John B. Campbell Stakes – Race 4 at Laurel Park – Post Time 2:04 PM Eastern

I’m hoping Dixie Drawl gets this week’s KEY RACES blog off to a strong start and that should be the case if he goes to post anywhere near his starting odds of 9/2. Still, even 2/1 will be an overlay as I think he pretty much sticks out here as a win contender. He’s 6 for 19 in his career but better still he’s 6 for 15 at Laurel. He just won at a mile and one-eighth over the track and although just an allowance race it was stakes quality to be sure as the 111 Equibase figure is the BEST last race figure in the field and the BEST figure earned by any horse so far this year. He shows up every time and with Ruiz riding back after riding him to that victory last month and one before last in December, and with the horse having the ability to lead from the start or from off the pace, he’s truly a KEY BET on the day.

Galerio is a tremendous horse to use on exacta tickets, having finished first or second in 13 of 16 races at Laurel in his career including last month in the Jennings Stakes. Zabracadabra has been first or second in six of nine including two straight wins at the distance over the track so he’s another MUST to use with Dixie Drawl on exotic tickets. Bankit¸ the 9/5 morning line favorite, is NO STANDOUT, not only because he has twice as many second place finishes (8) as wins (4) in his career but because his 2020 record was 1-4-3 in 12 races. Additionally although he’s banked over $800,000, Bankit has NEVER won an open stakes race as all his stakes wins have come in races restricted to NY breds only. I’ll reluctantly toss in Cordmaker for exactas in second even though I think he’s seen better days, with his last win coming 16 months ago.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Dixie Drawl to win at 9 to 5 or more.

Exactas:

Dixie Drawl over Zabracadabra, Cordmaker, Galerio, Bankit

Zabracadabra, Galerio, Bankit over Dixie Drawl.

Trifectas:

Dixie Drawl over Zabracadabra, Cordmaker, Galerio, Bankit over ALL.

Dixie Drawl over ALL over Zabracadabra, Cordmaker, Galerio, Bankit.

Pick 3:

Race 4Dixie Drawl, Zabracadabra, Galerio, Bankit

Race 5Landing Zone, Wicked Awesome, Lucky Stride

Race 6Street Lute, Buckey’s Charm

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Nellie Morse Stakes – Race 5 at Laurel – Post Time 2:37 PM Eastern

Landing Zone drops in class to a non-graded stakes after making a middle move to get the lead in the Grade 3 DuPont Stakes at the end of December then settling for fourth. Cutting back from nine furlongs to eight and one-half is a plus, particularly as she won an allowance race at the distance over the track, handily by almost five lengths, the last time she ran at the trip. Cruz was up that day as today and put her on the lead from the start, something I’m expecting him to do here from the rail. As such, this gal who went five for 11 last year has a big shot to play “come catch me” and in the event she doesn’t get the lead (if Dreamer’s Moon and Artful Splatter feel the need to lead from the start) then Landing Zone can still win as she’s closed nicely from off the pace in a two-turn race in September right before the win here at Laurel.

Wicked Awesome and Lucky Stride are the other two win contenders, the latter a bit overbet (for a win bet) opening at 2 to 1. Wicket Awesome won the identical Twixt Stakes last summer and finished second in the DuPont behind Eres Tu, who is running in the tougher Royal Delta Stakes at Gulfstream today. Lucky Stride finished second to Eres Tu in a stakes at Laurel at the end of November then won the Wayward Lass Stakes at this distance at Tampa last out so both are very much capable of winning here.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Landing Zone and Wicked Awesome to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

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Exacta: Box Landing Zone, Wicked Awesome and Lucky Stride

Pick 3:

Race 5 Landing Zone, Wicked Awesome, Lucky Stride

Race 6Street Lute, Buckey’s Charm

Race 7Sharp Starr, Dontletsweetfoolya, Hello Beautiful

Note: Races 6 and 7 don’t offer the opportunity for in-race profit races 4 and 5 to in my opinion so I’m not going to go on about why the contenders for pick 3’s are chosen, suffice to say Street Lute is a legitimate favorite in race 6 but Buckey’s Charm is impossible to leave off tickets (opening at 10/1) and in race 7 the three contenders are likely to be the three favorites by far at post time.

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Royal Delta Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 5:16 PM Eastern

Bajan Girl returned from five months off in October, around two turns, and destroyed a seven horse field by 12 lengths. Proving that to be no fluke, she came back one month later to win by nine lengths. Entered in the Grade 3 Rampart Stakes, a one turn mile race, in December, Bajan Girl did not make the early lead as she had in those two previous races and after pressing the very fast pace (46.2 110.2) in second tired. Coming back from two months off and moving back to two-turns, I think Bajan Girl has the speed to clear the only other horse inside her in the gate with any interest in leading early (Gibberish) and if that takes place she can control the tempo from start to finish. Those two wins earned her 110 and 116 Equibase figures which dominate here if repeated because the best figure earned by any other horse in the past year is 108, by Mrs. Danvers in the Comely Stakes last November.

If Bajan Girl can’t lead from start to finish, Eres Tu (who I mentioned in one of the earlier races) and Gibberish, have a shot. Eres Tu has won THREE in a row since returning from a 19 month layoff last fall, including the Grade 3 DuPont Stakes at the end of December. She has a great stalking style and was scratched from the Endeavour Stakes (on turf) two weeks ago to run here. Gibberish just won the Treasure Chest Stakes when last seen at the end of November. Two of those three wins were two-turn races and she’s been working exceptionally well for her return to the races, as well as won the first of the three off a short layoff from July to September so this is only a bit longer of a layoff.

I’ll use Mrs. Danvers and Hallawallah in second on exacta tickets. I think Mrs. Danvers is not as probable to win as her 2 to 1 odds suggest as she’s coming back from almost three months off and her comely win came against three year olds only while Hallawallah just ran the best race of her career and is making her third start and second route off a layoff and can improve off her win versus much easier.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Bajan Girl at 2 to 1 or more.

Eres Tu and Gibberish at odds of 3 to 1 or more (Choose the one at the highest odds near post time).

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Exactas:

Bajan Girl, Eres Tu and Gibberish over Bajan Girl, Eres Tu, Gibberish, Mrs. Danvers and Hallawallah