Key Races & Bets for Saturday November 3rd & 4th, 2023

Friday November 3
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint – Race 5 at Santa Anita – Post Time 5 PM Eastern/2 PM Pacific

Top win contender: Valiant Force

The inside four horses in the gate (Crimson Advocate, No Nay Mets, Tiger Belle and Big Evs) earned their lasts two wins each leading from the start. Crimson Advocate won around one turn in May at Gulfstream then on the straight at Royal Ascot. No Nay Mets earned all three wins in one turn races. Tiger Belle and Big Evs earned their wins on the straight. There may be other early speed horses in the race as well, such as Slider, who will have to run hard from the 11 post to get position before the turn.

Under any pace scenario I can envision, the pace is going to be very hot, and Valiant Force is the best of the closers, by far. His win on June 22 in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot was fantastic in a 14 horse field. It was the fastest race by any horse in the group, with a 90 Timeform figure and a 110 Equibase figure. Granted, the figure was big because the pace in front of him was hot, but that will be no different here. The win came on a good to firm course and his other efforts, none wins, came on softer ground, so I suspect he will really like the firm turf at Santa Anita. Top European jockey William Buick rides and although he normally rides for Godolphin and Charles Appleby, his North American record the last years, which is 5-4-3 in 16 rides, is fantastic as well. The colt opens at 12 to 1 and even if bet in half Valiant Force is a great bet.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Valiant Force at 3 to 1 or more.

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Saturday November 4
Breeders’ Cup Mile – Race 6 at Santa Anita – Post Time 4:30 PM Eastern/1:30 PM Pacific

Top win contenders: Songline, Kelina, Mawj, Master of the Seas

This race belongs to the foreign horses for the third straight year. They have run better, against stronger competition, than any horse based in North America. Over the last 20 years, European or Japanese based horses have won seven times, including in 2021 and 2022. This year should be no exception, except it is not likely any of the four above will pay handsomely like Order of Australia ($120 in 2020) or Karakontie ($62 in 2014).

Three of the four win contenders above are all females, and historically fillies and mares can more than hold their own with males on grass. Six of the last 20 winners of the Mile were females, and so we start with Songline, a five year old mare with a five for nine record at a mile on turf, including TWO group 1 stakes wins this year. One of the wins, and a nose defeat as well, came against males. She’s faced fields averaging 15 horses and she beat the phenomenal Sodashi by a head in May in the Group 1 Victoria Mile, unleashing a continuous burst of speed in the final stages to win. Songline also won the $15 million Saudi Cup Turf Sprint in 2022. Since coming back from a three month rest from February through May, Songline has run as good as any horse can run, and if she repeats any of her last three efforts in this race, it is going to be tough for even some other powerful horses to beat her.

Kelina is a three year old, so in spite of having a very strong record of four for nine to date, three for eight at a mile, she may be improving. She won the Group 1 Prix de La Foret last month in France, the same race 2021 Mile winner Space Blues won prior to victory in the Breeders’ Cup. In that race, Kelina exploded late to win, beating one of the top horses in the world in Kinross (10 for 28 with two group 1 wins). She is owned by Wertheimer et Frere, a decades old fantastic breeding and racing entity who once employed one of the best trainers in history, Freddie Head, and now uses Carlos Laffon-Parias. Wertheimer et Frere won this race in 2008, 2009 and 2010 with the incomparable filly, then mare, Goldikova, and considering Kelina is just three year old there is a possibility she could run in this race the next year or two as well.

Mawj had done all of her racing in Europe and Dubai (eight starts) prior to her U.S. debut last month in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes. She had won the Group 1 1000 Guineas in the U.K. in May and in spite of five months off ran as if that race was just a month earlier, establishing the lead on strong fractions for a nine furlong race and quickening late as needed to hold off all rivals. Lindy, who finished second, ran earlier today in the Filly and Mare Turf so pay attention as Lindy may have flattered Mawj with a strong effort. Jockey Oisin Murphy is two for two in the saddle on Mawj, who is two-for-two at this mile trip and has a fine shot to win her third group 1 or grade 1 race in a row.

Master of the Seas is on a very similar pattern to 2022 Mile winner Modern Games, who won the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile in September, went back to race in England and finished second, then returned to win this race. Trainer Charlie Appleby and jockey William Buick were the connections of Modern Games, as they are for Master of the Seas, who won the Ricoh Woodbine Mile in September, missed by a nose in the Coolmore Turf Mile at Keeneland last month, and who is coming into this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile in superb form. With seven first or second place finishes at this mile trip, all in group 1or two stakes, Master of the Seas rounds out this year’s strong quartet of win contenders in the mile.

Handicapper Picks

Win: We must start with Songline, who should be bet at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
Kelina can be considered for a win bet at 5 to 2 or more.
Mawj can be considered for a win bet at odds of 7 to 2 or higher, as can Master of the Seas.

My personal strategy will be to bet two of the four at or above those odds. I would consider betting three if the live odds are nearly double fair odds. For example if Songline is 3 to 1 (50% overlay), Kelina is 5 to 1 (100% overlay) and Mawj is 6 to 1 (nearly 100%), I would bet all three. More likely I will be betting two of the three which are the highest odds.

If we bet more than one horse in a race like this, the best advantage is had 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 in total 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

Exacta and Trifecta: Box Songline, Kelina, Mawj, Master of the Seas

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Breeders’ Cup Turf – Race 8 at Santa Anita – Post Time 5:50 PM Eastern/2:50 Pacific

Top win contenders: King of Steel, Auguste Rodin, Mostahdaf, Onesto
Also can be considered: Shahryar, War Like Goddess

European horses having dominated in this race by winning eight of the last 12 editions and there are a quartet to consider here, starting with a pair of superlative three year olds in King of Steel and Auguste Rodin. I think (pardon the pun) Auguste Rodin will go to post at lower odds than King of Steel, and that is the ONLY reason King of Steel is listed first in the contender group. King of Steel gets Frankie Dettori to ride back off a win in the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot just two weeks ago. Last early in a field of eight over a soft course, Dettori guided King of Steel to the outside and the horses responded with a fantastic later run to win. King of Steel had won the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot this summer with another jockey, but had failed to quicken late in two subsequent races before the jockey change. In one of those King of Steel was beaten by Auguste Rodin, but in his current form, and with Dettori choosing to ride King of Steel over Mostahdaf, who Dettori just rode to victory in the Group 1 Juddmonte International, and with King of Steel being a three year old so still with improving to do, he gets the slightest edge among a strong trio of win contenders.

Auguste Rodin has won six of nine races and earned nearly $3 million, not bad for a three year old. That’s not unexpected by a Coolmore bred, Aiden O’Brien trained colt. He won the Epsom Derby in June at this 12 furlong trip on a left handed course (like at Santa Anita), beating King of Steel by a half-length, then won the Irish Derby in July just as easily. After he didn’t run a bit in a stakes in July at Royal Ascot, finishing 10th while King of Steel was third, Auguste Rodin rebounded in a big way to win the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes under Ryan Moore, who rides today. That being his best race of the year and being a three year old, Auguste Rodin can run even better and if he does, and if King of Steel runs as expected, this could be a very exciting race.

Mostahdaf has no knocks, with a 10 for 16 overall record and seven wins in 13 career turf races. He’s a five year old but has won three group one or group 2 stakes this year from four starts. Crowley had been his regular rider until Dettori rode in the Juddmonte International, so there are no concerns about the jockey change because Crowley was aboard for a win in the Group 1 Prince of Wales Stakes in June at Royal Ascot. Mostahdaf led from start to finish in the Juddmonte but has come from off the pace as well and although he’s never won at this 12 furlong trip, his runner-up effort in the Hardwicke Stakes last year, and the fact he’s a son of Frankel, both suggest he has every right to run well at this distance as he has at 10 furlongs.

Onesto is interesting, although not necessarily a big longshot as he opens at 8 to 1. His form earlier this year was poor as he finished fourth and seventh (behind Auguste Rodin) but he may have turned a corner when third of 15 in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last month. Historically horses which run well in the Arc and in the Breeders’ Cup Turf fare well and jockey Guyon comes over after riding him for the first time in the Arc. In 2022 Onesto won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at this distance so he does have the class to compete if he runs his best race.

Shahryar and War Like Goddess should be considered for second position on some exacta tickets and third on some trifecta tickets. Shahryar has run poorly in two races this year but his best race of 2022 came in November after two poorer efforts when he was second in the Group 1 Japan Cup at this distance and if he can run that type of race he could have a say. War Like Goddess absolutely loves this 12 furlong trip, with a 7-1-1 record in nine races. She was third in this race last year, less than a length from the runner-up, and she beat males at the distance in the Turf Classic Stakes in October of this year and in 2022. She’s likely a cut below the Europeans but can certainly be coming on strongly for a piece.

Handicapper Picks

Win: We must start with King of Steel, who should be bet at odds of 5 to 2 or more.
Auguste Rodin can be considered for a win bet at 3 to 1 or more.
Mostahdaf can be considered for a win bet at odds of 3 to 1 or higher.
Onesto can be considered at 6 to 1 or more.

This should be another good great race to take advantage of the mathematical edge provided by a “Dutching” tool like the one available free (and easy to uses) at

Box King of Steel, Auguste Rodin, Mostahdaf
Box King of Steel, Auguste Rodin, Mostahdaf, Onesto
King of Steel, Auguste Rodin, Mostahdaf, Onesto over King of Steel, Auguste Rodin, Mostahdaf, Onesto, Shahryar, War Like Goddess

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Breeders’ Cup Sprint – Race 11 at Santa Anita – Post Time 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific

Top win contenders: Gunite, Hoist the Gold, Dr. Schivel, Elite Power

If Gunite goes to posts anywhere near his 4 to 1 starting odds, I can promise I am going to the window. His odds in his last six races, going back to January, have been 3 to 5, 4 to 5, 6 to 5, 6 to 5 and 2 to 5. He won or placed in all five races, including the Grade 1 Vanderbilt in July when beaten a nose by Elite Power at seven furlongs, and the Grade 1 Forego stakes in August, where he beat Elite Power by nearly two lengths. His last race is VERY telling, as Asmussen stretched Gunite out to a mile around two-turns, which he’s only run once before, when fourth behind the incomparable Cody’s Wish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Gunite made the lead after six furlongs after stalking in second then ended up second. Winning that race was not the goal. Winning this race was the goal, and now shortening up from a mile around two turns to six furlongs, Gunite is likely to run well enough to win this year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Hoist the Gold won the Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland four weeks ago, a historically VERY significant prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The winners of the 2021, 2020, 2015 and 2014 Sprint all had their last starts in the Phoenix, including winners Runhappy, Aloha West and Whitmore. Prior to the Phoenix, Hoist the Gold hadn’t really been competitive in a top level sprint, but with John Velazquez riding for the first time (riding back here), the colt put in a strong run after stalking the pacesetter to win and earn a 111 Equibase Speed figure which is the same as the 111 figure Gunite earned nearly winning the Vanderbilt in July. As such, Hoist the Gold could run a lot better than his 12 to 1 starting odds suggest he will.

Dr. Schivel won the local prep for this race, the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, five weeks ago, and he was second by a nose to the aforementioned Aloha West in this race in 2021, skipping 2022 entirely except for a third place effort in Dubai in March. He’s back in top form and must be respected particularly as he earned a 110 figure last time out and a 115 figure winning the similar Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes in July.

If there’s one knock on last year’s winner Elite Power, it is that he opens as the favorite and won’t be 5 to 1 as he was in this race last year. Additionally, Gunite holds a two to one margin in the three races they’ve faced off against one another. At Seven furlongs, I think Elite Power may be a bit better but at six they’re about even so although Elite Power is in excellent form with three wins and one second this year, that second to Gunite the last time Elite Power raced means he may not be the standout many in the public think he is, though it would be a mistake not to use him as a contender on any exacta tickets we play in this race, and particularly on any pick 3 or double tickets we play involving this race.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Gunite at 2 to 1 or more.
Then, I’ll consider a second win bet, for a smaller amount, on any of the other three – Hoist the Gold, Dr. Schivel, Elite Power – at odds of 7 to 2 or higher.

Gunite over Hoist the Gold, Dr. Schivel, Elite Power

Hoist the Gold, Dr. Schivel, Elite Power over Gunite

Trifectas: Box Gunite, Hoist the Gold, Dr. Schivel, Elite Power

Gunite over Hoist the Gold, Dr. Schivel, Elite Power over Hoist the Gold, Dr. Schivel, Elite Power
Hoist the Gold, Dr. Schivel, Elite Power over Gunite over Hoist the Gold, Dr. Schivel, Elite Power

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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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