Horses to play (or oppose) in June 19 carryovers at Arlington and Belmont

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June 19th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson highlights horses of note in a pair of lucrative Saturday carryovers at Arlington Park and Belmont Park.

Arlington Park, Race 1: $59,439 Pick 8 carryover (1 p.m. ET)

It’s tough to trust favorites at Arlington Park. Over the last two days, top betting choices have gone just 3-for-16, a 19% win rate far below standard for favorites in North American Thoroughbred races.

That’s why the 20-cent Pick 8 at Arlington has managed to build a carryover of $59,439, even though it’s not a jackpot-style wager. No one has selected all eight winners since May 29, a testament to the challenge of handicapping races at Arlington.

But if you’re going to take a shot at going 8-for-8, Saturday seems like the right day. Just 64 horses (averaging eight per race) have been entered. Sure, that equates to 14,902,272 possible outcomes, but since the minimum bet amount is just 20 cents, we can cover a fair number of options on a reasonable budget. Particularly if we can find a single or two along the way.

One creative possibility comes in Race 2, a $62,500 allowance optional claimer contested over 1 1/16 miles on the turf course. Most bettors will favor either #3 Bizzee Channel (9-5) or #4 Two Emmys (2-1). The former finished second over this class level at Churchill Downs last month and is conditioned by Arlington’s leading trainer Larry Rivelli, a 41% winner this meet. The latter enters off a runner-up effort in the Muniz Memorial (G2) at Fair Grounds, where he was beaten only by multiple Grade 1 winner Colonel Liam.

But Bizzee Channel and Two Emmys are both speed horses, and they’re not alone in preferring to race on the front end—#2 Betwithbothhands (5-1) and #5 Real Story (8-1) are other potential pace players. So why not take a shot with #6 Atone (4-1)? The son of Into Mischief boasts a solid 4-2-0-1 record on grass, with his only out-of-the-money effort coming in the Canadian Turf S. (G3) against tougher competition at Gulfstream Park.

Although Atone has some tactical speed, he’s comfortable rallying from several lengths off the pace, and he’s been freshened (and gelded) since his last run in March. I think he’ll sit a perfect trip on Saturday and capitalize with a stretch-running victory, making him a potentially valuable single if his 4-1 odds hold up.

Belmont Park, Race 5: $62,206 Pick 6 carryover (3:02 p.m. ET)

The hefty $62,206 Pick 6 carryover at Belmont might contain two fewer races than the Pick 8 at Arlington, but it appears to be every bit as tough. Indeed, if you value competitive betting sequences with the potential to produce huge paydays, this Pick 6 is a dream come true. But if it’s budget-friendly carryover sequences you seek, this Pick 6 is more like a nightmare.

Need the details? Here you go: 71 entries before scratches (with a minimum of 10 per race), and 2,613,600 possible outcomes. Even once you pull out the also-eligibles, and horses entered to race on the main track only, there are 2,069,200 possibilities to consider. And since the minimum bet amount is $1, it would cost $2,069,200 to cover them all. Yikes!

Finding a single in this monstrously difficult sequence is challenging. Some folks will steer toward #9 Combination (1-1) in Race 5, a $12,500 claimer. Winner of four straight races over this class level or tougher during the first half of 2020, Combination brings a bevy of competitive Brisnet Speed ratings to the fold and looms as a logical choice in his first run for hot trainer Rob Atras, who strikes at a 22% rate with new acquisitions.

But is Combination a lock to win? No, probably not. #11 Strolling (4-1) has the credentials to factor while dropping down the class ladder and transitioning to the barn of trainer Orlando Noda, a 26% winner this meet. If you’re tempted to save money and take a chance singling Combination, you won’t be alone. And if Combination loses, you can always come back and play the 50-cent Pick 5 starting in Race 6.

Another favorite who appears tough to trust is #10 Ava’s Grace (5-2) in Race 6, the New York Stallion S. (Cupecoy’s Joy Division). At first glance, Ava’s Grace seems tough—she’s certainly the most accomplished filly in the field, having placed in the Adirondack S. (G2) and Fantasy S. (G3) against open company.

But Ava’s Grace has done all her racing on dirt, and the New York Stallion S. is a seven-furlong turf sprint. Her dam has yet to foal a turf winner from five starters, so Ava’s Grace could be a vulnerable favorite. #1 Show Me the Honey (8-1), a sharp debut winner against New York-breds last fall, is an appealing longshot alternative in her first start of the season.

Good luck!