Key Races & Bets for Saturday October 22nd, 2022

Perryville Stakes – Race 6 at Keeneland – Post Time 3:40 PM Eastern

Although Gunite may be the horse to beat, with three straight huge efforts in stakes, two of those graded including a win in the Amsterdam Stakes, and with his last three Equibase Speed Figures (108, 109 and 110) dominant in this field, Provocateur (who opens at 15/1) has a legitimate shot to post the mild upset. Three year olds in the fall still have a lot of improving they can do from race to race, sometimes leapfrogging their speed figures in big ways, and that’s what I’m hopeful for in the Perryville.

Provocateur took three starts to earn his first victory, which he did last December with a four and one-half length triumph. After a runner-up effort in the Pasco Stakes this past January he was given a couple of months off to mature and he did just that, first winning the Hutcheson Stakes then missing by a neck in the Gold Fever Stakes. Not disgraced when third to Jack Christopher in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes (noting Gunite was beaten by Jack Christopher in August), Provocateur returned to win the Jersey Shore Stakes in August with a career-best 103 figure, before the poorest dirt race of his career when eighth of 13 last month in the Gallant Bob Stakes. He’s come back to work well so I think that effort can be ignored and in this field with VERY LITTLE early speed, Provocateur can take the catbird seat in the early stages behind likely early leader Pinehurst and take over before Gunite gets into high gear, hopefully improving to run a new career-best effort.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Provocateur at odds of 3 to 1 or more.


Instead of a place bet: All over Provocateur

Box Provocateur and Gunite

For a smaller amount than the exacta box above, box Provocateur and Artorius

Trifectas (because Gunite is likely to be the prohibitive favorite):

Gunite over Hoist the Gold, Provocateur, Artorius, B Dawk, Of a Revolution over Hoist the Gold, Provocateur, Artorius, B Dawk, Of a Revolution

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Hill Prince Stakes – Race 7 at Aqueduct (Belmont at the Big A meeting) – Post Time 3:48 PM Eastern

Limited Liability continues a pattern of improvement started in April when he made his three year old debut following six months off. Coming back in a full field of 12 on grass at Keeneland, Limited Liability put in a visually impressive rally from last of 12 with a quarter mile to go and won by a neck at the finish. Moving right up into stakes competition, Limited Liability finished third in the Pennine Ridge Stakes, improving from a 92 Equibase Speed Figure in his comeback to a 96 figure. Improving once again the following month to 105 even though seventh in the Belmont Derby, Limited Liability ran very well when rallying from last of 10 to finish third in the Virginia Derby last month even though running five paths wide in the stretch and being squeezed with about an eighth of a mile to run. That effort earned a career-best 107 figure. Jose Ortiz is the only jockey Limited Liability has ever known and rides back, and if Ortiz can settle the colt in back in the early stages and find a clear path to run in the lane, they could sweep past the field to win this year’s Hill Prince Stakes.

Unanimous Consent won the first three starts of his career, all on turf, from September of last year through this April. The third of those wins came in the Woodhaven Stakes over this course which at the time earned the colt a career-best 85 figure. One month later he finished fourth in the Pennine Ridge Stakes, a length behind third place finisher Limited Liability. Following that, in the Virginia Derby once again Unanimous Consent finished behind Limited Liability, but just by a neck this time, earning the same 107 figure in the process. As he is on the same pattern for further improvement as Limited Liability and has proven competitive in similar top three year old turf races, Unanimous Consent could be a strong contender here.

Celestial City has not faced his stablemate Limited Liability (also from the McGaughey barn) all year, until now, and his last race 99 figure is short of the 107 both Limited Liability and Unanimous Consent earned in their most recent starts. Just the same, with the ground saving rail and only having been worse than third twice in eight races, Celestial City must be respected as a strong contender in the Hill Prince Stakes. That is because his two best races are his last two and both came after adding blinkers. The first of those was a second-place finish to five length winner Annapolis in the Saranac Stakes on September 3, a race from which Annapolis returned from to win the Coolmore Turf Mile two weeks ago. The second was when moving from stakes to allowance competition just three weeks after the Saranac, resulting in a confidence building win and improving from a 91 figure in the Saranac to 99. Jose Lezcano rides once more and from the ground saving rail Celestial City could be in a better position than his deep closing stablemate, Limited Liability, so could be in front early in the stretch with a chance to hang on.

Handicapper Picks

Consider win bets on both Limited Liability and Unanimous Consent at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

When betting on two (or more) horses to win, we should always try to “DUTCH” the bet, which means to prorate our total wagers among the two horses based on the odds. has a free and easy to use Dutching Tool available where you can set the amount you want to bet, or the amount you want to win, and the math is done for you. This is just one of many tools, and perks, available to the bettor at 

Limited Liability
and Unanimous Consent over Limited Liability, Unanimous Consent, Celestial City, Mackinnon and Grand Sonata

You can also consider playing the exacta above as a trifecta, using the same five horses in second and in third.

Limited Liability, Unanimous Consent, Celestial City, Mackinnon and Grand Sonata over Limited Liability and Unanimous Consent

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Maryland Million Classic – Race 11 at Laurel – Post Time 5 PM Eastern

Cordmaker opens as the 7 to 5 favorite and not only may not run because he’s on the also-eligible list, he gets a disadvantageous outside post if he does run, and MORE importantly he’s been off for eight months. He’s never run off a long layoff like this and appears up against it against a few horses as good as he is which have won much more recently. The 5 to 2 second morning line choice who is likely to be favored if Cordmaker does not run is Ournationonparade, who has never even run at nine furlongs in his career. He did win his most recent two turn race, on August 2, but that was a 40K claiming race and no matter how good trainer Ness is with horses off the claim, there is a lot to question about this gelding.

That makes this race very playable, with Torch of Truth, The Poser and Ain’t Da Beer Cold all strong contenders, opening at odds of 10/1, 8/1 and 6/1 respectively. Torch of Truth stretches out from seven to nine furlongs and has won at the distance, in January over the track, with a strong 106 Equibase Speed Figure on par with the best horses in the field. He was off from March 19 to October 1 then had that prep, unlike Cordmaker who is coming back from eight months off. Torch of Truth finished a half-length from second and a length and one-half from Prendimi in this race last year at odds of 8 to 1 and has a big shot to post the upset or at the least run a lot better than his 10/1 starting odds suggest he will.

The Poser has run the two best races of his career in his two most recent starts, the first a strong win in a dirt route and the other a neck loss to Ain’t Da Beer Cold at Timonium last month. He finished THIRD in this race last year and definitely in better form coming into this year’s race so has a strong chance to succeed here. His last two efforts earned him 104 and 102 figures which are strong enough to insure another first or second finish if he can repeat either effort.

Ain’t Da Beer Cold finished second at this distance over the track three back in June and won two since, including that race last month at Timonium when beating The Poser by a neck. Those two efforts earned 101 and 102 figures so a bit below what Torch of Truth earned in January but those are very strong recent figures. He might even run better given he’s a four year old with improving to do.

Handicapper Picks

Win: All three contenders can be considered for win bets at 5 to 2 or higher odds. I would strongly consider TWO of the THREE which are the highest odds near post time.

This is absolutely another race where betting two horses to win and using a Dutching tool (like the one which is free and easy to use at helps us get an edge.

Box Torch of Truth, The Poser, Ain’t Da Beer Cold

Trifecta: Box Torch of Truth, The Poser, Ain’t Da Beer Cold and Ournationonparade

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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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