Key Races & Bets for Saturday June 22, 2024

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Goldwood Stakes - Race 9 at Monmouth - Post Time 4:56 PM Eastern

Top Win Contenders: Freedom Speaks, Beauty of the Sea, All That Magic
Other win contenders: Hollywood Walk, Queen of the Mud

Freedom Speaks returns from a 14 month layoff but that’s not a concern because this is a sprint. She changed trainers since his last start to the high percentage D’Angelo barn and has been working steadily over the track for her return. She won the nearly half-million Music City Stakes last September a turf sprint, earning a 100 Equibase Speed Figure which is one of the two best (fastest) figures earned by any horse in this field, ever. Although that win came second off a layoff, she had won one month earlier off a layoff, in a turf sprint at this distance at Saratoga in a stakes level allowance with a $115K purse and with a 96 figure. Freedom Speaks also won the only other time she ran fresh in a sprint, in her debut, powerfully by fix lengths on all-weather, another indicator she really likes turf and will fire with a big shot off a layoff today.

Beauty of the Sea enters the race in top form, with a win in April off a layoff in a $75K handicap, and with a neck defeat in a stakes level classified allowance at Churchill Downs 15 days ago. Lopez has ridden her once previously, to that stakes win in April, and gets back on, another positive sign for repeating that effort which earned a career-best 95 Equibase figure. With it highly likely Bosserati, Shoshanah and Frau Diablo (and possibly Drifaros and Queen Karima) will all battle for the early lead on very fast fractions, Beauty of the Sea will be in an excellent early stalking position and may be able to run back to that April 28 effort and win.

All That Magic won a similar non-graded stakes over this course last August, for her fourth win in a row and third in three starts over the course. She won again in a stakes level classified allowance at Keeneland in the fall, finished third in a stakes in New York, then took five months off. Sent to post well regarded at 5 to 2 in the comeback race last month, a stakes on Preakness weekend, All That Magic missed the break and lost all chance, so we can and should draw a line through that race. She has been working well and the win last October earned a 102 figure so with her best effort she fits and rounds out the main contenders.

The contention doesn’t end with the top three. Hollywood Walk finished third in the same stakes on Preakness weekend which All That Magic had trouble in and was beaten a neck for second, with the winner winning right off that effort. She had been off for eight months and should improve. Queen of the Mud has won two of four and finished fourth of 10 in The Very One, also having been off since the fall. She also has every right to run better second off the layoff and be a contender at the wire.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Freedom Speaks at 5 to 2 or more.
We can make a second win bet, on either Beauty of the Sea or All That Magic, at odds of 7 to 2 or more.

In this race there may be an opportunity for a mathematical 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 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

Freedom Speaks, Beauty of the Sea and All That Magic over Freedom Speaks, Beauty of the Sea, All That Magic, Hollywood Walk and Queen of the Mud

Freedom Speaks, Beauty of the Sea, All That Magic, Hollywood Walk and Queen of the Mud  over Freedom Speaks, Beauty of the Sea and All That Magic

Lady Jacqueline Stakes - Race 12 at Thistledown - Post Time 5:40 PM Eastern

Top Win Contenders: Batucada, Misty Veil, Musical Mischief
Other win contender: Corningstone

First, Batacuda is also entered in a race on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. I really hope she runs here as she opens at 12 to 1 and has a very big shot to post the upset. The reasons are she just won leading from start to finish in her third dirt start since joining the strong Saffie Joseph, Jr. barn, and the reason she won as she was aggressively sent to the lead, dominating from there and winning in a hand ride. Since then she put in a spectacular half-mile workout of 47 flat and from the rail and because Saez is named to ride there is little doubt she will go to the front from the start. Other horses which have tactical speed like Musical Mischief and Red Hot Lass will be forced to take back off the pace allowing Batacuda to get into the same kind of steady stride she did winning three weeks ago, and she may prove as tough to catch today as she was in that race.

Misty Veil is a veteran mare with 19 first or second place finishes in 37 races and nearly three-quarters of a million in career earnings. She was overmatched in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom when last seen in April but was very competitive in the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes prior to that, missing by a neck, and she won the last time she raced in a non-graded stakes like tis one, in January. Vasquez was up for both of those efforts and rides back and so at the least Misty Veil has an extremely high probability to be part of the exacta for the 20th time in her career.

Musical Mischief is likely to be the betting favorite off her second place finish at the distance in the Du Pont Stakes last month. She was second before that in an allowance race, which followed three months off. Similar to Misty Veil (who has 12 second place finishes to go along with seven career wins), Musical Mischief has a 2-2-1 record in eight dirt races, so although a strong contender she is not a standout but her best race if repeated makes her very competitive.

Corningstone won her most recent race, like Batacuda pretty easily. That win just 13 days ago came at this nine furlong trip and she did so from off the pace. The red hod duo of trainer Ken McPeek and jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. is behind this filly who finished second in a stakes last December as well, and who also won her only other start at this distance. As a four year old (like Batacuda), she has improving to do and particularly second off the layoff must be considered for any and all wagers we make involving this race, particularly if Batacuda scratches to run in Florida.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Batacuda to win at odds of 3 to 1. If she is scratched, Corningstone can be bet at 3 to 1. Considering Misty Veil opens at 3 to 1 and Musical Mischief opens at 5 to 2, odds too low for win bets, we can use exactas and doubles to profit if they win.

As it is possible we may be betting two horses to win, using the free (and easy to use) dutching tool at Amwager is in our best interest.

Batacuda over ALL
Batacuda over Misty Veil, Musical Mischief, Corningstone
Misty Veil, Musical Mischief, Corningstone over Batacuda

If Batacuda is scratched,
Corningstone over Misty Veil and Musical Mischief
Misty Veil and Musical Mischief over Corningstone

Race 12: Batucada, Misty Veil, Musical Mischief, Corningstone
Race 13: Gould’s Gold

Race 12: Batucada
Race 13: Gould’s Gold, Catching Freedom, Copper Tax

Race 12: Batucada, Misty Veil, Musical Mischief, Corningstone
Race 13: Gould’s Gold, Catching Freedom, Copper Tax

Ohio Derby - Race 13 at Thistledown - Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern

Top Contenders: Gould’s Gold, Catching Freedom, Copper Tax

Gould’s Gold is an improving three year old who appears ready to make his mark in the division. Trained by Ken McPeek, conditioner of this year’s Kentucky Derby winner Mystic Dan, and sharing some commonality of ownership, Gould’s Gold won in his three year old debut at the end of March in a sprint and earned a 93 Equibase Speed Figure. Stretching out to the mile and one-eighth distance of the Ohio Derby one month later, the colt rallied for third in the Bathhouse Row Stakes before a much better effort on May 18 in the Sir Barton Stakes. In that race, Gould’s Gold raced in second until the field straightened away for the stretch, took the lead and opened up by a length, then was beaten in a head-bobbing finish by a nose. That effort earned a career-best 103 figure which is higher than any other horse’s figure in the field except for the 107 figure Catching Freedom earned when fourth in the Kentucky Derby. It is higher than the 98 figure Catching Freedom earned when third in the Preakness. Considering Gould’s Gold gets the two post in the gate and there are few, if any, other horses in the field who appears to like running on or near the front, Kentucky Derby winning jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. should have this colt on an easy lead from the start. As Gould’s Gold improved his figure 10 points from effort in April to the one he put forth last month, with logical improvement he has a very strong probability to succeed in this year’s Ohio Derby.

Catching Freedom finds a field absent of the horses which finished in front of him in both the Derby and Preakness, namely Seize the Grey, Mystik Dan, Sierra Leone and Forever Young. On that count alone this very talented colt has a big shot to win the Ohio Derby. After a third place finish in February behind Sierra Leone in the Risen Star Stakes, Catching Freedom then improved to a career-best 98 figure when winning the Louisiana Derby, before a 107 figure when rallying from 15th to fourth in the Kentucky Derby. However, Catching Freedom seemed to regress in the Preakness, only managing third with a 97 figure. Still, he was only a head behind runner-up Mystik Dan. Trained by Brad Cox, who won the 2022 Ohio Derby with Tawny Port and who saddled the 2023 Ohio Derby runner-up (Bishop’s Bay), Catching Freedom gets the services of jockey Luis Saez, who won the Belmont Stakes last week aboard Dornoch. The only concern I have is Catching Freedom has a late running style that usually finds him in the back half of the field for the first three-quarters of a race and if the pace is not to his liking he may end up with just a minor award – the same as in the Derby and Preakness.

Copper Tax has proven to be a very talented runner, and one who fits at this level. Having won seven of 10 career races, his two most recent efforts were his best yet. Two races back in March, Copper Tax won the Private Terms Stakes gamely by a neck on the wire, earning a 102 figure. Five weeks later at the end of April, Copper Tax rallied from sixth of 10 to win the Federico Tesio Stakes with a 100 figure. The Tesio was run at the distance of the Ohio Derby and since the colt is now two months more mature than last seen, an even stronger effort could be forthcoming and that wold be good enough to be competitive down to the wire with the top two contenders.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Gould’s Gold at 2 to 1. Copper Tax at 5 to 2

If both horses are above minimum odds this is another race where using the free dutching tool at Amwager will help us get a mathematical edge when wagering.

Exacta: Box Gould’s Gold, Copper Tax, Catching Freedom

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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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