Key Races & Bets for Saturday January 27th, 2024

Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational – Race 10 at Gulfstream – Post Time 3:45 PM Eastern

Win Contenders: Star Fortress, Ruby Nell
Exacta & Trifecta Contenders: (2nd and 3rd) Fluffy Socks, Queen Goddess, Didia, Mission of Joy

Star Fortress brought a one for seven record into her U.S. debut two months ago (on 11/23/23) in the Grade 3 Cardinal Stakes at Churchill Downs, at this distance, and emerged with her second career win, in visually impressive fashion. She quickly moved five wide on the far turn from sixth to the lead before easily winning by 10 lengths in geared down fashion. The third horse came back to win a stakes while the runner-up has not run back and that horse improved her Equibase Speed Figure from 96 to 104 so as she’s making her second start in the U.S. we can expect the same kind of improvement for Star Fortress off a 105 figure, which is good enough to win this race. She won that race off a four month layoff so two months is no concern and not only did she work very well on the turn 10 days ago, Saez rides her back.

Ruby Nell is likely the one Star Fortress has to run down to win, having won two stakes from her last three starts when leading from start to finish. She earned 109 and 113 Equibase figures in those wins, both at a mile, but she’s one-for-one at this distance on turf. Frankie Dettori, who has been riding sensationally in Southern California, comes to the east coast to ride this filly for Hall-of-Fame trainer Dick Mandella. As such, Ruby Nell is the other entrant with the bulk of the probability to win.

A number of fillies have good credentials and are consistent enough to consider them for second and third on exacta and trifecta tickets. Fluffy Socks closed from 11th to second in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes in California last month and might do the same here. Queen Goddess only managed eighth in the Matriarch but won this race last year and even though Saez (who rode her last year and in all four races since then) gets off for Star Fortress, Gaffalione getting on is fine. Didia comes back from nearly three months off and won the Grade 2 Rodeo Drive Stakes in October off a similar layoff. Mission of Joy finished a fine third behind two exceptional fillies when last seen in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and is another with a shot to hit the board.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Star Fortress at odds of 9 to 5 and Ruby Nell at odds of 2 to 1.

When considering win bets on more than one horse, an advantage lies in using a “Dutching” tool. There’s a free “Dutching” tool at Amwager, which allows us to set the total amount we want to bet, then prorates our wagers for the best mathematical edge. This is just one of many tools, and perks, available for racing fans at Amwager.

Exactas and Trifectas: Star Fortress and Ruby Nell over Star Fortress, Ruby Nell, Fluffy Socks, Queen Goddess, Didia and Mission of Joy. (For the trifecta play the same six horses in third position).


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Fred W. Hooper Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream -Post Time 4:20 PM Eastern

Win Contenders: Tumbarumba, Signator, Hejazi
Exotic wagering contenders: Steal Sunshine, Castle Chaos, Accretive

Tumbarumba was off for almost three months following a miss by inches in the Oklahoma Derby last September and so his runner-up effort at nine furlongs in a stakes race at Fair Grounds on 12/9 wasn’t bad at all considering the winner led all the way and he ran second the whole way in a four horse field. Last spring and summer Tumbarumba won two one-turn races in a row under Saez, who gets back on after four races with other jockeys. The ONLY time the horse ran this mile distance, he won, and as he’s going to improve off his last effort in his second start back from a layoff, he gets top billing here for the red hot Lynch barn, which has won 12 of 34 races at the meeting.

Signator also cuts back from nine furlongs around two turns to this one-turn mile trip and sharpens his late kick nicely. He rallied from seventh of eight to miss by two necks and a nose in a stakes race when last seen on 12/11 and won two in a row before that, including his only try in a one-turn mile in 2023. Like many in here, Signator is a newly turned four year old who may not have run his best race.

Hejazi is likely to be the prohibitive betting favorite, not only because he’s trained by Baffert but because he finished second to another Baffert monster (Speed Boad Beach) in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes four weeks ago. He has the rail and the speed to clear it so could be tough to catch. On the other hand, he has two wins and FOUR runner-up efforts in six one turn races and his pair of recent 103 Equibase figures are not superior to Tumbarumba’s last two (102 and 109) and the 105 figure Signator earned in his last one turn mile race. As such he’s a bad win bet but should be used on exacta and trifecta tickets played.

Steal Sunshine likes the track, having won four of seven one-turn mile races at Gulfstream. His most recent of those came in a classified allowance in October with a 104 figure so repeating that effort would make him competitive here. However, he has never finished better than third in five graded stakes to date so appears a cut below the top three. Castle Chaos is entered as an also-eligible in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (race 13) and will likely run in this race instead. He was far behind in third of 12 in the Cigar Mile at this trip when last seen on 12/2 and he won at a mile prior to that so he could be good for a share. Accretive finished a well-beaten 10th in the Cigar but was second two before that in the Vosburgh (behind Cody’s Wish) and third and close up in the Forty Niner at this trip in between those two so he’s another who could be part of the exacta or trifecta.

Handicapper Picks

Win: As it is likely Hejazi will be overbet and a heavy favorite, the horses we must consider for win bets are Tumbarumba and Signator, at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

If both horses are above 5 to 2 near post time I know I will definitely be betting on both to win, using the Dutching tool at Amwager to prorate my bet for the best mathematical edge.

Exactas (and optional trifectas using the same horses in third as in second): Tumbarumba, Signator and Hejazi over Tumbarumba,
Signator, Hejazi, Steal Sunshine, Castle Chaos and Accretive.

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Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational – Race 12 at Gulfstream – Post Time 4:55 PM Eastern

Win and exotic wagering contenders: Integration, Warm Heart, Kingmax, Main Event, Webslinger

Integration makes his four year old debut, sporting a perfect three-for-three record including stakes wins in the Virginia Derby and Hill Prince Stakes. Earning very strong 104 and 105 figures as a three year old last summer and fall, he’s likely to be even more mature now and considering he earned two of his wins fresh the two month layoff he’s coming back from is of no concern. In the Hill Prince, Integration ran the last eighth of a mile in UNDER 11 seconds, and that’s as good of a kick as European horses like Warm Heart has. He was four to five in the Hill Prince but will be the second or third choice here and may offer low odds overlay win bet potential.

Warm Heart is a filly facing males, which is no problem on grass, and she just ran one of the best races of her career when third against males in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase on 12/10. Prior to that she ran tremendously when beaten a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and she won a PAIR of group 1 races in Europe prior to that. My only concern is all of her last eight races have been a mile and one-quarter or more and there is a chance this nine furlong trip could be too sharp, but she’s world class and got the last quarter mile in the Breeders’ Cup in 22.6, which is just a shade over 11 for the last eighth.

Kingmax and Main Event were separated by a neck when second and first, respectively, in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes at this distance over the course four weeks ago. Main Event led from the start and was stubborn to the final head bob, which he won, earning a 107 figure. Kingmax was wide on the turn and lost more ground than the margin he was beaten by, and as he was coming back from five months off could turn the tables on Main Event today.

Webslinger, like Integration, proved himself at the level as a three year old last year, winning three times and nearly $800,000 in the process. He won the Grade 2 American Turf on Derby Day then was barely beaten in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational in August. He took three months off and has been beaten just a half-length and a neck for the win in two races sine. He always shows up ad should give a good account again.

Handicapper Picks

Win: This is absolutely a situation where we should wait until about 10 minutes to post and see what the public thinks before deciding because I suspect there will be some mistakes made we can capitalize on. As such, I am setting fair odds (minimum odds) on Integration and on Warm Heart at 5 to 2, although I know it is unlikely Warm Heart will be anywhere near those odds.

As to Kingmax, Main Event and Webslinger, whichever one or two of the trio are 9 to 2 or more near post time I think are worth of betting on.

Because we are likely to be betting at least two horses to win and want to get the best edge we can, I highly recommend betting with a dutching tool like the one which is free and easy to use at Amwager.

Exacta and (optional trifecta): Box Integration, Warm Heart, Kingmax, Main Event, Webslinger

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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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