Key Races & Bets for Saturday May 11, 2024

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Race 5 at Belmont at the Big A- Post Time 2:36 PM Eastern

Contenders: Borletti, Marathoner, Devil’s Cay

Add for off turf: Lookin’ Super, High Heat

This race at six furlongs on turf kicks off a great three race sequence including two stakes. Borletti has won two of seven since importing to the U.S. last September, all on dirt. However, he is bred to like the turf although he’s 0 for eight on it, but only 0 for 2 in the U.S., with both those races under a previous trainer’s care. Now in the Dutrow barn, Borletti, nearly won (missing by a nose) off the claim at this distance on dirt, then finished fourth in a race where he had significant traffic trouble. Irad Ortiz, Jr. gets on and that’s a big sign for his best race yet at Ortiz, Jr. and Dutrow are 8 for 23 together, including 5 for 7 at Aqueduct (and Belmont at the Big A) in the past two years. The 92 Equibase Speed figure Borletti earned when missing by a nose one back is the top recent figure by any horse in the field and that gives him a good shot to emerge victorious here.

Devil’s Cay fits perfectly at this level off a nose defeat on dirt last time out. He’s never run on turf but has breeding for the surface but the most significant reason to consider him is that he was RECLAIMED by Morley out of that race and isn’t eligible to be claimed away at this starter allowance level. Morley claimed him last November and the horse finished fourth and seventh for the trainer but he’s in much better form now with two runner-up efforts in a row, the last under Dylan Davis, who rides back.

The 15 to 1 starting odds on Marathoner make him another horse we have to consider for all bets we make involving this race. He won at this identical trip on turf last June, rallying from sixth and drawing off late, and then he ran poorly in three races. ALL THREE were irrelevant to assessing his chances today as one was a route and the other two were in allowance company. He is mostly a claiming and starter allowance type horse and so at the right level in this starter allowance field he has a shot.

Both Lookin’ Super and High Heat are entered for dirt only and both have wins on dirt among their last four races so can be included if the race moves off the turf. Note I personally would NOT leave off any of the three above if the race is run on dirt because ALL three have run okay on dirt.

Bets-

Win: We’ll start with Borletti, who should be considered for a win bet at 5 to 2 or more. Devil’s Cay can be considered a 3 to 1 or higher odds, and Marathoner at 4 to 1 or more.

There is a significant chance ALL THREE contenders may be higher than their fair odds, and when betting two, or even three, 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 Amwager.com, 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 Amwager.com

Exactas: Box Borletti, Devil’s Cay, Marathoner. If the race is run on dirt add Lookin’ Super and High Heat.

 

Double (Races 5 and 6) and Pick 3 (Races 5, 6 and 7):

Race 5Borletti, Devil’s Cay, Marathoner (adding Lookin’ Super and High Heat if the race is moved to dirt)

Race 6 – Protective, Unique Insight, The Wine Steward, Tuscan Gold, Native Land

Race 7 – Nations Pride

 

Here’s another optional Double and Pick 3:

Race 5 – Borletti, Devil’s Cay, Marathoner (adding Lookin’ Super and High Heat if the race is moved to dirt)

Race 6 – Unique Insight, Native Land

Race 7 – Nations Pride, Silver Knott, Kertez, Harry Hood, Tawny Port

(The pick 3 above maximizes value by using horses starting at 8 to 1 and 12 to 1 in race 6)

Peter Pan Stakes - Race 6 at Belmont at the Big A - Post Time 3:08 PM Eastern

Contenders: Unique Insight, Native Land

Also contenders, but possibly at lower odds: Protective, The Wine Steward, Tuscan Gold

Unique Insight just won at the same mile and one-eighth distance of this race. Native Land won at this distance one race before last on March 9. He also won after that on April 10. Unique Insight had also won at this nine furlong trip one race before last on February 18. NONE of the other six have won at the distance, and the two starting favorites, Tuscan Gold and The Wine Steward, have never run at the distance. The reason Tuscan Gold is favored is he finished third in the Louisiana Derby in his most recent start. That’s not a good reason in my opinion as not only did the top two in that race run poorly in the Kentucky Derby last week, before that Tuscan Gold broke his maiden, the same as Unique Insight did one before last and Native Land did one before his last race as well. The Wine Steward finished second in the Lexington Stakes four weeks ago, following six months off, and he finished second in the Breeders’ Futurity before the layoff. Those were both two-turn races like this one. However, comparing how fast they ran, only The Wine Steward’s 107 last race Equibase Speed Figure is superior to the others. Unique Insight (96), Native Land (97), Tuscan Gold (96) and Protective (97) are all similar, and as we normally do with three year old in the first half of the year, any or all can improve at about the same rate, giving all of them the same relative probability to win. Although The Wine Steward ran a lot faster than the other four, there’s still a question of whether he can run nine furlongs the same as he did last month, where that question doesn’t exist for Unique Insight and Native Land, who open at 8 to 1 and 12 to 1 odds, respectively. That is why, when considering win bets and which horses to key on exacta tickets, those two are the ones we need to look to first as their high odds are out of line with their probability to succeed.

Bets-

Win: Unique Insight and Native Land should both be considered for bets at 3 to 1 or more.

This could be another superb race to use the dutching tool which is free and easy to use at Amwager.com.

Exactas:

Unique Insight and Native Land over Unique Insight, Native Land, Protective, The Wine Steward, Tuscan Gold

Unique Insight, Native Land, Protective, The Wine Steward, Tuscan Gold over Unique Insight and Native Land

(This way if we’re lucky and Native Land and Unique Insight finish first and second, we win both bets)

 

Doubles: ($1 minimum so that’s why there are two different options and we’re leaving out the combinations with favorites in both races)

Race 6 – Protective, Unique Insight, Native Land

Race 7 – Nations Pride, Silver Knott, Kertez, Harry Hood, Tawny Port

 

Race 6 – Protective, Unique Insight, Native Land

Race 7 – Nations Pride

Man o’ War Stakes - Race 7 at Belmont at the Big A - Post Time 3:3p PM Eastern

Contenders: Nations Pride is the top win contender. Kertez and Silver Knott have less probability to win but can’t be ruled out. Harry Hood and Tawny Port have some chance to finish second.

Nations Pride is a world traveler, having raced in Dubai, England, Germany, Bahrain, Canada and the United States. None of his travels have affected his ability to win as he’s won four of those countries, amounting to nine wins in 15 career starts. Three of those have come in Grade 1 or Group 1 races, tops in the field. The last time he ran in North America, Nations Pride won the Canadian International Stakes  easily, earning a 117 Equibase Speed Figure in the process. The previous year, Nations Pride won the Jockey Club Derby Invitational in his first and only race on this turf course achieving a 116 figure under jockey Frankie Dettori who rides in the Man o’War. Having not run since November is not an issue as Nations Pride won the last three times he’s returned from layoffs. Given that he can run on a firm turf course or even one with a lot of moisture, such as the yielding course he won over last October, Nations Pride could be tough to beat in this race.

Kertez ran 19 races in France, winning five, before coming to the U.S. earlier this year. He won the Pan American Stakes in his stateside debut on March 30, with a rousing rally from sixth place to get up by a nose at the finish. He earned a 105 figure in victory, one which he can absolutely improve upon in his second race following six months off. Last year, Kertez  won or placed in three group 2 or 3 stakes races, with figures ranging from 112 to 117 so he appears to fit with this group. In the Pan American, Kertez ran the last quarter mile in 22.6 seconds, the same final fraction as Nations Pride from the Belmont Derby Invitational. Given how well Kertez has run in many of his races, if both he and Nations Pride fire their best, we could be in store for an exceptionally exciting finish in this year’s Man o’War.

Silver Knott is one year younger than his stablemate Nations Pride as both are owned by Godolphin and trained by Charles Appleby. He’s only run once as a four year old, winning the Elkhorn Stakes last month with a career-best tying 110 figure and like Kertez, Silver Knott can improve in his second start of the year and second off a layoff. In the Elkhorn, Silver Knott stalked the pacesetter for the first mile then took over and in this year’s Man o’War it appears either Rocket and Roll or So High will have that task so Silver Knott may be in a good position to take over when either or both of those two tire, then try to hold off the onrushing Nations Pride and Kertez. That scenario is not out of the realm of possibility considering how good trainer Appleby is with horses he runs in North America in graded stakes races over the past five years.  This is evidenced by a Race Lens query showings that from 71 starters, Appleby’s horse have won 27 times (38%) and finished in the top three 53 times (74%).

Harry Hood and Tawny Port finished second and third, respectively, behind Kertez, in the Pan American Stakes on March 30, beaten inches on the wire. Neither have won a graded stakes on turf but opening at 15 to 1 and 6 to 1, respectively, they both have a shot to increase our profit by finishing out the exacta in this race.

Bets-

Win: Nations Pride can be considered at even money or higher and would be a low odds overlay win bet if near his 8 to 5 starting odds. Kertez should be considered at 3 to 1, as well as Silver Knott.  If choosing between the latter two, pick the one at the highest odds for a win bet. A dutching tool would come in handy as well to allocate our wagering dollars among two horses.  

Exactas:

Nations Pride over Kertez, Harry Hood, Tawny Port, Silver Knott

Kertez, Silver Knott, Nations Pride over Kertez, Silver Knott, Nations Pride, Harry Hood, Tawny Port

Either of the above can be played as a trifecta as well, using the same horses in third which are listed in the second position above.

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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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