Dew: How I'm betting the Azeri Stakes on a $100 budget

March 14, 2019 10:25am

Is it possible for a two-time Grade 1 winner to be considered an underachiever? Is there even any point in making this argument? Because I think I’d like to make my case that Elate is among the most overrated racehorses we’ve seen in recent years.

That said, she just may be too good to lose to the foes she’ll face in Saturday’s Azeri Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park.

When Elate romped in her career debut in late 2016, she was already listed among the early favorites for the next year’s Kentucky Oaks. But she failed to find the winner’s circle in her next four starts, and wouldn’t make a name for herself as a graded stakes winner until the 2017 Alabama (G1). Since then, she has racked up a couple open-length graded wins, and turned in a pretty impressive effort in defeat to Abel Tasman in last year’s Personal Ensign. By just about every measure, Elate has had a solid career.

But who has she beaten? Give a look through her past performances, and this is a serious question: Who is the elite filly or mare that Elate has defeated? She is 0-for-3 against Abel Tasman. Heck, she’s only 1-for-2 against Azeri rival Tapa Tapa Tapa, with her win against that foe by a mere neck. Yes, Elate counts multiple wins over Salty and Teresa Z, if that impresses you. But when facing top competition, Elate has shown an inability to get the job done.  

Which brings us to Saturday. If Elate is cranked up and ready to run, who can beat her? Shamrock Rose has been sprinting recently, but does have a win at this distance against lesser foes. Midnight Bisou rarely does anything wrong, but does she need them to go faster up front than they look like they will on paper? Eskimo Kisses seems to be even more pace-dependent than Midnight Bisou.

So who does that leave?

Summer’s Indy would need to take a big step up to be a factor here. She seems up against it.

Tapa Tapa Tapa has the look of a horse that just really loves Tampa Bay Downs. But her lone start at Oaklawn wasn’t bad, and she figures to be on the early lead, perhaps even alone, while breaking from the rail.

If Elate isn’t ready to fire off the layoff, and if the others simply don't uncork their respective rallies into a slow-to-moderate pace, Tapa Tapa Tapa might hold on longer than you expect. She’ll also be a price in this small field with several big names. She’s not my craziest opinion ever, that’s for sure.

So let’s give this a try with a $100 bankroll, looking to score if Tapa Tapa Tapa finds her way into the top two…

$50 to win on Tapa Tapa Tapa

$30 exacta Elate over Tapa Tapa Tapa

$20 exacta Midnight Bisou over Tapa Tapa Tapa

For more of my thoughts on racing and handicapping, check out


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Meet Justin Dew

Justin Dew founded LoneSpeed in 2018 out of a desire to bring racing fans and bettors together to discuss about how they approach the game. Before that, he contributed to the official Kentucky Derby website and TVG, among other outlets. Oh, and he wrote this bio in third person, too.

Twitter: @justindew

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