Key Bets & Races for Saturday, March 10

Triple Bend Stakes – Race 4 at Santa Anita – Post Time 4:30 Eastern (1:30 Pacific)


Captain Scotty is entered in this grade 1 stakes off an allowance win and in only the third start of his career. If it were most trainers I’d say they were reaching, but not Peter Miller, who decided not to run his sprint champion Roy H in this race and instead entered Captain Scotty and Bobby Abu Dhabi. Purchased privately after a seven length debut win in December, Captain Scotty decimated a short six horse field with easy on 1/26 over the track with a 112 Equibase Figure that is as good as the last two stakes figure for Edwards Going Left and just short of the 117 figure City of Light earned winning the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes against three year olds only on opening day of the meeting (12/26). With a LOT of improvement forthcoming in his 2nd start off a layoff and in his 3rd career start, with a great outside post that should allow him to take the lead from the start and move over to the rail slowly or allow him to sit off the pacesetter’s flank from the start, and with Javier Castellano (in to ride Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe) in the saddle, Captain Scotty offers low odds overlay KEY BET action.


Bobby Abu Dhabi was overlooked on the morning line at 8/1 and that may offer another opportunity for profit. We can ignore his only two-turn try in December, 2016 and we can ignore the race last May on Preakness Day that led to the seven month layoff he returned from in December. His other four races have been big efforts and he worked five furlongs in company with Captain Scotty in preparation for this race, both trained by Miller.


For pick 3 tickets started in this race, and for exacta tickets played, we should certainly use City of Light as he’s never been worse than 2nd in five races including the Malibu. However, it must be noted he led late and didn’t have any fight in the stretch in two straight before that when settling for second so I’m not sure which horse may show up here. Edwards Going Left is the other we must use because he has a lot of spirit, resulting in four straight first or second place efforts including when second behind City of Light in the Malibu.


I am taking a stand against Giant Expectations (who is also entered in the Santa Anita Handicap) because I don’t see him rebounding enough off a 9th place (beaten 18 lengths) effort in his last race.


Win bet: Bet Captain Scotty to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Make a win bet on Bobby Abu Dhabi at odds of 3 to 1 or more.


Exacta: Play an exacta box consisting of Bobby Abu Dhabi over Captain Scotty, City of Lights and Edwards Going Left then turn that around and play another set of exactas consisting of Captain Scotty, City of Lights and Edwards Going Left over Bobby Abu Dhabi.


Pick 3: Ticket 1

Race 4 – Edwards Going Left, Bobby Abu Dhabi, City of Light and Captain Scotty

Race 5 – Syntax, World Approval

Race 6 – All Eight Horses


Pick 3: Ticket 2

Race 4 – Edwards Going Left, Bobby Abu Dhabi, City of Light and Captain Scotty

Race 5 – Syntax, World Approval, Bowies Hero, Om

Race 6 – Bolt d’Oro, McKinzie, Kanthaka


Pick 3: Ticket 3

Race 4 – Edwards Going Left, Bobby Abu Dhabi, City of Light and Captain Scotty

Race 5 – World Approval

Race 6 – All Eight Horses

This ticket is similar to ticket #1 but since World Approval will be a prohibitive favorite we should want to bet it twice.


Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes – Race 5 at Santa Anita – Post Time 5:00 Eastern (2 Pacific)


World Approval continues to streak, with a win last month in Florida two months after taking the Breeders’ Cup Mile and with two grade 1 wins at a mile on turf prior to that. Making is 2nd start off a two month layoff, he should run as well or better than last month when earning a 118 Equibase Figure and perhaps back to the 122 figure level from his Breeders’ Cup win and that would result in his 13th career win.

That being said, there is very nice opportunity for exotic wagering profits at the least in using Syntax, who opens at 15/1, and if that one should happen to post the upset we will be very happy we bet him. Syntax returns from nine months off and is proven at the level, last seen missing by a half-length in a blanket finish in the Grade 2 Whittingham Stakes on this course and missing by the same margin in another graded stakes right before that. A graded stakes winner on turf at three, Syntax went off form for seven races until moving to the D’Amato barn last winter and although winless in four races those efforts were exceptional as in two of them Syntax earned 121 and 124 figures as good as ANY figure World Approval has ever earned. D’Amato must be very high on this gelding to put him in a grade 1 off a layoff and the trainer has done this previously, for example with multiple graded stakes winner Obviously a couple of years back.


Om and Bowies Hero are more grade 2/grade 3 stakes types than grade 1 types but in the case of both, repeating their recent efforts give them an outside shot to win and a definite shot to be part of the exacta or trifecta. Bowies Hero won the G2 Mathis Brothers Mie in December with a 121 figure then came up a half-length short to Om last month in the G3 Thunder Road at this mile trip and both have the ability to run well in this situation because after World Approval and Syntax, these two tower over the rest in terms of having any chance to run well.


Win/Place: Bet Syntax to win and place at odds of 4 to 1 or more.


Trifecta: Play World Approval and Syntax over World Approval and Syntax over ALL.

Also play World Approval and Syntax over ALL over World Approval and Syntax.


Then, because World Approval will be the prohibitive favorite play similar tickets but with only World Approval on top, as follows World Approval over Syntax over ALL, then World Approval over ALL over Syntax.


This race also starts the Cross Country Pick 4, which is a bet with a lot of profit opportunity and consists of two races at Santa Anita and two at Aqueduct. There are two possible tickets:


Ticket 1

Leg 1 (Race 9 Aqueduct) – Skyler’s Scramjet, Do Share, Spartiatis

Leg 2 (Race 5 Santa Anita) – World Approval, Syntax

Leg 3 (Race 10 Aqueduct) – Dial Operator, Whereshetoldmetogo, Firenze Fire, Free Drop Billy

Leg 4 (Race 6 Santa Anita) – ALL 8 horses

The cost at $0.50 is $96. You can cut that in half using only World Approval in the first leg if you choose.


Ticket 2

Leg 1 (Race 9 Aqueduct) – Spartiatis, Skyler’s Scramjet, Do Share, Classy Class, Great Stuff, Threefiveindia, Life in Shambles and Favorite Tale.

Leg 2 (Race 5 Santa Anita) – World Approval, Syntax

Leg 3 (Race 10 Aqueduct) – Dial Operator, Whereshetoldmetogo, Firenze Fire, Free Drop Billy

Leg 4 (Race 6 Santa Anita) – Bolt d’Oro, McKinzie, Kanthaka

The cost at $0.50 is $96. You can cut that in half using only World Approval in the first leg if you choose.


Tom Fool Handicap – Race 9 at Aqueduct– Post Time 5:12 Eastern


Spartiatis is a live longshot in this year’s Tom Fool, opening at 15/1. He won this race last year at 5/1 coming off a 2nd level allowance win and in those two efforts he earned very strong Equibase figures of 110 and 111, respectively. He ran VERY poorly in four straight to close out his 2017 campaign but at some point following his 8/26/17 race he was transferred to the barn of Rudy Rodriguez and when the gelding returned last month he showed his old spark, rallying from four and one-half lengths back with an eighth of a mile to go and coming up a head short on the wire. Although the effort earned only a 103 figure, we can expect a TON of improvement second off the long layoff and if that occurs Spartiatis could win this race for the second year in a row.


Skyler’s Scramjet and Do Share have a combined record of six for eight at Aqueduct and both enter this race off a pair of wins over the track. Skyler’s Scramjet won a classified allowance with a stakes quality 111 figure and has a great off-the-pace style, the same style Do Share displayed rallying from fifth to win the Gravesend Stakes near the end of December. Both horses, as well as Spartiatis, should love the hot early pace here with Green Gratto having to go fast from the rail and a need-the-lead type, as it Favorite Tale and perhaps Classy Class. Regarding all the “early” pace types, as well as a few others, they have a shot to finish second so we will be playing our three win contenders over many others in the exacta (below) as well.


Bets: Play Spartiatis to win and place at 7 to 2 or higher.

Consider win bets on both Skyler’s Scramjet and on Do Share at odds of 7 to 2 or higher as well.


Play an exacta box between Spartiatis, Skyler’s Scramjet and Do Share.

Play an exacta consisting of Spartiatis, Skyler’s Scramjet and Do Share over Spartiatis, Skyler’s Scramjet, Do Share, Classy Class, Great Stuff, Threefiveindia, Life in Shambles and Favorite Tale.


Double: Play Spartiatis, Skyler’s Scramjet and Do Share in race 9 with Dial Operator, Whereshetoldmetogo, Firenze Fire and Free Drop Billy in race 10.


San Felipe Stakes – Race 6 at Santa Anita – Post Time 5:30 Eastern (2:30 Pacific)


Kanthaka has run the fastest of any of the eight San Felipe entrants to date and although all three of his races (including two wins) came around one turn I don’t see that changing when all is said and done at the end of this two-turn race. With Lombo, Calexman and possibly Aquila likely to contest the pace on faster than average early fractions, Flavien Prat can guide Kanthaka to the inside before the turn and save ground, then come out for the stretch run and power past the field as he did last month winning the San Vicente Stakes easily by three lengths. Prat also rode Lombo to victory in last month’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes and chooses to ride Kanthaka once again, which appears to be the right choice as Kanthaka’s last race 114 Equibase figure is better than Lombo’s 107 figure, not to mention Kanthaka is not a need-the-lead type and is making his second start as a three year old so has more improving to do than Lombo, who is running for the fourth time this year.


McKinzie is also logical but may go to post as the heavy favorite. McKinzie has improved in each start including a 110 figure winning the Sham Stakes two months ago before being flattered when Sham third place finisher My Boy Jack won the Southwest Stakes in his next start with an eight point improvement in his figure. If McKinzie improves similarly to the 118 range and Kanthaka takes the logical step forward, we may be in for a real treat.


Ayacara may not win the San Felipe but we must remember this colt for next month’s Santa Anita Derby because of his connections. The combination of trainer Keith Desormeaux and his brother Kent as jockey have been formidable for years on the Derby trail, proven once again with My Boy Jack posting the upset win in the Southwest Stakes last month. Ayacara had won on dirt and around two turns as a two year old last year then in his third start as a three year old last month in the Lewis and following races on all-weather and turf he ran big to close from eighth of nine to get second behind Lombo, who had been allowed an easy lead on the front end. If the pace in the San Felipe is exceptionally hot, Ayacara could get up in time to post the upset just as My Boy Jack did recently.


One possible longshot to consider is Aquila, who has also improved in each start (67, 89 and 105 figures) but who is going from the maiden ranks to the graded stakes ranks against horses already proven at the level. As a son of Union Rags out of a Mr. Greeley mare, I think Aquila will be a factor on the road to the Kentucky Derby and as he has shown the ability to come from off the pace, as when second one race before last, Aquila may be a horse to consider particularly for exacta and trifecta bets we make in this race. Peace is another with a shot as we can draw a line through his poor effort in the Robert B. Lewis as the race served as an experiment in blinkers that failed and is now over. Before that Peace earned a 104 figure around two turns and the horse that finished third in that race improved markedly to win next out (97 to 108). With Hall-of-Fame trainer Dick Mandella calling the shots, we might be regretting any decision to discount Peace as a contender.


Regarding Bolt d’Oro¸ I have the words “Next Time” in bold letters on my past performances because I think although he’s very talented and is still a Kentucky Derby contender (until proven otherwise), he is going to be well short of ready to win a race like the San Felipe. He earned a strong 109 figure when winning the Front Runner Stakes over the track last September before being wide throughout in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but still ending up third with a 101 figure. Coming back from four months off against horses who have run this year and horses who have performed well in stakes, Bolt d’Oro will benefit greatly on a physical and mental level and certainly has a chance to be part of the exacta or trifecta but for the most part I am not considering him a win contender. However, not wanting to get beaten by him just in case he picks up where he left off in the Front Runner (not the Breeders’ Cup) I am including him on pick 3 tickets played.


Win bet: Bet Kanthaka to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Exacta: Play an exacta of Kanthaka and McKinzie over ALL.

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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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