Key Races & Bets for Saturday November 5th, 2022
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint – Race 3 at Keeneland – Post Time 11:50 AM Eastern
Analysis & Top win contenders:
The early pace will be hotly contested, and HOT, because Slammed (on the rail) has good early speed and likes to lead or be close to the lead early, but the rail will force her jockey’s hand. Then there’s Edgeway, who draws #2 and who also is nearly always first or second after quarter and half-mile. THEN, three of the four horses on the outside (Hot Peppers, Lady Rocket & Echo Zulu) are need-the-lead types, such that even if only two or three of the six go for the lead, the opening half-mile could be exceptionally fast (like 44.2) for this seven furlong trip, and that benefits the closers nicely.
Among the group of closers, the one which will be coming under the radar the most is Japanese invader Chain of Love. She has a record of 3-2-3 in 22 races which isn’t going to get many eyeballs BUT her last race, a $300K stakes on 9/10, at this seven furlong trip, was a tremendous effort where she came from far back to win on the wire by a nose. For anyone not aware, Japanese horses had a BIG year at the Breeders’ Cup in 2021 and although that was California and this is not, so that Chain of Love is the only horse in this year’s big races from Japan, she’s got a big shot particularly with world-class jockey William Buick in the saddle.
Obligatory is another likely to benefit from the pace meltdown in the stretch, just as she did when winning the nearly identical Derby City Distaff on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs in May, coming from last of 7 to win going away. Jose Ortiz was up then as now and she had traffic trouble when third in the similar Ballerina Handicap when last seen.
Frank’s Rockette had some bad luck earlier in the year when second in three straight stakes, but one of the horses which beat her, Kimari, is something special and will be taking on males later in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. She got back on track with a six length win in the Pink Ribbon Stakes and it was the FIRST time Saez ever rode her so with the jockey coming back and the mare having fired fresh previously off a layoff like the one she’s coming back from today, and with the pace in her favor, she must be respected.
Goodnight Olive won the race Obligatory had trouble in, the Ballerina Stakes, also when last seen at the end of August. She won fresh in June off a seven month layoff and after finishing second in her debut in March of 2021 she’s undefeated in five races since, the last four with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle as today. She’s certainly capable of running as well, or better than she did when last seen and except for 3 to 1 starting odds, making her not as good of a win bet as some of the other contenders, she’s a MUST to consider for all our other wagers in this race.
Ce Ce is the defending Filly & Mare Sprint Champion, and she’s won half of her 22 career races. She enters this year’s race on an identical pattern for last year, having won the Chillingworth Stakes in California in easy fashion and the jockey that’s ridden her to most of her wins, Victor Espinoza, comes in from California to ride. She has no knocks.
Win Bets: Consider win bets on TWO or even THREE of these at 5 to 1 or more, letting the public set the odds and then getting the best value, hoping mistakes by the public at large will be made. I would also consider win/place bets on any of these at 8 to 1 or higher odds.
Chain of Love, Obligatory, Frank’s Rockette, Goodnight Olive, Ce Ce
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Exacta possibilities, listed from most conservative to most risk tolerant:
Box Chain of Love, Obligatory, Frank’s Rockette, Goodnight Olive, Ce Ce
Chain of Love, Obligatory, Frank’s Rockette over Chain of Love, Obligatory, Frank’s Rockette, Goodnight Olive, Ce Ce
Chain of Love, Obligatory, Frank’s Rockette, Goodnight Olive, Ce Ce over Chain of Love, Obligatory, Frank’s Rockette
Chain of Love, Obligatory, Frank’s Rockette over ALL
Race 3: Chain of Love, Obligatory, Frank’s Rockette, Goodnight Olive, Ce Ce
Race 4: Golden Pal, Campanelle
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Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint – Race 4 at Keeneland – Post Time 12:29 PM Eastern
Although we have a full field of 14, plus two also-eligibles, in my opinion this race boils down to which one of the Wesley Ward trainees wins. Ward, a former jockey, continues to win at a much higher than average percentage in many categories and his success can be traced to one thing – SPEED. In the spring when his two year olds start to run you can tell they are trained to break from the gate fast, which is the key to races in which horses have not yet learned to pass. In turf races speed isn’t as big of an asset, but when Ward gets top a quality horse such as Golden Pal, that speed makes him very difficult to beat because he is usually in front by a length after a few strides when the rest are just starting to get into top speed. The result has been eight wins in 11 races, excluding the one in England this past June when jockey Ortiz did not have the colt prepared for the gate to open. Additionally, Golden Pal is a perfect four-for-four at Keeneland, where Ward is based, including winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint two years ago and the Woodford Stakes last month. Golden Pal is also the defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion, and even if he doesn’t act like a rocket ship out of the gate he can still win, as proven in August when rallying from third.
That being said, Golden Pal’s biggest competition comes from his stablemate, the filly Campanelle. She’s six for nine in turf sprints, including beating males as a two year old in France in the Group Prix Morny. She lost by a head then was placed first (via disqualification) in the Group 1 Commonwealth Stakes in June of last year, and she ran very well after not breaking straight in the $1.2 million Platinum Jubilee Stakes this past June, missing the win by a neck and a half-length. Returning to top form last month in the $1 million Ladies Sprint when rallying from sixth of 12 early and battling head-and-head for the last eighth of a mile, Campanelle is the one most likely to be able to pass Golden Pal in the late stages if that is a possibility. If so that will add to Ward’s tremendous record over the last five years in Graded Stakes Turf Sprints in North America, which stands at 18 for 52.
Win: Golden Pal at 8 to 5 or more AND Campanelle at 3 to 1 or more.
Exacta: Box Golden Pal and Campanelle
Trifecta: Golden Pal and Campanelle over ALL over Golden Pal and Campanelle
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Breeders’ Cup Sprint – Race 7 at Keeneland – Post Time 2:30 PM Eastern
Top win contenders:
American Theorem turned a corner in his career three races back when his connections gave up on running him in routes (a mile or more). Shortening up to seven furlongs for the Grade 2 Triple Bend Stakes in May, the horse relaxed in fourth early and continued to make ground, then battled head and head in the stretch to prevail by a nose. After a two month layoff he ran even better in the tougher Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes, this time making a fast move from fifth to first on the turn to be ahead by three lengths early in the stretch, coasting to a win. Stretching back out a bit to seven furlongs, he rallied from seventh but was out finished by Laurel River (who ran earlier in the Dirt Mile), settling for second. However, that race has turned out to be VERY PRODUCTIVE, a KEY RACE from which the third horse (Senor Buscador, also in the Dirt Mile) came back to win from, the fifth and sixth finishers came back to win stakes from and from which the EIGHTH finisher was CZ Rocket, who nearly won the Santa Anita Sprint Championship. If the form from that race holds, and on the cut back to the distance of his Bing Crosby win, American Theorem can win this year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Kimari is running in this race instead of the Turf Sprint, where her trainer (Ward) has two entrants. She has faced males before, particularly when second of sixteen in June of 2020, and she enters the race off two big efforts when winning the Honorable Miss Stakes and Gallant Bloom Stakes. She’s got a good stalking style and she’s won two of three on the Keeneland dirt so there are no knocks
Flash of Mischief is the kind of horse I’d be kicking myself for if I didn’t at least bet a few dollars on given he opens at 30 to 1. First, he’s earned over $660K and he’s a multiple stakes winner. Second, he’s just a four year old and he’s two for three at this distance. Last, and certainly not least, he enters the race off a career-best effort with a 117 Equibase Speed Figure (used to compare horses from different tracks), which is the HIGHEST (FASTEST) figure in the field, even faster than 3 to 5 favorite Jackie’s Warrior has ever earned. If that effort wasn’t a fluke, this colt could reward us nicely and he’s got the right closing style for a race which could really set up his late kick.
Elite Power is a lightly raced four year old who has won four of seven. He too enters this race off a career-best effort, which came last month in New York in the Grade 2 Vosburgh Stakes. It was his FOURTH straight win and in each he widened in the late stages, with gas left in the tank in his last two. He enters the race on a pattern for even more improvement to boot.
Jackie’s Warrior will be the prohibitive favorite, just as he was last year in this race at Del Mar, and he and his connections (Jockey and Trainer) hope what occurred last year when he faded badly to sixth after leading early, was a fluke. It appears to have been, as he won the first four races of 2022, leading from start to finish in each with 111, 104, 113 and 106 figures. Then, in the Forego Stakes in late August, he was run down late by Cody’s Wish, who ran in the Dirt Mile as well. Theoretically the cut back from seven to six furlongs (where he’s four for five) will help Jackie’s Warrior to carry his speed all the way, but that was the thought last year as well. As it is I plan to use him on consecutive race wagers such as the pick 3 and pick 4 but will try to beat him in the exacta as well as with win bets on others.
Win: American Theorem and Kimari can be bet to win at 3 to 1 or higher.
Flash of Mischief can be bet to win, or win & place, at odds of 10 to 1 or more.
American Theorem and Flash of Mischief over ALL
ALL over American Theorem and Flash of Mischief
Considering #4 American Theorem opens at 10 to 1 and #11 Flash of Mischief opens at 30 to 1, these bets have a big risk:reward ratio. Win or win-place bets can suffice as well as these exacta wheels and back-wheels (betting a horse to finish second in the exacta) are similar.
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Breeders’ Cup Classic – Race 11 at Keeneland – Post Time 5:40 PM Eastern
An adage in horse racing states “speed is the ultimate bias” and that is why Life Is Good appears to have a slight edge over the ultra-talented Flightline in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. It also doesn’t hurt that Life Is Good has starting odds of 6 to 1 compared to 3 to 5 for Flightline, so he offers better returns for a win bet. In terms of sheer overall ability, the career-best 125 Equibase Speed Figure Life Is Good earned when winning the Whitney Stakes in August and the 123 figure in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes this past January stack up against the 128 figure Flightline earned winning the Pacific Classic in September and the 126 figure earned when winning the Malibu Stakes last December. Then, there’s the likely pace scenario which suggests Life Is Good will have the early lead as he has post position two in the gate and is drawn inside Flightline, who will be breaking from post position four. This allows Irad Ortiz, Jr. on Life Is Good to control the pace for as long as possible, and considering that in each of his six career wins in two-turn races Life Is Good led from start to finish, he has proven to be the kind of athlete which refuses to let another horse pass him. There are also no doubts in my mind Life Is Good can run as well at the Classic Distance of one mile and one-quarter as he has run at shorter distances, as his sire Into Mischief produced 2020 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Authentic. Trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. teamed up to win the 2019 Classic with Vino Rosso and I think they might get their second recent win in the Classic with Life Is Good if the colt gets on the front end and gets into a steady stride just as he did when winning the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Flightline is undefeated, and untested, in five career starts. He has had layoffs of around four months twice and five months between races before his most recent three month layoff prior to winning the Pacific Classic, but when he does come onto the track for a race he’s all business and then some. Prior to the Pacific Classic, there was also a question as to whether Flightline could run as well around two-turns as he had in his first four races, all around one turn. That question was put to rest with his performance in the Pacific Classic in September when he went from a half-length behind the leader after a half-mile to 10 lengths in front another quarter mile later, before easing down at the wire to a 19 length triumph with a 128 figure. Resuming training at the end of that month, Flightline has put in some superb morning drills, including one at Keeneland last week which was the fourth best of 62 on the day. Likely to be in second position behind Life Is Good shortly after the start, the biggest questions regarding Flightline winning this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic are whether his Pacific Classic effort was an outlier, and whether he, or any other horse in the field, can pass Life Is Good if that one gets his way alone on the front end.
Olympiad certainly can’t be ignored as a contender to win this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic as he has won eight of 12 races and earned over $2 million to date. Putting aside his loss when fourth behind Life Is Good in the Whitney Stakes in August, Olympiad has won all his other six starts this year including the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes in September, at the distance of the Classic. In the Stephen Foster Stakes in July, Olympiad earned a career-best 123 figure within hailing distance of the 125 and 128 best figures earned by Life Is Good and by Flightline, respectively. Always close to the pace in the early stages, Olympiad demonstrates over and over he understands when to pick up the pace when jockey Junior Alvarado asks him and then the colt doggedly wears down the horses in front of him to win. Although it may seem the early speed of Life Is Good may be hard to beat as well as the tremendous athleticism of Flightline, Olympiad may be the fighter who comes out on top in this skirmish to post the upset (starting at 10 to 1 odds) in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Comments on the rest, none of which would be a total surprise if winning this race:
Taiba was unseasoned when entering the gate for this year’s Kentucky Derby, having run just twice, and he showed it when facing 19 other horses and finishing 12th. Maturing quickly after nearly three months off, he returned for a game second place effort by a head behind Cyberknife in the Haskell Stakes in July with a 104 figure before an even better effort defeating Derby third place finisher Zandon, as well as Cyberknife, to win the Pennsylvania Derby with a 114 figure. Even projecting another 10 point improvement to a 124 figure, seeing that last year’s Pennsylvania Derby winner, Hot Rod Charlie, only managed a fourth place finish in the 2021 Classic, I believe Taiba is a cut below the best in this field.
Happy Saver may not win, but he could be this year’s Effinex and finish second at high odds. If you don’t recall, Effinex ran second from start to finish in the 2015 Classic behind American Pharoah at high odds and I think Happy Saver may do the same thing, although not while running second from start to finish but more likely rallying from fifth or fourth. He opens at 30 to 1 and considering he has finished second three times in four starts this year, behind Olympiad, Flightline and Life is Good, that prospect is not out of the question. The effort in the Whitney behind Life Is Good resulted in a career-best 122 figure and considering Happy Saver has never finished worse than third in three tries at this Classic distance, he is a very interesting long shot in this field.
Hot Rod Charlie is about as game of a horse as I’ve seen in a long time as he always shows up and fights as hard as he can for the win. Still, his best efforts have come in grade 2 and grade 3 races this year, and although he finished a head behind Happy Saver when third in the Whitney, that effort earning a 122 figure, his other races in North America this year earned 118 and 107 figures which don’t appear competitive with the top three contenders if repeated.
Epicenter is yet another proving this year’s Classic consists of one of the best fields in memory. He has finished first or second in nine of 10 career races and is approaching $3 million in earnings. A three year old just like Taiba and Rich Strike, Epicenter has done little wrong in his own division, but this is a whole new ballgame facing older horses for the first time. He ran fantastically well when second in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, earning 105 and 102 figures. Then maturing physically as a three year old does in the late summer, Epicenter earned a 111 figure winning the Jim Dandy Stakes and nearly the same figure (110) winning the Travers Stakes at the distance of the Classic. However, there’s no discernable pattern showing the improvement necessary to get to the 120 or higher figure level any of the top three contenders have proven capable of, and although I love his moxie, Epicenter also appears to be a cut below the best in this field.
Rich Strike provided the earthquake sports fans love with an underdog win in the Kentucky Derby this year at odds of 80 to 1. About as improbable as his winning was his running in the race, as only a last minute scratch allowed him to move in from the also-eligible list. That effort earned the colt a career-best 106 figure. Following a poor sixth place finish in the Belmont Stakes in June, following nearly three months off the colt, like others, started to mature physically and mentally. Two races later Rich Strike got back to his Derby form when beaten a head in the Lukas Classic Stakes, coming up a head shy of Hot Rod Charlie. Although the 107 figure is well short of the other seven entrants in this race, Rich Strike is on a pattern for improvement in his third start off a layoff and with his fast finishing style could provide some thrills in this year’s Classic.
Win: Life Is Good at 2 to 1 or higher, Olympiad at 4 to 1 or more.
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Exactas & Trifectas: Personally, I’m more interested in the trifecta than the exacta because of the low odds on Flightline and that Life Is Good will likely be the second choice in the wagering, but here are the exacta and trifecta wagers I may consider:
Box Life Is Good & Flightline
Box Life Is Good, Flightline, Olympiad
Life is Good, Flightline over Life Is Good, Flightline, Olympiad, Taiba, Happy Saver
Life Is Good, Flightline, Olympiad over Life Is Good, Flightline, Olympiad, Taiba, Happy Saver
Life Is Good, Flightline, Olympiad over Happy Saver over ALL
Life Is Good, Flightline, Olympiad over ALL over Happy Saver
We are betting with the hope that #3 Happy Saver (who opens at 30 to 1) finishes second or third after one of the top win contenders wins, and even if that winner is the heavy favorite Flightline this bet could pay well.