Key Races & Bets for Saturday October 7th, 2023

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

Top win contender: Live In the Dream
Other win contenders: Beer Can Man, Arzak
Contenders for exacta tickets: Bad Beat Brian, Olympic Runner, Our Shot

Live In The Dream has already earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint one month from now at Santa Anita, but since the majority of his 19 races, including six wins, have been run on a straightaway, his connections want to get him experience running on a counter-clockwise track in North America. He won the Nunthorpe Stakes on August 25, beating 15 other horses, making the lead from the start and never threatened, and he earned a grade 1 level 127 Equibase Speed Figure in doing so. Jockey Kirrane has been aboard for his last three wins and comes from Europe to ride and although the horse doesn’t need to win this race, just get in some experience, he should be tough to beat with anything resembling a repeat of his most recent effort.

Beer Can Man was much farther back than usual in the Green Flash Handicap last month, having been crowded at the start and dropping back to eighth. Still, he rallied to LEAD in the stretch and ended up third. His two races before that, where he was third or fourth early, were top efforts including a win in the Turf Sprint Stakes on Preakness weekend, and he gets reunited with Prat, up for that win (but not the two races since) as well as a win earlier in this career. Most importantly, the Green Flash has turned out to be a significantly productive “KEY” race. The first through fourth horses have not run since then, but the fifth (Lane Way) won the graded Eddie D Stakes. The sixth place finisher was a strong second in his subsequent start, The eighth horse won and the seventh was second in the Eddie D. That portends very well for Beer Can Man in this situation.

Arzak should NOT be 15 to 1 as he is to start the betting, as he just won a classified allowance race at this trip at Saratoga. He was a grade 3 stakes winner last year, and Joel Rosario rides. That 8/23 race at Saratoga was also a “KEY” race, as the runner-up came back to win, as well as the fourth horse, who won a stakes. The third place finisher finished second in his next start as well. With a 104 last race Equibase Speed figure as good as the 105 Beer Can Man earned in the Turf Sprint, he has as much probability to run well and opens at much higher odds, 15 to 1 compared to 4 to 1.

As to the other contenders, at least for exotics: Bad Beat Brian missed by a head in the spring equivalent of this race, the Shakertown, and remains in good from as he was just a neck back last month in the Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs. Olympic Runner was just a neck behind Bad Beat Brian in that race and has a big kick as well as has been first or second in 15 of 33 career races. Our Shot has been first or second in his last four races, all turf sprints, including a near win in a stakes at this trip at Saratoga last month.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Live In The Dream at 2 to 1 or more.
Beer Can Man at 4 to 1 or more.
Arzak at 5 to 1 or more.

Considering the likely odds disparity between Live In The Dream and one or both of the other two, this 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: Live In The Dream, Arzak, Beer Can Man over Live In The Dream, Arzak, Beer Can Man, Bad Beat Brian, Olympic Runner, Our Shot. Optionally, you can play the reverse of that exacta in case any of the three main contenders finish second, and if you do and if two of the three finish first and second you win both bets.

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Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes – Race 7 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:12 PM Eastern

Top win contenders: Happy Soul, Wicked Halo, Yuuguri

Happy Soul has about the same probability to win this race if she runs her best but opens at about four times the odds, 8 to 1, compared to Yuuguri and Wicked Halo. She will have to run her absolute best to win, but that’s not out of the question because trainer Wesley Ward, who wins a lot of races at Keeneland and at this level, puts BLINKERS ON, for the first time since early in 2021. In May and June of that year, in blinkers, Happy Soul destroyed the field by 11 lengths, the second of those wins coming in the Astoria Stakes for two year old fillies. She hasn’t run that badly since, with no wins but six second or third place efforts, many in stakes INCLUDING when second in this race last year. She’s also moving back to dirt, where all three of her lifetime wins have come and where she’s finished second twice, only missing the top two once in six races. Her recent workout on 9/21 at Keeneland, likely in blinkers, was sensational and sends all the right signals she might go to the front and play “come catch me” successfully.

Yuuguri and Wicked Halo don’t need much talking up, with 14 wins between them and having earned more than $2.2 million combined. Wicked Halo won the Raven Run Stakes (for three year olds only) one year ago at Keeneland and the Twin Bridges Stakes in July so although she disappointed as the odds-on favorite last month she has every right to run well enough to win, while Yuuguri arguably ran the best race of her career last month winning the Open Mind Stakes at Churchill Downs under Prat, who rides back. She also won back-to-back in December of last year and February this year so putting in two big races is well within her reach.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Happy Soul at 3 to 1 or more.

Box Happy Soul and Wicked Halo and box Happy Soul and Yuuguri

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First Lady Stakes – Race 8 at Keeneland – Post Time 4:43 PM Eastern

Top win contenders: Whitebeam, Jumbly, In Italian

Whitebeam beat her stablemate (trained by Chad Brown) In Italian on the square when both were last seen on July 15 in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes, and has every right to do it again although not 7 to 1 this time as she was in the Diana. She opens at 3 to 1 and as a four year old, and lightly raced (making only her fourth start since a layoff and since importing to the U.S.) she can run even better. Prat was aboard for the first time in the Diana and rode her very well, and the cut back from nine furlongs to eight isn’t a problem, as she missed by a neck in the Plenty of Grace Stakes at a mile in her U.S. debut in April and following six months off.

The interesting horse in the field, particularly from a value perspective, is Jumbly, who ships back from Europe after making her U.S. debut in August in the Ballston Spa Stakes, where she made up nine and one-half lengths in the final three-eighths of a mile to finish third in a four horse photo. She had run against some tough fillies in Europe this year, first when second in the Group 2 (equivalent of Grade 1 in the U.S.) Lanwades Stud Stakes in May then when fourth of 10 in the tougher Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. After the Ballston Spa, Jumbly returned to Europe and finished fifth of 12 in the Group 1 Matron Stakes, and in that big field of 12 she was well regarded by bettors at 10 to 1. Back to the Ballston Spa, where Jumbly ran very well as she was five paths wide into the stretch whereas winner Evvie Jets got a dream trip up the rail. Looking at her European form, and how well she ran in her only U.S. start, and reunited with John Velazquez (up for the Ballston Spa), I believe Jumbly is just as good as In Italian or Whitebeam on her best day, hoping that’s today because she will pay nicely for a win bet.

In Italian has seven wins and four runner-up efforts in 12 starts, all on grass, and she will likely be on the front end as she usually is. She won the 2022 First Lady in a six horse field when allowed an easy lead, under Rosario, who gets back on after three races in which Irad Ortiz, Jr. (who remains in New York today) rode her. All that being said, she’s not unbeatable, as when passed late to be second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (here at Keeneland) or when last seen in the Diana Stakes.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Whitebeam at 2 to 1 or more AND Jumbly at 3 to 1 or more.

There’s not a lot of value in exacta tickets as two of the three horses I’d use are the top two betting favorites.

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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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