Key Races & Bets for Saturday June 29, 2024

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Manila Stakes - Race 7 at Belmont at the Big A (Aqueduct) - Post Time 3:40 PM Eastern

Top Win Contenders: Please Advise, Mattingly

Although only six are entered, there’s only one from the Chad Brown barn, Move to Gold, who may be favored off a nose defeat in the Jersey Derby for weeks ago. He also won the Awad Stakes last October on this course, but he’s no standout based on a career-best 92 Equibase Speed Figure earned in the Jersey Derby. Another horse likely to take money is Deterministic, who won the Gotham Stakes on dirt in March before running exceptionally poorly in the Wood Memorial (at 4 to 5 odds) and in the Peter Pan. He’s never run on turf and will be overbet. Neat won the Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland one before his most recent race but ran inexplicably bad in the American Turf on Derby day and there is a question mark about whether he can rebound here, but he may also be bet because he’s dropping from grade 2 to grade 3. Drunk on Sake is completely over matched here coming off a maiden claiming win where he wired the field on slow fractions. He will not have the lead in this field and that takes him out of the mix.

That leaves two very interesting horses in Please Advise and Mattingly, and in my opinion they have equal probability to win if they repeat their best efforts. First, Mattingly may have an early pace edge because he gets the rail and led from the start at six furlongs last time out on May 19, in a stakes race, then was just beaten on the wire by a neck with a FIELD HIGH last race 95 figure. Last week in the stakes race Brown had three and one of them was hell bent on taking out the other speed horse (not trained by Brown), setting up another Brown entrant. That’s not going to happen here and McCarthy, aboard Mattingly, could control the pace from start to finish.

Please Advise won the Atlantic Beach Stakes on this course at the same six furlong trip as Mattingly ran last month, back in November, making a big surge late from fourth to win by a neck. He was off for five months and finished third in a race he needed, then he had traffic trouble on the first turn in the similar G3 Penn Mile last month, backed off, moved up quickly and looked like a winner but flattened from the mis-expenditure of energy. Cancel gets on and rode him once previously, to the win in the Atlantic Beach, which is a big sign for a top effort and that effort earned the same 95 figure as Mattingly earned last time out.

Handicapper Picks

Win: As I believe Mattingly and Please Advise, combined, would win about two-thirds of the time in a race like this, minimum odds for a win bet at 2 to 1 for both horses.

In this race there may be an opportunity for a mathematical edge by using a dutching tool, which prorates wagers for the best value. There’s a free dutching tool at, where you can set the amount you want to bet and the math is done for you to help achieve the best edge. This is just one of many tools, and perks, for bettors at

Race 7: Mattingly, Please Advise
Race 8: Reflexivity

Optional second Double:
Race 7: Mattingly, Neat, Move to Gold, Please Advise, Deterministic
Race 8: Reflexivity
(The bet above is similar to a win bet on Reflexivity in race 8)

Race 8 at Belmont at the Big A (Aqueduct) - Post Time 4:11 PM Eastern

Top Win Contender: Reflexivity

Reflexivity earned his first career win last May (2023) at seven furlongs on grass in his second career start and impressively, then was moved from Chad Brown to Mike Maker and returned three months later in a stakes at Saratoga, where he ran poorly. Moved back to the first allowance level where he fit nicely one month later, Reflexivity rallied to miss in a three horse photo, with the winner improving to win his next start. Off since then, I’m not concerned about the layoff since this is a sprint (six furlongs) and since Maker does very well with horses returning from six months of more. Franco rides and has been one of the main winning jockeys for the barn on the circuit. The works in Kentucky before shipping up are fine and the field is weak for the level, so just repeating the effort put forth last May on the turf on this circuit could be good enough for the win here.

Handicapper Picks

Win: If we played the doubles from race 7 and they are paying well, a win bet may not be needed, but if not, or if the value is there, I would certainly bet Reflexivity to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Highlander Stakes - Race 7 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:36 PM Eastern

Top Contenders: Filo Di Arianna, Witty, Saratoga Flash, Oceanic

There are four evenly matched win contenders here which can be used on double, pick 3 and 4 tickets. As for win bets, as you’ll see at the bottom, we can wait to let the public at large help us decide on which offer the best value for win bets.

Filo Di Arianna won the Grade 2 Connaught Cup a little less than two years ago, here at Woodbine, at seven furlongs and as the 2 to 1 favorite. He won the King Edward Stakes the following month to bring his record on turf at Woodbine to three for three. The following spring (2023) he finished second by a neck in the Poker Stakes at Belmont, then after another layoff from July, 2023 until March, finished second in the Turf Sprint Stakes on Derby day at Churchill Downs. His only race since was a poor one BUT it was the Grade 1 Jaipur. Returning to Woodbine, dropping one grade class and with top jockey Kimura (likely having his pick of runners) aboard, and with a repeat of any number of top efforts in similar races good enough to win, Filo Di Arianna could be overlooked by some of the public for good value.

Witty returned from four months off in April to win a stakes on the grass at Laurel then ran even better in a similar stakes on Preakness day, earning a career best 108 Equibase Speed Figure which lines up with the 106 figure Filo Di Arianna earned winning the King Edward Stakes. He’s never run at Woodbine but gets hot Rafael Hernandez and a good outside post and may be flying late to get into the exacta for the 17th time in his 23rd carer start.

Saratoga Flash won a $500,000 stakes race last summer at Kentucky Downs on the turf and when last seen on March 30 missed by a head when flying in the stretch from eighth in the Appleton Stakes in Florida. Those two efforts earned 113 and 110 figures good enough to win and although the three races in-between weren’t nearly as good, two were on all-weather and not turf. Rested three months and with a big workout before leaving New York (where he’s been training), he certainly fits with these off his best efforts.

Oceanic finished second, beaten a half-length, in last year’s Highlander, and he enters the race this year off a win in a very highly rated classified allowance race in April at Keeneland. That came off a five month layoff so the two and one-half month layoff is of no concern and his recent seventh best of 150 half-mile workout at his home base in Kentucky tells us he’s ready to run back to his best efforts.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Minimum odds on all four contenders (Filo Di Arianna, Witty, Saratoga Flash, Oceanic) are 7 to 2 and I would not hesitate betting up to two of those at the highest odds (above 7 to 2) near post time.

As it is possible we may be betting two horses to win, using the free (and easy to use) dutching tool at Amwager is in our best interest.

Exacta: Box Filo Di Arianna, Witty, Saratoga Flash, Oceanic

Nassau Stakes - Race 10 at Woodbine - Post Time 6:13 PM Eastern

Top Contenders: Dana’s Beauty, Implicated, Fast as Flight
Other contenders: Full Count Felicia, Fev Rover, Cairo Consort

Dana’s Beauty had won eight races in 37 starts, earning $420,000, up until March 23 of this year. Most of those wins came on all-weather, including the $250K Latonia Stakes in March. It is intriguing to note that as a six year old, she was PRIVATELY purchased after that race and sent to the barn of Mike Maker. In her first start for Maker, in the $200K Ouija Board Stakes on May 27, Dana’s Beauty was very game in victory, battling head and head for the last three-eighths of a mile, and earning a career-best 102 Equibase Speed Figure. That was only the eighth turf race of her career and by far the best, and now Maker ships her to Woodbine for this grade 2 race. She gets the rail and she makes her second start off a layoff and there is every reason to expect an even better effort than the one she ran last month which makes her a strong contender in this field.

Implicated also enters the race off a win, in a highly rated third level allowance at Churchill Downs last month. She too had changed trainers recently, in this case just before that, to the Walsh barn, and she drew off in a drive with a 100 figure effort she can improve upon second off the layoff. She won the Grade 3 Pebbles Stakes last fall at the distance so the raise in class is of no concern.

Fast as Flight gets a poorer post than the other two but also fits perfectly, as she just won the G3 Modesty Stakes, her second start since moving to the Drexler barn. That was a career best effort with a 110 figure which might easily win here if repeated, and she won a stakes at this mile trip on grass last summer in Kentucky with a 107 figure effort also good enough to win here if repeated, so she rounds out the main trio of win contenders.

As to the other three listed, all can be considered for exacta tickets at the very least. Full Count Felicia won the Grade 3 Suwanee River Stakes one before last but in December, but having won off a nine month layoff last summer. Fev Rover won the 2023 Nassau after a seven month layoff. This year she has a race in the books, a sixth of 13 finish in the tougher G1 New York Stakes three weeks ago, so she could improve on the drop. Cairo Consort changes to the strong Attard barn and gets Lasix for the first time in ages as she can race in a stakes race with he medication in Canada where she could not in the U.S. She won the Sand Springs Stakes one before last so also fits with these if she can run back to that race and she does pick up Kimura.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Again, we’re looking for the public to help us decide, because if they undervalue any or all of the top contenders such that the odds are well worth the risk, we should bet. Therefore, I will consider win bets on one or two of the three top contenders (Dana’s Beauty, Implicated, Fast as Flight) at odds of 7 to 2 or more.

If two or more horses are above minimum odds this is another race where using the free dutching tool at Amwager will help us get a mathematical edge when wagering.

Exacta: Dana’s Beauty, Implicated, Fast as Flight over Dana’s Beauty, Implicated, Fast as Flight, Full Count Felicia, Fev Rover, Cairo Consort

Optionally, play the reverse of the exacta above as well, and if any two of the top three contenders finishes first AND second, we win both bets. That exacta is Dana’s Beauty, Implicated, Fast as Flight, Full Count Felicia, Fev Rover, Cairo Consort over Dana’s Beauty, Implicated, Fast as Flight

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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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