Making Money Betting a Potential Superstar in the Dwyer Stakes

Fans watching the racing at Belmont Park. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

Graded stakes racing on a Monday? It’s not a regular occurrence, but thanks to the luck of the calendar, racing fans will be treated to a bonus day of high-class racing on Monday, July 5.

Since Independence Day fell on a Sunday this year, the public holiday portion has been shifted to Monday, a day Belmont Park will celebrate with the running of the $250,000, Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes. Held at one mile on dirt, the Dwyer Stakes is a historic prize for 3-year-olds dating all the way back to 1887, when Hall of Fame inductee Hanover claimed top honors in a race then known as the Brooklyn Derby.

Just five horses have been entered in the 2021 Dwyer and, while none has yet achieved the widespread success and acclaim of Hanover, who’s to say #2 First Captain can’t progress along similar lines and eventually join Hanover in the Hall of Fame?

weekend Television schedule

Thursday, July 1: 1 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Friday, July 2: 1 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, July 3: 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. on FS1; 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m. on FS2; 5 p.m.-6 p.m. on NBC; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, July 4: 1 p.m.-6 p.m. on FS1; 5 p.m.-6 p.m. on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Monday, July 5: 1 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

For all we know, the sky might be the limit for First Captain’s potential. Certainly his connections must have thought so when they acquired the chestnut colt for $1.5 million as a yearling. This lofty purchase price can be attributed at least in part to First Captain’s stellar pedigree — he’s a son of two-time Horse of the Year and elite sire Curlin out of the graded stakes-winning mare America, a daughter of Horse of the Year and breed-shaping stallion A.P. Indy.

This is pedigree geared top and bottom toward late maturity and success at classic distances, so it was remarkable to see First Captain win his April 24 debut sprinting just seven-eighths of a mile at Belmont Park. Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey doesn’t typically crank his youngsters to win on debut, so when First Captain unleashed a determined rally to win by three-quarters of a length, the racing world sat up and took notice. Here was a potential star in the making!

The strength of First Captain’s debut was reiterated when runner-up Mahaamel came back to dominate an identical race by 3 1/4 lengths. And of course, First Captain himself cemented his burgeoning reputation by returning to win a one-mile allowance race at Belmont in tenacious fashion.

Any way you slice it, First Captain ran strongly in his second start. Facing older rivals, First Captain showed a bit more tactical speed than in his debut, tracking quarter-mile fractions of :23.69 and :47.17 before poking his head in front through three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.28. At this point, First Captain was confronted on the outside by Hometown, who forged to a half-length advantage while drifting in and pushing First Captain toward the rail.

But First Captain refused to be intimidated. Putting his stamina-laden pedigree to good use, First Captain battled back through the final eighth of a mile to defeat Hometown by one length in 1:36.10, a solid time.

First Captain will stick to the same track and distance for the Dwyer, where he looms as a formidable favorite against his own age group. His versatility in terms of running style affords him options for working out an advantageous trip under hot jockey Jose Ortiz. He still has plenty of upside, and he owns some of the best speed ratings in the field. What’s not to like? If First Captain brings his A-game to the Dwyer, the rest might be running for second place.

There’s only one problem: First Captain figures to offer very short odds, so betting him to win won’t be the most lucrative option. To make a meaningful score betting the Dwyer Stakes, we’ll have to focus on exotic wagers like the exacta and trifecta.

A key player for the minor awards is #1 Gershwin, a half-brother to Grade 1 Dubai World Cup Presented by Emirates Airline winner and early 2021 Horse of the Year contender Mystic Guide. Gershwin hasn’t missed the trifecta in five starts against increasingly tough competition, including a recent victory in the Grade 3 Penn Mile. The chestnut colt is technically the most accomplished horse in the Dwyer field, but his off-the-pace running style might leave him at a tactical disadvantage, and it’s worth noting four of his five starts (including both of his victories) have come over wet tracks. It’s unclear how Gershwin will handle the dry footing expected for Monday.

As a result, #5 Snow House might have a better chance to snatch second place. Conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox, the Juddmonte Farms homebred has gone 2-for-2 on dirt, wiring a one-mile maiden race at Keeneland before battling to victory in a one-mile allowance at Churchill Downs. The distance of the Dwyer is perfect for Snow House, and his speed ratings are competitive, stamping the up-and-coming colt as a logical choice to finish in the money.

Depending on the budget you’ve allocated for betting the Dwyer Stakes, we’ve assembled a pair of wagering strategies keying First Captain on top of Gershwin and Snow House.

 Wagering Strategy on a $10 Budget

$5 exacta: 2 with 1,5 ($10)

What to say at the betting window: Belmont Park, 8th race, $5 exacta 2 with 1,5

Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget

$10 exacta: 2 with 1,5 ($20)

What to say at the betting window: Belmont Park, 8th race, $5 exacta 2 with 1,5

$5 trifecta: 2 with 1,5 with 1,5 ($10)

What to say at the betting window: Belmont Park, 8th race, $5 trifecta 2 with 1,5 with 1,5

 Good luck, and enjoy the race!

2021 Dwyer S.
July 5th, 2021

2 First Captain
  • Breeder / B. Flay Thoroughbreds
4 Ridin With Biden
5 Snow House
  • Owner / Juddmonte
  • Breeder / Juddmonte Farms Inc
1 Gershwin
3 Civil War

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