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

This is a great betting race for newly turned three year old straight maidens running a mile on dirt around one turn. It’s great because if the morning line holds up, Touch Code is going to be a HUGE low odds overlay. He opens at 7 to 2 and that may just hold up for reasons I’ll mention in the next section. Touch Code finished second to a seven length winner in his debut last month, in a field of 10, a big effort from which he’s going to improve leaps and bounds. This improvement is based on numerous reasons, not the least of which is logical improvement off the debut in a highly rated race. Other reasons are he (as well as the rest) are now eligible for lasix as newly turned three year olds and the fact Bill Mott has a STELLAR record with second time starters. Perhaps most significant of all is the colt’s breeding as he’s the eighth foal of Caressing, winner of the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies whose sons and daughters RUN BIG early in their career, as follows: 1st then 1st, 2nd then 1st, 2nd then 1st, 1st then 2nd, 2nd then 6th, 2nd then 4th and 3rd then 1st. Many are stakes winners, most notably West Coast, who earned $5.9 million in his multiple stakes winning career.

There are four others to use on double tickets to the next race. They are the two Pletcher first time starters – Charge It and Calipari, both working well and likely to be live but overbet, plus Logico, who finished second and third in his first two starts and lost all chance in his third start last month, and Volcanic, who was a fast closing fourth in his debut last spring then lost by a neck last summer before being overmatched and slightly injured in the Hopeful Stakes and taking five months off.

Handicapper Picks

Win bet: Touch Code to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.

Doubles (three sets of wagers, two for sure and one optional):

Race 7: Touch Code

Race 8: Largent, Clear Vision, Value Proposition, Belgrano

Race 7: Charge It, Touch Code, Logico, Calipari, Volcanic

Race 8: Clear Vision

This wager is optional:

Race 7: Charge It, Touch Code, Logico, Calipari, Volcanic

Race 8: Largent, Clear Vision, Value Proposition, Belgrano

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Tropical Turf Stakes – Race 8 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 3:37 PM Eastern

Clear Vision is not only most likely to win in my opinion but also offers exceptional value opening at 6/1. Not only has he finished first twice and second twice in his last four starts, all on turf, his BEST ever came last out on the Gulfstream Turf when second in a 12 horse field in the Claiming Crown Emerald. Though that was basically a starter stakes, the 108 Equibase Class Rating tells me he fits at this grade 3 level and the 107 Equibase Speed Figure is ABSOLUTELY the best last race figure in the field. Leparoux rides back after being aboard for the first time in that race and the 106 figure earned six weeks earlier at Belmont tells me that last effort wasn’t a fluke. The gelding can win on the lead or from off the pace and that kind of versatility makes him very dangerous in this situation.

Largent can win but can’t be bet to win as he opens at 9 to 5. With six wins and four second place finishes in 10 races, all on turf, he fits on all counts even though he’s coming back from nearly 52 weeks on the bench. He won an allowance race off an eight month layoff at this time two years ago and Pletcher has pretty good numbers (7 for 35 over the last few years) with horses in turf routes coming back from six months or more so there are no concerns about needing a race. On the other hand, with just two exceptions when earning 114 and 115 figures, Largent is no faster than many of the others if they run their best, such as Clear Vision, so although I’ll use him in doubles from race seven I certainly hope one of the other contenders at higher odds wins this race.

Belgrano is one of those who, if he wins, can make us a good deal of money, opening at15/1. He’s earned over $300K in his career so is no slouch and he won a stakes race last summer at Monmouth on the turf. Most of his races have been sprints BUT he won in June at this mile trip and he finished a fine second in a seven and one-half furlong turf route at Gulfstream, which is around two turns like this race, last April. His last effort, on the all-weather at Gulfstream, looks poor on paper as he finished seventh but we can IGNORE it completely as he was boxed in for the critical run on the turn.

Value Proposition, like Largent, opens at odds too low (8/5) to consider for a win bet and they are poor odds at that relative to his probability. He is six for 13 overall but his two tries in grade 3 stakes like this one were only so-so efforts resulting in second and third place efforts and he enters the race off a no-excuse fifth as the nine to five favorite in a stakes in New York. He’s being bet because Brown trains but his best efforts yielded 103 to 105 figures, except one (111) and that makes him just another contender but not one worthy of being 8 to 5 at post time.

Handicapper Picks

Win Bet: Clear Vision at odds of 2 to 1 or more

For about one-half to one-third of what you bet on Clear Vision, Belgrano can be bet at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

Considering Clear Vision opens at 6 to 1 and Belgrano opens at 15 to 1 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:

Clear Vision and Belgrano over Clear Vision, Belgrano, Largent and Value Proposition

If you wish, you can plan an “exacta as a place bet” consisting of Largent and Value Proposition over Clear Vision and Belgrano

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Santa Ynez Stakes – Race 8 at Santa Anita – Post Time 7 PM Eastern

Miss Mattie B ran the second fastest of any horse in the field in her most recent race on November 27, earning a 98 Equibase Speed Figure while drawing off to win by nearly four lengths under Mike Smith, who rides back after getting familiar with her after being the saddle for the first time that day. After starting her career in Indiana this past summer, Miss Mattie B moved to California and to the barn of Robert Hess, Jr. but did not run well in two races in blinkers, one a sprint on dirt where she finished third, beaten 14 lengths, and the other a sprint on turf where she checked in seventh of 12 after a bit of trouble. Removing blinkers for her most recent race, Miss Mattie B improved markedly to rally from ninth of 12 early, swinging four paths wide on the turn and easily winning. The cut back in distance is of no concern as it not only gives her a little extra stamina and kick in the late stages as compared to her most recent race, but according to a Race Lens research query, trainer Hess has a very strong 25% winning percentage and +55% return on investment over the last two years when moving his horses from routes to dirt sprints. With that in mind, Miss Mattie B could run the same or better as in her most recent race and prove victorious in the Santa Ynez Stakes and as she opens at 5 to 1 is the top pick.

Big Switch is a perfect two for two in her career, with the second of the two victories coming at the same seven furlong trip of this race. After earning a lowly 67 figure winning at six furlongs in August, Big Switch was much more mature when returning to the races on November 5, earning a 91 figure when winning the Golden State Juvenile Fillies Stakes by nearly three lengths after relaxing in fifth of six in the early stages. She’s likely got a bright future ahead of her in the top barn of John Sadler, particularly as one of the other two foals of the dam won seven of 16 races on dirt and was a stakes winner at this seven furlong trip as well. The 91 figure earned in her second start can be improved upon and that makes Big Switch a strong contender in this field. However, she offers little to no value as a win bet opening at 9 to 5 and that 91 figure needs a lot of improving to run as well as Miss Mattie B did in her most recent raced.

Under the Stars will likely be the betting favorite in this race based on the fact her trainer is Bob Baffert, who has won with nine of 21 starters (43%) since the start of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting on December 26. Another reason Under the Stars will be bet heavily is she is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Bodemeister, who won the 2012 Arkansas Derby easily before runner-up efforts in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes that year. Under the Stars won last month in her third career start and earned a field high 99 figure in doing so. She certainly may be capable of improving off that effort, but she lacks the class of Big Switch, who just won a stakes race, and she lacks the stamina of Miss Mattie B on the cut back from a winning route to a sprint. Just the same, Under the Stars could be yet another top three year old filly in the career of Bob Baffert and win this race. Like Big Switch, Under the Stars offers no value for win bets opening at 8 to 5 so whatever we can profit from her winning will have to be in doubles to race nine like those below.

Handicapper Picks

Win Bet: Miss Mattie B to win at odds of 2 to 2 or more

Doubles:

Race 8: Miss Mattie B

Race 9: Annie’s Song, Phenom, Precocious Times, Glenall, Sunroof, Kitty Kitana, Urban, Spun Beautiful

Race 8: Under the Stars, Big Switch, Miss Mattie B

Race 9: Sunroof, Spun Beautiful

Optional:

Race 8: Under the Stars, Big Switch, Miss Mattie B

Race 9: Annie’s Song, Phenom, Precocious Times, Glenall, Sunroof, Kitty Kitana, Urban, Spun Beautiful

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Race 9 at Santa Anita – Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern

Similar to the maiden race earlier in the blog at Gulfstream, this maiden race is exceptionally playable, but not because one horse stands out. It’s playable because NO HORSE stands out and there are a couple at least with VERY high odds that can upset. Sunroof is the first of the pair. She’s a first time starter from the top barn of Richard Baltas (nine 1st or 2nd place finishes from 15 races so far at the meeting) who is well-bred and working exceptionally well. Baltas has a 20% win rate (6 for 30) with first time starters in turf sprints and the ONLY other foal of the dam finished second in its debut, in a turf sprint, as well as finished first or second in five of 11 turf races. She could be very live with strong jockey Juan Hernandez in the saddle.

The other live longshot is Spun Beautiful, with a GREAT outside post for this turf trip and opening at 15/1. She had BIG TROUBLE at TWO DIFFERENT POINTS in her debut, where she was decently regarded at 8 to 1, at the start and then just before the quarter pole, but she still showed ability rallying for fourth. One of two from the top Sadler barn (the other Precocious Times) this gal should improve off the experience of a race and without trouble has every right to win at high odds.

Kitty Kitana, Glenall and Precocious Times all make their U.S. debuts and add lasix, while Annie’s Song finished third, a nose from second, in her US debut last time out and she too adds lasix. Any of these European runners have a shot to win here, as do Phenom (3rd in both starts to date) and Urban (no worse than third in three turf sprints among four career starts). Among those six, Precocious Times (10/1 morning line and also from the Sadler barn) may be worth a bet as she rallied for third of 14 in her only start, at a mile on a left handed course (like in the U.S.) and as she gets Daisuke Fukomoto, a jockey unknown to many fans if they don’t watch or wager on Woodbine. Fukumoto held his own last year on turf and on the all-weather surfaces, winning 38 of 385 including 6 of 50 on turf. This young man can ride and if Sadler puts him aboard this Kentucky bred daughter of Hard Spun out of a Galileo mare, we should take note.

Handicapper Picks

Win Bets: Sunroof and Spun Beautiful at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

Consider Precocious Times at odds of 6 to 1 or more.

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

Exacta: With so many high odds horses and no heavy favorite there are many ways to go but this ticket is designed to maximize profit: Sunroof, Spun Beautiful, Annie’s Song and Precocious Times over Sunroof, Spun Beautiful, Annie’s Song, Precocious Times, Phenom, Glenall, Kitty Kitana and Urban.