How to bet for a big Los Alamitos Futurity, Starlet Stakes return

December 06, 2018 02:18pm
How to bet for a big Los Alamitos Futurity, Starlet Stakes return
Photo: Benoit

It’s pretty clear at this point that anything Bob Baffert sends out in a graded stakes race for 2-year-olds is going to get absolutely hammered at the windows. So, when he saddles two top contenders in the same race, any horse under a different trainer’s care is sure to be something of a price.

But when there are two graded stakes for juveniles in the same Pick 3 sequence that feature two Baffert runners apiece, you can either forget about making money on that Pick 3, or take a swing with some alternatives in case the Baffert barn just happens to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Saturday at Los Alamitos features the above scenario, as Baffert sends out Improbable and Mucho Gusto in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity before Mother Mother and Chasing Yesterday lead the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes. It certainly appears that his entrants will be the first and second wagering choices in both races, and all four will be hard to beat. Sandwiched in between the Futurity and Starlet is a starter allowance with a field of 10 low-level claimers.

In the Futurity, the two most exciting alternatives to the obviously dangerous Baffert pair are Dueling and Extra Hope.

Don’t forget that Dueling was favored over certain-to-be juvenile champion Game Winner in that one’s career debut before breaking his maiden at a mile.  He then headed to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup and didn’t disgrace himself while running sixth. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer isn’t know for throwing his horses to the wolves, so it’s fair to assume he believes Dueling is up to the challenge of another Grade 1 try. And he is reunited with Mike Smith, who was aboard for the maiden win.  

Extra Hope bounced back from a September loss to Dueling with a maiden win of his own, and then shortened up to seven furlongs for Del Mar’s Bob Hope (G3), in which he just didn’t look like a sprinter but still ran OK. The return to two turns should suit him here.  

Can either Dueling or Extra Hope beat both Improbable and Mucho Gusto? I’ll say it’s “improbable,” but not impossible. There are legit reasons to like both Dueling and Extra Hope, and neither Baffert runner has gone two turns yet.


In the Starlet, both Chasing Yesterday and Mother Mother are coming off stakes wins. Among their rivals, only Oxy Lady has a stakes win of her own. But that effort registered a 94 Beyer Speed Figure, a number that towers over all of the field’s prior efforts and is full six points higher than the second-fastest prior race anywhere in the form lines of this field. Also, as with their male counterparts from the Baffert barn, neither Chasing Yesterday nor Mother Mother has tried two turns.  

Back to Oxy Lady for a moment. Her win last out in the Grade 3 Tempted was her first start with blinkers. Word is that her connections think that’s what woke her up and led to the five-length score at Aqueduct. Before that, she ran a decent race at Keeneland behind a filly, Champagne Anyone, who acquitted herself nicely in the Golden Rod (G2) while fourth with some traffic issues. So I don’t think you should look at the 36-1 price in the Tempted and assume it was a fluke. Oxy Lady’s solid, and with two efforts around two turns already, she has a right to run big here at a bit of a price.

Now, here is where I’m going to get a little crazy.

Trainer Doug O’Neill sends out two in the Starlet. One of them is Enaya Alrabb, and the other is Sold It, who was even-money in her debut going 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita before getting the maiden win on the grass at Del Mar going 5 furlongs. Being favored in both starts, you have to assume the workout observers think there is some ability there for Sold It. And she proved there was at least some with the maiden win.

But what if she needed a race, and what if they had run her back at 6 1/2 on the dirt instead of going 5 on the grass for Start No. 2? The 78 Beyer Speed Figure she earned in the win would make her a little bit competitive against this bunch with some improvement. Is it more likely that Team Reddam and O’Neill just want to try to get a Grade 1 placing on her resume? Yes, of course it is. But we have all seen these human connections jump up and steal one when you least expect it, and Sold It does appear to have some talent.

So here is the play, a $1 Pick 3 starting with Race 5, the Futurity, continuing with Race 6, the starter allowance, and concluding with Race 7, the Starlet:

Dueling, Extra Hope


Sold It, Oxy Lady

If all 10 start in Race 6, we’ll call this $40 of fun. And if the Baffert runners do something totally unexpected, like lose, this small $40 investment might return big bucks. Again: Improbable, but not impossible. 


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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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