Bessarabian and Autumn Stakes 2021 Picks from Woodbine

On Saturday, November 13 at Woodbine features some exciting racing including the Grade II Bessarabian Stakes and the Grade III Maple Leaf Stakes. I break them down along with Sunday’s Grade III Autumn Stakes also taking place at Woodbine on the podcast and give you my Win, Place, and Show predictions. Additionally, play along at StableDuel where you can enter contests and win big. How? Download the StableDuel app and then pick 10 horses with your $50,000 fantasy budget. If your stable comes out on top, you’re a winner! In addition to picking the winners below, I’ll also include the “price” in the StableDuel contest.

Race 1

Post time: 12:55 PM ET

Distance: 6 ½ furlongs

Type: $15,000 Maiden Claiming

Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

Surface: Synthetic

Overview: Let’s start the day with a race that will see a first-time winner. Morning line favorite Chasing Shadows (2-1) has been close and is stepping down in class a little bit. Forest Vixen (5-2) is a little more interesting to me since it’s a horse that probably would have won last time out if not for a bad hop at the starting gate. That’s the first time the horse broke that way, so I don’t expect it to impact her again. She should get a clean trip and is to the outside of the other favorite. I don’t particularly like Super Lunar (3-1) since her best performance took place running against turf horses after the race was taken off the turf. I think Fire Emoji (15-1) has a real chance to hit the board and add some value to your exotics. First-time runner Hoping for a Ring looks promising, but her trainer does not have a history with winning maidens.

Win: Forest Vixen ($8,500)

Place: Chasing Shadows ($9,000)

Show: Fire Emoji ($500)

Race 2

Post time: 1:25 PM ET

Distance: 7 furlongs

Type: $25,000 Maiden Optional Claiming

Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

Surface: Synthetics

Overview: Coasting Away (3-1) is taking a step down in class and has run the best speed figures in the race after showing improvement in her first two races. She should win easily, but races aren’t run on paper. I’m intrigued by Tinpenny Nail (12-1) has a horse I feel has a good chance to hit the board after posting some nice speed figures and she’s now returning to a distance and surface that should suit her. Gwen (4-1) is another horse I like quite a bit as she’s cutting back in distance after a poor route showing and is getting back to where she’s had her most success. Kerics Beauty (7-2) has the most experience and has hit the board three times this year but is never as close as her finishes might indicate as she’s usually several lengths from the winner when finishing second.

Win: Gwen ($7,000)

Place: Coasting Away ($8,000)

Show: Tenpenny Nail ($500)

Race 3

Post time: 1:54 PM ET

Distance: 5 ½ furlongs

Type: Maiden Special Weight $126,800 purse

Age: 2-years-old (fillies)

Surface: Synthetic

Overview: A fun juvenile race with six of the seven entrants making their first start. I Have an Idea (20-1) cost a lot of money ($90,000) but has not looked particularly impressive in workouts. She Makes Me Tizzy (5/2) meanwhile has been flying around the track turning in beautiful five-furlong workouts this fall. Baby Fade (2-1) has a nice pedigree while flashing impressive speed and a trainer with a solid track record of winning the first time out. However, she’ll also be carrying a few extra pounds for the race. From a value standpoint, Tara Luna (8-1) has a nice pedigree but may ultimately end up liking more distance while Inspector Reload (4-1) is all flash and may wear herself out sprinting the first half of the race. The only veteran horse, Spice In Yuh Life (6-1), didn’t have a particularly memorable first race but is getting blinkers and has worked out well recently. In a race filled with unknowns, it’s worth chasing some value as you could play any of my top three to win.

Win: Makes Me Tizzy ($8,500)

Place: Spice In Yuh Life ($5,000)

Show: Tara Luna ($3,000)

Race 4

Post time: 2:23 PM ET

Distance: 5 ½ furlongs

Type: Allowance $101,200 purse

Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

Surface: Synthetic

Overview: On paper, American Tap (2-1) should be able to run away and hide from the rest of the field, but I don’t think it’ll be that easy. Yes, American Tap is getting class relief and going back to sprinting after running a Grade III route race last time out. However, the rest of the field has some resilient horses that will not give way easily. Takota (20-1) is a great long shot who is running at her preferred distance. Any longer than 5 ½ furlongs and she gets caught, but at this distance, she’s got a good track record and can use her early speed to fend off competitors long enough to get to the finish line. Hai Bobby (12-1) ran great last time out and has followed it up with crisp workouts. Forest Drift (4-1) is probably the most serious competition to American Tap and has shown comparable speed while running in quality allowance races. The biggest issue for American Tap is simply navigating the field as she typically sits way back and then attempts to outkick the competition. That’s a dangerous strategy at 5 ½ furlongs where early speed is typically the winning formula.

Win: Forest Drift ($7,000)

Place: Takota ($250)

Show: American Tap ($9,000)

Race 5

Post time: 2:56 PM ET

Distance: 1 mile and 70 yards

Type: $25,000 Maiden Optional Claiming

Age: 2-years-old

Surface: Synthetic

Overview: In another maiden, I really like the morning line favorite Patio Party (3-1) but I worry a little bit about breaking from the #10 post position and getting hung out wide around the turns. While both October Frost (5-1) and Unspeakable (6-1) to have some things to like, they have hardly instilled confidence in a victory based upon their previous efforts. Coo Bird (4-1) falls into that same category. Therefore, I’m looking at I am Resilient (12-1) as a horse that showed some progression last time out and may like more distance while posting solid workouts coming off his last race. I’m not sure it’s enough to win, but I like his chance to hit the board. Thelonious (10-1) also offers some nice value as a horse that’s turned in two solid performances in the three races since switching trainers.

Win: Patio Party ($8,000)

Place: I Am Resilient ($750)

Show: Thelonious ($1,000)

Race 6

Post time: 3:26 PM ET

Distance: 6 ½ furlongs

Type: $40,000 Maiden Optional Claiming

Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

Surface: Synthetic

Overview: In the final race prior to the stakes races there is some nice value to be found. Humorous Holiday (12-1) has run improving speed figures and had consecutive second place finishes the last two time out and seems like a steal for the value given the quality of competition. Verry (7-2) is a nice horse who is also improving and while she might not provide as much value, should absolutely be used in exotics. Meanwhile, Livin On Luv (3-1) ran a monster race last time out that is not indicative of her typical performance and has promptly turned in consecutive sluggish workouts leading up to this race. I’d stay away from her at the betting window. Gamble’s Silver (5-2) is never too far off from winning and has turned in multiple solid performances to make you think she’s a lock to hit the board.

Win: Humorous Holiday ($750)

Place: Verry ($7,500)

Show: Gamble’s Silver ($8,500)

Race 7

Post time: 3:56 PM ET

Distance: 1 ¼ miles

Type: Maple Leaf Stakes – Grade III

Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

Surface: Synthetic

Overview: I’m not particularly sold on morning line favorite Merveilluex (3-1) who has run against strong competition in 2021 but has yet to finish better than third in a graded stakes race. While distance should not be an issue, I just have my doubts about her ability to win against a field of solid competition. Therefore, my eye turns to the close second favorite Skygaze (7-2) who is incredibly reliable hitting the board and should be on, or near, a very reasonable early lead. The two 8-1 horses, Art of Almost and Sister Otoole are both intriguing as the former bested several competitors in this field the last time out at the Grade III Ontario Matron while the latter has run against some solid Breeders’ Cup competition in previous races and held her own. I love the value both provide. I’d stay away from Broadway Lady (4-1) as a horse that’s taking a step up in class and distance while not providing a ton of value. Ultimately, I think Art of Almost is going to relish the distance and track down Skygaze as she did last time out.

Win: Art of Almost ($3,000)

Place: Skygaze ($7,500)

Show: Sister Otoole ($3,000)

Race 8

Post time: 4:26 PM ET

Distance: 7 furlongs

Type: Bessarabian Stakes – Grade II

Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

Surface: Synthetic

Overview: Our Secret Agent (2-1) is a respectable morning line favorite and while I do not like her to win, you’d be crazy not to have her included in your exotics as she has never finished off the board in a sprint race. However, while she’s 13-14 at hitting the board, she’s only 3-14 winning and makes me think of horses like Dogtag, Flagstaff, or Royal Flag who are very good in their own right but often fail to win against elite competition. One of the horses that will provide elite competition is Lady Speightspeare (4-1) who represents good value after recently coming back after nearly a one-year layoff following an impressive Grade I victory in 2020 at the Natalma Stakes at Woodbine. She seems to be back after an easy victory last time out and has never lost. Additionally, she’s going to get the early lead and shouldn’t be pressed too heavily by Juxtapose or Emmeline. Aug Lutes (8-1) represents great value as a horse that keeps getting faster each time out while stepping up in competition. Additionally, she’s won 4-5 career starts and has done well on the synthetic surface. I do not like the value provided by Gidgetta (3-1) who has not performed particularly well in graded stakes races and is running at Woodbine for the first time. Tuned (6-1) is taking a step back in distance, which may be what she needs but I’m not convinced that she’ll have enough to hit the board in a very crowded field. Juxtapose (20-1) is a live long shot as a horse that ran competitively last time out at the Grade III Ontario Matron stakes and will like returning to a sprint distance where she’s had success.

Win: Lady Speightspeare ($7,000)

Place: Aug Lutes ($3,000)

Show: Our Secret Agent ($9,000)

Race 9

Post time: 4:56 PM ET

Distance: 1 1/8 miles

Type: $15,000 Starter Optional Claiming

Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

Surface: Synthetic

Overview: Antigone (2-1) is the class of the field and checks all the boxes in terms of performance, speed figures, and distance. Underneath, things get a little more interesting. Cool Society (9-2) has some intriguing features to offer in terms of her performance at similar level races in the past and she’s done well when racing over a mile. Classy Mistress (15-1) is risky, but her last effort was huge in winning by 16 lengths in an allowance race. This is a better caliber of competition, but she likes distance and would seem to be a live longshot to hit the board. Capable (6-1) is a nice horse at the claiming level but has been outclassed when stepping up against a higher caliber of competition.

Win: Antigone ($9,000)

Place: Cool Society ($6,500)

Show: Class Mistress ($500)

Race 10

Post time: 5:26 PM ET

Distance: 6 ½ furlongs

Type: $10,000 Claiming

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Synthetic

Overview: Seau (3-1) is a horse who had most of his best races at less tracks and when he’s run at Woodbine has often come up short. On the other hand, Crafty Conquest (5-2) has run well on Woodbine’s claiming circuit while turning in winning recent performances and has a nice outside starting position. After that, I’m looking inside at Epilogue (5-1), Blockbuster (8-1), and Call Me Wally (10-1) as horses that all have something to offer. All three horses have had success at Woodbine in the past with Epilogue taking a slight step back in distance. Blockbuster is the one with the best chance of being forwardly placed, so I’ll give him the edge. Speedy Moonlight (12-1) is another horse that should be at, or near, the least down the backstretch and has won half the race he’s run this year.

Win: Crafty Conquest ($8,500)

Place: Speedy Moonlight ($750)

Show: Blockbuster ($3,000)

Race 11

Post time: 5:56 PM ET

Distance: 6 furlongs

Type: Maiden Special Weight $84,000 purse

Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

Surface: Synthetic

Overview: We close things out with a huge 14-horse finale that features several interesting entries. Silent Guroo (3-1) is probably the best horse in the field, but I really dislike her drawing such an outside post. Therefore, I’m looking at Musically Inclined (8-1) as a horse with a better draw, good workouts, and who has shown the ability to turn in respectable performances at this level. Elite Princess (4-1) got stomped the first time running at the claiming level and while she had some nice maiden races, I’m not loving the value. Linda Loves Lace (6-1) is a little bit better and is stepping down to a lower level claiming race so you’d hope to see an improved performance. Of the longshots, I think Baby Driver (12-1) and Chasing Destiny (20-1) are the most likely to be surprised based upon their past performance, but neither is consistent.

Win: Musically Inclined ($3,000)

Place: Linda Loves Lace ($5,000)

Show: Silent Guroo ($8,000)

Get all of Matthew’s horse racing coverage by following him on Twitter at @failedtomenace, by subscribing to Amalfi Media’s YouTube channel, and following The Win Place Show podcast.

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