The Horse Race Insider is a privately owned magazine. All copyrights reserved. “Bet with your head, not over it.”

The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

FINAL: VALUE AND EXOTICA FROM BELMONT, CHURCHILL, GULFSTREAM, LAUREL AND SANTA ANITA

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, September 30, 2022 – For would-be Thoroughbred champions, Saturday likely is a final chance to learn if they have the right stuff to compete for an Eclipse title at Keeneland on the first weekend in November.

Virtually all divisions will be represented this weekend, from juveniles of both sexes, to celebrated sophs, to older, tested handicappers. These preps will give dirt or turf runners a chance to prove themselves at one of five disparate venues: Belmont, Churchill, Laurel, Gulfstream, and Santa Anita.

No less than a dozen races have caught our eye and about half that amount will attract our dollars, too, We will review the races we believe will be of interest to most serious fans and bettors. There will be something for everyone in this week’s edition of HRI’s Tote Busters Value Plays. We review; you decide.

In no particular order, there’s Belmont’s Grade 1 Woodward Stakes, G1 Champagne, and G2 Miss Grillo—the latter two Breeders’ Cup win-and-in events. At Churchill, the G2 Lukas Classic and G3 Ack Ack, a BC Dirt Mile qualifier, are of particular interest.

Laurel Park offers the Futurity and Selima Stakes for juveniles going two turns on turf. Neither are graded events but can add depth to both Juvenile Turf events.

At its Gulfstream Park sister track, the conclusion of the Florida-bred juvenile series, the In Reality and My Dear Girl often has adds a Breeders’ Cup player or two. Although not graded, each of this year’s events will showcase undefeated runners.

Completing the Stronach track trifecta is Santa Anita’s showcase fall program that features five graded and several listed stakes events.

The headliners are the G1 Awesome Again and G2 City of Hope, both BC win-and-inners, and the always live Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Saturday’s renewal marks the return of one-time classics prospect, Forbidden Kingdom. He is reported to be pointing to the BC Sprint.

At present, Tote Busters will look at two juvenile stakes for the boys, Gulfstream’s In Reality and Belmont’s celebrated two-year-old mile, the storied G1 Champagne Stakes.

(Note: This column will be updated throughout the weekend with analyses of several races from the venues listed. But for now, we’ll begin starting in South Florida where a dry track is expected, and Queens, where the going is projected to be wet).

GULFSTREAM PARK

IN REALITY STAKES                     Race 10

The Skinny: It’s very logical to expect that 8-Awesome Strong (7-5) will garner the fourth win of his four- race career. He has won at graduating distances, including the 7-furlong Affirmed last out, has handled tougher while the pace of those races has intensified.

But we’ll use his outside draw and high-weighted impost as excuses to try upsetting him.

Check out 1-Apocalypso (6-1) who finished seven lengths behind when third in the Affirmed in the video section on this page:

Trailing throughout and taking dirt for a half mile, he tipped 7-wide at headstretch and finished very well down the center while merely ridden out. He benefits from pole position, a long pedigree on his bottom side, and has a trainer, Saffie Joseph Jr., who’s a worthy 25% first-time long and 27% stretching out off two prior sprints.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  8-Awesome Strong

POTENTIAL VALUE: 1-Apocalypso

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 1-8. Exacta Wheel: 1.8 // 1.6.8.9.12 [6-Turbo 4-1, 9-Tigre 15-1, 12-Hard To Handle 8-1]. Trifecta Wheel: 1.8 //1.6.8.9.12 //1.6.8.9.12. Superfecta Wheel: 1.8 //1.8 // 6.9.12 // 6.9.12. Betting Apocalypto to win at 4-1 or greater.

BELMONT PARK

G1 CHAMPAGNE STAKES               Race 10

The Skinny: 3-Verifying (9-5) must have been a good thing from the day he was born. His $775K yearling tag was twice the average price of the first-year Justify juveniles. He was bet from the bell in his debut, 3-4 ante post, and was beneath an arrogantly confident Joel Rosario, who allowed a rival to chew on him throughout unperturbed before setting him down only after straightening away. He zipped his final quarter-mile in 24 1/5. This might be a very, very nice horse.

Not sure what the tactics will be Saturday, but we’re certain Joel will have lots of confidence if the same Saratoga maiden breaker shows up in Queens. With a switch to an outside post in a small field, and the move to Jose Ortiz, we expect 6-Gulfport (2-1) will be on the engine, assuming a clean break. 1-Andiamo a Firenze (6-1) made a good visual impression last out. *2-Top Recruit (5-1) jumped up big time for Maker at Ellis last out and attracts Irad* [edit made 093022 at 8:51 am]

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  Verifying

POTENTIAL VALUE:  N/A

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA:  Exacta Box: 3-6. Straight Exacta: 3-6. *Exacta and Trifecta Key-Box: 3 // 1.2.6. Taking Verifying to win, no price restrictions.

G1 WOODWARD Race 7

The Skinny: 1-Life Is Good is 1-9 on the early line and faces four rivals: Nothing to add.

EXOTICA: Cold Exacta 1-5. 5-Informative (15-1) won fast Monmouth Park G3 stakes, a budding key race.

G2 MISS GRILLO Race 8

The Skinny: With young horses, potential is in the eye of the beholder, and no juvenile grass filly in New York has been more impressive or promising than 6-Be Your Best (6-5), 2-for-2 lifetime–and at today’s trip.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Be Your Best

EARLY LINE VALUE: 5-Im Just Kiddin (12-1)

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Key Box 6 // 2.4.5 [2-Free Look (9-5) improved in second start for Chad, earning competitive figure. 5-Im Just Kiddin has run fast Thoro-Graph figures in both starts, Joel rides]. Cold Exacta Wheel: 6 // 2.4.5. Straight Value Play: Alluring Angel to win at 4-1 or greater, saver wager on Im Just Kiddin at 8-1 or more.

G3 BELMONT TURF SPRINT Race 9

The Skinny: Per usual, turf sprints, especially graded ones, attract a crowd, and given dynamics fields are generally full with plenty of potential speed signed on. This one is no exception.

Looking at two late runners in here: 10-Dancing Buck (6-1) is racing in career form and 11-Chewing Gum (8-1) gained conditioning from his last at Kentucky Downs, likes this trip especially and attracts turf ace Lezcano. 2-Arzak is a classy type, been pointed here by crafty connections, and will save ground inside with Irad.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Arzak

EARLY LINE VALUE: Chewing Gum

STRAIGHT BETS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 2.10.11. Trifecta Wheel: 10.11 // 2.10.11 // 2.5.7.10.11 [ Yes and Yes (10-1) and Thin White Duke (9-2) are an in-form coupled pair from resurgent David Donk. Straight Value Play: Taking Chewing Gum to win at 6-1 or greater.

LAUREL PARK

SELIMA STAKES Race 7

The Skinny: Leaving six of the 11 open as possibilities, even considered a well bred first-time turfer coming off a dirt sprint three weeks ago, something we almost never do, but 2-The Classy One (6-1) left a favorable visual impression and Kelly Breen knows how to do first-time long. All six of this one’s sibs have won, three on turf, including three stakes winners in all.

But we stuck with the percentages and the lean is to 10-Delight (3-1), one of two entered by Jonathan Thomas, both appearing to be live. Mendelssohn filly was sharp away from the barrier in recent maiden breaker, is well traveled, and likely set for best in this LAY-3 scenario (24%) for a good ship-in barn (26%). Jevian Toledo had his choice and landed here. Interesting to note, too, that Augustin Stable usually breeds their own but reached in for $400K at OBS breeze-up sale in March.

11-What an Honor (7-2) was ridden with confidence in recent maiden breaker at Kentucky Downs, adding to her conditioning.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Delight

POTENTIAL VALUE PLAY: The Classy One

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box 2-10-11. Taking Delight to win at 3-1 or greater. Considering a saver wager on The Classy One if 6-1 is available ante post.

CHURCHILL DOWNS

G3 ACK ACK Race 9

The Skinny: 1-Speaker’s Corner (1-1) is a deserving favorite. He’s been meeting consistently tougher this year, winning a Grade 1 and Grade 2. Had a strong company work with mate Art Collector at Saratoga’s Oklahoma track and was rushed into a hot pace going 7 furlongs last out, a great tightener for today. Consistently fastest, by a lot, he’s a two-time mile winner and reunites with best partner, Junior Alvarado.

Like the favorite, 2-Untreated (9-2) lacks Churchill experience but goes fresh for Todd here and gets Johnny, an ace at playing the break. His next loss at today’s trip would be his first in four attempts. 3-Fulsome (5-1) is a rising four-year-old for Cox working right on schedule for this, reuniting with his best partner, Florent Geroux.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Speaker’s Corner

POTENTIAL WIN-VALUE PLAY: Untreated

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Key Box 1 // 2.3. Exacta Wheel 1 // 2.3. Cold Exacta 1-2. Trifecta and Superfecta Key: 1 // 2.3 // 2.3.5.8 // 2.3.5.8. (5-Three Technique (12-1) loves the surface and trip and 8-Senor Buscador (12-1) hails from high-percentage ship-in outfit. Would consider taking Untreated straight at no lower than 9-2 early odds.

G2 LUKAS CLASSIC Race 10

The Skinny: Both the favorite, 5-Hot Rod Charlie (8-5) and 3-Happy Saver (5-2) are desperate to find the circle before the Classic, ‘Charlie’ looking for his first win since the Maktoum Challenge last winter and Happy Saver looking to win one after five straight runnerup finishes at the highest levels. The fuzzy here is 2-Art Collector (2-1), a two-time Churchill winner and an uncanny 7-for-8 at the distance. If they let him, Luis will try to put this group to sleep up front. 4-Rich Strike (6-1) is notably slower than these but is 2-for-2 in Louisville.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Hot Rod Charlie

POTENTIAL WIN-VALUE PLAY: Art Collector

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box 2-3-5. Exacta Key-Box 5 // 2.3. Trifecta Wheel 5 // 2.3 // 2.3.4. Trifecta Wheel 2.3 // 5 // 2.3.4. Win-Value Play: Art Collector at 5-2 or greater.

SANTA ANITA PARK

G2 CITY OF HOPE         Race 5

The Skinny: On paper,3-Beyond Brilliant (6-5) appears beyond catching, fastest than the others in this small lineup and proven classy in Grade 1 and Grade 2 competition. Freshened, he returns for John Shirreffs, who shows a lifetime profit in graded stakes.

The best upset chance is held by 1-Cathkin Peak (5-2), a multiple Course and Distance winner who worked brilliantly for this on SEP 25. He gets four pounds from the favorite, who likely is the lone F here.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  Beyond Brilliant

POTENTIAL WIN VAUE: Cathkin Peak

STRAGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box 1-3. Cold Exacta 3-1. Trifecta Key 3 // 1.2.5 [2-Irideo 5-2, 5-Prince Abama 6-1]. TakingCathkin Peak to win at 3-1 or greater.

G2 SANTA ANITA SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP     Race 6

The Skinny: Even if he may have the most upside, 2- Forbidden Kingdom (9-5) is a serious underlay on the early line. Yes, he’s won twice sprinting and was second in three starts. But he’s coming off a layup and although he’s been working strongly for Mandella since early August, he’s drawn inside and will be under the pace gun.

Two viable upsetters are hard-hitting sprint winner of $1.5 million, 1-C Z Rocket (7-2) and prolific Chilean import 7-Todo Fino (4-1), recent ultra- game winner of his U.S. debut at 7 furlongs. He blew out quickly subsequently and Amador Sanchez is 22% efficient with repeaters.

MOST PROOBALE WINNER: Todo Fino

POTENTIAL WIN-VALUE: Todo Fino

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box 1.2.7. Betting Todo FIno to win at 7-2 or greater.

G1 AWESOME AGAIN        Race 8

The Skinny: Bob Baffert saddles four of the nine entrants and 4-Country Grammer (8-5), winner of the Dubai World Cup and recently second to Flightline in his recent return. He is a most worthy favorite—but remember there are three “other Bafferts” here.

The horse with the best upset chance is fast-working Horse for Course is 2-Royal Ship (3-1). The gelded six year old is 1-for-2 at the trip and loves Arcadia, given his (4) 2-1-1 slate.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Country Grammer

POTENTIAL WIN VALUE: Royal Ship

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box 2-4. Trifecta Wheel 4 // 2 // ALL and 4 // ALL // 2. Taking Royal Ship to win at 3-1 or greater.

Per usual, exotic wagers are at minimums available. Straight Wagers are in $2 units or more.

this is a live column

Facebook Share
Twitter Share
LinkedIn Share
Email
Print

⚠ Before you comment

Our staff likes nothing better than to engage with the HRI Faithful and provide a forum for interaction on horseracing and sports. In that spirit, please be kind and reasonable; keep the language clean, and the tone civil. Comments from those who cannot comply will be deleted. Thank you.

3 Responses

  1. John. Thank you for the breakdown. My Saturday play is a good win bet on Gulfport. Really feel this race is made for him. Have a great weekend

    1. Gulfport scares me if he gets loose and the outside and Jose really help as stated. I can forgive poor performances but he impresses me as one dimensional which might be perfect for today. I just think the Cox baby has tremendous upside. We’ll know more Saturday…

      Meanwhile, more breakdowns to follow. Have a safe trip…

  2. Never liked to seriously bet races when the track is sloppy,muddy conditions even $ 500,000 races ,especially with a four horse field and a Strong fave with numbers to lead the way.It could be a well rewarded workout for it’s connections,and then what? Oh,yeah,use it alone in vertical bets,says the out of control bettor.It is a cinch! Fine,if you catch the gimmicks but ” It ain’t Entertaining” . Skipping most races is not fun,neither is getting football games in rain or snow.Who makes the least mistakes,turnovers,wins: what a logic ! Sunday,Oct 2,bet Six races,collecting on four,four exactas and three triples and since I did not watch the last three, I’m still wondering what happened in that last race where None of the outside posts,ie,also eligible,showed up. Madeline Rowland ? ” Who’s that girl ” winning with a longshot ? Flavian Prat,Mon Ami, you might be my next ” jockey to use” in my future good races since I gave up on Alvarado,who by the way,better win more with Mott ‘ s horses or he will lose his main money trainer .Flavian has proven that he can win,and not just with fav$, in either coast,in Europe,USA,in any distance or turf,dirt . Bonne chance,to you !Watch out,amigos Latinos ! Ps. Only one comment from your aficionados? Do they all reside in the Tampa,Fort Myers area ? Best wishes to those who suffered losses in Florida while we just felt strong winds x a couple of hours.California has earthquakes and awful taxes and politics and many southern states like Fla,Louisiana,etc have heat,drought problems,northern states have long expensive winters.Cannot win with Mother Nature,,and Father Time. Stay healthy. ( Sorry x the Interruption! ).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *