Key Races & Bets for Saturday, December 14

My Charmer Stakes – Race 7 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 3 PM Eastern

Take These Chains can post the upset, opening at 12/1. She won four of her first eight races through November 2018 and is winless in four since BUT two of those were grade 3 stakes and the other was a comeback turf sprint in October. There a few keys to her returning to form good enough to win, the first being that trainer Colebrook does very well with horses coming back from two to six months off as she is and another is Colebrook uses Saez sparingly but they do very well together. The rest appears to have done her a lot of good as she put in a sharp half mile (47.4) workout coming into the race, and her best effort, when fourth of nine and beaten a few lengths to Vasilika in the Grade 2 Buena Vista this past winter, could be good enough to win here.

Munchkin Money ships in from New York just as she did in January and when she did it 11 months ago she won two in a row. Castellano was up for both and has not ridden her since but gets on today and off a fourth place finish in a stakes at Belmont from which the third finisher came back from to win this mare who has earned over $400K could find herself back in the winner’s circle.

Altea was winless in nine races since coming to the U.S in March, 2018 but that streak ended with a strong win on the Aqueduct turf last month under Irad Ortiz, Jr., who rides back. She finished third and second in some stakes last year and now that she’s recovered top form has to be respected as a contender at least for exotics, but as for a win bet she’s not really playable opening at 3 to 1. Mitchell Road is another contender for exotics but unplayable to win, opening at 9 to 5. She won four in a row from last December through the Gallorette Stakes on Preakness weekend but is winless in three since. Two of those were tougher grade 1 stakes but she really had no excuse when third at 6 to 5 in the Ladies Turf in September so she’s no standout. For trifecta tickets we will toss in Na Pali Spirit, who has been in the money in 21 of 31 career races including a few stakes.


Take These Chains to win at odds of 7/2, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more
Munchkin Money to win at odds of 7 to 2.

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: Munchkin Money and Take These Chains over Mitchell Road, Na Pali Spirit, Altea, Munchkin Money and Take These Chains.

Mitchell Road, Na Pali Spirit, Altea, Munchkin Money and Take These Chains over Munchkin Money and Take These Chains.
The two exactas above represent plays trying to maximize profit while leaving out the lowest paying combination consisting of the two likely favorites Mitchell Road and Altea.

Trifecta: Box Mitchell Road, Na Pali Spirit, Altea, Munchkin Money and Take These Chains

Rampart Stakes – Race 8 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 3:30 PM Eastern

Pink Sands finished well but too late when rallying from seventh to third in the Pumpkin Pie Stakes last month in New York. The race turned out to be a KEY race from which a couple of horses came back from to win, and from which winner Saguaro Row returned from to finish a fine second in the Go For Wand Stakes. Jose Ortiz rides back and last year when Pink Sands shipped to Gulfstream off a similar effort at Aqueduct, she won TWO in a row under Ortiz, both strong wins which if repeated here could give her the upset victory, opening at 8/1.

Cairenn is equally likely to run well in my opinion, and also opens at 8/1. She set a fast pace in a similar one-turn mile takes at Churchill Downs last month, finally settling for third behind multiple stakes winner Sally’s Curlin. Runner-up Mylady Curlin returned to win a stakes a couple of weeks later and this gal who loves long one turn sprints like this has a big shot to pass a lot of horses late like she did one before last in a 75K stakes race at Colonial.

Baccarat Fashion is a very competitive filly who has been first or second in 10 of 12 career races on dirt, including a win at Gulfstream in September. She’s two for three since moving to the Walder barn and her 58.6 five furlong drill since raced as well as the fact Alvarado rides back following being up for both wins (the only two times he’s been aboard) all signal another “A” effort.

Other horses we may use for second on exacta tickets are Molto Bella, Tweeting and Cookie Dough, none of which I think are good enough to win.


Win Bet: Pink Sands and Cairenn to win at odds of 5 to 2.
Although unlikely, if Baccarat Fashion goes to post at 5 to 2 or more, she can be bet to win 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: Pink Sands, Cairenn and Baccarat Fashion over Pink Sands, Cairenn, Baccarat Fashion, Molto Bella, Tweeting and Cookie Dough.

Ft. Lauderdale Stakes – Race 9 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 4 PM Eastern

Marzo is reunited with Ricardo Santana, who rode him just once previously, when posting the 14 to 1 upset in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes one race before last in October. Claimed by Mike Maker two races prior to that, Marzo tipped his hand with a head defeat in a highly rated race at a mile and so this nine furlong trip should not pose the slightest problem to this gelding returning to stakes winning form.

Instilled Regard stays on turf off a fine finish from seventh to be beaten a half-length for the win last month. That followed six months off so he has improving to do and with Irad Ortiz, Jr. riding back this colt who has found a home on turf has every right to win.

Admission Office has missed the board just once in nine career races, all on turf. He closed late but very fast to miss by a pair of necks in the Grade 3 River City Stakes at this distance on turf last month, Jose Ortiz up then as now and in the saddle for both of the horse’s wins. He missed by a half-length in the Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes in June so fits on all counts.

Up the Ante is another likely contender in this deep field, with four wins and three runner-up finishes in 10 career races on turf. Last year as a three year old, Up the Ante led late and settled for second in the Saranac Stakes at this distance at Saratoga. He returned from three months off in August and won a classified allowance race, then was beaten a head, neck and half-length for the win in the Grade 3 Baltimore Washington Turf Cup. Red hot Paco Lopez gets on and the 6 to 1 odds offer more than enough value for a win bet if they hold up.

Cross Border is very tough to leave off any contender list, with four wins from his last five turf routes, the only poor effort in his last five races coming in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at 12 furlongs. He doesn’t have any other stakes experience so this is a step up but in his current form he must be used on any exacta and trifecta tickets played at the very least.

Regarding the morning line favorite, Channel Cat, I think he’s totally vulnerable even though he’s dropping from three straight grade 1 races. All were at 12 furlongs and he’s run twice at this nine furlong trip with only a third place finish to his credit. I think the distance is too short for him particularly as the last time he ran at the distance, in May, in a similar race, he finished a poor fourth of eight.


 Win Bets: Marzo and Instilled Regard to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

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 and Trifecta: Box Marzo, Instilled Regard, Admission Office, Up the Ante and Cross Border.


Remington Springboard Mile Stakes – Race 12 at Remington Park – Post Time 9:19 PM Eastern, 8:19 Central

Choosing between the two recent stakes winners from the Asmussen barn is a fairly difficult as both were impressive recently, but I’ll opt for Jungle Runner as he won the non-restricted Clever Trevor Stakes whereas Rowdy Yates defeated Oklahoma breds only in the Don C. McNeil. Not only that, but last year’s Springboard Mile winner Long Range Toddy had won the Clever Trevor six weeks earlier. It’s not coincidental Steve Asmussen trains both, and knows Jungle Runner is an improving type. Previous to the Clever Trevor, which was contested at seven furlongs, Jungle Runner broke his maiden at the same mile trip as the Springboard Mile so there are no questions about his ability to get the distance. Even though the career-best 80 Equibase Speed Figure earned in the Clever Trevor is only sixth highest last race figure in the field, considering Long Range Toddy improved by 10 points on this date last year I believe Jungle Runner is the one to beat. This is particularly true looking at the record his sire’s progeny in similar races using STATS Race Lens, which reveals sons and daughters of Candy Ride have won six of 18 two year old dirt route stakes races in the last five years, including Game Winner (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) and Mastery (Los Alamitos Futurity).

Embolden moves from turf to dirt and from a sprint to a route but I have no doubt he can handle both and run well. In his career debut in July, Embolden finished second to a six length winner (who repeated shortly thereafter). Breaking his maiden by 10 lengths in his second start with a sensational 96 figure, Embolden then won the Jamestown Stakes before a runner-up effort in the Futurity Stakes at Belmont. Adding blinkers for the Atlantic Beach Stakes last month, Embolden earned a new career-best figure, 98, while closing strongly from seventh to second. As a son of The Factor, racing well around two turns on dirt should be no problem so we can expect another competitive effort in the Springboard Mile.

Answer In is a recent maiden winner who interests me as a strong contender. In his debut in September, Answer In rallied from seventh of 12 early and drew off early in the stretch only to be run down and beaten a nose on the wire. The winner of that race, South Bend, proved to be a quality horse when winning the Street Sense Stakes in his next start. Answer In took a similar step forward to win by five lengths in “ridden out” fashion at the end of October, earning a career-best and field high 103 figure. Answer In gets top jockey Javier Castellano to ride and is in the hands of excellent trainer Brad Cox, who has won with four of just 13 horses he’s stretched out off a maiden win in a sprint and into stakes competition in the last three years. As such, I think Answer In should be considered a strong contender in this field.


Win Bets: Jungle Fighter to win and place at odds of 3 to 1 or more.
Consider a win bet on Embolden at 3 to 1 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.

Exactas: Box Jungle Fighter, Embolden and Answer In.
Jungle Fighter, Embolden and Answer In over ALL.

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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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