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Weekend Stakes Races: Grade III Bold Ruler Handicap and Grade II Fayette Stakes

October 31, 2009

Race-times:  Bold Ruler at 1:32 pm EST and Fayette Stakes at 5:05 pm EST

The Breeders’ Cup is just around the corner.  Right now, the best in the world are beginning to descend upon Santa Anita Park for the greatest two days of horse racing action in 2009.

Aqueduct and Keeneland won’t ever be Breeders’ Cup sites, but they still provide great racing on the weekends.  Both tracks also happen to have the two most intriguing stakes races of Saturday on their cards.

Let’s take a look at the Grade III Bold Ruler Handicap at Aqueduct on Saturday and the Grade II Fayette Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday.

Aqueduct – Race 4

Grade III Bold Ruler Handicap

$150,000

For Three Year Olds and Upward

7 furlongs on dirt

There isn’t a whole lot of speed in this race which is one of the reasons Lucky Island could turn around his recent terrible form.  After winning 4 races in a row, Lucky Island hasn’t hit the board in his last 5.  His last race was horrendous, but he figures to turn things around in this.  Lucky Island likes Aqueduct and if Garcia decides to go to the front with him, then he could wire this field. 

Cherokee Country has busted two impressive speed ratings in a row.  Both of those races were at Philadelphia Park but he doesn’t face that much better competition in this and he could be the horse to beat.  Bettors should expect his odds to come down from that 4 to 1 morning line.  Le Grand Cru can be an exceptionally fast horse at times and a slow horse at other times.  Cru is coming off of a nice pressing victory and deserves a shot in this.

  1. Lucky Island
  2. Cherokee Country
  3. Le Grand Cru

Keeneland – Race 9

Grade II Fayette Stakes

$150,000

For Three Year Olds and Upward

1 1/8 miles on Polytrack

National Pride hasn’t been that great in his last two starts and he does try the Polytrack for the first time in his career, but trainer Kieran McLaughlin has been awesome at Keeneland winning with 43% of his starters and National Pride has some back class.  He’s worth a shot at the 12 to 1 morning line odds.  Blame is one heck of a racehorse.  He just lost to Regal Ransom, another good horse, in the Grade II Super Derby but he didn’t lose by much.  He’s the class of this field and could easily win it with some luck.  Parading returns to Keeneland after failing out at Southern California.  He’s a good horse, but the odds will be short and three losses in a row may have taken away his competitive edge.

  1. National Pride
  2. Blame
  3. Parading

Horse Pick of the Day from Keenland Racetrack

October 31, 2009

Race-day: 10/31/2009

Race-time: 3:35 pm EST

Keeneland’s featured race on Saturday is the Grade II Fayette Stakes. In that race, Parading and Blame figure to take most of the action and if the past performances mean anything, one of them will probably win that race.

It makes more sense for horse betting players to look elsewhere for an overlay. A potentially profitable overlay runs in Race 6 at Keeneland on Saturday.

Let’s take a look at Race 6 at Keeneland on Saturday.

Keeneland – Race 6

$56,000 Allowance

For Three Year Olds and Upward Which Have Never Won a Race Other Than Maiden, Claiming, Starter or State Bred on the Turf

1 mile turf

Mutadda – - 4/1 morning line odds

Trainer Tom Amoss hasn’t been having as good of a Keeneland meet as most gamblers expect of him, but Mutadda could help to turn that around. The son of Muktaddim should relish the stretch out to 1 mile on the turf. Amoss is very good with shippers and this one comes in from Mountaineer. He’s also 26% dirt to turf and 25% second time off of a layoff. There’s a lot to like with this horse.

Mr. Mischief – - 8/1 morning line odds

This son of Stormy Atlantic is coming off of a very nice win at 1 1/16th miles on Arlington Park’s turf course. Mr. Mischief is 4-3-1 out of 13 lifetime races over the turf and has enough speed to stay close in this race. He could end up as a seriously tough overlay to look past if his odds drift past 8 to 1. He’s got a good shot in this at a more than fair price.

Dubious Miss – - 6/5 morning line odds

The 5 year old gelding just finished second to Furthest Land in his last, the Grade II Kentucky Cup Classic. That race was on Polytrack. This race is on the turf. Trainer Paul McGee is only 9% with all weather to turf movers. Dubious Miss is the obvious class of this race and should win this going away but the odds aren’t justified.

Wagering Strategy

I like Mutadda and will bet him to win and place. I will play an exacta and trifecta box with Mutadda, Mr. Mischief and Dubious Miss.

Breeders Cup Betting – Summer Bird Preview

October 30, 2009

Trainer Tim Ice isn’t known throughout racing circles the way that some of his peers are. That’s quite alright by him. After all, he just got his racing license about two years ago and Summer Bird is his only charge. It’s difficult to have a big head as a trainer when you only have one horse in your stable.

What a horse though. Summer Bird is easily one of the top horses going into the Breeders’ Cup Classic. There’s just no other way to describe the Travers and Belmont Stakes winner of 2009. Ice has done about as good of a job bringing Summer Bird up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic as any horse being brought up to a race in recent memory. The fact that his arch nemesis, the super filly Rachel Alexandra, won’t be running in the Classic means that Summer Bird will go off the favorite in the race and win as the favorite.

Let’s take a look at Summer Bird’s progression up to this point. It’s a terrific study in how thoroughbred trainers get their horses ready to peak at the exact right moment.

Summer Bird was born in April of 2006 in Kentucky. He was bred by the retired cardiologist Dr. Kalarikkal Jayaraman and his wife retired pathologist Dr. Vilasini Jayaraman. The good doctor and his good doctor wife bred Summer Bird at their farm in Ocala, Florida. Summer Bird is the son of Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone. His dam is the mare Hong Kong Squall, herself a daughter of Preakness winner Summer Squall.

Summer Bird’s bloodlines are exceptional. On his dad’s side are both Unbridled and the brilliant Northern Dancer. On his mother’s side are the great Alydar and the even greater Secretariat. His mother’s father, Alysheba, a son of Alydar, won the Kentucky Derby in the late 1980’s.

Good breeding obviously gave Tim Ice something to work with, but the trainer still had to get Summer Bird to where he is today, on the verge of winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic. How did he do that?

Summer Bird first showed signs of possible greatness when losing the Arkansas Derby. Summer Bird went 5 wide at the quarter pole and, once he switched leads, was gaining on both Old Fashioned and Papa Clem, but he just ran out of real estate. He ran past both of those after crossing the finish line. It was a huge, huge race for Summer Bird who showed that he had a ton of upside.

His next race, the Kentucky Derby, was actually a much better run than it looked at first. He finished 6th, losing to his half-brother Mine That Bird by 13 lengths, but while Mine That Bird took the inside on his way to Derby glory, Summer Bird went 7 wide around the final turn. It was a breathtaking move that came up short. On that day, the inside was playing perfectly while the outside was a mess. Mine That Bird got the better trip and thumped him, but Summer Bird’s performance was amazing. Even though the race was out of reach, Summer Bird kept running hard down the lane and passed enough of his foes to finish 6th.

After skipping the Preakness Stakes, Ice decided to run Summer Bird in the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. Trip horseplayers had caught on to Bird’s awesomeness. He was bet fairly well in the Belmont and ran to his odds. The running line will show that Summer Bird dominated Dunkirk and Mine That Bird by 2 ¾ lengths. Watching the Belmont again, most gamblers would have to agree that the margin of victory could have been much more. Summer Bird was near the back of the pack pretty much around the final turn and had to wait for an opening at the top of the stretch before unleashing his powerful late kick. It was an eye-opening performance.

Even in his loss to Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell Invitational, Summer Bird showed that he had turned into a horse to be reckoned with. Running on mud for the first time in his life, Summer Bird had a built in excuse for running a bad race, but he didn’t run a bad race. Jockey Kent Desormeaux, after surveying the field, put Summer Bird near the lead. It was a risky move as Summer Bird’s best running had been from off the pace. The move paid off as Summer Bird finished 2nd in the Haskell. There’s nothing wrong with getting dueled into submission by Rachel Alexandra and a replay of the race shows that Summer Bird actually accelerated in the lane to out run Munnings to the wire.

Summer Bird has run two more times since the Haskell Invitational. In both races, he was absolutely brilliant. In the Grade I Travers, the Mid-Summer Derby, Summer Bird beat Hold Me Back and Quality Road by 3 ½ lengths. He did so by stalking the pace instead of closing into it. In the Jockey Gold Cup, Ken Desormeaux put him near the lead again and once again, Summer Bird responded with a fantastic victory.

Summer Bird is ready to roll in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He has beaten every horse he has faced in his last three races save for the unbeatable Rachel Alexandra. He has the ability to stalk, run near the lead, or from the back of the pack, and his breeding suggests that he will only get better the more he runs.

From race to race, Summer Bird has learned something new, excelled in one way or another. All of it is due to the steady handling from trainer Tim Ice. For having only one horse in his stable, Ice sure knows how train. I suppose if your lone horse is Summer Bird, you really don’t need to train anything else.

Horse Racing Handicapping from Aqueduct

October 30, 2009

Padding Your Bankroll: Friday October 30

We are down to the final two days of the fall Keeneland meeting, which concludes on Saturday. That gives us a couple of days to sufficiently pad our bankroll for next week’s Breeders’ Cup, the two-day championship event kicking off next Friday at Santa Anita.

More on that next week, today we have a cheap maiden claimer at Aqueduct where it looks like we can make a few bucks.

In addition, we have a Late Pick 3 play at Keeneland that may start chalky in the opening leg, but we have a couple of nice prices to conclude the three race sequence.

Today’s Play of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 6 Md $25,000 (2:48 ET)

  • #4 Distant Strike 7/2
  • #8 Dukinfield 3/1
  • #1 Tramezzini 10/1
  • #13 New York Bobby 8/1

Analysis: #4 Distant Strike tracked the early pace from the inside, made a move to get into the mix and ran out of gas in the stretch in a fourth place finish, beaten three lengths for the top spot. The effort was off a nine-month layoff and now the hood comes off as he drops into a softer spot here second off the bench for the Brown barn.

#8 Dukinfield is returning off a two-month break, last out coming with a wide run to finish in the runner up spot for a $35K tag. Two back he was fourth behind Courageous Cat, who came back to win a couple of stakes including the Hall of Fame (G2). The colt has a couple of bullet works on the morning tab for his return.

Wagering
WIN: #4 to win at 5/2 or better.
EX: 4,8 / 1,4,8,13
TRI: 4,8 / 1,4,8,13 / 1,4,5,8,10,13

Today’s Pick 3 Play from Keeneland:

Starting in Race 8: $1: 1,10 / 3,6,10 / 3,5,10,12 = $24

KEE Race 7 Alw $54,000N2X (4:05 ET)
#8 Clapham, #1 George’s Cigar

#8 Clapham set the early fractions while down along the inside and weakened to finish third last out on the poly, catching a surface that was playing to outside stalkers and closers. The gelding has only been on turf three times and each was a good effort, a win and a couple of seconds. The gelding was second against $50K foes going a mile on the turf at Mountaineer. Court gets the call and we should catch a decent price on this gelding.

#1 George’s Cigar is making his first start since March for the Nicks barn that is 14% winners (with a +ROI) with horses coming back off a +180 day layoff. The colt was third in his last start at Fair Grounds at this condition. The runner up in that race was True Vindication, who won his next two starts and is now stakes placed. This is not a real tough looking second level allowance condition.

KEE Race 8 Md Sp Wt (4:35 ET)
#1 Dynazaper, #10 Rendition, #11 Toll

#1 Dynazaper tries poly for the first time here after a fourth and fifth place finish in two trips at the Spa. The $300K daughter of Ghostzapper is out of the stakes winner Broad Dynamite ($157K) who has dropped six other foals to race, all winners, top earner Saint Croce ($140K). Last out the filly dueled for the early lead, took over the lead briefly before weakening to finish fifth while beaten just a half-length for the top spot. The fourth place finisher in the race was Alileah, who graduated in her next outing on Oct. 4. She popped a bullet work on Oct. 26 over the poly here. There are several promising firsters in here but looks liken the likely favorite will be tough.

#10 Rendition returns off nearly a three-month break after a fifth place finish at the Spa in a race taken off the turf. Two came out of that race including Tapitsfly, who won the PG Johnson in her next outing on Sept. 3. This filly has a nice pedigree and a $475K price tag. She is by A.P. Indy out of a stakes placed Seeking the Gold mare.

KEE Race 9 Alw $52,000N1X (5:05 et)
#10 Million Seller, #3 Cruisin’nthebridle, #6 Proud Lisa, #2 Altessa

#10 Million Seller gets the nod here in this turf marathon as at least this gal has tired the distance, checking in a non threatening sixth last out at Ky Downs over soft turf. She was second two back going two miles at the Spa in a decent effort. She has a long winded pedigree, by A.P. Indy out of Sunday Silence mare. Motion sends out a pair here and Rose lands on this gal.

#3 Cruisin’nthebridle broke her maiden last out over good ground in her fifth try. She overcame running into traffic while down along the inside on the far turn and finished up well. She is a half to five others that have won on turf including a couple of stakes winners, but I am not sure she has enough pedigree power to handle the extra ground here.

Price Plays From Aqueduct:
These are price plays to watch today. A small win-place wager is in order or if your pockets are deep enough, use these runners in your trifecta and Pick 3 and Pick 4 wagers. One or two of these could be the difference between a regular day at the track and hitting the IRS window with a signer.

  • R1: #2 Bestowed 15/1
  • R4: #1 Previous Pleasure 8/1
  • R4: #7 She’s runnin’ Wild 12/1
  • R5: #4 Well Meant 8/1
  • R6: #1 Tramezzini 10/1
  • R6: #13 New York Bobby 8/1
  • R7: #3 Green harbor 8/1
  • R9: #1 Read the Form / #1a Justgivemeasecond 15/1

Good luck padding your bankroll today!

Breeders Cup Rankings – Nov 6th Races Part II

October 29, 2009

Breeders’ Cup:  Nov. 6th Races Power Rankings – - Part II

As the Breeders’ Cup quickly approaches, it’s time to come out with rankings for each race.

We’ll start with the races on Nov. 6th.  There are 6 Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 6th.  The featured race is the last, the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.  In the Ladies Classic, Zenyatta may or may not be running, but the word so far has been that her connections will keep her with her own kind.

Since it’s likely that Zenyatta’s connections will run her in the Ladies Classic, our Breeders’ Cup Power Rankings will reflect that.

Let’s get to it!

Breeders’ Cup Power Rankings – - Nov. 6th Races

** Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Emirate’s Airlines Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic

** Based on Prospective Entrants

Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

  1. Devil May Care – - Any time Todd Pletcher send a 2 year old to a Breeders’ Cup race, gamblers had better pay attention.  When that two year old is coming off of a Grade I victory in only her second lifetime start, then favoritism is likely.  When that two year old scored in that Grade I after stumbling at the break, then winning that Breeders’ Cup race could be a foregone conclusion.

  1. Blind Luck – - The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee won the Grade I Oak Leaf Stakes in her last, at the 1 1/16th mile distance of this race and on the Pro-Ride surface.  She showed a fantastic turn of foot in the Oak Leaf and should only be better in the Juvenile Fillies as their should be more pace for her to run at.

  1. Awesome Maria – - She lost by a head to Devil May Care in the Grade I Frizette as the 6 to 5 favorite.  She should absolutely love the extra 16th of a mile in this and like Blind Luck, the pace can only help her.  Of course, she’s never run over the Pro-Ride which could be an issue, but her talent cannot be questioned.

  1. Hot Dixie Chick – -  She’s won three in a row, including the Grade I Spinaway at 7 furlongs and figures to improve at the distance, but her style, she’s a front-runner, could leave her vulnerable in this race.  Still, they didn’t buy her for $435,000 for nothing and her speed ratings are far and away better than anything else likely to start in this race.

  1. She Be Wild – -  Trainer Wayne Catalano saddles this daughter of Offlee Wild who lost the Grade I Alcibaides by half a length in her last over Keeneland’s Polytrack.  Her Polytrack form should transfer nicely to Pro-Ride and she has the ability to stay right behind the speed before running to the wire.  She will have a shot if she enters.


Emirate’s Airlines Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf

  1. Chinese White – - This Grade II winner trained by Dermont Weld figures to vie for favoritism in this race after running very well at the Curragh in Ireland in September.  She’s won three in a row, is a 4 year old filly, and Weld has saddled winners at Santa Anita before.  She’ll be tough.

  1. Dar Re Mi – - If she does enter, there is no doubt that she will be the favorite as she is a multiple Grade I winner and she finished 5th in the Prix to Sea of Stars.  Trainer John Gosden has won races all over the world and Dar Re Mi will be looking at the cheapest field she has faced in a long time should she enter the gate for the Filly and Mare Turf.

  1. Forever Together – - The defending Filly and Mare Turf champion has lost her last two races, but those were at 1 1/8th miles and 1 mile.  Now, she returns to the 1 ¼ mile distance of the Filly and Mare Turf.  That should be much, much more to her liking.  She figures to put in a great run again in this race.

  1. Magical Fantasy – - She’s won four in a row.  Two of those victories were on Santa Anita’s turf course and two were at the 1 ¼ mile distance of the Filly and Mare Turf.  She’s not only a horse for course, but she’s a horse for distance and a Grade I winner to boot.

  1. Pure Clan – - The 2008 American Oaks Invitational winner obviously likes this distance with a 3 out of 5 record.  She’s also coming off of a victory in the Grade I Flower Bowl Invitational which no doubt should set her up perfectly for this.  She’s yet another that horseplayers must think about.


Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic

  1. Icon Project – - As good as Zenyatta is, Icon Project is better.  Yes, of course, I’m taking yet another stand against the brilliant Zenyatta, but Icon Project has won 4 out of 11 including a Grade I at Saratoga at 1 ¼ miles and figures to lay behind the speedsters until the time is right.  She won’t be caught by the over the hill Zenyatta who hasn’t posted a triple digit speed rating since the 2008 running of this race.  Icon Project will be one of my bigger wagers of the day should she enter.
  2. Careless Jewel – - She’s won 5 in a row including the Grade II Delaware Oaks by 7 ½ lengths, and the Grade I Alabama at 1 ¼ miles by 11 lengths.  She’s getting better and better and could be the lone speed in this race as no other filly or mare figures to want to run with her early.  She might run this field off of their feet at nice odds. 

  1. Zenyatta – - Zenyatta is 13 for 13, has won close to 2.8 million and will be racing over her home track in this.  The issue, of course, is whether or not she can step her game up off of 4 victories in 2009 against suspect competition.  Icon Project and Careless Jewel are serious racehorses and should they show up to take the gigantic mare own, expect Zenyatta to be in a tussle.

  1. Seventh Street – - This half-sister to Zenyatta, they’re both out of Street Cry, could provide some value in the exotics, or maybe even win this race, but she’s up against it in this.  She’s got a terrific record, but like her sister she hasn’t been facing the toughest competition on the planet and her style is to be close to the pace.  Carless Jewel could run her into the ground.

  1. Proviso – - Sure, she was taken down in the Grade I Spinster and Mushka was placed ahead of her, but it was her first race for Bobby Frankel.  If any trainer can get her ready for something like this, it’s going to be Frankel.

Breeders Cup – Is Zenyatta the Best Female Horse of all Time?

October 29, 2009

The brilliant 5 year old mare Zenyatta, sired by Street Cry and bought for $60,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September Sale, has already won almost $2.775 million and will be going for her 14th victory in a row.

Zenyatta is undefeated and has won an amazing 7 Grade I victories.  She is regarded by most horse racing fans as one of the greatest female horses to ever run but the debate is still out on whether or not she is the greatest.

Before getting into why Zenyatta has more work to do before being considered as a horse on par with Ruffian or even Rachel Alexandra, let’s take a look at some of those gaudy stats so that we can understand why Zenyatta is held at such high regard.

Zenyatta has never tasted defeat.  Her trainer, John Shirreffs, has spotted her brilliantly, keeping her Southern California and running her over the plastic surfaces that she apparently loves.  With very little changes to her schedule, for two straight years Zenyatta has prepped for her Breeders’ Cup race by running in and winning the Vanity, Clement L. Hirsch and Lady’s Secret, Shirreff’s has been able to keep Zenyatta fresh and happy.  13 for 13 lifetime with earnings of $2,774,580 is no easy task yet Zenyatta has done it.  She’s also done it with a style that more often than not leads to disaster.  Zenyatta is a closer and like all closers her fate should be determined in part by the pace of a race, but for Zenyatta that handicapping truth isn’t a truth at all.
 
The huge mare can close into a 46 and change half or a 49 and change half.  She can close into a 1:10 and change ¾ pace or a 1:12 and change ¾ pace.  No matter what any horse does in front of her, Zenyatta seems to find a way to catch the other horse, but is this because Zenyatta is that good or because she has faced the same competition over and over?

That’s the question, of course, heading into the 2009 Breeders’ Cup where Zenyatta will either run in the Ladies’ Classic or the Classic against males.  Zenyatta has never run against males before, but since her biggest competition for the title greatest filly and mare of all time, Rachel Alexandra, has beaten males on numerous occasions, Shirreff’s and Zenyatta’s owners, Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S. Moss, are seriously debating taking on the males in the richest horse race in the United States, the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

How would Zenyatta fair against horses like Summer Bird and Aidan O’Brien’s terrific Rip Van Winkle?  Probably not every well.  If speed ratings are any indication, then Zenyatta had better stick with the Ladies’ Classic if she hopes to stay undefeated.

Summer Bird is no joke having been beaten only by Rachel Alexandra in his last three races.  The progeny of Birdstone was brilliant in the Belmont Stakes, brilliant in the Travers and brilliant in the Haskell Invitational where he finished 2nd to Rachel Alexandra.

He might be one of the best male three year olds to come around in a long time and Zenyatta, as good as she has been, won’t have much of a shot against him should he take to the Pro-Ride surface.

There is another issue that Zenyatta might have in the Classic.  She hasn’t run against the best of her kind, female horses, much less against the best male horses on the planet.  Without a start against Rachel Alexandra, Icon Project, her half sister Seventh Street or the fantastic Careless Jewel, Zenyatta has yet to prove that she is the best in 2009 much less of all time.

She might face those fillies and mares in the Ladies’ Classic should her owners and Shirreff’s decide to keep her with the gals.  If she were to win that race, then she no doubt would go down as one of the best female horses to ever run on a racetrack.

But she won’t be considered the best.  In order to do that, the least she could do would be to beat Summer Bird in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  If she did that her connections could then at least claim that Rachel Alexandra ducked them.  Right now, it looks like Shirreff’s and Moss have been protecting their number one horse.

It’s time to take a risk with this brilliant horse because that’s the only way that Zenyatta could even be considered on par with Ruffian or Rachel Alexandra.  Entering the Breeders’ Cup Classic is just that kind of risk.

Horse Racing Handicapping – Expert Picks from Aqueduct and Keenland

October 28, 2009

Padding Your Bankroll: Wednesday October 28

It is opening week at Aqueduct and closing week at Keeneland, and both tracks will offer us plenty of opportunities to pad our bankroll.

The rains fell throughout the night on Tuesday, and it seems unlikely we will be on the turf at the Big A, and the main track will probably be sloppy or muddy.

However, while the three turf races will probably be moved to the main track, it still appears to be a good betting card, with plenty of large fields.

The nine race card at Keeneland looks equally promising. Our Late Pick 3 play is a $24 investment, and it looks like we might be able to beat all three of the likely favorites, which could lead to a nice payoff.

Today’s Play of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 4 Clm $25,000B (1:52 ET)
#7 Web Gem   10/1
#8 New York Holiday   9/2
#11 William T   5/1
#9 Marl   5/2

Analysis: #7 Web Gem gets the nod and I am assuming we are going to be off the turf today. The gelding was a much the best winner last out at Del Park versus $25K non winners of two on the main track. The runner up and third place finisher both came back to beat $25K non winners of two in their next starts at Del Park and Penn. The gelding has landed in the exacta in 3 of 4 trips on wet tracks in his career.

#8 New York Holiday made a good late run to finish third last out against $35K non winners of three on the turf. The gelding has had three good efforts since breaking his maiden for $25K in his ninth try. His win two back came in the slop at the Spa and this guy seems better suited at least pedigree wise to stick on dirt.

Wagering
WIN: #7 to win at 7/2 or better.
EX: 7,8 / 7,8,9,11
TRI: 7,8 / 7,8,9,11 / 7,8,9,11,12

Today’s Pick 3 Play from Keeneland:

Starting in Race 7: $1: 1,5 / 9,11,12 / 2,3,6,9 = $24

KEE Race 7 Alw $52,000N1X (4:05 ET)
#5 Martita Sangrita, #1 Orchestrator

#5 Martita Sangrita made a good late rally to get up and graduate last out in her first turf try and first go around two turns. She also caught good ground and the ground figures to have some give to it again today with rains coming overnight. The filly is by Johar out of a Nureyev mare, her first foal to race. The Matz barn brings them along slower than most and it would be no surprise to see this filly move forward in her third career start and first against winners.

#1 Orchestrator graduated last out on poly in her forth career start. She missed in a photo two back at the Spa on the turf in a game effort. She set the early fractions in that outing and could not hold off the winner late. The winner of the race was Zilva, who returned to finish fourth in the Alcibades (G1) in her next outing. She is a logical threat here for the McPeek barn and the likely short priced fav.

KEE Race 8 Alw $52,000N1X (4:35 ET)
#12 Diamond Song, #11 Wild Poppy, #9 Pina Colada

#12 Diamond Song tracked the early pace, got into the mix heading for home and weakened to finish fourth, beaten five lengths for the top spot. Two back she was fourth at the Spa behind the winner Moontune Missy, who came back to win the Summertime Thing at Belmont Park in her next outing. She broke her maiden over the poly here in her debut and she comes in here owning the top last out speed fig.

#11 Wild Poppy made a mild late rally to finish third last out over yielding turf at Belmont Park off a two month break. The winner Whisked Away returned to finish third versus Alw-2 optional claimers in her next start. The filly is out of the stakes winner Flanders ($805K0 who has also dropped stakes winner Surfside ($1.8 million).  She has the pedigree to handle poly, or any surface really.

KEE Race 9 Clm $10,000 (5:05 ET)
#2 Hyrule, #6 Gandolph Finch, #9 Apache Honor, #3 Doc N Roll

#2 Hyrule drops back in for a tag here after a fourth place finish last out versus Alw-1 company at PI on the Tapeta surface, beaten just  a length for the top spot. That effort came at a mile and the cut back to six furlongs here suits. Two back he won versus $15K non winners of three there and was flattered when the runner up Triple Nine Fine came back to beat $15K non winners of three and $30K non winners of four in his next two starts. The colt has won three times on the fake stuff including a win here breaking his maiden back in ’08.

#6 Gandolph Finch pressed the early pace from the inside and weakened to finish fifth last out here for a $16K tag. The gelding caught a surface that as playing to outside stalkers and closers that day. He drops in for a $10K tag for his second start off the claim by the Gowan barn. The gelding makes his third start off the bench and has run well on synthetic surfaces in his career (13-3-2-2).

Price Plays From Aqueduct:
These are price plays to watch today. A small win-place wager is in order or if your pockets are deep enough, use these runners in your trifecta and Pick 3 and Pick 4 wagers. One or two of these could be the difference between a regular day at the track and hitting the IRS window with a signer.

R4: #7 Web Gem   10/1
R5: #9 Classic Moon   8/1
R5: #4 Hedge Fund   12/1
R6: #7 Figgy’s Freud   8/1
R6: #13 trusting Heart   12/1
R7: #1 Tulipmania / #1a Ambidextrous   8/1
R8: #7 Check It Twice   10/1
R9: #5 Love and Havoc   8/1
R9: #2 Mustang Island   10/1
R9: #6 Brazen Kat   12/1

Good luck padding your bankroll today!

Sony Ericsson Tour Championships Futures: Safina odds to win

October 27, 2009

Doha, Qatar – Dinara Safina regained her No.1 ranking just in time for the season-ending Tour Championships but it is the recently deposed WTA queen, world No.2 Serena Williams that comes into the tournament as the No.1 favourite to win outright in the market. The market is not done snubbing Safina on that score, but goes further in snubbing her by pushing her into the back of the queue, behind five other players vying for the title.

Dinara Safina enters the Doha futures market listed at +900 to win outright at BetOnline Sportsbook. She is behind, top favourite Serena (+200), Svetlana Kuznetsova (+500), Venus and Jelena Jankovic (both at +600) and Elena Dementieva (+650). She also has to suffer the ignominy of sharing her mark with Doha debutant Caroline Wozniacki.

On the season proper, Safina has been the top player on the tour but her mental brain cramps, mostly on the Grand Slam stage have taken the shine off her and cost her the due esteem amongst not only tennis analysts and experts but even amongst some of her peers. Hence her discouraging odds in the futures market.

It also didn’t help Safina’s cause that in her debut last year she lost all three round robin matches. She has come a bit of a way since then however and opening a better account this time around in Doha is not entirely out of the realm of her abilities.

Certainly, she has the game to do so. You don’t go holding the No.1 ranking for 25 consecutive weeks, totting up a tally of 55-15 on the season and winning three titles –Rome, Madrid and Portoroz – just like that. But it is her losses that most remember her for this season.

She lost some matches, and some quite badly. Happens. That she capitulated in several finals this season shouldn’t blind tennis bettors from the reality that she has the quality to reach a final, even a major final come to that – runner-up highlights: Sydney, Aussie Open, Stuttgart, French Open and Cincinnati.

The breakdowns however do put forward an undeniably sensational testimony against her. The worst testifiers are the 6-0, 6-3 loss to Serena at the Aussie Open final and the 6-1, 6-0 loss to Venus Williams at the Wimbledon semis.

Well, good news for Safina is she will not have to worry about the Williamses until possibly the knockout stages.

Safina falls into a remarkably favourable group in Doha with debutants Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki in the mix and from which she really should emerge into the semis. Because not only are these two teenagers making their debut at this event but also they have been running out of steam in these dying months of the WTA season and are after suffering losses to non-Doha calibre talent. Wozniacki is even after withdrawing from her opening round match in Linz, down 5-7, 0-5 and in visible distress.

If the tennis odds were an indication,  the fact that the market tips Azarenka the longest in the market should tell tennis bettors everything they need to know about her and correctly throw her out of the equation.  

That Wozniacki is tipped equally as Safina on the market to take the season-ending honours is a grievous error in my opinion, and totally misleading. Safina should really be short to Wozniacki at this point in the proceedings. The beauty of  markets is that they inevitably correct themselves once the tournament gets underway.

Safina’s only real threat in this group is Jelena Jankovic (+600 to win outright) but there are two spots for the taking in each group so the pair should combine for the one-two punch and worry about the rest later.

White Group Prediction: Safina and Dementieva move into the semis.

In terms of the knockout rounds, I am going to go on record and say Safina can go all the way. We have her latest assurance that she no longer cares about what her detractors say. This is good news because clearly, the pressure to underscore her No.1 ranking throughout the year with a Grand Slam title and silence her critics got to her. When Serena finally overtook Safina in the rankings in Beijing, many, including Safina, saw it as a blessed relief. [Side note: what are we then to make of her, Serena, failing to hold on to it for more than a couple of weeks. Just asking. ]

If Safina enters this tournament without taking on the pressure of what everyone else expects her to do as the top ranked player, she might just do what she wants to do,  prove that SHE really is the No.1 player. Which happens to be the very same as what everyone wanted her to do before but now they have all but written her off so she would be doing it on her own terms.

So the tipping question: is Safina held, as she is now, as an underdog in Doha going to be the best thing for her and play favourably into her mental state? Yes. Wait and see.
Remember, you heard it here first at BetOnline (really hope I don’t have to chew my words come Sunday!)

ATP Lyon First Round Picks: Tsonga begins campaign

October 27, 2009

Lyon , France – Top seed Jo Wilfried Tsonga begins his Lyon bid against American Kevin Kim. The Frenchman Tsonga has never won the title in Lyon but has had success on French soil, winning titles in Marseille (2009) and Paris (2008). Tsonga is gunning for his fourth title on the season and a spot at the Tour-ending championships. He is a massive favourite in Lyon to take all honours.

It will be his first-ever meeting against world No. 87 Kim. The lack of a head-to-head between these two bears no significance on the market on this billing. Tsonga is at another level, a level that is but a wishful fancy for a player such as Kim. Kim, 31, has never reached such heights over his career and frankly, he will never reach them.

For all intended purposes, this match is rather straightforward.

Tennis Betting Line:

Jo Wilfried Tsonga-6 -125 -3000 18½ O -140 U Ev
Kevin Kim +6 -115 +1000 18½ O -140 U Ev

Match Time: 2:30 PM Eastern Time Tuesday October 27, 2009

Tennis Betting Analysis: Tennis bettors looking to back Tsonga will find him an untouchable favourite at -3000 to win outright. There is very little value in his odds, promising pennies on your risk.

Kevin Kim is a whopping underdog at +1000 and while his price promises a windfall, he, as a player, doesn’t. There is little to suggest in Kim’s game that he is capable of the massive upset. Best not touch his odds.

The real value in this match is on the spread and totals. Deciding whether Kim will be blown off court or whether he will try to hang in with Tsonga and lose respectably. I am leaning towards the former given Tsonga’s current form and home edge, but there is evidence to suggest Kim might not be a total pushover as you might think or as the tennis betting odds would suggest.

Kim did give Querrey a good challenge at the US Open, stretching Querrey to four sets 5-7, 7-6(6), 4-6, 4-6 but that could be down to the fact they were both Americans playing on American soil. Kim also stayed close to Soderling during their first round Roland Garros encounter, 6-7(4), 6-7(4), 2-6.

Tennis Betting Verdict: Kim will try to make a match of it even though he doesn’t have any real hope here. Tsonga should win this match relatively well. Therefore, the better play is to take Kim to cover the spread and to bet on the Over.

Tennis Free Picks: Tsonga -3000 | Kim +6 -115| Over 18 ½ -140

ATP Lyon First Round Picks: Clement favored to advance

October 27, 2009

Lyon, France –Arnaud Clement kicks off his Lyon campaign on Tuesday against Paolo Oscar Hernandez.

Tennis Betting Line:

Oscar Hernandez +4½ -105 +225 21 O -135 U -105

Arnaud Clement -4½ -135 -350 21 O -135 U -105

Match Time: 4:30 PM Eastern Time Tuesday October 27, 2009

Tennis Betting Analysis: Frenchman Arnaud Clement receives a wild card into the tournament. He is 9-18 on the season ahead of Lyon and weighs in as the world No.119. The former top 20 player Clement (ranked as high as No.10 in 2001) is a seasoned veteran at 31-years-old but, for the most part, he has been struggling to keep up with the game. Last week, Clement finished in the quarters in Stockholm, losing to eventual champion Marcos Baghdatis.

Spaniard Oscar Hernandez, 31, arrives in Lyon a disappointing 15-25 on the season. The world No.73 has had minimal success this year and when he has had success, it has typically been at a clay court event.

Tennis Betting Verdict: Home edge makes Clement a good play but he is not worth the price point of -350 in my opinion. Tennis bettors would be better off taking the totals and spread odds. Clement to cover the spread at -4 ½ -135 and Over 21 -135 are the suggested plays.

Tennis Free Picks: Clement -350 | Clement -4 ½ -135 | Over 21 -135

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