Woodbine – Race 7 – Post Time 4:27 PM Eastern
We can play two races here, making some win and exacta wagers in this race and then tying the race in doubles to the Whimsical Stakes (Race 8) for added value.
In this race, Singandcryindubai is one of two from the very high percentage McKnight barn, the other Abbaa. Although both can win, Singandcryindubai opens at 10/1 so that’s where I’ll start. The gelding is 3 for 6 at Woodbine, accounting for all but 1 of his career wins, and moves back to his favorite track after wintering at Oaklawn where he went 0 for 4. He’s in for the optional claiming price ($60K) since he’s already won at the level and the key to a BIG effort is Contreras getting on. Not only is Contreras off to a fast start with 5 wins from his first 16 races at the meeting but he was up for the horse’s last two wins including one last October in which he rallied from eighth. The other was a race in which he led from start to finish so with that kind of versatility Singandcryindubai has a big shot to return to winning form.
Abbaa missed by a neck last time out just three weeks ago at Oaklawn, first off the claim by McKnight, who as of a few days ago was 4 for 6 at the meeting so far. The veteran horse has won 10 times in his career but is trying all-weather for the first time. However, the 3 furlong drill just six days ago has him familiar with it so we can expect another “A” effort good enough to win.
Circle of Friends makes his 2018 debut, for Tiller, who is pretty good with his comebackers at the start of the meeting. The horse won his 2017 debut by a head at this five furlong trip and as his last two start of 2017 were in blinkers and poor efforts, the blinkers come off for this race. With a very sharp half-mile drill on 4/9 following by a more moderate one, we can assume the horse is fit and can run as well today as he did last year at this time.
Win Bets: Bet Singandcryindubai to win at 3 to 1 or more and add a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.
Exacta: Box Singandincrydubai, Abbaa and Circle of Friends.
Doubles: Singandcryindubai, Abbaa and Circle of Friends in Race 7 with Scotty’s Model, Moonlit Promise and Sky Flower in Race 8. (You can also box those three horses in an exacta in race 8 as well).
Santa Barbara Stakes – Race 4 at Santa Anita – Post Time 4:30 PM Eastern (1:30 Pacific)
Causeforcommotion is the horse to beat here, and to bet, in spite of the 8/5 starting odds on Plein Air and the 2/1 starting odds on Pantsonfire. Causeforcommotion opens at 6/1 even though her last two efforts were the best of her short career (12 races) to date. She’s never run this marathon 12 furlong trip but of the others, none has won at it except Plein Air anyway but Causeforcommotion is bred to run all day, as she’s by Americain (a son of Dynaformer) and out of a mare by the late Giant’s Causeway. She’s just a four year old and has room to improve and jockey Franco (who replaces Roman) is underrated but has impressed with his prowess on the grass. The 107 last race Equibase figure is as good as Pantsonfire (who opens at one-third the odds) and MUCH better than the 94 figure Plein Air earned. Baltas saddled FOUR of the six here but no matter two of them (Space Cadet and Plein Air) both have the same “early” running style, those two should wear each other out mentally even on slow fractions while Causeforcommotion gets a great stalking trip for her 3rd win in a row, particularly as the race she won turned out to be strong with the runner-up coming back to win TWO in a row and the 3rd horse beaten a neck.
Lucy De, Pantsonfire and Plein Air all have races in their recent past good enough to compete here and any can win but none offer value for win bets. We can use all three plus Causeforcommotion on any multi-race tickets played like the pick 3 and 4 and key them with Causeforcommotion on exacta tickets but the main play will be Causeforcommotion to win.
Win Bets: Causeforcommotion to win at 2 to 1, a true KEY BET on the day.
Exacta: Causeforcommotion over Lucy De, Pantsonfire and Plein Air, then also turn that around and play Lucy De, Pantsonfire and Plein Air over Causeforcommotion.
Belmont – Race 8 – Post Time 5:18 Eastern
Similar to what we did at Woodbine, the eighth at Belmont is very playable and we can tie it with the Elusive Quality Stakes, Race 9.
Jewel Can Disco opens at 10/1 and is the one to catch, and beat, even though it looks like there is other early speed in the race. Davis, who rode him to a runner-up finish last out and to a win before that, jumps to Cerretalto (who is also a contender) but I love the jockey change to Rosario, who is as good as any jockey at nursing a horse on the lead. Jewel Can Disco was 5 to 1 at this level just 17 days ago but opens at 10/1 here which makes no sense at all as he was gamely second by a head after setting fast fractions and as he’s won at this 7 furlong trip before, the stretch out from 6 furlongs is no issue.
Cerretalto is two for two since adding blinkers and comes off a career best effort with a 101 Equibase figure in February in statebred allowance company. He won that race off a two month rest and is coming back from a similar layoff and he could get a great trip behind Jewel Can Disco to win again.
Salute With Honor won his 4 year old debut in February at Gulfstream then missed by a half-length at this level in Florida as well with a much improved 106 figure, the 2nd best last figure in the field. He’s put in a nice work over the track and fits on all counts, his only knock that he opens at 3/1 so isn’t nearly as good a win bet as the other two.
Favorite Polar Jet (6/5 morning line) has finished 2nd in three straight, all at low odds, losing ground in the last 8th of a mile in the last two. He can win but I’d rather believe that when push comes to shove he is lacking the spirit to put his head down and will settle for 2nd once again and will play exactas that way. I will also use Emancipation and Professor Snape in the second slot.
Bets: Jewel Can Disco to win at 3 to 1 or more. Make a win bet on Cerretalto as well, at 3 to 1 or more. Use a “Dutching” tool like the one at Amwager when betting more than one horse to win to help allocate your bets.
Exactas: Jewel Can Disco, Cerretalto and Salute With Honor over Jewel Can Disco, Cerretalto, Salute With Honor, Emancipation, Professor Snape and Polar Jet.
Doubles: Jewel Can Disco, Cerretalto and Salute With Honor in Race 8 with Undrafted, Conquest Panthera, Commend and Commute in Race 9.
Elusive Quality Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont – Post Time 5:50 Eastern
Undrafted is an exceptional turf sprinter who comes back from nearly six months off, which is not an issue as he won last year in April following a similar layoff. That win in 2017 earned a strong 112 Equibase Speed Figure which he bettered when last seen in November, winning a turf sprint with a 115 effort. Joel Rosario gets the call and rode Undrafted in that 2017 comeback win so he knows how to get the horse to relax and makes his patented late run from far back. Although no races at the seven furlong distance of the Elusive Quality Stakes appear in his recent history, Undrafted has won a mile on the grass in his career so there are no questions about being capable of the distance. Trainer Wesley Ward is having an exceptional 2018 to date, wining more than one-quarter of his 125 races so far. With a pattern of very consistent workouts coming into the race at the trainer’s home base in Kentucky, including the last two on the grass, Undrafted looks ready to earn the ninth win of his career in this year’s Elusive Quality Stakes. Conquest Panthera may come in under the radar of many bettors, making his second start of 2018 and with a non-threatening fifth place finish in his comeback effort last month. However, Conquest Panthera was asked to run a mile following nearly five months off and ran very well in spite of the layoff as he moved up from eighth in a field of nine to get within a length and one-half in the stretch before tiring. Not only should he be more physically fit in his second start off the layoff, but the cut back in distance should help sharpen up his closing kick. Last summer, Conquest Panthera won the Play the King Stakes at the distance of the Elusive Quality and he earned a career best 121 Figure when third in the Turf Sprint Championship Stakes last fall so his best effort is certainly good enough to win.
Commend has finished first or second in seven of 14 career races. 13 of those have been on the turf including a runner-up effort when beaten a half-length in the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint last summer. Freshened two months since a poor sixth place finish in the Colonel Power Stakes, Commend is reunited with Jose Ortiz, who rode him to victory last May on the Belmont turf course then two races later last summer at Saratoga. The 110 figure Commend earned in the Turf Sprint was a career best and as the horse put in a very solid workout less than two weeks ago that was the best of 37 on the day, we might expect a top effort in this race. Commute makes his second start following nine months off, having rallied from eighth to fourth in the Shakertown Stakes last month. Commend appears to run much better in his second start off a layoff, as evidenced by winning last May with a strong 108 figure on the all-weather surface at Woodbine before a 108 figure effort when coming up a nose short of victory in the Connaught Cup Stakes at the distance of the Elusive Quality. Additionally, Commute possesses a win at this seven furlong distance at Belmont, which came in the spring of 2016 so if he improves second off the layoff as he has done previously, Commute should be considered a contender to win the Elusive Quality as well.
Win Bets: Bet Undrafted to win at 2 to 1 or more. Consider a second win bet on Commend (as he opens at 12/1) at 4 to 1 or higher.
Exacta & Trifecta: Box Undrafted, Conquest Panthera, Commend and Commute.
Powder Break Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream – Post Time 6:13 Eastern
As her name suggests Glory to Kitten is a daughter of Kitten’s Joy, bred by Ken & Sarah Ramsey. Claimed away from the Ramsey’s out of her fourth career start in February, 2017, she finished in-the-money in five of six races, all on turf, including some tough allowance races in new York. Dropped in for a claiming price this January, trainer Jorge Abreu claimed her for $25K and immediately earned owner Michael Dubb the price back with a win in a $60K stakes race. She ran poorly in a grade 3 stakes after that but these are much easier and the jockey change to Jaramillo is telling. Now with a 5 for 6 record on the Gulfstream turf and in the hands of a very sharp former assistant to Chad Brown, Glory to Kitten should take some beating here with a nice pace to run at courtesy of Conquest Hardcandy, Madame Uno and the newly blinkered Sylphide.
King’s Ghost is the other horse with the bulk of the probability to win. She moves to the Gargan barn and noting how Gargan’s other runner, Inside Out, improved markedly when beaten a nose after moving to his care, she should run back to the form shown last fall when winning a very similar turf stakes over the course. The jockey change to Juarez certainly helps the chances of King’s Ghost while the jockey change for her stablemate Inside Out to Reyes does not help that one’s chances although we will use her in the 2nd spot on exacta tickets. We will also use Madame Uno and Island Reward in the second position.
Win Bets: Bet Glory to Kitten to win at 2 to 1 or more, a KEY BET to be sure. Consider a win bet on King’s Ghost (who opens at 8/1) at 3 to 1 or more for a smaller amount.