Key Races & Bets for Saturday March 5th, 2022

Mac Diarmida Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream – Post Time 5:10 PM Eastern

We kick off a great sequence of three stakes with this annual 11 furlong turf marathon and a field of 11. There are four horses which as a group have the bulk of the probability to win. In preference order they are TempleAbaanMedia Blitz and Fantasioso.

What’s interesting here is Maker trains five of the 11 and Pletcher trains three, which is rare for the Pletcher. Among the Maker quintet, not only do I suspect Temple will be one of the higher odds horse, but he’s actually the one in the best form, having finished fast from 11th of 12 to get second five weeks ago in the similar McKnight Stakes at 12 furlongs. This veteran gelding LOVES the Gulfstream Park turf, evidenced by a 4-5-2 record in 13 starts. Maker saddled him to a runner-up finish in last year’s McKnight and he was beaten a nose for third (and just over a length for the win) in last year’s running of this race. Maker lost him via the claim last June but RECLAIMED him in November, which is a big sign. Jose Ortiz takes over and a repeat of the horse’s effort last time out could be good enough to win and at the worst finish second so he’ll be the exacta key as well.

However, for Temple to win he will first have to get by Abaan, who stalked in second in the McKnight then led for the last mile of the race. He won two in a row before that leading from start to finish and under Saez he’s likely to try to control the race once again. Now with a record of 4-2-0 in six starts on turf there’s no knocks, except likely very low odds and it’s entirely possible one of the other Maker trainees will try to keep him honest so he’s no lock.

Media Blitz is one of the most lightly raced horses in the field, having just run 14 times, but like the first two mentioned horses he shows up nearly every time, with a 3-4-2 record. His best race ever came when third in the McKnight where he was just three-quarters of a length from Temple and Rosario riding back after being up for the first time certainly doesn’t hurt his chances.

Fantasioso just won the nearly identical John B. Connally Stakes five weeks ago, actually finishing in a dead heat for the win after rallying from eighth of 12. He was second in the two mile Belmont Gold Cup last June so loves these longer distances and has been first or second in nearly 50% of his 29 turf starts. As such, he rounds out the quartet we will use for double and pick 3 tickets at the very least.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets – starting with the top choice and betting two of the three depending on their odds:

Temple at 7 to 2 or more.

Media Blitz at 4 to 1 or more.

Fantasioso at 9 to 2 or more.

(Abaan will be too low odds to consider for a win bet)

When considering the odds disparity between two or more possible win bets, the best option is to use a tool to proportion your wagering dollars for a mathematical edge. A “Dutching” tool does just that, and there’s a free one available at amwager.com which is just one of many perks and tools for the racing fan and bettor.

ExactasTemple over AbaanMedia Blitz and Fantasioso

AbaanMedia Blitz and Fantasioso over Temple

Doubles:

Race 11: TempleAbaanMedia BlitzFantasioso

Race 12: SimplificationIn Due TimeEmmanuel

Pick 3:

Race 11: TempleAbaanMedia BlitzFantasioso

Race 12: SimplificationIn Due TimeEmmanuel

Race 13: OpalinaDiamond WowBali Del SolMischievous KissLia Marina

At the $0.50 minimum the cost of this bet is $30

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Fountain of Youth Stakes – Race 12 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 5:42 PM Eastern

Although this is a field with a number of potentially talented horses, a number of them have knocks such as those stretching out to a route, coming back from layoffs or coming off poor efforts. As a result there are just three horses I can make a case for winning the race – In Due TimeSimplification and Emmanuel.

In Due Time debuted last July in a five and one-half furlong sprint and even back then showed his physical and mental athleticism when battling head-and-head for the first half-mile before pulling away from the field in the late stages. Rested nearly seven months, In Due Time began his sophomore campaign in earnest with a third place finish in a six furlong sprint, but in his second start off the layoff really showed his talent. In that race on February 4, In Due Time was seventh of eight in the early stages before moving off the rail with about three-eighths of a mile to run, accelerating very professionally when asked by jockey Paco Lopez before drawing off to win by nearly six lengths. In doing so, In Due Time earned a career-best 100 Equibase Speed Figure which is also the highest figure earned by any of the 13 Fountain of Youth entrants this year. I have little doubt about In Due Time handling the two-turn trip he’s taking on for the first time as sire Not This Time has Simplification and Howling Time in this race and both have run well at the distance. In addition, recent Risen Star Stakes winner Epicenter is yet another son of Not This Time, who in just two crops has had six different horses (from 19 total sons and daughters) win dirt route stakes races. As such, and with logical improvement in his third start of 2022, it appears In Due Time can post the mild upset win in the Fountain of Youth and put his name squarely in the hat as a strong contender on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Simplification was expected to go to the lead at the start in last month’s Holy Bull Stakes, based on his wire-to-wire win one month earlier in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, and based on the statement by his trainer Antonio Sano. However, when the gate opened, the colt tossed his head and that strategy flew out the window. Still, showing composure when in an unusual position given he had been first or second in three straight races prior to that, Simplification rallied from seventh of nine in the early stages to get second although no match for the winner. In the Mucho Macho Man, Simplification earned a career-best 98 figure that might have been improved upon if he had run on the lead as expected, but nevertheless the 95 figure earned was not bad in any way. With an inside post for the Fountain of Youth, if Simplification can get a length lead early as he did in the Mucho Macho Man, he could get very brave and win this race. However, having seen how he ran in the Holy Bull, it is conceivable if other horses want the early lead more in the Fountain of Youth¸ Simplification may still run well enough to win. Additionally, and quite possibly significantly, trainer Sano won the 2017 Fountain of Youth with Gunnevera, following a second place finish in the Holy Bull, the same as Simplification.

Emmanuel is one of two entrants in this race from the potent barn of Todd Pletcher, the other being Mo Donegal. Although Mo Donegal has stakes experience, having won the Remsen Stakes last December (93 figure) and having finished third in the Holy Bull last month (95 figure) in his three year old debut, Emmanuel is much more interesting and probable to succeed in my opinion. Emmanuel debuted in December in a one-turn mile race at Gulfstream and demolished the 10 horse field by nearly seven lengths with a 92 figure. Pletcher then sent the colt across the state to run in an allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs on January 30 and in that race Emmanuel dominated once again, this time by four lengths. The distance of the race was one mile and forty yards, but Emmanuel likely ran the mile and one-sixteenth distance of the Fountain of Youth as he was in the three path for nearly the entire race. The pace was slow that day but in his debut he ran much faster and I am not concerned about the prospect of the colt having come from off the pace. Luis Saez, who rode Emmanuel in his debut win locally, gets back on and the 98 figure the colt earned in that last win certainly puts him right there with the best of the best in this field if repeated or improved upon.

Honorable mention:

Mo Donegal, as mentioned above, really hasn’t done much wrong and should improve in his second start as a three year old and off his 95 figure effort in the Holy Bull last month. Rattle N Roll returns from nearly five months off and may need a race before his best as he’s facing a field full of horses which have run once or twice already in 2022 but he was very impressive winning the Breeders’ Futurity last fall with a 100 figure. Galt is on an improving pattern of efforts and figures as he earned an 84 figure winning off the layoff in December then took another step forward with a 93 figure effort in the Holy Bull, a race in which he was not expected to be on the lead early but when Simplification tossed his head at the start, Galt found himself doing the dirty work on the front end before tiring to fourth. He should improve and with an outside post and is definitely a horse which would run better than his high odds suggest. Similarly, Howling Time led from the start in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes which was unusual as he had relaxed in fourth early before winning the Street Sense Stakes one month prior with a strong 96 figure. The Kentucky Jockey Club has turned out to be one of the most productive races for two year olds in 2021, with runner-up Classic Causeway winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes off a two month layoff in February, and White Abarrio winning the Holy Bull Stakes off a similar layoff last month as well as with Call Me Midnight winning the Lecomte Stakes off a similarly long layoff.

Handicapper Picks

Win Bets:

In Due Time should be considered first, and a bet is warranted at 3 to 1 or higher odds.

Simplification has minimum odds of 7 to 2, but that is his starting (morning line) odds so he may not be playable to win.

Emmanuel opens at 9 to 2, just a bit higher than his 4 to 1 starting odds, and if those odds hold up ( a bit unlikely given Pletcher is his trainer) he can be bet as well, but for a smaller amount as compared to In Due Time.

Exactas:

In Due Time over All

In Due TimeSimplification and Emmanuel over In Due TimeSimplificationEmmanuelHowling TimeRattle N RollMo Donegal and Galt.

Double:

Race 12: SimplificationIn Due TimeEmmanuel

Race 13: OpalinaDiamond WowBali Del SolMischievous KissLia Marina

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Herecomesthebride Stakes – Race 13 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 6:12 PM Eastern

This is a great stakes race for three year old fillies on the turf with a 12 horse field and I have it narrowed down to five as win contenders, at least for pick 3 bets, but the odds will help us decide which other bets we can make as well as win bets. Those five are (in preference order) OpalinaDiamond WowBali Del SolMischievous Kiss and Lia Marina.

Opalina showed talent in her first two starts, both turf sprints, when second in both before stretching out to this mile trip here at Gulfstream last summer and crushing the field by 12 lengths. Wheeling back 24 days later she rallied from 11th to fifth in the Jessamine Stakes but was beaten a total of one and one-half lengths, so basically about five necks. Rested nearly three months to mature the filly came back to finish third in the Ginger Brew Stakes at this mile trip after leading late and demonstrating she needed a race, which was exactly the case as she won the nearly identical Sweetest Chant Stakes four weeks ago. Saez was up then as now and the filly has a big turn of foot when asked (as when going from fourth and four back to the lead in an eighth of a mile last time out) so gets slight preference.

Diamond Wow beat Opalina back in August in a five furlong sprint on grass, in her debut, then won the off-turf Our Dear Peg Stakes before rallying to be second, beaten a head in the same Jessamine Stakes Opalina was fifth in. Given nearly four months off she came back on dirt and finished fourth, proving nothing more than he needed the race. Simply put, she’s on a pattern for massive improvement and already nearly won a graded stakes on grass so should be taken very seriously as a contender.

Bali Del Sol stretches out and tries turf for the first time and can handle the changes. She broke her maiden on dirt (in an off-turf race) in October, was fourth in a stakes then in mid-January ran big when closing for second in a highly rated allowance race on the all-weather. She’s by strong turf sire Bal a Bali and perhaps more importantly the only other foal of her dam had a 4-5-5 record on turf, mostly in routes, so that’s why I think she can take to the turf and the distance. She will likely be a long shot here and can absolutely run better than her odds suggest.

Mischievous Kiss returns from three months off and that is about her only real question mark. She won the Chelsey Flower Stakes last November on turf in New York then nearly won the Tepin Stakes 22 days later and Mott’s horses off this type of layoff outperform average. Her works are regularly spaced and if she runs back to her Chelsey Flower effort she will be in the thick of the action on the wire.

Lia Marina doesn’t get the best post for a mile as she drew the far outside and as she has tactical speed but was second in the early stages when last seen winning the Wait A While Stakes on this course from the eight post so it may not be an issue. Like Mott, Clement’s horses off layoffs do very well and Rosario, who rode her to her maiden win last October, gets back on. She would need to improve off her two year old form to be competitive but is likely to as a more mature three year old.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets:

I’ll first consider Opalina, at odds of 7 to 2 or more.

Next, Diamond Wow should be bet to win if 4 to 1 or higher.

As for Bali Del SolMischievous Kiss and Lia Marina, 5 to 1 is the lowest odds on any at which I’d consider a bet, but that’s only after determining whether Opalina or Diamond Wow are at odds worth wagering to win.

Again, with multiple win betting possibilities, a DUTCHING TOOL, which is free and easy to use at amwager.com, is a bettor’s friend.

Exactas:

Box OpalinaDiamond WowBali Del Sol and Mischievous Kiss

If any of those four are scratched, substitute Lia Marina

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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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