Key Races & Bets for Saturday January 21st, 2023

Fire Plug Stakes – Race 6 at Laurel – Post Time 2:51 PM Eastern

Factor It In opens as the 5 to 2 second choice but has a much higher probability to win then 2 to 1 morning line favorite Beren, who had a 2-4-1 record last year while Factor It In had a 3-1-2 record. The biggest reason Factor It In has a bigger chance to win, by far, is his 7 for 11 career record at Laurel, including a strong win in the similar Challedon Stakes at seven furlongs in October. He enters this race in top form off a stakes win three weeks ago over the track under jockey Cruz, who rides back, and with one of those wins coming on the lead throughout and the other coming from off the pace no matter what happens early Factor It In should win but just repeating either of his last two efforts (the other a neck defeat in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct), with the most recent earning a field high 117 Equibase Speed Figure no other horse has ever achieved.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Factor It In at odds of 3 to 2 or higher.

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Spectacular Bid Stakes – Race 8 at Laurel – Post Time 3:51 PM Eastern

The Maryland three year old prep season starts in this seven furlong test and there’s a big shot B West or We Don’t Need Roads can post the upset, opening at 10/1 and 12/1 respectively. The other contender to win, but not to bet to win, is Prince of Jericho, opening at 7 to 5 odds. I’m taking a stand against the 2 to 1 second morning line favorite, Coffeewithchris, even though he won the Heft Stakes last month, because that appears to be an outlier for a colt which broke his maiden in a 40K maiden claiming race last May and went winless (not even threatening to win) in five straight before the win last month.

B West also won a maiden claiming race, on 11/21, but he did so in dominant fashion by 12 lengths. Next he won a first level allowance race 26 days later, also impressively. He was claimed out of that race for $62,500 by John Robb, a very solid trainer on the circuit who has won with 24% (19 of 78) of his dirt sprint stakes starters over the last THREE years. The #1 winning jockey for trainer Robb, Perez, takes over and I like the cut back from a one turn mile to seven furlongs, the second best of 25 five furlong workout coming into the race, and the fact the colt stalked in second for the first half mile last time out, suggesting he will let My Blue Eyes, Coffeewithchris and perhaps others get to the front while he drafts off them before rallying to win.

We Dont Need Roads won two of four last year and missed by a half-length in the other, all routes. He won his final start of 2022 and returns as a private purchase for new owners and a new trainer. He was entered in the Heft Stakes (won by Coffeewithchris) and shows up here which is better because he’s not a one-turn horse. Trainer Salvaggio won nearly 25% of his races (150 to be exact) in 2022 and We Dont Need Roads is likely to be more physically and mentally mature than when last seen as a two year old, which also gives him a nice shot to run better than his double digit starting odds suggest he will.

Prince of Jericho finished third in his debut last October, then won by 11 lengths, then by five lengths, before following Coffeewithchris around the track in third and eventually second in the Heft Stakes last month. This time Coffeewithchris gets pace pressure as well as may regress as that last race was likely an outlier, so Prince of Jericho should run very well but opening at 7 to 5 the only way to profit from him doing so is tying him in exactas with B West and We Dont Need Roads.

Handicapper Picks

Win: I will ABSOLUTELY bet BOTH B West and We Dont Need Roads at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

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Exacta: Box Prince of Jericho, Be West, We Dont Need Roads

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Astra Stakes – Race 8 at Santa Anita – Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern

After a week to dry out, the Santa Anita turf is back in play and this 12 furlong marathon is a very good betting race, with Tiz an Adventure and Duvet Day both offering value for win bets, and combining with Queen Ofthe Temple on exacta tickets.

Tiz an Adventure LOVES to win races, as evidenced by her 7 for 11 record last year and 9 for 18 overall record. Three of those have come on turf including wins in October and August. She’s won six of her last seven, all shortly after joining the Steiner barn, and it’s VERY notable as she ships to Southern California, Hall-of-Fame jockey Mike Smith takes the call. She’s got a big late kick and is one of the FEW truly bred to handle this 12 furlong trip which none of the nine have ever even run. She’s by Tiznow who produced multiple marathon graded stakes winner Tiz a Slam and definitely gets top billing.

Duvet Day and Queen ofthe Temple have faced each other twice previously, with Duvet Day coming out on top by three quarters of a length in July at 11 furlongs on the Del Mar turf and with Queen ofthe Temple finishing third while Duvet Day was sixth in the Grade 3 Red Carpet Stakes in November, also at 11 furlongs on the Del Mar turf. Duvet Day not only opens at higher odds (6/1 vs 3/1) but she takes a bigger drop in class, having run in the Grade 1 American Oaks on opening day of the meeting. Jockey Kimura, who had a fantastic 2022 meeting at Woodbine, has temporarily moved to Santa Anita and just won a stakes last weekend so has a big shot to help this filly run her best race, which is good enough to win or at least complete the exacta. Similarly, Queen ofthe Temple, has races good enough to be very competitive if repeated here, such as when second in that common race in July but also when she won here last April and missed by a head in March. That was the first and only time red hot Juan Hernandez was in the saddle and he gets back on today.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Tiz an Adventure at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Box Queen ofthe Temple, Duvet Day, Tiz an Adventure
Tiz an Adventure over Queen ofthe Temple, Duvet Day

Tiz an Adventure over ALL over Queen ofthe Temple, Duvet Day

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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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