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Key Races & Bets for Saturday July 29th, 2023

Monmouth Oaks – Race 9 at Monmouth – Post Time 4:20 PM Eastern

Analysis and main contenders:
10 fillies line up and more than a few have run competitively in stakes, but no more so than Foggy Night, who won fairly easily four weeks ago to take the identical Delaware Oaks under Paco Lopez, who rides back. The filly stretched out to this trip off a win in a seven furlong sprint and could not race with Lasix used for the win one month earlier, but maturely stalked the early speed in third and won nicely with a career-best, and more importantly field high, 97 Equibase Speed Figure no other horse in this race has come close to. She is making only her fourth start of the year, second in a route, gets speed to chase in the form of Ruthanne on the rail, and it might take a monumental effort by some of the others, a few which may be overbet as they are trained by Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher, to beat her.

Ruthanne has early speed and the rail and that could allow her to easily get the lead, even more so than last time out when she had to battle head and head for the first half-mile before drawing off to win by seven. Her figure of 79 isn’t good enough to win here if repeated, or even if improved upon, but she opens at high odds and makes a good compliment to Foggy Night to make a profit on exacta and trifecta tickets.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Foggy Night at 8 to 5 or more.

Exacta: Foggy Night over Ruthanne
Trifecta: Foggy Night over ALL over Ruthanne

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San Diego Handicap – Race 8 at Del Mar – Post Time 8:39 PM Eastern

Analysis and Contenders:
For those in the eastern time zone, it is worth remembering this race, and the Bing Crosby Stakes which follows, are worth sticking around for.

2022 San Diego Handicap winner Royal Ship is back and even though he’s 0 for 5 since then there are a few reasons to believe he can repeat last year’s effort at 9 to 1 with a strong 110 Equibase Figure. He also won the Californian Stakes in April of 2021 with a 110 figure and nearly beat Country Grammer in the Gold Cup one month later so he’s got the ability to get back on track, the reason being Hall-of-Fame trainer Dick Mandella, who saddled Geaux Rocket ride at $27 (way above fair odds on this blog) to win the Haskell last week. Mike Smith rode Geaux Rocket Ride for Mandella, and he’s been the regular rider for Royal Ship for more than two years, with the exception of the horse’s irrelevant try on all-weather in the All American Stakes at Golden Gate in May. Last year, Royal Ship was off from May 30 until running in this race (and winning it) on July 30 and this year he’s on an identical pattern as his last effort was on May 29. Coming into the race, Royal Ship is showing all the signs of a fit horse, with a 1:27 seven furlong workout on July 4, a fast 46.2 half-mile on July 13 and a stellar six furlong drill in 1:11 and change on July 21. Mandella is not known for working his horses fast so it can be assumed Royal Ship is doing this on his own and that means he’s as fit as he was last year. Perhaps better still, with Brickyard Ride a sprinter stretching out, from an outside post, and with Defunded also a need-the-lead type, the early pace is going to be fast so Royal Ship has the same targets he had last year when running on from seventh to win.

Slow Down Andy adds more betting value to the race as he was 24 to 1 last month in his 2023 debut following seven months off and on paper ran poorly, finishing sixth. However, the winner was Cody’s Wish, who also beat Slow Down Andy seven months earlier winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. In that race, Slow Down Andy was third of nine with a career best 112 figure, and now dropping in class while making his second start off the layoff he could run big. Last year he won the Del Mar Derby on turf and he won the Sunland Derby (on dirt) last spring so he fits with these. The most important fact about that last race, the Met Mile, is it is a KEY RACE. Though overmatched, THREE horses came back to win their next starts including two which finished farther behind Slow Down Andy. The fourth finisher won the Grade 2 Suburban recently. To be successful, or at least be part of the exacta, Slow Down Andy has to sit in third behind Defunded and Brickyard Ride in the early stages, but if he does he could get first run on Royal Ship and possibly hold on, but even if he doesn’t it could be a huge exacta.

Senor Buscador is another, like Royal Ship, who will love the hot pace, similar to last October when rallying from sixth to win the Grade 3 Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs, or in his first start of the year to win the Curribot Handicap at this distance. Those efforts earned him 108 and 109 figures not far from the representative race figures earned by Royal Ship and Slow Down Andy. The horse’s Curribot win came after four months off and he’s coming back from a two month layoff and could fire a big shot fresh at high odds.

Now to Defunded, the likely heavy favorite, and to Brickyard Ride, because I think the three top contenders will be decent odds we can key them in first and second with these two. Defunded has won two graded stakes in a row but he was seventh in this race behind Royal Ship last year so he’s no standout. He has also been on the lead or within a head after a half-mile in every one of his races in the past year, so if Hernandez can’t contain him when Brickyard Ride zooms by for the early lead, Defunded could be susceptible to being passed late. Brickyard Ride has had the lead in EVERY one of his last 12 races, all but one a sprint, but he did win that route race, the Cal-Bred restricted Tiznow Stakes at a mile, and did so on the stretch out from a sprint with a career-best 113 figure. He likely is this good, and has won 13 of 26, but he will need the lead all to himself to win and he has faded to third or worse in three of his last four.

Handicapper Picks

Win: I am ABSOLUTELY going to bet at least two, possibly all three, of my top contenders if the odds are right. This is what occurred last week in the Haskell (on this blog) in which Extra Anejo and Geaux Rocket Ride both had odds well above the threshold, the result being a $27 payoff for the former.

Minimum odds for making win bets will be 7 to 2 on Royal Ship, Slow Down Andy and Senor Buscador.

As we may be considering win bets on more than one horse, this is a great race to take advantage of the mathematical edge provided by a “Dutching” tool, which prorates wagers for the best value. There’s a free dutching tool at Amwager.com, where you can set the amount you want to bet or the amount you want to win, and the math is done for you to help achieve the best edge. This is just one of many tools, and perks, for bettors at Amwager.com

Exactas:
Royal Ship, Slow Down Andy and Senor Buscador over Royal Ship, Slow Down Andy, Senor Buscador, Defunded and Brickyard Ride.

Royal Ship, Slow Down Andy, Senor Buscador, Defunded and Brickyard Ride over Royal Ship, Slow Down Andy and Senor Buscador.

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Bing Crosby Stakes – Race 10 at Del Mar – Post Time 9:39 PM Eastern

Analysis and main contenders:
Historically, winners of the Bing Crosby Stakes have run quite well in their most recent starts prior to this race, and that makes sense given the stature of this race which gives the winner an automatic entry into the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Sprint in the fall so the race draws horses of exceptional caliber. Last year’s winner American Theorem won the Triple Bend Stakes two months earlier and that is precisely why I feel Spirit of Makena is the horse to beat in this year’s Bing Crosby as he won the Triple Bend two months ago. If not for a head defeat the only time he ran around two turns, Spirit of Makena would have a perfect five-for-five record and his four-for-four record in sprints like this one gives him an edge. After that two-turn try last summer, Spirit of Makena won in February with a career-best 113 Equibase Figure. He then didn’t need to run as fast winning the San Carlos Stakes (103 figure) and Triple Bend Stakes (103) figure in succession. Jockey Joe Bravo, who guided American Theorem to win this race last year and who has ridden that horse in five straight races, has ridden Spirit of Makena in his last three races, all wins, and rides again. In a race with a likely contested early pace courtesy of need-the-lead types Kid Corleone and Peaceful Waters, with many of the others hot on those pacesetters’ heels, Spirit of Makena should get a great trip and win his first Grade 1 race while stamping himself is one of leading candidates in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint division.

Dr. Schivel stepped out of California for only the second time in his 12 race career last month, facing 2022 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Cody’s Wish, as well as 2022 Kentucky Derby third place finish Zandon, in the Metropolitan Handicap. I’m willing to ignore that effort, not only because of the caliber of the horses he faced and because a mile may be too far, but mostly because some horses just don’t like leaving their home environments. That experiment being over, Dr. Schivel returns to his favorite track, Del Mar, where he has earned three of his six career wins including in the 2021 Bing Crosby. Following that, Dr. Schivel earned a career-best 113 figure winning the Santa Anita Sprint Championship before suffering the toughest defeat of his career when beaten a nose by Aloha West in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Away from the races from March of 2022 until this past May, Dr. Schivel picked up where he left off with an extremely strong victory at this six furlong trip, earning a 109 figure. Then came the Metropolitan Handicap, and I feel if we can ignore that race then Dr. Schivel is going to improve off his only sprint of the year and be a strong factor in this race.

The Chosen Vron may not be considered as strong a contender to win by bettors as some of the others here based on the fact that all of his last seven wins (in a row) have come against California bred horses only. Don’t let that fool you as he’s just been raking in money for his owners where he fits. With 12 wins in 16 races, it must be noted The Chosen Vron has stepped out of Cal-Bred ranks to “open” (not restricted) company five times in his career, with three wins and one second place finish to show for those efforts, including victories in the Lazaro Barrera Stakes and Affirmed Stakes as a three year old. Having earned 111, 109 and 107 figures in his last three starts, all competitive with the best in this field, The Chosen Vron may really benefit from the contested early pace and fast early fractions in this race, similar to when rallying from fourth to win the Sensational Star Stakes in March and when coming from eighth in the California Flag Stakes last October. Jockey Hector Berrios has been aboard for each one of the horse’s last seven wins and rides back so there is a lot to like about the chances for The Chosen Vron posting the mild upset in this race.

Among a number of horses which deserve honorable mention, Anarchist rises to the top because he has finished first or second in seven straight races including two graded stakes. He won the Jacques Cartier Stakes at Woodbine in May with a 115 figure as good as the top runners in this field. Next, although second in the True North Stakes last month in New York, it was big effort as neither he nor any of the other four horses was going to beat last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Elite Power. Nevertheless, Anarchist was clearly second by nearly four lengths over the next horse and earned a 108 figure. Considering he has been so consistent over the last year, I feel Anarchist is a must to use on any exacta tickets we play in this race as he could likely add to his record

Handicapper Picks

Win: Spirit of Makena is the one I’ll look to bet to win first at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
In the event Dr. Schivel is 5 to 2 or higher I might consider a bet.
Looking for value and not to be found kicking myself late, I will make a win bet on The Chosen Vron at odds of 4 to 1 or higher.

This is also a race in which a dutching tool like the one at Amwager which is free and easy to use, to allocate our wagers based on the odds of the horses we are betting to win, will prove to be a big advantage.

Exactas:
Box Spirit of Makena, The Chosen Vron, Dr. Schivel
Box Spirit of Makena, The Chosen Vron, Dr. Schivel and Anarchist
You can also consider a four horse trifecta box using those above as well.

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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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