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.
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 Violence, Zieg and Trinity over Rumors of Violence, Zieg, Trinity, Air Attack, Medina Ridge, Superhighway, Storm Tower and Travel Agent.
Doubles: Rumors of Violence, Zieg and Trinity in Race 9 with Bal Harbour, Runnin'toluvya and Diamond King in Race 10.
Rumors of Violence, Zieg, Trinity, Air Attack, Medina Ridge, Superhighway, Storm 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 Harbour, Diamond 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.
Exactas: Box Ollies Candy, Meal Ticket and Storm the Hill.
Then also Ollies Candy, Meal Ticket and Storm the Hill over Ollies Candy, Meal Ticket, Storm the Hill, Simply Breathless, Gliding 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 Luna. Passion 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 Plus, Una Luna, Aquemini, Bitacora 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 Eyeinthesky, Missmizz, Orra Moor and the other also-eligible, Tide Storm.
Win Bets: Queen 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 Bermuda, Nightlife and A Bit of Both over Queen of Bermuda, Nightlife, A Bit of Both, Golconda, Corn Off the Cob, Eyeinthesky, Missmizz, Orra 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: Sergio, Sir Eddie and Senditlikechilly over Sergio, Sir Eddie, Senditlikechilly, Satori, Kidmon, Surfside Sunset, Polity and Mo Dinero.
Double: Sergio, Sir 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.
June 14th, 2019
True or False
By: Jonathan Stettin
A few years ago, a two year old named Caledonia Red barely made it to my radar in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in my early work. By the time the race came up, I made and cashed a nice bet. It was a true track bias I recognized that got me there. A true track bias is a gift that just keeps giving. Not only can you capitalize on one race day if you catch it, but you can bet with an edge on those who ran well against it and downgrade those who ran with it. The whole key is knowing a true track bias from a false or perceived one.
A bias can mean different things to different handicappers. I define a track bias this way:
A trend in the track that helps horses run better than they would have if they ride it and worse then they would have if they are against it. Simply said a bias can make horses who would not have won on a fair track win, and horses who would have won on a fair track lose. Anything less to me is not a true bias. It would be hard to capitalize off anything less than my definition. Additionally, although tracks can change throughout a card, a true bias will more often than not hold for the bulk of the day. When they don’t you must ask yourself if it could have possibly been a false bias. Chances are it was.
Players are fast on the draw to label a track biased, often incorrectly at least by my definition. A bias comes in a few different forms. It can be an inside or outside bias which relates to a portion of the racetrack. It can be down the crown of the track as we often see in the mud. It can be a speed bias or a closers bias. Sometimes you will see more than one type of bias together, but obviously they can’t conflict with each other, or you are back to a false bias.
An excellent example of bettors being prematurely fast on the bias draw was last weekends Belmont Stakes card. The bias talk came early and often. It was all over social media and the tv broadcasts. Trainers even voiced concerns about how the track was playing would affect their horses. They were all wrong, and no this is not subjective. Not only were they calling it a speed biased racetrack but they were also saying it was a rail biased racetrack. A good deal of this gibberish began after only the second dirt race was run. That’s an impressive assessment if you are right. Were they? You tell me.
Sea Foam won the first race on the card. He stalked the pace, did not make the pace, and made an early inside move — a stalking trip in the opener.
The next dirt race had the bias callers out in full force. The fact it was just the second dirt race on the card did not temper them. Majid went to the lead in relatively easy splits. He went Wire to Wire. He should have. He got away uncontested and set soft splits on a very fast but fair racetrack. One of the biggest lures to a false bias is not realizing why a horse trips out and wins. With the way things unfolded Majid was supposed to win.
The next dirt race was won by Midnight Bisou who not only came from off the pace but was last at one point. Nonetheless, you had analysts, trainers, and people all over social media saying you had or be on the rail with speed to win. I knew this would lead to some big edge bets on the card.
The next dirt race we saw Guarana blitz the field from slightly off the pace. It was a stalking trip. 4 races and just one Wire to Wire winner. They still screamed bias in force. On true bias days, you see 4 races and 4 Wire to Wire winners.
The next one was a classic. Hog Creek Hustle roared down the middle of the track from off the pace. He beat my “edge play” Nitrous by a long nose and Nitrous was further back and wider than he was. The reported rail and speed bias is not what cost me that bet.
Mitole took the next dirt race stalking and prompting the pace. Noteworthy McKinzie came from off the pace and had a lot of traffic trouble, or it may have been a different result but certainly would have been closer. That’s six dirt races and one Wire to Wire winner who got a lone lead and went slow on a fast track.
Sir Winston won the Belmont from off the pace. Did he spend some time saving ground on the rail? Absolutely. Did it help him? Absolutely as saving ground usually does. When good horses save ground on the rail it helps a lot. Seven dirt races and one horse goes gate to wire.
Recognizing a true bias from a false one can be lucrative. Being quick draw McGraw won’t help you be correct in that assessment.
There was a rail and speed bias on Belmont Stakes day. True or false?
Easy Goer Stakes - Race 3 at Belmont - Post Time 12:47 PM Eastern
Personally I plan to bet BOTH Majid and Grumps Little Tots to win if above 3/1, and I plan to use ALL SIX if I play the double, pick 3 or pick 4 involving this race as a case can be made for every entrant. However, Majid could be a “lone front runner” in this short field if Saez takes advantage of his early speed. He’s won three in a row, all since moving to the Rodriguez barn, the last a one turn mile over the track no different from this one mile and one-sixteenth trip around one turn. Saez rode him to a wire-to-wire win last month and the effort earned a 96 Equibase figure which is competitive with nearly EVERY horse in the field in most of their races. The exception is the 103 figure Outshine (who opens at 9/5) figure earned when second in the Tampa Bay Derby but that was a two-turn race, but he earned a 93 figure at seven furlong before that. Heavy morning line favorite Alwaysmining earned 109 and 104 figures in March and April, which beat this field if repeated and if no horse drastically improves, but those were also around two turns and his 99 figure in his last one turn race is not that superior to Majid’s last effort. Rodriguez wins 25% of the time with his horses back-to-back so I’ll take a shot this colt can control things start to finish.
Grumps Little Tots, like Outshine, ran poorly in the Wood Memorial when last seen but opens at 12/1 compared to 9/5 even though he gets Irad Ortiz, Jr. to ride for the red hot Servis barn and even though this jockey/trainer combo clicks nearly 40% of the time (over almost 200 races going back to 1/1/18). In a one turn mile race before the Wood, the gelding ran off by six lengths and that kind of effort can be improved upon here.
As I said, all six can win and the favorites, Outshine and Alwaysmining are not standouts by any means but with decent prices or standouts in other races for multi-race bets there’s every reason to try to use “ALL” in this leg if possible.
Win Bets: Majid and Grumps Little Tots to win at 3 to 1 or higher.
Pick 3 (two tickets):
Race 3: Majid, Grumps Little Tots
Race 4: Daddy Is a Legend, Rushing Fall, Beau Recall
Race 5: Come Dancing
Race 3: All (6 horses)
Race 4: Daddy Is a Legend, Rushing Fall, Beau Recall
Race 5: Come Dancing
Just a Game Stakes - Race 4 at Belmont - Post Time 1:22 PM Eastern
Daddy Is a Legend should NOT be the 6/1 odds she is on the morning line, but I’ll take it. She won the Lake George last summer at Saratoga in impressive fashion on a firm course then didn’t care for the soft turf next month in the Lake Placid. Two months later in the Valley View she WOULD HAVE WON if she didn’t try to duck through the rail when making the winning move in the stretch and thankfully the breakaway rail did its job and she was unharmed. She came back to miss by a half-length in the Grade 1 Matriarch after being nearly 10 lengths back early then took the winter off, returning to rally from 8th to 2nd in the Distaff Turf Mile on Derby day before the time off caught up with her and she tired back to third, still ONLY a head from runner-up Get Stormy. Franco has ridden her in six straight so gets along with her nicely and she gets SIX pounds from Beau Recall, who beat her a length and one-quarter last month, which should help her run well enough to win and post the mild upset as she improves nicely in her second start off the layoff.
Beau Recall won the Distaff Turf Mile in a mild upset at 10/1 but probably shouldn’t have been those odds considering who sizzling hot the Cox barn is. Since changing trainers in December, she’s three-for-four with one second and with Cox winning back-to-back at a 33% clip the past year she must be taken very seriously as a win contender.
Next we come to Rushing Fall, a favorite of mine but badly overbet here as she opens at 4/5 on the strength of a seven-for-eight career record. However, she really hasn’t beaten much and the 108, 105 and 103 figures she earned in her last three races are NOT even as good as the 111, 110 and 110 figures Beau Recall earned in her last three nor the 119 figure Daddy Is a Legend earned when second in the Matriarch, or even the 107 figure Daddy Is a Legend earned when third in the Distaff Turf Mile last month. I’ll use Rushing Fall defensively particularly as Brown’s horses win 1/3 of the time back-to-back but for making a profit I’m sure hoping one of the other two gals gets home on top.
Win Bets: Daddy Is a Legend and Beau Recall to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.
Exactas: Box Daddy Is a Legend, Beau Recall and Rushing Fall
Daddy Is a Legend, Beau Recall and Rushing Fall over Daddy Is a Legend, Beau Recall, Rushing Fall and Get Stormy.
Trifecta: Daddy Is a Legend, Beau Recall and Rushing Fall over Daddy Is a Legend, Beau Recall, Rushing Fall and Get Stormy over Daddy Is a Legend, Beau Recall, Rushing Fall and Get Stormy.
Ogden Phipps Stakes – Race 5 at Belmont - Post Time 2:01 PM Eastern
YES, #2 Midnight Bisou is an exceptional racehorse, having won three graded stakes in a row, and YES, #4 Escape Clause has a shot as well as she nearly beat Midnight Bisou last time out in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom. HOWEVER, Come Dancing is in another league right now and, when combined with the fact she has a big “early pace” edge in this short field, she should win, although most people agree and that’s why she opens at 6/5 (Midnight Bisou opens at even money). Come Dancing ran huge three back in December to Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Marley’s Freedom when battling that one neck-and-neck for the last six furlongs of the race then she destroyed the field by almost eight lengths in the Distaff Handicap in April. Proving that no fluke, Come Dancing won the Ruffian Stakes by nearly seven lengths over the track at one mile last month and the extra sixteenth of a mile should prove no issue, particularly as no other horse has shown any desire to lead early which gives her an edge she can use to control the race from start to finish.
Bets: (No bet is really necessary if you played the pick 3 in race 3 and are alive to Come Dancing)
Win bets: Come Dancing to win if 6 to 5 odds or higher (a low odds overlay win bet).
Exactas: There’s no point in betting an exacta consisting of Come Dancing and Midnight Bisou so we can play a couple of tickets using Escape Clause and each of those two as follows:
Box Escape Clause and Come Dancing
Box Escape Clause and Midnight Bisou
Belmont Stakes – Race 11 at Belmont - Post Time 6:37 PM Eastern
I’ll start by saying there’s no doubt War of Will has a great deal of competitive spirit. In spite of fighting his jockey in the early stages in a few of his races, when he is asked to run his best he responds nicely. Even after the incident early in the stretch of the Derby, War of Will re-engaged with Maximum Security for a number of strides before tiring. Then, when allowed to make one run in the Preakness, War of Will took the inside path and ran very well to draw off by a length and one-quarter, earning a career-best 107 EquibaseÒ Speed Figure in the process. The biggest question I have about War of Will repeating or improving upon his Preakness effort in the Belmont is related to his pedigree and ability to run as well at the distance of one and one half miles. Horses outrun their pedigree all the time, but considering none of the sons or daughters of sire War Front have run well at the distance, on turf or on dirt, I will look elsewhere for my top contenders although I will not discount the chances of War of Will to win the Belmont entirely.
Sir Winston will be my top choice. He may only have a career record of two-for-nine but the second of the two was in the Display Stakes, an important stakes race for two year olds at Woodbine. Returning two months later in February of this year, Sir Winston finished well in the late stages when fourth behind Tax in the Withers Stakes then rallied from 11th to fifth behind Tacitus in the Tampa Bay Derby in March. After a troubled trip when seventh in the Blue Grass Stakes in April and not having enough points to run in the Kentucky Derby, Sir Winston pointed to the Peter Pan Stakes four weeks ago as a prep for the Belmont Stakes. This is the same prep the 2014 top two finishers (Tonalist and Commissioner) used. Until 2010, the Dwyer Stakes was run four weeks prior to the Belmont, with the top two finishers in that race (Drosselmeyer and Fly Down) finishing one-two in the Belmont. Joel Rosario rode Sir Winston in the Peter Pan and will once again be in the saddle in the Belmont. It must be noted in 2014 when Tonalist won the Peter Pan he was ridden by Joel Rosario, who won the Belmont with the colt one month later. Although the 101 figure Sir Winston earned in the Peter Pan is a bit shy of the 107 War of Will earned in the Preakness and the same figure Tacitus earned in the Derby, I think Sir Winston can improve more than enough to post the upset in this year's Belmont.
Master Fencer (JPN) may not have been fully acclimated to U.S. racing when he ran in the Kentucky Derby, especially with a 20 horse field and water being splashed into him. In the Derby, it appeared Master Fencer (JPN) didn't really know what to do as the field broke and he seemed a bit taken aback by all the water being kicked up so jockey Leparoux just let him drop back to last in the field of 19 in the early stages, as many as 23 lengths behind the early leader. As the race went on, Master Fencer (JPN) started to run more confidently and by the end he was rolling on the inside to be beaten just four lengths at the end. Galloping out second on the turn and having put in a series of strong workouts in Kentucky and then at Belmont Park since the Derby, there is a lot of upside for this young colt. Considering his Derby effort earned a 106 figure, I think Master Fencer (JPN) deserves a good deal of respect as a contender in the Belmont Stakes.
Tacitus was also rolling faster than most horses in the last quarter mile of the Derby, earning a career-best 107 figure when beaten just three-quarters of a length for third at the finish. Tacitus had won three races in a row prior to that including the Wood Memorial and in that race the colt recovered from early trouble where he nearly fell, after which many horses may have given up. As a son of Tapit, who sired three recent winners of the Belmont (Tonalist in 2014, Creator in 2016 and Tapwrit in 2017), there is no question Tacitus can get the mile and one-half distance of the Belmont. Trainer Bill Mott won this race in 2010 with Drosselmeyer so he knows what it takes to get a horse ready for this marathon test as well.
In addition to the four horses I think have the bulk of the probability to win this year's Belmont Stakes - Sir Winston, Master Fencer (JPN), Tacitus and War of Will, Everfast is a horse I think we need to consider for any exacta or trifecta tickets we play. Coming off a career best 105 figure effort when second in the Preakness, similar to the effort he put in four races before that when second in the Holy Bull, Everfast will be rallying from far back and passing many of the horses who will find the mile and one-half distance to be beyond their range.
Win Bets: Sir Winston to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.
Master Fencer to win at 4 to1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.
Sir Winston and Master Fencer over Sir Winston, Master Fencer, Tacitus, War of Will and Everfast.
Then also play the opposite of the above, which is Sir Winston, Master Fencer, Tacitus, War of Will and Everfast over Sir Winston and Master Fencer.
Optionally (for $1) Sir Winston and Master Fencer over ALL.
Sir Winston and Master Fencer over Sir Winston, Master Fencer, Tacitus, War of Will and Everfast over Sir Winston, Master Fencer, Tacitus, War of Will and Everfast.
In conjunction with the above, Sir Winston, Master Fencer, Tacitus, War of Will and Everfast over Sir Winston, Master Fencer and Everfast over Sir Winston, Master Fencer, Tacitus, War of Will and Everfast.
The strategy in playing both trifectas above is to avoid any tickets involving the favorites War of Will and Tacitus coming in first and second and trying to maximize profit with any of the three horses at higher odds coming in first and second or first and third)
Optionally, for the trifecta, you can use “ALL” in the third position, but that significantly increases the cost.
June 7th, 2019
By: Jonathan Stettin
Between Friday and Saturday at Belmont, there will be an abundance of opportunities to go after a score. While this is great and what most of us wait for, it helps to have a solid plan of attack. All those opportunities and alluring races can prompt many to spread their bankrolls out to keep them in action, but if you are looking to take down a big score that might not be the best way to go. It’s not how I play it. These two days are when your money management skills get out to the test. If you don’t have them your bankroll can be put to rest.
Whether your bankroll for the weekend is $100, $1000, or $10,000 it doesn’t matter. You have to apply it in the best way to capitalize on your strongest opinion. Of course, you have to be right.
I play more aggressively than most. Using a $100 bankroll, I will take 80% of that and put that into my best spot for the weekend. I may spread the 80% across different types of wagers keying on the horse I like the best, but I won’t use any of that 80% on other horses or sequences. This puts me in position to maximize my investment on the horse I feel best about. If I am right, I will have a good majority of my bankroll on my horse, and that is how you set yourself up to score.
Many people will spread thin and want action in every race and sequence. Can they catch a big number and score? Of course. That said, in the long run, if your handicapping is solid, you will get much farther into the black column attacking who you really like best. Does it really make sense just for the sake of action to spread around and use as much of your bankroll on a horse or sequence you like a little as opposed to one you feel strongly about? I say no all day to that.
When finished handicapping I will look at the two or maybe three horses I like best. It is my nature to go after the longest prices one, and I will have to like a shorter priced one a lot more to pull me in that direction.
Using 80% of my bankroll allows me to go after every type of bet I want keying my horse. If things work out, I can hit all the exotics. If not I can hit some. Nobody and I mean nobody bets too much on a winner. It’s a sinking feeling to be right on a key horse on a big weekend like this and not capitalize. 80% of your bankroll minimizes that risk.
The other 20% is what I will use for fishing, stabs, and some lighter action. Does that at times save the day. Absolutely. It keeps one in a spot to catch that longer priced play or sequence but also leaves you strong for the major wager.
On days like these, there is always a lot more recreational and uninformed money in the pools. This is a tremendous help to us. Beat a favorite or two which should always be a goal, and your value increases significantly than what it would on say a regular day or even weekend. Use that. It can’t hurt and can only help.
We are all usually locked and loaded by now. I try and hold off final opinions as long as possible. Will the weather change? Will there be a real bias? Will someone get white hot or maybe ice cold? These intangibles can give you an edge over players who lock in early and surely over the recreational money. Take whatever edges you can get.
Log into your AmWager accounts and attack! All the best and enjoy these great cards.
Connaught Cup Stakes - Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 5:00 PM Eastern
Savage Battle is a lightly raced five year old with just 15 races under his belt, nine of those turf sprints. He has a fantastic record of 4-1-2 in those nine races, including a runner-up effort in the Colonel Power Stakes at Fair Grounds in February and he may be coming in under the radar opening at 8 to 1 here. It’s a big sign he’s live as Patrick Husbands gets on and the horse 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. He comes from mid-pack and in this race with there likely to be a sizzling early pace battle he could get first run on the tiring pacesetters and come home on top. Shakhimat, who has done all his winning when leading from the start, has to go hard for the lead from the rail, but with need-the-lead types Yorkton and El Tormenta in the field there’s little chance any of the three “early” pace types gets the lead they need to succeed and a big chance they set up the stalkers and closers, foremost among them Savage Battle.
Eminent Force won’t go to post anywhere near his 20/1 starting odds with DaSilva named to ride but anything above 4/1 would be betting odds for me because this nine year old with 15 career wins proved he still has what it takes when rallying for second in April following three months off. He won in his third start of the 2018 meeting and this is only his second but the debut was at this seven furlong trip (on the main track) and he’s earned 10 wins from 32 starts on turf in his career. In short, I feel it would be a mistake to leave Eminent Force off any tickets we play involving this race particularly as he too may be up close with Savage Battle early and in a position to be in the exacta at the least down to the wire.
Curlin’s Honor and Emmaus both are win contenders and horses we must use on exacta and trifecta tickets, but opening at odds of 5 to 2 and 2 to 1, respectively, it’s tough to make a case to wager on either two win as neither is a standout. Curlin’s Honor rallied from 10th to third in the Cartier Stakes on the main track last month and last year missed by a neck in the Paradise Creek Stakes at this distance on turf in New York, but both were against three year olds only so he’s not yet proven at this level, or even on turf (where his record is 0-1-0 in three races). Emmaus lost by a neck in his U.S. debut in late April in a stakes at Belmont, which followed six months off, so he’s likely to improve, but to be honest with Moran riding so cold (1 for 62 at the meeting) it’s hard to bet this talented horse to win. Moran has 10 second place finishes at the meeting, and there’s nothing to suggest anything more than his current cold streak is just that, but it must be taken into account when considering a win bet at low odds.
Win Bets: Savage Battle to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.
Consider an additional win bet on Eminent Force at 4 to 1 or more, for a smaller amount than on Savage Battle, adding a place bet at 7 to 1 or higher.
Instead of a win bet on Savage Battle and/or a win/place bet on Eminent Force we can consider these exactas: Savage Battle and Eminent Force over ALL (for $1) and then ALSO, the opposite, which is ALL over Savage Battle and Eminent Force.
Exactas: Box Savage Battle, Eminent Force and Curlin’s Honor.
Box Savage Battle, Eminent Force and Emmaus. (The strategy with these two exactas is twofold, to split the favorites as the exacta between Curlin’s Honor and Emmaus will be the lowest paying of all the possible combinations, and to maximize profit, hoping that Savage Battle and Eminent Force finish first and second, in which case we cash the bet twice).
Trifecta: Box Savage Battle, Eminent Force, Curlin’s Honor and Emmaus.
Race 6 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern
This is a wide open maiden race which leads into a good betting stakes race so we can take some shots here as well as in doubles to race 7. King Jack appears to be a live first time starter because Smith is riding for Hollendorfer and Smith doesn’t need to ride maidens at this stage of his phenomenal career. Smith and Hollendorfer are 9 for 25 together in the last year and sire Jimmy Creed’s first time starters have won nearly 25% of the time. Best of all the colt put in a very sharp 58.2 five furlong workout, from the gate, on May 10, followed by a pair of six furlong “maintenance” workouts. On Easy Street ran on from fifth and last to second into a runaway seven length winner no horse was going to beat last month. The effort earned a 92 Equibase figure better than it usually takes to win at this level so he must be respected. Music to My Ears finished second in a big effort last month BUT that was at five furlongs on turf and so there’s no guarantee he can run as well on dirt, particularly as the effort only earned a 76 figure. Baffert’s Morning Snow is likely to go favorited because Baffert continues to win at an astronomical level with first time starters. Over the last two years, Baffert has saddled 97 first time starters in straight maiden races, and 48 (effectively 50%) of those have won. The rail can be intimidating so I don’t think he’s a standout and the works, although okay, aren’t that fast, but we can’t ignore that percentage Baffert has put forth. Last but not least, Moana Luna is a first time starter from the barn of veteran Headley, who also bred the gelding and owns him. Although he’s a Cal-Bred in open company, he fits as he’s a FULL BROTHER to $477K winner Cyclometer, who won stakes in open company. One of the dam’s first time starters won and another finished second. Canadian Luck doesn’t have flashy works but they’re consistent and although his sire (Distorted Humor) is known for producing two-turn runners, believe it or not he has sired 18% first out winners in sprints over the last five years.
Win Bets: King Jack and Moana Luna to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher. Add a place bet on Moana Luna at odds of 5 to 1 or more.
Doubles: Morning Snow, Moana Luna, Music to My Ears, King Jack, Canadian Luck and On Easy Street in Race 6 with Seranitsa and Hostess in Race 7.
Honeymoon Stakes – Race 7 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7 PM Eastern
Seranitsa makes her first start in California after being privately purchased. She has only run three times on turf and all were good efforts, first beaten a neck in January, then winning on March 2 before a third of six finish in a stakes on turf at the end of March. She’s now in the Drysdale barn and the veteran trainer has been sneakily good the past few months, shipping horses all over for wins in stakes. The fact Prat takes the call is a BIG sign in my opinion, because Drysdale and Prat are 10 for 50 in stakes the past five years and Drysdale is very good at getting horses to run well off these kinds of 60-90 day layoffs. The race Seranitsa finished third in on March 30 has become a very productive race, as the winner won a stakes two races later, the runner-up won a stakes two races later and the fourth and fifth finishers finished second in stakes out of that race. The 98 Equibase figure Seranitsa earned is AS GOOD or better than every other horse’s last race figure and she’s moving up a lot off a 6% winning trainer as well.
Hostess won the Providencia Stakes at this nine furlong trip in her U.S. debut in April and following six months off, no easy task. Then, when shortening up to a mile, her late kick may have been dulled as she only managed fourth. It may also have been the jockey change as Van Dyke rode her to victory and Blanc rode her last month. Van Dyke gets back on and the filly gets the same outside post she got when winning so that effort appears very repeatable. The Providencia earned her a 106 figure which is the highest figure earned by any horse in the race, period, so she deserves a ton of respect as a win contender.
Maxim Rate finished a nose behind Hostess in the Providencia then won the shorter Senorita in which Hostess finished fourth so she has a shot as she is proven at the distance. Lady Prancealot was a pair of noses shy of winning in the Providencia and a half-length behind Maxim Rate in the Senorita so can’t be ignored either. Over Emphasize is the new face and ran well when second at this nine furlong turf trip last out against allowance company, with a competitive 97 figure.
Win bets: Seranitsa and Hostess to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.
Seranitsa over Lady Prancealot, Over Emphasize, Maxim Rate and Hostess, THEN ALSO the opposite, which is Lady Prancealot, Over Emphasize, Maxim Rate and Hostess over Seranitsa.
Seranitsa and Hostess over Seranitsa, Lady Prancealot, Over Emphasize, Maxim Rate and Hostess.
Seranitsa, Lady Prancealot, Over Emphasize, Maxim Rate and Hostess over Seranitsa and Hostess.
Penn Mile Stakes – Race 11 at Penn National - Post Time 7:50 PM Eastern
The Black Album will be my choice to post the upset in this year's Penn Mile Stakes, if he can break with the field as he failed to do in the American Turf Stakes last month, and if he can run down likely lone front runner A Thread of Blue. The Black Album won the Prix la Rochette Stakes at Longchamp in France last September and did so gamely by a nose to earn a 104 Equibase Figure which would be very competitive with horses likely to go to the post at much lower odds in this race if repeated. Highly regarded when imported to the U.S. last fall, The Black Album was entered in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf then took the winter off. When he returned to the races, the colt ran very well when third and beaten just a length in the Transylvania Stakes in April in spite of likely being in need of a race off the long layoff. Following that, The Black Album ran in the 13 horse American Turf Stakes on Kentucky Derby day. In that race, he hopped at the start and was away 12th in the field. After lagging nearly last for the first six furlongs, The Black Album rallied boldly on the turn and was within two lengths of the lead with less than an eighth of a mile to go. At that point, the energy he had expended during the rally caused him to make no further progress although he fought to the wire, finishing seventh but beaten the same two and one-half lengths by the winner he was behind the leader at the eighth pole. In the Penn Mile, if The Black Album can break better to race mid-pack in the early stages, and if he can put in the late kick he showed last year in France, he has a good chance to post the upset.
A Thread of Blue earned his first three wins leading from start to finish, including when taking the 11 horse Dania Beach Stakes field to task in February with a then career-best 99 figure. Then, for the first time in his career, A Thread of Blue showed a new dimension when stalking in third position for the first half-mile in the Palm Beach Stakes in March, taking over on the turn and winning by three-quarters of a length. The 102 figure earned in the Palm Beach was a new career-best effort, which he nearly duplicated in the tougher American Turf Stakes last month. In that race, A Thread of Blue established the pace easily in a field of 13 and was very game to the wire even when passed, beaten three-quarters of a length at the end and finishing a head in front of the third place finisher to earn a 101 figure. Jockey Luis Saez has been aboard for the colt's last four races including three wins and from an inside post, horse and rider are likely to take advantage of that position to go for the lead from the start. As such, A Thread of Blue has every right to return to stakes winning form in the Penn Mile.
Forty Under won his first two races around two-turns on turf last year, the second and third starts of his career, including the Pilgrim Stakes in September. After a sixth place effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Forty Under took the winter off. Returning off more than five months off rest, his second place effort in the Woodhaven Stakes in April was a good effort and one he can improve upon, perhaps back to graded stakes winning form.
The Black Album to win at odds of 4 to 1 or higher, adding a place bet at odds of 7 to 1 or more.
Exactas: Box The Black Album, A Thread of Blue and Forty Under.
May 31st, 2019
A Winning Angle
By: Jonathan Stettin
Last week I saw an interesting conversation on social media between a few good handicappers. What I found interesting was that they seemed to do an awful lot of work and research to come up with an angle I have been following since the early 90’s and have made some really nice hits. At the end of the day, you get paid the same no matter how you arrived at the winner, but it seemed to me they were complicating something I learned long ago was relatively simple.
It’s no secret horses mature. They are athletes. A two year old might be the equivalent of say an early teenager if we compare equine to human. An early teenage athlete will get stronger and faster as they arch upward towards their prime. A horse is no different.
Regardless of which speed figures you use, Beyers, Brisnet, Ragozins, Timeform, whatever, a newly turned three year old will usually surpass their better two year old figure early on. Many times as a first time three year old. They are getting stronger and faster. It will show on race day.
To the astute bettor this can mean opportunities.
You will find times when a newly turned three year old has what appear to be slower numbers than the bulk of the field. Many may dismiss the horse based on those slower figures. One must remain aware that those numbers were run at two, not three. If you are comparing them to numbers run at three, which often happens right through this time of year and even beyond, it can be very misleading and create value and opportunities for sharp players.
If you know a horse is going to surpass their two year old figure, and you can see that progression will put them at the head of the class, you’re betting on what’s not all that obvious to many players. That gives you an edge.
Of course, trainers, lay-off ability, and other handicapping principals come into play, but the premise is a strong one.
I have keyed several nice price winners using this theory over the years. Often after a race, I was asked what did you like about that horse? Many others seemed faster. You already know the answer.
Finding angles or anything that gives you an edge is an advantage you need to beat the other players. There are several, this is only one. There are more, and we intend to keep bringing them to you.
Hopefully now when you peruse your past performances, you won’t be so fast to dismiss younger horses with numbers that at first glance might look like they don’t measure up. There is a curve. Things may not be as they appear. Betting on things that can or may happen is far more rewarding and lucrative than betting on what has already happened to happen again.
May 24th, 2019
By: Jonathan Stettin
I have talked about many aspects of your game and the tools needed in your arsenal to be successful betting on the Sport of Kings. Today seems like s good day to discuss one thing you need that often gets overlooked. Focus.
Even if you know what to do and how to approach beating this very hard skill game, if you lose focus, you will almost certainly fail.
So many players today get caught up in social media while they are gambling. People go to the races and behave like it is a social event. That’s fine if this is recreational to you. However, if you are playing to win and think you can spend hours on social media, or like you are at a catered affair, then I wanna bet that in the long run you are losing, donating, depositing or whatever you’d like to call it. Focus.
Today, more than ever, there are so many things going on in the sport that can distract you. Most, you can’t change. Regardless there is a time to chat, and a time to have your game face on. I can be very active on social media. Once it gets close to post time, and through the last race, I’m pretty scarce.
When I used to go to the track every day, many people thought I was unfriendly and unapproachable. I would sit at my table with my Dad and Brother, or a few select friends. If they were not with me, I’d sit alone. I preferred it that way and had my best days that way. I still do. I didn’t want to be asked who I liked, who I was alive with, what I was betting or anything. It took away from my focus.
I guess maybe 5 to 10% of players beat the game without rebates. That is very low for a skill game, but it should get anyone who wants to very motivated and make them see there is a way.
Sound handicapping, good ticket structure, smart money management, patience, discipline, and focus. These are all things you can learn, improve, or control. If you are not putting in the effort, and are treating the game nonchalantly, the game will devour you.
Despite all the distractions we have the Belmont Stakes and the supporting card coming up. The Metropolitan Mile is looking like the race of the year to date. The Haskell just may pit Maximum Security against War of Will. They might meet again in the Travers with Code of Honor and Tacitus joining the party. Monomoy Girl should be coming back soon as should Omaha Beach. There are going to be a lot of good races and cards, and that means opportunities. Focus. Don’t let the distractions derail you.
The large majority of people will not have the fortitude or discipline to stay at this game the way it needs to be played to beat it. That helps motivate me, and it should you if you want to be in that 5-10%. Remember you are playing people not playing for keeps. Play for keeps and let that be your edge. Focus.
Greenwood Stakes - Race 9 at Woodbine - Post Time 5:30 PM Eastern
Although Pink Lloyd loves to win races, more importantly races at this basic six furlong trip at Woodbine, being as he’s 13 for 14 at the distance, I feel he’s not the lock his likely 1 to 5 favoritism suggests he is. At the end of last season, Pink Lloyd lost two in a row at prohibitively low odds and he has a bad habit of hopping in the air at the start, or breaking inward or outward, basically anything other than straight. His last three stakes wins earned him 106, 103 and 105 Equibase figures, not standouts by any means compared to a few others in here. As such, I think we must use him on exacta and trifecta tickets although it might be best to try to beat him entirely for the best value (which I won’t do).
The horses with as much probability to win as Pink Lloyd, if they repeat their best efforts, are Marten Lake and Sable Island, both opening at 20/1 odds. Those high odds are more related to Pink Lloyd’s low odds than the chances either of the two horses has to run well, and that’s why this race is highly playable. Marten Lake is a veteran of 43 races, 35 on all-weather, finishing first or second in 15 of those 35 races and earning over $400K. Marten Lake has been first or second in his last seven races, from last August 26 through his last race of the year on December 8. His last race before the layoff earned him a 108 Equibase figure, better than any of Pink Lloyd’s best last year, and I think Marten Lake can pick up where he left off as he’s been working every seven days for his comeback and particularly as his most recent workout six days ago was an exceptional one where he ran a half-mile in 47.4 which was the third best of 54 at the distance on the day. If the work is indicative of his form then he can repeat his 12/8/18 effort and post the upset.
Just as likely is Sable Island, a much more lightly raced gelding than Marten Lake but a winner of three of eight career starts on the all-weather main track at Woodbine. Like Marten Lake, Sable Island put in a big half-mile workout in preparation for this race, his first following six months off, and like Marten Lake, Sable Island won his last start before the layoff earning a strong 108 Equibase figure. He’s a four year old who may have improving to do and deserves to be bet in the same way Marten Lake does.
Because Marten Lake and Sable Island both offer so much value, for exactas we should play them with a number of horses then come back and play them multiple times with the heavy favorite. Some of the others we’ll use are Blueblood and Circle of Friends, both who have winning races this year.
Win Bets: Marten Lake and Sable Island to win at odds of 7 to 2 or higher. Add place bets at 6 to 1 or more.
Exactas: Marten Lake and Sable Island over Pink Lloyd, Marten Lake, Sable Island, Blueblood and Circle of Friends.
Pink Lloyd, Marten Lake, Sable Island, Blueblood and Circle of Friends over Marten Lake and Sable Island.
Pink Lloyd over Marten Lake and Sable Island.
Marten Lake and Sable Island over Pink Lloyd.
Trifecta: Marten Lake, Sable Island and Pink Lloyd over Pink Lloyd, Marten Lake, Sable Island, Blueblood and Circle of Friends over Pink Lloyd, Marten Lake, Sable Island, Blueblood and Circle of Friends.
Doubles: Marten Lake, Sable Island and Pink Lloyd in Race 9 with Holyanna, Baby Driver and Super Patriotic in Race 10.
Optionally add Meg Fitz, Kitten’s Finest and Marwoods War in race 10 as well.
Note: Race 10 is my daily free race for Woodbine available by clicking on this link.
Paradise Creek Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont - Post Time 5:51 PM Eastern
Uncapped comes out of the highly rated William Walker Stakes on opening night at Churchill Downs (4/27) in which he rallied from far back and last of seven to miss by three-quarters of a length. The winner (Jo Jo Air) ran a big race right back on Preakness day when barely beaten in a turf sprint stakes and with John Velazquez getting on Uncapped, who enters the race with the second best last race Equibase figure in the field (104), this lightly raced three year old appears to have a big shot to win and to make us a profit as he opens at 8 to 1.
Pole Setter has probably as good or better a probability to win but opens at 9/2 and may be bet lower as he comes from the sizzling hot Brad Cox barn. Pole Setter was making his third start of the year and his first after nearly two months off last month at Keeneland on a sloppy main track and ran hard from start to finish to win by a nose with a graded stakes quality 113 Equibase figure. He broke his maiden last summer at a mile on grass, no easy task, so I think he’s got what it takes to transfer top form from the dirt last month to the turf, and the race he won on April 7 has since become a KEY race from which two horses behind him have come back from to win.
Fog of War opens as the 8 to 5 favorite based on a perfect two-for-two record but both wins were earned as a two year old, the most recent eight months ago. Brown wins at a high percentage with his comebackers but the colt is no lock as his best effort yielded at 100 figure. Mucho opens as the second betting choice at 3 to 1 although he has never run on grass in five races. He’s been working on turf recently and he’s bred to like it, as well as Mott trains, but we must also be wary of horse at low odds trying something for the first time. As such, I’ll use him in the same way I’ll use Fog of War, in exactas only.
Win Bets: Uncapped and Pole Setter to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.
Exactas: Box Uncapped, Pole Setter and Fog of War.
Box Uncapped, Pole Setter and Mucho.
Daytona Stakes – Race 5 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:03 PM Eastern
Horse Greedy has run at this five furlong turf trip just once, back in the fall of 2016, but it was a big effort when rallying for second and beaten a half-length. He’s had his stops and starts since then and he returns from nearly eight months off, but he’s very confidently placed by a top trainer in Sadler, in this grade 3 stakes, the first sign for a big effort. The second is a pair of six furlong workouts, substituting for prep races, and the third is Victor Espinoza riding, on fire with an 11 for 44 record since returning from his injury. Horse Greedy ran well enough to beat the favorites (Eddie Haskell and Brandothebartender) in this race when winning last July at Del Mar and Sadler has become extremely adept at getting his horses coming back off layoffs to win, with a 25% win rate going back over 18 months. As such, opening at 8/1, Horse Greedy gets top billing.
Eddie Haskell has no knocks really, except he’s likely to be the heavy favorite. He’s won seven of 19 races, 6 of 16 on grass and most at this five furlong sprint. Just the same, he’s ZERO-for-THREE in stakes, and all those stakes were for Cal-Breds only, so he’s no lock at all. Kanthaka tries turf for the first time off a pair of so-so efforts to tougher and may be in the exacta, as might Brandothebartender, who has finished third in both starts this year.
Win bets: Horse Greedy to win at 5/2 or more.
Exactas: Box Horse Greedy and Eddie Haskell at least a few times, then for a smaller amount box Horse Greedy and Brandothebartender and box Horse Greedy and Kanthaka.
Charles Whittingham Stakes – Race 7 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7 PM Eastern
Prime Attraction drops in class off a 12th of 13 finish three weeks ago in the Turf Classic Stakes on Kentucky Derby day. Prior to that, he faded to fifth after leading early in the Santa Anita Handicap in April following four and one-half months off. In the Turf Classic, Prime Attraction pressed the pacesetters in third while three paths wide for nearly the first mile before tiring. Since returning to California, Prime Attraction put in a sparkling half-mile morning workout (47.4 seconds) which was the best of 59 on the day and which I'm taking as a sign he's in top shape. If that is the case, looking at his most recent turf effort prior to the Turf Classic, Prime Attraction earned a career-best 119 Equibase Speed Figure last July when missing by a neck in a desperate photo finish in the Eddie Read Stakes. Jockey Kent Desormeaux, who was in the saddle for the Eddie Read, returns to ride in the Whittingham. The last time Prime Attraction raced on turf prior to the Eddie Read was in the fall of 2017 when, once again, he missed by a head in the photo, this time in the John Henry Turf Cup Stakes earning a 116 figure in the process. Both the 119 figure effort put forth last July in the Eddie Read and the 116 figure from the John Henry are better than any horse in the field has ever earned except for the 125 figure effort put in by Ashleyluvssugar when winning this race in 2017. As such, with the ground saving rail and perhaps more importantly, as the likely early leader all by himself, Prime Attraction could be tough to catch and beat in this year's Whittingham Stakes.
Marckie's Water rallied smartly from sixth of eight on the far turn to win by a half-length over the Santa Anita turf course last month, earning a 108 figure in the process. He had been off from near the end of November until near the end of January and ran poorly, so was given another two months rest. That time off did him a lot of good as Marckie's Water returned to finish third in the San Luis Rey Stakes at the distance of one mile and one-half on the turf. Cutting back to a mile and one-eighth last month, Marckie's Water improved to that 108 figure and has potential to improve in his third start off the layoff and back to the form he showed last summer at Del Mar when earning a career-best 114 figure winning at the distance of one mile and three-eighths on grass. Marckie's Water has also won at this 10 furlong distance on grass and jockey Pereira, who rode him for the first time last month, is in the saddle again, which are more signs for a top effort.
United is an improving four year old that has only raced six times, winning twice. He was away from the races from last July until February when he moved from Canada to California and into the Mandella barn. In his local debut, United ran poorly when eighth of 10. However, not only may he have needed a race following seven months off, it also appears United needed an equipment change because when blinkers were added for his next start on April 6, the gelding improved markedly to rally from seventh to win going away. In his next start, on May 4, although finishing fourth, United may have actually been more impressive as he launched a rally from last of 10 on the turn while four paths wide and was beaten just a length for the win in a blanket finish. Earning a career-best 104 figure for the effort, United has room to improve and as a son of Giant's Causeway should have no issue with the mile and one-quarter distance he is trying for the first time. As a footnote, if you watched the races last Friday at Pimlico on Black Eyed Susan Stakes day, you might have noticed the Royal and Gold colors of LNJ Foxwoods winning both stakes races they entered, with Covfefe and with Dogtag, so perhaps the owners will continue their hot streak with a win by United in the Whittingham Stakes.
We’ll include Ashleyluvssugar in the second and third position on exacta and trifecta tickets because even though I think he is not good enough to win at this level at the age of eight, he’s still competitive enough to be in the money.
Win Bets: Prime Attraction to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more. Marckie’s Water to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more. United to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.
Exactas: Box Prime Attraction, Marckie’s Water and United.
Prime Attraction, Marckie’s Water and United over Prime Attraction, Marckie’s Water, United and Ashleyluvssugar.
Trifecta: Prime Attraction, Marckie’s Water and United over Prime Attraction, Marckie’s Water, United and Ashleyluvssugar over Prime Attraction, Marckie’s Water, United and Ashleyluvssugar.
Race 2 at Pimlico - Post Time 11:05 AM Eastern
Although race two on the Preakness day card isn’t one of the many great stakes races, it’s a KEY BETTING Race in my opinion owing to the fact He’s One Wild Dude opens at 12/1 and Sir Brahms opens at 6 to 1. He’s One Wild Dude returned from four months off last month and ran very well in spite of likely being a little less than 100% fit. He battled for the lead early before tiring to third but should run a lot better second off the layoff, particularly as his current trainer claimed him in December before giving him time off and had the horse in his care previously, with He’s One Wild Dude winning three times for the trainer, all on turf and all with jockey Russell riding as he’s doing today. Considering the trainer knows the horse, as does the jockey, I think those previous winning efforts are repeatable today.
Sir Brahms won his most recent race, last month, jockey Centeno aboard as today and also for the horse’s two most recent wins, which came last June. The trainer (Sillaman) is the same who saddles He’s One Wild Dude and considering Sir Brahms won back-to-back last June he could put in his second winning effort in a row in this situation.
Liquid Aloha has won two of his last three races and has earned all five career wins on grass. He fits on all counts and gets North American leading jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., for the first time. That’s a positive sign because in the past 18 months, when Ortiz, Jr. has teamed up with this trainer (Cibelli), they have won 9 of 33 times, which is a pretty good 27% percentage.
Win Bets: He’s One Wild Dude and Sir Brahms to win at odds of 7 to 2 or higher.
Exacta: He’s One Wild Dude, Sir Brahms and Liquid Aloha over He’s One Wild Dude, Sir Brahms, Liquid Aloha, Front Line Paige and Ministers Strike.
Trifecta: He’s One Wild Dude, Sir Brahms and Liquid Aloha over He’s One Wild Dude, Sir Brahms, Liquid Aloha, Front Line Paige and Ministers Strike over He’s One Wild Dude, Sir Brahms, Liquid Aloha, Front Line Paige and Ministers Strike.
James W. Murphy Stakes – Race 5 at Pimlico - Post Time 12:51 PM Eastern
Real News has done little wrong in three races to date, winning his first two starts then finishing second last month in his third career start. His last two races were on grass like today’s race, but were sprints at five and one-half furlongs. However, he is bred to run as well or better at this longer distance and, as a horse who comes on strongly in the latter stages of the race, won’t have to expend any energy as likely pacesetter Thomas Shelby, who is also stretching out from a sprint to a route and who has led in the early stages of his last two routes, goes fast from the start. Although Real News only managed second last time out, the winner was Bulletin, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint last fall and who is a superstar in the making. With a very sharp workout coming into the race showing great physical condition, Real News is one of two who appear to have the bulk of the probability to win this race.
Current is the other main win contender, although he is winless in five races since last October when victorious in the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes on turf. However, four of those five efforts can be ignored. After the Bourbon win, Current had trouble at the start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf when starting last of 14 and although he lost his shot to win he did pass half the field to end up seventh. The connections wanted to see if he was “Derby” material after that and his dirt effort last November in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes is irrelevant, as was his effort in March in the Florida Derby. In between those two, Current ran okay when rallying from ninth to third in the Dania Beach Stakes on turf in February, so essentially this is his second turf route start of the year and that gives him a decent shot to improve off his Dania Beach effort and back to the form shown winning the Bourbon Stakes on grass last fall.
Win Bets: Real News and Current to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.
Exacta: Real News and Current over ALL.
Gallorette Stakes – Race 10 at Pimlico - Post Time 4:05 PM Eastern
Mitchell Road has never been worse than second in six races, winning four times. The last win came in a stakes and the horse she beat came back to win the Distaff Turf Mile on Derby day, a higher level race than this one. Her last effort earned a 111 Equibase figure which is significantly better than any of the other eight horses entered here and she’s in the more than capable hands of Hall-of-Fame trainer Bill Mott, so all signs are GO for another big race.
I’m So Fancy makes her first start in the U.S., having run 20 times in Europe previously, the most recent last September. She was second to a very good horse (Magical) in a group two race last July and won a group 3 race last September in Ireland. When comparing European form to U.S. races, group three stakes are actually a bit tougher than grade 3 races so essentially I’m So Fancy won against tougher horses than she faces here. The big question is whether she’s ready to run her best off an eight month layoff but she’s been putting in consistent workouts and perhaps even if she’s only 80% fit she can run well enough to be right there at the finish with Mitchell Road.
Inflexibility is also making her first start since last fall. She finished second in a pair of important turf stakes in New York and Canada in May and June and ran third in September in another top level race before a sixth place effort which led to the layoff she’s coming back from today. Considering Inflexibility won in April, 2018, following six months off I don’t think she’s going to be anything less than 100% fit to run and run well so she rounds out a trio of win contenders.
Win bets: Mitchell Road to win at 5/2 or more.
Exactas: Mitchell Road over I’m So Fancy, Inflexibility, Dynatail, Viva Vegas and ThewayIam, THEN ALSO play the reverse of that which is I’m So Fancy, Inflexibility, Dynatail, Viva Vegas and ThewayIam over Mitchell Road.
Trifectas: We will play Mitchell Road to finish either first or second along with the same horses in the exacta above as follows: Mitchell Road over I’m So Fancy, Inflexibility, Dynatail, Viva Vegas and ThewayIam over I’m So Fancy, Inflexibility, Dynatail, Viva Vegas and ThewayIam.
Then also I’m So Fancy, Inflexibility, Dynatail, Viva Vegas and ThewayIam over Mitchell Road over I’m So Fancy, Inflexibility, Dynatail, Viva Vegas and ThewayIam.
Preakness Stakes – Race 13 at Pimlico - Post Time 6:48 PM Eastern
In recent history, the Preakness Stakes has been won predominantly by horses which are on the lead, or a couple of lengths at most from the pacesetter, in the early stages. The recent exception was Exaggerator in 2016, but in that race there was a hotly contested pace which affected the chances of the early leaders and those in close pursuit. With that in mind, Warrior’s Charge is the horse I give slight preference to among three who I feel have the largest probability to win this year’s Preakness. After third place finishes in the first three starts of his career from last November through February, all when Warrior’s Charge was fifth or further back in the early stages, trainer Cox decided to switch tactics and since then Warrior’s Charge is a perfect two-for-two. After finishing third at a mile in February, when allowed to cruise to the lead of his own accord in his next race, Warrior’s Charge earned a then career-best 103 Equibase Speed Figure, which was a huge improvement off the 87 figure one race prior. Four weeks later when again allowed to set the pace, Warrior’s Charge improved to earn a 108 figure. Putting those efforts and figures into perspective, likely favorite Improbable earned 109 and 108 figures when second in the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby, respectively, and a 107 figure when fifth in the Derby. Watching a replay of the Warrior’s Charge most recent victory on April 12, it appears he has more improving to do. Some people might be concerned that jockey Florent Geroux, who rode both Warrior’s Charge and Owendale (both trained by Brad Cox), chose to ride Owendale in the Preakness, but since the jockey who rides Warrior’s Charge in the Preakness is Javier Castellano, currently the second leading jockey in North America, I think those concerns can be put to rest. Having put in a strong workout one week ago in preparation for the race and with a good inside post to take full use of his early speed but without getting into a pace battle with any other horses which may want to run on or near the front, I think Warrior’s Charge can successfully play “come catch me” with the field in this year’s Preakness.
If the scenario whereby Warrior’s Charge doesn’t lead from start to finish, by virtue of getting into an early battle with another horse, Brad Cox has Owendale to charge home and win. Owendale won two of his first three races around two turns, in September and again in January, before a poor eighth place finish in the Risen Star Stakes in February. Given two months off Owendale returned in the Lexington Stakes last month and put in a powerful and visually impressive rally when going from eighth to first on the far turn and from three and one-half lengths back to two lengths in ahead before continuing in front to the wire. That was a breakout effort which earned Owendale a career best 106 figure, 11 points better than any previous race. With a very sharp five furlong workout in 59.2 last week to show he is in good physical shape, if Owendale can repeat or improve off his last race, he might give trainer Cox the first and second place finishers in this year’s Preakness.
War of Will once again gets the rail post just as he did in the Derby but that is not nearly as disadvantageous in the Preakness as it was two weeks ago. In spite of the poor draw in the Derby (which requires a horse to use a lot of early energy to gain position and not get forced to take back as many horses move towards the rail for the first turn), War of Will was in a great position, fourth and one and one-half lengths behind the leader with about a quarter mile to run. It’s debatable whether he would have gotten through the space between Maximum Security and Long Range Toddy had Maximum Security kept a straight course, but after the incident and losing a length or two, War of Will re-engaged with Maximum Security for a number of strides before tiring back to eighth. It must be noted that War of Will does pull his jockey in the early stages which suggests he resents not being allowed to run the way he wants to run, but whereas many horses don’t respond when asked following fighting the jockey, War of Will has enough competitive spirit that he still does respond, and does so well. That spirit, and his athletic ability, resulted in strong wins earlier this year in the LeComte Stakes and the Risen Star Stakes, the first of the two earning the colt a career-best 107 figure. Following the Risen Star, War of Will was sent to post as the prohibitive favorite in the Louisiana Derby, but shortly after the start had something go amiss as he lost his action and was running erratically, resulting in a ninth-place effort. Considering he rebounded from that to run as he did in the Derby, War of Will certainly must be considered a contender to run well enough to contend in this race.
This next group consists of five horses that can run well but who I believe are a cut below the top three. They are Alwaysmining, Anothertwistafate, Bodexpress, Bourbon War and Improbable. Alwaysmining earned 109 and 104 figures in his last two races which fit nicely with the top three contenders. He is going for his seventh win in a row, the first six earned leading from start to finish and the most recent when third in the early stages, showing he may not be a need-the-lead type. Just the same, no horse who has won some of the stakes races he has won on the Maryland circuit has performed well in the Preakness because it is a big step up from those non-graded stakes races to this caliber of race. Anothertwistafate finished second to Owendale in the Lexington Stakes, earning a 103 figure and although I believe he can finish second or third here there is no reason to believe he can turn the tables on Owendale or beat War of Will or Warrior’s Charge if they run their best. The reason for this belief is when watching the Lexington, Anothertwistafate was on the inside and well ahead of Owendale with about three-eighths of a mile to run, but was out finished by Owendale, who had to go wide on the turn. Bodexpress has a lot of heart, as evidenced when second in the Florida Derby (with a 97 figure) then when in contention in the Kentucky Derby with about five-sixteenths of a mile to run before checking hard when the path he was running in was closed. There is no way to know if he would have continued to run competitively or not, but considering his Florida Derby effort and the fact his sire, Bodemeister, finished second in the 2012 Preakness (after finishing second in the Derby), I must respect Bodexpress as having a chance to be in the top three. Bourbon War was a non-threatening fourth in the Florida Derby but proved competitive at the level with a 110 figure earned when second in the Fountain of Youth Stakes prior to that. He comes from far back but his trainer is changing to a short cup blinker for the Preakness to help him focus and perhaps that may help him return to the form shown in the Fountain of Youth. Improbable has run the same race in all three 2019 starts, running virtually evenly for the last quarter mile. He lost a one length lead in the Rebel and lost by a neck then he was second the entire length of the stretch in the Arkansas Derby, before being virtually the same distance from the leader in the Kentucky Derby for the last half-mile. His last three figures of 109, 108 and 107 appear competitive with the top contenders in this race, but his running style is “one paced,” which is fine for a mile and one-half distance like the Belmont Stakes, but unless Mike Smith can get Improbable motivated to pass a horse in the stretch, he is likely to get a minor award once again.
Win Bets: Warrior’s Charge and Owendale to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher.
Exactas: Warrior’s Charge, Owendale and War of Will over Warrior’s Charge, Owendale, War of Will, Bourbon War, Improbable, Alwaysmining, Bodexpress and Anothertwistafate.
Trifecta: Warrior’s Charge, Owendale and War of Will over Warrior’s Charge, Owendale, War of Will, Bourbon War, Improbable, Alwaysmining, Bodexpress and Anothertwistafate over Warrior’s Charge, Owendale, War of Will, Bourbon War, Improbable, Alwaysmining, Bodexpress and Anothertwistafate.
May 16th, 2019
By: Jonathan Stettin
It is easy to use Maximum Security as an example, and I am going to take the low hanging fruit. First off, when people refer to Maximum Security as a claimer that is just not correct. He ran for a tag once, only once and it was in his debut. That does not make him a claimer. A claimer runs for tags often, or surely more than just once.
When Maximum Security ran and won first out, nobody knew what he was, or could be. Nobody. Had anyone had an inkling, he would have been claimed. I have heard but not confirmed that trainer Saffie Joseph had a claim form filled out for him but didn’t like what he saw in the paddock or just changed his mind. If true Maximum Security will forever by the one that got away.
Whatever your opinion of Jason Servis is, he is an excellent horseman. He gives his horses time and runs them where they belong. He wins first out and off layoffs, both signs someone can train. You can rest assured Jason did not know Maximum Security’s potential when he debuted for 16K. How can that be?
We have all heard the term “morning glory.” Some horses work fast, exceptionally so at times but can’t reproduce that effort in the afternoon under race conditions and pressure. Some are the opposite. They don’t work well or particularly fast, but show up to race. Horses fool everyone. Gamblers, Breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys, Bloodstock Agents, Jockey Agents, you name it, if you are in this game at any level you have been fooled. Horses humble all of us. Some more than others but if you play in the Sport of Kings you have been humbled or you will be humbled.
You see it in the past performances every day. Horses with high price tags dropping and running for sale in maiden claimers. Some of the wealthiest and most influential people in the world go to the sales. They spend millions. They write checks with plenty of zeroes often after a complicated vetting process. They check heart and lung capacity, blood flow, you name it. Bloodlines, speed figures, whatever can be quantified will be quantified. All that and they still couldn’t beat Mine That Bird or Dumb Ass partners and California Chrome when it counted. You gotta love a level playing field.
One of the beauties of the sport is how our calculations and insight is right just often enough to keep us assured it is indeed science and talent. There are maybe 10-12 times a year I feel I absolutely know who will win a race. In my mind I am just so sure, barring some unforeseen fluke, this horse will win. 95% of those do win. If I only bet those, it’s a win-win, but that would get boring. Funny it is the few that you don’t remember a la A Raving Beauty at Saratoga.
The game gives hope to those who spend less than the mega outfits and buyers when on any given race day you can open the form and like a 50K auction maiden purchase more than one that cost half a million or more. And when you realize that even when we know, we really don’t, you know they don’t either. That levels the field and we can beat em all.