Ellis Starr's Picks

Sunday August 14, 2021

Races 5 through 9 (all stakes)

Race 5
Runhappy Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes
Win contender with minimum (fair) odds for considering win bets:
#5 Frosted Departure – minimum win betting odds 5 to 2
Frosted Departure is one of three horses in this six horse field which won his most recent start, but his was
the ONLY one which came at this seven furlong trip, and one of two which came at Ellis Park. He had stalked
in second very maturely in a field of 12 then drew off with confidence late like a horse with a very bright future,
and knowing how trainer Ken McPeek often brings his young horses along slowly we can expect this colt to
improve by leaps and bounds. With it possible any or all of the four horses inside him, and perhaps the horse
outside him, may all want the lead, Lanerie (who was up for the debut win) can bide his time and allow Frosted
Departure to settle then make one big run to get the win.

Race 6
Runhappy Ellis Park Debutante Stakes
Win contenders with minimum (fair) odds for considering win bets:
#12 Justa Warrior – minimum win betting odds 9 to 5
#6 CC Cruise Control – minimum win betting odds 3 to 1
Even in this full field of 12, Justa Warrior could be a standout. The daughter of Justify, who in his first crop is
throwing horses which are running big races, showed a ton of physical and mental maturity in her debut three
weeks ago when stalking in second for the first half mile then taking over as easily as you’ll ever see in a two
year old race, before gliding home to a five length win. She’s going to improve both physically and mentally
and I love the outside post particularly in this field in which SEVEN of the others all earned their last wins on
the lead from start to finish. Beat her to win.

That being said I expect big odds on CC Cruise Control and would not hesitate making a smaller win bet (as
compared to Justa Warrior) on her to win. As I wrote in my analysis of the Juvenile (race 5), Ken McPeek often
takes his time with young horses, so it was not unexpected when this filly finished sixth in her debut in a sprint.
Sent a mile second time out one month ago (on turf) she showed a lot of maturity racing in fourth of 10 early
before blasting off late, winning by about the same margin Justa Warrior did. She earned the same 74
Equibase figure so ran as fast and if she is able to transfer that form to dirt, which is likely given how nicely
she’s worked on dirt, she has a shot to post the upset and perhaps give McPeek back-to-back stakes wins on
the card.

Race 7
Runhappy Audubon Oaks
Win contenders with minimum (fair) odds for considering win bets:
#7 Gunning – minimum win betting odds 2 to 1
#1 Ring Me Darling – minimum win betting odds 5 to 1
#5 Last Leaf – minimum win betting odds – none (use on exacta tickets and pick 3, double tickets)
Similar to how I felt about Justa Warrior’s last win, I was even more impressed by how Gunning earned her
win last month at Churchill Downs in career start #2. This filly drew off with authority for the win on July 2, after
a big debut effort when rallying from 10th to second after being blocked and forced to alter course. She’s going
to improve again and the distance is the same so she will take some beating in this situation. Ring Me Darling may be worth a small bet even though I think Gunning is more probable, because she opens at 20/1 although she’s four for eight on dirt including a sharp win at seven furlongs last month after stalking in second. She earned her other two wins by three and seven lengths and if able to duplicate that effort could run
a lot better than her high odds suggest she will.
Last Leaf opens as the 2 to 1 favorite and can be used on exacta tickets (with Ring Me Darling) and on any
pick 3 or double tickets played. She earned the same 91 figure as Gunning did in her most recent race, a win
in a stakes at this distance in Florida, her second stakes win in a row, and she’s now won four of nine on dirt.
Still, I think Gunning is going to improve more and that may make it difficult for this filly to win her third stakes
race in a row.

Race 8
Groupie Doll Stakes
Win contenders with minimum (fair) odds for considering win bets:
#5 Jilted Bride – minimum win betting odds 5 to 2
#1 Four Graces – minimum win betting odds 5 to 2
Super Quick (#2) and Graysonmacho Gal (#3) are both absolute need-the-lead types and should go way too
fast to have any gas left near the end, as well as set up the two contenders nicely, particularly with #11 Take
Charge Lovin having to get close to the lead early given her style and post.
Jilted Bride is one of two which benefits the most from the hot early pace, coming off a win in a nearly
identical stakes, the Iowa Distaff, where she rallied from third to win by a head on the wire. She should love
this mile trip and win her second in a row but if not Four Graces can get it done as she’s run in five straight
graded stakes, her best effort among then when a fast closing second on Derby day in the Derby City Distaff.
She also missed to a fantastic sprinter in Just One Time in the Inside Information Stakes in January and that
effort repeated here is another good enough for her to win this race.

Race 9
Runhappy Ellis Park Derby
Win contenders with minimum (fair) odds for considering win bets:
#8 Steal Sunshine – minimum win betting odds 3 to 1
#1 Friar Laurence – minimum win betting odds 3 to 1
#2 Strava – minimum win betting odds 3 to 1
Steal Sunshine has won two in a row, the first at this mile trip and the most recent the very similar Carry Back
Stakes for three year olds only. Both were at Gulfstream and the more recent earned a strong 99 Equibase
figure which is one of the best in the race, and the colt won without Lasix, which many in here raced on last out
and have to race without today. Jockey Lionel Reyes comes in from Florida to ride as he has in every one of
the horse’s last seven races since right after his debut, and he takes off an entire day’s mounts at Gulfstream
for the chance to get his share of the $200,000 purse. The horse doesn’t need the lead to win and appears
capable of winning his third race and second stakes in a row for good trainer Bobby Dibona, who has won with
FOUR of 14 horses in stakes the last couple of years.
Friar Lawrence just won at Ellis Park and at seven furlongs with a very mature off the pace run under Michel,
who just earned her first U.S. stakes win last week after she’s won races all over the world. The win came
following six months off so there’s lots of improving to do and the 59.2 five furlong work since races is an
excellent indicator the colt should run as well or better than last out.

Strava drew off to win by six at a mile at Churchill Downs when last seen in June after being a bit overmatched
in the Lexington Stakes where he made the lead in the stretch but faded late. He’s won without Lasix, as has
Friar Lawrence, and Hernandez, who gets on today, is familiar with him as they teamed up for a runner-up
effort in January. With a last out 99 figure effort as fast as Steal Sunshine, Strava would be no surprise if
winning this race.




Follow Me on Twitter @Ubercapper
Other racing content

Weekend Stakes Blog at https://www.keeneland.com/media/news/

Weekend Key Races & Bets Blog and Podcast at amwager.com/handicapping/ellis-starr-blog

Analysis of major stakes races every Friday at equibase.com/free

Free Selection for one free race daily at:
Woodbine - https://woodbine.com/handicapping/ellis-starr/
Santa Anita - santaanita.com/author/ellisstarr

Keeneland - keeneland.com/racing/wagering/expert-picks/Ellis Starr
Ellis Park - https://ellisparkracing.com/ click racing then the date for Ellis Starr’s picks
Del Mar - https://www.dmtc.com/contest/51 (free but sign up required)