Key Races & Bets for Saturday June 10th, 2023

Metropolitan Handicap – Race 10 at Belmont – Post Time 5:04 PM Eastern

Analysis and main contenders:
In a quality field of nine, favoritism is going to go to Cody’s Wish and rightfully so as he’s won five in a row and eight of his last nine including three straight grade 1 stakes. He returned from five months off to win the Churchill Downs Stakes on Derby Day as if he’s never been away and his three workouts since then have been spectacular. He can adapt to any pace scenario and closes resolutely so may be the horse to beat. HOWEVER, he isn’t a standout in this field and there is one horse who I expect will run the best race of his career which is good enough to beat Cody’s Wish, and another horse who continues to run career best races and who also can win. Those two are Dr. Schivel and Repo Rocks.

Dr. Schivel ships out of California with “California speed” which is to say there is no horse which can keep up with him in the opening half-mile. He nearly won the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Sprint after a 44 second half mile, missing by a nose to Aloha West, then after venturing to Dubai in March of ‘22 was off for 13 months. Returning four weeks ago, Dr. Schivel put on a display of speed coasting to the lead through a 44.6 second half-mile and he could have gone much faster if asked. Now making his second start of 2023, it is significant to note none other than Irad Ortiz, Jr. takes the call and he’s in a battle with his brother Jose for leading rider honors (currently with 30 to Jose’s 31). If Dr. Schivel is able to get the easy lead I think he will, even a talented horse like Cody’s Wish may be unable to overtake him in the late stages.

Repo Rocks has been nearly unstoppable since joining the Ness barn last fall. He was a good horse before that, with five in-the-money finishes in stakes, but since Ness took over this gelding is even better. Similar to Cody’s Wish’s recent record of having won eight of his last nine and finishing second in the other, Repo Rocks has won five of his last six and finished second in the other. The loss came in the Grade 1 Carter in April at this one turn mile trip, but then Repo Rocks rebounded to win the Westchester Stakes five weeks ago at Belmont and at this trip. I expect Repo Rocks to be the one stalking Dr. Schivel in the early stages, so if Dr. Schivel shows any signs of slowing down, Repo Rocks is the horse to pass him then try to hold off Cody’s Wish in the final stages.

If you’re looking to find a few horses for second or third on exacta or trifecta tickets, consider Charge It, Zandon and White Abarrio. All three are good horses in their own rights but none are proven capable of winning at this level and distance yet as compared to Dr. Schivel, Repo Rocks and Cody’s Wish.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Considering I think all three horses – Cody’s Wish, Dr. Schivel and Repo Rocks, have about the same probability to win I’d consider betting TWO of the THREE at or above 3 to 1 odds near post time.

When betting two horses at greater than minimum odds/fair odds there is a big opportunity to get an edge by using a dutching tool, which prorates wagers for the best value. There’s a free dutching tool at, 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

Box Cody’s Wish, Dr. Schivel, Repo Rocks
Cody’s Wish, Dr. Schivel, Repo Rocks over Cody’s Wish, Dr. Schivel, Repo Rocks, Charge It, Zandon, White Abarrio

Race 10: Cody’s Wish, Dr. Schivel, Repo Rocks
Race 11: Ottoman Fleet

Pick 3:
Race 10: Cody’s Wish, Dr. Schivel, Repo Rocks
Race 11: Ottoman Fleet
Race 12: Tapit Shoes, Tapit Trice, Angel of Empire

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Manhattan Stakes – Race 11 at Belmont – Post Time 5:54 PM Eastern

Analysis and main contenders:
In spite of Up to the Mark opening as the 8 to 5 favorite, Ottoman Fleet is a complete and total standout in this year’s Manhattan Stakes. The whole purpose of shipping the horse in from Europe five weeks ago to run in the Fort Marcy Stakes on this Inner Turf course at Belmont was to set him up for this race, and the four year old obliged with a big move from fourth to lead from a quarter mile to go to the eighth pole, then coasting home rather easily. He had run just 18 days earlier in England, winning a Group 3 stakes, so winning the Grade 2 race last month was no surprise. Appleby is deadly with runners in North America as it is, and it must be noted after using Richard Mullen in the Fort Marcy, Appleby goes to his #1 jockey William Buick, who rode Ottoman Fleet to his win in England in April. In the last five years, Appleby has a very strong record of 10 for 25 winning back-to-back in North American graded stakes with another seven finishing second. Additionally, Ottoman Fleet has won two of four races at 10 furlongs and finished second or third in the other two, whereas Up to the Mark is trying 10 furlongs for the first time in his career.

Trying to make a profit on exacta and trifecta tickets, I’m going to use Ocean Atlantique, who opens at 20 to 1. He’s one of two trained by Mike Maker (the other being Red Knight) and it’s a nearly sure sign Ocean Atlantique is going to go for the lead from the start at Luis Saez gets on. Saez rode the horse last summer in three straight, two on grass, sending him to the lead each time. The horse finished second, third and fourth in those three, then three races later this past January (with another jockey) Ocean Atlantique won two in a row by leading from start to finish. He was not sent to the lead in the Turf Classic last month, won by Up to the Mark, but I think the plan will be to go, and that might work considering there’s only one other “early” speed type in the field, Strong Quality, who isn’t absolutely a need-the-lead type.

If you’re looking to go deeper for exactas and trifectas you can also consider Soldier Rising and Red Knight. There’s no value in using Up to the Mark on any exacta or trifecta tickets with Ottoman Fleet, so if they run one-two or one-three I’m willing to lose. Another horse for the exotics is Warren Point, also trained by Appleby and owned by Godolphin, the same as Ottoman Fleet. He rallied from seventh to lead in the stretch in the Man O’ War Stakes last month then faded to fifth but was in a four horse blanket finish for second and can improve in his second U.S. start.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Ottoman Fleet can be bet to win at odds of 3 to 2 or higher, so would be a low odds overlay at his 5 to 2 morning line or even 2 to 1.

I’d also make a token ($5 or $10) win bet on Ocean Atlantique at 10 to 1 or more, just in case he hangs on after leading from the start.

Exactas: Ottoman Fleet over Ocean Atlantique, Warren Point, Solder Rising, Red Knight

Trifecta: Ottoman Fleet over ALL over Ocean Atlantique

Race 11: Ottoman Fleet
Race 12: Tapit Shoes, Tapit Trice, Angel of Empire

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Belmont Stakes – Race 12 at Belmont – Post Time 7:02 PM Eastern

Analysis and Contenders:
Over the last 10 editions of the Belmont Stakes, sons of top sire Tapit have won four times and it appears with two entrants in the race this year, that number may be five by around 7:05 pm on Saturday June 10. Tapit’s bloodline is represented by both Tapit Trice and Tapit Shoes, but it is Tapit Shoes I’m much more interested as he is likely to enter the gate for this year’s Belmont Stakes at high odds. This is because he hasn’t raced at this level to date, but that is not a reason to ignore his chances for even a second. Last fall Tapit Shoes made his debut in a two-turn race without a sprint race first, likely because trainer Brad Cox knew the colt’s greatest chances for success were in longer races. After finishing sixth of 11 in that debut, Tapit Shoes dominated to win by seven lengths a little over four weeks later then finished fourth and third. Although those efforts subsequent to the win did not result in top two finishes, Tapit Shoes ran faster each time, going from an 83 Equibase Speed Figure in his maiden win, to 90, then 93. Returning after two months off on April 22, Cox apparently felt confident Tapit Shoes fit with top three year olds, as he was entered in the Bath House Row Stakes against Red Route One, who had finished second in both the Rebel Stakes and Southwest Stakes, and against Victory Formation, who won the Smarty Jones Stakes in January. Tapit Shoes confirmed Cox’s opinion in the Bath House Row, as the colt earned a new career-best 102 figure, missing by a head on the finish line after making the lead in the stretch. This colt is a full brother to Cyberknife, who earned more than $2 million and who was second in the 2022 Travers Stakes, and Cox has a Belmont Stakes win under his belt, having saddled Essential Quality to win the race in 2021. On a pattern for a new career-best effort and having superb tactical speed to stalk the pacesetters in third or fourth in the early stages from the ground saving rail, I think Tapit Shoes can post the upset and win this year’s Belmont Stakes.

Angel of Empire rallied from 16th in the 18 horse Kentucky Derby field five weeks ago, to 10th with a quarter mile to go, then to third with an eighth of a mile to run, and got within a half-length of Derby runner-up Two Phil’s at the end. Sensing he may have been just a bit unfocused in that race, trainer Brad Cox (who also saddles Tapit Shoes and Hit Show) adds blinkers, hoping for the colt to run as well as he did one race before last in the Arkansas Derby, where he made a visually impressive run on the far turn to go from sixth to first as the field entered the stretch. Since that race, Angel of Empire has put in two sparkling morning workouts at Cox’s home base in Kentucky, both five furlongs drills in :59.8 seconds which were near the fastest on the day and also faster than either Tapit Shoes or Hit Show, who worked the same distance on the same day. The career-best 106 figure Angel of Empire earned in the Arkansas Derby is tied for the best figure earned by any horse in this field (with Forte) and so if the new equipment (or shorter field) helps, Angel of Empire certainly can run well enough to win.

Tapit Trice won four races in succession until a seventh place effort in the Kentucky Derby where he never got involved but did pass 10 horses to go from 18th to seventh at the end. Prior to that Tapit Trice earned a career-best 103 figure when winning the Blue Grass Stakes, after losing the lead mid-stretch to Verifying but showing his mental toughness to prevail by a neck at the finish. Trainer Todd Pletcher immediately set the colt’s sights on the Belmont after the Derby and Tapit Trice has been in steady training at Belmont for this race, so if he can return to the form shown in December through April, he could have a big say in the outcome.

Red Route One gets honorable mention and in my opinion has to be considered for second or third so could be part of the exacta or trifecta. Red Route One won the Bath House Row Stakes in April, beating Tapit Shoes by a head on the wire. He rallied from eighth of nine in that race and his tendency is to come from far back, which historically is not the style which wins the Belmont Stakes. He earned a 102 figure in the Bath House Row before regressing to a 95 figure in the Preakness, but he is one of few in here which has the pedigree to get this mile and one-half trip (his dam’s sire is Tapit) and trainer Steve Asmussen won the 2016 Belmont with Creator, so I think Red Route One could be passing a number of the other entrants in this race for a nice piece of the prize money.

Now, I know many will be wondering why Forte and National Treasure are not win contenders in my opinion. Forte would have been the betting favorite in the Kentucky Derby if not scratched because of a foot bruise, which based on his most recent workouts appear not to be an issue. He has won five races in a row, including the Fountain of Youth Stakes with a career-best 106 figure. Although he hasn’t run in a race since winning the Florida Derby on April 1, that isn’t a reason for discounting his chances to win because Tiz the Law won the 2020 Belmont after winning the Florida Derby (that was the year the Kentucky Derby was postponed until after the Belmont). The reason I feel Forte isn’t as probable to win as Tapit Shoes, Tapit Trice or Angel of Empire is I don’t think Forte has the pedigree to successfully run this mile and one-half distance. So although trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Belmont Stakes three times in the last 10 years, I’m taking a stand against Forte.

As to National Treasure, he won the Preakness leading from start to finish and really slowed the tempo, enabling him to fight off Blazing Sevens in the final yards. As long as Il Miracolo (who is likely to go for the lead from the start) runs in this race, National Treasure is unlikely to have an easy lead, and considering that in his four previous two-turn races prior to the Preakness National Treasure didn’t really show any kind of late kick, I feel if he can’t have the lead he can’t run well enough to win in spite of the competitive 102 figure earned in the Preakness.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Tapit Shoes can be bet to win at 3 to 1 or more. In the event Tapit Trice or Angel of Empire is 3 to 1 or higher near post time, the one at the highest odds can be bet to win as well.

If either Tapit Trice or Angel of Empire is above the minimum odds threshold, then a dutching tool like the free one at Amwager will come in very handy at prorating our wagers between Tapit Shoes and the other horse we’re betting to win.

In addition to the exactas below, when we’re betting a horse like Tapit Shoes to win likely at double digit odds, a minimum $1 or $2 exacta back-wheel (putting the horse in second) is justified as it could pay much more than a place bet. In this case the wager is Exacta: ALL over Tapit Shoes

Exactas: Box Tapit Shoes, Tapit Trice, Angel of Empire
Tapit Shoes, Tapit Trice, Angel of Empire over Tapit Shoes, Tapit Trice, Angel of Empire, Red Route One

Trifecta: Tapit Shoes, Tapit Trice, Angel of Empire over ALL over Tapit Shoes, Tapit Trice, Angle of Empire, Red Route One
(When the exacta and trifecta are both played we win if any two of the three contenders finishes 1st & 2nd or 1st & 3rd and we win both bets if all three finish in the money, plus we also win if Red Route One finishes third if Tapit Shoes, Tapit Trice or Angel of Empire wins).

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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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