Key Horse Races & Expert Handicapper Bets - July 31, 2021

Jim Dandy Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga – Post Time 5:39 PM Eastern

MasqueparadeEssential Quality and Weyburn are the contenders to win.

Given Essential Quality opens as the 1 to 2 favorite, I have to start with Masqueparade, who opens at 4/1, as the horse to bet in this race in which the favorite no matter how tough, is NOT unbeatable. Masqueparade is a late bloomer who is a perfect two-for-two at nine furlongs, starting with an 11 length romp in May then a strong win in the Ohio Derby. The 108 and 105 Equibase figures tell me he can run just as well as Essential Quality, who has earned three straight 109 figures so isn’t really improving (nor is he declining). Masqueparade put in a very strong four furlong workout last week in preparation for the race, here at Saratoga and Mena, who was aboard for his last two wins, is riding back. He’s got a strong tactical speed style and in this race where it appears Keepmeinmind and Risk Taking will drop back, Masqueparade only needs to get past Dr Jack to lead from the start. However, if Weyburn, Dr Jack or even Essential Quality wants the early lead, Masqueparade can sit off the pace as he did in both previous nine furlong races and there’s no question in my mind he has the toughness to win.

Essential Quality needs no talking up. He won the Blue Grass Stakes at this trip, didn’t run as well as expected in the Derby then won the Belmont where his breeding certainly showed up. He also has tactical speed and can win, perhaps should win, but then again he’s no lock AND his odds make it so we should really hope Masqueparade or Weyburn gets the victory.

Weyburn ran the best race of his career last month in the Pegasus when coming up a neck short of Mandaloun and two and one-half lengths clear of the next horse (Dr Jack). Like, Masqueparade, Weyburn put in a strong workout at Saratoga for this race (59.4 for five furlongs and the best of 30 workouts at the distance on the day) and is bred to handle this trip just fine and make up for his poor fourth in the Wood Memorial at the distance in April. Irad Ortiz, Jr. replaces Davis and that may be worth more than the neck the colt was beaten last month.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Masqueparade to win at 2 to 1

For a smaller amount, Weyburn to win at 3 to 1.

Considering Masqueparade opens at 4 to 1 and Weyburn at 6 to 1 we may get odds good enough to bet both and in that case, we should use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating our wagering dollars for the best edge. A Dutching tool lets us set the amount you want to bet or the amount we want to win, then based on the odds our bets are proportioned accordingly. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.


Box Masqueparade and Essential Quality (the main exacta bet)

For smaller amounts Box Masqueparade and Weyburn, then also box Masqueparade and Dr Jack as well as Weyburn and Essential Quality


Race 9: Masqueparade

Race 10: Cross BorderChannel MakerMoon Over Miami

Race 9: MasqueparadeWeyburnEssential QualityDr Jack

Race 10: Cross BorderMoon Over Miami

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Bowling Green Stakes – Race 10 at Saratoga – Post Time 6:13 PM Eastern

Cross BorderMoon Over Miami and Channel Maker are the three contenders to win.

Cross Border was sent to post at 2 to 1 odds in last year’s Bowling Green and after missing by a head on the wire was placed first when interfered with by original winner Sadler’s Joy. I’ll not ignore the fact he is winless in eight since BUT his most recent race was identical to the prep before last year’s Bowling Green in that he ran big, this year missing by a neck while last year winning the Lubash Stakes (restricted to New York breds only). Saez rode Cross Border for the first time last month and chooses to ride back and that’s a big sign as Saez is having a brilliant meeting to date. With a two-for-two record at this 11 furlong turf trip and better still a record of 5-1-0 in six career turf races at Saratoga, Cross Border could prove to be a gift as he opens at 9 to 2.

Moon Over Miami just ran brilliantly in the Grade 1 Man O’ War Stakes at this distance in May and hasn’t been since while Man O’ War winner Channel Cat came back and finished a badly beaten seventh in the Manhattan Stakes last month. Moon Over Miami is a lightly raced four year old (just 13 tries) in the top barn of Bill Mott (who saddled three of eight here) and rallied from 15 back in the Man O’War to miss by a head to Gufo and another nose to Channel Cat. Gufo came back to run a big third in the Manhattan then won. Last summer Moon Over Miami won the $700K Dueling Grounds Derby at nearly this 11 furlong trip so has everything it might take to run well enough to win. Interestingly enough he opens at 7 to 2, lower odds than Cross Border.

Channel Maker is the one to catch, as usual. He won this race in 2018 then was fourth each of the last two years. Last year he did not make the lead but when put on the lead by Franco (who rides here) in the Sword Dancer four weeks later at Saratoga, he won. Five weeks later under Franco Channel Maker won the Grade 1 Turf Classic and he was only beaten a length in the Breeders’ Cup Turf before taking time off. Returning from four months off and a trip to Saudi Arabia and Dubai, Channel Maker will be fresh and on an uncontested lead early, from where he might get brave once again. However, he opens as the 5 to 2 favorite so will be a poorer win bet than either of the other two win contenders.

Handicapper Picks

Win betsCross Border AND Moon Over Miami if both go to post at odds of 5 to 2 or more. If not, whichever is 5 to 2 or higher near post time.

This is another race where a DUTCHING tool does us a lot of good and helps us to make a profit. A Dutching tool, like the one which is free to use at, saves us doing the math to determine the right wagering amounts.

Exactas: Box Cross BorderChannel Maker and Moon Over Miami

Also, Cross Border and Moon Over Miami over ALL

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Bing Crosby Stakes – Race 10 at Del Mar – Post Time 9:30 PM Eastern / 6:30 PM Pacific

Vertical ThreatC Z Rocket and Dr. Schivel are the win contenders.

Vertical Threat is a perfect three-for-three in sprints. Each of those three wins came at the six furlong distance of the Bing Crosby. One of those wins came at Del Mar last summer when, in only the second start of his career, Vertical Threat won the Smiling Tiger Stakes. That effort earned him a career-best 107 Equibase Speed Figure off a 102 figure one month earlier. After a failed attempt at a longer distance in the Pat Day Mile last September, Vertical Threat rested two months and shipped to Ohio for a dominant performance with a field high 118 figure winning the Steel Valley Sprint Stakes in a field of 12. In this year’s Bing Crosby there is likely to be a contested early pace battle between Quick Tempo and Brickyard Ride, who have only won when leading from the start. Considering Vertical Threat closed from off the pace to win last June then again in July in the Smiling Tiger, the colt could get first run on the tiring leaders and hold off any horses farther back in the early stages. Additionally, he’s very likely to be stronger as a four year old so having put in some superb workouts for his comeback, Vertical Threat has a fine chance to keep his perfect record at the distance intact to win.

C Z Rocket has won 11 of 26 career races including four of eight at this distance. He also won the only time he ever raced at Del Mar. That win came last year when taking the Pat O’Brien Stakes at seven furlongs in August with a 110 figure. C Z Rocket is even faster at this six furlong trip, as he earned a 117 figure last September when victorious in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Not disgraced one bit when second behind Whitmore in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last fall, C Z Rocket won his first two starts of 2021, first with a 111 figure in the Hot Springs Stakes then a 114 in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap. Stretching out to a mile and running over a sloppy track, C Z Rocket was second in the Steve Sexton Mile in May and on the cut back to his best distance has every right to rebound to a winning effort.

Dr. Schivel, like Vertical Threat, has only run five times. He improved markedly last summer at Del Mar when easily winning to break his maiden in his third career start (with a 108 figure) before victory in the Del Mar Futurity as the betting favorite. Taking his time to get back to the races, Dr. Schivel returned in June as if he had never been away as he relaxed in fourth in the early stages before getting up by a neck right on the wire. That effort earned him a new career best 109 figure from which he should improve in his second start off the layoff, and as a previous grade 1 stakes winner, Dr. Schivel could certainly run well enough to win.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Assuming C Z Rocket will be the prohibitive favorite, bet Vertical Threat and Dr. Schivel at 5 to 2 or higher.

This is another race where a DUTCHING tool does us a lot of good and helps us to make a profit. A Dutching tool, like the one which is free to use at, saves us doing the math to determine the right wagering amounts.

Exacta: Box Vertical ThreatC Z Rocket and Dr. Schivel

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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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