Friday, 27 July 2018 12:19

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, July 28

King Corrie Stakes – Race 5 at Woodbine - Post Time 3:05 PM Eastern


Run Away won the first three starts of his career last spring and summer, including a pair of stakes. One of those was the important G2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. Not disgraced when 3rd behind Bolt d'Oro in the Del Mar Futurity after the trio of wins, Run Away won a non-graded stakes then ran badly and was given the winter off to mature. Starting late for a three year old, in May, Run Away ran poorly in three races, all stakes, but gets a NEW LEASE ON LIFE starting today as he ships out of California and changes trainers while trying all-weather for the first time. He should love the surface, as the ONLY other foal of his dam is Si Si Tequila, who broke her maiden impressively over the track last week, and as sire Run Away and Hide has sired a pair of stakes winners at Woodbine. Trainer Carroll has had good success (5 for 19) with horses moving from dirt to all-weather and FOUR of those have been ridden by Contreras, who picks up the mount today with a good outside post to stalk and wait until rallying for the possible upset.



Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town are the other two contenders but open as the two favorites so although we must use both on exacta and trifecta tickets they don't offer enough return for win bets. Hemp Hemp Hurray returns from Ascot where his connections gave him a shot but he didn't run well. That form should reverse as right before that, in his first and only all-weather sprint, he won by 11 in handy fashion with a 100 Equibase figure about as good as Run Away earned in his career best race to date (102) and Wyatt's Town earned in his best race (104). Leading jockey Hernandez gets on and if Hemp Hemp Hurray runs the kind of race he did on 3/31 he could be tough to beat. Wyatt's Town improved markedly first off the McKnight claim last out to win by 3 with a 104 figure. He was only entered in a claiming race once, right before that, and was scooped up for a hefty 50K tag so should prove a profitable claim as he won the race he was claimed out of by nearly 8 lengths. His knocks are he tries all-weather for the first time and although he does have the breeding on the sire's (Speightstown) for the surface none of his dam's foals have ever run on it. The #1 winning jockey (Da Silva) for the barn rides and so he must be respected as a contender.



Bets: Run Away to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Fair odds on both Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town are also 2 to 1 but I don't believe either will get anywhere near that threshold.


Exactas: Box Run Away and Hemp Hemp Hurray. Box Run Away and Wyatt's Town.


Trifecta: Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town over Hemp Hemp Hurray and Wyatt's Town over Run Away.


Vanderbilt Handicap – Race 8 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:02 PM Eastern


Done Deal returned from 20 months off in May and was as well regarded as when he went on the sidelines (winning a 1st level allowance race) as he came back in a 2nd level allowance race at Churchill Downs, finishing on even terms with another horse but five clear of the next one. Rested seven weeks, Done Deal came back in the Iowa Sprint Handicap and crushed the field of eight easily by four lengths in geared down fashion. Entering the race with a sensational best of 41 five furlong workout at Saratoga and now with four wins in seven races as well as on an improving pattern in his third race off a layoff, with no sign of regression coming, the gelding gets a great post and has potential to run down heavy favorite Imperial Hint to post the upset, opening at 8/1.


Imperial Hint is a win machine, with 10 wins in 16 races but better still with a 6-2-0 record in 9 races at this six furlong trip. One of those losses came in last fall's Breeders' Cup Sprint, which followed five straight wins. Castellano was up for his last four wins and rides back and like Done Deal, Imperial Hint has been working sensationally in the morning. HOWEVER, those workouts have been at Parx unlike Done Deal, who worked locally, and as we all know Saratoga can be a very tricky track, as well as the "graveyard of favorites" so although I will use Imperial Hint on exacta and double tickets played, he may not be the lock his prohibitive post time odds make it appear.


For exactas and doubles, there are some strategies to use which involve NOT using Imperial Hint with any of the low odds horses, as below.


Bets: Done Deal to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.


Exacta: Box Done Deal and Imperial Hint. (Note: I intend to bet this combination many times)

Exacta: Imperial Hint over Petrov, Warrior's Club, Mr. Crow and Done Deal.

Exacta: Done Deal over ALL


Trifecta: Imperial Hint over Switzerland over Petrov, Warrior's Club, Mr. Crow and Done Deal.

Trifecta: Imperial Hint over Switzerland over Done Deal.


Doubles: Imperial Hint and Done Deal in Race 8 with Highland Sky, Channel Maker, Bigger Picture, Glorious Empire and Manitoulin in Race 9.


Doubles: Imperial Hint in Race 8 with Highland Sky, Channel Maker, Bigger Picture, Glorious Empire and Manitoulin in Race 9.


Doubles: Done Deal in Race 8 with ALL in Race 9 except #4 Sarrasin.


Doubles: ALL in Race 8 with Highland Sky and Manitoulin in Race 9.


Bowling Green Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga - Post Time 5:40 Eastern


Manitoulin and Highland Sky, who both open at double digit odds, are the key to profit in this race in which ALL but Sarrasin can win. Lower odds contenders such as Hi Happy, Sadler's Joy and Money Multiplier can all win, but as we witnessed with the running of the G1 Manhattan Stakes on Belmont Day, with a six horse blanket finish and won by longshot Spring Quality, there's no standout in these kinds of turf marathons. Manitoulin was my top pick in the Manhattan and ran very well to be beaten three necks on the wire at 30 to 1 odds. Two before that he won the G2 Hollywood Turf Cup and he has run well on the Saratoga turf. With just a bit of racing luck he can earn his first grade 1 win here. Similarly, Highland Sky can win at a price. As a three year old in 2016 he ran big when missing by a neck in the Pennine Ridge Stakes and Belmont Derby Invitational. Winless in eight races in a row before winning last month at Belmont at this 11 furlong trip, now that the gelding is back in top form and with a strong workout on this turf course he won over previously, another "A" effort would get him into the mix late at high odds.


Bets: Manitoulin and Highland Sky to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher. To bet more than one horse to win, use a DUTCHING TOOL like the one available for free at Amwager as it helps allocate your win bets in the most efficient manner possible.


Exacta: Manitoulin and Highland Sky over ALL, then ALSO the reverse (which also serves as a place bet), which is ALL over Manitoulin and Highland Sky.


California Dreamin' Stakes – Race 7 at Del Mar - Post Time 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific


Fly to Mars took blinkers off for his last start on June 10 after seven races in a row. Although he won two of the previous seven in the hood, the difference with the blinkers off was phenomenal, as he raced close up in 2nd in the early states and drew off as he pleased. That was also a mile following four sprints, and it was also his first race with Prat in the saddle since Prat rode him to a 3 length win in a turf sprint last fall. The 113 Equibase figure is the best last race turf route figure in the field except for the 117 figure Well Developed earned when beaten a head and a neck in a similar Cal-Bred stakes race in May, but the race is turning out to be a productive race runners are improving out of, as the runner-up was fourth then won and as the 4th place finisher won the opening day Oceanside Stakes in an upset.



Alsatian opens at 20/1 and all I can say to start is "BEWARE." He finished 2nd in a nearly identical stakes last May on the sod and then put blinkers on, running poorly in six races. Just like Fly to Mars, when the blinkers were removed came a big form reversal, as Alsatian won gamely on the turf at Santa Anita with a 112 stakes quality figure. Franco rode him for the first time that day and again last out on 6/3 in an irrelevant race when the colt was asked to run 12 furlongs. Back at a distance he can handle, as a previously stakes placed horse and with his sibling on the dam's side (Lucky J.H.) having won $630K and a number of similar Cal-Bred stakes, Alsatian has a big shot to outrun his odds here and perhaps to post a big upset for our profit.



B Squared is very consistent and game and deserves our respect as he's been first or second in nine of 18 races including a number of similar stakes. He was beaten a head in the common Crystal Water Stakes in May won by Soi Phet¸ finishing a neck in front of Well Developed, and so he has to be included on any and all exacta tickets we play involving this race. Soi Phet does as well, and his 12/1 odds which are a joke won't hold up. He was sent to post at 7 to 2 favorite in the Bertrando Stakes on dirt last month following his Crystal Water Stakes win and he's a six time Cal-Bred stakes winner who can string big races together.



Accountability was 3rd behind Fly to Mars last out and as the horses on either side of him ran well he must be considered for exotics particularly as he opens at 20/1. Grecian Fire was third in the Bertrando and is another we can use in exotics in a race which could pay off handsomely if we're right about Alsatian and Fly to Mars. Ashleyluvssuger has earned $1.3 million and was just a head and two necks behind Soi Phet in May so rounds out the contenders.


Bets: Fly to Mars to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.

Alsatian to win and to place at odds of 7 to 2 or more.

Consider B Squared for a win bet at 4 to 1 or more and also consider Soi Phet for a win bet at 4 to 1 or more.


Exacta: Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared and Soi Phet over Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared, Soi Phet, Grecian Fire, Ashleyluvssuger, Well Developed and Accountability.


Exacta: Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared, Soi Phet, Grecian Fire, Ashleyluvssuger, Well Developed and Accountability over Alsatian, Fly to Mars, B Squared and Soi Phet.


Published in Ellis Starr's Blog

Vagrancy Handicap – Race 3 at Belmont Park - Post Time 2:34 PM Eastern

Kirby's Penny is six for 11 in her career. Better still, she's 5 for 7 on dirt, all since last April. She finished second in the other two dirt starts. She's absolutely ready for grade 3 competition as she faces today with John Velazquez riding as for two big wins last summer at Saratoga and her most recent win, on April 8, came off a 6 month layoff and the effort should be improved upon 2nd off the rest. Opening at 6 to 1, she's exceptionally playable.


Swing and Sway is another very playable horse, opening at 12 to 1, having just won the Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn and two before that the American Beauty Stakes. She's now 5 for 15 in her career and could also be very competitive here. There are no real knocks on any of the other four, but Holiday Disguise, who opens at 9/5, hasn't any more probability than the rest. Sure, she won the similar G3 Distaff Stakes last month at Aqueduct, but it wasn’t any better of an effort nor was the horse she beat, Sounds Delicious (who was disqualified from 2nd to 4th) anything really special in terms of this field.


Win Bets: Kirby's Penny at odds of 2 to 1 or more and Swing and Sway at odds of 3 to 1 or more. Place bets may be warranted at 5 to 1 or higher.


The most efficient way to bet multiple horses to win is to use a "Dutching" tool like the one available at Amwager, which helps allocated your betting dollars for the best return.


Runhappy Stakes – Race 8 at Belmont Park- Post Time 5:14 PM Eastern

Always Sunshine is EVERY bit as likely to win as favorite's Skyler's Scramjet and Westwood, but opens at 12/1. He returns from a layoff since last July but won his 2017 debut by four lengths off a layoff since the previous October so that's not an issue. Winner of nearly $400,000 in his career and first or second in 10 of 18 dirt races, he will be ignored by many in this race compared to others. Back in 2016, Always Sunshine finished 2nd in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Stakes on the circuit, the same race Skyler's Scramjet won in March of this year. Later that spring he won the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint with a career best 118 Equibase Figure and in his last start of 2017 earned a 109 figure which stacks up favorably against the favorites here if repeated.


King Kranz goes for his 3rd win in a row since moving to the Rodriguez barn and Iran Ortiz, Jr. rides back after being up for the first time last month in a strong win. The comeback win in March earned a 108 figure and opening at 9/2 we cannot rule him out as a contender to win.


Skyler's Scramjet can't be labeled a vulnerable favorite as the drop from grade 1 company in the Carter Handicap last time out helps his chances to return to winning form, and Westwood is another with a shot although his first graded stakes attempt last month wasn't good as he faded to 5th in the stretch after leading.


Win Bets: Always Sunshine to win and to place at 2 to 1 or more.


Exacta: Always Sunshine and King Kranz over Always Sunshine, King Kranz, Skyler's Scramjet and Westwood (as there's no point in using the two favorites with each other for 1st & 2nd), then ALSO the opposite, which is Always Sunshine, King Kranz, Skyler's Scramjet and Westwood over Always Sunshine and King Kranz.


Peter Pan Stakes – Race 10 at Belmont Park – Post Time 6:18 Eastern

Just Whistle earned the best last race Equibase figure, 106, when winning last month at Keeneland. That was his second start of the year and a big improvement off his runner-up effort one month prior which followed six months away from the races. As a son of Pioneer of the Nile there is little doubt Just Whistle can successfully negotiate the mile and one-eighth distance of the Peter Pan. As a horse on a pattern for significant improvement in his third start off a layoff, he appears to be the one to beat in this race.


High North earned his first win last fall in his third career start, then tried stakes company and was not disgraced when fourth of 14 in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. After taking the winter off, he was entered in the Risen Star Stakes without a prep first and ran poorly, then again in the Rebel Stakes. Adding blinkers for the Northern Spur Stakes next out, he returned to top form, earning a 105 figure when drawing off by two and one-half lengths in a field of eight. Trainer Brad Cox is still on a high from winning the Kentucky Oaks with Monomoy Girl last weekend and his 30% success rate with back-to-back winners in dirt routes over the past two years is another reason supporting High North potentially winning his second stakes race in a row.


Blended Citizen needs a hot pace in front of him to succeed, as occurred in March when rallying to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks by a neck with a 109 figure. Following that effort, Blended Citizen tried to earn enough points for a Kentucky Derby start by running in the Blue Grass Stakes but could only manage a fifth place finish. In the Peter Pan, with the prospect for a hotly contested pace unlikely, Blended Citizen may be hard pressed to pass the field to win but it is not an impossible task and so he will round out the three horses with the best chance to win this year's Peter Pan Stakes.


I'm completely taking a stand against Core Beliefs, shipping out from California and overbet off his 3rd place effort in the Santa Anita Derby behind Justify.


Win Bets: Just Whistle at 2 to 1 or more, a TRUE KEY BET on the day.

A win bet on High North is warranted at 3 to 1 or more.


Exacta: Box Just Whistle, High North and Blended Citizen.

Man O' War Stakes – Race 11 at Belmont Park – Post Time 6:50 Eastern


Postulation can post the upset in this year's Man O'War, or even finish 2nd for a big profit. He SHOULD NOT be 20/1 on the morning line considering his record in similar races, including a head loss in the Kentucky Turf Cup last summer and a win in the American St. Leger prior to that. The jockey change to Vargas, mostly unknown to local betters, helps his odds but there is no concern because Vargas was aboard for BOTH the aforementioned stakes efforts. After the Kentucky Turf Cup, Postulation finished 8th of 10 in the Canadian International (run on a very soft course) then took time off. When returning last month off a six month layoff, he ran BIG by rallying from 4th to battle down the stretch before tiring just a bit to be beaten a pair of necks on the wire. With 8 first or second place finishes in 16 turf races and nearly $400K in earnings, and proven at marathon distances, and possibly more importantly much stronger 2nd off the layoff, Postulation gets a BIG push here.


Almost as likely and certainly as playable is One Go All Go, upset winner of the similar Elkhorn Stakes last month at Keeneland. He's now run BIG in five of his last six races since Dickey took over his training. Even though in four of those he finished 2nd he was never far afield and in two of those he finished just behind Hi Happy and Sadler's Joy, who open at much lower odds than the 6/1 starting odds for One Go All Go. As with the Elkhorn, there is very little of any other early pace in the race so if Landeros gets One Go All Go to the lead easily and slows things down, he could win his 2nd graded stakes in a row.

There are no real knocks on Sadler's Joy, Hi Happy or some of the rest, but the key for profit is getting either Postulation or One Go All Go home on top, or even second.


Win Bets: Postulation to win and place at 3 to 1 or more. One Go All Go to win and place at 3 to 1 or more.


Exactas: Postulation and One Go All Go over ALL, then also the opposite, which is ALL over Postulation and One Go All Go.

Published in Ellis Starr's Blog
Friday, 20 April 2018 12:54

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, April 21

Primonetta Stakes – Race 6 at Laurel - Post Time 3:40 PM Eastern

The words "PACE DUEL" do not do justice to what is likely to occur in this six furlong sprint with at least THREE and as many as SEVEN horses having an "EARLY" running style. When the smoke clears the four left standing should be Anna's Bandit, Limited View, Short Kakes and Cairenn, with a slight chance favorite Chalon can hold on for second or third as she is one of the speedballs.



Anna's Bandit just won the statebred Conniver Stakes, at 7 furlongs over the track and the cut back is very good for her late kick at the distance of two of her previous five wins. Perez has been up for three wins in a row on the filly and her 12/1 starting odds are begging us to take advantage. Limited View opened up by many lengths through the first seven furlongs in a one turn mile last month, settling for 2nd of 8 at the end. Cutting back makes her a presser just like she was one before that last race when taking a nearly identical stakes to this one, except restricted to three year olds only, rallying under Prado (who rides here) from fifth to get up then flattered when the 3rd horse came back to win. Short Kakes won the Xtra Heat Stakes at Aqueduct three weeks ago from off the pace, her 3rd win in her last four starts, and is another who should really love the early pace scenario. Cairenn rallied from 6th of 9 to win by three lengths two back then won even more easily by five lengths 19 days ago and still have improving to do.


Win Bets: At 3 to 1 or better I will bet BOTH Anna's Bandit and Limited View to win, adding place bets at 6 to 1 or more. I would consider win bets on Short Kakes and Cairenn at 4 to 1 or more but that appears unlikely to happen. For playing multiple win bets use a "Dutching" tool like the one at Amwager to allocate your betting dollars for the bet profit potential.


Exacta: Box Anna's Bandit, Limited View, Short Kakes and Cairenn.

Trifecta: Box Anna's Bandit, Limited View, Short Kakes, Cairenn and Chalon.


Double: Anna's Bandit, Limited View, Short Kakes, Cairenn and Chalon in Race 6 with Hallie Belle in Race 7.

Double: Anna's Bandit, Limited View, Short Kakes and Cairenn in Race 6 with Hawksmoor in Race 7.

(There is no value in using the two favorites with each other: Chalon in Race 6 with Hawksmoor in Race 7.)


Dahlia Stakes – Race 7 at Laurel - Post Time 4:10 PM Eastern

Hallie Belle and Hawksmoor can win but only Hallie Belle is playable to win, and Hawksmoor may not even hit the board unless Leparoux can get her to relax as Tanya's Gem and I'm Betty G battle for the early lead. Hallie Belle is an exceptionally well bred filly owned by Godolphin who nearly won four in a row between last September and December, winning the Pago Hop Stakes to end the streak. She ran miserably in her 2018 debut at Fair Grounds but may have needed the race and with a very strong workout at Fair Hills on 4/14 I'm counting on that last race being an aberration and the filly rebounding to stakes winning form, opening at 15/1. Hawksmoor appears to hold a class edge dropping out of 3 straight grade 1 stakes in the summer and fall into this non-graded level and can win by repeating either of her runner-up efforts in her last two starts but she is nearly always in front from the start and unless Leparoux can wrangle her back early off the speed duel she could be a bit vulnerable late as she was in her last three races when leading with an 8th of a mile to go, settling for 2nd in the two most recent of those efforts.


Win Bets: Hallie Belle to win at 3 to 1 or more, a true KEY LONGSHOT BET. Add a place bet at 6 to 1 or higher.


Exacta: Box Hallie Belle and Hawksmoor.


Double: Hallie Belle and Hawksmoor in Race 7 with Blue Union Rags and Layla Noor in Race 8.

Weber City Miss Stakes – Race 8 at Laurel – Post Time 4:40 Eastern

Blue Union Rags went right through the first allowance condition last out on 3/3 following a strong maiden win, both routes over the track and both since Vargas took over riding. She's still improving, is in the top John Servis barn and can continue her winning ways to earn her first stakes win here in her current form and with a very mature off the pace running style. Layla Noor has only one knock compared to Blue Union Rags and that is she is coming back from nearly five months off whereas Blue Union Rags was last seen seven weeks ago. Layla Noor ran in a dirt route just twice before, winning powerfully at Laurel in November then finishing a decent third in the Demoiselle Stakes in December. Training well for Delacour, who has won with 4 of his last 8 starters coming back from 4 months or more in a dirt route, she is also reunited with Lynch, up for the win but not the defeat, and if she is ready to run as she did last fall at Laurel, she has every right to win.


Bets: Blue Union Rags to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more. Also bet Layla Noor if she goes to post at 3 to 1 or higher.


Exactas: Box Blue Union Rags and Layla Noor.


Doubles: Blue Union Rags and Layla Noor in Race 8 with Murad Khan, Ring Weekend, Celebration and Doctor Mounty in Race 9.


Henry S. Clark Stakes – Race 9 at Laurel – Post Time 5:10 Eastern


Murad Khan can post the upset although this is a fairly deep field. He opens at 10/1, gets the rail and makes his 3rd start in the U.S. and 3rd off a layoff, so the cycle suggests improvement. He posted the 22 to 1 upset in a tough 2nd level allowance field at Gulfstream Park last month and in Europe won at this mile turf trip three times so now that he's back in winning form he has every right to come right back with another victory. Celebration makes his U.S. debut today, last seen in October in Ireland winning at 7 furlongs on grass in a field of 13. He's never raced a mile but is training forwardly for a very good, underrated trainer in Abbott, and with Leparoux signed on if he's anywhere near his 12/1 odds at post time you can be sure I will be betting him, perhaps heavily. Doctor Mounty is another who opens at double digit odds which make him very playable. He fell on the turn in the Tampa Bay Stakes in February so that race can be ignored but before that he won a classified allowance race with a strong effort. Considering he's trained by Shug McGaughey and Boyce rode him to two of his last three wins, one at Laurel in a race scheduled for turf but moved to the main track, we don’t want to be kicking ourselves after the race for not wagering at least a few bucks on this horse with a decent 5 for 15 career record. Ring Weekend rounds out a quartet of contenders but opens at the lowest odds by far of the group, 7 to 2. He's earned over $1.5 million and has won multiple graded stakes but he is 7 now and although the last time he didn't run in a graded stakes he won prior to that he lost two non-graded stakes attempts with no excuse. He was very wide from a poor 11 post last out so will get a better trip today and could return to top form.


Win Bets: Any of the three win contenders who might go to post at high odds – Murad Khan, Celebration and Doctor Mounty, at 4 to 1 or more, adding place bets at 8 to 1 or higher.


Exacta: Box Murad Khan, Celebration, Doctor Mounty and Ring Weekend.



Doubles: Murad Khan, Celebration, Doctor Mounty and in Race 9 with ALL 11 horses in Race 10.

Doubles: Ring Weekend in Race 9 with American Lincoln, Holland Park, Split Verdict and V.I.P. Code in race 10.



Federico Tesio Stakes – Race 10 at Laurel – Post Time 5:40 Eastern

American Lincoln decimated a field, albeit only of five horses, but 18 lengths last month at Aqueduct, at this nine furlong trip. That was his 2nd start as a 3 year old and a huge improvement off his previous when 3rd behind Holland Park. Shipping down from New York for Linda Rice, American Lincoln brings Junior Alvarado to ride, up for the win and giving up a whole day of races at Aqueduct. The colt by Street Sense out of a Smart Strike mare is bred to be a good one and any improvement off that last race can get him the win and add to Rice's very high 33% win rate with starters back-to-back in the past year. Holland Park has been off since his sharp win in February before being flattered nicely by American Lincoln. He is bred to be ANY KIND by Tapit out of champion Round Pond, who has already produced a multiple stakes winner in Long River. With an exceptional 2nd best of 75 half-mile drill before leaving McLaughlin's base at Belmont and with local jockey Vargas aboard, Holland Park has every right to improve as markedly today off his last race as American Lincoln did off that same race. Split Verdict improved nicely 2nd time out last month to win at a mile around one turn at Aqueduct and is another shipper, this from the fine Violette barn and bringing New York rider Carmouche along. The colt showed good tactical speed in that win and could be close to the likely hot pace set by possible dueling leaders Not Fake News and Navy Commander so could make the lead in the stretch before the closers get into high gear and he could hang on from there. V.I.P Code is the local runner I'll consider a contender, having just won the Private Terms Stakes, only the 2nd two-turn try of his career and first of the year. The 101 Equibase figure is the BEST last race figure in the field and as Quinones rides back we must respect the colt's chances to run two "A" races in a row.

Morning line favorite Still Having Fun finished 4th at 3 to 5 with an excuse in the Private Terms so can be used on exacta tickets as he can rebound but he's no standout. Noble Commander tries two turns for the first time but is undefeated in two starts. Diamond King lost the jockey the only previous time he tried two turns but he's won 3 of the other four races in his career. Takedown rallied from far back to win an allowance race over the track and has a shot to get a piece.


Win Bets: Bet American Lincoln and Holland Park at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or higher. Consider a win bet on Split Verdict and V.I.P. Code at 4 to 1 or more.


Exacta: American Lincoln, Holland Park, Split Verdict and V.I.P. Code over American Lincoln, Holland Park, Split Verdict, V.I.P. Code, Still Having Fun, Noble Commander, Diamond King and Takedown.


For a smaller amount, play the reverse of the exacta above as well.





Published in Ellis Starr's Blog
Thursday, 29 March 2018 20:21

Key Bets & Races for Saturday, March 31

Honey Fox Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:47 PM Eastern

Stormy Victoria put in an incredible late kick when winning the South Beach Stakes in late January over the course, making up 10 lengths in the last 3/16 of a mile. Before that she closed from last of nine to miss by a pair of necks in the similar Grade 3 My Charmer Stakes, won by On Leave, who also can win but who will likely go to post at lower odds. With a field high 116 Equibase figure from that win which is better than the 113 On Leave beat her right before that, Stormy Victoria gets slight preference among a quintet of contenders. On Leave has won two of her last three, the My Charmer at this mile turf trip in December and a stakes at Laurel last September. She's only run two poor efforts in the past year, both when in Grade 2 stakes, so in this Grade 3 another "A" effort looks to be forthcoming and if it is she may earn her eighth career win. Res Ipsa goes for her third straight win, the only knock being the last two came in September and October. She has only run in a stakes once before, before the two wins, and it was a poor effort but she matured a lot in the fall and both wins came with Leparoux in the saddle, who rides her again, so she must be considered a contender. Lull won the similar G3 Autumn Miss Stakes at this mile trip in October, but that was against three year olds only. She did beat older in September sprinting on the turf at Kentucky Downs and finished a fine second in the Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes in July. Overmatched when last seen in a grade 1 stakes, she should appreciate the class relief ad could rebound to top form. Glory to Kitten is another very competitive mare, with six wins and three runner-up finishes in 14 starts. What's odd is she was claimed out of a win for 30K 13 months ago over the track then took six tries to move through the first allowance condition but was narrowly defeated in two of those races. Claimed once again, on1/15 out of a win at this mile trip on the GP turf, Glory To Kitten ram the best race of her career last out to run her record on the GP turf to five-for-five and she's on a pattern to run even better here, likely at a decent price.


Win Bets: Stormy Victoria at 5 to 2 or more.

Consider smaller win bets on any of the other four contenders, at these minimum odds, with preference to whichever horses are the highest odds at post time: On Leave 5 to 2, Res Ipsa 7 to 2, Lull 7 to 2 and Glory to Kitten 4 to 1.


Exacta: Box Stormy Victoria, On Leave, Res Ipsa, Lull and Glory to Kitten

Consider a trifecta box among the same five horses.


Pick 4:

Race 11 – Stormy Victoria, On Leave, Res Ipsa, Lull and Glory to Kitten

Race 12 – Take Charge Paula, Cache, Princess Warrior

Race 13 – Hi Happy, Bigger Picture, Sadler's Joy

Race 14 – Storm Runner, Hofburg, Mississippi


Pan American Stakes – Race 13 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 5:56 PM Eastern

Hi Happy is one of three that can win, the other two Sadler's Joy and Bigger Picture. The rest are a bit overmatched compared to these three and of the three Hi Happy is likely to offer the best value for win bets. In his native Argentina, Hi Happy crushed a field of 14 by four lengths at a mile on turf, no easy task, then finished second in a group 2 stakes before reeling of four straight group 2 or group 1 stakes wins. Given 11 months off to acclimate to the U.S. he started his career in California and was so highly regarded he made his stateside debut in a grade 2 stakes. He didn't do much in his first three U.S. starts but when stretched out to 12 furlongs for the first time in the U.S. he ran his best race in nearly 18 months, leading late and missing by a neck on the wire to grade 1 winner Hard Aces. Rested again, this time for 8 months, and sent to the Pletcher barn, Hi Happy came back in February in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes and missed by a neck and 3/4 of a length in a huge effort he is very likely to improve off 2nd off the layoff. Considering his last two efforts yielded 111 and 112 Equibase figures which compare favorably to the 111 to 115 figures Bigger Picture earned in grade 1 and 2 stakes in the last year, Hi Happy can add to his $1 million earned to date and give the Pletcher barn yet another win at the meeting. Sadler's Joy earned a 112 figure winning the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes last summer at Saratoga, which is on par with Hi Happy's last two efforts. However, Sadler's Joy did run even better in his most recent effort when rallying from far back, 12th and last, to win the Mac Diarmida Stakes on the course four weeks ago with a 122 figure. Repeating that effort, the rest are running for second, but in spite of having won 6 of 15 on the turf and 2 of 3 on the grass at GP, Sadler's Joy can be beaten although we cannot for a second discount his chances so he must be used on any exotic bets we make including exactas and pick 3/pick 4 tickets. Bigger Picture is the third millionaire in the field, having gone over the mark with a win in the Grade 3 Connally Stakes when last seen at the end of January at this marathon 12 furlong trip. He has only run on the GP turf once previously, missing in a four horse photo in the 2017 Mac Diarmida, which Sadler's Joy won last month. Jose Ortiz rides Bigger Picture exceptionally well, up for three of his last four wins, and so we should expect this veteran to be in the thick of the action on the wire.


Win Bets: Hi Happy at 2 to 1 or more.

In the unlikely event Sadler's Joy or Bigger Picture is anywhere near 2 to 1 at post time, bet the one at the highest odds to win as well. Use a "dutching tool" like the one at Amwager to help allocate your wagering dollars over multiple horses for the best result in these kinds of situations.


Exacta: Box Hi Happy, Bigger Picture and Sadler's Joy


Doubles: Hi Happy, Bigger Picture and Sadler's Joy in race 13 with Storm Runner, Hofburg and Mississippi in race 14


Florida Derby – Race 14 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 6:30 Eastern

Hofburg is making only the third start of his career and only his second start as a three year old. In spite of giving away a lot of experience to the others he has a decent shot to win this year's Florida Derby because there are some significant question marks surrounding some of the others. Storm Runner and Mississippi ran first and second, respectively, in a highly rated race over the track in February and if they repeat those efforts the can win as well. I'll make cases for all three based on other factors after I explain why I believe so many horses in this field are NOT win contenders.


First, Tip Sheet and Millionaire Runner are overmatched as they have never run well in stakes or recently. Then there's Holy Bull Stakes winner Audible. The first question mark for him is returning off a 56 day rest into a nine furlong race. That's not necessarily a big issue as his trainer is Todd Pletcher and as Mississippi and Catholic Boy also made their last starts in the first 10 days of February. The main issue is the 97 Equibase Speed Figure was a regression off his career best 99 figure in his last start as a two year old and three year olds normally run better as they are more physically mature. Also, that 97 figure doesn't hold up to the 110 or better figure it's going to take to win this race, similar to the 115 figure Promises Fulfilled earned winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes four weeks ago. With Audible having his work cut out for him, we next move to the first and second place finishers in the Fountain of Youth and I can't back either, at any price because of how that race was run. Promises Fulfilled was allowed to gallop on a lonely lead with no challengers, actually running slower in the second quarter mile as compared to the first, and slower still in the last quarter mile leading to the last 110 yards. His 24.99 fraction from the 3/16 pole to the 1/6 pole was dawdling and appears only to show me what was behind him wasn't much. Fountain of Youth runner-up Strike Power ran second from start to finish and after having run first from start to finish in his other two races, that effort only proves he's a need-the-lead type. Catholic Boy returned to finish second in his first start as a three year old in the Sam F. Davis Stakes, following two months off after a stirring victory in the Remsen Stakes last December. However, after making the lead turning for home against early leader Flameaway, Catholic Boy could not put away his foe and came up a half-length short on the wire. When Flameaway came back to run second behind Quip in the Tampa Bay Derby, with a seriously lower Equibase figure (106 in the Sam F. Davis to 96 in the Tampa Bay Derby), and with the third quarter mile split in the Sam F. Davis a pedestrian 24.81 which Catholic Boy could not make any headway, I just don't see him as the type to leap forward and win the Florida Derby.


Back to the main contenders – Hofburg is a half-brother to multiple graded stakes winner Emollient, who finished second in the Demoiselle Stakes at a mile and one-eighth in only the second start of her career and who also won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes on conventional dirt. Bill Mott trained Emollient as he does Hofburg, a son of tremendous sire Tapit, whose foals have won nearly 20% of over 220 dirt route stakes for three year olds in the past five years. Mott knows what he has and has no problem moving Hofburg into a grade 1 stakes of his maiden win, with a 102 Equibase figure that was a 20 point improvement off his only other race and which suggests Hofburg could show us a breakout effort in the Florida Derby.


Storm Runner earned a career best 111 figure winning his second start as a three year old, first on dirt, on February 4 over the track and he did so in spite of running greenly, which means he didn't know exactly what to do. One month later in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, Storm Runner fought the jockey in the early stages then when he was let run, he went inside the early leader, only to be shut off and lose his momentum. Shut off one more time, when asked to run on the turn the colt refused to respond and ended up fading to seventh. With a change in jockey and a significant workout (best of 42) coming into the race, Storm Runner has a nice shot if he stays out of trouble.


Similarly, Mississippi can win if he can repeat or improve off that last effort. Before that he missed by three-quarters of a length to recent Louisiana Derby winner Noble Indy and then in that February 4 race, Mississippi moved up nicely to miss by a neck at the end and was nine lengths clear of the third horse. Blinkers added for the Florida Derby can help him focus on the task at hand in the late stages and if that does the trick Mississippi can stamp himself Kentucky Derby contender.


Betting Strategies:

Win Bets: Bet Hofburg to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Also Consider win bets on Storm Runner and on Mississippi at odds of 7 to 2 or higher.


Exactas: Hofburg, Storm Runner and Mississippi over Hofburg, Storm Runner, Mississippi, Strike Power, Promises Fulfilled, Catholic Boy and Audible.

San Francisco Mile Stakes – Race 8 at Golden Gate – Post Time 6:45 Eastern

Full of Luck looks extra live in his U.S. debut. A Chilean bred by Lookin At Lucky out of a Fusaichi Pegasus mare, he was bred to be any kind and has turned out that way, winning 5 of 7 last year and 8 of 14 overall for $262K, a huge bankroll for a horse having run exclusively in Chile until now. Privately purchased since his last race in October, partially by Hollendorfer, he appears to have come to hand quickly with a sharp 1:12 six furlong workout a few weeks ago. The fact that Hollendorfer gets Prat to ride, taking off a whole day at Santa Anita, is very significant and if the horse is as ready to run off the rest as he appears to be, he could pick up where he left off in the fall with a stakes win. Editore ships up from Southern California as well and the last time he did that was in November, winning the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap, the only real difference between that race and this one (also a grade 3) the Berkeley was on the main track. However, Editore won a turf route at Santa Anita before that and he hasn't been disgraced one bit in his two races since, finishing third twice in a row to the multiple stakes winner Itsinthepost, who would be the odds on favorite here. Syntax is another shipper from Southern California, dropping in class significantly from the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile three weeks ago, where in spite of being overmatched he managed to rally for fourth at 38 to 1. He missed by a half-length two races in a row to tougher before that and is another likely to move up on the change in company.



For the place position on exacta tickets, in addition to the win contenders we will also use Camino Del Paraiso and Frank Conversation, the former having just run the best race of his career when second in a stakes on the Santa Anita turf in late January and the latter a horse that doesn't have a lot of late kick but who has managed to finish second or third in two graded stakes in his last four races.


Bets: Full of Luck to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Consider win bets on Editore and Syntax at odds of 3 to 1 or more, for a smaller amount than on Full of Luck.


Exacta: Full of Luck, Editore and Syntax over Full of Luck, Editore, Syntax, Camino Del Paraiso and Frank Conversation.


Published in Ellis Starr's Blog