Saratoga, Race 10, 5:45 pm ET
The G2 Amsterdam, Three-Year-Olds, 6 Furlongs, Dirt
Betting Strategy: Bet Salutos Amigos to win and key him in an exacta with Declan’s Warrior, Forty Tales, and Mentor Cane
The old racing axiom “Pace makes the race” is evident when one studies the results of the Woody Stephens Stakes, which was won from 13 lengths off of the lead by Forty Tales. Meanwhile, Declan’s Warrior rallied from deep in the pack to finish second and complete a $97 exacta payout.
We would love to take a strong position against both Forty Tales and Declan’s Warrior today in the six-and-one-half-furlong Amsterdam, as they are the 2/1 morning line favorite and the 5/2 second choice and will now get more credit from bettors than they deserve–due to their recent success.
However, the TimeformUS Pace Projector indicates that both Forty Tales and Declan’s Moon will again benefit from a very fast pace in front of them, just not one to the extreme of last time. So instead of tossing these two favorites completely, we will reluctantly use them in exotics.
The exciting and intriguing Mentor Cane is our final exotic use. He was second in his debut, losing to a promising Bob Baffert colt named Flashback after setting an early pace that returned an unbelievably high pace figure. Interestingly, his normally patient and cautious trainer, John Shirreffs, decided to stretch Mentor Cane out in distance to a two-turn route next out. Mentor Cane absolutely ran off around the first turn, posting a 22 1/5 opening quarter mile while fighting his rider and running with his mouth open. He earned another blistering pace figure, but folded up sharply late to finish a distant third.
Mentor Cane was laid off for 189 days after that debacle, before returning in style with a sensationally easy maiden win that earned him a 108 speed figure. Shirreffs is again demonstrating uncharacteristic aggressiveness by stepping this horse up in class to Grade 2 Stakes company off of a maiden win just three weeks ago.
Salutos Amigos was most recently victimized by the gut-wrenching Woody Stephens pace and ran much better than he will get credit for, considering he was beaten only eight lengths despite being eased up at the 1/16th pole. He will benefit from the slight cutback in distance and is much closer in ability to the two favorites than the odds will suggest. Interestingly, Salutos Amigos ran a field-best 116 speed figure when he dusted subsequent stakes winner Zee Bros in his final sprint try in California.
Simply put, we think he is flying under the radar and is the best betting option from a value standpoint.