Day Results 9 / 3-1-4
2020 Overall 831 831 / 296-272-334
Win % of Top Pick 35.62%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 36.18%
2020 Top Pick in the Money –528-831 63.54%
Top Selection ITM / KEE 24-46 43.48%
Top Selection Win / KEE 15-46 32.61%
“Key Horses” @ KEE 5-1-0-1 20.00% Win / 40.00% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2020 111-38-24-16 34.23% Win / 70.27% ITM

(My lovely daughter Alex, who modeled at Saratoga several years ago. Beautiful then. Beautiful today.)

Today is the Opening Day at Saratoga.

Can’t imagine the town without the normal hustle of a race day. The fans parking in the grassy lots of houses nearby. The crowd moving as one toward the historic entrance. The touts hawking their picks along the sidewalk. The smell of the barbecues, and those tasty brats and hot dogs warming to perfection.

Can’t imagine that Ciro’s is not bouncing, with the band in the back lot and the cooks in the kitchen prepping up some of the best tasty treats in town. The best drinks, to be sure.

Can’t imagine that the cooks at the Wishing Well aren’t boiling the fresh, sweet corn, and cutting those ripe tomatoes for tonight’s diner specials. Can’t imagine that someone won’t sit down and play a tune on the piano in the lobby.

Can’t imagine the historic Gideon Putnam without visitors, and no one roaming that old golf course.

Can’t imagine this town and this track without fans.

Just can’t imagine.

What has the world come to? Seriously? We have to find a way to whip this awful virus and return to what we know, and what we do, and what we enjoy, and what we live for.

Can’t imagine another day is this perpetual hell jail. Just hope that our doctors and scientists can find a vaccine and give us both a potential cure and more hope for a better tomorrow. That’s what I want to imagine.

Until then, though, we will watch on our computers and the TV.

Until then, we will wager on our ADW accounts and try to find the nugget that will make our day.

Until then, we will make do until the day that we can do it all again.

Here’s our look at today’s Opening Card at Saratoga. Wish we could be there to celebrate in style.

1st: 6-7-4/1-8-2/5…Guy Caballero (6) has not run a race since February, and that was in the barn of the ousted and embarrassed Jorge Navarro. Ran third that day at Gulfstream Park and nearly won the 1-mile event from gate to wire. Now, the 6YO gelding finds himself in the barn of Rudy Rodriguez, who wins with .21% of those making the barn debut. Also, the trainer wins with .17% of those away from the races an extended period of time. Works are just OK for the return. But Irad Ortiz, Jr. takes the reins, and he wins with .29% of the last 7 rides for this barn. Has shown the ability to run well off a layup before and now drops to an all-time low price tag. Jerome Avenue (7) will make the first start for a new trainer, too. This barn hits with .19% of those making the debut for the new connections and with .29% of those making the 2nd start off a layup. Ran better than it looked last time out, too. Just so wide. Gets a new rider today and this guy is having a very solid year. Look for improvement. Sergeant Drive (4) could spice up the odds rack here, at 8-1 ML. Will return to former trainer today, too, and drops considerably in the class rankings. Barn hits with .30% of those making this kind of class drop, and that’s with a 60-horse sample size. Gets a top rider up. Threat here. Seriously. I bet the 6-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.  I will key the 6-4 over/under the 7 -1-8-2 in two shorter units.

2nd: 1-10-6/7-8-5/3…Leading West (1) has made the gate on 8 other occasions. Has not won, yet. But does have 4 seconds and 1 third. In 4 grass tries, the 3YO Distorted Humor colt has 2 seconds and a third. Stretches out to 11/16 miles today, and that is a new distance. But three things different today. Drops into the MCL ranks for the first time and the trainer wins with .27% of those. Gets the blinkers, too. Barn hits with .17% of those. And, gets Irad Ortiz, Jr. up. Jockey has won with .19% of the last 21 mounts for this barn. Looks like he could grad today after two near-miss seconds in a row. (Formerly trained by Jason Servis. Another disgraced trainer.) Scanno (10) has hit the board in the last three outings and 4 of the last 5. In 4 starts at this grass distance, though, the connections have only 1 second. Hmmm. Ran well last time out for this rider. Could be close. Eternal Summer (6) could be a nice Upset Special here. Will be making the first start since running her last August. Ran third that day, but the winner was Structor — who just so happens to be the same horse to capture the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last year. In the first career start, ran 7th behind the 3rd-place finisher — a horse named Silver Prospector. Barn hits with .33% of those dropping into the MCL ranks for the first time and with .30% of those returning from this long a layup. HOF rider up. Chance here. I bet the 1-6 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 1-6 over/under the 10-7-8-5-3 in two shorter units.

3rd: 3-2-5/4-1…Palace Avenger (3) is a speedster with real talent. Last time out, when running at 6.5-furlongs, this 3YO filly ran up against a real good one — who came right back to win a Stakes event at KEE. The “show” horse that day ran huge at KEE next time out, too. Cuts back to 6 furlongs today and that should help the speed last, too. Work on July 2 at Churchill Downs was spot on and the rider choice is a huge improvement. Figure of Speech (2) ran 3rd in the G1 Spinaway Stakes here last September. Ran behind Perfect Alibi in that one. Returned in June and tired boing 6.5 furlongs. Cuts back and the barn wins with .25% of those making the 2nd start off a layoff. Former rider returns. Palomita (5) is the “other” Chad Brown horse in here. Broke the maiden impressively at KEE in April 2019. Off until January of this year, when showed up at Aqueduct. I prefer the first “Brown horse.” I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 3 over/under the numbers listed in two more. Like the 3 here.

4th: 2-3/6-4-5/7-1…This MSW event will be contested over the main track at 6 furlongs. I will go with the first time starter — Yes to Mischief (2). This 3YO daughter of Into Mischief comes from the hottest sire in the world right now and is out of a dam who has produced 2 winners from the first 3 starters. Connections paid $400,000 for this one at the OBS-March Sale a year ago and this one has trained lights out prepping for this one. Get a rider who has won with .29% of the last 7 mounts for this barn, too. Could be a square price. Dial Me Up (3) ran well in the debut, but that was last November. Been off since then, but was bet down to the heavy favorite in the first outing. Has trained well for the return and gets Lasix for the first time today. Barn hits with .25% when beaten favorites return to the action and with .13% when getting the anti-bleeder med for the first time, too. Irad Ortiz, Jr. takes the mount this time. Watch out. I bet the 2-3 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I will key the 2-3 over (only) the rest of the numbers in two shorter versions.

5th: 5-8/7-4-2/1-6/3…This is a 6-furlong sprint over the main track and reserved only for the NY-bred flock. I will go with Dark Money (5). This one beat 11 others last time out in open company at Belmont Park on June 6. That was his first start since February, and it was an impressive one. Over the last 9 races, he has hit the money 7 times. Has 5 wins in that mix. Barn hits with .24% of those making the 2nd start off a layup and .21% of those that won the last race out. The Caretaker (8) is another who has piled up the wins. In 31 starts to date, this one has a 7-9-6 record. Here at Saratoga, this one has a 2-1-0 mark in just 4 starts. Won last time out at Belmont Park and beat a couple of those returning in this race, too. Love the work on July 2. Looks good right now. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 in the exacta. I will key the 5-8 over/under the 7-4-2-1-6 in two smaller units.

6th: 8-9/2-2B/7-5…Spitball (8) is a 3YO gelded son of City Zip, and is coming off a nice 3rd place effort at Belmont Park on June 18. Went 6 furlongs that day and just tired in the late strides. Cuts back to 5.5 furlongs today. Should help. Barn hits with .22% of those making the 2nd start off a layup. Will make the 2nd start on the sod today. One to beat. Propensity (9) has made 4 starts over the sod, and has 2 thirds to show for the efforts. Flashed speed back in the late winter and early spring when going 1 mile. Should fit at this distance and against these types today. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 in the exacta. I will key the top 2 over/under the rest of the numbers listed in two smaller units.

7th: 9-1-8/6-2-3/5-7/4-10…This is a 11/16-mile turf event that will be held exclusively for the NY-breds. I’m going with Summer At the Spa (9), who is aptly named for this first start at Saratoga. The 3YO daughter of Summer Front came off an extended layup to just miss at Belmont Park on June 18. Barn hits with .30% of those making the 2nd start off a layup. Gets a HOF rider up for the first time, too. Barn winning at a .23% clip in 79 starts this year. Reason I like the most? Closer. Going longer. And, it appears a ton of speed in this one. Astoria Kitten (1) should be the PT favorite, and, perhaps, the horse to beat. She ran in two open Stakes races just a few starts back and held her own. Was 4th in the Chelsey Flower at Aqueduct in November. But this one wants the front and has not shown the willingness to close strong, in the first 5 starts. Longer distance, too. Could be vulnerable late. Pandamom (8) broke the maiden last time out when going gate to wire. Looks to want that spot again, if the last works are an indication, too. Could spoil the party for the #1 along the way. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 9 over/under the “all button” in two smaller. I box the 9-1 in another one — solidly.

8th: 3-8-1/2-5-6/7-4…G3 Schuylerville Stakes…The first Stakes event of the meet comes for the 2YO fillies and they will travel 6 furlongs today. Beautiful Memories (3) broke the maiden at Churchill Downs on debut, running off to a whopping 10-length win. She was odds-on that day and showed why. Has trained lights out since then, too. They will have to have their running shoes on today to run down this daughter of Hard Spun. Hopeful Princess (8) will make her first start for the barn of Steve Asmussen, after being purchased privately by Stonestreet Stables following the MSW win at Churchill Downs on May 21. Won that one after stalking much of the way. Has worked tremendously here upon arrival. From the 1st crop of Not This Time, who was a terrific 2YO in his own right. Watch out. Make Mischief (1) is the “other” Casse horse in this field. The NY-bred is a daughter of the world-famous Into Mischief and this one beat other state breds to win the debut on June 18. Came from off the pace to win that day at the 5-furlong distance. More ground should not be an issue for this one if the top two bang and knock early on. Love the 12-1 ML odds, too. She doesn’t know she is a NY-bred, by the way. I bet the 3-1 across the board, and then box the top 3 in the exacta. 

9th: 3-5/8-6/4-2/1-7-9…G3 Peter Pan Stakes…Modernist (3) lost all chance in the G1 Belmont Stakes at the start. May not have been good enough to warm up Tiz the Law that day — or any day, for that matter — but we couldn’t tell. Before that, ran well in both the G2 Risen Star and the G2 Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds. Should like the distance here and stands out against the likes of these, IMO. Candy Tycoon (5) is an improving type. Lost all chance against Tiz the Law in the G1 Florida Derby going into the first turn. Ran much better in the allowance at Oaklawn Park on May 2 — on the undercard of the Arkansas Derby. Works solid here. Rider red hot. Has a trip over this track, when 3rd on debut last year. Chance. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 in the exacta. I will key the 3-5 over/under the 8-6-4-2-1 in two smaller units.

10th: 1-2-11/6-8-7/4-12…The rail is not the prime spot to be for a 5.5-furlong sprint over the grass, in most circumstances. Especially when it does not appear that you have an abundance of speed. But…Secure Connection (1) does appear to be the best of the group. On paper. Will drop into the claiming ranks for the first time for a barn that trains some of the best for the best. Works of late have been solid. And, will cut back to a distance that she nearly won at last summer when toiling down in Maryland. In 7 turf races to date, she has a 1-1-2 mark. but only one of those was a a true sprint distance. Low odds may deter. Doll (2) used to be in the barn of Jason Servis. Ugh. Ran well in the first effort for the new trainer, Brad Cox. Yeah. If she can duplicate that effort today, she may be a tough out. Barn hits with .29% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Aunt Nadine (11) used to be trained by Jorge Navarro. Ugh. Yuck. Now, is in the barn of Steve Asmussen. Yeah. Will make the first start over the sod and the barn hits with .17% of those. Chance here with some speed from the outside. I bet the 1-2 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene