Key Bets & Races for Saturday, October 21


In addition to this blog, you can get analysis and recommended wagers for other races this weekend on my Key Races & Bets Podcast at

This weekend’s podcast will be published on Saturday morning and contain some of these races and in addition I will be tackling a couple of race on Sunday so please listen in. 


Ticonderoga Stakes – Race 4 at Belmont – Post time 2:01 PM ET


Broken Border and Feeling Bossy are both trained by very high percentage (nearly 30% wins in 2017) Jason Servis, and if a top conditioner like Servis thinks both can win I won’t argue so although they are not coupled for betting purposes (having different owners) I will consider them as an entry and bet them both. Broken Border just won at 7 furlongs on the Belmont turf course, her THIRD STRAIGHT win on the course, with just a loss on the Saratoga turf since coming back from a year on the bench in May in her other start this year. Manny Franco has ridden her to all 3 wins and rides back and the mare has a mean kick so should be very tough in this situation again. Her stablemate, Feeling Bossy, just won at 10 furlongs on the Belmont turf in October. Although 5 for 11 on grass going into that race, she was risked for a $62,500 claiming price and, lo and behold, someone claimed her. This 4 year old filly loves to win races and is 4 for 7 on the Belmont Sod so fits perfectly here even though her two tries in similar state bred stakes ended up with 6th and 5th place efforts. Claiming a horse with a stakes race in mind is a very strong play in my opinion and considering Servis is 20 for 41 off the claim this year and last as it is that gives this gal a strong chance in my opinion. Considering Broken Border opens at 12/1 and Feeling Bossy opens at 10/1 this could be an exceptionally profitable race.


Bets: Play both Broken Border and Feeling Bossy to win at 3 to 1 or higher and then add place bets if they are 5 to 1 or more. Figuring out how much to bet to insure the same profit, called “Dutching,” is the best way to play two horses to win and if you are an Amwager member that tool is offered for free so I recommend using it.



Sleepy Hollow Stakes – Race #6 at Belmont – Post Time 3:07 PM ET


We Should Talk showed a lot of maturity with a rallying finish in his career debut on 9/27, coming from fifth, seven lengths back, to win by nearly 3 lengths at the end. From the red hot barn of Sagamore private trainer DePaz, who has won with nearly 30% of his 100 plus starters this year, we can expect both physical and mental improvement off the experience of a race. As such, the 91 Equibase figure, which is just slightly lower than the 94 favorite Stoney Bennett earned in his debut win last month, and the 96 Battle Station earned winning the similar Bongard Stakes last month, can likely be counted on to be improved upon significantly, leading to a slight upset win for We Should Talk, who opens at 5/1. Both Stoney Bennett and Battle Station earned their wins leading from start to finish and not only are they drawn inside here, in the 1 and 2 posts respectively, they are next to each other in the gate, which should cause both to go a bit too hard for the lead than is good for their chances to hold off We Should Talk late. Analyze the Odds finished well from 6th to win the similar New York Breeders’ Futurity last month and is another likely to benefit from a hot early pace, as should be Evaluator, who is trying dirt for the first time after three turf races to start his career but as a son of Overanalyze and out of a dirt route winning producing mare the switch in surface should not pose a problem. Inalienable Rights is another closer, as he finished well for 2nd to nine length winner Battle Station in the Bongard last month and with Battle Station likely to be softened up by a pace battle with Stoney Bennett today he could run as well or better.


Bets: Play We Should Talk to win at odds of 2 to 1.

Consider win bets (at a smaller amount than for We Should Talk) on Analyze The Odds, Evaluator and Inalienable Rights at odds of 5/1 or more, adding place bets at 8 to 1 or higher odds.


Play an exacta consisting of We Should Talk over Analyze the Odds, Evaluator, Inalienable Rights and Battle Station. Play the reverse of that exacta as well.

For the minimum $1, play an exacta box consisting of We Should Talk, Analyze the Odds, Evaluator, Inalienable Rights and Battle Station



Hudson Handicap – Race 8 at Belmont – Post Time 4:13 PM ET



Bust Another has hidden form that makes him a great play, opening at 10/1. He’s been facing “open” company and moves into the state bred stakes ranks with his to most recent tries to similar, in February of this year and November of last year, poor efforts in which he finished sixth and seventh, respectively. However, he ships in from Pennsylvania off a deceptively good effort, nearly a career best (109 Equibase figure) when he stalked in 2nd most of the race, led at the eighth pole, then was third and beaten a nose for second and a length for the win. In the summer of 2016, Bust Another won the similar Mike Lee Stakes here at Belmont at odds of 19/1 and that’s the kind of effort he’s capable of and that I hope he can put forth here. Celtic Chaos won two state bred stakes in a row in April and Mau, the first of the two at Belmont and both with Cancel in the saddle as today. He was completely overmatched in his most recent start, in the Grade 1 Vosburgh, and so back with his friends can perk back up to competitive form. Sudden Surprise LOVES to win races, with a 10 for 17 record on dirt. Claimed for a measly 25K one before last out of a win at Saratoga by a top trainer in Brad Cox, he won a state bred allowance race by a nose over the track at this distance last month and is in line to win his fourth race in a row, having won the NY Stallion Series Stakes in the spring of 2016 to show he fits with these. T Loves a Fight won the similar Mike Lee Stakes in June when well regarded at 9 to 5 odds and enters this race off an allowance win at Saratoga in August so is another deserving of our respect when considering wagers made in this race. Weekend Hideaway and Ostrolenka have been competitive versus similar but open at lower odds so I will try to beat them on the win end but will use them in the second position on exacta tickets in one of my exacta recommendations below.

Bets: Make a win bet on Bust Another at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Consider win bets on Celtic Chaos, Sudden Surprise and T Loves a Fight at odds of 4 to 1 or more

Play an exacta box consisting of Bust Another, Celtic Chaos, Sudden Surprise and T Loves a Fight


Play an exacta consisting of Bust Another, Celtic Chaos, Sudden Surprise and T Loves a Fight over Bust Another, Celtic Chaos, Sudden Surprise, T Loves a Fight, Weekend Hideaway and Ostrolenka



Lexus Raven Run Stakes- Race #9 at Keeneland– Post Time 5:30 PM ET


Before her win in the Cerf Stakes on September 4, Miss Sunset had earned all five of her career wins (from 9 starts) when leading from the start. In the Cerf Stakes, Miss Sunset relaxed nicely when in second position in the early stages before drawing off to win late by nearly two lengths. That victory last month not only earned Miss Sunset a career best 104 Equibase Speed Figure, but the effort came in her first try against three year olds and upward. Prior to that, Miss Sunset won the Fleet Treat Stakes at the distance of the Raven Run and powerfully by five lengths in a field of eight. Scratched out of last weekend’s California Distaff Stakes to run in the Raven Run and back in against her own age group in, Miss Sunset gets the services of leading rider Leparoux aboard as well as a good outside post that will allow her to stalk whoever leads early just as she did in the Cerf Stakes. As such, Miss Sunset looks very capable of winning for the seventh time in her 11th career start. Nonna Mela also enters the Raven Run off a career best effort, albeit not a winning one, in the Prioress Stakes. Clearly second the entire length of the stretch to winner Vertical Oak, Nonna Mela improved to a 104 figure as good as the figure Miss Sunset earned winning a stakes around the same time. Prior to that, Nonna Mela beat older fillies and mares at Saratoga at the seven furlong distance of the Raven Run including next out winner Malibu Stacy. With North American leading trainer Todd Pletcher’s #1 & #2 jockeys Velazquez and Castellano remaining in New York, journeyman Chris DeCarlo takes the call and that is fine as the jockey and trainer have a fine record of four wins in seven races in the last year. Also with good tactical speed, we can expect Nonna Mela to be on or near the lead from start to finish. Chalon, Happy Mesa and Classy Tune all warrant respect but in my opinion their probabilities of winning aren’t nearly as high as either Miss Sunset or Nonna Mela. Chalon just ran two weeks ago here at Keeneland when second to Finley’sluckycharm in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, the winner now with nine victories in 12 races so Chalon’s runner-up finish no disgrace at all. Although the effort earned her a career best and field high 107 figure, Chalon has failed to gain significant ground in the stretch in her last three starts and therefore may be a “need the lead” type who can run well but who may also get discouraged when both Nonna Mela and Miss Sunset prove faster than her in the opening stages. Happy Mesa will be rolling from far back, perhaps last, as she did last month on grass when second in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint, from which third place finisher Morticia came back to win the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes earlier in the Keeneland meeting. Happy Mesa won the only time she raced on dirt, in her first career start back in the summer of 2016, so she could run as well on the main track as she ran on turf last time out when earning a 102 figure and as such must be considered for exacta tickets we bet at the minimum. Classy Tune earned a career best 103 figure one before last when winning easily in August in California in an allowance level race. In her first stakes try last month, she was sent to post as the even money favorite but easily beaten by Miss Sunset so although she may run well I don’t see her reversing positions with the horse that beat her and so she too is a horse we can consider for exacta tickets but perhaps not as a win contender.

Bets: Play Miss Sunset to win at 2 to 1 or more.

Consider a second win bet on Nonna Mela at 5 to 2 or more. You can also use the Dutching Tool at Amwager to insure a fair return on a win bet on both horses.


Bet an exacta consisting of Miss Sunset and Nonna Mela over Miss Sunset and Nonna Mela, Happy Mesa, Chalon and Classy Tune



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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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