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Key Races & Bets for Saturday July 8th, 2023

Belmont Oaks Invitational – Race 8 at Belmont – Post Time 4:43 PM Eastern

Analysis and main contenders:
Chad Brown, who seemingly dominates many stakes races on grass, has a pair in here in the form of Prerequisite and Aspray, who open at 5/1 and 6/1, respectively. The morning line maker in New York is pretty accurate and so if either or both of these fillies are near these odds they offer a lot of value. The morning line favorite is Mission of Joy at 2 to 1 and she is a contender but BY NO MEANS a standout. She won the Grade 3 Florida Oaks in March and the Grade 3 Regret Stakes last month, BUT Prerequisite won the higher level Grade 2 Wonder Again Stakes last month as well, and on this inner turf course, as compared to the Regret at Churchill Downs. Irad Ortiz, Jr. replaces Flavien Prat aboard Prerequisite as he moves to Aspray, but that’s not a negative sign at all considering Ortiz, Jr. has won 31% of 285 races for Brown this year and last, while Prat has won 27% of 195 races for Brown over the same period. What I like most about Prerequisite is she is very likely the LONE FRONT RUNNER in this field, having just won the Wonder Again when leading from the start, with NO OTHER horse in the field having ever led during the first quarter or half-mile in a race and no horses in the race stretching out from sprints. Prerequisite has improved in each start since her debut and has more room to improve in her fourth career start.

Also making her fourth career start is Aspray, who won the Hilltop Stakes in mid-May in her most recent race, to remain undefeated in three races She rallied six wide on the turn to win, so in this race she has the best chance to close into Prerequisite and win if that one can’t lead from start to finish.

Be Your Best adds more value for our wagering dollars opening at 10/1 in spite of rallying from fifth of seven to be beaten by just a neck by Prerequisite on the wire in the Wonder Again. She can improve second off the layoff and must be respected.

Mission of Joy is a contender, as mentioned above, but no standout and offers much less value for win bets though should be considered for double, pick 3 and pick 4 tickets played involving this race. Papilio rallied for second in the Regret behind Mission of Joy and earlier this spring won the Grade 2 Appalachian so rounds out the quintet to be used on multi race tickets.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Prerequisite and Aspray should be considered for win bets at odds of 5 to 2 or more.
Be Your Best can be considered for a win bet at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

As we may be considering win bets on more than one horse, and with there likely to be a significant odds disparity between the horses we wish to bet to win, 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: Prerequisite, Be Your Best, Aspray over Prerequisite, Be Your Best, Aspray, Mission of Joy, Papilio
Prerequisite, Be Your Best, Aspray, Mission of Joy, Papilio over Prerequisite, Be Your Best, Aspray

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Belmont Derby Invitational – Race 10 at Belmont – Post Time 5:49 PM Eastern

Analysis and Contenders:
The Foxes has been facing tougher horses, and running faster, than the rest of the Belmont Derby Invitational field so gets top billing. Although fifth of in his most recent race (June 3), the English Derby, the colt had rallied to third with about an eighth of a mile to go in the 14 horse field and really wasn’t disgraced. Not only that but winner Auguste Rodin returned to win the Irish Derby last week, and runner-up King of Steel won the King Edward Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 23. As important, the 112 Equibase Speed Figure The Foxes earned in the English Derby is by far the highest figure earned by any horse in this race, and the highest last race figure in the field. The next best last race figure 99 was earned by Wizard of Westwood, and the best earned by any horse in the field in any race is 106 by Webslinger in the American Turf Stakes in May. Prior to that, The Foxes (IRE) ran even better and faster, earning a 117 figure when winning the Dante Stakes at the distance of one-mile and five-sixteenths, one-sixteenth of a mile more than the 10 furlong distance of this race. The only other horses in the field to have run this far or farther are Wizard of Westwood, who won the Cinema Stakes at this distance (with a 99 figure) and Cyber Ninja, who won a maiden race at the distance of one mile and three-eighths last month with an 84 figure. World class jockey Oisin Murphy has ridden The Foxes in his last three starts and travels from Europe to ride, providing even more reason this horse is the one to beat in this year’s Belmont Derby.

Redistricting was bred in Europe but was purchased and sent to the U.S., and to the care of top trainer Chad Brown. He did not make his first career start until last month but that race on June 3 apparently was good enough for Brown to consider stepping up significantly in class to race here. Brown has been pretty good at assessing whether a horse in his care is good enough to make this kind of move, as per a Race Lens query over the last five years, Brown’s starters have won or finished second in nine of 20 graded stakes race on turf following their maiden wins. Brown added to that number three weeks ago when Prerequisite won the Wonder Again Stakes on the Belmont turf following a maiden win, and jockey Flavien Prat was aboard that day as well as rides Redistricting in this race. Although the 89 figure would need marked improvement to get into the 112 to 117 range of figures The Foxes has earned in his last two races, it must be noted Prerequisite improved her figure 16 points in the Wonder Again Stakes from her maiden win, meaning that kind of improvement may be forthcoming for Redistricting.

Webslinger has now won three of six graded stakes on grass, including two in a row. He won the American Turf Stakes on Kentucky Derby day by a nose with a career-best 106 figure, then although regressing to a 96 figure one month later when winning the Audubon Stakes, the victory was impressive as he made a four wide bid on the turn to go from fourth to first and easily held his lead the entire length of the stretch. Considering Webslinger stretched out nicely from the mile and one-sixteenth turf distance of the American Turf to the mile and one-eighth distance of the Audubon, it appears the additional one-eighth of a mile in the Belmont Derby could be within his reach.

Honorable mention goes to Far Bridge, who won the first two races of his career, both turf routes, in January and March, then was beaten a nose by Webslinger in the American Derby, earning the same 106 figure as the winner. One month later, Far Bridge rallied from sixth of seven to get second behind Kalik in the Pennine Ridge Stakes, after Kalik was allowed to set an extremely slow and uncontested early pace. Kalik may not get that kind of easy lead this time because Wizard of Westwood appears to have the same running style. Any pace battle between Kalik and Wizard of Westwood could help Far Bridge to be as competitive in the late stages of the race as he was in the American Turf.

Handicapper Picks

Win: The Foxes at 2 to 1 or more.
Redistricting at 4 to 1 or more
Webslinger at 4 to 1 or more
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.

Doubles:
Race 10: The Foxes
Race 11: Interpolate, Red Carpet Ready

Race 10: The Foxes, Redistricting, Webslinger, Far Bridge
Race 11: Interpolate, Red Carpet Ready

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Victory Ride Stakes – Race 11 at Belmont – Post Time 6:21 PM Eastern

Analysis and main contenders:
Chad Brown only as one entrant in this race, Interpolate, with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle as he was for the filly’s maiden win last October (after not riding her in her debut in August) and as he was for her most recent start. That was in the higher level Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland in April, and although she didn’t win she ran a winning race as she rallied up from fifth in the five path to bid for the lead with Key of Life before settling for second by a neck. The 96 Equibase figure earned is only exceeded slightly by the 98 figure Red Carpet Ready earned winning the identical (to the Beaumont) seven furlong Grade 2 Eight Belles Stakes in May, by a similar short margin (a head). The difference here is Interpolate has been stabled and working in New York and at Belmont whereas Red Carpet Ready ships up from Kentucky and isn’t familiar with the track, and that Interpolate opens at 5 to 1 compared to 3 to 1 for Red Carpet Ready. Since they have the same probability to win that makes Interpolate the much better win bet as both are cutting back slightly from seven to six and one-half furlongs and are moving from grade 2 to grade 3 company off the best races of their careers

Handicapper Picks

Win: Interpolate and Red Carpet Ready can be bet to win at odds of 8 to 5 or higher.

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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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