinkers off Galilean for the Arkansas Derby and based on his last effort, that may be the ticket to big improvement off the 105 Equibase Speed Figure earned in the Rebel. The removal of blinkers will help the colt to see on all sides as well as behind him, and that could enable his competitive juices to kick in for a new top effort good enough to post the upset.

 

Long Range Toddy gets the extreme outside post but that’s not a concern because of the expected faster than average early pace in the race. Grey Attempt stretches out from six furlongs and has run very fast early in his previous two route races. One Flew South adds blinkers, which should cause him to show a lot of early speed, and Jersey Agenda is a need-the-lead type who has to go fast early to gain position from his 10 post. All that early pace and positioning allows Long Range Toddy to drop into a great trip possibly just a couple of paths wide going into the first turn, similar to where he was early in the Rebel, in which he rallied from fourth in the last eighth of a mile to earn a career-best 109 Figure. Prior to that, Long Range Toddy had traffic trouble with a quarter of a mile to run and still managed third. With three wins and one second place finish from his four other route races, it’s obvious Long Range Toddy shows up every time with his “A” game and as such he is a strong contender in this year’s Arkansas Derby.

 

Improbable was returning from three months off in the Rebel and had his schedule re-adjusted when his home base of Santa Anita was closed temporarily. A perfect three-for-three in 2018 including a sharp win in the Los Alamitos Futurity with a 103 figure, Improbable still earned a new best 109 figure in the Rebel when coming up a neck shy of Long Range Toddy on the wire in spite of the time off. Likely to improve in his second start off the layoff, Improbable certainly can run well enough to win, but he is likely to be the betting favorite because of perceived improvement in his second start of the year and because his trainer is Bob Baffert. However, it can reasonably be assumed Long Range Toddy can take another step forward as well and potentially deny his foe another win on the wire.

 

Omaha Beach won the second division of the Rebel last month, earning the best last race figure in the field (110), his fifth straight improvement in speed figures since his debut last summer. The Rebel was his first two-turn race on dirt and he met the challenge with flying colors as he moved up comfortable from third in the early stages to lead by two lengths in the stretch before holding off Game Winner by a nose. Game Winner returned to run in the Santa Anita Derby last weekend and was once again denied by a narrow margin by Roadster. Game Winner’s speed figure regressed to 106 in the Santa Anita Derby and so although Omaha Beach may continue his pattern of improvement that is something to note.

 

Bets:

Win Bets: Galilean (7) to win at odds of 7 to 2, adding a place bet at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

Long Range Toddy (11) to win at odds of 7 to 2.

 

Exacta: Box Galilean (7), Long Range Toddy (11), Improbable (1) and Omaha Beach (3).

 

Trifecta: Box Galilean (7), Long Range Toddy (11), Improbable (1) and Omaha Beach (3).

 

Friday, 05 April 2019 14:45

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, April 6

Shakertown Stakes – Race 7 at Keeneland - Post Time 4:35 PM Eastern

 

Imprimis, as well as the other four listed contenders, will benefit immensely from a very hot and contested early pace duel. This is because Richard’s Boy, Shakhimat, Bay Muzik, Conquest Tsunami and Latent Revenge are ALL horses that win only if they have the lead in the early stages. It’s only going to take three of the five to go out and tear through the opening quarter and half-mile and set up the horses with a good finishing kick. Imprimis is a lightly raced five year old with a six-for-eight record, all on turf, with ALL six of the wins coming at five or five and one-half furlongs. His last effort, on 3/9, which followed six months off, was his best ever, with a 114 Equibase figure which is just shy of the 117 figure last year’s winner Bound for Nowhere earned and with improvement logical second off the layoff, Imprimis can run that kind of race to win.

 

Bound for Nowhere won the race last year off a prep one month earlier but this year returns from six months off. That’s not an issue as he won his career debut by six and won off three months later as well. Winner of five of nine career starts, Bound for Nowhere is a strong contender to win this race two years in a row.

 

Disco Partner is another “win type,” with 11 victories in 28 races, 10 on turf including an important stakes (Belmont Turf Sprint) last October off a short rest. He finished third in this race last year, run on a wet course, and prefers firm ground like he will get today so must be respected but opens at much lower odds than the top two listed contenders.

 

Will Call finishes fast for second, beaten just a half-length, in the fall equivalent of this race, the Woodford Stakes, in October. He was a bit overmatched in the Breeders’ Cup Turf sprint and is back at a level he can run competitively.

 

Jazzy Times gives us a longshot to help make a profit on exacta tickets as he opens at 20/1. He won two in a row last summer before taking a break and has fired fresh. Both wins came in his only two turf sprints and he’s been working well for his comeback. The 107 figure earned in the best of the two efforts wasn’t too bad and so he could run better than those high odds suggest.

 

Consider win bets on the contenders at these odds or above:

Imprimis – 2/1

Bound for Nowhere – 2/1

For smaller amounts:

Will Call - 7/2

Jazzy Times – 8/1

 

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:

Imprimis and Bound for Nowhere over ALL

Box Imprimis, Bound for Nowhere, Disco Partner, Will Call, and Jazzy Times.

 

Doubles: Imprimis, Bound for Nowhere, Disco Partner, Will Call, and Jazzy Times in Race 7 with Late Night Pow Wow, Create a Star, Shamrock Rose and Spiced Perfection in race 8.

 

 

Madison Stakes – Race 8 at Keeneland - Post Time 5:10 PM Eastern

 

Although Kentucky is the breeding capital of the world, and at many times of the year the racing capital of the world, there are occasions when stars emerge from unusual locations, and this is just such as case as Late Night Pow Wow was bred in West Virginia while Create a Star was bred in Oklahoma.

 

Late Night Pow Wow doesn’t know her origins but she does know how to win, with 11 wins in 12 races and a second place finish in the other She’s reeled off nine wins in a row going back to last June and she likes racing often. She is a perfect five-for-five at this seven furlong trip and just won the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie Stakes in Maryland with a career-best 107 figure. She’s a four year old so may not have run her best race yet, she does not need the lead, and she gets Saez, all signs for another win.

 

Although Create a Star doesn’t have nearly the credentials of Late Night Pow Wow, she’s very interesting and she opens at 20 to 1 odds. Her Breeder is also her owner and her trainer and while a majority of the time that means a horse is placed over its head, in the case of C.R. Trout that rule is out the window. This guy knows his stuff and is a sharp horseman who shipped in Oklahoma Bred Shotgun Gulch to win the 2011 Madison at odds of 12/1. Trout has won 13 of 36 dirt sprint stakes races in the last few years and the filly put in a sharp half-mile workout in Arkansas before coming here so I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least bet a few bucks to win on her and use her on exacta tickets.

 

Shamrock Rose won the fall version of this race, the Raven Run Stakes, which is for three year olds only, then beat her elders when taking the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at 25 to 1. She didn’t like the sloppy track in her four year old debut in January but ran tremendously well when tried around two turns and facing two of the top female dirt route stars in the division in Midnight Bisou and Elate, respectably checking in third after leading at the point TODAY’S race ends. As such, repeating that effort or either of her last two starts of 2018 make her tough to beat.

 

Spiced Perfection missed by a head on the wire to Late Night Pow Wow in the Fritchie stakes and won three of four before that, two at this seven furlong trip including the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes, giving her the same credentials as Shamrock Rose’s win in the Raven Run. She shows up every time and her chances can’t be discounted for an instant.

 

Bets: Late Night Pow Wow to win at odds of 9 to 5 or higher.

Create a Star to win and place (or win, place and show) at 6 to 1 or more.

 

Always try to use a "Dutching" tool when making multiple win bets as it provides help with maximizing profit. Amwager offers you one for free along with many other perks.

 

Exacta: Box Late Night Pow Wow, Create a Star, Shamrock Rose and Spiced Perfection.

 

Doubles: Late Night Pow Wow, Create a Star, Shamrock Rose and Spiced Perfection in race 8 with Feedback, Chocolate Kisses and Lady Kate in race 9.

 

 

Wood Memorial Stakes – Race 10 at Aqueduct - Post Time 6 PM Eastern

 

Hoffa's Union may have won his one and only start leading from start to finish but I doubt he's a need-the-lead type because he ran slowly early (82 interior speed figure) and accelerated late to win by 15 with a 103 Equibase Figure. That was as good an effort as stakes winners Tax (103 winning the Withers) and Tacitus (105 winning the Tampa Bay Derby) earned and the gelding is likely to improve a LOT in his 2nd start and with the addition of Lasix. He was privately purchased out of the race and ships up from Keeneland to run here and not in the Blue Grass, which could be a very smart move on the part of his new trainer Mark Casse.

 

Tax has won at this nine furlong trip and he continues to improve with each start as his figures went from 82 last fall to100 winning the Remsen in December to 103 in February when winning the Withers gamely by a head. He's worked sensationally coming into the race, gets the ground saving rail and trainer Gargan wins nearly 1/3 of the time in dirt routes (21 for 62) so all signs are "GO" for another career-best effort.

 

Not that Brady SHOULD NOT open at 20/1. He didn't really finish the race in the Gotham when not persevered with for the last 1/4 mile, an aberration to be sure. However, he's worked twice since and he likes to lead early, so with it being unlikely Hoffa's Union will go, Not that Brady could be the lone front runner here. In the Withers, right before the poor effort, the gelding set a decent pace and re-rallied into Tax in the final 16th to miss by a head after losing the lead at the 1/8 pole, earning the same 103 figure as the winner. He's definitely worth a bet at high odds here.

 

Tacitus is another improving colt with an 86 figure in his debut in a one-turn route over the track in October when 4th then moving to a 94 with a game win in November, then to a strong 105 off the four month layoff when taking the Tampa Bay Derby. Jose Ortiz rides back and this horse is bred to be any kind as he's by Tapit out of the tremendous stakes winning mare Close Hatches.

 

Haikal was visually impressive in the Gotham when winning with a big late kick but was set up by a 44 second half mile and that was a one turn race. He will be coming fast but I think it will be too late at this nine furlong trip so I'm only going to use him in the second position on exacta tickets, and I'm throwing in a bunch of others as well because I don't think there will be a heavy favorite here.

 

Bets: Hoffa's Union AND Tax to win at odds of 3/1.

Not that Brady to win and place (or win, place and show) at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

 

Exactas:

For $1 (at least): Not that Brady over ALL and (the opposite) ALL over Not that Brady.

 

Box Hoffa's Union, Tax, Not that Brady and Tacitus.

 

Optionally, Hoffa's Union, Tax, Not that Brady and Tacitus over Hoffa's Union, Tax, Not that Brady, Tacitus, Haikal, Final Jeopardy, Math Wizard, Outshine and Joevia.

 

 

Santa Anita Derby - Race 8 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:14 PM Eastern (4:14 Pacific)

 

Watching the replay of the March 1 allowance race won by Roadster, with Nolo Contesto checking in second, it was apparent Roadster won with more than a modicum of ease. Jockey Mike Smith, who has ridden Roadster in all three career starts, helped the colt to easily relax in third in the early stages and when asked to change gears at the top of the stretch, Roadster responded nicely to pull away to a two and one-half length margin of victory. Following the strong maiden win last July with a 90 Equibase Speed Figure, Roadster ran even better with a 96 figure effort when third in the Del Mar Futurity. Since the comeback effort earned a new career-best 104 figure and since the Santa Anita Derby will represent his second start following six months off and second race around two turns, another similar improvement makes Roadster the one to beat.

 

There is no taking away from the accomplishments Game Winner has earned in his five race career.   He won four times and missed by a nose in the other, all graded stakes except his debut. In the third start of his career last fall, Game Winner earned a 111 figure which is pretty much unheard of for a two year old at that time of year. He backed that effort up with a strong two length win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November although his figure regressed to 100. However, after four months off and likely a bit short of being 100% fit because of his work schedule being interrupted by suspended training at Santa Anita, Game Winner redeemed himself with a 110 figure last month in the Rebel. Watching the replay of the Rebel, it was interesting to note that Game Winner easily passed three horses on the backstretch to go from sixth to second, but then was asked pretty hard by jockey Rosario to get to leader Omaha Beach. Making no progress for most of the last quarter mile against his rival, Game Winner really picked up the pace in the last few yards and was cutting into the eventual winner's margin with every stride, coming up a nose short on the wire. Therefore, with any improvement second off the layoff, Game Winner could be starting a new winning streak going into the Kentucky Derby next month.

 

Nolo Contesto stretched out to two turns for the first time in January in his second career start winning gamely to earn a 104 figure. In that race he beat Omaha Beach by a half-length, with the runner-up flattering Nolo Contesto when winning the Rebel Stakes last month. However, Nolo Contesto did not improve in the March 1 race won by Roadster, in which jockey Smith (aboard Roadster) made sure Nolo Contesto was without room to run until it was too late as Roadster had accelerated to draw off by two lengths. However, Nolo Contesto galloped out strongly after the finish to be in front of Roadster and he too can improve in his second start off a layoff, so is not without a chance to win.

 

Bets: Roadster to win at odds of 3 to 2 or more

 

Friday, 05 April 2019 12:42

The Derby Horse

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

 

April 5th, 2019

The Derby Horse

By: Jonathan Stettin


 

On Saturday the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass, and Santa Anita Derby will be run. Kentucky Derby points will be had, and there will be a more focused picture of who the favorite will be on the first Saturday in May. We will still have the Arkansas Derby and Lexington to go, but we should have a good idea where most of the contenders are at.

Many have already zoned in on a horse or two they like in the Run for the Roses. Some may have even made an advance wager or two. While I do have three horses on my radar, Tacitus, Code of Honor, and Bourbon War, I have many more on my pretender list.

I have some things I like to see, and that I look for when scouting a Derby horse.

First I like a horse that has shown raw ability. I like to have seen a quality race around two turns, and I am not all that concerned with the competition. These three year olds fluctuate this time of year, so I look more at the race than the field depth.

I will almost always make note of a horse that showed some agility like zigging in and out and between horses. That’s a big positive for me, and Animal Kingdom became my top choice when he won because of that at Turfway Park on a synthetic track. I look at the individual race and horse.

Courage is also high on my list. Very high. I like a horse that is not afraid or hesitant to go through a hole or charge up the rail a la Tacitus in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Horses who ran decent or better against a bias is a good indicator for me. Code of Honor and Bourbon War both made up ground against a lone speed in Maximum Security who was able to set a very slow pace. He figured to draw off after a half in 48 plus; the other two had better set ups for the big dance in my opinion.

Horses I tend to downgrade are horses coming off races like Maximum Security ran. He got a lot of hype and attention, but as aforementioned he set a slow pace. He had a maiden chasing him. The race looks better than it was and will decrease his value come Derby Day. I’ll downgrade any horse who rode a true bias or pace advantage to victory.

I don’t like hiccups leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Missed races or workouts are a negative for me. I’d have to really be impressed with one to overlook that.

Steady and gradual improvement means more to me than big jumps in figures. I look for a horse who will peak, not who has peaked.

Rules were made to be broken. I pay little attention to dosage, Beyers, or Apollo curses. If the horse I land on comes from Dubai where you can’t win from so be it. I am not phased on any given Saturday, especially if the price is right. Hey, I bet Thunder Snow in the Derby knowing he had a big race in him. Wrong race but he had it in him for sure.

This is a fun time of year in the Sport of Kings. We have a lot of homework to do. The best opinion is your own. Go with it. Listen to some sharp ones but let yours be the sharpest.