Key Races & Bets for Saturday January 1, 2022

Limehouse Stakes – Race 7 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 3:05 PM Eastern

Bueno Bueno returns from five months off and won two in a row before the rest, the second of the pair on turf and the first on dirt. Both were sprints and he was on an improving pattern at the time which I expect to continue. As a fresh horse there’s little doubt he’s going to go for the lead from the start under Saez, and that’s the key to controlling the pace and winning this race.

If Bueno Bueno can’t go all the way in front, Concrete Glory has a big shot to earn his fourth career win in his 10th start. It took him a while to get going as he broke his maiden in his fifth career start in September but that was the first of three straight wins by an average of six lengths. He ran poorly in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa, then in his most recent start on 12/15, after earning all three previous wins on the front end from start to finish, Concrete Glory relaxed in fifth and rolled late to miss winning by a head. That race was at this distance and with Vasquez aboard again this horse certainly can run down Bueno Bueno if that one gets tired even a little bit.

Lightening Larry has finished second in two straight and three of six career starts and can be used in second position on exacta tickets, as can Last Leaf, who moves back to dirt he hasn’t run over since September, three races back, but did have two wins and a runner-up finish in four dirt races before those three on other surfaces.

Handicapper Picks

Win betsBueno Bueno to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more and Concrete Glory to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Considering Bueno Bueno opens at 7 to 2 and Concrete Glory at 9 to 2 this is a great race in which to proportion our bets accordingly for the best mathematical edge. This can be best accomplished by using a “Dutching Tool” like the one which is free and easy to use at Amwager.com. 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.

Exactas:

Bueno Bueno and Concrete Glory over Bueno BuenoConcrete GloryLast Leaf and Lightening Larry

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Jerome Stakes – Race 8 at Aqueduct – Post Time 3:50 PM Eastern

Hagler gets a great outside post for this one turn mile trip at Aqueduct and appears to be the type who can be on the lead or just off the pace from the start, which is an advantage in many ways as he and jockey Jorge Vargas, Jr. can wait a few strides to see if another horse wants the lead at the start, at that point taking up a stalking position, or if no other horse wants the lead Hagler can take command. That is exactly what he did in his most recent race on December 16 at Aqueduct where he led from start to finish. Prior to that on October 29, Hagler stayed in second for the first half-mile before drawing off to win by four and one-half lengths. Both victories came with Vargas, Jr. in the saddle and the first of the two earned an 84 Equibase Speed Figure which, if logically improved on in the colt’s third start off a layoff, puts him in range of the top horse’s figures in the field. Those top figures belong to the other two main contenders in Ohtwoohthreefive (93) and Cooke Creek (89). Trainer Rudy Rodriguez has a very good 20% win percentage stretching a horse out in distance at Aqueduct (per Race Lens) over the last two years, with a +38% return on investment and a median win payoff of $13. As such, I expect Hagler to win his third race in a row and put his name squarely into the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a big effort in the Jerome Stakes.

Ohtwoohthreefive has raced exclusively on turf to date, with a record of 1-2-2 in six races. His best effort came in his most recent race on November 27 in the Central Park Stakes where he rallied to lead with an eighth of a mile to go then battled nose-and-nose down to the wire, losing by inches at the finish. Nevertheless, the 95 figure earned is the best by any horse in the field. Whether that type of effort is transferrable to dirt does not appear to be a question as his sire is Union Rags, himself a talented colt on dirt including a win in the 2012 Belmont Stakes. Additionally, trainer George Weaver has a creditable five for 16 record when moving a horse from turf to dirt over the last 12 months. Jockey Kendrick Carmouche rode Ohtwoohthreefive for the first time that day and rides back in the Jerome, and if the early pace is hotly contested this colt could be the one to get up in time and win.

Cooke Creek is the only horse in the Jerome Stakes field with a stakes win, and that win came at the same mile trip as this race. He won his debut when sprinting easily in September with a 76 figure then stretched out to a mile and won the Rocky Run Stakes in October, earning an 89 figure. Trying much tougher foes in the Nashua Stakes in November, Cooke Creek was no match for winner Rockefeller when second the entire length of the stretch but he was nearly three lengths clear of the next horse, earning an 86 figure in the process. With jockey Manuel Franco riding back after getting familiar with the colt in the Nashua, Cooke Creek certainly can win this race with just slight improvement off his Rocky Run effort.

Handicapper Picks

Win BetsHagler at odds of 2 to 1 or more

Exactas:

Box HaglerOhtwoohthreefive and Cooke Creek

Trifecta:

HaglerOhtwoohthreefive and Cooke Creek over HaglerOhtwoohthreefive and Cooke Creek over HaglerOhtwoohthreefiveCooke CreekCourvoisier and Mr Jefferson

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Mucho Macho Man Stakes – Race 10 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 4:42 PM Eastern

Grand Sonata exits the Central Park Stakes on the turf at Aqueduct and not only was that his best effort (in his third career start) in spite of finishing fifth but he could have won the race without trouble at TWO different points. He was bumped and put in tight shortly after the start so had to drop back to last of eight early then he had all kinds of traffic issues in the last three-sixteenths of a mile, including when behind a wall of horses in the stretch. Although too late to win after he angled out for a clear path, the colt closed sensationally well and considering he gets a jockey change to Gaffalione, up for his only win right before that, he looks fairly likely to roll by the field late. That is, IF, there’s no trouble here which is always a possibility on turf.

Gingrich hasn’t been seen since October when, in an 11 horse field at Keeneland at this mile turf trip he was visually brilliant as he exploded late to go from sixth to third while three wide on the turn before drawing off by two and one-half lengths. He’s been working very well on the turf for his return, gets Paco Lopez, and offers superb value opening at 6 to 1.

Smokin T also enters the race off a win, last month on the Aqueduct turf. He ran as fast (95 Equibase figure) breaking his maiden as Grand Sonata did (91) when fifth in that stakes, but the latter could have run even better. Still, Smokin T put it all together in his fourth lifetime start, third on grass, and further improvement to handle the jump in class, means he is certainly a contender.

Handicapper Picks

Win BetsGrand Sonata to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.

I would absolutely consider a win bet on Gingrich at 3 to 1 or more, and on Smokin T at 3 to 1 or more, whichever is the higher odds near post time.

This is another race where, when wagering on two horses for the best mathematical edge, a DUTCHING tool like the one at Amwager, really helps us maximize the value for our win bets.

Exactas:

Box Grand SonataGingrich and Smokin T

Doubles:

Race 9Grand SonataGingrich and Smokin T

Race 10Strike HardGraphic Detail

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Dania Beach Stakes – Race 9 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 4:11 PM Eastern

Strike Hard has dominates in two of three career starts at this one turn mile trip at Gulfstream, and finished second in the other. His only bad route came in the two-turn Iroquois Stakes in Kentucky in September. Alvarado rode him beautifully last month when he began sixth of eight then quickly moved up to lead before drawing off on the wrong lead to win by four. The 92 figure is by far tops in the field and it wasn’t a fluke as he earned a 93 figure winning in August at the distance over the track as well.

That being said, Graphic Detail can win by just showing logical improvement in his second career start. In his debut on 11/6 at Belmont at six furlongs, this exceptionally well bred colt showed a lot of maturity when relaxed racing fifth of six early, still third and four lengths back on the turn, then getting up in the final yards to pull away by a half-length at the end. Mott is exceptional at many things, most importantly (in this situation) when moving a young horse from maiden to stakes as he’s three for six in the last two years and five for 15 in the last five years, with a number of other horses finishing second as well.

In spite of these two colts being standouts, there may not be a lot of value for win bets at Strike Hard opens at 2 to 1 and Graphic Detail opens at 5/2. That is why the doubles from race 9 will be the MAIN way we should try to profit from this race. Nevertheless these two colts may both offer low odds overlay potential for win bets.

Handicapper Picks

Win BetsGraphic Detail at odds of 8 to 5 or more and Strike Hard at odds of 9 to 5 or more.

If both are above those odds near post time I’d just bet whichever is the higher odds of the pair. Hopefully, the doubles are paying nicely so we do not need to bet either two win.

Exacta: Box Graphic Detail and Strike Hard.

Note: This is a low odds overlay exacta but I would check the probable payoffs and would not make the bet unless the exacta is paying $8 or more (for a $1 wager).

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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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