Key Races & Bets for Saturday February 25th, 2023

Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes – Race 9 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 4:08 PM Eastern

Analysis & main contenders;
The early pace scenario in this race appears very interesting because Super Ocho has earned his only two U.S. wins leading from start to finish, Doc Amster has notched his last two wins leading all the way and Uncle Ernie has had the lead from the start in his last two wins. Candy Man Rocket started in second over the first quarter mile in his last two wins and Lightening Larry wired the field when winning last month and came from just off the pace in second last year winning the Chick Lang Stakes.

Therefore the ONLY horses not with an “early” running style are Scaramouche and Cajun’s Magic, with the former having a 6-0-2 career record on dirt but not having won since September, coming back from two months off and getting the rail which means he’s going to have many of the horses on his outside get over on him and clear in the early stages, which might force his (and Paco Lopez’) hand. With a career record of 2-4-0 in nine races, Cajun’s Magic is the ABSOLUTE best key to an exacta profit in this race, and because he’s only won twice, and not since July, 2021, he’s going to offer value as well. He went to post at 17 to 1 odds last month in the Sunshine Sprint, where he rallied from last of seven to get second behind Lightening Larry, who had lead from the start. Being as its highly likely Lightening Larry WILL NOT have an easy lead here, that same effort gives Cajun Magic a big shot to post the mild upset.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Cajun Magic to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more

Exactas: Cajun Magic over ALL and also the opposite which is ALL over Cajun Magic

Also, considering Scaramouche is the other definite stalker/closer in the field, and has won six of 11, we can play an additional exacta of Scaramouche over ALL

Race 9: Scaramouche, Cajun Magic
Race 10: Wonka, Makin My Move, Gogo Shoes, Love Her Lots, Love in the Air

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Stymie Stakes – Race 8 at Aqueduct – Post Time 4:26 PM Eastern

Analysis & main contenders;

Although the race only drew six, and although the field consists of three last out winners, and three others who have run big races in one of their last three starts, I think there’s a standout because the other five have at least once big question mark. The standout is Far Mo Power, but before outlining the reasons for that opinion I want to provide insight into why I feel the others have knocks.

Bourbonic just won a similar one-turn mile at Aqueduct, an allowance race with a career best 103 Equibase speed figure, but he had lost nine in a row since winning the Wood Memorial last spring and he won with Lasix, which he won’t get for this stakes race. Repo Rocket also enters off a career best effort, as well as has won three in a row. That last race, at seven furlongs, was so far afield from his previous he is highly likely to regress, and in his 32 race career he’s only run farther than seven furlongs one time, and it was a poor effort. Black Belt and Miles D ship from Florida for the race, both beaten 10 lengths in the Fred W. Hooper Stakes four weeks ago. Rebounding to win off those poor efforts is unlikely. Tough Tickets has been second or third in three straight and ships up from Parx seeming a bit overmatched.

Far Mo Power has a pretty strong 6-3-1 record in 12 starts and enters the race off a career-best 104 Equibase figure effort winning by three lengths after stalking in second. He had been off for three months so is likely to run even better, and best of all the move from that two-turn mile to this one-turn mile could help him have a bit of extra kick in the late stages. The horse gets a good post and has won from on the lead as well as just off the pace which is important to note because there is no true need-the-lead type in the field.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Far Mo Power to win at 3 to 2 or higher odds.

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Race 10 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 4:38 PM Eastern

This race, a two-turn allowance turf race, follows the Gulfstream Park Sprint and offers some good returns in the double as well as within the race itself because we have a fairly wide open race.

Love Her Lots gets slight preference as she has the second highest career win total (5) in the field. She moves down a bit in class from a 100K handicap last month and won before that, in a race scheduled for turf but run on the all-weather, and that race translates very well to what she can do today, as well as she has won the GP turf. Having won four of 12 last year, including at the similar distance of a mile in April with Vasquez aboard, who gets back on today after four races with other jockeys, we’ll look at her first for win bets.

Love in the Air has a consistent career record of 4-4-3 in 13 races and although she’s winless in five turf races her 0-3-2 record tells us she may just have been unlucky in most if not all of those. She won two in a row in August and September in Pennsylvania, both stakes on dirt, but she ran very well under nearly identical conditions the ONLY time she ran on the GP turf, last February, with Lopez up then as now (and for all three wins last year). In that race she got the nine post (similar to the 10 today) and finished strongly from fifth to miss by three-quarters of a length at the end. She’s been working well for her first race in a couple of months and could be overlooked in the wagering.

Wonka had won last March on the GP turf in career start #2 then lost four in a row, but three of those were stakes. She won her second start back in allowance company, last month, gamely by a neck and Alvarado (up for both wins) rides back with it important to note Bill Mott has been winning nearly 30% of the time back to back over the last couple of years so another “A” effort can be expected.

Makin My Move was returning from three and one-half months off last month when fourth of nine to similar. She won second off the layoff last summer on turf so the pattern suggests a big improvement possibly good enough to win here.

Gogo Shoes has banked nearly $275K, second best in the field behind Love in the Air. She stretches out to two-turns off a sprint where she missed third by just three-quarters of a length when rallying from last of nine, and she won on turf two before that. She can handle two turns as she finished second in her last two-turn turf race last July and it must be noted Sonny Leon gets on for the first time and has a record of 7 for 18 over the past 14 months when teaming up with trainer Mike Maker as they are doing here.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Minimum odds are 3 to 1 on Love Her Lots and Love in the Air , and I would absolutely bet them both if at or above those odds.

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Exactas: Box Wonka, Makin My Move, Gogo Shoes, Love Her Lots, Love in the Air
You can also play a trifecta box among the same five horses.

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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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