How to Bet the Red Smith Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 15th, 2018

Just how many times has trainer Mike Maker claimed turf horses, stretched them out in distance, and turned them into graded stakes winners?

The list goes on and on—I even wrote a whole article about it earlier this year—and the latest example is #3 Zulu Alpha, who runs in Saturday’s $200,000 Red Smith Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct.

Prior to being claimed by Maker, Zulu Alpha was a capable allowance runner whose occasional forays into graded stakes company had yielded nothing better than a third-place finish in the 2018 Muniz Memorial Handicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds. But then Maker claimed him out of an allowance race at Churchill Downs (which Zulu Alpha won by 9 ½ lengths) and decided to stretch out the five-year-old gelding over 1 3/8 miles for the Sycamore Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland. The result? Zulu Alpha tracked a slow pace over a wet turf course and won by two lengths over Arklow, who came right back to finish a respectable fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I).

Whether Zulu Alpha can repeat the feat is another question, but chances are good that he’ll catch another wet turf course in the Red Smith, and that should be to his benefit. In a wide-open race that looks very competitive on paper, why not bet on Zulu Alpha to continue his ascent and pick up another victory, possibly at a very nice price?

I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to think Zulu Alpha can win right back. #6 Call Provision, runner-up in this race last year, warrants respect and will surely attract wagering support since he’s conditioned by the perennial leading turf trainer Chad Brown, but Call Provision has never won at the stakes level and could be an underlay in the betting. Zulu Alpha's stablemate #8 Bigger Picture is a Grade 1 winner, but he was beaten decisively by Zulu Alpha in the Sycamore Stakes and hasn’t won a race since January. #7 Inspector Lynley is a consistent and classy runner with a couple of Grade 3 wins to his name, but he’s also been campaigned primarily as a miler and is stretching out significantly in distance for the Red Smith.

For these reasons, I’m going to make Zulu Alpha the focus of my wagers, along with his other stablemate #5 Soglio, who enters off an allowance win going 1 ½ miles at Keeneland:

$10 to win on #3 Zulu Alpha ($10) $3 exacta: 3 with 5,6,7,8 ($12) $2 exacta: 5 with 3 ($2) $0.50 trifecta: 3,5 with 3,5,6,7,8 with 3,5,6,7,8 ($6)

Good luck!