Key Races & Bets for Saturday, September 8


Allied Forces Stakes – Race 4 at Belmont Park – Post Time 3:04 PM Eastern


Gidu is one of three to potentially get the pace scenario of his dreams, as Reed Kan (on the rail), Weather Report, Colonel Tom and World of Trouble have earned 12 of their 13 career wins combined LEADING FROM START TO FINISH. Reed Kan and Weather Report don’t look as fast as the other two but drawn inside of World of Trouble and Colonel Tom, they will be sent hard, and it will only take two of the four to sizzle early to set up Gidu and the other two horses that can sit off the pace early. Gidu‘s last start is irrelevant as it was on dirt after seven races on grass so back on the grass and with a field high (BY FAR) 114 Equibase Figure to run back to, earned here at Belmont in May winning the similar Paradise Creek Stakes, he’s the one to beat and even though low odds with a vulnerable favorite in World of Trouble, Gidu is a low odds overlay.


That being said, Totally Boss (8/1 morning line) and Dirty (7/2) might get the job done as well. Totally Boss moves back to the care of excellent trainer Lynch, having just run so-so in his first six races (three for Lynch), all on dirt, but taking to turf like a duck takes to water in his grass debut on 7/13. Although 4th off that race in the Quick Call Stakes on the turf at Saratoga, it must be noted winner World of Trouble got an easy and uncontested lead unlikely to occur today. None of the other top six runners except one have run back, but that one, who finished just behind Totally Boss, came back to win so there is upset potential here. Dirty rallied from 5th of 6 early to win by 5 like he was shot out of a cannon in a turf sprint in June, before that winning at this trip on the Belmont grass. He’s 3 for 5 on turf and comes out of the same race on very wet turf as Totally Boss with the same comment in that winner World of Trouble is unlikely to repeat his easy score based on having the lead all to himself which should not occur here.


Bets: Gidu to win at even money (1/1) or higher, a low odds key overlay win bet.

Consider smaller win bets on Totally Boss and on Dirty at 7 to 2 or more.


Exacta: Box Gidu, Totally Boss and Dirty.

Trifecta: Gidu over Totally Boss and Dirty over all. (I prefer the trifecta over the exacta in this case to try to make more money with Gidu winning at low odds).


Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes – Race 8 at Kentucky Downs- Post Time 5:57 PM ET


Ruby Notion comes into the race off a win in the Caress Stakes at Saratoga at 5 1/2 furlong on turf, in a field of 9, a race in which she made a huge move on the turn to go from 2 1/2 lengths back to 2 lengths in front. Prior to that she made up 4 1/2 lengths in the stretch in another 5 1/2 furlong turf race, ending up a head shy of winning. Both those “A” efforts came in her 2nd and 3rd starts following 10 months off and both with Geroux in the saddle as today. She’s won 5 of 13 overall but oddly enough has never finished 2nd, ending up 3rd three times, but her recent wins have earned 117 and 116 Equibase Figures which, except for one effort by Lull, are dominant in this field and that makes her the one to beat.


Lull also has five career wins on grass, in 15 races and if she wins or finishes 2nd she will go over the $1 million mark in career earnings. Better still, she loves this European style course where she’s perfect in two tries including last year’s Ladies Sprint Stakes. She won her first start of 2018 in March after four months off then disappointed in two since but that 3/31/18 stakes win earned a 117 figure as good as Ruby Notion earned last out and is certainly repeatable so this gal has the rest of the bulk of the probability to win this race.


Bets: Ruby Notion to win at odds of 3 to 2 or more, a low odds overlay key bet.

Lull to win at 2 to 1 or more.


To bet more than one horse in a race and to maximize value while doing so, use a “Dutching” tool like the free one available at, which enables you to enter how much you want to spend or how much you want to win and which then allocates your wagering dollars accordingly.


With the two contenders both at low odds, we will forego the exacta in lieu of the trifecta:

Trifecta: Ruby Notion over Lull over ALL.

Ruby Notion and Lull over ALL over Ruby Notion and Lull.


Doubles: Ruby Notion and Lull in Race 8 with Undrafted, Vici, Done Deal, White Flag and Blind Ambition in Race 9.


Pick 3: Ruby Notion and Lull in Race 8 with Undrafted, Vici, Done Deal, White Flag and Blind Ambition in Race 9 with Patterson Cross, Oscar Nominated, Big Bend and Bandua in Race 10.


Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint Stakes Race 9 at Kentucky Downs – Post Time 6:27 PM ET


In a wide open 12 horse field, I’ll start with Undrafted, the ONLY horse trained by Wesley Ward, as Master Merion ran on Thursday in the Old Friends Stakes and will be scratched. Undrafted hasn’t won in four previous tries over the course, but could just as easily won last year’s running of this race as he finished third, beaten a nose and a half-length on the wire with a rousing finish. Winner of over $1.4 million, the veteran (eight year old) missed by two necks in this race back in 2014 and has won at distances up to a mile so his 0-0-3 record in five career starts at the distance is deceiving. Getting the services of veteran Julio Garcia, who only rides for Ward, mostly in the morning, but enough in the afternoon to take notice (37 for 90 for Ward in the past 20 months), the gelding has won with Garcia in the past and should be rolling from far back late as usual.


Vici just won on 9/1 and comes back on six days rest. I won’t argue with a trainer of the caliber of Mike Maker, who is usually in the top 3 in the trainer standings at Kentucky Downs each year, in knowing the easy win in a field of 12 didn’t take much out of the gelding last week. The win came at the distance and the effort earned Vici a career best 110 Equibase figure, on par with the 110 figure Undrafted earned last year nearly winning this race. Similar to the Ward/Garcia tandem, jockey Jose Ortiz has a rock solid record for Maker in the past 20 months (52 for 258) and so this horse has a very good shot to earn his 2nd win at the meeting and opening at 15/1 must be played.


Done Deal is a perfect 2-for-2 on turf, both powerful wins by an average of 4 lengths. He was overmatched last time out (7/28) on dirt in the G1 Vanderbilt Handicap but won a stakes on dirt before that and is too hard to pass up as a contender for win bets and exactas opening at 8/1 considering his last 2 wins earned him 112 and 110 figures competitive with Vici and Undrafted if repeated.


White Flag and Blind Ambition round out the contenders, like the previous three contenders likely to benefit from a hot early pace as longshot Richiesinthehouse is likely to go for the early lead at breakneck speed, with Maniacal likely hot on his heels. White Flag won a turf sprint stakes last year on this weekend at Belmont with a 110 figure and enters the race off a strong win under Rosario, who has been aboard for his last three wins. Blind Ambition improved a lot after two poor efforts with the removal of blinkers last month at Saratoga when missing by 3/4 of a length with a 110 figure, having won the Elusive Quality Stakes three before that with a 116 figure, either effort repeated here likely to have him in the thick of the action on the wire.


Bets: Undrafted to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Vici to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

Consider Done Deal for a win bet as well, at 4 to 1 or more.


Exacta and Trifecta: Box Undrafted, Vici, Done Deal, White Flag and Blind Ambition.


Double: Undrafted, Vici, Done Deal, White Flag and Blind Ambition in Race 9 with Patterson Cross, Oscar Nominated, Big Bend and Bandua in Race 10.


Note: If you played the pick 3 in race 8 and are alive there is no need to play the double above.


Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes – Race 10 at Kentucky Downs – Post Time 6:59 PM Eastern


Although Oscar Nominated won this race last year and can win again, Patterson Cross can post the upset if he draws into the race, opening at 12/1. Patterson Cross proved he belonged at this level and marathon distance with three superb efforts in a row last winter (2017), starting that January when leading late and missing by a length to be third in the McKnight Handicap (won by Oscar Nominated this year), then missing by a head to world class Wake Forest in the Mac Diarmida Stakes before a neck defeat in the Pan American Stakes behind multiple graded stakes winner Sadler’s Joy. He bettered the best Equibase figure (113) from those three efforts two months ago when missing in a four horse blanket finish at Saratoga with a 121 figure then rallied from seventh to second in the stretch in the Johns Call Stakes when he was impeded and finished fourth before being moved up to third when the runner-up was disqualified for interference. That effort earned a 118 figure so Patterson Cross enters the Turf Cup off the two best efforts of his career, with both figures better than the 114 figure Oscar Nominated earned winning this race last year.


Oscar Nominated won last year’s Kentucky Turf Cup with a 114 figure, followed by a career-best 122 figure when second in the Pattison Canadian International Stakes in October. He won the McKnight at the distance of the Turf Cup earlier this year but has run well only once in three races since, that when second (beaten under a length) in the Elkhorn Stakes in April. Still, considering he really likes the course at Kentucky Downs where he’s undefeated in two races (the other being the Dueling Grounds Derby in 2016), Oscar Nominated must be given a lot of respect as a contender to win this race for the second year in a row.


Big Bend could also be worth a wager at double digit odds in this race. He’s four for 12 on grass including his only previous try at Kentucky Downs when winning the 2017 Dueling Grounds Derby (the same race Oscar Nominated won in 2016) with a 113 figure. Big Bend won that race leading from start to finish at the distance of one mile and five-sixteenth, a very difficult task on this course. In his most recent race, Big Bend rallied from eighth to fourth in the Cape Henlopen Stakes with a 106 figure that may bear improvement as the horse that finished just in front of him, Utmost, improved to win the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes in his next race. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke rode Big Bend to his win last year in the Derby and comes in to ride again, having just won the riding title at the recently concluded meeting at Del Mar in California. As such, we might be kicking ourselves after the race if we ignored the chances of Big Bend in this race.


Another to consider if he draws into the race is Bandua, a Kentucky bred colt that started his career in Europe, racing four times before making his U.S. debut last month. That U.S. debut came in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes and he finished third of 13 in that race. The figure was just 99 but there is room to improve, and in Europe Bandua won on a turf course listed as “heavy,” which is very wet. As such, if the course at Kentucky Downs is other than firm this colt has a chance to run well, perhaps even if the course is not wet based on the fact he’s a three year old who has yet to fully mature physically and mentally.


Bets: Patterson Cross to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

Big Bend to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

Consider a win bet on Bandua as well, at 5 to 1 or more. t


Remember, To bet more than one horse in a race and to maximize value while doing so, use a “Dutching” tool like he free one available at, which enables you to enter how much you want to spend or how much you want to win and which then allocates your wagering dollars accordingly.


Exacta and Trifecta: Box Patterson Cross, Oscar Nominated, Big Bend and Bandua.

Note: If any of the contenders are scratched, there are no substitutes I would be comfortable using, so it just cuts down on the number of bets and cost of the bets.


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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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