How to bet the Ladies Handicap

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 17th, 2020

Once upon a time, the $100,000 Ladies H. at Aqueduct was a coveted prize for some of the best fillies and mares in North America.

Inaugurated in 1868 and currently held over 1 1/8 miles, the Ladies H. has been won by such notable names as Miss Woodford, Beldame, and Maskette (all recognized as Horses of the Year) plus Black Maria, Top Flight, and Shuvee. Another winner, Twitter, would surely have been better appreciated in this age of social media than when she nabbed her victory in 1928.

It’s been a while since a truly top-class filly prevailed in the Ladies’ H., but perhaps the 2020 renewal on January 19 will spark a turnaround. After all, one of the entrants—#7 Bellera—has the potential to be something special.

Conditioned by Todd Pletcher, Bellera has been steadily rising through the ranks since her debut last May. As a 3-year-old, she showed potential against older mares, winning a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Saratoga by five lengths. Leading all the way, Bellera recorded a 99 Brisnet Speed rating and a 107 Brisnet Late Pace rating, strong figures that stamped the stoutly-bred daughter of Bernardini as a filly to watch.

Bellera later proved herself over the track and distance of the Ladies H., employing pace-tracking tactics to win the 1 1/8-mile Comely (G3) on Nov. 29 with another set of strong Brisnet ratings. On paper, Bellera is the fastest filly in the Ladies H. field, and her obvious affinity for racing 1 1/8 miles is a big positive. Drawing outside in this small field is a positive, giving her every chance to secure a clean trip under jockey Jose Lezcano, who is riding 24% winners at Aqueduct this winter.

Pletcher will also saddle #2 Another Broad, who was beaten less than a length when finishing second in the 1 1/8-mile Turnback the Alarm H. (G3) at Aqueduct. Although Another Broad failed to threaten when finishing fifth in the Go for Wand H. (G3), a strongly speed-favoring track compromised her late-running style. Assuming she encounters a fair track in the Ladies H., Another Broad can rebound to finish in the money.

Let’s play Bellera on top of two large trifectas while keying Another Broad underneath:

$7.50 Trifecta: 7 with 2 with 1,6 ($15)
$7.50 Trifecta: 7 with 1,6 with 2 ($15)

Good luck!