Key Races & Bets for Saturday, August 17

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Del Mar Handicap – Race 7 at Saratoga- Post Time 8 PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific

Oscar Dominguez was 5 to 2 at post time in his most recent start, in June in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Stakes at one mile and three-quarters on turf. He ran very well as he was three paths wide at multiple points in the race and he closed creditably from eight back early to be beaten a half-length at the wire when second. Oscar Dominguez won at nine furlongs on grass prior to that, that race his second following nearly three months off and second since Baltas claimed him, with none of the three races since the claim races in which the horse could be claimed. This goes to how this top trainer feels about the gelding, which is important because he has a MUCH bigger chance to win then is suggested by his 12/1 opening odds here. Nearly one year ago to the day, Oscar Dominguez made a big move from seventh to lead in the stretch at this 11 furlong grass trip at Del Mar, run down late by Marckie’s Water but clearly second at 3 to 1 odds. Marckie’s Water went on to win the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham in May for Baltas, who apparently remembered how well Oscar Dominguez ran when deciding to claim in February. Now with two “A” races in a row under his belt, reunited with Talamo, who rode him to a win last October, and with the ground saving rail, Oscar Dominguez is a top contender in this race.

Ritzy A.P. also opens at high 12/1 odds and has something in common with Oscar Dominguez in that he was a head behind Marckie’s Water when third in the Grade 2 Eddie Read Stakes over the course last month. He missed by a half-length off a long nine month layoff before that and his third off the layoff effort could be a big effort.

Marckie’s Water has no knocks as he’s one-for-one at this 11 furlong turf trip and a Grade 2 stakes winner on turf. Pereira has ridden in three straight to two wins and the runner-up effort last month in the Eddie Read and the horse could easily win for the seventh time in his 18th career turf race.

We have value trying multiple exacta combinations because two of the three main contenders open at double digit odds so we will include United, The Great Day and Itsinthepost on some exacta tickets as well as on pick 3 tickets we play.

Bets: Both Oscar Dominguez and Ritzy A.P. to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more. “IF” Marckie’s Water is near 3 to 1 at post time I wouldn’t hesitate making a win bet on him as well.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exacta Boxes:
Oscar Dominguez, Ritzy A.P., Marckie’s Water and The Great Day.
Oscar Dominguez, Ritzy A.P., Marckie’s Water and Itsinthepost.
Oscar Dominguez, Ritzy A.P., Marckie’s Water and United

Doubles: Oscar Dominguez, Ritzy A.P. and Marckie’s Water in Race 7 with Into Chocolate, Classic Fit and Hollywood Hills in Race 8.

Torrey Pines Stakes – Race 8 at Del Mar – Post Time 8:30 PM Eastern, 5:30 Pacific

With a hot early pace expected courtesy of Kim K, Colonel Creed, Sneaking Out and Fighting Mad, all who have only shown a tendency to want to be in front and all who are drawn outside and will have to go fast to clear each other as well as the inside horses, Into Chocolate can get it done even if she is bet down below a ridiculous 12/1 morning line. She has improved in each of her last two starts, both at this mile trip, following her sprint debut, from 77 to 86 to a 99 Equibase figure and even though second last out that figure is second only to Fighting Mad as the best in the field, with that one’s figure earned in a sprint. Smith stays on and blinkers go on because in the stretch last out Into Chocolate didn’t pass after rallying on the turn. Those changes and the rail which allows her to sit tight in fourth early as the speedballs duel should help get her home on top here.

Classic Fit has done little wrong in five races, winning three times in a row before a runner-up effort in the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont. That was a ONE TURN race but she did win around two turns twice before that. The problem is the Mother Goose was a low rated race which only earned Classic Fit a 79 figure which gets her nothing here if repeated. However she had been off for six months before that so I expect her to improve.

Hollywood Hills won the seven furlong Fleet Treet Stakes for Cal-breds over the track last month, a career-best effort. She can get the extra furlong and loves to win, leading the field with a 6-for-12 career mark. Leparoux is in to ride other stakes and takes the call and the jock fits her closing style so opening at 12/1 we must consider her a contender.

Bets: Into Chocolate to win at odds of 3/1, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.
For a slightly smaller amount, Hollywood Hills to win at 5 to 1, adding a place bet at 7 to 1 or more.

Exactas: Box Into Chocolate, Classic Fit and Hollywood Hills.
Into Chocolate, Classic Fit and Hollywood Hills over ALL (because one of the pacesetters could hold on for second).

Del Mar Oaks – Race 9 at Del Mar – Post Time 9 PM Eastern, 6 Pacific

Hidden Message gets the slightest preference in a race in which nearly every one of the can win. Leading jockey Prat picks this filly making her U.S. debut and for good reason as she may have a class edge on these. She finished fourth, beaten a neck for third in the Group 3 Prix de Sandringham Stakes in June then she won a stakes race last month. She gets Lasix and has a mean kick and appears ready to run as well here as she did in Europe, which means she is likely better than any of these as those European fillies are much further along at this time of year.

Cambier Parc is the best of the rest as she’s one of two shipping in from New York for Brown with the other being Dogtag. Cambier Parc has won ALL three turf races she’s been in when the top three year old turf filly in the country, Concrete Rose, hasn’t been in the race. She got the last eighth of a mile in the Wonder Again Stakes on June 6 in 11 seconds, which is flying, so expect a big finish from this gal.

Both Hard Legacy and Maxim Rate have starting odds completely out of line with their probability to win in my opinion, with Mucho Unusual about the right odds (5/1) for her chances of success. Hard Legacy won a graded stakes at this nine furlong trip, the Regret Stakes, when last seen two months ago and Leparoux comes in to ride, giving up a whole day of mounts in New York. Hard Legacy won the first two starts of her career as well, both turf routes, so getting back into winning form after a couple of defeats following those first wins signals another big race could be forthcoming. Maxim Rate won the Senorita Stakes in May after coming up a nose shy at this nine furlong trip in the Providencia Stakes in April. She didn’t run as well in the Honeymoon (won by Lady Prancealot) but rallied pretty nicely at a mile in the San Clemente Stakes last month and could be putting in a nice late run at double digit odds. Mucho Unusual rallied from last of 10 under Smith to win the San Clemente, her third straight victory, and figures to be a factor once again.

Apache Princess, Dogtag, Lady Prancealot and Out of Balance have a look at the outcome as well in a wide open race.

Bets: This is where paying attention to the odds, and using a dutching tool, can come in especially handy. Hidden Message gets first preference for win bets at 5 to 2 or higher, with Cambier Parc playable to win at the same level but that’s unlikely as she may be bet heavily.

Hard Legacy, Maxim Rate and Mucho Unusual can be played for lesser amounts if 9 to 2 or higher, adding a place bet on any of them at 7 to 1 or more.

Exacta: Probably just for $1, Box Hidden Message, Cambier Parc, Hard Legacy, Maxim Rate and Mucho Unusual.

Doubles: ALL in race 9 with Campaign in race 10.
Hidden Message, Cambier Parc, Hard Legacy, Maxim Rate and Mucho Unusual in race 9 with Quip and Seeking the Soul in race 10.

Pacific Classic – Race 10 at Del Mar – Post Time 9:30 PM Eastern, 6:30 Pacific

Campaign is a lightly raced four year old who knows how to win, with five victories in 10 starts. Having shifted to the barn of top trainer John Sadler prior to his first start of 2019 in February, Campaign won that race with a stirring rally from ninth. He then stepped up in class to compete in the Santa Anita Handicap where he was not disgraced checking in fourth. Just eight days later on April 14, Campaign won the Tokyo City Stakes before shipping to New York to miss by a total of three-quarters of a length in a four horse blanket finish in the Brooklyn Handicap. Returning to his home base in southern California, Campaign won the Cougar II Handicap over the track last month in his most recent race. Those last four efforts earned strong Equibase figures of 110, 112, 109 and 111 which are as good as the 109 figure Seeking the Soul earned winning the Stephen Foster Stakes in June which will likely be one of the reasons Seeking the Soul is favored by the public to win this race. Cutting back from 12 furlongs to 10 furlongs is one factor in Campaign running as well or better in the Pacific Classic as he did in the Cougar. Another is the fact that John Sadler is one of the best trainers on the circuit, if not in North America, in graded stakes dirt routes. A STATS Race Lens query yields over the last five years Sadler has won 28 of 117 starts in these types of races, with 49% of those runners finishing in the money as well. As such, Campaign gets top billing to win this year’s Classic.

Quip is another lightly raced horse with tremendous upside potential as we move towards the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. Not only has he won four of nine career starts, we can make cases two of the five he did not win are irrelevant as one was his only try on a sloppy track he did not care for and the other came in a race where he had significant traffic issues. Consistently improving this year from a 100 figure when third in the Hal’s Hope Stakes in February, to a 105 figure in the Oaklawn Handicap in April, Quip took another big step forward in the Stephen Foster. Facing the much more accomplished Seeking the Soul, Quip battled head and head for the lead with Tom’s d’Etat for most of the early portions of the race then with Seeking the Soul for the length of the stretch before yielding by a neck on the wire. That effort earned a 108 figure and with another logical step forward Quip could turn the tables on Seeking the Soul at the least and very possibly run well enough to win.

Seeking the Soul makes his third start since traveling half way across the world to compete in the Dubai World Cup in March so he could run even better than when winning the Foster in June with a 109 figure. He earned the same figure in January when well beaten but clearly second in the Pegasus World Cup and his best effort came in the fall of 2017 when winning the Clark Handicap with a 117 figure. The one question regarding Seeking the Soul winning the Classic¸ however, is the same one facing nine of the 10 entrants in the race, as only Tenfold has won at the distance.

Honorable mention and consideration for use on exacta tickets must go to Tenfold, Mongolian Groom and Draft Pick. Tenfold won the 2018 Jim Dandy Stakes at nine furlongs with a 108 figure. What followed was a three race losing streak before he won the Pimlico Special at the distance of the Classic in May with a 102 figure. He was ninth in the Foster while never showing a bit of interest but if he rebounds to his Pimlico Special form he can run well. Mongolian Groom and Draft Pick ran well over the track last month in the San Diego Stakes, with winner Catalina Cruiser passing the Classic. Earning 114 and 112 figures, respectively, I can see either or both of these two horses being in the money in the Classic to complete the exacta or trifecta.

Bets: Campaign to win at 2 to 1 or more.
For a slightly smaller amount, Quip to win at 5 to 2 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exacta: Campaign, Quip and Seeking the Soul over Campaign, Quip, Seeking the Soul, Tenfold, Mongolian Groom and Draft Pick.

For half to two-thirds the amount of the exacta above (for example $1 if you play $2 on the combinations above):
Campaign, Quip, Seeking the Soul, Tenfold, Mongolian Groom and Draft Pick over Campaign, Quip and Seeking the Soul.

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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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