Key Races & Bets for Saturday November 19th, 2022

Gio Ponti Stakes – Race 7 at Aqueduct – Post Time 2:44 PM Eastern

Analysis & Top win contenders:
Churchtown gets the ground saving rail, just missed by a neck in a nearly identical turf route stakes race when last seen, beat older horses before that around two turns on turf and yet he opens at six to one. He’s shipping down from Woodbine for top trainer Attfield and gets Junior Alvarado as well. He also has excellent tactical speed as he was second for the first six furlongs in the Toronto Cup Stakes last time out before making the lead and then being run down by just a neck on the wire. Before that he rallied from sixth of 10 early so no matter the pace scenario he can handle it. The 95 and 93 Equibase Speed Figures he earned in his last two starts are superior to every horse in the field except maybe the last race Steady On ran which earned a 101 figure, but Steady On improved a lot from his previous race with an 87 figure and might regress. Considering all that he has to offer and that’s he’s been first or second in five of seven career starts and ran big in his only turf route stakes, Churchtown has to be the first to consider for win bets in this field.

Wicked Fast also opens at six to one and adds more value to the race. He finished fast from far back in 10th to be beaten just a couple of lengths in the tougher, and longer, Hill Prince Stakes last month, finishing just a head behind Grand Sonata, who opens at half the odds Wicked Fast does at 3 to 1 and that makes no sense. This will be the horse’s second start since moving to the Maker barn and second with McCarthy so as good or better of an effort might be expected as well.

Steady On could regress as mentioned previously, or he could take another step forward. After a poor debut in a short sprint on grass which is not what he’s bred for he stretched out to a mile and won, then won again. Irad Ortiz, Jr. was up for the win and rides back and the colt ran the last quarter in under 23 seconds so may be the one to hold off late. However as a win bet goes he doesn’t offer value at 2 to 1 but must be used on any exacta or trifecta tickets played.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Churchtown and Wicked Fast should be strongly considered for win bets at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

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Box Churchtown, Wicked Fast, Steady On

Churchtown, Wicked Fast over Churchtown, Grand Sonata, Ohtwoohthreefive, Dakota Gold, Wicked Fast, Steady On
Steady On over Churchtown, Ohtwoohthreefive, Wicked Fast, Dakota Gold

Note: The exactas above leave out the lowest paying combinations consisting of Steady On over Grand Sonata

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Sun Power Stakes – Race 6 at Hawthorne – Post Time 6:13 PM Eastern

Analysis and main contender:
There’s potential value in this statebred stakes race because Fever Nation opens at six to one. The reason is he’s still a maiden but then again so are three of the other seven. He was beaten by Rivzonaroll in his debut on 10/14 when the latter was making his fourth career start and wired the field. However, Rivzonaroll won’t get to go wire-to-wire today because Right On Richie, Chi Town Hustler and Lookin for Bala all earned their only wins leading from the start and it’s only going to take one of them to go out with Rivzonaroll (the favorite) and soften him up so this time Fever Nation can go by late for the score. Fever Nation gets the outside today where he got the two post last out AND he was scratched to run in this race, PLUS he put in a strong 47.8 half-mile drill which was best of 25 on the day a few days ago and runs for the very strong Chris Block barn, which has won with 26% of its starters at the meeting and 22% on the year.

Tahoe Run is the other stalker/closer of note but gets the rail. He is also a maiden but has finished well for second in both starts and could complete the exacta if the pacesetters and pressers are completely out of the picture.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Fever Nation at 2 to 1 or more.

Exactas: Box Fever Nation and Tahoe Run

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Cary Grant Stakes – Race 8 at Del Mar – Post Time 7 PM Eastern

I’m really only interested in this race for the value it provides in doubles to race 9, a nifty allowance race with a few horses offering value. This race offers a single (the only horse to use) in The Chosen Vron, who moves back to dirt where one before last he easily won the similar E B Johnston Stakes under Berrios, who rides here. He did his last start as well, the California Flag Handicap, on grass, so enters the race in top form, having paired very strong 104 Equibase Figures which beat the other five horses on the square if repeated even if they run their best.

Handicapper Picks

Race 8: The Chosen Vron
Race 9: Carpe Fortuna, Kitty Kitana, Lady Jae, Dramatizer

Race 8: The Chosen Vron
Race 9: Carpe Fortuna, Lady Clementine, Gimme Mo Baby, Gillian Elizabeth, Kitty Kitana, Emerald Lake, Over Attached, Lady Jae, Dramatizer


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Race 9 at Del Mar – Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern

Carpe Fortuna stretches out to two-turns off a fantastic turf sprint where she led from the start, opened up by a length in the stretch, and just got nailed on the wire by a neck. In her second career start two years ago she stretched out off a sprint and pressed the pace in third before drawing off, and she’s run a couple of other very good turf routes since then. More importantly, Carpe Fortuna had been off for more than nine months before that race so is highly likely to run even better.

Kitty Kitana drops in class from the Grade 3 Autumn Miss Stakes to this allowance level, having gotten to within a head of the lead in the stretch in that race before tiring a bit to third of 11. It was a solid effort, and she won to break her maiden at a mile on grass right before that. Berrios gets off to ride Carpe Fortuna but Prat gets on and rode the filly just once, to that maiden win, so she fits strongly with these as well.

Also-eligibles Lady Jae and Dramatizer each must be respected if they draw into the race. Being as this route is run from the infield chute their outside posts aren’t as disadvantageous as if the gate was on the main course and they can each establish good position before the turn. Lady Jae won at a mile on the Del Mar turf three races back in August right after moving to her current trainer and she was beaten just a nose for second in the Ken Maddy Stakes on the grass (sprinting) in her most recent race so she fits on current form. Dramatizer was claimed by Keith Desormeaux the first time she was in for a claiming price in eight months, in September, and IMMEDIATELY won off the claim, the first time Smith rode her as well. She rallied from ninth and she actually won at the allowance level that day so is back in the race only because she’s in for the optional claiming price, trying to “eat her cake and have it too” which makes her a horse we must respect.

There are a bunch of others which were listed on the second of the two double tickets above and given this race will likely have no heavy favorite and a big field they all have a shot to be part of the exacta at the least.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Carpe Fortuna at odds of 5 to 2 or more
I would also consider Lady Jae and Dramatizer for win bets at 4 to 1 or higher.
Kitty Katana opens at 7 to 2 and is likely to go to post at lower odds so we will try to use exactas to make money (in addition to the doubles from race 8) if she wins

Carpe Fortuna and Kitty Katana over Carpe Fortuna, Lady Clementine, Gimme Mo Baby, Gillian Elizabeth, Kitty Kitana, Emerald Lake, Over Attached, Lady Jae, Dramatizer

Box Carpe Fortuna, Kitty Kitana, Lady Jae, Dramatizer

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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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