Key Races & Bets for Saturday, December 8

Race 4 at Aqueduct – Post Time 1:47 PM Eastern

In a one-turn mile maiden race for New York breds, I’m going to take a shot with Overland, who opens at 10/1. When I see a horse in the top four in a previous race with a huge margin of defeat such as the 13 3/4 length margin behind the winner Overland was first time out, I take a quick look at the company line because once in a while that margin is deceiving if the winner or winner and runner-up dominated by many lengths. That is the case with Overland’s debut on 10/20 at Belmont at the level, because the winner won by almost seven lengths and there was another four length gap to the third horse. In reality, Overland actually ran okay, passing horses from 10th to 4th over the course of the race. He’s been gelded since then, gets a good outside post to stalk the pacesetters, and best of all the race has turned out to be a KEY RACE from which the 2nd and 3rd horses both came back from to win. Overland is the 4th foal of his dam and the other three all turned out very nicely as one was a first out winner and the other two won 2nd time out. Brad Cox is having a career best year and has won with 25% of over 100 2nd time starters in the past two years so there is a lot of improving this gelding can do.

Bets: Overland to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 odds or higher.

Double: Overland in Race 4 with Yorkiepoo Princess, Sower and Vertical Oak in Race 5.

Optionally play Overland in Race 4 with ALL (five horses) in Race 5.

Maryland Juvenile Futurity – Race 4 at Laurel – Post Time 2 PM Eastern

Alwaysmining ran a “Breakout” kind of race in his most recent start on 10/27 at Laurel, dominating by 10 lengths. That was his first dirt start since changing trainers to Rubley and changing jockeys to Centeno and I feel strongly the same “go to the front and widen” tactics will be used here. That last race was a one-turn mile and this is seven furlongs so there are no issues regarding the distance and he may actually have a little more to give in the stretch running a furlong less.

Our Braintrust is undefeated in two starts including the Tremont Stakes in June and therein lies the main concern. He won his debut on May 3 then the Tremont and something put him on the sidelines since then. He’s worked very well and could come back running but may be tough to bet (to win at least) at low odds with the question of what happened this summer over his head. Scrap Copper ran badly just once, in the similar Maryland Millions Nursery Stakes, but we can completely draw a line through the race as he stumbled badly at the start. Otherwise, he’s nearly perfect, with two wins and a nose defeat. Scrap Copper is working well, comes off a stakes win with a 91 figure three points better than the 88 Alwaysmining earned in recent win, and McCarthy rides him back. Scrap Copper is a strong contender but like Our Braintrust not nearly as good a win bet as he opens at 2 to 1 compared to 5/1 for Alwaysmining.

V.I.P Ticket and Sky Magician just finished 2nd and 1st, respectively, in a maiden race run much more slowly than the most recent efforts of Alwaysmining and Our Braintrust as they Sky Magician earned a 79 figure, V.I.P. Ticket as 73 figure. However, two year olds can improve a lot from one race to the next so I will consider them for 2nd on exacta tickets and for 3rd on trifecta tickets.

Bets: Alwaysmining to win at 2 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

Exacta: Alwaysmining over Our Braintrust, Scrap Copper, V.I.P. Ticket and Sky Magician.

Trifecta: Alwaysmining over Our Braintrust, Scrap Copper, V.I.P. Ticket and Sky Magician over Our Braintrust, Scrap Copper, V.I.P. Ticket and Sky Magician.

Garland of Roses Stakes  – Race 5 at Aqueduct – Post Time 2:17 PM Eastern

Sower is very likely to be the “lone front runner” in this short field and that gives her an edge. Winner of the similar Pumpkin Pie Stakes when last seen on 10/28, she was entered in the tougher Grade 3 Go For Wand Stakes last weekend then scratched to run here by Rice. Sower also won the Jersey Girl Stakes by almost five lengths in June. Rice has a very nice record with horses coming off a win over the past two years, winning nearly 25% of the time and with those starters finishing 1st or 2nd 46% of the time.

Yorkiepoo Princess had a “breakout” effort last out on 11/25 over the track in the Autumn Days Stakes, dominating seven other horses by nearly six lengths. That was the margin of victory in her previous race and she improved to a career best 107 Equibase figure, as good as any winning figure earned by even money favorite Vertical Oak, who is running at Aqueduct for the first time with Cancel riding for the first time as well, making her tough to be to win as the prohibitive favorite. On the other hand, Yorkiepoo Princess opens at 5/1 and is very playable with a 2 for 3 career record over the track.

Bets: Sower and Yorkiepoo Princess to win at odds of 2 to1 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.

Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial Stakes – Race 7 at Laurel Park – Post Time 3:30 PM ET

Rockinn On Bye opens at 7/2 even though he just beat the 8/5 morning line favorite Lewisfield when Rockinn On Bye was 2nd and Lewisfield 3rd in the Fabulous Strike Stakes last month. Lewisfield had no excuse for being out finished by Rockinn On Bye, who we can expect to run even better 2nd off the sharp claim by Gonzalez and sharp placement here as the horse moves from “open” (non-restricted) stakes to this stakes for Maryland breds or sired only. Carrasco, who wins nearly 1/3 of the time for the trainer, gets back on after getting familiar with the gelding, whose 100 last race figure is tied with Laki (out of a similar runner-up effort in a stakes) for the best last figure in the field. Rockinn On Bye may have three times as many runner-up finishes (21) as wins in his career but that could start to turn around in his new trainer’s care.

Lewisfield, Laki and Sonny Inspired all have a shot to run second behind the top pick.

Bets: Rockinn On Bye to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Exacta: Rockinn On Bye over Lewisfield, Laki and Sonny Inspired.

For about half the amount you play the above exacta, play the reverse, which is Lewisfield, Laki and Sonny Inspired over Rockinn On Bye.

Trifecta: Rockinn On Bye over Lewisfield, Laki and Sonny Inspired over Lewisfield, Laki and Sonny Inspired.

Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity  – Race 5 at Los Alamitos – Post Time 5:28 PM Eastern

Extra Hope took four races to finally break through but he did so in a big way when blinkers were added, coasting home to nearly a nine length win in October when trying the distance of the Cash Call Futurity for the first time. That effort earned a 101 Equibase Speed Figure, the best figure earned by any horse in the field. Cutting back to seven furlongs for the Bob Hope Stakes last month, Extra Hope ran pretty evenly around the track when fifth after a quarter mile and fourth at the wire, proving no match for winner Mucho Gusto and runner-up Savagery. However, the return to two-turns, particularly as only one other horse in the field (Dueling) has run two-turns on dirt, could signal a return to the form shown in October.  That effort is better than the rest of the field and as such if Extra Hope can repeat it, he should win.

Dueling is the other horse to have won a two-turn race on dirt. He did so in his third career start, first route, at the end of September, earning a 100 figure in the process under jockey Mike Smith. Smith did not ride Dueling in his next start when a well beaten sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but returns to the saddle for this race. Although the Juvenile and this Cash Call Futurity both carry a grade 1 ranking, this is an easier spot compared to the Juvenile. Dueling has a very nice chance to repeat, or improve upon, his route effort one before last and if he does either he would be very competitive in this field.

Improbable and Mucho Gusto are saddled by Baffert, who continues to dominate this race. Baffert has trained the winner of this race four years in a row and, perhaps even more impressively, in seven of the last 10 editions of the race. Improbable broke his maiden at the end of September in his debut at the distance of six furlongs with a strong 94 figure then ventured to Kentucky to win the non-graded Street Sense Stakes by seven lengths with a 100 figure. Improbable is an improving type but is trying two-turns for the first time so is giving experience away to both Dueling and Extra Hope in that regard. Mucho Gusto won the Bob Hope Stakes last month with a 100 figure after a 96 figure effort in his debut. He made that improvement going from six furlongs to seven furlongs and can certainly improve once again, but like his stablemate, Mucho Gusto is trying two-turns for the first time. Of the pair, I might give a slight probability edge to Improbable based on his rail draw but overall both should be counted as contenders to win this race.

Bets: Extra Hope to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher. For a smaller amount, Dueling to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher.

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.

Exacta: Extra Hope and Dueling over Extra Hope, Dueling, Improbable and Mucho Gusto.

Starlet Stakes  – Race 7 at Los Alamitos – Post Time 6:28 PM Eastern

Oxy Lady might be four-for-four if not for a neck defeat first out in August and a head defeat one before last in October. She shipped from Kentucky to New York for the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes and added blinkers to post a career-best 96 Equibase figure and the 36 to 1 upset last month and has been working fantastically since. She ships from trainer Sisterson’s Kentucky base to California and brings along jockey Cannon, up for her dominating win last month. Sisterson was a former O’Neill assistant before going out on his own and has many of the fine Calumet Farm runners like this filly by Oxbow who could be any kind and who has a big shot to post the mild upset, opening at 5/1 particularly as she has run two-turns twice, winning once, whereas the heavy favorite is trying two turns for the first time.

Chasing Yesterday is that heavy favorite, with a 3 for 4 career record including two stakes wins, both in listed stakes and short fields of 5 and 3. She’s a half-sister to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and much is expected of her but the hype is big and she will be the odds-on favorite again so offers no value for a win bet. On the other hand, besides Oxy Lady, Chasing Yesterday is really the only other horse with the bulk of the probability to win.

Bets: Oxy Lady to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.

Exacta: Oxy Lady and Chasing Yesterday over Oxy Lady, Chasing Yesterday, Vibrance, Mother Mother and Sold It.

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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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