Key Races & Bets for Saturday April 6th, 2024

Commonwealth Stakes (Grade 3) – Race 6 at Keeneland -Post Time 3:40 PM Eastern

Top Contenders: Minnesota Ready, Bo Cruz
Other contenders: Wico, Here Mi Song

Minnesota Ready ran the best race of his career last time out on 2/17 after moving to the Amoss barn and that wins here if repeated. He stayed in a race scheduled for turf but run on dirt and that turned out to be fortuitous because he has a big shot to win this grade 3 stakes as he draws a good outside post and picks up Gaffalione, who has only ridden 14 times for Amoss in the past two years, but has won with five of those 14 horses. The 111 last race Equibase Speed Figure is the second highest in the field (by one point) and much better then the best figures of the other seven runners and as it appears it is legitimate and repeatable he gets top billing.

Bo Cruz earned a 112 figure when third in an exceptionally high rated race in his most recent start, also in February the same as Minnesota Ready. That came after seven months off but he’s been off nearly two months so is unlikely to regress. He cuts back from two turns to one turn which helps his late kick and Jose Ortiz gets on.

Wico made the lead late and settled for third last time out in February on the all-weather at Turfway Park and he won at this seven furlong trip at Keeneland in the fall. Irad Ortiz, Jr. gets on and the colt can improve second off the layoff but with his best effort yielding a 105 figure he would need to improve considerably to beat the top two, although he could be part of the exacta, as could any of the other seven. Here Mi Song has never finished worse than second in four races at Keeneland including when winning THIS RACE last year. He had finished second prior to that at Turfway and this time finished sixth at Turfway, but he had an excuse as he was antsy in the gate and broke last of eight. Jockey Achard knows him well and he might have a say in the outcome.


Handicapper Picks

Win: Minnesota Ready and Bo Cruz should be considered for win bets at 3 to 1 or higher.

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.

Race 6: Minnesota Ready, Bo Cruz
Race 7: Kairyu, Pounce

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Wood Memorial Stakes (Grade 2) – Race 10 at Aqueduct – Post Time 4:07 PM Eastern

Top contenders: Tuscan Sky, Uncle Heavy, Deterministic, Society Man

Tuscan Sky has only run twice but what he’s showed in two starts is pretty darn good. He won by five easy lengths in a sprint in his debut then when stretched out to two turns he pressed the pace and drew off. Although it was just a three horse race, Tuscan Sky was running against the clock and ran fast enough to earn a 99 Equibase Speed Figure, which is the same figure Deterministic earned winning the Gotham Stakes last month and slightly higher than the 95 figure Uncle Heavy earned winning the Withers in February. Considering Tuscan Sky has run just twice, there is a ton of room to improve and of course trainer Todd Pletcher knows when he has a good three year old on his hands as he does here with this son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso, so we know this colt can get this nine furlong trip and then sone.

Uncle Heavy worked hard to get up by a nose in the Withers, at this distance over the track, after running three to four paths wide on the turn. He has now won three of four and is two-for-two around two turns. His outside post isn’t a concern given his ability to get good mid-pack position early and as he’s been rested two months, he’s likely fresh and fit and ready to run as well or better than he did in February.

Deterministic and Society Man both won one-turn mile races over the track with ease last month, earning 99 and 92 figures. Both are bred to get this added distance and two turns just fine and both can improve. Obviously, Deterministic winning the Gotham was better than Society Man winning a maiden race, but not that much better, and both showed good late energy in those efforts so can be expected to have a say in the outcome here.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Tuscan Sky should be considered for a win bet at 5 to 2 or more. I’d consider Uncle Heavy for a bet at 3 to 1 or more, Deterministic at 4 to 1 or more and Society Man at 6 to 1 or more.

I would not hesitate betting two of the four to win if their odds are about 50% or greater above minimum odds, with the exception of Tuscan Sky, who I would bet at odds of 5 to 2 or higher. For the others, the odds threshold for considering a second win bet would be 9 to 2 for Uncle Heavy, 6 to 1 for Deterministic and 9 to 1 for Society Man.

If the opportunity arises to be more than one horse to win, once again the mathematical edge provided by Dutching the bet would certainly benefit us.

Exacta: Box Tuscan Sky, Uncle Heavy, Deterministic, Society Man

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Appalachian Stakes (Grade 2) – Race 7 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:14 PM Eastern

Top contenders: Pounce, Kairyu

Pounce fits perfectly in this one mile turf stakes race for thee year old fillies, having just won the nearly identical Herecomesthebride Stakes last month. That was her second turf route win in a row in her second turf route try, ever, and Castellano was up for both wins and rides back. The filly is still improving, having gone from a 94 Equibase Speed Figure effort one before that to a career best 101 figure last out which is the second best figure earned by any horse in this field, period, which gives her a pretty high probability to succeed.

Kairyu is the other horse with most of the probability to win this race. She debuted last June in Ireland and won comfortably in a field of 16 horses running five furlongs on grass. She won the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes the following month, in a field of eight, just as easily, improving to a 102 Equibase Figure which is on par with Pounce’s best and much better than any of the other 10 fillies in this race have earned. After a poor try, and irrelevant, on all-weather last fall, Kairyu was privately purchased but it must be noted her previous trainer retained a percentage. She’s now in the strong Devaux barn and has been working steadily for her three year old debut. She picks up Irad Ortiz, Jr. which tells us a lot about her talent and ability to run back to either of her first two efforts and win this race.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Pounce and Kairyu should be considered for win bets at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.

This is another excellent race where, if we are considering bets on more than one horse, using a dutching tool (like the one at Amwager which is free and easy to use) to allocate our wagers based on the odds, is useful to maximize our edge in the race.

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Shakertown Stakes (Grade 2) – Race 9 at Keeneland – Post Time 5:20 PM Eastern

Top Win contenders: Mischief Magic
Other contenders: Arzak, Our Shot
For exactas and trifectas: Panther Island, Cappola, Yes I am Free

With a fully field of 12 plus one also-eligible, this year’s Shakertown Stakes is going to be a very good race to bet on, even though there may be a standout in Mischief Magic, because of the size of the field. Mischief Magic has won six of 13 races including four on turf for nearly $700,000 in career earnings. Most of that came here at Keeneland 18 months ago when he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in a field of 12, decently regarded at 6 to 1. In the race, Mischief Magic closed incredibly from 11th with a quarter mile to run, to get to fifth into the stretch, then found a path and pushed by. Since then he’s won two of seven, all in Europe, the most recent a turf sprint in Dubai in February, beating 13 other horses with a big late kick. He almost won the Group 3 Dukhan Sprint two weeks later, a race worth $400,000 (more than this race) when finishing fast but beaten a half-length for the win. Gaffalione gets on and there’s no question about the colt’s current form, his class, or the fact he has the biggest late kick in the field. One of the reasons he is shipped back to the U.S. for the powerful Appleby barn is likely he prefers firm turf, which he doesn’t get the opportunity to run over much in Europe. Appleby has a phenomenally high win percentage with horses he ships to North America as he’s doing here, having won with 26 of 64 runners over the past five years, with another twenty finishing second or third.

Arzak won the fall equivalent of this race, the Woodford Stakes, at 11 to 1, rallying from fifth of 7 to draw off late, beating a number of entrants in this race in the process. He was only beaten two lengths when sixth of 12 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in California last fall. He has been rested since and could give a good account of himself back at Keeneland. Our Shot was a couple of lengths behind Arzak last fall in the Woodford, and he won over the course at the distance six months earlier. Castellano has been aboard for big efforts on the horse before and rides back, and Our Shot should improve off a fourth place effort last month following four months off so could be there at the wire.

Coppola, Panther Island and Yes I Am Free finished first, second and second (in a dead heat) in the Silks Run Stakes in Florida four weeks ago. All three are excellent turf sprinters but each appears just a cut below the three previously mentioned horses.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Mischief Magic at odds of 2 to 1 or more, potentially a low odds overlay win bet.
I might consider smaller win bets (than on Mischief Magic) on either Arzak and/or Our Shot if 5 to 1 odds or higher.

Mischief Magic over Arzak and Our Shot
Mischief Magic over Arzak, Our Shot, Coppola, Panther Island and Yes I Am Free

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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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