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Key Races & Bets for Saturday October 21st, 2023

Race 8 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:44 PM Eastern

Top win contenders: Lovely Princess, Ever Smart, Sister Lou Ann
Contenders for exacta tickets: Sinfiltre, Haughty

Analysis:
Lovely Princess was sent to post as the seven to five favorite when last seen on 8/27 in the Ellis Park Turf Stakes and she ran big, rallying from sixth early to make the lead and out finished by a length but clearly second at the end. That was her third straight runner-up effort in a turf route, all in stakes. Four races back she won at the one lower non-winners of 2 other than maiden level, here at Keeneland, with Hernandez up as he is today and with the ground saving rail she looks logical to run back to that effort and win. She opens at 5 to 1 and that might hold up in this full field.

Ever Smart opens at 20 to 1 odds way too high to ignore because one race before her last she too led late and settled for second, in a stakes, as the eight to five favorite. She won at the one lower NW1X condition right before that and she ships in from New York where she’s been in training to run here. Trainer Drysdale is very sharp when he ships into Keeneland, evidenced by a record of 3-1-0 from just eight starts, all on turf, over the past few years. Geroux getting on is a good sign this filly is live and particularly for a horse who has been first or second in nine of 18 career starts on turf she has to be considered for a win/place bet or has to be used on any exacta tickets we play in this race.

Sister Lou Ann won the One Dreamer Stakes at Kentucky Downs last month in a field of seven and before that was less than a length shy of winning at this allowance condition at Saratoga. Saez rode her in the New York race and gets back on and this gal fires nicely nearly every time she runs so rounds out the main trio of win contenders.

Sinfiltre drops in class off a third place effort in the Ladies Marathon Stakes at Kentucky Downs and she finished third in another stakes prior to that. Like the other two she won at the one lower allowance level just before that, with Prat, who rides today and who did not ride in her last two races, suggesting a reversion to top form good enough for a piece of the purse at the least.

Haughty adds Lasix for the first time in her career, in her 11th career start. She too drops in class from a stakes race last month at Kentucky Downs. All four races this year have been in stakes and she won the Lake Placid Stakes last year as a three year old, as well as broke her maiden at this distance on the Keeneland turf so could be part of the exotics at the least.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Lovely Princes should be considered for a win bet at odds of 5 to 2 or more.
Ever Smart can be considered for a win, or win/place, bet at odds of 4 to 1 or higher.
Sister Lou Ann can be considered for a win bet at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

This should is a great race to take advantage of the mathematical edge provided by 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 in total 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:
Lovely Princess, Ever Smart, Sister Lou Ann over Lovely Princess, Ever Smart, Sister Lou Ann, Sinfiltre, Haughty
Lovely Princess, Ever Smart, Sister Lou Ann, Sinfiltre, Haughty over Lovely Princess, Ever Smart, Sister Lou Ann

Doubles:
Race 8: Lovely Princess, Ever Smart, Sister Lou Ann
Race 9: Vahva, Alva Starr

Race 8: Lovely Princess, Ever Smart, Sister Lou Ann, Sinfiltre, Haughty
Race 9: Vahva, Alva Starr

Race 8: Lovely Princess
Race 9: Vahva, Alva Starr


Pick 3s: ($0.50)
Race 8: Lovely Princess, Ever Smart, Sister Lou Ann, Sinfiltre, Haughty
Race 9: Vahva, Alva Starr
Race 10: Willtorun, Axthelm, B D Valeski, Counterstrike, Gregory’s Pride, Fauci

Race 8: Lovely Princess
Race 9: Vahva, Alva Starr
Race 10: Willtorun, Axthelm, B D Valeski, Counterstrike, Gregory’s Pride, Fauci

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Lexus Raven Run Stakes – Race 9 at Keeneland – Post Time 5:16 PM Eastern

Top win contenders: Vahva, Alva Starr
Contenders for exacta tickets: Simply Stated, Lady Radler

Analysis:
Vahva may have the slightest edge over Alva Starr in this race because her most recent start in late August winning the Charles Town Oaks came at the same seven furlong distance of the Raven Run Stakes. Not only that, but the course configuration at Charles Town is such that seven furlong trip was around two-turns, which can be more difficult to navigate than one turn. The cut back in turns may help Vahva to run as well, or better, than she did in the Oaks, where she stalked in third for the first six furlongs, then came out three paths wide to win going away. That effort earned her a career-best 100 Equibase Speed Figure, a nice improvement off the 91 figure she earned a little over one month earlier when third in the Victory Ride Stakes. Considering Vahva had been away from the races for two months before the Victory Ride, her pattern for more improvement is pretty obvious. It must also be noted that the 2022 Raven Run Winner (Caramel Swirl) used the Charles Town Oaks as her final start before victory in this race.

Alva Starr has never finished worse than second in five races, winning three and placing in the other two. Her last two efforts have been her most impressive, first when winning the Dashing Beauty Stakes in July with a career-best 106 Equibase Speed Figure then winning the Prioress Stakes by nearly nine lengths. Although the 103 figure in the Prioress was lower than the 106 figure in her prior start, Alva Starr was geared down in the last sixteenth of a mile so she could have run faster. An interesting fact about this filly is she is a full sister to Cilla, who won a number of stakes and earned a half-million dollars, including when third in the 2021 Raven Run following a win in the Prioress, for the same trainer (Brinkman). If there is one concern, it is that every race Alva Starr has run has been at the distance of six furlongs, so this will be her first attempt at a longer distance.

Honorable mention goes to two more talented fillies. The first of the pair is Simply Stated, as she’s won four in a row including the Penn Ladies Dash Stakes in August with a 95 figure. After that, Simply Stated won on the all-weather surface at Presque Isle Downs, earning at 92 figure. What’s interesting to note is that her trainer, Todd Beattie, shipped in Taris to win this race in 2014 off an identical win at Presque Isle Downs at six furlongs. Lady Radler is the other horse who I feel deserves honorable mention. She paid $48 (for $2) when winning the Dogwood Stakes last month at this distance. She won two races in a row this summer and last year she ran very well to finish second at 30 to 1 in the Myrtlewood Stakes at Keeneland. The first of her two wins this spring came in the Goldfinch Stakes, in which she earned a career-best 96 figure. As a filly with five wins in 10 races, she has some quality about her and can’t be discarded as a contender.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Vahva at 2 to 1 or more
Alva Starr also has fair odds of 2 to 1 but is highly likely to go to post at much lower odds.

Exactas: Vahva, Alva Starr over Vahva, Alva Starr, Simply Stated, Lady Radler

Doubles:
Race 9: Vahva, Alva Starr
Race 10: Willtorun, Axthelm, B D Valeski, Counterstrike, Gregory’s Pride, Fauci

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Race 10 at Keeneland – Post Time 5:48 PM Eastern

Top win contenders: Gregory’s Pride, B D Valeski, Willtorun, Axthelm, Counterstrike, Fauci

Analysis:
In a wide open turf sprint with many ways to go, I’ll start with Gregory’s Pride, who I am positive will not be anywhere near 10/1 at post time like he is on the morning line as he’s never been higher than 7 to 2 in his lasts eight races. He comes back from a three month layoff and won off almost three months off six months ago today, at this distance at Keeneland and at the one lower NW1X level. Prat rode him that day, not since, and gets back on for the strong D’Amato barn, which won the turf sprint stakes on Sunday over favored Caravel. Prat rode Fauci to a neck defeat at this level in his most recent start and chooses to ride Gregory’s Pride here for the strong D’Amato barn.

B D Valeski just won at the one lower NW1X level on 9/22 at Churchill as the 3 to 1 favorite. Gaffalione jumps off for Fauci but Graham is just fine. B D Valeski closed fast from 11th to 3rd in April at Keeneland in the race won by Gregory’s Pride but raced much closer up last month in victory so if he is able to do the same thing certainly has a chance to succeed.

Willtorun nearly won at 12 to 1 at this distance at Keeneland and at this allowance level in the spring, then finished fourth in two straight similar races. His last start was on dirt and irrelevant. Amoss wins a strong 20% off the layoff and Amoss takes over training off Colebrook, giving the horse a big half-mile workout a couple of weeks ago, the best of 48 at the distance on the day.

Axthelm was off for six months before returning for a fifth place finish at the longer seven furlong trip last month. Cutting back to five and one-half certainly helps, especially as his win before the layoff came at five furlongs. Saez getting on is a good sign and this is yet another horse with a shot in this field if he runs back to that March 19 effort just before the layoff.

Counterstrike was overmatched in the Turf Sprint Stakes at Kentucky Downs last month but fits like a “T” here as he won at the one lower NW1X level just before that, with a solid effort, drawing off late by three lengths under Gilligan, who rides here. He had finished third in two before that and won prior to that so holds competitive form at this level.

Fauci finished very fast from 11th of 12 to miss by a neck in an identical turf sprint at Saratoga when last seen on 8/24. It must be noted he now has EIGHT runner-up finishes to go along with two wins and opens at 2 to 1 so may be tough to bet to win. Nevertheless he must be used on any exacta or trifecta tickets played. He gets Lasix for the first time and is making his third start following nine months off so may have room to improve enough to earn his third career win.

Handicapper Picks

Win: I will consider win bets on two, or all three, of the six which I think will have the highest odds near post time, as long as 4 to 1 or more: Gregory’s Pride, B D Valeski, Willtorun.

This is also an excellent opportunity to use a dutching tool to bet more than one horse to win and take advantage of the mathematical edge that tool provides at Amwager.com

Exacta:
There are lots of ways to go but I’ll key the top three selections over the others, in first and in second, as follows:
Gregory’s Pride, B D Valeski, Willtorun over Gregory’s Pride, B D Valeski, Willtorun, Axthelm, Counterstrike, Fauci
Gregory’s Pride, B D Valeski, Willtorun, Axthelm, Counterstrike, Fauci over Gregory’s Pride, B D Valeski, Willtorun

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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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