It will be a great Saturday to watch some summertime fun at the ole’ racetrack. If you go out to the oval, make sure to pack some extra water and some sun tan lotion. If you head over to the simulcast parlor, make sure to pack some extra cash.
There will be some good races to watch; and some good ones to wager, too.
Let’s take a closer look:
At Del Mar today, the great Arrogate will make his return to the States after winning the Dubai World Cup in startling, amazing, thrilling, exhilarating fashion — overcome a stumbling start to run down a really nice horse in Gun Runner and run away with another championship race.
Today, he will run in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, and this does not look to be much more than a glorified workout for the Champ. He stands, literally and figuratively, over this field. But, to be very honest, there is nothing wrong with standing, sitting, or lying down to watch a great one. And, without doubt, Arrogate is one of the game’s best. Best today, for sure. Best of his generation, no doubt. But I think, too, one of the best of all time.
When he is done at the track, Arrogate — trained by the affable Bob Baffert — should go down in history as one of the game’s all time great. Right beside the fabulous Secretariat. Right beside the wonderful Cigar. Right beside Triple Crown champs Seattle Slew, Affirmed and, in my humble opinion, right in front of American Pharaoh.
If you simply look at the time in which he runs races; if you examine the style in which he runs races; if you focus in on the dominance and power of his run, Arrogate is ever bit as good as spectacular as Spectacular Bid, and any other former Champion that you want to compare him to and rate him with. Any.
Today, it is time to watch. And, wonder. He is that good.
At Saratoga, the races promise to be a bit more interesting from a wagering perspective — with three Graded Stakes events that you can both watch — and wager.
In the G1 Coaching Club of America Stakes, the 3YO Fillies are back in the spotlight, and Saratoga has once again drawn a spectacular field. The winner of this stakes will join some of the Game’s Greatest in the history books, as well.
Leading the field will be Abel Tasman, who was my choice — at 8-1 odds — in the Kentucky Oaks. Equipped with blinkers by Baffert for the first time, she made a huge sweeping move over a muddy track to swoop to an impressive victory over what many thought was a stellar field of fillies. Since that win, Abel Tasman came back to win the G1 Acorn Stakes, beating back Mark Casse’s Salty, once again.
Now, the duo will match up for a third time. And, I don’t see any reason for a change. Abel Tasman has every ingredient to win another G1 event today. While Salty has been highly touted all spring, I think she may be the one to back up today, instead of stepping up to make another run. Instead, I am picking the following under Abel Tasman — Daddy’s Lil Darling, who gets back to the dirt, where she belongs, after a fourth-place run in the Belmont Oaks; Summer Luck, who was third in the G3 Regret Stakes; and Corporate Queen, who was third in the Black-Eyed Susan.
In the G1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga, it looks like it will be another chance to celebrate the life and times of the stellar Lady Eli, who has 8 wins and 3 seconds in 11 lifetime starts. But she showed her guts and courage, just as much, when she overcame a serious life-and-death struggle with laminitis to not only return to the racetrack, but to return to the top tier of her division. She won the Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita on May 27 in impressive fashion and now returns to the site of where she won her first race — Saratoga.
It won’t be an easy day or race for Lady Eli, though, and she may be a bit vulnerable since there is not a great deal of speed and early pace to run against and at. With that being written, a lot of the other top contenders will face the same obstacle.
But I go with an upset. I love Dickinson, who comes into this event with five wins in seven starts for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. She is also 2-for-2 at this distance and I think will pose a serious threat in her today.
In the other Graded Stakes event today, Saratoga will play host to the G3 Sanford Stakes for 2YO colts. Hall of Famers Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher each have two entered for this event, but like on Friday’s Schuylerville Stakes, I prefer to go against Pletcher — even on his home course.
Both of Pletcher’s 2YOs have prepared in Florida, after many of the top trainers and horses left town. Asmussen’s babies, on the other hand, travelled north, and, in my opinion, have faced tougher.
As a result, I go with Direct Dial, who broke his maiden for Ambassador William S. Farish at Keeneland and then, subsequently, ran an impressive second in the Tremont Stakes in his last.
I go here and there today. But, no matter where you go, have some fun. And, remember to watch the great Arrogate. Guys like him don’t come along often. Not nearly often enough.