Key Races & Bets for Saturday February 26, 2022

 

Race 7 at Aqueduct – Post Time 3:57 PM Eastern

Zoomer leads the field with nine career wins, three at Aqueduct with the last two at this one mile trip. Claimed last out for $50K from a win over the track, he’s back in just over a month and raised in class while keeping Davis in the saddle, who was up for his last two wins, both one turn routes. He fits on all counts and the claim last month was actually a RECLAIM by Morley, who had him for just one previous start, that win in October with Davis aboard. It’s a BIG sign when a top trainer reclaims a horse and that’s just another reason Zoomer is the one to beat in this race, opening as a low odds overlay at 7 to 2.

Captain Bombastic is a price play, opening at 10/1. He stalked the pace in second for nearly a mile last out on 12/31 in a nine furlong race before tiring to fourth and will really appreciate the cut back to this one turn mile trip at which he earned his last win, in September. Lezcano sticks with him for the always tough Asmussen barn and if the horse runs back to that last one turn mile effort he could win or at least finish second at high odds.

The only other horse to consider here is Sound Money, who is coupled with Risk Taking (coming back from six and one-half months off) in the wagering. While Risk Taking may need a race for his best, Sound Money just ran the best race of his career when winning by five lengths at seven furlongs over the track. Flattered when the runner-up came back to win, he also won around two turns at this mile trip two back in September but as he’s trained by Chad Brown we can expect him to be overbet from his 2 to 1 starting odds.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets:

Zoomer at 9 to 5 or more.

Captain Bombastic at 7 to 2 or more.

When considering the odds disparity between two possible win bets, the best option is to use a tool to proportion your wagering dollars for a mathematical edge. A “Dutching” tool does just that, and there’s a free one available at amwager.com which is just one of many perks and tools for the racing fan and bettor.

Exactas: Box Captain Bombastic and Zoomer and also Box Captain Bombastic and Sound Money.

(This play is to maximize profit as well by betting the higher odds horse with the other two, particularly as the exacta between Sound Money and Zoomer will be one of the lowest paying exactas in this race if it wins).

Doubles:

Race 7: Zoomer

Race 8: Green Light GoHanalei’s HoudiniMilton the Monster

Race 7: ZoomerSound MoneyCaptain Bombastic

Race 8: Milton the Monster

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Stymie Stakes – Race 8 at Aqueduct – Post Time 4:30 PM Eastern

Milton the Monster opens at great odds of 8 to 1 we can dream hold up. He has gone to post at odds ranging from 4 to 5 to 3 to 1 in his last four races, including two wins, but his higher odds may hold up as he moves from allowance to stakes. He fits on ALL counts here, with the BEST last race Equibase Speed Figure (119) in the field, actually the best figure of any horse in this race, EVER. That came at seven furlongs so this one turn mile trip should be no issue. Pennington, who rode him to that 13 lengths win last month and to a seven length win in October, comes up from Pennsylvania to ride, and with tactical speed Milton the Monster can stalk the pace setter or take the lead if no other horse wants it, making him doubly tough.

Hanalei’s Houdini missed by a neck to multiple stakes winner Cordmaker in a restricted stakes at Laurel last month, also with a career-best effort and a strong 114 figure. That win came at this one turn mile trip as well. Prior to that he was beaten by nine lengths by Green Light Go in a third level allowance race so he fits for sure for exacta and trifecta tickets played, and if neither Milton the Monster or Green Light Go fire their best shot, repeating that last effort could be good enough to win.

Green Light Go opens as the 6 to 5 favorite on the heels of that strong nine length win last month, with a career-best 118 figure, following a big 112 figure and head defeat in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap. Davis has been up for both and rides back and certainly the horse’s best effort could be good enough to win, but it’s not as easy as task as his opening odds suggest it will be.

Handicapper Picks

Win BetsMilton the Monster to win at 5 to 2 or more.

Exactas:

Box Milton the Monster and Hanalei’s Houdini, and also Milton the Monster and Green Light Go

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Wishing Well Stakes – Race 7 at Santa Anita – Post Time 6:37 PM Eastern

Stella Noir is the key to profit and one of three strong win contenders in this race, opening at 10/1. After winning in her debut 11 months ago on March 26, Stella Noir went 0-for-six but was never worse than fourth. Taking a couple of months to mature from three to four, she returned last month and tried grass for the first time, taking to turf like a duck takes to water, to post the 18 to 1 upset with a big rally from eight of 10 in the early stages. Making her second start off the layoff, there’s every reason to expect a stronger effort and so the 100 Equibase figure, which compares favorably with the 100 Tapwater (opening at 3/1) earned when beaten a head in a grade 3 stakes last month and the other main contenders. As such, Stella Noir is the top pick in this race.

Thrilling also won last month, earning a strong 102 figure which compares favorably with this group. She also won two and one-half months earlier in a turf sprint at Santa Anita before taking time off. She ALSO won her career debut at this trip last May, so leads the field in wins over the SA turf. Rispoli rode her to the win before the layoff (with a 100 figure) and gets back on so all signs are GO for another top effort.

Tapwater will likely go favored and for logical reasons as she drops from a grade 3 stakes effort when beaten a head to this non-graded stake. That was her first ever sprint on turf and it was a fine effort so with Bravo riding back she should be a top contender here with her only knock being odds much lower than the other two win contenders in this race.

Handicapper Picks

Win betsStella Noir at odds of 3 to 1 or more

Exactas:

Box Stella Noir and Thrilling, and also box Stella Noir and Tapwater

Trifecta:

Stella Noir over ThrillingAlice MarbleTapwater and Hear My Prayer over ThrillingAlice MarbleSpirit of BermudaTapwater and Hear My Prayer

Doubles:

Race 7: Stella Noir

Race 8: American AdmiralVittoroElectorSet Sail and Houndstooth

Race 7: Stella NoirThrillingTapwater

Race 8: Houndstooth

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Race 8 at Santa Anita – Post Time 7:10 PM Eastern

Houndstooth is one of a pair from the Mandella barn, the other Set Sail. They both are exceptionally well bred and get good outside posts. Houndstooth opens at higher odds, 6/1, compared to Set Sail at 5 to 2 and makes her second career start. He broke slowly in his debut then rushed up and tired as would be expected. She was well regarded at 2 to 1 in that race and has put in two exceptional workouts coming into the race so I think she might run as well as was expected first out. Set Sail is the second foal of her dam, the first having run well first out to be second. It’s tough to debut at seven furlongs BUT Mandella gave her a workout at the trip to get her fit and Hernandez rides, the jockey/trainer combination now with a very strong 6 for 13 record at Santa Anita going back to 1/1/21. As such we should expect a top effort first time out.

Vittoro is another second time starter like Houndstooth, this one from the Baffert barn with two strong works coming into the race and related to two winners, one which earned $600K and won first out and the other which won second time out. It’s a bit odd he was not well regarded in his debut opening at 5 to 1 and Hernandez gets off to ride Set Sail and he’s a poor win bet opening at 3 to 1 but with Stella Noir in the first part of the Double at high odds we’ll have him covered if that one wins.

Elector stumbled badly in his only race and we can ignore it. He’s come back to work well and Sadler has a very strong 25% win rate with his second time maidens. American Admiral may be zero for seven to date but his last two were his two best, both second place finishes, and he cuts back from two-turns to this seven furlong trip which should sharpen up his late speed. Having earned just $35K to date he’s far from recovering the $1.3 million he cost at auction but repeating either of his last two efforts in this field may be good enough to win.

Handicapper Picks

If we are live in doubles there’s no reason to make win bets in my opinion. However, Houndstooth can be bet at odds of 7 to 2 or more. Since Set Sail opens at low 5 to 2 odds, the way to make a profit from him winning is to play an Exacta consisting of Set Sail over American AdmiralVittoroElector and Houndstooth.

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Ellis Starr

Ellis is a well respected handicapper and contributor of AmWager. He has been a public handicapper for more than twenty years, educating racing fans of all skill levels with detailed commentary few other handicappers provide.

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