Key Races & Bets for Saturday, September 1


Saranac Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga – Post Time 5:39 PM Eastern


March to the Arch is one of three main win contenders, but as he opens at 10/1 compared to 7/2 and 2/1 for the other two we have to start with him. Winner of the Toronto Cup Stakes last out on 7/28, the gelding has now run three “A” races in a row, the last yielding a 102 Equibase figure which can be improved upon 2nd off a seven week layoff. That was a KEY race as the 2nd and 3rd finishers both came back to win stakes out of the race, one of the wins coming on the turf here at Saratoga and the other in Canada. With Jose Ortiz aboard this gelding has every right to add to his strong career record to date of 3 wins and two runner-up finishes in his six races since a poor debut in February.


Up the Ante also comes out of a KEY race, the Manila Stakes which he won on7/4 at Belmont. Runner-up Raging Bull came back to win the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes and will be favored in this race, and both the 4th and 5th finishers also came back to win their next starts. Considering Raging Bull improved from a 95 Equibase figure effort in the Manila to 113 in the Hall of Fame, there is every reason to believe Up The Ante can similarly improve (as can March to the Arch) and with Castellano riding back from the ground saving rail and the colt possibly having an early pace edge on the field, he is very strong contender here.


Raging Bull has won 3 of 4 races, finishing 2nd in the other, so doesn’t need much talking up. He won gamely by a nose in the Hall of Fame over Maraud after being soundly defeated by Up the Ante in the Manila one month earlier and his best effort should be good for an in-the-money finish at the least.


Bets: March to the Arch AND Up the Ante at odds of 5/2 or more, adding a place bet on March to the Arch at 5 to 1 or more. As always, when making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you.


Exacta: March to the Arch, Up the Ante and Raging Bull over ALL.

Box March to the Arch, Up the Ante and Raging Bull.


Doubles: March to the Arch, Up the Ante and Raging Bull in Race 9 with Restless Rider, Catherinethegreat and Chasing Yesterday in Race 10.


Tourist Mile Stakes – Race 8 at Kentucky Downs- Post Time 6:26 PM Eastern


The Wesley Ward trained pair of Bound for Nowhere and Master Merion, though uncoupled for wagering purposes, hold the upper hand here even in this wide open eight horse field competing for the winner’s share of $750,000. Bound for Nowhere is UNDEFEATED in all four of his starts in the U.S., the other three in Europe against some of the best turf stars in the world. Beaten just 3/4 of a length when 3rd of 12 at Royal Ascot in June, he previously won the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes in April at Keeneland and although he’s never run farther than 6 1/2 furlongs being by The Factor this mile trip is not an issue. Master Merion was (and may still be) the workmate for top turf star Lady Aurelia and was in fantastic shape at this time last September when winning the Franklin Simpson Mile Stakes over the course. He took the winter off following a win at Del Mar in November then missed by a half-length in his comeback this spring before a pair of irrelevant races, the first in his debut on All-Weather at Arlington and the most recent in the Royal Hunt Cup Stakes at Royal Ascot. Back in the U.S. and with a quintet of great turf workouts at Keeneland, most likely in company with Bound for Nowhere, this colt already proven over the tricky Kentucky Downs turf course has a big shot to win a stakes for the 2nd year in a row.


Bets: Bound for Nowhere AND Master Merion at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

As always, when making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you.


Exactas: Box Bound for Nowhere and Master Merion.

Trifecta: Bound for Nowhere and Master Merion over ALL over Bound for Nowhere and Master Merion.

(The point of the trifecta above is to win if the two contenders finish 1st & 3rd as the exacta gets us the win if they finish 1st & 2nd)





Woodward Stakes Race 11 at Saratoga – Post Time 6:47 PM Eastern


A 14 horse field in this Grade 1 stakes should be applauded and it gives us a possible sign of how big a field and how tough the Breeders’ Cup Classic will be in two months. Of the 14, three appear to have an edge over the rest, albeit a slight one, and as there will be NO heavy favorite among the 14, we can and should take a swing for a big profit.


Term of Art opens at 30/1 but is as good as many here and is very playable on many levels. Winner of a graded stakes at the end of his two year old campaign in 2016, he lost eight races in a row through last summer, but all were graded stakes, including a 3rd place finish behind eventual Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway in the Affirmed Stakes in June. Rested 10 months and sent to the barn of sizzling hot Brad Cox, Term of Art rediscovered winning at a mile on dirt with a 102 Equibase figure then finished 2nd, beaten a neck in the Grade 3 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes last month. That was a huge effort on many levels, not only as Term of Art improved to a 110 figure within 3-4 points of the best horses in this field, but because he battled head-and-head for the last six furlongs, losing by inches on the wire. Having turned a corner and not regressing 2nd off the layoff, Term of Art should run a lot better than his 30/1 odds suggest and that could help make us a lot of money in this race.


Seeking the Soul is another on a solid pattern for improvement off a narrow defeat last out, this one when beaten a head in the Schaeffer Memorial on 7/14. That was his first start after six months off, and he’s moving forward nicely back to the form that saw him win the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at this 9 furlong trip last fall. He also won at this 9 furlong trip last summer at Saratoga, and it’s a big sign that Castellano gets on for Stewart, who he rarely rides for. With a sharp five furlong workout coming into the race, expect another “A” effort from this horse who has now been1st or 2nd in 9 of 19 races for $1.4 million in earnings.


Sunny Ridge was last seen winning the non-graded State Dinner Stakes at Belmont in July, a big effort in which he beat highly regarded Timeline and You’re to Blame, who just won here at Saratoga at this distance. Sunny Ridge has earned over $1 million to date and is proven at the level with a runner-up effort in the Brooklyn Stakes last June. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides back after being up for the last win and when riding for trainer Servis the pair have won at an amazing 33% clip (on 180 races) over the past year so another big effort from this hors can be expected.


With a field this big, we can make money in the exacta as well and as such I’ll include these horses as contenders: Patch, Kurilov, Leofric and Zanotti.


Bets: Term of Art to win, place and show at 3 to 1 or more.

Seeking the Soul AND Sunny Ridge to win at 3 to 1 or more.


Exacta: Term of Art, Seeking the Soul and Sunny Ridge over Term of Art, Seeking the Soul, Sunny Ridge, Patch, Kurilov, Leofric and Zanotti.


For half whatever amount you play the exacta above, play the opposite and that way if the three contenders finish 1st & 2nd we hit the bet twice.


Double: Term of Art, Seeking the Soul, Sunny Ridge, Patch, Kurilov, Leofric and Zanotti in Race 11 with Lady Montdore, Summersault and Santa Monica in Race 12.


Glens Falls Stakes – Race 12 at Saratoga – Post Time 7:17 PM Eastern


Lady Montdore returned from 11 months away from the races and made her U.S. debut a winning one here on the Saratoga grass on 8/6, powering away by four lengths at this 11 furlong trip in an allowance race. That being a setup for this stakes at 11 furlongs is so obvious it isn’t even funny, and with experience over the track, with improving to do 2nd off the layoff and as a stakes placed horse TWICE in Europe, she can post the mild upset, opening at 8/1.


Summersault is similarly able to run well at high odds, pretty ridiculous 10/1 in my opinion, as she was beaten just two lengths to Homeland Security and Savannah Belle in their common race in July at 12 furlongs on the Belmont Turf, a 100K stakes race. Two before that, Summersault won the non-graded Soaring Softly Stakes at this 11 furlong turf trip in Florida, and last April she won the Grade 3 Orchid Stakes at the distance on grass. She has all the credentials to run well and it won’t take much improvement off her last effort to be in the exacta at the least, particularly as she’s won twice on the Saratoga turf in her career.


Santa Monica opens as the 6/5 favorite and she’s not suspect on any level but her low odds make her a poor win bet. She’s won 2 of 3 since importing to the U.S. in April, at 10 furlongs and at 12 furlongs, the first of the two the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes in June at Woodbine. Ortiz is 2 for 2 when aboard and rides here and her last race 111 Equibase figure is the best in the field so it may be tough to beat her “IF” Lady Montdore doesn’t improve and “IF” Summersault can’t run back to her effort this part March or the previous April.


Additional possibilities for the exacta include Savannah Belle and Homeland Security, the one-two finishers in the River Memories Stakes on 7/8 in which Summersault finished third. Both of these fillies have ability, but the 104 and105 Equibase figures earned in that race, the best of their career, are just a bit shy of that any of the top three contenders appear capable of in my opinion.


Bets: Lady Montdore to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more. Summersault to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more.


Exactas: Santa Monica over Lady Montdore and Summersault, then also box Lady Montdore, Summersault and Santa Monica.


Also play an exacta consisting of Lady Montdore, Summersault and Santa Monica over Lady Montdore, Summersault, Santa Monica, Savannah Belle and Homeland Security.


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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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