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Key Races & Bets for Saturday December 9th, 2023

Wait a While Stakes – Race 6 at Gulfstream – Post Time 2:34 PM Eastern

Win contenders: Milliat, Ozara

Ozara and Milliat have the bulk of the probability to win this two-turn turf route for two year old fillies, but it is highly likely only Milliat can be bet to win as she opens at 8 to 1 compared to 8 to 5 for Ozara. So that’s where I’ll start. Milliat won her only start, on September 29 in Ireland. That race had a 13 horse field, run at seven furlongs counter-clockwise (the same way races are run in North America) around one turn. In that race, Milliat rallied strongly to pull away late and since that race was run on an all-weather track it bodes VERY well for her chances here. Since importing to the U.S., Milliat has put in two workouts on the turf, and she gets Luis Saez to ride, which is a very good sign. Perhaps best of all, in her debut, Milliat earned an 86 Equibase Speed Figure. When we compare that to the 88 figure Ozara earned when second recently in the similar Chelsey Flower Stakes, we can see that with just a bit of improvement, Milliat can run well enough to win, and at very good odds.

Ozara has no knocks except her starting odds. She won a two-turn turf race in her career debut this past summer at Saratoga, no easy task, in a field of 10 to boot. She then shipped to Canada for the Grade 1 Natalma stakes and although beaten eight lengths wasn’t disgraced as she was fourth of 13 and as the top two drew off by seven of those eight lengths. Irad Ortiz, Jr. gets on for the first time, and that’s a big sign the filly can improve off her effort on 10/27 when she rallied from third to make the lead with an eighth of a mile to go, only to get passed late and settle for second. Even if we can’t bet her to win at low odds, Ozara is still a horse we can make money with if she wins on exacta and trifecta tickets as below.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Milliat at 2 to 1 or more.

Exacta: Box Milliat and Ozara

Milliat and Ozara over Cairo Street, Madame Mischief, Milliat, Ozara, Beach Cruiser and Buttercream Babe

Trifecta: Milliat and Ozara over Cairo Street, Madame Mischief, Beach Cruiser and Buttercream Babe over Milliat and Ozara

 

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Race 7 at Aqueduct – Post Time 3:12 PM Eastern

Win contenders: Awesome Native, Legends Can’t Die

Awesome Native and Legends Can’t Die stick out in terms of their combined probability to win compared to the rest in this second level allowance race. Awesome Native gets preference because of his strong record of 4-1-0 in seven dirt races, including three of five at Aqueduct. He has shown he can stalk in third early or rally from seventh in a field of eight and Manny Franco rode him in his first two starts, both wins, and gets back on after not being up for his last three races, including two losses. Perhaps more importantly, Franco chooses to ride over Magnolia Midnight, who he has ridden to victory in two straight over the track. The distance isn’t an issue as the colt has won at seven furlongs and not only does he fit perfectly off a win at the one lower NW1X allowance condition, the 106 Equibase Speed Figure is the best earned by any horses in the race, period, as is the 104 figure earned in May when winning.

Legends Can’t Die has suffered two tough defeats in a row at the level, both by a nose. He returned from more than five months off prior to that and his last two efforts yielded 96 and 98 figures which are the second fastest races in the field. There are a few horses which like to lead early in this group but no real need-the-lead type, so it could be jockey Cancel puts Legends Can’t Die on the lead, from where he could be tough to run down even for the ostensibly faster Awesome Native.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Awesome Native could be a low odds overlay win bet, as his fair (minimum) odds for betting to win are 7 to 5 and he opens at 5 to 2. Legends Can’t Die has minimum odds of 9 to 5 and opens at 3 to 1.

Exacta: Box Awesome Native and Legends Can’t Die

Double:
Race 7: Awesome Native, Legends Can’t Die
Race 8: Kant Hurry Love, You Look Cold

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Garland of Roses Stakes – Race 8 at Aqueduct – Post Time 3:40 PM Eastern

Top win contenders: Kant Hurry Love, You Look Cold

No matter how many times I look at the early pace scenario for this race, I come away believing STRONGLY Disco Ebo must fly from the rail so as not to end up behind horses in the opening quarter mile. He’s led at the start, through the opening quarter mile and half mile in four straight races, and although he did win from fourth (a neck behind the leader) back in January and he did win from third (a half-length behind the leader) last November, the ONLY time he drew the rail this year, Pennington (who rides here) got him to the front quickly. However, we now get into an immovable object versus an irresistible force, because Olga Isabel is ABSOLUTELY a need-the-lead type, having earned all four of her wins when in front from the start. Additionally, Hot Fudge has earned her last three wins when in front from start to finish, and Self Isolation won her last race leading from start to finish.

Therefore, Kant Hurry Love and You Look Cold both benefit enough to have a significant edge over the other five. Kant Hurry Love has closed from as far back as sixth this year and run well, and she won a stakes (albeit for NY Breds) in June when a couple lengths back early, earning a 111 Equibase figure which is the best earned by any horse in this field, period. After that in August she chased a wire-to-wire winner around the track then for some odd reason, in the similar Pumpkin Pie stakes last month, McCarthy put her on the lead from the start. He hadn’t ridden her that way before, and he was up for her off the pace win in June, so those are the tactics I think he will choose here, leading to a nice shot for an upset as she opens at 8 to 1.

You Look Cold rallied from sixth of seven to win over the track when last seen on 10/28, and she closed fast to miss by a neck in May. She had been off two months before the win six weeks ago and so she could run even better, leading to her second win in a row, also at nice odds as she opens at 6 to 1.

Handicapper Picks

Win: We should strongly consider betting Kant Hurry Love and You Look Cold to win at 2 to 1 or more.

Note: If either Awesome Native or Legends Can’t Die won race seven and the doubles are paying as well, or better, than win bets on these two, we could just sit the race out.

However, considering the exceptional betting value in this race, a “Dutching” tool will really help maximize our edge. The free Dutching Tool at Amwager allows us to set the amount we want to bet in total then prorates that money among the two, or three, horses we want to win. It’s just one of many tools and benefits for racing fans at Amwager.com

Exacta: Box Kant Hurry Love and You Look Cold

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Pulpit Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream – Post Time 5:02 PM Eastern

Top win contenders: Liam’s Journey, Palm Tree, Noted

Liam’s Journey opens at the highest odds (9 to 2) of the trio which as a group sticks out against the others in this 11 horse field. Those odds may hold up as he’s still a maiden, but in the two year old ranks at this time of year that doesn’t mean much as there are few opportunities at the level. Particularly since Mike Maker trains and John Velazquez rides, it doesn’t diminish his chances to succeed even if he’s 0 for 3 to date. The second of the three was a big effort when checked (forced to stop momentum) early back to eighth, then moving up steadily to end up second. He was highly enough regarded off that effort he was entered in the Grade 2 Pilgrim Stakes on 10/4, much higher level than this non-graded stakes. In the Pilgrim, Liam’s Journey rallied to second with an eighth of a mile to go then was beaten a neck for that position while trying hard until the end. He was actually entered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November but was scratched and just a week ago he put in a very strong five furlong workout to signal he’ in form good enough to win. The 86 Equibase Speed Figure from his third place Pilgrim Stake effort is the BEST last race figure in the field so he has potential to win here juts repeating that effort, but he’s even more likely to better it off a two month layoff and more mature near the end of his two year old campaign.

Palm Tree tried turf in his second career start, in September and took to it like a duck takes to water, rallying quickly from fourth to lead on the turn then holding steady. He had a BRUTAL trip in the Grade 2 Bourbon Stake in October where he was completely without a path to run in the stretch. He gets a HUGE jockey change to Saez and like Liam’s Journey, Palm Tree put in a big workout in the last week so has every right to run a big race here.

Noted was second in the Bourbon, passing five horses late and missing by a nose at the end. Instead of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Noted ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, on dirt, and finished last of nine. We can draw a line through that race and certainly if he runs as well here as he did in the Bourbon he should be right there at the finish with one or both of the other two contenders.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Minimum/fair odds on all three – Liam’s Journey, Palm Tree and Noted, are 5 to 2 and I will bet one, or two, of the trio at or above those odds.

This is another race where the FREE Dutching Tool at Amwager really helps us maximize profit when betting on more than one horse to win.

Exacta: Box Liam’s Journey, Palm Tree and Noted

To help maximize profit we should key the higher odds horse of the trio with the other two, as follows:
Box Liam’s Journey and Palm Tree, Box Liam’s Journey and Noted

Trifecta: As an optional play, and since this race offers an 11 horse field with a number of need the lead types who can stick around for second at high odds, we can play Liam’s Journey, Palm Tree and Noted over ALL over Liam’s Journey, Palm Tree and Noted

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Ellis Starr

Ellis is a well respected handicapper and contributor of AmWager. He has been a public handicapper for more than twenty years, educating racing fans of all skill levels with detailed commentary few other handicappers provide.

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