Key Races & Bets for Saturday April 13th, 2024

Race 6 at Keeneland -Post Time 3:40 PM Eastern

Top Contender: Musical Mischief
Vulnerable favorite: Julia Shining
In spite of this race having a field of seven, this is an exceptionally playable race because Musical Mischief would be a great bet at even half of her 5 to 1 starting odds, while even money favorite Julia Shining would be an exceptionally poor bet even at 2 to 1 odds. Assessing whether a favorite is legitimate, vulnerable or false is a key method to help determine whether we should even consider betting a race, and in this case Julia Shining is a vulnerable favorite.

Both fillies are four year olds with two career wins and both are talented, but Julia Shining would NOT win this race 50 times out of 100 as is expected by her even money starting odds. The reason for her low odds is the company she’s faced, having run in six straight stakes races after winning in her debut 18 months ago at Keeneland. She won one of those, her second career start in November, 2022, and hasn’t won since, though she did finish second once and third in two other races. Furthermore, Julia Shining is a deep closer who is usually last in the field early then rallying late but not getting up in time. Next, she returns from nearly five months off, racing in a two turn race without a prep. Even her best efforts aren’t such that, if repeated, she would trounce this field, so I am taking a stand against her but still need to find a horse to have confidence in when betting to win.

Musical Mischief is that horse, as both her wins came in two-turn dirt races like this one. Those wins came in a maiden race and a first level allowance race. After the two wins she ran in two stakes races, one on turf and one on dirt, finishing third in the former and fourth in the latter. Now dropped back to allowance company, and getting Lasix which she had for both her wins but not her two stakes tries, we can assume the effort she put forth at the one lower allowance condition is representative of what she can do today. In that race last November at Churchill Downs, Musical Mischief stalked the pace in third in the early stages then drew off to dominate by 11 lengths, earning a 97 Equibase Speed Figure not much different than the 102 figure Julia’s Shining earned in her last start before the long layoff she returns from here. Likely to be sitting second off the pace of likely front runner Lil Kings Princess, Musical Mischief appears very capable of repeating that effort and posting the mild upset in this race.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Musical Mischief at 5 to 2 or more.

Race 6: Musical Mischief
Race 7: Play the Music, Bling, Oeuvre, Secret Money. Roses for Debra, Elm Drive, Love Reigns

Pick 3:
Race 6: Musical Mischief
Race 7: Play the Music, Bling, Oeuvre, Secret Money. Roses for Debra, Elm Drive, Love Reigns
Race 8: Classic Cash

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Giant’s Causeway Stakes (Grade 3) – Race 7 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:12 PM Eastern

Top contenders: Love Reigns, Bling, Oeuvre, Roses for Debra
Other contenders: Secret Money, Elm Drive, Play the Music

Because this race drew a field of 12, plus one also-eligible, it is highly unlikely there will be a strong favorite and it is highly likely one or two horses which may normally be low odds in shorter fields will over overlay value.

One of those is Love Reigns, who demolished a field of 12 by ten lengths in her debut at this distance nearly two years ago over the Keeneland turf then after a fourth of 21 finish in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot won the Bolton Landing Stakes at Saratoga easily as well. After a poor effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in the fall of 2022, Love Reigns won the Limestone Sprint at Keeneland at this distance one year ago this weekend, this time rallying from eighths of 11 and after being stopped in traffic. She came back that summer and ran poorly at Saratoga and was freshened again. Now she returns to the course she’s two for three over, at the distance she’s won three of five at, and off a layoff where she’s three for four. She opens at eight to win, gets Rosario (who rode her to the win in the Limestone), a good outside post, and a sizzling early pace to run into courtesy of absolute need-the-lead types B G Warrior and Kissed by Fire, so has a big shot to win this year’s Giant’s Causeway Stakes.

Bling also likes the course, particularly this distance where she’s one for one at Keeneland and two for two at the trip. The win came six months ago at the fall meting in a stakes quality classified allowance. John Velazquez had not ridden her before, or since, and rides today. In that race Bling rallied from eighth of nine and is another likely to be leveling off nicely for a big kick in the final stages of the race.

Oeuvre loves to win races, with an overall 15 for 26 record, a six for 12 turf record and a four for seven record at this distance on turf. She too owns a win at Keeneland, six months ago, as good as the one Bling put forth also at the fall meeting, but at a mile. She cuts back from a mile and one-sixteenth and that will sharpen her late kick and enable her to run as well as she did in her second and third starts back, at this trip, when winning and finishing second under Loveberry, who gets back aboard and also rode her to a win in a turf sprint last summer at Kentucky Downs.

Roses for Debra rounds out the main quartet of win contenders, at the lowest odds of the group as she opens at 4 to 1. She’s another who likes to win, sporting a seven for 11 overall record including four of eight on turf and all were turf sprints. She won four straight races starting in May of last year when returning from a layoff since 2022, two of those stakes, and she similarly makes her 2024 debut so has a big shot to run as well as she did off the bench last year.

For exactas, Secret Money (15/1 morning line odds), Elm Drive (7 to 2) and Play the Music (5 to 1) all deserve potential consideration. Secret Money broke her maiden at this trip on turf at Keeneland and won a stakes race on grass last summer at Kentucky Downs. She can improve off a fourth place finish last month which came after three months off. Elm Drive missed by a head in a similar grade 3 turf sprint stakes race when last seen in January and it’s a good sign Saez gets on, while Play the Music seeks her third straight turf win, the last a stakes sprint like this one, but she does get the possibly disadvantageous rail after breaking from the outside in her last two starts. Just the same, she’s a closer and can drop back then come around to pass horses.

Handicapper Picks

Win: The best way to determine which horse or horses to bet to win is to set an odds line and compare it to the odds near post time, as follows:
Love Reigns3 to 1
Oeuvre4 to 1
Bling4 to 1
Roses for Debra4 to 1

Then consider betting the two horses at the highest odds to win. With the likely opportunity to bet two horses to win, we should consider DUTCHING the bet, which means to prorate wagers for the best value. There’s a free DUTCHING tool at Amwager which allows us to set the total amount we want to win and prorates our wagers for the maximum edge.

Exacta: This is where it gets interesting because there is potential for a nice profit given there are no clear favorites, but on the other hand we don’t want to cut into our profit too much by playing too many combinations. As such my exacta plays will be:

Love Reigns over Bling, Oeuvre, Roses for Debra, Secret Money, Elm Drive, Play the Music
Love Reigns, Oeuvre and Bling over Love Reigns, Bling, Oeuvre, Roses for Debra, Secret Money, Elm Drive, Play the Music

Race 7: Love Reigns, Bling, Oeuvre, Roses for Debra, Secret Money, Elm Drive, Play the Music
Race 8: Classic Catch

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Race 8 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:44 PM Eastern

Top contenders: Classic Cash

Classic Catch opens at 2 to 1 odds in this seven horse field and even at that price the horse would be a low odds overlay. I’m hopeful the doubles and pick 3 tickets started in earlier races are live and if so and paying well we can forego a win bet but if not we should consider one. This third level allowance features a field of seven, with six having big question marks such as coming off a layoff running this two turn distance of a mile and one-sixteenth, OR never having run, or run well, at the distance. Classic Catch has no such concerns, as he earned his first and second wins at nine furlongs and his third at 10 furlongs. After that third win last summer at Saratoga, he ran second in the Jockey Club Derby Invitational on dirt then finished eighth in his first ever try on turf, which can be completely ignored. He gets Irad Ortiz, Jr. for his comeback, for Pletcher, who wins 25% of the time with horses coming back from layoffs of this type in dirt routes. As such, he’s likely very fit and considering the 106 and 101 Equibase Speed Figures earned in his last two dirt races of 2023, as a three year old, are likely to be improved upon now as a four year old, he appears to be a standout in terms of probability to win this race.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Classic Catch at odds of 8 to 5 or more.

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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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