Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 12

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Nearctic Stakes -Race 7 at Woodbine -Post Time 4:30 pm Eastern

Blind Ambition is a fairly legitimate favorite, opening at 5/2, but there is value in another trio of contenders who would not be a surprise if winning and especially if completing the exacta at decent odds. Blind Ambition won on 9/6 following nine months off and even though the win came in a classified allowance (Not a stakes) it was a top effort with a low level stakes quality Equibase Figure (106) he can improve upon second off the layoff. The horse earned a 115 figure last April (2018) wining the Elusive Quality Stakes on the Belmont turf and in that prep last month Blind Ambition showed a nice kick rallying from fourth which could be the winning move here as Yorkton, Boreal Spirit and Richiesinthehouse are ALL need-the-lead types bound to contest a hot early pace.

Woody Creek is a filly against boys, making her U.S. debut off a fifth of 16 finish in a stakes in England which was pretty good. She adds Lasix which gives credence to the thought she may have bled in that race so we should look back to races before last to assess her form. Doing so we find three straight big efforts beaten a neck or less in a group three stakes about as tough as this one. With Kimura getting on, likely to make the 110 pound assignment which is NINE pounds less than most of the field, Woody Creek cannot be ignored as she opens at 8/1.

Reconfigure has a 5-3-1 record in 9 races so it’s hard to ignore him either as he opens at 10/1. Since the claim by Tiller out of a three length win at this six furlong trip on turf in July, he’s run better and better, including when beaten by just three-quarters of a length to Blind Ambition one before last. The 105 figure earned in that race is rock solid here if Blind Ambition doesn’t run back to his 2018 form and that makes Reconfigure a strong contender in this current top form.

Lookin to Strike has a five for 13 record in his career, almost all on the main track, but he ran on to miss by a nose to Boreal Spirit one before last in a 100K allowance race when that one had an easy lead. This time, with pace to run into, and moving back to a turf sprint off an irrelevant route, Lookin to Strike is another at high odds (10/1 morning line) to consider.

We’ll also add City Boy, for second on exacta and trifecta tickets, who opens at 20/1, as he possesses a 2-6-2 record and likes to finish second a lot.

Win Bets: Blind Ambition to win at 2/1, a low odds overlay win bet.
Woody Creek to win at 3 to 1 or more.
Consider smaller win bets on Reconfigure and on Lookin to Strike at 9 to 2 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.

Exactas: Blind Ambition and Woody Creek over Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure, City Boy and Lookin to Strike.

Exacta Box: Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure and Lookin to Strike.

Trifecta: Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure and Lookin to Strike over Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure, City Boy and Lookin to Strike over Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure, City Boy and Lookin to Strike.

Pick 3:
Race 7 – Blind Ambition, Woody Creek, Reconfigure and Lookin to Strike.
Race 8 – Red Tea, Durance, Imperial Charm and Starship Jubilee
Race 9 – Ziyad and Desert Encounter

E.P. Taylor Stakes – Race 8 at Woodbine – Post Time 5:05 PM Eastern

Durance is one of three horses making their North American debuts and one of a trio of three year olds facing older. Both she and Imperial Charm faced older in their most recent races, with Durance finishing the better of the two when second in a group 2 stakes in Germany run at 12 furlongs on a left handed course like those in North America. Prior to that came the filly’s best effort yet, when third of 13 in the Grade 1 German Oaks. That effort, if repeated, is more than good enough to win and as she opens at 6/1 she gets top billing because of that.

Imperial Charm finished third in a Group 1 stakes in France in May, her best career effort, then after another third place effort took a couple of months off and ran third of seven in a non-graded race in France on 9/5. The grade 1 placing came at this 10 furlong trip on turf and like Durance, Imperial Charm adds Lasix for the first time, so although she enters the race off a poorer effort in easier company she has the potential to rebound to top form good enough to win.

Red Tea and Starship Jubilee open as the two morning line choices at 3/1 and 7/2, respectively. Both have a shot but don’t appear to offer the win betting opportunity as either of the previously two mentioned horses. Red Tea won a Group 1 stakes in Ireland in July but didn’t run as well in a Group 1 at 10 furlongs one month later. Those were tougher horses to be sure so if she can repeat her 7/21 effort she can win, but with a two for six record this year she may be as good as some of the others, but no better.

Starship Jubilee is the favorite of the locals, having just won the Canadian Stakes last month at 9 furlong on the course. She can win on the lead or from behind so Contreras will have the opportunity to see what transpires in the opening quarter mile before deciding on a strategy. Just the same, although a 13 time winner, Starship Jubilee’s best Equibase figures have been 105, compared to 114 and 109 for Durance, 116 and 110 for Imperial Charm and 114 and 118 for Red Tea, so she may have her work cut out for her.

Win Bets: Durance to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher. Consider a second win bet, on Imperial Charm, at odds of 7 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 and Trifecta: Box Durance, Imperial Charm, Red Tea and Starship Jubilee

Sands Point Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park – Post Time 5:13 PM Eastern

Not only are horses trained by Chad Brown routinely over bet (bet more heavily than they should be based on probability to win), sometimes they have less probability than others and those others offer excellent value. Such is the case here with Souper Escape, who opens at 8/1 while Brown’s New and Improved opens at 5/2. Souper Escape just won the La Lorgnette Stakes at Woodbine, albeit on the main all-weather surface, but that effort translates to the Belmont turf just fine. She had won a race on dirt but scheduled for turf two before that and she won at a mile on turf in April following three months off. As a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro she will have no problem handling the trip and the 92 last race Equibase Speed Figure is the BEST last race figure in the field, making her, not New and Improved, the one to beat.

Also worth considering is Ledecka, who opens at 12/1. This filly broke her maiden AT THIS 9 FURLONG TRIP the first time she tried it, one before last on 8/24, then won a 100K stakes on all-weather at Presque Isle Downs. That has turned out to be a KEY RACE, with the fourth and fifth finishers having run better to be second in subsequent starts and with the sixth and eighth horse both winning their next starts. Although the 84 and 83 figures from her last two races are below the 92 Souper Escape earned in her last race, Ledecka is still improving and has potential to outrun her double digit odds.

Bets: Souper Escape to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.
For about one-third to one-fourth of the amount you bet on Souper Escape, Ledecka to win at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

Pattison Canadian International Stakes – Race 9 at Woodbine – Post Time 5:42 PM Eastern

There’s really no play in this race so that’s why the pick three ticket started in race seven at Woodbine is the way to profit. There are six entered here and I would be extremely surprised if any horse other than Ziyad or Desert Encounter won the race. Unfortunately, Ziyad opens at even money and Desert Encounter the second choice at 2 to 1. Ziyad, who makes his North American debut, nearly beat Coronet in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint Cloud at the end of June then dropped just a hair to win the Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville and therefore has the best credentials of any of these by far. Guyon comes in from France to ride this gelding who has been extremely consistent throughout his career at this marathon distance amassing a 3-4-2 record from 10 races. Desert Encounter has run in North America previously, shipping in from Newbury in England to win last year’s Canadian at odds of 8/1. He prepped in the same race he finished third in last year, this year winning that race last month, and Atzeni, who rode him to victory last year and who has not ridden since in seven races, travels to Woodbine to ride again. Certainly if his 2/1 morning line holds up, Desert Encounter may be worth a win bet even if Ziyad is a bit more likely because he’s been this route before.

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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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