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Favorites Formidable in Empire Classic, Raven Run

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 10/19/2012 5:53:17 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds ??? Saratoga Snacks, Lunar Victory, Via Villaggio, Gypsy Robin
What: Horse Racing Betting Tips ??? The Empire Classic, The Raven Run
Where: Belmont Park, Keeneland
When: Saturday, October 20th

Sometimes when you can narrow a race down to the top two contenders, you just box them in the exacta and leave it at that. That???s a viable alternative for betting the Empire Classic at Belmont Park and the Raven Run at Keeneland on Saturday, but I???ll try to zero in on the winner of each race.

In the $250,000 Empire Classic, 3YO Saratoga Snacks (9-5) and his 5YO elder, Lunar Victory (8-5) will vie for favoritism. Saratoga Snacks can lead or stalk. His versatility is key with the speedy Johannesburg Smile to his inside. Saratoga Snacks has never taken a backward step on the Beyer scale, and his recent 98 figure vs. older, open, entry-level allowance foes stacks up well here. He gets in light (115 lbs.), retains regular pilot Ramon Dominguez, and his recent bullet breeze (:46 4/5) on the Belmont Park Training Track signals his readiness. Still, I???m siding with the Bill Mott-trained Lunar Victory, with a record of 7-5-2-0 dating back to December of 2011. He???s already cleared the open N3X hurdle, carrying 123 lbs. to victory that day, and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 in the process. Junior Alvarado is back aboard after a one-race hiatus, in which Lunar Victory was edged by the hard-hitting Saginaw. Track condition shouldn???t pose a problem, as Lunar Victory has won over tracks listed as fast, good and muddy (sealed). Like his younger rival, Lunar Victory has trained well for this engagement. I???ll bet on #8-Lunar Victory to win from just off the pace, along with an 8-6 exacta, Lunar Victory over Saratoga Snacks.

The 14-horse field of the Raven Run gives us a luke-warm favorite in #11-Gypsy Robin (3-1), with #10-Via Villaggio (4-1) listed as second choice on the morning line. Gypsy Robin won the Grade 2 Beaumont here in April, and has posted a pair of bullet works locally in the lead-up to the Raven Run. She figures to be on the pace, which could be hotly contested with the likes of #2-Assateague, #3-La Tia, #5-Yankee Union, and #12 Monono signed on. That could be just the edge that Via Villaggio will need to run her down late. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee ships in from the left coast, but was able to do so fairly effectively three back when finishing second to the highly-accomplished Grace Hall in the Delaware Oaks. Also note that ???V V??? won the Grade 3 Railbird at Hollywood Park in May at the Raven Run distance of 7 furlongs, so the cutback should suit her. She???s been keeping very tough company all year, so the Raven Run could actually provide her with a bit of class relief. I???ll bet on #10-Via Villaggio to win from mid-pack, along with a 10-11 exacta, Via Villaggio over Gypsy Robin.

Those are my horse racing betting tips for this weekend. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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