Dan's Double: Upset Picks for Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial

Cheering at Santa Anita Park. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

When it comes to making money when handicapping races and betting on horse racing, it’s all about picking winners. Dan Tordjman, America’s Best Racing’s New York correspondent, is one of the brightest young minds in the game.

Each Week, Tordjman – DanonymousMan to those who follow him on Twitter – will provide readers with his two best bets of the weekend and strategies for how to bet them. Tordjman will keep track of his return on investment (ROI) throughout the year and, as a bonus, he will also provide picks for a selection of the key races on the Triple Crown trail and the road to the Breeders’ Cup. Dan was able to manage a positive ROI for his plays in 2016. Come back every week and be sure to follow Tordjman on Twitter.

Saturday, April 8

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, $1 million Santa Anita Derby, 6:30 p.m. ET

#13 Royal Mo (10-1): Pace dynamics and a wide draw did Royal Mo no favors last out in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. A horse with plenty of early speed, he was hung wide from the 10 post and was taken out of his game when he was settled off of what was projected to be a very hot pace. You can totally toss that race. Although he's drawn widest of all here in the Santa Anita Derby, Royal Mo should be able to cross over early under new rider Gary Stevens.

If you go back to his prior race, Royal Mo's 94 Beyer Speed Figure in the Bob Lewis Stakes is one of the strongest efforts by any West Coast horse this prep season. Only #9 Iliad's San Vicente (at a shorter 7 furlongs) and San Felipe (when he finished second to Mastery) are better on figures. It's tough to toss Iliad but you have to wonder how much his all-out effort in the San Felipe might've drained him. Royal Mo never really got to run his race in the Rebel, so expect him to be loaded early and have enough late.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$5 win and place on #13 Royal Mo ($10)

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$1 exacta box 1,7,9,13 ($12)

$6 win and place on #13 Royal Mo ($12)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$1 trifecta box 1,9,13 ($6)

$2 exacta box 1,7,9,13 ($24)

$10 win and place on #13 Royal Mo ($20)

Aqueduct, Race 10, $750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, 5:52 p.m. ET

#2 Mo Town (6-1): Let's go ahead and make it an all-Uncle Mo double. Mo Town is another Kentucky Derby prospect coming off a disappointing effort, with some potential excuses. He went off as a short-priced favorite in the Risen Star but could do no better than fifth in the race that was won by eventual Louisiana Derby hero Girvin. But like Royal Mo, Mo Town bore the burden of a wide post and trip, losing ground through the early stages of the race before eventually fading late.

The likely pace scenario in the Wood Memorial and Mo Town's inside draw should play a lot more favorably. The logical choice in the race is Battalion Runner. He's got some early speed - the only problem for him is that so does True Timber and Holy Bull winner Irish War Cry. In consecutive races last fall, Mo Town showed the ability to rate off of the pace before accelerating late. This should set up for him and you've got to also like seeing Javier Castellano take the mount. The only knocks on Mo Town are that he looks a touch slower on figures and that the horses he beat last year, specifically in the Remsen, have been exposed as a cut below the top of this year's 3-year-old crop.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$5 win and place on #2 Mo Town ($10)

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$1 trifecta 2,3 with 2,3,7 with 1,2,3,4,7,8 ($16)

$4 win and place on #2 Mo Town ($8)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$1 trifecta 2,3 with 2,3,7 with ALL ($24)

$10 win and place on #2 Mo Town ($20)

$1 exacta box 2,3,7 ($6)

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