Friday, 08 November 2019 12:26

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, November 9

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Pumpkin Pie Stakes - Race 7 at Aqueduct - Post Time 2:50 PM Eastern

Honor Way is a bit of an in-and-out type but with six wins in 20 career dirt races, some of her best races could win here and give her a mild upset at 6/1 on the morning line. Two of those six career wins on dirt have come at seven furlongs, including last month at Belmont. Although it was in a starter allowance race, the mare ran third in the Interborough Stakes at Aqueduct in January to Dawn the Destroyer, who ran big in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last week, and she enters the race off a that strong win with a 96 Equibase figure which best is the figure among ALL in this field except Majestic Reason, who I think is vulnerable. Excellent trainer Baker took her from Rice for $62,500 three back in July and she could get the connections even and then some with a win here in her current form.

Saguaro Row put back-to-back wins together in April and May following over a year on the shelf, both under Rosario, then ran badly when overmatched in a grade 2 stakes, then rebounded to run second in a nearly identical (to this race) seven furlong stakes at Saratoga. Again overmatched in a grade 2 stakes, Saguaro Row was beaten a neck for second last time out at seven furlongs in Maryland and the key to a return to top form good enough to win is the fact Rosario is getting back on because in the race he rode her to victory in May she earned 100 figure.

Philanthropic is the only one of the top three morning line choices I can endorse for a win bet. She's two for two since joining the Servis barn in June and returning from a seven month layoff and Servis keeps his horses in form to the tune of winning 34% of the time back to back in dirt sprints over the last FIVE years. The 95 figure earned in victory last out is strong and if she can improve third off the layoff she can win again, but she's no sure thing.

Last True Love has two wins in nine starts this year and both came in March. Still, opening at 12/1 she's got a small shot as she can lead early, stalk in second, third or fourth early, or come from far back. She won in March at this seven furlong trip after stalking early and if Philanthropic goes early she could get a great trip in the same early position so with those two wins early this year having earned her 104 and 96 figures, she rounds out the win contenders.

Second morning line favorite Majestic Reason is suspect as she did not make up any ground at this seven furlong trip in the stretch one before last at low odds then even though overmatched by the winner in the Gallant Bloom Stakes last out she was no match for the runner-up or third finishers.

Honor Way and Saguaro Row to win at odds of 5/2 or more.
A small win/place bet on Last True Love may be justified at 6 to 1 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exacta: Box Honor Way, Saguaro Row, Philanthropic and Last True Love.
Trifecta: Box Honor Way, Saguaro Row, Philanthropic and Last True Love.

I’m going to play the Double from race 7 to race 8 and the Pick 3 for races 7, 8 and 9 as follows:
Race 7 – Honor Way, Saguaro Row, Philanthropic, Last True Love
Race 8 – Frontier Market, Curlin's Honor, Caribou Club, Dr. Edgar
Race 9 – Freewheeler, Turned Aside, Embolden, Fly Fly Away, Mystic Lancelot
The cost of the pick 3 at the $1 minimum level is $80
The cost of the double at the $1 minimum level is $16

Note: If you feel bold, or if one of the horses in race nine scratches, consider these horses in race 9 as well:
Jack and Noah, Axiomo

Artie Schiller Stakes - Race 8 at Aqueduct - Post Time 3:20 PM Eastern

With Gidu, Voodoo Song and Abiding Star all absolutely NEED-the-LEAD types, as long as two or more of the three run, the race sets up for the closers. On one hand, two of the four closers are favorites and fairly legitimate, but there are two others to consider which make this race playable in and of itself, as well as part of the pick 3 and the doubles from the previous race and to the next race.

Dr. Edgar showed he could rate in second four times in his last 10 races, winning three and missing by a neck in the other. ALL of those last 10 races, including the three wins, were on turf, including the Grade 3 Appleton Stakes, Grade 3 Fort Marcy Stakes, Grade 3 Poker Stakes and Grade 2 Knickerbocker Stakes. STILL, he opens at 6/1 and I don't get it. He led into the stretch last month in the Knickerbocker, won by Lucullan, who ran pretty well in the Breeders' Cup Mile last weekend, and Davis has piloted him to three of his last five wins so all signs are GO for a big effort.

Curlin's Honor opens at even higher odds, 10/1, though six of his last eight races were in graded stakes as well. He didn't win any of them BUT he was only worse than third in one of those eight races and particularly his runner-up effort behind Synchrony in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes at this mile trip in June is good enough to win here if he can repeat the effort, which is appears he can as he got a confidence building win in last month in a classified allowance race at Woodbine.

Frontier Market and Caribou Club are the legitimate favorites and we can only hope to split them in the exacta with one of the higher odds contenders. Frontier Market has been first or second in his last 10 races, all on turf, the best of which on 8/24, one before last, earned a 110 figure on par with the 109 Curlin's Honor earned in August and the 110 Dr. Edgar earned in the Poker in June. He gets the rail and Irad Ortiz, Jr so there are no knocks EXCEPT perhaps as indicated by his career record of 3-7-0 in 11 races. Caribou Club was an also-eligible for the Breeders' Cup Mile and would have drawn in after scratched but left California by the time the late scratches were announced. He has run two "A" races in a row, the most recent with a 109 figure winning the Grade 3 Baltimore Washington Turf Cup Stakes at the end of September. He's a very competitive horse and would be no surprise if winning.

Bets: Win bets on BOTH Dr. Edgar and Curlin's Honor are warranted at 7 to 2 or higher

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exactas: Frontier Market, Curlin's Honor, Caribou Club, Dr. Edgar over Frontier Market, Curlin's Honor, Caribou Club, Dr. Edgar, Gidu, Voodoo Song and Abiding Star. (Because there's always a chance one of the early front runners can hang on for second).

If you played the pick 3 starting in race 7 and none of the contenders won that leg, you can consider doubles using the contenders from that pick 3 in this race and the next race as follows:

Race 8 – Frontier Market, Curlin's Honor, Caribou Club, Dr. Edgar
Race 9 – Freewheeler, Turned Aside, Embolden, Fly Fly Away, Mystic Lancelot

I would even go so far as to recommend doubles with the same four horses in race eight and adding Jack and Noah and Axiomo in race nine.

Atlantic Beach Stakes - Race 9 at Aqueduct - Post Time 3:50 PM Eastern

Mystic Lancelot won his debut, in August at Saratoga, a turf sprint, like a good thing by powering off by three lengths in a nine horse field at 9 to 5 odds. Stretched out to two turns and shipped to Canada to run in the Grade 1 Summer Stakes, around two turns, on a soggy turf course, he was sent to post as the 2 to 1 favorite in a field of 10 but could only manage a ninth race finish. Shipped to Keeneland Indian Summer Stakes, Mystic Lancelot ended up fourth of nine, a nose from third place finisher Axiomo (who is entered here) and two lengths behind sensational Kimari, who ran big in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint last week. Facing easier here and back in New York, Mystic Lancelot is reunited with John Velazquez, up for the debut win, which earned a very strong (for a two year old) 98 Equibase figure so with a repeat of that effort, or even more logically, improvement off the effort, he can win.

Turned Aside finished third in his debut in a turf sprint at Belmont in September, then second at the end of the same month (behind Jack and Noah, who is in this race) then he won powerfully by four lengths when the light bulb went on. A two year old going from a maiden race to stakes is no big deal and the 94 figure he earned is the BEST last race figure in the field. Assuming he can take another step forward, Turned Aside can win, particularly with Lezcano riding back and picking over Rice's other charge, Montauk Daddy, who he rode in all three career races. Rice wins 25% back-to-back and this colt could add to those numbers.

Freewheeler and Embolden finished second and third, respectively, in the Futurity Stakes last month at Belmont on the grass. The race was won by Four Wheel Drive, who duplicated the effort to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint last weekend. Freewheeler adds blinkers to improve off his fast finish for second and run back to the effort which saw him win by five in his only other race. However, the 91 figure last out is a bit (just slightly) behind the first two mentioned contenders best figures. Embolden earned a 96 figure winning by 10 lengths in his second career start and first on turf, then 90 when winning a stakes for Virginia Breds only at Colonial in September then repeated that 90 when a half-length behind Freewheeler in the Futurity. Blinkers go on this colt as well and Rosario stays aboard.

Last mentioned of a quintet of contenders, but not least, Fly Fly Away may be a New York bred but that's meaningless given his pedigree as he's a half-brother to multiple turf sprint stakes winner Disco Partner, who has won his share in open (not restricted) stakes. Fly Fly Away won his second start, first on turf, gamely by a nose in August then stretched out to two runs and finished fifth, an irrelevant effort when assessing his chances in this sprint. Castellano gets on and trainer Clement, who has conditioned many horses for this owner/breeder including Disco Partner, knows he's got a very good horse here so opening at 12/1 I would not leave this colt out as a contender for a second.

Win Bets: Mystic Lancelot to win at 3 to 1 or more.
Consider smaller win bets at 9 to 2 or more on Turned Aside, Embolden and Freewheeler, the latter two unlikely to make that threshold.

THEN, I am betting a few dollars to win and to place on Fly Fly Away at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

Exacta & Trifecta: Box Mystic Lancelot, Turned Aside, Fly Fly Away, Embolden and Freewheeler.

This week's blog features special daily double wagers tying the Juvenile Fillies on Friday to the Distaff on Saturday and tying the Juvenile on Friday to the Classic on Saturday.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies - Race 7 at Santa Anita on Friday 11/1 - Post Time 5:32 PM Eastern/2:32 Pacific

It appears my choice of win contenders matches up with what the public is going to do as my two win contenders are Donna Veloce and British Idiom. Still, I wouldn’t argue with anyone who considered #6 Bast, #9 Comical or #7 Wicked Whisper contenders coming out of excellent preps for this race, but I will stop with the top two who I feel stick out against the other seven. The benefit of this race having only a couple of selections, with three back-ups, is it gives us a little value for the special daily double tying the Juvenile Fillies on Friday with the Distaff on Saturday.

Although just a maiden winner, Donna Veloce could be the real deal and make it so the rest are running for second if she run as she did in her debut over the track on 9/28. Although that was just a six furlong sprint, this filly ran a STAKES QUALITY race, with a 109 Equibase figure, powering home by nine lengths in handy fashion with gas left in the tank. Trainer Simon Callaghan has had his share of good horses and this daughter of Uncle Mo shows all the signs of being able to stretch out and win again, even in this grade 1 field.

British Idiom was spectacular winning the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland last month. She had won her debut pretty easily at six furlongs (like Donna Veloce) in August, then off a short rest and stretching out to two turns, she blew by the field on the turn to open up by a couple of lengths before coasting to a six length win. Although the Equibase figure was 91, she too had gas left in the tank and so with another big improvement likely in her third career start, she has a big shot to succeed, particularly if Donna Veloce regresses in any way off her debut win.

Win Bets: Donna Veloce to win at 5 to 2 or more. British Idiom to win at 7 to 2 or more.
When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Special Daily Double Ticket 1
Juvenile: Donna Veloce
, British Idiom
Distaff: Midnight Bisou

Ticket 2
Juvenile: Donna Veloce, British Idiom, Bast, Comical, Wicked Whisper
Distaff: Midnight Bisou

Breeders' Cup Distaff - Race 10 at Santa Anita on Saturday 11/2 - Post Time 7 PM Eastern/ 4 PM Pacific

It’s nice to have a race with a “Single,” the only horse to use on multi-race tickets like the pick 3 and 4, and Midnight Bisou fits the bill for turning pick 3 tickets into the equivalent of a daily double and pick 4 tickets into the equivalent of a pick 3. I hesitate to use throw around the word “Amazon” too much, and admit you’ll see it again referring to Elate in the classic, so perhaps I’ll use the word “Alpha” instead to describe Midnight Bisou’s attitude when on the track. She just refuses to lose, and if she’s in the mood she’ll eye an opponent and beat them by a nose whereas other times she just blows by them. Smith is six for six on her this year and it would be seven for seven if he didn’t have another commitment when she won the Beldame in September. With back-to-back 115 Equibase figure efforts in grade 1 races at this nine furlong trip, by far the best in the field, it would take a big jump up in form for any of the 10 fillies and mares to beat Midnight Bisou today and while there is no such thing as a sure thing, she should win this year’s Distaff.

: Midnight Bisou at even money or more, a low odds overlay win bet. (Hopefully it won't be necessary to bet her to win if we are live in the special daily double from the Juvenile Fillies on Friday).

Breeders' Cup Juvenile - Race 9 at Santa Anita on Friday, 11/1 - Post Time 7:03 PM Eastern/ 4:03 Pacific

Dennis’ Moment is a legitimate favorite based on impressive wins in his last two starts after losing the jockey in his debut. He demolished the field by nearly 20 lengths at seven furlongs then once again made short work of the field, this time nine other horses in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes last month at this distance. His works at Churchill Downs then Santa Anita have been scorching and show he’s in top form. He doesn’t need the lead to win but these are the deepest waters he’s been in so although he looks very logical, based on his 98 Figure last out which isn’t any better than Eight Rings, Dennis’ Moment can win but doesn’t have to.

Eight Rings rebounded from dropping the jockey in the Del Mar Futurity to win the American Pharoah Stakes, his first two-turn rest, at the end of September with a strong 103 figure, dominating by six lengths. Blinkers were added to help him focus and not take a left turn as he did in the Futurity, and the equipment changes worked. He is likely to use his early speed to best advantage and be the one the rest have to catch to win, and since Baffert is deadly in these two year old stakes Eight Rings may prove all the hype to date is correct and win easily again. Still, there’s a lot that can happen in a race for two year olds who can improve by leaps and bounds from race to race, or by the same token regress.

Win Bets: Dennis' Moment at 8 to 5 or higher.
Consider Eight Rings for a win bet at 2 to 1 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exactas: Dennis' Moment and Eight Rings over Dennis' Moment, Eight Rings, Scabbard and Full Flat.

Trifecta: Dennis' Moment and Eight Rings over Dennis' Moment, Eight Rings, Scabbard and Full Flat over Dennis' Moment, Eight Rings, Scabbard and Full Flat.

Special Daily Double Ticket 1
Juvenile: Dennis' Moment, Eight Rings
Classic: Vino Rosso, Code of Honor, Elate

Ticket 2
: Dennis' Moment, Eight Rings
Classic: ALL

Ticket 3
Juvenile: ALL
Classic: Vino Rosso, Code of Honor, Elate

Breeders' Cup Classic - Race 12 at Santa Anita on Saturday, 11/2 - Post Time 8:44 PM Eastern/ 5:44 Pacific

The rematch between Code of Honor and Vino Rosso is the number one story in this year’s Classic in my opinion and I will give slight preference to Vino Rosso in this case. His four year old campaign has been all about pointing to this year’s Classic and I think he’s on a pattern to run the best race of his career and win. Returning from six months off in March, Vino Rosso earned a new career-best 114 Equibase Speed Figure winning the Stymie Stakes, a one-turn mile race, before facing one of the best sprinters in the country (World of Trouble) in the Carter Handicap one month later, finishing fourth without showing any late kick at all. A brilliant move on the part of trainer Todd Pletcher was sending Vino Rosso west for the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May at the Classic distance and the colt proved resilient in tying the 114 figure with a powerful effort as he rallied from fourth to lead in the stretch and gamely held that lead to the wire. Given two months off, Vino Rosso returned in the Whitney and, just as in the Carter, he ran evenly throughout, never threatening to win. Stretched out to a mile and one-quarter again for the Jockey Gold Cup Stakes at Belmont, Vino Rosso once again showed a lot of mental toughness in not only leading from the start, but battling with a number of horses in the late stages, prevailing by a nose on the wire over Code of Honor. Unfortunately, he had bumped his rival late in the race and the stewards felt that warranted a disqualification to second. Making his third start off a layoff in the Classic and on an improving pattern of figures (108, 112), I feel the previous race at Santa Anita may give Vino Rosso the slightest edge in experience which can help him to earn the glory of a Breeders’ Cup Classic victory.

Code of Honor is also on a solid pattern for improvement. Following his third place finish in the Kentucky Derby (moved up to second via the disqualification of Maximum Security), Code of Honor took two months off. That freshening did him a world of good as he won the Dwyer Stakes in July, the Travers Stakes in August and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (via disqualification of Vino Rosso) in September. Going from a 101 figure effort, to 108, to 112, is a pattern we might expect of a still improving three year old in the summer and fall, with further improvement to come. Furthermore, having run three times at the distance of the Classic, winning twice and finishing second in the other start, there’s little doubt Code of Honor has what it takes to succeed in this race.

Elate is an amazon of a mare and deserves to face off against males in this year’s Classic. She’s also a perfect three-for-three at the mile and one-quarter trip of this race. Although beaten a nose one race before last in the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga, the same race she lost by a neck the previous year, Elate earned a 115 figure as good or better than any of the males in this year’s Classic field. Tough as nails in the stretch in nearly every one of her 18 career starts, Elate has finished second seven times to match her win total. Trainer Bill Mott (who also saddles Yoshida) has given Elate a pair of three furlong “blowout” workouts coming into the race, a superb strategy to have her on edge for her best, which is good enough to post the mild upset in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

About the rest:
There is little doubt most of the other eight entrants in this race can run well enough to win and I would not argue with a single person who felt a win bet on any of them is warranted. However, there are little chinks in the armor on all of the rest in my opinion so personally although I will be considering them all for second place on exacta tickets and third place on trifecta tickets, I will confine my win bets to the three contenders above.

I’ll start with McKinzie, who has only finished lower than second one time in 13 races. His two tries at the Classic distance were below par in my opinion as he missed by a nose while having every chance to win the Santa Anita Handicap in April and was 12th in last year’s Classic at 7 to 2 odds. Although the 123 figure earned in his most recent start in the Awesome Again is the second best figure in the field, he seemed to be running in place throughout the race and although the jockey change to Rosario may help, I would prefer a jockey familiar with the horse but Rosario is riding McKinzie for the first time. Mongolian Groom led from start to finish in the Awesome Again and earned a field high 123 figure in the process. He has two third place finishes at this distance in his career and I don’t feel his last effort is repeatable at this distance or in this field. Owendale faces older for the first time, which isn’t an impediment in the fall, but the 110 figure earned in the Oklahoma Derby last month won’t be good enough to win if repeated and he too is winless in two tries at the Classic distance. Similarly, Preakness winner War of Will could not threaten in the Pennsylvania Derby and the 107 figure earned at nearly the distance in the Preakness is another effort which, even if repeated, is not likely to win this race. Yoshida closes from far back in nearly every start and rarely gets up in time, but should be in the top three or four at the end of able to run as he did in the Whitney in August when second with a 115 figure. Higher Power posted the upset in the Pacific Classic this summer with a 112 figure which appears to be an aberration as he was a non-threatening third in the Awesome Again following that win. Math Wizard was a great story for trainer Saffie Joseph, with a 113 figure which equaled the effort he put forth when second to Owendale in the Ohio Derby in June. Math Wizard is also facing older for the first time, as well as trying the distance of the Classic for the first time and those two hurdles may be too many to overcome. Seeking the Soul has had a brilliant career, winning over $3 million to date, but as he enters the race off seventh and fourth place finishes, particularly with most of the others in much better recent form, he is had to endorse.

Win Bets
: Vino Rosso and Code of Honor to win at odds of 5/2 or more.
Elate to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.
Win bets may not be necessary if we are live in the special daily double from the Juvenile on Friday but it's a matter of personal preference if you want even more profit if we’re right.

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exactas: Vino Rosso, Code of Honor and Elate over ALL

Trifectas: Vino Rosso, Code of Honor and Elate over ALL over Vino Rosso, Code of Honor and Elate.
Vino Rosso, Code of Honor and Elate over Vino Rosso, Code of Honor and Elate over ALL
(These two trifecta tickets played together help us win if any two of the three contenders finish 1st & 2nd or 1st & 3rd).


Monday, 28 October 2019 19:44

Drawing It Up

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


October 28, 2019

Drawing It Up

By: Jonathan Stettin

There is more than one school of thought on post position draws. After all, you see people voicing selections on social media before races are even drawn. I am not one of those. Post position is indeed a factor in my opinion and I think it is important to know where horses are lining up, and who they are next to before making a wager.
The importance of the draw varies from racetrack to racetrack and also at different distances. We all are quite familiar with the dreaded rail draw for the Kentucky Derby. That might just be the most watched and well known draw of them all.
The draw in the Breeders’ Cup is very important and especially so at Santa Anita and at some specific distances. It can have a major impact on how a race is run and who wins and loses.
Breeders’ Cup races usually have larger fields and that makes the draw all the more key to deciphering how a race will be run.
The Breeders’ Cup Mile is a two turn race at Santa Anita. There is a short run to that first turn and it is pretty easy to get hung out wide losing crucial ground. Once you are say outside the 8 post, you have to be very careful. It is going to be tough to save ground. If you wind up wide into that first turn, and don’t make that up into the second turn, your chance of winning becomes pretty slim, especially in a competitive race like the Breeders’ Cup Mile. A good ride and a sharp jockey can make all the difference but generally, outside horses are up against it. Speed helps as if you can clear, or get out fast, you can save some ground. The rail or extreme inside posts can be troublesome also. If a horse doesn’t have speed from the inside at a mile at Santa Anita, or isn’t a good gate horse, they can easily wind up bottled up, and with an expected fast pace for the distance that can spell trouble.
Things don’t get much better in the Turf Mile. Not every horse is Lure and not every rider is Mike Smith. It takes a special horse, and a very fortunate trip to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile at Santa Anita from the outside. All the same, issues exist as on the main track, but the run to the turn is a little shorter, and those turns are a little tighter. The inside in this race tends to get congested into that first turn as well.
When betting these two races I focus a good deal on the pace scenario. I see who breaks well and who doesn’t and also try and anticipate what riders will be aggressive and who will be patient. This helps me decide if I can confidently use a horse I don’t feel is drawn well. A bad draw is not an automatic toss, but it is cause for pause.
The Breeders’ Cup Sprint is a fast paced race. I remember a few years back I loved a horse named Jimmy Creed in the race. He was drawn inside. When I projected the pace all I could envision was him being all bottled up. Sure he could have lucked out and got out, but in a fast heat like that with everybody hustling and holding their position, it was unlikely. Even with Garett Gomez, one of the best, I had to pass on a horse I loved. He got stuck inside, never got out and lost. He came back to win the Malibu drawing away I believe convincing me he could have won the Sprint with a better draw. I prefer outside the 5 post in the sprint, but not as far out as say 11 or 12.
The turf sprints in the Breeders’ Cup are also faster than average races. Outside horses have little time to make up ground. They need a perfect set up and trip or have to be significantly best to win.
Things start to even out as the races get longer. The Juvenile races at a mile and a sixteenth show how important that extra sixteenth can be. The draw is not nearly as vital as in the Mile.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic at a mile and a quarter almost negates the draw altogether. Sure it is the same distance as the Derby but the draw doesn’t matter nearly as much. There is no dreaded rail due to no oversized field or auxiliary gate. Even with a full 14 you get a long straight run into that first turn and the riders have plenty of time to adjust. The pace is also not as blistering as in the shorter races again making it easier to adjust.
This weekend with the exception of the first Saturday in May, could very well be when the draw can make or break someone. It is something I will be paying attention to. When you log into your AmWager account to play the Breeders’ Cup you want every edge and advantage you can get. Analyzing the post positions can help you get just that. Remember all those people making selections prior to the draw? This is your chance to eat them for breakfast.
For a lot more Breeders’ Cup coverage visit
You’ll be glad you did!

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


October 25, 2019

Things to Come: A Look at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

By: Jonathan Stettin

 While true that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hasn’t been a Kentucky Derby winner factory, it still gets me enthused to peruse the past performances and think of things to come. With that in mind, I’ll look at some horses who have caught my attention so far for either good or bad reasons. We’ll see how they do in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and how they progress or if they progress to the oh-so desired Derby Trail.
Remember it was right here some weeks back I wrote Code of Honor was most likely to assert himself to the top of the three year old division and I think he has done that.
You don’t expect Blaine Wright to have an early Kentucky Derby contender, especially one with only one grass start under his belt. Anneau d’ Or comes to Santa Anita with a route win on the grass at Golden Gate in his debut. It wasn’t particularly fast, but he did it like a horse with talent and he cost $480,000 in Ocala so someone saw something they liked. He is by Medaglia d’ Oro out of a Tapit mare. If he handles the dirt and runs ok being thrown in with the wolves, he has quality. Real quality. I’ll be watching with interest and maybe using him if I like his looks.
Dennis’ Moment brings a ton of hype with him. Dale Romans has a tendency to get very high on some of his horses. Everyone loved his last workout and is raving about it. It looked good to me, but not as outstanding everyone else seems to think it was. His Iroquois was a nice race, and I expect he should run well, but he will be a possible underlay and I have a suspicion he is overrated.
King Neptune is a sneaky horse to me. He has only sprinted primarily on grass with one synthetic start. He is never far back but seldom wins at just 1 for 9. He stretches out on dirt, for connections as sharp as a new razor, who are also Derby hungry. Danzig influence on top, Speightstown on the bottom. As I said, sneaky.
Maxfield looks legit and checks every box for me for the Juvenile and as an early Kentucky Derby watch horse. He could very well be Godolphin’s best Derby shot yet. If he doesn’t bounce off the big list race I think he’s the horse to beat.
Scabbard is another with a lot of hype. He has the ability for sure and comes off a troubled trip second to Dennis’ Moment. I won’t be surprised if he turns the tables.
Eight Rings is trained by Bob Baffert and that just about makes him an automatic. He was authoritative against softer last time. He’s got plenty of speed and I see no reason to think he’s not this good.
Wrecking Crew is interesting also. Bred to run all day, he has sprinted somewhat evenly three times at Del Mar. He moves to Santa Anita and stretches out here. He was another lofty purchase and was bet strongly in his debut. I think we can see a forward move here right into the picture.
American Theorem is by the hot American Pharoah. I believe in the sire, but not so much in this guy despite his two good starts to date.
Billy Bats has been on turf in all his starts to date. I’d leave him there.
Full Flat barley won in Japan. He will be a huge long shot and probably over bet at 100-1.
Shoplifted has disappointed since a nice win first out. The Juvenile is a tough spot to turn things around. Not impossible but very tough. If anyone can do it, that might just be Steve Asmussen. He’s an Into Mischief and we all know they come to run.
Storm the Court doesn’t look like he can catch Eight Rings.
Maxfield and King Neptune interest me the most as Derby type horses. King Neptune is eligible to make a fool out of me but he will get no prize for that as he won’t be the first or last horse to do so. Both of these guys are from foreign connections who have been such in all their racing endeavors except the Run For The Roses. Maybe it is one of their times.

Friday, 25 October 2019 11:59

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 26

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Race 7 at Belmont - Post Time 4:07 pm Eastern

Magic Star made my small “horses to watch” list off her maiden win on August 24. Horses rarely go on my list off a win because in my opinion the purpose of such a list is to note horses who had trouble and may finish better in a subsequent start. However, occasionally a horse runs so well in a race I want to follow it. Magic Star is such a horse, as her turf route win in her career debut was not only visually impressive but fast as well. Bumped at the start to begin 10th of 12, she rallied steadily from 10 lengths back, to seven, to three, to power off by two lengths and in spite of encountering traffic at the quarter pole. Jose Ortiz rides back and this filly should win a stakes before too long so should move through this first allowance level quickly. She is likely to be a POOR win bet as she opens at 6 to 5 but she’s a great single to start the pick 3, which turns it into the equivalent of a daily double.

Pick 3:
Race 7: Magic Star
Race 8: Killybegs Captain, Prince Lucky, Maximum Security, True Timber
Race 9: Irish Mias, Don Juan Kitten, Buy Land and See, Tiesto, Get Smokin
The cost of this wager at the $1 level is $20

Optional Pick 3:
Race 7: Magic Star
Race 8: Killybegs Captain, Prince Lucky
Race 9: ALL (11)
The cost of this wager at the $1 level is $22. We’re leaving Maximum Security off the ticket to maximize profit.

Bold Ruler Handicap - Race 8 at Belmont - Post Time 4:40 PM Eastern

Killybegs Captain rallied from nine lengths back in the early stages of the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash last month and was in front by the time the field hit the top of the stretch in a visually impressive performance. Earning his first graded stakes win with that effort, it must be noted that he had lost six races in a row prior to that and since his last win. However, it must also be noted that the previous win, in the Pelican Stakes in February of this year, was his second win in a row. Now that Killybegs Captain has rediscovered the winner's circle, I think he can do it again because the 109 Equibase Speed Figure he earned in that race is tied for the best last race figure in the field with likely heavy favorite Maximum Security. Additionally, because Killybegs Captain is going to have a fast pace to run at, courtesy of Knicks Go and Diamond King, jockey Eric Cancel (who rode Killybegs Captain perfectly in the De Francis) should be able to get the same kind of effort once again which could lead to the upset victory in this race.

Prince Lucky likes to win races, having won seven of 14 career starts. After taking back-to-back graded stakes in the winter and spring including a career-best 112 figure effort in the Hal's Hope Stakes in February, Prince Lucky went off form and ran badly in two straight races. Returning to the winner's circle in the State Dinner Stakes in July at Belmont, Prince Lucky ran an exceptional race last month in the Kelso Handicap when he led mid-race then battled head-and-head the rest of the way. Although beaten a half-length at the wire, Prince Lucky was three lengths clear of True Timber and the rest of the field and earned a 105 figure. Prince Lucky won his only start at this seven furlong trip and jockey John Velazquez, who has been in the saddle for the horse's last four wins, rides again today. From a good outside post, Prince Lucky will get a great view of the pacesetter and could return to the form with a repeat of his Hal's Hope Stakes effort in February.

After being disqualified from first in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security returned six weeks later with a disappointing second place finish in the Pegasus Stakes before winning the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational. Scheduled to run next in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby on September 21, Maximum Security was scratched from that race so there are certainly questions about his ability to maintain top form. However, as he has proven in all seven career starts, when Maximum Security steps foot on the track he is a fantastic athlete, having won six of seven races (disqualified in one of those victories) and having finished second in the other. With figures of 111, 116 and 109 in his last three efforts, Maximum Security should be even more mature towards the end of his three year old season and we can expect another "A" race good enough to win. However, he will likely be the prohibitive favorite.

Win Bets: Killybegs Captain and Prince Lucky to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exactas: Killybegs Captain, Prince Lucky and Maximum Security over Killybegs Captain, Prince Lucky, Maximum Security and True Timber.

Trifecta: Killybegs Captain, Prince Lucky and Maximum Security over Killybegs Captain, Prince Lucky, Maximum Security and True Timber over Killybegs Captain, Prince Lucky, Maximum Security and True Timber.

If Magic Star did not win race 7 here’s a double play for the eighth and ninth.
Race 8: Killybegs Captain, Prince Lucky, Maximum Security, True Timber
Race 9: Irish Mias, Don Juan Kitten, Buy Land and See, Tiesto, Get Smokin

Awad Stakes - Race 9 at Belmont - Post Time 5:13 PM Eastern

Irish Mias is an exceptionally well bred two year old who finished second in his first two starts, on dirt (although the first was scheduled for grass) before stretching out to two turns on turf in the $200K Laurel Futurity last month. He won gamely by a head and has only upside as the only other sibling (on the dam’s side) was bred by the owner and trained by Motion as he is, winning the Laurel Futurity in 2018 and a turf route winner. From the two post and with Franco riding back, Irish Mias gets slight preference in a fairly wide open field of improving and quality two year olds on the grass with starting odds of 6 to 1.

Don Juan Kitten also opens at 6/1, a homebred by Ramsey Farm from solid turf sire Kitten’s Joy. Although he led from start to finish in his debut he did it on slow fractions, which is all the more impressive when you consider he ran the last quarter mile in under 23 seconds, which is a closer’s style. Franco rode him first out and moves to Irish Mias but Carmouche is competent and trainer Gargan is having a huge Belmont fall meeting so far (9 for 25).

Buy Land and See won as he pleased by eight lengths last month in his first two turn race on turf and second career start, a big improvement off his debut. He rallied from ninth to third in that debut then led from nearly start to finish last time out but may not be a need the lead type. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides back and further improvement in his third career start is possible. He opens at a square price of 9/2 so is another to consider for all wagers we make involving this race.

Tiesto opens as the morning line favorite at 7 to 2, not poor odds but not what they should be in my opinion as he has about the same probability to win as many others. In his debut last month, Teisto rallied from fourth to win going away and as a Mott trainee it’s pretty rare to win first out. He’s certainly got talent and having won on the Belmont turf is a positive factor as well.

Get Smokin shows the same pattern is Buy Land and See as he ran third in a turf sprint in his debut then won second time out in his first turf route. The runner-up flattered him by winning off that race and although he loses Castellano to Talking, Saez takes over and that’s not an issue. What may be an issue, and the reason he’s rated below the other four win contenders, is the race he won as restricted and not open (not restricted) so he may find these a bit tougher than some of the others who won in open company.


Win Bets: Irish Mias and Don Juan Kitten to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.
Consider a win bet on Buy Land and See at 7 to 2 odds or higher.

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exacta: Box Irish Mias, Don Juan Kitten, Buy Land and See, Tiesto and Get Smokin.

Autumn Miss Stakes - Race 7 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:45 PM Eastern/3:45 Pacific

Great Sister Diane ships in from Florida, Gulfstream Park to be exact, having won three of her last four starts, two of the wins coming off the claim by Crichton. No matter she was a former claimer, Great Sister Diane is stakes quality having just won at $75K stakes in a field of 14 by rallying from fourth and leading the entire last eighth of a mile. Actually, she drew off in that race and the 108 Equibase Figure she earned is the best in this field. That explains why she ships cross country and brings along South Florida jockey Sanchez as well. Another factor of note is Great Sister Dane won that stakes against three year olds and upward but faces just three year olds today, another reason to expect another “A” effort good enough to win, opening at 6/1.

Keeper Ofthe Stars was nearly equally impressive winning an allowance race versus older at Golden Gate on the turf last month with a 106 figure. She’s four for nine now overall and two for four on grass. She likes to lead early but draws the five position and only one of the four horse inside of her in the gate appear to have any interest in leading so Cedillo may be able to put her on the lead or at the worst take up a catbird seat position. Opening at 5 to 1 she’s another with a big shot to win.

Mucho Unusual and Hidden Message round out a quartet with the bulk of the probability to win. Mucho Unusual comes back off a short freshening after a seventh place effort in the Del Mar Oaks, after pressing the pace in third. Winner Cambier Parc came back to win the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes and before that race Mucho Unusual won the Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes in a field of 10 and as the 5 to 2 favorite so her 6 to 1 starting odds are out of line particularly if the freshening did her good as it appears to have done. Hidden Message opens as the 5 to 2 favorite and can win but I’d prefer one of the other three to do so. She made her U.S. debut in the Del Mar Oaks ad finished second of 13 at nine to one odds. Since that was a KEY RACE from which three horses came back from to win, including Cambier Parc, she can certainly improve in her second start in the U.S. but she’s no standout.

For second on some exacta tickets in this big field I’ll throw in Apache Princess, K P Slickem and Strike at Dawn.

Win Bets: Great Sister Diane and Keeper Ofthe Stars at 2 to 1 or more.
Consider a smaller win bet on Mucho Unusual at 7 to 2 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exacta: Box Great Sister Diane, Keeper Ofthe Stars, Mucho Unusual and Hidden Message.

Exacta: Great Sister Diane, Keeper Ofthe Stars, Mucho Unusual and Hidden Message over Great Sister Diane, Keeper Ofthe Stars, Mucho Unusual, Hidden Message, Apache Princess, K P Slickem and Strike at Dawn.

Friday, 18 October 2019 19:32

Now More Than Ever

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


October 18, 2019

Now More Than Ever

By: Jonathan Stettin

For about four years I have been writing about and calling for the industry’s need for two things: a central governing body, and some sort of commissioner. It’s funny that when I first started campaigning for this it was met with a lot of skepticism and even some laughter and ridicule. Since then many have jumped on the bandwagon and are calling for the same.
In a recent conversation I had with trainer Bob Baffert, he expressed to me he has long been in favor of a commissioner type of scenario for our sport. As most of you are aware, he is often cast into an ambassador type of role along with other key participants of the game as we really have nobody designated to be out there front and center.
With a centralized governing body would come a standard set of rules for all tracks. This would be medication rules and racing rules. Hopefully applies equally and fairly. We’d also presumably have some accountability.
With a commissioner, we’d have a spokesperson who would be charged with not only answering inquiries about misfortunes which occur but improving awareness, and both growing and restoring the Sport of Kings in this evolved and different works we now live and play in.
It will be difficult to achieve the above, but the time is right, and it is likely essential for long term prosperous survival of the sport we love. The difficulty will arise from the industry’s inability to agree on much and the long-standing attitude of every man and entity for themselves.
Those who supply information want to keep control of that and not share it without charge.
The tracks can’t even stagger post times.
The reporters and publications can’t say anything they wish due to fear of boycotts in advertising, credentials, access, and sponsors.
Bettors are taken for granted and even outright shunned despite their being the customer and fueling the game.
Our best defense to atrocities that occur is not to acknowledge some reform is immediately imperative but instead to shoot the messenger and point out how lousy an organization PETA is. They may be, but that does not prevent them from occasionally being on the right side of an argument, nor does the fact they happen to have an agenda. An equally inept defense is that many of us love our horses and treat them well. That is true but you are only as strong as your weakest link. We have too many weak links, and we are giving too much ammunition to our game's enemies. Long term that will not play out well. We need to get in front of that as an industry and not play Nero. “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.”
Our weak links lie in drugs, legal and otherwise, testing, enforcement, slaughter, aftercare, cruelty, rules, stewardship, and of course safety. Yes, we are making progress. Yes, there are improvements but perception is everything and without an organized educational program, much of it goes unnoticed by our foes.
We have park benches advertising to squash our sport outside the venue of one of our biggest events. We have a state governor calling for the abolishment of racing. We have a website pointing out fatalities and we now have the mainstream media coverage back that we lost for a while. If something bad happens they are all over it. I have seen zero about the Breeders’ Cup or the incredible grand competition and show we are about to witness in two weeks.
While we are making improvements, we can do better. Most if not all our issues can be solved. We need a bit less greed, a bit less reluctance to share some control, some cooperation, and a governing body and commissioner.
I have lobbied for a governing body, and an elected commissioner for a long time. I think it is needed now more than ever. If we wait much longer we might just need a trustee. A bankruptcy trustee. Remember, we have to save ourselves while there is something to save.

Friday, 18 October 2019 03:28

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 19

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Race 5 at Keeneland -Post Time 3:18 pm Eastern

There are a couple of things to note about the maiden race for two year olds, most just starting their careers and some which may continue to improve to the point they may be mentioned as Kentucky Derby contenders next year. The first factor is of those which have run, it appears up to five of them may want the lead from the start. It may only take two or three all bent on having the lead early to make them all tire late and that helps the horses which can sit in mid-pack in the early stages. However, with some first time starters we have no idea where they like to run during a race.

Tranquility Base is a first time starter who is working every 6 to 8 days over the last six weeks for fitness. He’s by one of the top sires of the past few years in Tapit and he cost $400,000 at Auction so is thought of highly. His dam (mother) has produced two horses to race before him, and BOTH were runners, one winning at first asking. For a trainer (Jones) who wins with more than an average share of first time starters, I’ll give Tranquility Base first look for wagering as he offers value for the risk to be sure, opening at 12/1.

Numidian is another first time starter who opens at high odds, 15/1 to be exact. The reason both he and Tranquility Base open at high odds is the public nearly always gravitates towards horses with experience but there is no problem backing a first time starter. Numidian put in a pretty strong fifth best of 30 workout to cap a nice series of workouts, on 10/11 here at Keeneland, and like Tranquility Base, Numidian’s dam produced a first out winner and that kind of “Precociousness” can be passed along to this colt Trainer Catalano wins with 20% of his first timers and excellent jockey Channing Hill (who happens to be the trainer’s son-in-law) rides a lot of winners for this stable.

Elusive d’Oro has run second in all three career starts to date and is not a horse which appears to need the lead to win. He rallied from eighth to second in his debut then in his other two starts went to the lead and faded just a bit but held second. He gets a key jockey change to Ricardo Santana, who is having a tremendous Keeneland meeting, such as when riding the $31 winner to victory in the Sycamore Stakes on Thursday.

Win Bets: Tranquility Base, Numidian, Elusive d’Oro at odds of 4/1. Bet two of the three going to post at the highest odds if at or above that level.

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Race 5: Tranquility Base, Numidian, Elusive d’Oro
Race 6: Boss of Bourbon St, Extra Medium, Smile Bryan and Echo Alpha Six

Race 6 at Keeneland - Post Time 3:51 PM Eastern

This is a race open to horses with just one career win and all of these have more than a few losses to go along with that one win. Most just haven’t been able to repeat their maiden wins so the key may be to look to horses which won their most recent race as they figured it out and haven’t regressed yet. Boss of Bourbon St is one of those who won his most recent race, easily by six lengths. What’s significant is the win came at the same seven furlong (seven-eighths of a mile) distance as this race, and it came in his second start after coming bac from eight months off, so he should improve physically off the effort as well as that win came the first time he was placed in a claiming race, this being a claiming race as well.

Extra Medium also won his most recent race, also at this seven furlong trip. The win came on all-weather in Illinois and horses shipping from Arlington Park to Keeneland have repeated their efforts to another “A” race good enough to win may be forthcoming.

Smile Bryan ran poorly in his most recent race, on 8/28, following a big effort where he led in the stretch and was beaten a neck on the finish, at this seven furlong distance. He also finished second in April in his only previous start at Keeneland and he could return to that kind of form because since he last race he became a gelding.

Echo Alpha Six returns from nine months off and has been working well. He won in his career debut so we now he can fire fresh and he looks to be overlooked in the wagering as he opens at 10/1.

Win Bets: Boss of Bourbon St
and Extra Medium at odds of 3 to 1 or more.
When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exactas: Box Boss of Bourbon St, Extra Medium, Smile Bryan and Echo Alpha Six.

Race 6: Boss of Bourbon St
, Extra Medium, Smile Bryan and Echo Alpha Six.
Race 7: Marvin, Gran Hombre, Bunch and High Holy.

Race 7 at Keeneland - Post Time 4:24 PM Eastern

In another wide open maiden race for two year old males, the equivalent of 12 to 15 year old boys, we have a field in which most have never run at all. Marvin put in a strong workout at Keeneland in his most recent full speed drill, the third best of 31 on the day at the distance, and most of the other 30 were likely older horses who have won races. The dam has produced a first out winner and the trainer wins at an above average 22% rate with first timers. The outside post is good too.

Gran Hombre comes from the barn of Al Stall, known for having his first timers ready to run as evidenced by a 25% win rate. This one is also a half-brother to a first out winner and his sire, Fed Biz, produces a strong 21% win rate with his first time starters so this cold is bred to run well early in his career on both sides of his family tree.

Bunch is another first time starter and likely to be one of the highest odds horses at post time. We must remind ourselves to be contrarians and not be scared of high odds horse so perhaps this horse deserves a few bucks to win and place so we won’t be kicking ourselves late. Bunch comes from the barn of Joan Scott, very competent for many years and actually having won with 4 of her last 16 first timers, a very good record. Sire Race day has his foals on the track for the first time this year and five of 20 have won first time out to date, which is a pretty good record so the colt could post the upset.

High Holy is one more first time starter opening at high odds, in this case 12/1. Owner/breeder Silverton Hills farm really takes their time with their young horses so I expect this colt to be well-prepared for his first race. In between a bunch of average morning drills, High Holy put in a sharp 47.8 half mile workout which shows he’s fit and the trainer doesn’t start many first timers but fired with one under the radar at Keeneland last year at 11/1 so beware.

Win Bets: Pick two of these four as win bets at 4 to 1 or higher odds: Marvin, Gran Hombre, Bunch and High Holy.
Add place bets on any of them at 6 to 1 or more.

Exactas: Box Marvin, Gran Hombre, Bunch and High Holy.

Friday, 11 October 2019 17:14

Pick Sixing

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


October 11, 2019

Pick Sixing

By: Jonathan Stettin

 As someone who focused on the $2 pick 6 for many years, with a good amount of success, I was extremely disappointed when the wager all but disappeared. The 20 cent jackpot wagers are a completely different animal and don’t have the day to day opportunities the conventional pick 6 offered. A big part of my success wagering over literally decades was that I could count on a nice pick 6 or two or maybe even three over the course of a year. Those days are gone.
I don’t really play in tournaments although I did dominate the inaugural Handicap for Horses contest played over the course of the Saratoga meet. I really didn’t think anyone could beat me in a tournament that runs the course of an entire meet. You need that competitive attitude in this game. Remember we are playing against each other.
I have always felt there was a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge with my name on it. I am not a fan of the format of the NHC tournament so I have not thought much about that. I don’t play in qualifying contests so I will have to buy in if and when I decide to take that swing. I almost bought in last year. Then I read the rules. I didn’t like the mandatory wager requirements. Let me bet the $7500 bankroll anyway I want and I’m in. No problem.
I thought about buying in this year, and who knows I still may but I doubt it. In pondering the scenario I thought ok, a 10k buy in, and $2500 goes to the pot. I play with $7500. Then I thought I could take that same 10k, and put it into one of the only conventional pick 6’a left on the menu. It was a no brainer for me. I’ll dance with the lady I brought.
That got me thinking about two past Breeders’ Cup pick 6’s. One I won, but felt like I lost. The other I lost, but it could have easily swung my way and the ticket structure was something to Behold. No pun intended but Beholder was a single. One of two. The other was Dancing House on the turf at about 20-1. A 20-1 single who ran a close 4th if memory serves correct. That meant the whole pool on BC Friday. 1.2 mil on a 196 ticket. Not bad.
The one I won and lost is another story. I was alive gong into the Classic with the Awesome Again entry and Swain. Swain was paying considerably more. I also had nice pick 4’s with both. I don’t mind the shorter price getting home. The thing is if you watch Swain through the stretch and have any doubt as to who was best, I suggest another hobby or profession.
Had I played, or if I play in the BCBC I would also play some wagers outside the tournament. That seems difficult and even disadvantageous. I look for an edge, not an obstacle. The one with my name on it does tempt however.
The demise of the Pick 6 began with the Pick 4. It hastened when the Pick 4 became a 50 cent wager as opposed to $2. It almost became obsolete with the introduction of the 50 cent Pick 5. The evolutionary to jackpots put the final nail in the coffin.
I always thought the Pick 6 separated the men from the boys so to speak. It was a tough bet to cash, but awfully rewarding in its day.
For all the pick Sixers out there, and I am not sure how many of us are left. See you all in the Breeders’ Cup pool.

Friday, 11 October 2019 12:28

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 12

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Nearctic Stakes -Race 7 at Woodbine -Post Time 4:30 pm Eastern

Blind Ambition is a fairly legitimate favorite, opening at 5/2, but there is value in another trio of contenders who would not be a surprise if winning and especially if completing the exacta at decent odds. Blind Ambition won on 9/6 following nine months off and even though the win came in a classified allowance (Not a stakes) it was a top effort with a low level stakes quality Equibase Figure (106) he can improve upon second off the layoff. The horse earned a 115 figure last April (2018) wining the Elusive Quality Stakes on the Belmont turf and in that prep last month Blind Ambition showed a nice kick rallying from fourth which could be the winning move here as Yorkton, Boreal Spirit and Richiesinthehouse are ALL need-the-lead types bound to contest a hot early pace.

Woody Creek is a filly against boys, making her U.S. debut off a fifth of 16 finish in a stakes in England which was pretty good. She adds Lasix which gives credence to the thought she may have bled in that race so we should look back to races before last to assess her form. Doing so we find three straight big efforts beaten a neck or less in a group three stakes about as tough as this one. With Kimura getting on, likely to make the 110 pound assignment which is NINE pounds less than most of the field, Woody Creek cannot be ignored as she opens at 8/1.

Reconfigure has a 5-3-1 record in 9 races so it’s hard to ignore him either as he opens at 10/1. Since the claim by Tiller out of a three length win at this six furlong trip on turf in July, he’s run better and better, including when beaten by just three-quarters of a length to Blind Ambition one before last. The 105 figure earned in that race is rock solid here if Blind Ambition doesn’t run back to his 2018 form and that makes Reconfigure a strong contender in this current top form.

Lookin to Strike has a five for 13 record in his career, almost all on the main track, but he ran on to miss by a nose to Boreal Spirit one before last in a 100K allowance race when that one had an easy lead. This time, with pace to run into, and moving back to a turf sprint off an irrelevant route, Lookin to Strike is another at high odds (10/1 morning line) to consider.

We’ll also add City Boy, for second on exacta and trifecta tickets, who opens at 20/1, as he possesses a 2-6-2 record and likes to finish second a lot.

Win Bets: Blind Ambition to win at 2/1, a low odds overlay win bet.
Woody Creek to win at 3 to 1 or more.
Consider smaller win bets on Reconfigure and on Lookin to Strike at 9 to 2 or higher.

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exactas: Blind Ambition and Woody Creek over Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure, City Boy and Lookin to Strike.

Exacta Box: Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure and Lookin to Strike.

Trifecta: Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure and Lookin to Strike over Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure, City Boy and Lookin to Strike over Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure, City Boy and Lookin to Strike.

Pick 3:
Race 7 - Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure and Lookin to Strike.
Race 8 – Red Tea, Durance, Imperial Charm and Starship Jubilee
Race 9 – Ziyad and Desert Encounter

E.P. Taylor Stakes – Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 5:05 PM Eastern

Durance is one of three horses making their North American debuts and one of a trio of three year olds facing older. Both she and Imperial Charm faced older in their most recent races, with Durance finishing the better of the two when second in a group 2 stakes in Germany run at 12 furlongs on a left handed course like those in North America. Prior to that came the filly’s best effort yet, when third of 13 in the Grade 1 German Oaks. That effort, if repeated, is more than good enough to win and as she opens at 6/1 she gets top billing because of that.

Imperial Charm finished third in a Group 1 stakes in France in May, her best career effort, then after another third place effort took a couple of months off and ran third of seven in a non-graded race in France on 9/5. The grade 1 placing came at this 10 furlong trip on turf and like Durance, Imperial Charm adds Lasix for the first time, so although she enters the race off a poorer effort in easier company she has the potential to rebound to top form good enough to win.

Red Tea and Starship Jubilee open as the two morning line choices at 3/1 and 7/2, respectively. Both have a shot but don’t appear to offer the win betting opportunity as either of the previously two mentioned horses. Red Tea won a Group 1 stakes in Ireland in July but didn’t run as well in a Group 1 at 10 furlongs one month later. Those were tougher horses to be sure so if she can repeat her 7/21 effort she can win, but with a two for six record this year she may be as good as some of the others, but no better.

Starship Jubilee is the favorite of the locals, having just won the Canadian Stakes last month at 9 furlong on the course. She can win on the lead or from behind so Contreras will have the opportunity to see what transpires in the opening quarter mile before deciding on a strategy. Just the same, although a 13 time winner, Starship Jubilee’s best Equibase figures have been 105, compared to 114 and 109 for Durance, 116 and 110 for Imperial Charm and 114 and 118 for Red Tea, so she may have her work cut out for her.

Win Bets: Durance to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher. Consider a second win bet, on Imperial Charm, at odds of 7 to 2 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exacta and Trifecta: Box Durance, Imperial Charm, Red Tea and Starship Jubilee

Sands Point Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:13 PM Eastern

Not only are horses trained by Chad Brown routinely over bet (bet more heavily than they should be based on probability to win), sometimes they have less probability than others and those others offer excellent value. Such is the case here with Souper Escape, who opens at 8/1 while Brown’s New and Improved opens at 5/2. Souper Escape just won the La Lorgnette Stakes at Woodbine, albeit on the main all-weather surface, but that effort translates to the Belmont turf just fine. She had won a race on dirt but scheduled for turf two before that and she won at a mile on turf in April following three months off. As a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro she will have no problem handling the trip and the 92 last race Equibase Speed Figure is the BEST last race figure in the field, making her, not New and Improved, the one to beat.

Also worth considering is Ledecka, who opens at 12/1. This filly broke her maiden AT THIS 9 FURLONG TRIP the first time she tried it, one before last on 8/24, then won a 100K stakes on all-weather at Presque Isle Downs. That has turned out to be a KEY RACE, with the fourth and fifth finishers having run better to be second in subsequent starts and with the sixth and eighth horse both winning their next starts. Although the 84 and 83 figures from her last two races are below the 92 Souper Escape earned in her last race, Ledecka is still improving and has potential to outrun her double digit odds.

Bets: Souper Escape to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.
For about one-third to one-fourth of the amount you bet on Souper Escape, Ledecka to win at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

Pattison Canadian International Stakes - Race 9 at Woodbine - Post Time 5:42 PM Eastern

There’s really no play in this race so that’s why the pick three ticket started in race seven at Woodbine is the way to profit. There are six entered here and I would be extremely surprised if any horse other than Ziyad or Desert Encounter won the race. Unfortunately, Ziyad opens at even money and Desert Encounter the second choice at 2 to 1. Ziyad, who makes his North American debut, nearly beat Coronet in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint Cloud at the end of June then dropped just a hair to win the Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville and therefore has the best credentials of any of these by far. Guyon comes in from France to ride this gelding who has been extremely consistent throughout his career at this marathon distance amassing a 3-4-2 record from 10 races. Desert Encounter has run in North America previously, shipping in from Newbury in England to win last year’s Canadian at odds of 8/1. He prepped in the same race he finished third in last year, this year winning that race last month, and Atzeni, who rode him to victory last year and who has not ridden since in seven races, travels to Woodbine to ride again. Certainly if his 2/1 morning line holds up, Desert Encounter may be worth a win bet even if Ziyad is a bit more likely because he’s been this route before.

Friday, 04 October 2019 12:49

Speed on the Rail

Past the Wire    Tracking Tips Logo


October 4, 2019

Speed on the Rail

By: Jonathan Stettin

If you like playing the races with “their money” now is the time to pad that bankroll for the soon to be here Breeders’ Cup. With the fall Keeneland meet starting, Belmont finishing with some big days, and even some great European races like the Arc coming up, there should be something on the menu for every type of player.
Going into an event like the Breeders’ Cup hot, and on a roll, is just what the Doctor ordered. When you’re going good, and confident, you should be the most dangerous. By nature, we all have a tendency to play aggressively under those circumstances. If you are a reader or follower of mine you already know I am of the opinion aggressive play is the only way to beat this most challenging game.
With so many opportunities coming up we must choose wisely. As good as it is to head to the Breeders’ Cup smoking hot, it is equally as bad to head in cold. This is the time to start clicking.
Keeneland is such a tough meet. It always has been. Shippers pointing for wins at a short meet with big fields makes for competitive racing. While tough, that spells some nice payoffs. A player's dream.
The exception being the Polytrack period, Keeneland’s main track has historically been kind to speed. Especially inside speed. I remember responding to my Dad when he would ask me who I liked at Keeneland simply saying “speed on the rail.” That still holds true today. While it is not always easy to find the speed on the rail, if and when you do leaving it out or betting against it can be perilous. I don’t have many rules in Handicapping or betting, but I am always cognizant of speed on the rail or inside speed at Keeneland.
When playing Keeneland price or odds should never be a deterrent. This is generally true at any meet, but much more so at certain meets and Keeneland is one of those. Rarely will I let odds sway me, but at Keeneland they just don’t seem to matter at all, with the exception of the baby races in the spring. In the fall, players are all over the board, and recreational money is abundant in the pools. If you are right you will get paid. This is the ideal scenario for aggressive play.
As kind to speed as the main track at Keeneland can be, I’ve always favored late runners on the turf in Lexington. The first day or two when the grass is fresh can be an exception, but overall I feel closers fare better. California horses who are used to short grass and firm turf don’t seem to me to do as well as the east coast and NY turf horses who get different courses thrown at them more often. All these little nuances can lead to a score making decision.
Keeneland is so close to Breeders’ Cup time the win and you’re in races are vital. There are always a few outsiders looking to punch a late ticket to the big dance. You can often find some at more than fair odds. These are great opportunities. I love betting a quality horse when I know the connections are all 110% in. It’s a little different scenario then say when one trainer has three runners in the same 6 horse field and you are guessing who needs the race, who is pointing for another spot etc. etc.
A lot of US players overlook betting European races. Not me. I love it and find great value and success there. I’ll be playing the Arc card with enthusiasm. While the European Past Performances are shall we say lacking in comparison to ours, replay work which I love is critical. The field sizes are ridiculously large and the prices are crazy good especially if you get beyond the first two choices. There is no better place to bet a little to win a lot. There is damage to be done on those cards.
After the next two weeks, which takes us to two weeks out for the Breeders’ Cup, I’ll go into an ultra-conservative approach to betting. I like to start studying for the big event early and keep my focus there. Those two days are loaded, and there is much to absorb, and also much to miss if you don’t put in the work. We don’t want to beat ourselves by not being prepared.
Good luck these next few weeks. Let’s pad those bankrolls and head to Cali on a roll.