Key Bets & Races for Saturday, October 28

For more races this weekend, including the Awad Stakes (Race 10 on Saturday) at Belmont and some pick 3/pick 4 strategies, plus a couple of races on Sunday, October 29, listen to the Key Races & Bets Podcast at or download the Podbean app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for Android.


 Athenia Stakes – Race 7 at Belmont – Post time 3:43 PM ET


Thundering Sky opens at ridiculously high 15/1 odds given she just won a $100K stakes, albeit restricted and more importantly won the $200K Pebbles Stakes last year. That win last time out came in her 4th start of the year and now that she’s rediscovered winning form she has every right to run big again. Behind her in that last race were multiple stakes winner Bar of Gold, who won her next start taking the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes, and the eighth place finisher also came back to win, creating a KEY RACE situation suggesting the race was productive. When winning the 2016 Pebbles Stakes, Thundering Sky earned a 108 Equibase Figure and in her De La Rose Stakes win at Saratoga in August this year she earned a 110 figure, as good as ANY horse in the field including those at much lower morning line odds. My Impression gets co-top billing for overlay win betting purposes, opening at 8/1. She also just won a restricted stakes, the One Dreamer, at Kentucky Downs, a powerful effort with a 109 figure. She’s worked exceptionally well since shipping back to New York and Jose Ortiz (not only the #1 jockey in the country in earnings right now but also up for her three wins before that last one) takes the call so she’s got a big shot of winning for the 7th time in her 16th career turf start. Elysea’s World, Decked Out, Off Limits and Penjade are horses we will use on exacta tickets played, with Off Limits the 2/1 morning line favorite off a Grade 3 win over the course last month and one of three from the Chad Brown barn (the other two Penjade and Elysea’s World) but no standout as her best effort yielded a 108 figure just as good (but no better than) any number of other horse’s best efforts in similar races.



Bets: Play both Thundering Sky and My Impression 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.


Play exactas of Thundering Sky and My Impression over Thundering Sky, My Impression, Elysea’s World, Off Limits and Penjade and Decked Out.

Play the above exacta in reverse as well.



Turnback the Alarm Stakes – Race #8 at Belmont – Post Time 4:16 PM ET


A Place to Shine opens at 15/1 and that doesn’t make any sense as the horse is 5 for 11 on dirt and was stakes placed last year when 2nd in the Delaware Oaks. She was off from December of last year until her return on September 3 and she won easily by 4 lengths in that comeback around two turns (1 mile and 70 yards) so this one turn mile and one-sixteenth trip will be no issue. She proved she’s holding form with a 59.6, best of 22, five furlong drill at Monmouth seven days ago and Joe Bravo rides, having a great Belmont meeting with 13 wins to date. As such, there is absolutely no reason she can’t win with a lot of improving she can do off her 95 Equibase Speed Figure effort 2nd off the long layoff. Miss Sky Warrior opens as the 8 to 5 favorite and is not a suspect favorite but she can be beaten just the same. Last seen finishing 8th in the very sloppy running of the Kentucky Oaks in May, she’s been rested since and returns to one turn where she has a three-for-four record including a sharp win in the Davona Dale Stakes off a three month layoff in March. Like A Place to Shine, Miss Sky Warrior put in a strong workout coming into the race and certainly the presence of Javier Castellano in the saddle for the first time enhances her chances to run back to her Davona Dale effort. However, she only earned a 92 figure in that race and even accounting for her being more mature eight months later she’s not a standout. Tejana is the one both A Place to Shine and Miss Sky Warrior have to run down to win, a likely lone front runner with Jose Ortiz in the saddle just as he was on 9/28 when winning easily over the track in a one turn mile race with an 89 figure. Still with improving to do, she may successfully play “come catch me” from the start.


Bets: Play A Place to Shine to win at odds of 3 to 1 and add a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

Consider a win bet on Tejana at odds of 4 to 1 or more.


Play an exacta box consisting of A Place to Shine, Tejana and Miss Sky Warrior



Bold Ruler Handicap – Race 9 at Belmont – Post Time 4:49 PM ET



Beasley and Divining Rod appear to be the top contenders, both set up by a sizzling early pace battle between two to four of the other nine entrants. If the race goes as drawn, favorite Seymourdini will have his hands full with other “early pace” types like Awesome Banner, Green Gratto and Mr. Crow, and that contested early pace scenario could make the stalkers and closers look very good in the last eighth of a mile. Beasley, opening at 20/1, is very intriguing as a lightly raced three year old with three wins and two runner-up finishes in six races. His worse two efforts came around two turns and his absolute best came last month here at Belmont at this 7 furlong trip when he got up by a head with a career best 106 Equibase figure. His last three efforts produced 96, 98 and 106 figures so he’s on a nice pattern and his best of 32 half-mile workout coming into the race is another sign. Junior Alvarado rode him for the first time two back so is 2 for 2 when in the saddle and as a three year old facing older this time of year in a graded stakes he’s not outgunned by any means. Divining Rod is the real pro in the field, with 9 first or second place finishes and $875K in earnings. He finished 2nd to speedball Sharp Azteca in the Kelso Handicap in his most recent start with a 107 figure and should be stalking the speed nicely on the outside today before getting into the picture at the end. Any number of horses can run well, particularly multiple stakes winner Stallwalkin’ Dude, who won the 2016 Bold Ruler, but I’m sticking with the two above as win contenders.

Bets: Play Beasley to win at odds of 3 to 1 and add a place bet if 5 to 1 or more.

Bet Divining Rod to win at odds of 2/1. He opens at 7/2 so that is entirely possible


Play an exacta of Beasley and Divining Rod over ALL. Play an additional exacta of Divining Rod over ALL because he will go to post at lower odds so we would want to have that exacta a second time if he wins. 



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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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