Weekend horse racing handicapper best bets from Mike Somich
After a thrilling and wild previous weekend, the graded racing slows down this weekend, but there are still some bangers out there. With Keeneland, Belmont at the Big A and Santa Anita all running this weekend there are still plenty of high-end races running and some monster pools to get involved in. Keeneland’s card on Saturday specifically is wonderful highlighted by the Grade 1 QEII Challenge Cup.
Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup – Keeneland, Saturday, Race #9
A full field of 12 heads to post in a race that looks to feature a handful of horses that have Breeders’ Cup aspirations featuring multiple international horses who will take on some of the best in the United States. One of those is #4 Mawj who ripped off three straight wins overseas including the Group 1 1,000 Guineas Stakes. A rarity for international horses, Mawj has tactical speed that should play in North American turf racing and could be a force here in a prep before heading to the Breeders' Cup Turf.
#2 Elusive Princess debuted last out in North America with an ultra-impressive performance at Saratoga. She sat mid-pack before showing a devastating turn of foot to roll to a 4-length win. A step forward here makes her extremely dangerous.
Chad Brown has dominated this race in the past and sends two out today with the #10 Liguria and #11 Prerequisite. I love the value on Liguria, who is 15-1 on the morning line. She has never broken from the gate at a price over 9-1 and has been the favorite in her last three. She should appreciate the added distance today and had a brutal trip late time out, expect her to run better.
Another international shipper, #7 Sounds of Heaven, heads to post as a lightly raced horse. With just 5 races under her belt, she still has her best in front of her and has faced extremely salty fields in the last two races in Europe. The fact that her international jockey also makes the trip across the pond to ride here at Keeneland tips the hands that this filly is ready to roll.
Bets: I want to key around Elusive Princess to try to get some value out of this race.
$5 Trifecta – 2 with 4,7,10 with 4,7,10 = $30
$10 Exacta – 2 with 4,10
Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes, Belmont at the Big A, Saturday, Race #2
The other graded stakes on Saturday features the same group of horses, just a cut below the QEII. We expect a full field of 10 3-year-old fillies to head to the gate which sets up for a nice betting race. The morning line favorites: #7 Eternal Hope won her NA debut less than a month ago in a Grade 3 over this same course. The field that day was not as deep as today’s, and she will need to improve to be able to win here.
#4 Be Your Best decided to pass on the QEII to run here, and it was a good decision. She is a legit contender in this spot and should sit a good trip behind the pace. At 2, she was considered one of the best in the world. Her three-year-old campaign has left something to be desired, but she has the skill to win this if she can recapture her old form.
#1 Soviet Excess has not missed the board since her first start and faces the weakest field she has seen since her allowance win at Gulfstream Park. She has tactical speed for trainer Todd Pletcher, and if she can sit closer to the pace today, she will be tough.
One horse at a price that is intriguing is the #10 Alpha Bella who is the other Todd Pletcher entry. She will have to work out a trip from the 10 post but has tactical speed and will be running her third off a long layoff. Pletcher clearly expects a big effort here based on the decision to move this one up in class off a third-place finish last time out at Colonial.
Bets: Let’s keep it simple here and play a $20 Win on #1.
Spot plays –
Saturday, Keeneland, Race #5, $20 to Win #3
Saturday, Keeneland, Race #10, $20 Trifecta 1-7-4