Key Horse Races & Expert Handicapper Bets – October 09, 2021
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes – Race 7 at Belmont – Post Time 3:47PM Eastern
Four horses are pretty much inseparable in terms of probability to win. They are Arklow, Gufo, Channel Maker and Japan. HOWEVER, if the morning line disparities hold up, both Arklow and Channel Maker will offer superb value as win bets and keys in the exacta as we will try to split the other two (keep them from running first and second).
Arklow won this in 2019, off a third in the Bowling Green two before that and a second in the Calumet Turf Cup. This year he enters the race off a CAREER-BEST 123 Equibase Speed Figure effort when missing by a neck in the same Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs. When on his game, Arklow is one tough customer and this 12 furlong trip is absolutely his favorite distance as he has a 5-4-0 record in 14 starts and $2.2 million of his career total of $2.9 million has been earned at this trip.
As usual, Channel Maker finds a field devoid of any horse, except him, which wants the lead from the start. Some may think he’s off form this year as he finished second in February when shipping to Saudi Arabia for the $10 million turf cup, then finished eighth in the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic then seventh in the Bowling Green and sixth most recently in the Sword Dancer after leading for the first mile. What I see is the last race, in which he started to feel like he wants to lead again. In 2018 Channel Maker was first in the Bowling Green, second in the Sword Dancer and won this race but in 2019 he was fourth and fourth in the same two preps but finished second in this race. Last year he was fourth in the Bowling Green then won both the Sword Dancer and this race. Franco was up for those wins last year and rides him again and as he’s making his third start since a layoff following the trip to Dubai, he may be that much tougher to catch than he was in the Sword Dancer and win this race for the second time in his career.
Gufo and Japan finished first and second, respectively, when separated by a neck in the Sword Dancer at the end of August. Both deserve respect but they open at much lower odds (8/5 and 5/2 compared to 6/1 for the other two contenders) than is reasonable and it’s because the morning line maker, as well as the public, are weighing too much on recency. Sure, both Gufo and Japan can win, but if you ran this race 100 times I feel pretty confident that each of the four would win about 25 times in 100 and that should make their fair odds 3/1, not less as these two are likely to be. Just the same, they must be used as win contenders on any pick 3 or 4 tickets played, as well on exacta tickets.
Win bets: Arklow and Channel Maker at 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. 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.
Arklow and Channel Maker over Arklow, Channel Maker, Gufo and Japan
Arklow, Channel Maker, Gufo and Japan over Arklow and Channel Maker
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Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity – Race 9 at Keeneland – Post Time 5:15 PM Eastern
In a 13 horse field full of potential stars, some of which we are likely to see on the Road to the Kentucky Derby trail next year, Great Escape gets top billing owing to a very mature, and very fast, win last month in his second career start. He stalked in fourth early and drew off to earn the best last race Equibase Speed Figure (a number measuring time and allowing us to compare horses coming from different tracks), 92. Considering many of these are going to improve going two turns for the first time and making their second, third or fourth career starts, we will assume the best will improve at the same rate and that means the rest would have to improve markedly over Great Escape to beat him.
Stellar Tap and Costa Terra both come from the top Asmussen barn and if we bet one, we MUST bet the other because if the trainer thinks they both belong we cannot argue, plus they share common ownership. Stellar Tap was impressive in his debut in August at Saratoga winning by five lengths then made a premature run from third to lead on the turn in the Iroquois Stakes at this distance last month but faded late. Santana rides back and likely WON’T make the same mistake this time so considering another son of his sire, Tapit, (Essential Quality) won the 2020 edition of this race, Stellar Tap must be respected.
Similarly, and likely at higher odds, we must respect Costa Terra as a contender. Jockey Arrieta isn’t known to most Kentucky bettors but wins a LOT of races for Asmussen in other states. The colt showed maturity rallying from fourth in his debut in July then in the Juvenile Stakes at seven furlongs in August, in his second start, rallied late to miss by a half-length. His bred to be a VERY GOOD horse as his sire is champion Gun Runner, who has already produced a two year old star in his first crop in Echo Zulu (who won the Frizette last weekend) and his dam’s ONLY foal is Pneumatic, who won his first two starts including at a mile then won the 2020 Pegasus Stakes.
Seal Beach finished second behind Great Escape and although still a maiden is talented, as well as likely to be ignored by bettors. He has improved in each start and is one that has potential to leap frog Great Escape in terms of his speed figure and if that occurs the payoff will be very nice.
Win bets: Great Escape should be bet to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.
A second win bet, for a slightly lower amount than on Great Escape, would be warranted on the highest odds near post time among Stellar Tap, Costa Terra or Seal Beach at 7 to 2 or more.
This is another race where a Dutching tool, like the one which is free at Amwager, really helps. We are likely to have two horses go to post at higher than the minimum odds but not at the same odds so the tool really helps us gain an edge mathematically when wagering on more than one horse to win.
Exacta: Box Great Escape, Stellar Tap, Costa Terra and Seal Beach
Trifectas: Box Great Escape, Stellar Tap, Costa Terra and Seal Beach
Race 9: Great Escape, Stellar Tap, Costa Terra and Seal Beach
Race 10: In Love, Space Traveller, Ivar, Pixelate, Order of Australia
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Keeneland Turf Mile Stakes – Race 10 at Keeneland – Post Time 5:46 PM Eastern
In Love and Ivar are both trained by Paulo Lobo, a very good, if not underrated trainer who is winning nearly 20% of his races this year. If we bet one, we must bet the other because they share common ownership and because I could look at this race for days and not separate the pair in terms of their probability to win. Lobo saddled Ivar to win at this race at 14/1 last year and I was lucky enough to see it coming and made him by top pick.
This year, not only is Ivar a contender but In Love reminds me of Ivar coming into last year’s race. In Love just won a $300K stakes race at Kentucky Downs, at nearly this distance, the best race of his career (113 figure) after adding blinkers. He had won just prior to that with a previous career-best 108 figure and he’s on a pattern for even better and is likely to continue in top form.
Ivar was not disgraced one bit when fourth of 14 against some of the best turf milers in the world in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last fall following winning this race. He took six months off and returned in May to be beaten just two lengths when sixth of nine in the Turf Classic Stakes at nine furlongs on Derby day. The cut back to his best trip, the mile, won’t hurt and Blinkers go on. Considering what blinkers did for In Love last out and that Joe Talamo, who rode Ivar to last year’s win in this race is back, Ivar must be respected.
Order of Australia posted the 70 to 1 upset in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, the reason being he as coming off a ninth place finish. He has won an allowance race two before the Breeders’ Cup so wasn’t considered as classy as some but proved them wrong, beating a top miler in Lope Y Fernandez. His 2021 campaign didn’t get off to a good start but he won a group 2 (similar to a grade 1) stakes race at seven furlongs in July then wasn’t disgraced when fifth and third against some really good horses. His last race was his best of 2021 as he finished second in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp and is entering this race in top form.
Space Traveller was my strong play in the $1 million Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile last month. Jockey Danny Tudhope, who had ridden him to victory a couple of times in his career, was named to ride but did not make the trip and that may, or may not, have been the reason Space Traveller had some traffic issues. Still, he finished second at 13 to 1 and with Tudhope named to ride here the colt should be part of the exacta at the very least.
Pixelate also ran one of the best races of his career in his most recent start, rallying from eighth of 10 to win the Mint Million Stakes. This was formerly the Tourist Mile which Ivar finished third in last year before posting the upset in this race. A grade 2 stakes winner as a three year old last year, Pixelate shows up most of the time and has never been worse than third in seven tries at this mile trip so rounds out a strong quintet to help us make a profit here.
Win bets: In Love AND Ivar to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more.
Space Traveller at odds of 7 to 2 or more.
I would absolutely bet all three in this wide open race, and if I do I will use the free Dutching tool at Amwager which will help do the math of allocating my bets based on the horse’s odds.
Exacta: Box In Love, Ivar, Order of Australia, Space Traveller and Pixelate
Trifecta: Box In Love, Ivar, Order of Australia, Space Traveller and Pixelate