Key Races & Bets for Saturday April 16th, 2022

Frank Y Whitely Stakes – Race 7 at Laurel Park – Post Time 3:57 PM Eastern

Disco Pharoah sticks out in this seven horse stakes field, in spite of the fact four others are entering the race off wins. Returning from a three month layoff on March 5, Disco Pharoah decimated a field of seven by 19 lengths, showing maturity when stalking the pace in the early stages and running as FAST as General George Stakes runner-up War Tocsin ran, earning a 107 Equibase figure. Considering the colt had improved markedly last year from start one to two, when rallying for second, and that this son of American Pharoah cost $225K as a yearling and has a TON of improving to do in his second start off the layoff, he could offer exceptional value as he opens at 9 to 2 odds.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Disco Pharoah at odds of 2 to 1 or higher, a TRUE low-odds overlay win bet.

Race 7: Disco Pharoah
Race 8: Fille d’Esprit, Pennybaker

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Race 7 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:12 PM Eastern

Speitful Sam and Here Mi Song are the top two win contenders, both opening at 8 to 1. Flamingo Hawk, Candy Tycoon and Injunction have slightly less probability to win but in a race like this with no clear cut favorite can be used on both exacta tickets as well as doubles.

This seven furlong second level allowance features a field of 11, but with ONLY three entering the race off wins or runner-up finishes. Speitful Sam is the latter, having returned from two months off to finish second in a race at the level last month at Fair Grounds. He led early in that race and although second in the stretch was well clear of the next horse. The key to success here is the cut back to one turn, because Speitful Sam won a first level allowance at Keeneland at the fall meeting when sprinting, leading from the start then relinquishing the lead before opening up late. He was 2 to 1 that day yet opens at 8 to 1 here in spite of entering the race off a similar in-the-money finish as compared to last year, with the same jockey riding as well. He should improve second off the layoff and on the cutback so could be very tough.

Here Mi Song also finished second in his most recent race, also his first off a layoff since January. That was a sprint at Turfway Park last month and a non-graded stakes to boot. Like Speitful Sam, Here Mi Song earned a win last fall at Keeneland sprinting, so there is every reason to believe he’s in form good enough to win in this situation.

Flamingo Hawk comes back from five months off, cutting back to a sprint and having finished in the money in EIGHT straight sprints before the route. Irad Ortiz, Jr. gets on and the only knock is he only won three of those eight races, including a maiden claimer and a starter allowance race, so he could be a cut below the best here. Candy Tycoon won the last time he raced around one turn, at Churchill Down in November and at this level when in for the optional claiming price. Like Flamingo Hawk, who has a career record of 3-4-1, Candy Tycoon’s career record of 3-6-2 suggests he’d prefer to finish second as opposed to winning, but still he can win and his 5/1 starting odds are okay. Injunction led from start to finish in a one-turn mile race last November at Churchill, a career best effort, which followed a seven furlong maiden win at Keeneland. His comeback from three and one-half months off last month was in the Inside Information Stakes, where he was overmatched, so he can return to competitive form on the drop in class.

Handicapper Picks

Speitful Sam and Here Mi Song over Speitful Sam, Here Mi Song, Flamingo Hawk, Candy Tycoon and Injunction
Speitful Sam, Here Mi Song, Flamingo Hawk, Candy Tycoon and Injunction over Speitful Sam and Here Mi Song

Race 7: Speitful Sam, Here Mi Song
Race 8: Campanelle, Change of Control, Headline Hunter, Ghosting Kim, Ambassador Luna, A G Indy

Race 7: Speitful Sam, Here Mi Song, Flamingo Hawk, Candy Tycoon and Injunction
Race 8: Campanelle, Change of Control, A G Indy

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Heavenly Cause Stakes – Race 8 at Laurel – Post Time 4:29 PM Eastern

Fille d’Esprit has won eight of 13 career races at Laurel including the Conniver Stakes last month. Prior to that she finished third, beaten a length, in the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie Stakes and either of those efforts are good enough to beat EVERY ONE of the horses which have run in North America to date if repeated. The reason I wrote North America is Pennybaker makes her North American debut with a four for 10 record in Europe including a stakes and a handicap. She won four in a row to end her three year old campaign and is a Kentucky bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro out of a Tapit mare so should have no issue transferring her all-weather form to dirt, particularly as she had been working at Fair Grounds this winter and spring.

Handicapper Picks

Win Bets: Fille d’Esprit and Pennybaker to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Exacta: Fille d’Esprit and Pennybaker over ALL
Box Fille d’Esprit and Pennybaker

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Giant’s Causeway Stakes – Race 8 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:44 PM Eastern

14 horses will contest this year’s Giant’s Causeway Stakes at five and one-half furlongs on turf and that field included last year’s winner Change of Control, as well as Campanelle, the third place finisher in the fall equivalent of this race, the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes. Another stakes winner in a turf sprint which is a contender is A G Indy, with three horses opening at odds of 20-1 to 30-1 “MUST USE” in on exacta tickets at the least – Headline Hunter, Ghosting Kim and Ambassador Luna.

Change of Control opens at 4 to 1 in spite of having won this race last year and having won the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes last fall. That’s because she’s finished second and third in her two starts this year. However, she lost the first of the two by a nose and she lost all chance last month when she was unprepared for the start and hopped in the air. She was the 6 to 5 favorite that day and this gal is a PRO at these short turf dashes and so winning would be no surprise.

Campanelle has run just seven times in her career but each race was a TOP effort, some against some of the best in the world at turf sprinting. She won her debut at five furlongs on grass in Florida then beat 17 horse at Royal Ascot in the spring of 2020 before winning her second Group 1 stakes in a row, in France, that summer. She found a mile to be too far when fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf then as a three year old last year won the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup Stakes at Royal Ascot before a 12th place effort in France. She closed out her campaign rallying six wide to finish third of 10 in the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes at this trip and as she’s fired fresh for two of her three wins should be ready to run her best.

A G Indy opens at 10 to 1 in spite of being a Pletcher trainee ridden by Saez. She won the Ken Maddy Stakes at five furlongs last fall and her comeback at the end of January is irrelevant as she ran on dirt. Back on turf she’s likely to return to form good enough to win or be part of the exacta.

Then there’s a trio of horses which we would be KICKING OURSELVES over if not considering, given their likely high odds. Ambassador Luna finished a neck of front of Campanelle in last year’s Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes over the course after leading late and enters the race off a WIN following a layoff so could put in another “A” effort. Ghosting Kim ran BIG both times she has run at Keeneland, both at this trip, including a 12th to second finish when beaten a head last fall. She too enters the race off a turf sprint win. Headline Hunter has won two in a row including the Captiva Island Stakes last month at 2 to 1 yet opens at 30 to 1 here. She’s done NOTHING wrong in seven turf or all-weather races with a record of 4-2-1 and is in top form so is yet another to consider when making our wagers in this race.

Handicapper Picks

Win Bets:
Change of Control at odds of 2 to 1
(Campanelle opens at 5 to 2 and so we need to use her on top in exacta bets to cover her winning)
A G Indy to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more.
Ambassador Luna, Ghosting Kim and/or Headline Hunter at odds of 10 to 1 or more.

My preference is to use the dutching tool at Amwager to bet both Change of Control and A G Indy to win and use the calculations to prorate my bet appropriately. THEN, I will bet a token $5 or $10 to win on Ambassador Luna, Ghosting Kim and Headline Hunter so as not to be kicking myself later if one of them wins and pays $50 for $2.

Change of Control and Campanelle over Change of Control, Campanelle, Headline Hunter, Ghosting Kim, Ambassador Luna and A G Indy
(Optionally, play the opposite of the above to cover one of the higher odds horses winning and Change of Control or Campanelle finishing second)

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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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