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Saturday’s Grade 1 Handicaps Highly Contentious

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 6/17/2011 7:48:59 PM
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  • Who: Thoroughbreds – Unrivaled Belle, Regal Ransom, Blind Luck
  • What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Ogden Phipps Handicap, The Stephen Foster Handicap, The Vanity Handicap
  • Where: Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Hollywood Park
  • When: Saturday, June 18th

There’s Grade 1 action from coast-to-coast on Saturday, starting with The Ogden Phipps Stakes for older fillies and mares at Belmont Park. At Churchill Downs, The Stephen Foster Handicap features some of the top older horses in training, including Giant Oak (7-2), Crown of Thorns (4-1), Mission Impazible (9-2), Apart (5-1), Regal Ransom (6-1) and Duke of Mischief (6-1). To cap off the day, there’s The Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park, where Blind Luck heads a compact, but talented field of six older fillies and mares. Let’s try to pick the winners of these highly contentious events.

Awesome Maria has been on quite a roll for trainer Todd Pletcher, winning a pair of Grade 3’s at Gulfstream before notching her second Grade 2 score at Belmont in The Shuvee Handicap last out. She defeated Unrivaled Belle by a wide margin two back in The Rampart, but that rival was making her first start since capturing The Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic last fall. Life At Ten loves Belmont, but may not be the same horse since her Breeders’ Cup debacle. Unrivaled Belle took the overland route in her narrow loss to champion Blind Luck last out in The La Troienne. She’s never been worse than second at this track (4-2-2-0) or distance (5-3-2-0), and appears to be peaking in the third start of her form cycle. I’ll bet on #5-Unrivaled Belle to win and place at odds of 8-5 or better. Toss in a 5-2 exacta, on a hunch that the speedy Absinthe Minded will take this bunch a long way on the front end.

The Handicap division hasn’t sorted itself out yet this year, but The Stephen Foster could help clarify matters. Crown of Thorns was no factor in his only start on dirt, making him a question mark at underlaid odds of 4-1. Apart hasn’t shown he’s Grade 1 caliber as yet. Duke of Mischief exits a nice win in The Charles Town Classic, but that race was around three turns in the slop, and his main rivals didn’t fire. Giant Oak is training well and is capable of a big effort, but he has trouble finding the winner’s circle. Mission Impazible has done his best work at Fair Grounds. That leaves the field’s top earner, Regal Ransom ($1,887,972). He was nipped by First Dude last out in a sharp effort locally, and has fired a pair of bullets in the interim. This 5YO has always been highly regarded, and like Unrivaled Belle, appears set for a top effort in his third start after the layoff, and second going two turns. I’ll bet on #6-Regal Ransom across the board at odds of 9-2 or better.

While there’s plenty of quality in The Vanity, with the likes of St Trinians and Switch, I’m siding with 3YO champ Blind Luck, a filly who just keeps coming, and has retained her enthusiasm for racing. Jockey Garrett Gomez fits her like a glove, and reports are she’s been a handful in the A.M. With an honest pace anticipated, I’m expecting her to out-finish St Trinians for the top prize. I’ll bet on #6-Blind Luck to win at odds of 6-5 or better

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Those are my horse racing betting tips for the weekend. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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