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Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports
Bernier's Best

Weekend Stakes Previews for Sept. 17

by Matt Bernier
Updated On: September 16, 2022, 10:43 pm ET


With just seven weeks until the 2022 Breeders' Cup World Championships, final tune-ups for many key contenders are well underway.

These prep races shouldn't be viewed as merely a means to an end, however, as there's still a great deal of purse money at stake as well as coveted graded stakes victories in some historic races.

This weekend, all eyes will be north of the border at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Canada, with three Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” events taking place: the G1 Natalma, the G1 Woodbine Mile, and the G1 Summer.

Below you will find selections and wagers to consider from each of these events happening on Saturday.

After thirty-four weeks, here is the results tally (records reflective of $2 WIN / $2 WPS):

WIN: 14-102 (13.7%, -$93.40)
WPS: 53-102 (52%, -$179.20)




Any graded stake on turf that features runners from the barns of Charlie Appleby and Chad Brown will usually end up going to one of the two, but SAMMY STONE (5) delivered an incredibly promising effort on debut for Catherine Day-Phillips and warrants a look. A son of Oscar Performance, Sammy Stone stumbled shortly after the gates broke on August 14; from there, the two-year-old colt lagged well behind the field before unleashing a wicked move rounding the far turn. It would have been understandable to see the juvenile flatten out down the lane, yet he continued strongly, rallying for a second-place finish. There are plenty of questions that need to be answered when it comes to Sammy Stone – can he beat winners despite he himself still being a maiden, how will he handle the move from synthetic to turf, will he appreciate the additional distance, etc. Why is he worth considering with all these questions? The answer is simple: the price will be right.

THE PLAY: 5) SAMMY STONE TO WIN at odds of 10/1 or greater



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Make no mistake about it – the Woodbine Mile goes through Godolphin, Charlie Appleby, William Buick, and their horse, Modern Games. Modern Games is strictly the horse to beat in this race, however he's going to be overbet in relation to his true chances of winning. Ivar makes sense as the most logical alternative in terms of likeliest winners, but he's not particularly appealing at odds of 7/2 (or thereabouts). By no means is this horse a likely winner, but I think HOMER SCREEN (7) isn't impossible when looking for a horse to hit the board at a giant price for trainer Neil Drysdale. A six-year-old Brazilian bred, Homer Screen has had miserably wide trips in each of his last two starts in Southern California, and while California turf form rarely ships well, Homer Screen gives off the impression that cutting back to a one-turn mile may suit him. With horses like Get Smokin and Town Cruise (the winner of this race last year) entered, the pace in the race can't help but be on the swifter side. This should work to the advantage of Homer Screen, who should be rallying late. Best used underneath, Homer Screen is intriguing enough for me to also take a flier on the win end.

THE PLAY: 7) HOMER SCREEN TO WIN at odds of 10/1 or greater




If assessing G LAURIE (3) from a speed figure standpoint, she's simply not fast enough to win the G1 Natalma and will potentially represent a massive underlay. With seasoned horses who have run many times throughout their careers, this may be true; with inexperienced two-year-olds that can jump up ten, fifteen, even twenty or more points from start to start, though? There must be more taken into consideration. G Laurie is conditioned by one of the best in Graham Motion, so it's noteworthy that this daughter of Oscar Performance broke her maiden in her debut at Colonial Downs with style. Motion isn't a trainer that typically has his first-time starters cranked up and ready to roll (Past five years, first-time starters, turf routes: 4/102, $0.56 ROI), making her six-length romp that much more impressive. Sure, she's light on figs – but it's not as though any of the other girls in this field are overly impressive on numbers, and none of them were as impressive visually as G Laurie was. As is the case with any bet, jump off if the price is too short. In this instance, odds of 3/1 or greater seem fair.

THE PLAY: 3) G LAURIE TO WIN at odds of 3/1 or greater

Matt Bernier

Matt Bernier is a betting analyst for NBC Sports and host of "The Matt Bernier Show" podcast. His work has been showcased in the Daily Racing Form, on ESPN, as well as on TVG. Matt can be followed on Twitter @bernier_matt.