#6 Little Menace – minimum win betting odds 4/1
#4 Art Collector – minimum win betting odds 3/2
#12 Shared Sense – minimum win betting odds 9/2
#9 Dean Martini – minimum win betting odds 9/2
4,6 over 3,4,6,9,12 (#3 is Sprawl)
4,6,9,12 over 3,4,6,9,12
4,6 over 4,6 over ALL
4.6 over ALL over 4,6
There’s little doubt Art Collector is a legitimate favorite in the Runhappy Ellis Park Derby. The colt came into his own when making his three year old debut in May following five and one-half months off winning easily at seven furlongs before similarly easy wins on June 13 then on July 11 in the Blue Grass Stakes. A colt which would never have made the Kentucky Derby in a normal year, Art Collector definitely benefited from the COVID-19 delayed run up to the Kentucky Derby next month and will be one of the favorites after running well today. His last two efforts earned 106 and 102 Equibase Figures which, except for division leader Tiz the Law (with 117, 112 and 113 figure efforts this year), are some of the best by top three year olds this season. Art Collector can win when on the lead from the start or from off the pace and he just won the Blue Grass at this nine furlong trip. The only downside comes from a win betting perspective as he opens at 4 to 5 odds.
The ONLY other horse in the field who broke through the 100 figure barrier in his most recent race is Little Menace, who opens at 20/1 and who looks to be similarly ignored even as the field breaks through the gate. Costing $460,000 at auction two years ago this month as a yearling, Little Menace sprinted in his first five starts but his breeding has always screamed “to turns” as a son of Into Mischief out of an Arch Mare. Apparently trainer Steve Asmussen, the leading trainer in North America with $11 million in earnings so far this year, decided it was time to send Little Menace two turns for the first time on June 28. The result was that 103 figure effort, one in which the colt battled head-and-head from the moment the gate opened, before still having enough energy and spirit to draw off by three lengths at the end. Having rallied from fourth in the early stages for one of his earlier wins, Little Menace has proven not to be a need-the-lead type but if the opportunity arises jockey Martin Garcia may take full advantage. Likely to run even better than last month winning the Grand Prairie Derby in Texas, because this will be his second start after two months off, I believe Little Menace is going to run a lot better than his high odds suggest he will and if he doesn’t post the upset he will help us make a sweet profit in the exact or trifecta by being second or third behind Art Collector.
Honorable mention goes to Shared Sense and Dean Martini, both stakes winners at this nine furlong distance. Shared Sense won the Indiana Derby on July 8 with a 96 figure, the same figure he earned in his other two wins on dirt before that. He’s not on an improving pattern and that’s a concern because he would need to improve to get to 100+ and compete with Art Collector and Little Menace in this situation. Similarly, Dean Martini won the Ohio Derby on June 27 with a 99 figure. He had earned 97 and 96 figures in his previous two races, a runner-up effort and a win, both around two turns. He’s competitive and talented but I think he’s just a cut below Art Collector and Little Menace.
Ellis Starr, a.k.a. “Ubercapper,” has been a racing fan for 50 years and understands all aspects of handicapping as well as betting. More than 25 years ago, Ellis was one of the first handicappers to publish his selections on the Internet and to share his knowledge on a daily basis.
Ellis is the National Racing Analyst for Equibase, the Thoroughbred industry’s official source for Racing Information, writing a widely distributed “Race of the Week” story analyzing top races in North America, which also appears on the web site America’s Best Racing. Ellis also publishes insights, analysis and selections for other races around the country as blogs and as a podcast which may be found at Amwager and Keeneland Select, as well as via twitter @ubercapper and on the web sites of top racetracks such as Del Mar, Ellis Park, Keeneland, Santa Anita and Woodbine.
Ellis also participates in handicapping tournaments, winning the Belmont Shootout a few years back and the National Handicapping Championship Charity Challenge in 2017. He is among the few that participate annually in the Keeneland Tournament of Champions.
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