Key Races & Bets for Saturday September 17th, 2022

Nownownow Stakes – Race 11 at Monmouth – Post Time 4:53 PM Eastern

You may never have heard of this race but it’s very significant for two year olds who run long on grass as it’s one of few stakes leading to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and it carries a purse of $500,000. As such 10 have signed on. El de Chimi gets slight preference opening at 4 to 1, with Oxymore and Bramble Breeze the other two horses I feel are win contenders.

El di Chimi finished second in a dirt sprint on July 23 and one month later stretched out to a mile around two turns, still on dirt, on August 21. He showed a ton of maturity that day relaxing in fourth early then rallying three paths wide to win, drawing off by seven lengths. Paco Lopez takes over and that’s a big sign, as is the 76 Equibase Speed Figure which, with logical improvement in his second two turn race, is good enough to win. As far as breeding for turf there’s all one can ask for as he’s a son of Cairo Prince (by Pioneer of the Nile) out of a mare who has produced three other horses which have won turf routes from four other foals excluding this one.

Oxymore will likely go favored as he calls the Chad Brown barn home and as Jose Ortiz rides, taking off a day at Aqueduct to ride. The gelding is two-for-two and both wins were on turf BUT they were sprints so he is giving away the experience of a two turn race to El di Chimi. His dam has also produced a turf route winner. He led from start to finish in both starts to date and there are others who are also stretching out who might want the lead, such as Torrone, Power Attack and maybe Conman (from an outside post) so Oxymore could have his work cut out for him but knowing Brown he may have trained the horse to sit off the pace early and in that case he has to be considered a contender for some wagers (likely not win bets because of low odds) we make involving this race.

Bramble Blaze has experience many of these lack as he won first out in a turf route over the course on 8/14, at this mile trip. He rallied from next to last in an eight horse field and was pulling away late. He’s bred to be any kinds as he’s a half-brother to Bramble Bay (400K, 7 wins on grass) and another horse who made almost $300K winning nine races, all on dirt. He earned a 75 figure first out that like El di Chimi’s figure, can easily be improved upon off the experience of a race.

Handicapper Picks

Win: El di Chimi and Bramble Blaze at 5 to 2 or higher.

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

Exacta: Box El di Chimi, Oxymore and Bramble Blaze
El di Chimi, Oxymore and Bramble Blaze over El di Chimi, Oxymore, Bramble Blaze, Love Me Not, Conman and Webslinger

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Seaway Stakes – Race 8 at Woodbine – Post Time 4:55 PM Eastern

The top three contenders in this field are Hazelbrook, Souper Sensational and Lady Speightspeare, but the value at least insofar as win bets, and profit in exotics, lies with Hazelbrook. In spite of having won three in a row in three races this meeting, including the very similar Grade 3 Hendrie Stakes in July, Hazelbrook opens at 8 to 1. She’s won five of seven to date and if you assume something went amiss in her final start of 2021 one year ago because she wasn’t Seen again for nine months, her record is even better. Hoyte has been aboard for all five wins and knows how to get her to run, and since she won the Sweet Briar Too Stakes over the track last month she’s put in a fantastic half-mile in 47.8 which says she’s holding form good enough to win.

Souper Sensational has earned nearly a half-million to date and nearly won the Grade 2 Royal North Stakes (on turf) in June following eight months off. On the other hand, she has a 3-5-1 record as compared to 5-0-1 for Hazelbrook and 6-1-2 for Lady Speightspeare. On the other hand she’s run extremely well at this distance, winning twice, and Husbands gets back on today after the filly missed by a head in the Grade 3 Caress Stakes (on grass) in July, having ridden her just three times previously, twice to wins and the other to that head defeat in the Royal North.

Lady Speightspeare, as mentioned, has won more than half her races (6 of 12) including 2 of 2 on the main track she’s running over today at Woodbine. Last November she won the higher level Grade 2 Bessarabian Stakes following a win, and she enters this race off a win, cutting back in distance from a mile and one-sixteenth around two turns to this one turn trip as well, which certainly doesn’t hurt her chances to succeed again. If there is one knock it’s she opens as the 2 to 1 favorite and went to post as the even money favorite last month.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Hazelbrook at 2 to 1 or higher.

Exactas: Box Hazelbrook and Souper Sensational and box Hazelbrook and Lady Speightspeare

Hazelbrook over ALL


Race 8: Hazelbrook

Race 9:Ivar, Wakanaka, Finest Sound, Modern Games, Shirl’s Speight, Homer Screen


Race 8: Hazelbrook

Race 9: Modern Games


Race 8: Hazelbrook, Souper Sensational, Lady Speightspeare

Race 9:Ivar, Finest Sound, Shirl’s Speight

Note: The doubles from any horse other than Hazelbrook in race 8, to Modern Games in race 9, will be the lowest paying so that’s why we are not playing them and trying to maximize our profit.

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Ricoh Woodbine Mile – Race 9 at Woodbine – Post Time 5:35 PM Eastern

Modern Games will likely be the prohibitive favorite, so we need to find a horse (or horses) comparable to him, and Ivar fits the bill. Ivar ran as fast winning the 2020 Shadwell Turf Mile as Modern Games has run in all his races this year, earning a 122 Equibase figure. He nearly ran that fast in top company last November when third with a 117 figure in the Breeders’ Cup Mile before taking eight months off. As if he has run just a month or two earlier and not eight months earlier, Ivar won his comeback in July when victorious in the Jonathan B. Schuster Memorial Stakes. Likely to improve significantly in his second start of 2022, Ivar can be expected to be putting in a strong late run and if Modern Games isn’t up to the task, he can earn the second grade 1 win of his career.

There’s no doubt the handicapping process starts with the horse and its chances of success. Still, in some cases the trainer is just as important, provided the horse fits the conditions of the race and is in form. With that in mind I must call attention to the amazing record of trainer Charles Appleby, the top European based trainer, when he ships horses to North America. Per a Race Lens query, when Appleby comes to North America, his horses perform incredibly well to the tune of 15 wins, 10 second place finishes and two thirds in 38 starts going back five years. With jockey William Buick in the saddle, as is the case with Modern Games, Appleby has won seven of 13 races over the same period. One of those wins came in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, where Modern Games went to post as the two to one favorite in a field of 14 and won pretty easily after breaking slowly. Making his debut as a three year old this past May, Modern Games won the Group 2 Poule d’Essai des Poulains stakes at a mile then finished third and fifth before a facing older foes for the first time and finishing second in the Group 2 Sussex Stakes. With his four Equibase Speed Figures this year being 125, 120, 119 and 119 and with only two other horses in the field (Shirl’s Speight and Finest Sound) having exceeded or tied the 110 figure threshold this year, Modern Games seems very likely to add another win to Charles Appleby’s record in North America.

Shirl’s Speight won the Maker’s Mark Mile this past April, which was his third win and second stakes win in a row. He earned a 110 figure for that effort and although going off form a bit since then, has a chance to redeem himself here. One of those three races since was on dirt, a surface he has no fondness for, and the other was a seven furlong prep for this race over the course in July when fifth of 10 in the Connaught Cup Stakes. Since then Shirl’s Speight put in an exceptional five furlong workout (59.4, best of 46 on the day) which signals he’s coming back to top form. Although his top form appears to be a bit short of the best form of Ivar and Modern Games, I wouldn’t rule Shirl’s Speight out as a contender in this race based on his tremendous Maker’s Mark Mile effort earlier this year.

Finest Sound has more second place finishes (five) than wins (four) in his career but like Modern Games he has been running with some of the best in Europe this year. He finished second in the Celebration Mile Stakes in his most recent race, earning a 116 figure, just shy of the 120 career-best earned in March when second in the Jebel Hatta Stakes and his regular rider, Andrea Atzeni, comes over from England to ride.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Ivar can be considered for a win bet at 2 to 1 or higher, while Shirl’s Speight and Finest Sound can be considered at 5 to 1 or higher.

Provided we’re willing to try to beat favorite Modern Games, there are opportunities for profit here. Considering Ivar opens at 4 to 1 and the other two open at 10 to 1 or higher, this is a good time to use the free dutching tool at Amwager to take the best advantage of the power of mathematics to help us make the most efficient bets we can.

Exactas: Box Ivar and Modern Games
Box Ivar, Modern Games and Shirl’s Speight
Box Ivar, Modern Games and Finest Sound
Ivar and Modern Games over Ivar, Modern Games, Wakanaka, Finest Sound, Shirl’s Speight and Homer Screen

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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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