Key Races & Bets for Saturday September 24th, 2022

Turf Monster Stakes – Race 9 at Parx – Post Time 4:04 PM Eastern

Pace scenario: That’s Right draws the rail, wears blinkers and is an absolute need-the-lead type, but he can’t shake Uncle Ernie and perhaps others so I expect the opening half-mile to be just over 44 seconds, a much faster than average fraction even for this level, and one which sets up some closers nicely.

Nothing Better gets top billing as he is on a fantastic pattern of four straight improving Equibase Speed Figures since returning off a seven month layoff in May, the last a career-best 108 figure in a mile race on grass where he finished second. Cutting back in distance he’s going to have a big kick under Saez, who only rode him once previously, to a head defeat in the race right before the layoff.

Smooth B should be able to drop closer to the rail before the turn as many in here show their tactical speed, allowing him to be in the same position he was in a statebred stakes on dirt (scheduled for grass) last month when he rallied from third and won by three lengths. Pennington was up for that race and rides back and although he has not won in 11 career tries on grass he’s finished second or third in five of those and can easily add to that number here, perhaps even running good enough to win for excellent trainer Robert Reid, Jr.

Surprise Boss had no chance to get good position last month in the Mahony Stakes when he was bumped at the start but his four races prior to that, all turf sprints, were all good enough to win this or be in the exacta today if repeated. He won at Belmont on June 4, then was second, then third (a half-length from second) in the similar Quick Call Stakes and the jockey change to Irad Ortiz, Jr., who has NEVER ridden for this trainer, speaks tons for this colt’s chances.

Handicapper Picks

Win: THREE to ONE are the minimum odds to consider for making a win bet on any of the three contenders – Nothing Better, Smooth B and Surprise Boss and the plan is to bet TWO of the three which are the highest odds near post time.

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 Nothing Better, Smooth B and Surprise Boss

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Cotillion Stakes – Race 11 at Parx – Post Time 5:20 PM Eastern

I feel pretty strongly 2 to 1 morning line favorite Secret Oath is vulnerable here, and certainly the odds aren’t relative to her probability to win given at least three other horses, combined, have a about a 75% chance to win. Those three are Green Up, Society and Shahama, with Gerrymander not without a chance to win, as well as Secret Oath, but both are secondary win contenders.

Green Up is one of THREE from the Pletcher barn, opening at 6 to 1 in spite of Irad Ortiz, Jr. riding and the rail. She’s won four of five including both since returning from a layoff in July, and she’s STILL IMPROVING, having gone from an 86 Equibase Figure effort in April, to 99 in July to a FIELD HIGH 109 figure effort last month winning the Catherine Sophia Stakes here at Parx. Ortiz has been up for both wins, in two races which he’s ridden here, and she’s got a huge shot to post the mild upset here just by repeating that last race.

Society is the one the other eight have to catch to win, and the nine post should not be an obstacle as there is essentially no other need-the-lead type in the field. She has won four of five just like Green Up, her only loss coming when she stumbled at the start of the CCA oaks. Her win in the Charles Town Oaks ( a two-turn seven furlong race) last month earned a 105 figure so with any improvement she could run a lot better than her 8 to 1 starting odds suggest, and she could add to the tremendous year Gun Runner is having with his progeny in stakes races.

Shahama is another Pletcher trainee, and like her stablemate Green Up she’s improved nicely in every start. After importing to the U.S. over the winter she finished sixth in the Kentucky Oaks with a 97 figure, then improved to 103 when second to Gerrymander in the Mother Goose, then won the Monmouth Oaks easily with a 106 figure on July 31 at the distance of this race. As such, she’s also on a pattern to improve and is another opening at 8 to 1 which we have to take very seriously.

Gerrymander won the Mother Goose with a career-best 107 figure but that was a one-turn route at Belmont. She didn’t do much in the Alabama after that but may have found 10 furlongs too far. Rosario was up for the Mother Goose, not the Alabama, and gets back on, suggesting a rebound to form good enough to be competitive here. Secret Oath will be favored as she was second to Nest in both the CCA Oaks and Alabama and Nest isn’t running here, but after her big Kentucky Oaks effort with a 105 career-best figure, she’s only managed 95, 92 and 103 figures since. Sure, she can win, but she’s no standout by any measurement.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Green Up is a KEY BET to win on the day at 2 to 1 or more.

Society AND Shahama can be considered for win bets at 3 to 1 or more.


This is absolutely another race in which we can maximize our profit using a dutching tool like the one which is free (and easy to use) at



Green Up, Society and Shahama over Green Up, Gerrymander, Secret Oath,  Society and Shahama

Green Up, Gerrymander, Secret Oath,  Society and Shahama over Green Up, Society and Shahama


Race 11: Green Up, Society and Shahama

Race 12: Cyberknife, Tawny Port, Taiba

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Pennsylvania Derby – Race 12 at Parx – Post Time 6:10 PM Eastern

Although Cyberknife and Tawny Port have both called the Brad Cox barn home throughout their entire careers, consisting of 18 races combined, they have never faced one another until now. Tawny Port may actually be the faster of the pair at this point in time and certainly will offer better betting value, having just a pair of grade 3 stakes wins to his credit in the Lexington Stakes in April and in the Ohio Derby in June. However, his pattern of improving Equibase Speed Figures is unmistakable, having earned a 100 figure when seventh in the Kentucky Derby before improving to 107 in the Ohio Derby, then improving again to 108 although third in the Jim Dandy Stakes. In the Jim Dandy, Tawny Port tracked the pacesetters in third in the early stages then moved to within three-quarters of a length with an eighth of a mile to go. Although no match for Epicenter, who won the Travers Stakes one month later, Tawny Port showed a lot of physical and mental ability to the wire, finishing just a half-length from runner-up Zandon at the end. With North American leading jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. riding Tawny Port as he did in both the Ohio Derby and in the Jim Dandy, and with the best last race Equibase Speed Figure in the field and with more improvement possible, Tawny Port can post the mild upset and win this year’s Pennsylvania Derby.

Cyberknife ran two big races in a row in February and April, the second of which was a strong victory by nearly three lengths in the Arkansas Derby. Then following his poor 18th place effort in the Kentucky Derby, Cyberknife resumed his winning ways by winning both the Matt Winn Stakes and Haskell Stakes, both with career-best 104 figures. In the Travers Stakes last month and facing Epicenter for the first time since the Kentucky Derby (in which Epicenter finished second), Cyberknife was no match for the leader in the three year old division as the winner drew off by five and one-quarter lengths. Just the same, Cyberknife was exceptionally game in holding off Zandon by a nose at the wire, earning a 103 figure nearly the same as in his two previous starts. Given Cyberknife has the ability to lead early if need be, or to relax off the pace which is likely with We the People logically the early leader, Cyberknife can be counted on once again for an “A” effort good enough to win this race.

Taiba is the most lightly raced horse in the field, having run just four times. Having run just twice going into the Kentucky Derby may have been his undoing as he faded from fifth in the early stages to 12th at the end. Returning as a much more mature horse in the Haskell Stakes in July, Taiba not only earned a career best 104 figure on par with winner Cyberknife and the second best last race figure in the field, he showed a lot of mental toughness by battling head and head with the winner for the entire last eighth of a mile. Having put in a series of very strong workouts at trainer Bob Baffert’s home base in California since that race, and possibly more physically and mentally mature as when last seen two months ago, Taiba rounds out the trio of contenders which appears to have an edge over the other entrants in this year’s Pennsylvania Derby.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Tawny Port at 2 to 1 or more

Tawny Port over Zandon, Skippylongstocking, Cyberknife, We the People, Taiba and White Abarrio
Zandon, Skippylongstocking, Cyberknife, We the People, Taiba and White Abarrio over Tawny Port

Cyberknife, Tawny Port and Taiba over Zandon, Skippylongstocking, Cyberknife, We the People, Taiba and White Abarrio (in both second and third position).

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BONUS RACE – Downs at Albuquerque Handicap – Race 6 at Albuquerque – Post Time 8:10 PM Mountain Time / 10:10 PM Eastern Time

Zestful has won 13 of 43 races and placed in 10 more, and he’s been in the money in all five this year and the last two starts of 2021. He won at seven furlongs over the track three weeks ago and has won three of seven at nine furlongs so appears very tough in this situation.

Offshore Affair has won four of 10 this year and last including THREE in a row. He was claimed for 40K last month and the winner’s share here is $120K, a three x profit for the new connections including high percentage trainer Diodoro, who has a record in this situation consisting of four wins from 10 starts in the last five years when claiming a horse and putting it right into a stakes race. All signs point to another top effort.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Offshore Affair and Zestful at 2 to 1 or more

Offshore Affair and Zestful over Offshore Affair, Mine That Star, Zestful, Fleetridge and Sheriff Brown
Offshore Affair, Mine That Star, Zestful, Fleetridge and Sheriff Brown over Offshore Affair and Zestful

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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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