Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 23


Singspiel Stakes – Race 8 at Woodbine – Post Time 4:57 PM Eastern


Pumpkin Rumble has banked more than $400K, over $300K of that on the grass. Interestingly enough, he earned his first turf win at Woodbine in his most recent race, three weeks ago, in an allowance optional claimer and that apparently impressed trainer Attard enough to bump him into this grade 3 stakes. Da Silva rode the gelding for the first time in a year and rides back and the pattern for improvement off 89 and 99 Equibase figure efforts following five months off is very solid. The horse won at 12 furlong on the main track last October so the distance is not a problem and the 8/1 odds compel me to make him the top pick as he’s as good as two other win contenders who offer much less profit potential for win bets.


Final Copy opens as the 5/2 second choice and Danish Dynaformer opens as the 2 to 1 favorite. Final Copy beat Danish Dynaformer by almost two lengths last time out on 5/25 with the latter not really having an excuse, but Danish Dynaformer sports a pair of wins at this marathon turf trip and although Final Copy missed by a nose at the distance last August he is winless in 3 tries. However, I don’t see Danish Dynaformer reversing the finish position from that last race with Final Copy so I will only use him in 2nd on exacta tickets.



As for the last of three main win contenders, Shahroze is 2 for 3 on grass since coming to the U.S. and is just a four year old so has improving to do off a neck win at Belmont last month following four months off. He is bred to run all day and with Graham motion shipping in from his Fair Hills base this horse has almost as much chance to post the upset as Pumpkin Rumble. Johnny Bear ran poorly in his 2018 debut last month following six months off but won the G1 Northern Dancer at the distance last year (off a win) so can be considered for exactas as well.



Win Bets: Pumpkin Rumble to win at 5/2, adding a place bet at 4/1 or more.

Make a second win bet on Shahroze at 7/2 or more, adding a place bet at 5/1 or more.

I don’t think Final Copy will go off at higher than fair odds of 3/1 but if he does he can be bet to win as well.

Note: To allocate your bets with the best edge, use a dutching tool like the one at Amwager.


Exacta Bets: Pumpkin Rumble, Final Copy and Shahroze over Pumpkin Rumble, Final Copy, Shahroze, Danish Dynaformer and Johnny Bear.


Optionally, play the opposite of that exacta as well. This way if the top three come in first and second we win the best two times and otherwise we have some saver coverage.


Race 5 at Santa Anita – Post Time 5 PM Eastern/ 2 PM Pacific


There are a few starter handicaps on the Saturday card at Santa Anita and my strategy in these races is to find the horses that have either won a starter allowance race previously or recently qualified for the level by running for the claiming price that makes them eligible when not having done so previously. Other things I look for are horses recently claimed as that shows a trainer looking at the condition book of upcoming races when claiming.



Any Questions was claimed one before last, out of a 3 lengths win at the 25K claiming level, then shipped to Golden Gate and run protected (not able to be claimed) in an allowance race. This was a smart move for veteran trainer Pederson to insure the horse kept in form. He won that mile turf race easily and he’s still protected at this starter level for horses which raced for 25K or less. Prat rode him in that win over the course on 4/21 and gets back on, a superb sign for a repeat effort.



Tough It Out gets the ground saving rail and like Any Questions has won two turf races in a row. Both wins came at a mile and the most recent in a starter allowance race. Both were with Desormeaux in the saddle as today and there’s no sign of declining form.



My Man Chuckles and Ky. Colonel have a decent shot to finish second and a minor chance to win. My Man Chuckles finished 2nd to Tough It Out last time out and Ky. Colonel won two of his last three races, both at the mile turf trip.



Win Bets: Any Questions at 2/1 or higher AND Tough It Out at 5/2 or more.


Exacta Bets: Any Questions and Tough It Out over Any Questions, Tough It Out, My Man Chuckles and Ky. Colonel.


Play the opposite of that exacta as well.


Ohio Derby – Race 10 at Thistledown – Post Time 5:10 PM Eastern


Pace scenario: Last Drop of Wine stretches out from a sprint from the extreme outside post and looks likely to want to lead from the start, with Flameaway likely to be on his heels. Diamond King won the Federico Tesio Stakes in April and has early speed, as does last month’s Tom Ridge Stakes winner Trigger Warning, who also stretches out to two turns off a number of sprints. Those are enough “Early” pace types to go fast and tire, setting up a trio for the major awards.


Off a strong win around two turns in February and following two months off, Title Ready won strongly with a career-best 101 Equibase figure then tried his hand in the Rebel Stakes one month later. Setting the pace for the first six furlongs, Title Ready eventually gave way to finish fourth behind Magnum Moon. After finishing fourth once again one month later in the Northern Spur Stakes, Title Ready rebounded with a competitive effort in the Sir Barton Stakes on a sloppy track at Pimlico on Preakness Day. The race has turned out to be very productive as third place finisher Prince Lucky (who finished four lengths behind Title Ready) won the Easy Goer Stakes and the sixth place finisher won his next race. As such, with good tactical speed and bred to run well at this mile and one-eighth trip as a grandson of Monarchos, Title Ready gets top billing to win this year’s Ohio Derby and in doing so can post the upset as his starting odds are 10 to 1.


Core Beliefs ran the best race of his career last month in the Peter Pan Stakes. After battling head-and-head for the lead from the start, Core Beliefs opened up to a two and one-half length lead with an eighth of a mile to go and although outfinished by Blended Citizen was four lengths clear of the next horse. Earning a career-best 108 figure with that effort at the distance of the Ohio Derby, Core Beliefs is another who may be capable of settling into third or fourth early as the pacesetters battle on the front end before rallying strongly and must be respected as a contender to win the race.


Lone Sailor is likely to be last, or nearly so, in the early stages of the Ohio Derby just as he was in the Louisiana Derby in March. In that race Lone Sailor began ninth of 10 and continually passed horses, making the lead with an eighth of a mile to go before engaging with eventual winner Noble Indy to be beaten a head on the wire. That effort earned Lone Sailor a strong 106 figure, which he duplicated in the Preakness with a rally from eighth in the early stages to be beaten two lengths at the wire. Since then, Lone Sailor has been working in spectacular fashion at his home base in Kentucky, his two most recent workouts being the best of 64 and the best of 30 on the day. Therefore, if able to navigate through traffic successfully, Lone Sailor could pass the other 11 entrants to win the Ohio Derby.


As for Flameaway, who opens at 5 to 2 odds, he could definitely be there at the finish and should be considered for exacta tickets. However, in spite of earning a 106 figure in February when winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes, it appears the fact he likes to be in front early combined with the fact he was outfinished in the last eighth of a mile in both the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass Stakes suggests he doesn’t have the capacity to outfinish the main contenders and win this race.


O’Kratos has the figures and form to compete but has never run on conventional dirt nor has his trainer had much success transitioning horses from all-weather to dirt. Nevertheless I will use him in second on exacta tickets. I will also use Dream Baby Dream, who finished second in the Sunland Derby earlier this year and who is trained by Asmussen the same as Title Ready.


Win Bets: Title Ready and Core Beliefs to win at odds of 3/1or higher. Add a place bet on Title Ready at 6 to1 or more.


Exacta Bets: Title Ready, Core Beliefs and Lone Sailor over Title Ready, Core Beliefs, Lone Sailor, Flameaway, O’Kratos and Dream Baby Dream.


Race 10 at Santa Anita- Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern/ 4:30 Pacific


Premium Forest ships in from Northern California, where turf racing is done for a while since the end of the Golden Gate meeting, to run in this turf race for Cal-Breds only. He beat Cal-breds when facing them for the 1st time in his 2nd career start in February, easily by five lengths, and his only other try was in a stakes, also his first try on grass. That was also his 2nd try around two turns, but before that in his first route, Premium Forest finished fast to miss by nose on the wire. Last out on 5/27 he rallied from last of 5 to win nicely and on the ship in and (technically) a drop in class he gets leading man Prat and is tied for the best last race Equibase figure in the field. He fits well here as he has two wins and except for one horse (Unusual Meeting, who is completely off form) the rest either have one or two career wins. He gets an inside post and has a big kick so opening at 8/1 Premium Forest is a key bet on the day.


Also worthy of consideration as a win contender is Save Ground, who took blinkers off for his last race, at this mile turf trip, and who earned his first win in his fifth career start. He was off 2 1/2 months then as now so can fire with a big shot.



Six Point Rack rallied for 2nd twice in a row among his last three starts and can get a piece, as can Cool Green, who stretches out to two turns off a turf sprint win and has won at a mile on grass previously.


Win Bets: Premium Forest to win at 2/1 or more and Save Ground to win at 5/2 or higher. Bet both using a dutching tool to help allocate you bankroll to your best advantage. You can do this easily using the tool at Amwager.


Exacta bets: Premium Forest and Save Ground over Premium Forest, Save Ground, Six Point Rack and Cool Green.


Doubles: Premium Forest and Save Ground in Race 10 with American Anthem, Touching Rainbows, Stone Hands and Dabster in Race 11.


Also Premium Forest, Save Ground, Six Point Rack and Cool Green in Race 10 with Stone Hands and American Anthem in race 11.

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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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