A Value Bet and an Upset Play in Shadwell Turf
By Mike Curry, courtesy of America's Best Racing
Every once in a while a race pops up that makes you giddy with excitement from a handicapping perspective because of the many quality options for betting purposes. The Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland Race Course is exactly that type of race.
I love betting the turf races at Keeneland. So many great trainers ship in horses for the two boutique meets in the spring and fall, and the grass races almost always draw deep, competitive fields with a ton of value. It’s a great feeling to bet a race with a strong opinion and know you’ll get rewarded for picking a winner.
Of course, races such as the Shadwell Turf Mile present a heck of a challenge when one could reasonably make an argument for each of the 11 entrants to win.
With that in mind, I’ll map out a plan for a couple of runners that will be the key to my wagering in the Shadwell Turf Mile, which is a "Win and You're In" qualifying race for the Breeders' Cup Mile on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita Park.
#8 Ironicus: This 5-year-old from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey is about as honest as racehorses come. He’s won six of 13 career starts and finished in the top two in each of his last nine races. In those nine races, he won or finished within a half-length of the leader eight times, with the only clear defeat a runner-up finish by 1 ¾ lengths to superstar Flintshire in his most recent race in June 11. Ironicus prefers to come from off the pace, which works very well as a tactic on the Keeneland turf, and his trainer and jockey (Jose Ortiz) have won at a 23 percent clip on the year when joining forces. Ironicus also runs very well when rested, and McGaughey hits at 30 percent off this type of layoff. For a horse who has been the favorite in four of his last five starts, Ironicus could offer great value at somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-2 in the Shadwell Turf Mile.
#7 Miss Temple City: I have a hunch that this 4-year-old filly will be a nice value on Saturday despite having beaten males in the Grade 1 Makers 46 Mile Stakes in April at this course and distance. She was the first filly to win that race, and she has the ability to add another Grade 1 win over males on Saturday. She’s finished fourth, fourth and fifth in her last three races, but the results were far better than they look on paper. The first of the group came at the prestigious Royal Ascot meet in June in a field of 14, when she was only beaten by 3 ¼ lengths. She then finished fourth by a neck in a blanket finish in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes before pressing a hot pace and fading in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa Stakes on Aug. 27 at Saratoga. She has a win and two seconds in three starts at Keeneland, where she posted her career-best Equibase and Beyer Speed Figures in the Maker’s 46 Mile.
I expect Mondialiste (#4) to go off as the favorite in this race after winning the Arlington Million in his most recent race and finishing second last year at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He’s talented and in terrific form. I also respect Grand Arch (#5) as a horse for the course with three wins, three seconds and a third in seven career races on the Keeneland turf, including a win in this race in 2015.
For the trifecta, I’ll throw in Tower of Texas (#3) off a close second to Tepin in last month’s Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes, and Tourist (#10), who finished third in this race in 2015 and third in the Maker’s 46 Mile in the spring.
Three Strategies on a $20 Budget
$10 win-place on #8 Ironicus ($20)
$3 exacta: 7,8 with 4,5,7,8 ($18)
$1 exacta box 7,8 ($2)
50-cent trifecta: 7,8 with 4,5,7,8 with 4,5,7,8 ($6)
50-cent trifecta: 7,8 with 4,5,7,8 with 3,4,5,7,8,10 ($12)