Key Horse Races & Expert Handicapper Bets - April 3, 2021

Commonwealth Stakes – Race 7 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:24 PM Eastern

Hidden Scroll is a standout in my opinion, in spite of opening as the second choice on the morning line at 5 to 2. I just don’t get the 8 to 5 morning line favoritism afforded Flagstaff, who has won just one of his last eight starts going back to the beginning of 2020, and he was only close to winning one of the other seven when beaten a head in September. Furthermore, trainer Sadler just doesn’t seem to know what to do to get the seven year old to win, as he put blinkers on for a stakes last month in which Flagstaff ran third from start to finish, and now takes them off.

Hidden Scroll came back from nearly six months off last month in a highly rated allowance race and in his first start for Cox and won easily in spite of early trouble and in spite of going wide. He was supposed to be a top three year old in 2019 after winning by 14 lengths in his debut but didn’t follow up on that then his connections decided on turf where he was miserable Moving back to dirt for the race last month, Hidden Scroll returned to form and should run even better second off a layoff as most of Cox’s trainees do.

Attachment Rate ran the best race of his career last time out at the end of February in a one-turn mile and should appreciate this seven furlong trip so must be considered for exactas as well as doubles involving this race, as should Hog Creek Hustle, who rallied to miss by a head in a stakes quality allowance race at this distance at Keeneland last fall.

Handicapper Picks

WinHidden Scroll is a low odds overlay win bet at odds of 3 to 2 or higher.

Exacta: Box Hidden Scroll and Attachment Rate, Box Hidden Scroll and Hog Creek Hustle


Race 7Hidden Scroll

Race 8ImprimisTurned AsideBound for NowhereHollis

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Shakertown Stakes – Race 8 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:57 PM Eastern

Turned Aside gets slight preference mostly because he opens at 6 to 1. He’s a newly turned four year old making his second start after three months off and after changing barns and he will prefer this 5 ½ furlong trip over the 5 furlong trip he ran last out when fourth in the Turf Dash Stakes at Tampa. Right before the layoff Turned Aside ran the best race of his career at this distance winning the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship with a 113 Equibase figure which is as good as the best figures in the race. He gets a good post in the middle of the gate and can stalk whoever goes for the lead so likely to move up a ton second off the layoff he may be the one to beat, certainly the one to bet.

Bound for Nowhere shows up every time, with a 6-2-1 record in 10 U.S. starts, all turf sprints. Particularly, he loves Keeneland and this race, having won it in 2018, missing by a neck in it in both 2019 and last July. The outside post helps him avoid any traffic issues and it’s very likely he will be in front, or inches away, at the wire again.

Imprimis won this race in 2019, beating Bound for Nowhere by a neck. He’s won three of eight U.S. races since and if you toss his two tries in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint against some of the best turf sprinters in the world he’s better than that. He too will appreciate the extra half-furlong after missing by a half-length at five furlongs in the same race Turned Aside finished fourth in and Paco Lopez gets back aboard after six races with other jockeys, most notably having ridden Imprimis to his 2019 Shakertown win.

Hollis is a horse at decent odds to be used on exacta and trifecta tickets (and doubles) at the least. He’s been first or second in 11 of 16 races, mostly on dirt, but won the Turf Sprint Stakes last fall at Pimlico on Preakness weekend and enters the race off two “A” efforts on dirt.

Handicapper Picks

WinTurned Aside to win at odds of 2/1

Exacta & Trifecta: Box Turned AsideBound for NowhereImprimis and Hollis.

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Wood Memorial – Race 10 at Aqueduct – Post Time 5:58 PM Eastern

Weyburn was disregarded by bettors at 46 to 1 odds one month ago in the Gotham Stakes but proved to be an exceptionally tough competitor when winning by a nose. After attending the pace only a half-length behind the leader for the first half-mile, Weyburn engaged for the lead for the rest of the race, first battling head and head with Freedom Fighter then battling nose and nose the entire last eighth of a mile with Crowded Trade. That effort occurring one month ago leads me to believe he will not regress and will move forward to run even better in the Wood Memorial. Considering Weyburn earned a career-best 105 Equibase Speed Figure , tied for best in the field with Crowded Trade, it would take significant improvement by any other runner (except Crowded Trade) to run faster than Weyburn demonstrating logical improvement in his second start following three months off. As such, Weyburn gets slight preference among two horses I feel stand out against the rest in terms of their probability to win this race.

Crowded Trade has no knocks, having won in his career debut at the end of January before stepping into stakes company in the Gotham Stakes last month and giving it his all. Third place Gotham finisher Highly Motivated is looking for different scenery this weekend and will run in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. With no other horse having run as fast as either Crowded Trade (or Weyburn) who earned a 105 figure in the Gotham, this lightly raced colt making his third career start has significant improving he can do and must be considered a strong contender to win. As to his breeding to run this nine furlong trip, there’s no doubt as a son of More Than Ready that is not an issue as the sire’s Catholic Boy won graded stakes at a mile and one-quarter. Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by red hot Eric Cancel, Crowded Trade has every right to turn the tables on Weyburn in their second meeting and move on to the Kentucky Derby in fine form.

Prevalence, like Crowded Trade, has only run twice, and likewise his second race was a one-turn mile in which he ran impressively. After winning his debut by eight lengths in handy fashion with a 99 figure, Prevalence won his second start just as easily by three lengths with a 98 figure but likely could have gone faster. Perhaps more importantly, after he crossed the finish line it was noted by the astute chart caller for Equibase that Prevalence was “urged past the wire for an eighth of a mile or so past the finish.” This is significant, as it shows a plan beforehand between jockey Tyler Gaffalione (who rides in the Wood) and trainer Brendan Walsh (who trained top three year old Maxfield last year) to give the colt experience at running the distance of his next race. Being a son of Medaglia d’Oro, who sired tremendous stakes winners like Songbird and Wonder Gadot, if Prevalence got the foundation for this race as intended, improving enough to win the Wood Memorial is not out of the question.

I have a couple of issues with some others in here, including morning line favorite Risk Taking, so I thought I’d share why.

Brooklyn Strong won the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes over the track at the distance of the Wood Memorial, but it may be a tall order to pick up where he left off following four months on the bench and versus horses which all ran much more recently. Candy Man Rocket won the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes in February before an 11th of 12 finish in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and it may be a stretch to go from next-to-last in that recent race to a top competitor in the Wood Memorial. Risk Taking comes back from two months off after winning the Withers Stakes in February. Although the 102 figure earned in that race may be competitive with the top horses in the Wood if he improves on it, the fact that he skipped the Gotham and most of his opponents ran more recently gives me pause.

Handicapper Picks

WinWeyburn and Crowded Trade should be bet to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. A Dutching tool lets you set the amount you want to bet or the amount you want to win, then based on the odds your bets are proportioned accordingly. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.


Box Weyburn and Crowded Trade.

Box WeyburnCrowded Trade and Prevalence.

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Santa Anita Derby – Race 8 at Santa Anita – Post Time 7:15 PM Eastern

Rock Your World can post the mild upset in this race, opening at 4 to 1. He ran as fast as likely favorite Medina Spirit did finishing second in the San Felipe Stakes one month ago, earning the same 98 Equibase figure, and he’s on a pattern to improve significantly in his third career start and second route. Although both his races were on turf, the win at the end of February was in the Pasadena Stakes, and he has the breeding to transition to dirt and run big. Sire Candy Ride produced some tremendous graded stakes winners including Gun Runner, Game Winner and Vekoma and the colt’s most recent workout was the best of 82 on the day for five furlongs. Whereas Medina Spirit has not improved in his last three starts around two-turns, going from 109 to 97 to 98 figures, Rock Your World went from 94 sprinting to 98 routing last out and is likely to easily break the 100 Equibase Speed Figure threshold today.

Medina Spirit is certainly a contender when considering exotic bets but now with Baffert barn standout Life is Good on the sidelines he will be considered as having a much higher probability to win then is realistic and will be a poor win bet. Defeated by Life is Good in the Sham Stakes at a mile in January with a 109 figure, he didn’t run faster four weeks later when winning the Robert B. Lewis Stakes by neck after leading by a length early and then was clearly second best to his now sidelined stablemate last month in the San Felipe. Still, if Rock Your World does not transition to dirt, this race is Medina Spirit’s to lose.

That being said, trainer Sadler’s other runner, Back Ring Luck, is very interesting particularly as he opens at 20/1. Relegated to the maiden claiming ranks last August in only the second start of his career, he woke up in his first dirt route in October when missing by a neck then won his next route in November. Claimed out of that race, Back Ring Luck took three and one-half months off and came back to win gamely by a head around two turns in a VERY highly rated race, earning a 97 figure in that allowance win pretty much equivalent to the 98 Medina Spirit earned in the San Felipe and Rock Your World earned winning the Pasadena Stakes. It was such a good effort the colt was PRIVATELY PURCHASED and sent to California and to Sadler for this race. Making his second start as a three year old it is likely Back Ring Luck will at least run as well as he did last month and as such could make us a nice profit in the exotics. I certainly plan to bet at few dollars on him to win so I won’t be kicking myself late, particularly since his sire (Malibu Moon) produced the winner of the 2017 Santa Anita Derby (Gormley).

Handicapper Picks

WinRock Your World to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Back Ring Luck to win at 5 to 1 or more.

Luckily we don’t have to determine how much to bet on both horses if we use a Dutching tool, as that will proportion or bets according to the odds to help us gain the best mathematical edge possible.

Exacta: Box Rock Your WorldBack Ring Luck and Medina Spirit

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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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