Key Races & Bets for Saturday, December 1

Remsen Stakes – Race 8 at Aqueduct – Post Time 3:12 PM Eastern

Jungle Warrior, Network Effect and Maximus Mischief comprise the bulk of the probability to win this year’s Remsen, but only one of the three is a good win bet and that is Jungle Warrior, who opens at 8/1 compared to 7/5 for Network Effect and 6/5 for Maximus Mischief. The key to those decent odds holding up is this colt is running on dirt for the first time after two turf races to start his career. He debuted in August with a big effort when rallying from last of 11 to win by a head then he ran okay when finishing 5th after being 12th early in the Grade 2 Natalma Stakes on the turf at a mile. He did improve his Equibase figure even though 5th in the Natalma, to 87, a far cry from the 99 to 106 figures the two favorites have earned in their four starts combined to date, BUT this colt could be a whole different horse not only on dirt but also now in the care of Jimmy Jerkens, who is having a banner year. Jose Ortiz getting on is the first sign the colt can do and although sire Animal Kingdom is known for turf and all-weather, the dam (Harissa) won 6 of 13 on dirt INCLUDING the Barbara Fritchie around one turn and the Sunland Park Oaks around two turns. With Maximus Mischief having earned both wins leading from start to finish and with Chinomado, Gladiator King and Tax all likely to  be close up early pushing the pacesetter, and PARTICULARLY with NONE having run this far, there is every reason to believe Jungle Warrior may be able to get a perfect trip and post the upset.

For multi-race tickets like the pick 3 (with a recommendation below), I will use both
Network Effect and Maximus Mischief. Network Effect should get a great trip like Jungle Warrior and although beaten nearly two lengths last out in the Nashua he was seven clear of the third horse in a big effort with a field high 106 Equibase Figure. Its possible Maximus Mischief clears early and never looks back and I like the stretch out from seven to nine furlongs but he did regress from a 102 debut figure to 99 and it was at Parx so he’s got a few hurdles to overcome.

Bets: Jungle Warrior
to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Pick 3 (two tickets):

Race 8 – Jungle Warrior, Network Effect and Maximus Mischief

Race 9 – Sunny Ridge, Pat On the Back, Copper Town and Patternrecognition

Race 10 – Quest for Fire

Race 8 – Jungle Warrior

Race 9 – ALL

Race 10 – Quest for Fire


Cigar Mile Handicap – Race 9 at Aqueduct – Post Time 3:45 PM Eastern

Copper Town has tremendous upside and that’s why he appears to have the highest probability to win this year’s Cigar Mile Handicap. Making his career debut in a five and one-half furlong sprint in February 2017, Copper Town got the experience of a race out of the way then blew away his competition following six months off last September with a three and three-quarter length win in easy fashion. Bettering that effort less than one month later, Copper Town won by six lengths, beating favored Patternrecognition easily to earn a then career-best 103Equibase Speed Figure. Put on the sidelines after that race, Copper Town came back after a year off and ran as if he had never been away, easily winning by five lengths and earning a new career-best 108 figure. Todd Pletcher has had excellent success with back-to-back winners in dirt routes when the horse’s last start was a sprint, as the STATS Race Lens statistic reveals a 15 for 50 (30%) win rate over the last two years in this situation.  With his two prior wins coming in one-turn route races like the Cigar Mile and with a lot of improving to do physically in his second start back from a year on the bench, Copper Town could put his name in the hat to be one of the premier handicap division horses for 2019 with a win in this race.


Sunny Ridge entered the stretch one and one-half lengths behind Patternrecognition in the Kelso Handicap in September and crossed the wire one length behind so was no match for Patternrecognition that day. However, Patternrecognition was allowed to lead easily by a length from the start and to establish a steady rhythm, which is unlikely to happen in the Cigar because of Mendelssohn’s predisposition to lead from the start. As it appears likely Mendelssohn will once again lead from the start, with Patternrecognition pressing the pacesetter in second, Sunny Ridge may be in a great stalking spot in third in the early stages, much like he was three races back in July when rallying to win the State Dinner Stakes by three lengths with a career-best 114 figure, an effort which if repeated here may help him to gain the upset win.


Patternrecognition earned a 111 figure in the Kelso, which followed a career-best 113 figure effort in August following two months away. Patternrecognition shows up every time, as evidenced by a first or second place finish in nine of his 10 career races. Likely to be in the second position early if Mendelssohn goes to the lead as expected, Patternrecognition has the ability to take over before the other stalkers and closers get into high gear and therefore could win his second graded stakes race in a row.


Pat On the Back has been very competitive versus NY Breds of late, winning two of his last four starts and losing by inches in the other two. The best of the four was a one-turn route like this race, on July 13, in which he earned a 113 figure which if repeated gives him a shot to be very competitive at high odds, opening at 15/1.

Bets: Copper Town
to win at 9 to 5 or higher. Sunny Ridge to win at 3 to 1 or higher. Patternrecognition at odds of 3 to 1 or more (although I don’t anticipate him going post at those odds).

Don’t forget, 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.

Exactas: Box Copper Town, Sunny Ridge and Pattern Recognition, then also box Copper Town, Sunny Ridge, Pat On The Back and Pattern Recognition

Trifectas: Copper Town over Sunny Ridge, Pat On The Back and Pattern Recognition over ALL.

“IF” the pick 3 bet started in race 8 is dead (meaning neither Jungle Warrior, Network Effect or Maximus Mischief won), then play a double of Sunny Ridge, Pat On the Back, Copper Town and Patternrecognition in Race 8 with Quest for Fire in Race 9.

Race 10 at Aqueduct – Post Time 4:16 PM Eastern

Quest for Fire has only run once, winning his debut in March over the track at six furlongs. He  fired big fresh that day and appears capable of firing fresh again to move through this first allowance level for NY Breds in a field of 12 with a good post and Franco (up for the debut) riding back for the strong Baker Barn.


Wrong Ben is 4 for 11 but is still eligible for the level because although he broke his maiden at the same NY Bred straight maiden level as Quest For Fire, his other three wins came in claiming races. He does appear to be a need-the-lead type and there is other early speed in the race but he could be in the money at the least. Smokin Platinum lost by a nose and a head at the level over the track last month after breaking his maiden and is the other with a slight shot to win and a big shot to hit the board.

Bets: Quest for Fire
to win at odds of 8 to 5 or more. (Note: If alive in the pick 3 to Quest For Fire, a win bet may not be necessary).

Trifecta: Quest for Fire over Wrong Ben and Smokin Platinum over ALL.

Exacta (to cover Quest for Fire finishing second): Wrong Ben and Smokin Platinum over Quest For Fire.


Hollywood Derby – Race 7 at Del Mar – Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern / 3:30 Pacific

Raging Bull is one of two horses shipped from the east coast base of Chad Brown, the other being Instilled Regard who is trying turf for the first time and who is not a win contender in my opinion. Raging Bull brings along Joel Rosario, taking off a full day at Aqueduct where four graded stakes are being run, a big sign about how the jockey and his agent feel about this colt. Raging Bull won four of his first five races, all on turf, including the very similar Hall of Fame and Saranac Stakes this summer at Saratoga, in the latter finishing fast from 6th with a quarter mile to go and racing the last eighth of a mile in 11.5 seconds which is fast by any standards. He was beaten when a no-excuse fifth as the favorite in the Hill Prince Stakes two months ago but Brown didn’t ship just for the San Diego weather and if the colt is back in his summer form he’s going to be tough to beat.

River Boyne is the top three year old turf star, having won both the La Jolla in August and the Twilight Derby last month. Like Raging Bull, River Boyne also ran poorly as the favorite in one of his last three races, this one when third in the Del Mar Derby in September. His best is good enough to be there at the wire but he’s no standout.

Have At It beat Raging Bull when victorious in the Hill Prince in October then shipped west and missed by a half-length to River Boyne in the Twilight Derby. Shipped back to trainer Clement’s east coast base, Have At It is back in California and reunited with David Cohen, who was in the saddle for the Hill Prince win in his only start with the colt. Kazan ran poorly in the Twilight Derby but we can ignore the effort as the jockey lost the whip. He ran 2nd in the Del Mar Derby at 50/1 before that, finishing in front of River Boyne, and that may not have been a fluke as he won two in a row prior to that. Risky Proposition and Desert Stone round out the contenders for either win bets or inclusion on exacta tickets. Risky Proposition won the restricted Let It Ride stakes a few weeks back so has to improve to run as well at this grade 1 level BUT the win came over the course and the 113 figure is in range of the effort it’s going to take to run competitively here. Desert Stone was a nose behind Have At It and another half-length shy of River Boyne in the Twilight derby and can’t be ruled out with a similar effort.

Bets: Raging Bull to win at odds of 8 to 5 or more. River Boyne to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more Have At It to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Don’t forget, 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.

Exactas: Have At It, Kazan, River Boyne and Raging Bull over Have At It, Kazan, River Boyne, Raging Bull, Risky Proposition and Desert Stone.

Also turn that exacta above around as follows: Have At It, Kazan, River Boyne, Raging Bull, Risky Proposition and Desert Stone over Have At It, Kazan, River Boyne and Raging Bull.


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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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