Lady Jacqueline Stakes – Race 8 at Thistledown – Post Time 4:14 PM Eastern

Contenders:

Gran Baby is the “X Factor” in this field as she’s making her U.S. debut. She has a strong record of 5-2-3 in 13 races in her native Chile, the last two of those against males where she won one and finished second in the other. Since importing to the U.S. and into the Ken McPeek barn she’s been in fairly steady training and gets Lanerie. The nine furlong trip is of no concern as the mare has won from six and one-half furlongs to 10 furlongs, all on dirt. Her last two workouts coincide with those of King Fury in the ninth race, the Ohio Derby. Considering King Fury was going to be a contender in the Kentucky Derby, then the Preakness, before illness caused him to scratch, those workouts are notable. In this nine horse field only a couple of these have run well in stakes so in my opinion that gives Gran Baby a shot to upset here particularly as her Equibase Speed Figures for her foreign races (112, 99 and 96 in three of her last five) stack up well against those of the favorites (101, 109 for Horologist and 105 for Spice is Nice). She opens at 10/1.

Crystal Ball opens at 5/1 in spite of the fact if you ignore her debut when trying a mile first out, and ignore her race last August in the 10 furlong Alabama which resulted in an eight month layoff, she’s been first or second in four straight. Saez getting on is very intriguing and she missed by a head in last summer’s G1 CCA Oaks at Saratoga (to Paris Lights) so she’s got the quality to run well here making her third start of the year and having won the other two. She left the Baffert barn after her win on May 8 and her new trainer, Brisset, is an up and coming star so she must be respected.

Spice is Nice rounds out the top trio of win contenders, opening at 3/1 but like to go lower. Like Crystal Ball, Spice is Nice is making her third start of the year and has won both to date including the DuPont Stakes on Preakness weekend. That win came at this nine furlong trip and John Velazquez rides again so winning her third in a row would be no surprise.

Horologist and Miss Bigly will be used as secondary contenders for exactas and doubles. Horologist disappointed at 8 to 5 in the DuPont when fourth to Spice is Nice with no excuse but did win the Top Flight before that off a five month layoff and at this distance with a 101 figure. Miss Bigly has been first or second in all three dirt routes since moving to the top barn of California based Phil D’Amato but the last two came at Oaklawn and Churchill including a strong second to Envoutante (who would be the odds on favorite here) in a stakes last month at Churchill.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Minimum odds for win bets are 5 to 2 on Gran Baby, Crystal Ball and Spice is Nice BUT it is highly likely only the first two will be at or above those odds.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. A Dutching tool lets you set the amount you want to bet or the amount you want to win, then based on the odds your bets are proportioned accordingly. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exacta:

Gran Baby, Crystal Ball and Spice is Nice over Gran Baby, Crystal Ball, Spice is Nice, Horologist and Miss Bigly

Gran Baby, Crystal Ball, Spice is Nice, Horologist and Miss Bigly over Gran Baby, Crystal Ball and Spice is Nice

Doubles:

Race 7: Gran Baby, Crystal Ball, Spice is Nice, Horologist, Miss Bigly

Race 8: Promise Keeper, Masqueparade

Race 7: Gran Baby, Crystal Ball, Spice is Nice

Race 8: Promise Keeper, Masqueparade, King Fury, Ethical Judgement, The Reds

Race 7: Gran Baby, Crystal Ball, Spice is Nice

Race 8: Promise Keeper, Masqueparade

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Trillium Stakes – Race 7 at Woodbine – Post Time 4:30 PM Eastern

Skygaze has won four of six starts in her career on all-weather like she’ll be running on at Woodbine, with two of those at the track. She won the G3 Nazarine Stakes in only the third start of her career two years back but was disqualified for interference. Moving back to the all-weather last October, Skygaze won an allowance race, and again in December at Turfway, then in January as well. She put in a BIG half-mile drill over the track last week and gets Casse’s #1 jockey in Patrick Husbands so I’d say all signs are GO for a top effort good enough to win, opening at 6 to 1.

Heavenly Curlin opens at 5 to 2 and Merveilleux opens at 3/1 and these are the other win contenders, but with less return for the risk for win bets as compared to Skygaze Heavenly Curlin won the Maple Leaf Stakes last November over the track then bombed in two turf tries this winter at Gulfstream so will appreciate the change back to all-weather and like Skygaze put in a strong half-mile workout recently, possibly in company with that one as well as it was on the same date. Merveilleux returns from seven months off and won her 2020 debut after six months off so there isn’t much of a concern there. She won her last two starts of the 2020 Woodbine Season but her best ever Equibase figures of 94 and 97 aren’t superior to the 94 and 91 figures Skygaze has earned nor the 99 and 88 figures Heavenly Curlin has earned so if each gal runs their best it’s a toss-up as to which will win.

Handicapper Picks

Win bet: Skygaze at odds of 5/2 or higher.

Exactas: Skygaze over Crystal Glacier, Souper Escape, Red Cabernet, Merveilleux and Heavenly Curlin

Trifectas: Skygaze, Merveilleux, Heavenly Curlin over Skygaze, Merveilleux, Heavenly Curlin, Crystal Glacier, Souper Escape and Red Cabernet over Skygaze, Merveilleux, Heavenly Curlin

Skygaze, Merveilleux, Heavenly Curlin over Skygaze, Merveilleux, Heavenly Curlin over Skygaze, Merveilleux, Heavenly Curlin, Crystal Glacier, Souper Escape and Red Cabernet

 

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Ohio Derby – Race 9 at Thistledown – Post Time 5:04 PM Eastern

Masqueparade and Promise Keeper stick out against the other nine here and since Masqueparade opens at 8/1 compared to 7/2 for Promise Keeper (which is going to go a lot lower) we’ll start with the former. Placed first via a disqualification and flattered when the horse just behind him came back to win out of a race in March, Masqueparade earned a stakes quality 108 Equibase figure in a highly rated allowance race at this nine furlong trip at Churchill on May 1 which was sensational as he swept past the field to win by nearly 12 lengths. That 108 figure is THE BEST (fastest) in the field and it does not appear to be a fluke. Mena rides back for strong trainer Al Stall, Jr. and the 8/1 morning line may prove to be a gift is this colt repeats the effort.

Promise Keeper won the Peter Pan Stakes one week after Masqueparade won his race, with a 104 figure, having earned a 103 figure before that with both efforts at this nine furlong trip. I was hoping he’d run in the Belmont but this appears to be a better choice with Saez riding back and the rail. He has improving to do and still accelerated in the last eighth of a mile in both of his last two starts although already in front so if he runs that kind of race again and Masqueparade runs his race this could be a sensational stretch battle.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Masqueparade and Promise Keeper at 2 to 1 or more.

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Exacta:

Box Masqueparade and Promise Keeper

Masqueparade and Promise Keeper over Masqueparade, Promise Keeper, King Fury, Ethical Judgement and The Reds

Trifecta: Masqueparade and Promise Keeper over Masqueparade and Promise Keeper over ALL

Masqueparade and Promise Keeper over ALL over Masqueparade and Promise Keeper

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Wild Applause Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont – Post Time 5:12 PM Eastern

Alda won the similar non-graded Hilltop Stakes on Preakness weekend gamely and beat a top competitor in Seasons in the process. Last summer she missed by a less than a length in the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes and this being her third start of 2021 on a pattern of sprint-route-route she will improve and at 6/1 has to be played.

Runaway Rumour is one of four fillies with a win on the Belmont turf this season but opens at 8/1 although the 89 figure she earned stacks up with the best (Alda’s 91 for example). She’s won both starts and is still improving. Minaum opens at 5/2 because Chad Brown trains and will get bet lower. She won her U.S. debut at Belmont at six furlongs like a promising filly in eased up fashion and rounds out the trio of win contenders.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Alda and Runaway Rumour if 3 to 1 or more.

Exactas: Box Alda, Runaway Rumour and Minaum

Alda, Runaway Rumour and Minaum over Alda, Runaway Rumour and Minaum, Lovestruck, Nevisian Sunrise, Bubbles on Ice and Bye Bye