Key Races & Bets for Saturday May 27th, 2023

Cliff Hanger Stakes – Race 7 at Monmouth – Post Time 3:26 PM Eastern

Analysis and main contenders:
Morning line favorite Big Everest appears to be a “lone front runner” in this seven horse field and could add to his six for 11 career record, all on grass, as he seeks his fourth win in a row and sixth in his last seven races going back to last June. However, in his most recent race on April 25, he coasted along on an easy lead and just held on by a nose so if another horse can stay within range early he could pass Big Everest late for the win. Sky’s Not Falling is exactly that horse, as he showed winning a stakes level classified allowance race at this distance on grass in December after moving up quickly from fifth after a half-mile to within a head of the leader before winning by a neck. He lost two in a row after that but is back in top form off a classified allowance win at a mile three weeks ago, with Rosado up for the first time that day and riding back. That win last December was his second in a row and so now that he’s in winning form he can put in another top effort, not to mention that 12/4 effort earned a very strong 109 Equibase Speed Figure better than the 107 career-best Big Everest has run.

Smokin’ T rallies from mid-pack to far back and also enters the race off a win, with a 106 figure so if he repeats it he has a shot as well. He opens at 3 to 1 compared to 6 to 1 for Sky’s Not Falling (and 8/5 for Big Everest) so we can play an exacta box with Sky’s Not Falling for some value.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Sky’s Not Falling can be bet to win at 2 to 1 or more and is a strong low odds overlay.

Exacta: Box Sky’s Not Falling and Big Everest
ALSO, Box Sky’s Not Falling and Smokin’ T

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Daytona Stakes – Race 7 at Santa Anita – Post Time 7 PM Eastern

Analysis and main contenders:

Fast Buck is four for seven on grass in his career including a win at six furlongs on turf three weeks ago. That race as on the flat and this is on the downhill course but that should not make a difference as he is by far the fastest horse early in this field. Berrios takes over for Herrera, who moves to Prince Lancelot so I suspect with a stakes purse in play the connections went to a jockey with more experience (and a much better win percentage) on turf. Coming off a career-best 111 Equibase figure effort which wasn’t a fluke as he earned a 108 figure on the course 11 months ago, Fast Buck looks very capable of successfully playing “come catch me” with this group.

That being said, Whatmakessammyrun is no slouch, having earned nearly $400,000 in his career and having won twice down the hillside course, both in stakes, first last October in the Eddie D at 18 to 1 then five weeks ago in the Siren Lure Stakes at 7 to 2. Bravo was up for both wins and rides back and as this is the horse’s third start after returning from two months off he could run even better than the 108 figure effort put forth last month so he’s the main contention who could run Fast Buck down late for the win.

Burnin Turf gets a good post for this trip and also has won at it, twice, last March and April (2022). He finished third in this race last year then took nine months off, returning for an eighth place finish then finishing fourth last month behind Whatmakessammyrun in the Siren Lure. He’s moving in the right direction and although his figures are a bit lower than the top two, considering Burnin Turf has won four races (from five total wins) on the Santa Anita turf he can’t be discounted as a contender.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Fast Buck can be bet to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Exactas: Box Fast Buck and Whatmakessammyrun
Box Fast Buck and Burnin Turf

Race 7: Fast Buck, Whatmakessammyrun, Burning Turf
Race 8: Positivity, Spirit of Makena

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Triple Bend Stakes – Race 8 at Santa Anita – Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern

Analysis and Contenders:
Positivity appears very capable of posting the upset in this race and he will likely be ignored as a contender by many bettors because he has not won a race since October of 2021. That should not deter us from wagering on this horse who is likely to improve markedly in his second race following 13 months away from the races. Positivity began his career winning twice, the first of the two at Santa Anita nearly three years ago this week. He then won the Graduation Stakes in career start number two and then entered the Golden State Juvenile Stakes (at the seven furlong distance of the Triple Bend Stakes) in the third race of his career, finishing second, before stretching out to a mile and one-sixteenth and running poorly (sixth) in the Los Alamitos Futurity. Following four poor efforts, three of them routes, Positivity returned to sprinting and to seven furlongs and won decisively by five lengths in the summer of 2021 earning a then career-best 104 Equibase Speed Figure. Two races later he finished second in the California Cup Sprint Stakes with a 105 figure. Positivity was then sent to Dubai in the winter of 2022 where he did not run well in three races. Returned to the states and given 13 months off from March of 2022 until April 22 of this year, Positivity finished third in the Kona Gold Stakes with a 99 figure he can certainly improve upon, particularly as he is returning to his favorite distance of seven furlongs. Additionally, with Forbidden Kingdom being an absolute need-the-lead type and with Midnight Mammoth having the same style and drawing the rail, Positivity should have a fast pace to close into and could get up in time to win this year’s Triple Bend Stakes.

Spirit of Makena might be four-for-four if not for a defeat by a head last summer in the second start of his career. That also happened to be his only try around two turns. He has a perfect record in one-turn races, including a win in the San Carlos Stakes in March at Santa Anita. He won one month earlier in his 2023 debut, earning a career-best 113 figure which is the best earned by any horse in this field in the past two years. With a sharp five furlong morning drill coming into the race and the ability to stalk the pacesetters in third or second in the early stages, Spirit of Makena should be a tough competitor in this race.

Honorable mention goes to C Z Rocket, who had won five stakes races, three of them graded stakes, up to the time he entered the gate in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last November but he was disregarded by many bettors at 30 to 1 odds as he had only an allowance level win in 2022. The old veteran proved many wrong as he rallied from fifth to make the lead with an eighth of a mile to go before finishing second, and clearly so, behind Elite Power. Rested four months, C Z Rocket finished second in February in a stakes level allowance race then traveled to Dubai and finished eighth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Back in the states for his next start just two weeks ago, C Z Rocket perked up for a second place finish with the same 99 figure Positivity earned in his only start this year. With that nice effort as a foundation and having earned 107 and 109 figures last year in his two best efforts, including when second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, C Z Rocket can’t be ruled out as a contender in this field.

Another honorable mention goes to Forbidden Kingdom, who is likely to be one of the top betting choices based on his second place effort in the Malibu Stakes in December at the distance of the Triple Bend, and his runner-up effort behind Spirit of Makena in the San Carlos Stakes when last seen in March, in which Forbidden Kingdom earned a 100 figure which is just on par with many others and not dominant among this field if repeated. Forbidden Kingdom is a need-the-lead type who has been in front after a quarter mile in every one of his 10 career starts, but who has only won three of those, the last of which was in March of 2022. Particularly in his last three races Forbidden Kingdom ran evenly or lost ground in the last eighth of a mile, which shows he is susceptible to being passed late in this race as well.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Positivity AND Spirit of Makena can be considered for win bets at 2 to 1 odds or higher.

When betting two horses at greater than minimum odds/fair odds there is a big opportunity to get an 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 or the amount you want to win, 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

Positivity and Spirit of Makena over Positivity, Forbidden Kingdom, Spirit of Makena, C Z Rocket

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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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