Best Horse Racing Bets for Friday, October 1, 2021

| September 30, 2021 12:31 pm PDT

Among the races I’ve reviewed for Friday’s picks are six stakes races, spread rather unevenly across my three chosen tracks—Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, and Santa Anita Park.

I don’t want to slow you down, so just remember you can review the entire race card of all three tracks at one of our recommended horseracing wagering sites.

Good luck!

My Friday Picks for Belmont Park

We’ll start on the turf course with race six, a seven-furlong allowance race for fillies and mares three years old and upward. My money’s on one of the Irish imports in this race, the morning line 9/5 grass favorite, Love And Thunder, ridden by Jose L. Ortiz.

This four-year-old filly moneyed six of her eight career starts, winning one at Newbury in Berkshire, England. Since she’s been stateside, she’s chalked up four second-place finishes. Versus this inexperienced field of eleven, she’ll do.

A winner of multiple Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Trainer, Chad C. Brown trains Love and Thunder for owners John D. and Tanya Gunther.

We’re back on the dirt track for race seven, a six-furlong allowance optional claiming race for three-year-olds and upward. I like the third-favored (at 7/2) Always Sunshine, with Jose L. Ortiz in the irons.

This nine-year-old gelding finished in the money for 27 of his 37 career starts, winning 14 and taking the statistical lead in this eight-horse field.

In 2021 he’s moneyed all seven of his starts, with three wins, two of them his most recent. He also finished third in the Mr. Prospector Stakes (Black Type) at Monmouth Park in May and second in the Alapocas Run Stakes (Black Type) at Delaware Park in July.

Fifty-year racing veteran Edward T. Allard trains Always Sunshine for Stonehedge LLC.

Race eight takes us back to the turf course for the John Hettinger Stakes, a $125,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles run for New York-bred fillies and mares three years old and upward. I’m buying a win ticket on the 8/5 morning-line favorite, Myhartblongstodady, with Jose Jose Lezcano aboard.

The six-year-old mare had money finishes in 11 of her 14 career starts, with five of those wins. In 2021 she moneyed two of her four starts, finishing third in the Plenty of Grace Stakes (Black Type) at Aqueduct in April and second in the Yaddo Handicap (Black Type) at Saratoga in August.

Breeders’ Cup veteran Jorge R. Abreu trains Myhartblongstodady for owner-breeder Lawrence Goichman.

Friday’s Picks for Churchill Downs

We’re starting on the main track with race six, a six-panel allowance optional claiming run for two-year-olds. I agree with the morning-line on this one, and I’m betting my two dollars on the 5/2 favorite, Nakatomi, piloted by Tyler Gaffalione.

In three career starts, this gelding won his first maiden attempt in April and finished third in the Saratoga Special Stakes (Grade II) in August.

Oh, and between those two, he traveled over to the UK to finish mid-pack (8th) among a field of 15 in the Norfolk Stakes (Grade II), part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.

Longtime Breeders Cup veteran Wesley A. Ward trains Nakatomi for owners Marc Detampel, Qatar Racing, and Tim O. Banker.

Race eight is a 1-1/16 miles allowance optional claiming race on the main track for three-year-olds and upward. I’m betting my two dollars on the 9/5 morning-line favorite, Major Fed, with Florent Geroux in the irons.

Yes, this is the same Major Fed that finished tenth in last year’s Kentucky Derby. In his defense, he was always considered a longshot; he finished better than last which is encouraging.

And let’s not forget that he finished second in both the Indiana Derby (Grade III) a year ago, August, and the Risen Star Stakes (Grade II) a year ago, February. For the record, Major Fed has finished in the money for six of his nine career starts, winning two.

He’s the only entry in this race with serious graded stakes experience.

Gregory D. Foley trains Major Fed for owner-breeder Lloyd Madison Farms, IV LLC.

Race nine is the Seneca Overnight Stakes, a $160,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles run on the main track for three-year-old fillies.

The morning line seems to think there are really only two horses in this race, but I see seven on the race card. Still, I’m inclined to agree that there is a clear front-runner here: the 6/5 favorite, Crazy Beautiful, ridden by Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.

This filly is a real standout: Eight money finishes in her 11 career starts, with five wins. That alone gives her the lead in the statistics battle. More importantly, she’s got much more experience with graded stakes races than her competition.

This year alone, she’s won the Gulfstream Park Oaks (Grade II) in March, the Summertime Oaks (Grade II) at Santa Anita in May, and the Delaware Oaks (Grade III) at Delaware Park in July. As the man once said: Can do.

No stranger to the Triple Crown races or the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, longtime racing veteran Kenneth G. McPeek trains Crazy Beautiful for Phoenix Thoroughbred III.

Friday Picks for Santa Anita Park

We’re on the turf course for race five, the Speakeasy Stakes—a $100,000 purse, five-furlong run for two-year-olds. I’m buying a win ticket on of the second-favored entries (there are two at 5/2), One Timer, ridden by veteran jockey E. T. Baird.

This gelding won both of his career starts, including his initial maiden attempt in June and the Victoria Stakes (Listed) at Woodbine Racetrack in July. He’ll find serious competition in this seven-horse field, but I expect him to prevail.

Regularly among the top-ranked in his profession for the past ten years, Larry Rivelli trains One Time for owners Patricia’s Hope LLC and Richard Ravin. Incidentally, jockey E. T. Baird is having the best year of his career. And yes, Baird was in the irons for both of One Time’s victories.

Race six is the Chandelier Stakes (Grade II), a $200,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles main track run for two-year-old fillies. I like the 9/5 morning-line favorite for this race: Grace Adler, with top jockey Flavien Prat in the irons.

This filly won both of her career starts—her initial maiden attempt in July and the Del Mar Debutante Stakes (Grade I) in September.

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert trains Grace Adler for owners Willow Grace Farm and Michael Lund Petersen.

Let’s move to the turf course for race seven, the Eddie D Stakes (Grade II), a $200,000 purse, 6-1/2 furlong run for three-year-olds and upward. I’m buying a win ticket on the 7/2 morning-line favorite, Lieutenant Dan, ridden by veteran jockey Geovanni Franco.

This five-year-old gelding finished in the money 14 of his 15 career starts, winning seven. He’s won both of his 2021 starts—an allowance race in July and the Green Flash Handicap (Grade III) in August at Del Mar.

Earlier victories include the 2020 Echo Eddie Stakes (Black Type), and in 2019, the Real Good Deal Stakes (Black Type) and the Sensational Star Stakes (Black Type).

A racing veteran with more than three decades in the industry, Steven Miyadi trains Lieutenant Dan for owner Nicholas B. Alexander.

Race eight is the American Pharoah Stakes (Grade I), a $300,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles main track run for two-year-olds. My money’s on the 8/1 fourth-favored Pappacap, with top jockey Joe Bravo aboard.

This colt finished in the money two of his three career starts, winning both his initial maiden attempt in May and the Best Pal Stakes (Grade II) at Del Mar in August. He most recently finished fourth in the Del Mar Futurity (Grade I) in early September.

Hall of Famer Mark E. Casse trains Pappacap for owner-breeder Rustlewood Farm, Inc. Joe Bravo was in the irons for both of Pappacap’s stakes runs.

J.W. Paine
J.W. Paine

J.W. Paine is one of the most experienced writers at He's written for television and the printed media, and is a published novelist (as Tom Elliott).

Paine loves writing about Las Vegas nearly as much he loves living here. An experienced gambler, he's especially familiar with thoroughbred horseracing, poker, blackjack, and slots.

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