Key Races & Bets for Saturday October 28th, 2023

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

Top win contenders: Royal Slipper, Normandy Hero

Royal Slipper won most impressively in her career debut on October 6 (opening weekend) here at Keeneland and can earn her second win in as many starts, adding to trainer Wesley Ward’s tremendous record with two year olds over the past few years. Ward won this race two years ago with Nakatomi and wins at an extraordinarily high 30% clip overall in dirt sprints (over the past three years) as well as 27% with second time starters and 31% when using jockey Joel Rosario as is the case here. Royal Slipper is a half-sister (same Dam) to Bast, who won the 2019 Del Mar Debutante in only the second start of her career, then won three other stakes races before retiring. In her debut, Royal Slipper was away like a rocket from the rail and was never challenged as she was ridden out to an easy win. She should run even better in her second career start and is the one to catch, and to beat, in this race and as a filly against males, which is no concern as two year old females can be more mature than their male counterparts, she gets in a few pounds lighter than her opponents, which may offer an additional edge.

Normandy Hero also returns for his second start at the Keeneland fall meeting, also off a win just like Royal Slipper. He had won in August in his second career start leading from start to finish, but in that last race three weeks ago he relaxed in fourth in the early stages then took over from the rail in the stretch to draw off. He could run even better here and if Royal Slipper can’t lead from start to finish, Normandy Hero has the highest probability among the rest to get up late in the race and win.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Royal Slipper has a very strong probability to win and can be bet at 3 to 2 or higher, hopefully as a low odds overlay.
Normandy Hero can be considered for a win bet at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Box Royal Slipper, Normandy Hero

Doubles and Pick 3s (using just the first two of the three races):
Race 6: Royal Slipper, Normandy Hero
Race 7: Chasing Time, Fortin Hill, Traegar, Pro Oxidant
Race 8: Santorini, Talk of the Nation, More Than Looks

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Race 7 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:12 PM Eastern

Top win contenders: Chasing Time, Fortin Hill, Traegar, Pro Oxidant

This is a classified allowance with a $140K purse, which might be a stakes race at many tracks. The conditions are very specific, including one which reads “non-winners of $64,905 (to first) twice other than maiden, claiming, starter, restricted or state bred in 2023.” There are ONLY two horses which fit those conditions, and are the reason this specific race was written for them to run or they would no other options to keep in shape waiting for stakes races. Those two are Chasing Time and Pro Oxidant. Chasing Time won in February where the winner’s share of the purse was $63,600 and he won in June where he earned $80,000. That race in February was just under the threshold for eligibility for this race. He recently ran in a strong field at Kentucky Downs on turf, having never run on turf previously, likely just to stay in shape, and finished a decent fourth of eight. That has turned out to be a KEY race from which the runner-up and another horse came back from to win. Chasing Time is reunited with Rosario, who rode him to the win in February, and TWO of his four career wins have come at this seven furlong trip including the one in June with a CAREER-BEST 108 Equibase Speed Figure which is the second best in this field by any horse, ever.

Fortin Hill won strongly at six and one-half furlongs in April at Keeneland off a layoff and with Corrales aboard. He comes back from three months off at Keeneland with Corrales riding and that race from April is representative of what he can do so he figures strongly here.

Traegar finished ninth in his debut 14 months ago and has been first or second in all five races since. He ships out from California for red hot Mark Glatt (10 for 40 in the past month), who saddled Dr. Venkman to a near win in a stakes last weekend. Traegar also has superb tactical speed and should be first or second from the start and likely at the wire as well.

Pro Oxidant won a race in June worth 80K to the winner and his other win this year only had a 30K winner’s share so he could also be the horse these conditions were written for. Saez gets back on and rode him to his last win, in June, at six and one-half furlongs, an effort which if repeated makes Pro Oxidant a strong contender as well.

Handicapper Picks

All four win contenders appear to have about the same probability, so I plan to bet TWO of the four at the highest odds of at least 3 to 1 or more: Chasing Time, Fortin Hill, Traegar, Pro Oxidant

This should is a great race to take advantage of the mathematical edge provided by 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

Exactas: Box Chasing Time, Fortin Hill, Traegar, Pro Oxidant

Race 7: Chasing Time, Fortin Hill, Traegar, Pro Oxidant
Race 8: Santorini, Talk of the Nation, More Than Looks

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Bryan Station Stakes – Race 8 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:44 PM Eastern

Top win contenders: Santorini, More Than Looks, Talk of the Nation

Considering among the three contenders, Santorini opens at the highest odds (20 to 1), we have to start with him. All of these are three year old males and all have good turf form, BUT considering Santorini just beat older horses, in a very tough field at Kentucky Downs, he has a big shot to run better than his odds suggest he will. He stretched out to two turns and tried turf for the first time back in January and won, then finished sixth in a stakes but was only beaten a couple of lengths. He finished third in the Rushaway Stakes on all-weather after that, then took a couple of months off and although seventh of 12 was only beaten three lengths. He changed trainers and took a couple of months off after that, returning in a sprint with new blinkers, and ran the worse race of his career (except for his debut). However, in his first route in blinkers in that race at Kentucky Downs, Santorini ran huge as he attended the pace in second then battled head and head for the last eighth of a mile. The 108 Equibase Speed Figure was LEGITIMATE and as good as the 109 figure More Than Looks earned winning the Jefferson Cup Stakes (for three year olds only) three weeks later, and better than More Than Looks earned winning the Grade 3 Manila Stakes in New York in July. I don’t think that last effort was a fluke by any means, and with it likely that Dude N Colorado, Mo Stash and Runaway Storm will all use their inside positions and go for the lead, Santorini may get a perfect trip in fourth in the early stages and be able to capitalize for the upset.

More Than Looks has no real knocks and gets a great pace scenario for his late kick because three to five horses may want the early lead. He rallied from eighth of nine to win the Jefferson Cup last month and won the Manila two races before that. He ran the last quarter mile in the Jefferson in less than 23 seconds and with a good trip could win his third stakes race of the year.

Talk of the Nation, like Santorini, will need to take back and let the “early” speed types like Mo Stash and Runaway Storm go for the lead and go way too fast for their own good. That is what is did in March when winning the Columbia Stakes, rallying from fourth. He was a bit closer up last month when second of eight early in the Gun Runner Stakes at Kentucky Downs, going by the leader into the stretch to prevail by a half-length. That effort earned a field high 111 figure and certainly he appears capable of repeating it with Jose Ortiz back in the saddle.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Among the three win contenders, the only one offering value even with fair odds of 2 to 1, is Santorini, so he should be bet to win.

I would normally consider a place bet but in this case the exacta will likely pay much better:
Exacta: $1 ALL over Santorini
Then also Talk of the Nation and More Than Looks over Santorini

Box Talk of the Nation, Santorini, More Than Looks

Trifecta: Talk of the Nation, Santorini, More Than Looks over ALL over Talk of the Nation, Santorini, More Than Looks

By playing both the exacta and trifecta we win if any two of the three finish 1st and 2nd or 1st and 3rd, and if they all finish in the top three we win both bets.

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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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