Key Bets & Races for Saturday, March 17

Kentucky Cup Classic Stakes – Race 8 at Turfway Park – Post Time 4:38 Eastern Time

For anyone that plays multi-race bets like the double, pick 3 or pick 4, a race like this is known as a “FREE SQUARE” similar to bingo. When any race in a series has a standout, that can significantly cut down on the cost of the ticket and/or enable bettors to open up (spread) with more contenders in other races, allowing for the chance of a longshot to come in and more than pay for the cost of the bet.


Royal Son is such a horse, a “single” (the only horse to use on multi-race tickets in a particular race), because he has been dominant in his last two races and I don’t believe anything in this race is going to change that. He won on 11/30 in a classified allowance (just below stakes level) easily with a 120 Equibase figure, reserved for Grade 1 or 2 stakes winners, then he won even more easily on 12/29 when victorious by even lengths in the Prairie Bayou Stakes, both around two turns here at Turfway Park, where he’s now 3 for 4. His most recent morning workout, on 3/6, shows he’s holding top form and it would be very difficult to beat him in this situation.


In addition to the free square for multi-race bets, we can play an EXACTA WHEEL or Part-Wheel in this situation by playing Royal Son to come in first and a number of horses to come in second.


Win bet: Royal Son at odds of 6 to 5 or more, a low odds overlay


Exacta: Royal Son over Catinati, Senior Investment, Colonel Samson, Dac, Chip Leader and Designed for War. You can also consider an exacta of Royal Son over ALL.


Pick 3: Ticket 1

Race 8 – Royal Son

Race 9 – Consolida, In the Mood, Homemade Salsa, Go Noni Go, Queen’s Fate, Mauk’s Tuff, Mo Flash

Race 10 – Sky Promise, Archaggelos, Magicalmeister, Ride a Comet


Inside Information Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 5:04 Eastern Time


Moonlit Promise is a low odds overlay win bet in this race, opening at 9/2. Winner of six of her first nine races, all at Woodbine and all on all-weather, Moonlit Promise made her conventional dirt debut on 1/27 in the similar Hurricane Bertie Stakes and with a jockey unfamiliar with her made what might have been the winning move, from 8th of 12 early to lead into the stretch, before being passed and ending up 4th. Now she’s making her 2nd start on the track and better still is reunited with Gary Boulanger, who rode her to her last four wins including the similar G2 Bessarabian Stakes at this 7 furlong trip in November. Gary is going to time her move a lot better and with the best trio of Equibase figures (105, 103, 104) in the field from last year to run back to Moonlit Promise is going to be very tough to beat. Ivy Bell moves to the Pletcher barn and is a very competitive mare, only worse than 2nd one time in 7 races last year and in that race she clipped heels and lost the jockey. She finished 2nd at the distance in the G3 Chicago Handicap last June and with Castellano taking over should be in the exacta for sure.


Jordan’s Henny posted the 59 to 1 upset in the Hurricane Bertie and should be used on exacta tickets, as should Mines and Magic, who went winless in six races last year but who won the Dogwood Stakes at the distance in the fall of 2016 and who gets a good jockey change to Lezcano.


Bet: Moonlit Promise to win at 2 to 1 or more.


Exactas: Moonlit Promise over Ivy Bell, Jordan’s Henny and Mines and Magic.

Then, also play the reverse of that exacta, which is Ivy Bell, Jordan’s Henny and Mines and Magic over Moonlit Promise.


Bourbonette Oaks – Race 9 at Turfway Park – Post Time 5:14 Eastern Time

Consilida made her first two starts in England, the second of the two on an all-weather surface like the one at Turfway, and in that race she finished fast from 10th to 1st to win. Privately purchased after that, she was sent to the U.S. and to trainer Paddy Gallagher in California. Returning to the races last month, also over an all-weather surface, Consolida posted the 7 to 1 upset to win the California Oaks and as she’s likely to run even better here and as she’s shown an affinity for this kind of track she is shipped into California where she has a big shot to win her 2nd stakes race in a row. In the Mood won the Cincinnati Trophy Stakes at Turfway last month, a sprint, and is stretching out to two-turns for the first time. She’s bred to handle the extra distance on both sides of her pedigree and it’s only the lack of experience that makes her the 2nd win contender here as she has every right to run big right back. Homemade Salsa finished third behind In the Mood in that stakes race last month, three races before that winning a stakes race on grass and around two turns. If a little closer up then last time out when 10th in the early stages she has a shot to be passing most if not all of these for the win as well. Go Noni Go gets a potentially disadvantageous outside post but won around two turns, on turf, one before last from the 8 post and does have a closing style so if jockey Gaffalione can drop her back before the turn and save ground she too has a shot to be there at the wire, perhaps even to win as she was third in a stakes last summer.


Bets: Consolida to win at 5 to 2 or more

Consider win bets, for smaller amounts than on Consolida, on In the Mood and on Homemade Salsa at odds of 7 to 2 or higher.


Exacta: Consolida, In the Mood, Homemade Salsa and Go Noni Go over  Consolida, In the Mood, Homemade Salsa, Go Noni Go, Queen’s Fate, Mauk’s Tuff and Mo Flash.


Jeff Ruby Steaks – Race 10 at Turfway Park – Post Time 6 Eastern Time


Magicalmeister posted the 39 to 1 upset in the local prep race, the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, a few weeks back, but that wasn’t a fluke nor should his odds have been that high. Prior to the Battaglia, Magicalmeister had improved significantly in his second career start and first route when third after a nine and three-quarter debut win sprinting. The route prior to the Battaglia was at Turfway Park and the improvement in Equibase figure from 64 in his debut to 76 in his second start suggested Magicalmeister could win if making the same 12 point gain, which three year olds at this time of year are very capable of. Rallying on the turn from third to make the lead by a half-length with an eighth of a mile to go, Magicalmeister held that margin to the wire, which is difficult to do over Turfway’s all-weather surface. Likely to be underbet (ignored) in the wagering once again, Magicalmeister appears capable of winning his second stakes race in a row and perhaps at high odds once more. Archaggelos is out of the mare Mien, making him a half-brother to 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown. Rested since a fourth place finish in the Display Stakes in December, Archaggelos has already proven capable at the level as he won the Grade 3 Grey Stakes last October, the same race 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird won in 2008. Since his last race, Archaggelos has been training exclusively on all-weather surfaces and based on very logical improvement off the 89 Equibase figure earned in the Grey he should be a strong contender in the Jeff Ruby. Sky Promise rallied from last of 11 to miss by a half-length in the Battaglia Stakes last month, in his second start as a three year old, and with two very sharp workouts since that race he could be passing many if not all of these in the stretch. Ride a Comet ships in from Louisiana for top trainer Tom Amoss off a pair of wins, the most recent on grass. Although Amoss isn’t known for starting many horses on all-weather surfaces the Stats Race Lens query on the move shows Amoss has won 25% of time moving horses from turf to all-weather. Since Ride A Comet earned 91 and 85 figures in his last two starts and those figures are competitive with the other main contenders in the race, he rounds out the quartet of candidates to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks.


Bets: Bet Magicalmeister and Archaggelos to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet if 6 to 1 or higher.


Exacta: Play an exacta box consisting of Magicalmeister, Archaggelos, Sky Promise and Ride A Comet.

Consider an exacta consisting of Magicalmeister, Archaggelos, Sky Promise and Ride A Comet over ALL.


Santa Margarita Stakes – Race 9 at Santa Anita – Post Time 7 Eastern Time (4 Pacific)


At first glance it might appear Turkish Tabby, Mended and Bishop’s Pond may all want the lead from the start and at any cost. Well, although Mended and Bishop’s Pond may both be need-the-lead types at any cost, it is much more likely Bishop’s Pond will be sent hard for the lead while Mended can sit second as she did twice last year, both times winning. Turkish Tabby is NOT a need-the-lead type by any means, as she closed from third sprinting twice in her career and I believe it was just a matter of no other horse wanting the lead last out on 2/8 in her first route that she led from start to nearly the finish, beaten a nose on the wire. She was short that day as it was, coming back from 11 months off in a route without a prep because when she won her first route, Turkish Tabby did so in her 2nd career start off a sprint prep. Bound to be much tighter today, and with her last two efforts of 2017 yielding 106 and 105 Equibase figures nearly as good as horses like Mopotism & Mended, who open at much lower odds, I think Turkish Tabby can post the upset and even if she doesn’t she can make us a nice profit in exactas opening at 15/1. La Force finished 2nd in three straight between September and December then missed by inches in a 3 horse photo in the Grade 2 La Canada, a race in which she could just as easily have beaten Mopotism and Mended, who finished 1-2 respectively, as finished third. She came back to get a confidence building win on 2/16 with Smith up for the first time and with Smith riding back and the rail she’s very playable too, opening at 6/1. As stated previously, Mended can tuck in behind Bishop’s Pond so must be respected as she has a shot to win for the 14th time in her 28th career race, while Mopotism continues to perform well at this level. Fault rounds out the contenders, a grade 2 winner on turf having won the Buena Vista Stakes last out on the trainer change to D’Amato and I am not going to second guess this excellent trainer who is moving her to dirt off that strong win with a 109 figure.


Bets: Play Turkish Tabby to win and to place at 3 to 1 or more and add a place bet at 6 to 1 odds or higher.

Consider another win bet, this one on La Force, at 3 to 1 or more, and on Mended at 3 to 1 or more.

Use a “dutching tool” like the one at Amwager (free) that helps allocated your money on multiple horses to win.


Play an exacta box consisting 

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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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