Our Best Bet of the Day at Ellis Park was in the 8th.  We picked Greeley and Ben — who had defeated Hence to break his maiden last fall at Churchill Downs. He went off at 12-1 odds with jockey Calvin Borel in the saddle and rolled to a nice victory at Ellis Park to give trainer Gary Thomas his first win in 52 starts this year.

Here is what we wrote earlier today:

8th: 9-6-8-7-12-1-4-2…Nice race here, and I go with Curlins Vow (9) who picks up a solid jock in Jon Court, who is riding well this meet.  This true closer will need some racing luck in this one, but is solid and has one win and two seconds at the distance.  Gettysburg (6) was cut out to be a real good one, running 5th in the Sam Davis and the Arkansas Derby a year ago and made the pace in the G1 Belmont Stakes before faltering.  This son of Piooneerof the Nile cost $425,000 as a yearling.  Raced only once this year, faltering midway in that one.  Gets Lanerie and should be more fit. Greeley and Ben (8) is my third choice here, but, surprisingly, my Bet of the Day.  This one beat Hence (who will be running in the G1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth tomorrow and who won the Iowa Derby) to break his maiden last November.  Has raced only once this year, and was bothered in the start of that one.  Goes for a trainer who is 0-for-51 this year and is 15-1 ML.  But I take a swipe at some box cars with this one.  I bet the 9-6-8 in the exacta box and then wheel the 9-8 over/under all the other numbers.  I bet the 8 across the board.  Let’s go, Gary Thomas and get that first win of the year.

First, we go to the “Spa of the South;” the “Ole’ Pea Patch;” the Ellis Park:

1st: 3-1-6-2-8…Teenertown Price (3) is 0-for-11 and a closer that needs help.  But today just may be the day and this field just may be the group.  Cool Ambition (1) ran good here on the grass in his last and gets another class drop today.  Could air from the rail when Calvin Borel in the saddle.  Reydell (6) gets a class drop and the blinkers have help a bit.  I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the 3-1-6 in the exacta.

2nd: 7-5-1-4-3…Mahalo John (7) gets leading rider Corey Lanerie and that may be enough to shove this one into the circle.  Ran a good one here to repeat winner Dark Arden in his last.  Pontifical (5) goes for Paul McGee and will be coming late.  Picks up a rider switch, too, and that may start the engines a little earlier.  Class drop puts this one in the mix.  Flash Attack (1) is trainer Steve Asmussen’s other entry in this field and has run very dull in the last two.  If he can regain his Oaklawn Park form, then he is a contender.  I bet the 7 to win/place and then key over/under all the rest.

3rd: 4-8-3-10-12…Drago’s Pearl (4) takes a class plummet and should be salty in this one today.  Trainer Dallas Stewart has employed about every strategy, but now goes down the ladder for some help today.  Rossi’s Song (8) picks up Lanerie and that is a huge improvement.  Fairway Lane (3) drops in class, as well, and gets the ultimate equipment change for trainer James Baker.  Could surprise.  Haynesome (10) goes for trainer Buff Bradley and he nearly won at this level last out.  I go with the 4 to win/place and then box the 4-8-3 in one exacta and then key the 4-8 over/under all the rest.

4th: 3-2-5-4-7-6…Upset Brewing (3) nearly won a stake in her last effort for trainer Buff Bradley, who is having a really good meet here.  Picks up Lanerie and that may be the ticket to the circle today.  Won’t be easy, though.  Special Vintage (2) ran a very game second to Pure Prize in her career debut and that one is talented.  A similar effort today will make Lanerie work.  Holy Fort (5) is a first timer for trainer Ian Wilkes and a filly by Fort Larned.  That sire, who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic for Wilkes, had his first winner here earlier this meet.  In tough today, but be sure to watch.  I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the 3-2 solid in the exacta.  I then wheel the 3-2 over/under all the rest, in case of a split.

5th: 8-1A-6-7-4-2…Curlino (8) gets a massive class drop today and that should be enough to entice a claim slip, and, perhaps, a trip to the circle.  Joe Rocco, who could win one earlier this spring, has picked up some nice mounts here and does so again today.  Mrs. Curiosity (1A) is part of an entry for Asmussen’s barn, but they have named Lanerie to ride both, so a scratch is surely coming.  I like this one the best, but both could contend.  Rip Roaring Richie (6) is all speed and will try to take it wire to wire today.  Watch this fellow roll.  He may not stop.  I bet the 8 to win/place and then box the 8-1-6 and the 8-1-7 in two exactas.

6th: 5-1-6-3…Sister Kan (5)  loses Lanerie today after the claim off Brad Cox in the last.  Bernie Flint is red, red hot at this meet (.43 win %), and figures to be really tough in this spot again today. Inspeightofyou (1) cost $140,000 as a yearling and has show some dash from time to time.  Ran second to the preferred choice in her last and may do it again today. Charity Stripe (6) is one that I have tried on several occasions this summer at Keeneland and Churchill.  Goes again today for Ben Colebrook and will have her hands full with Sister Kan. I bet the 5 to win/place and then key over/under all the numbers listed.

7th: 9-6-3-2…Timido (9) gets a bug boy in the saddle for Colebrook, but the class drop should make a contender of this one today.  Cape Diva (6) gets the blinkers for an ice cool trainer, and a class drop, too.  Maybe the combo makes this one a little more keen.  Budget Cut (3) goes for a trainer that hasn’t won a race all year. That tells you a little bit about the depth of this field.  I bet the 9 to win/place and then key over/under the rest.

8th: 9-6-8-7-12-1-4-2…Nice race here, and I go with Curlins Vow (9) who picks up a solid jock in Jon Court, who is riding well this meet.  This true closer will need some racing luck in this one, but is solid and has one win and two seconds at the distance.  Gettysburg (6) was cut out to be a real good one, running 5th in the Sam Davis and the Arkansas Derby a year ago and made the pace in the G1 Belmont Stakes before faltering.  This son of Piooneerof the Nile cost $425,000 as a yearling.  Raced only once this year, faltering midway in that one.  Gets Lanerie and should be more fit. Greeley and Ben (8) is my third choice here, but, surprisingly, my Bet of the Day.  This one beat Hence (who will be running in the G1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth tomorrow and who won the Iowa Derby) to break his maiden last November.  Has raced only once this year, and was bothered in the start of that one.  Goes for a trainer who is 0-for-51 this year and is 15-1 ML.  But I take a swipe at some box cars with this one.  I bet the 9-6-8 in the exacta box and then wheel the 9-8 over/under all the other numbers.  I bet the 8 across the board.  Let’s go, Gary Thomas and get that first win of the year.

9th: 4-11-7-9-2-5-10…Nice MSW to end the card, with a very competitive field.  I go with Aircraft Carrier (4) for McGee and Lanerie.  Throw out the last one, when she was probably too close to the pace, and she gets the numbers here.  May Lily (11) ran a good one in her last and the show horse that day has already come back to win.  Gets a positive rider switch.  Etsu (7) needed her last one and should improve. No Fault (9) has two seconds and three thirds in 10 starts.  May bump up the ladder today.  I bet the 4 to win/place and then key over/under all the rest.

 

Now, let’s move North to THE SPA — The Grand Saratoga:

1st: 3-5-2-6…Bourbon Resolution (3) ran a good one for a barn that normally doesn’t get them entirely cranked up for the career debut.  Just missed in that one and the show horse has come back to win already.  Similar effort will be tough today.  Mojovation (5) will likely be the post time favorite for Todd Pletcher and regular rider Johnny V.  Working lights out.  Lionite (2) cost more than a pretty penny ($330,000 as a yearling) and has been working well, too.  I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the 3-5-2 in one exacta and the 3-5-6 in another.

2nd: 8-3-9-6-2-10…Hieroglphics (8) goes for Pletcher in this spot and has been very solid in his last five efforts.  Pagliacci (3) goes for Bill Mott, who has been very quiet so far this meet.  Probably didn’t really want the lead in the last and a stalking move today could help preserve his energy.  Master Merion (9) will hunt the lead, on the other hand, and try to take them all the way.  Has a win, 4 seconds and a third in 6 lifetime starts.  I bet the 8 to win/place and then box the 8-3-9 in one exacta and then wheel the 8-3-9 over the other numbers.

3rd: 3-7-6-1…Kirby’s Penny (3) is the nod here, with three super races in a row for Wesley Ward.  Another speedball will try to air it out here. Pico Chick (7) and Kentucky Dancer (6) both will try to wedge out a stalking position and make first run at running time.  I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the 3-7-6 in one exacta and the 3-7-1 in another.

4th: 3-5-7-8-2-1…A nice 2YO turf race for the colts, and it will be wide open. Challengers led by El Dulce (3), a first timer for Todd Pletcher.  Chad Brown will counter with Triangulate (5) and the race is on.  George Weaver, who can train, will send out Majestic Dunhill (7) for his second start, and he will get Lasix for the first time today.  I can’t leave him out.  I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the 3-5-7 in one exacta and then wheel the 3-5 over/under all the numbers listed.

5th: 2-5-6-3…G2 Amsterdam Stakes…Coal Front (2) will make his stakes debut after two impressive victories for Pletcher.  Will stalk the pace in this one and have first run, which should be good enough when running time comes in this 61/2F event.  I go with a longshot in second, siding with Excitations (5).  I saw this horse this spring and watched him ever since.  He has talent, and can run — evidenced by his second (by a nose) to Girvin in the debut and the easy win at Keeneland.  Didn’t like 2 turns (or McCraken, for that matter).  But settles back to sprints today.  Look out for a quick return to form.  I bet the 2 to win/place and then key over/under the rest.  I also bet a solid 2-5 exacta box.

6th: 7-5-10-1-2-9…Call Provision (7) goes for Chad Brown, off a needed race last time out.  Second tilt this year and he should coming running at the end of this marathon.  Revved Up (5) goes for a HOF trainer who hasn’t won a race yet this meet.  That will end soon, and it could happened here, with this dead closer.  Will need a cleaner trip to get through and/or around, but goes back to Junior Ortiz, who won with him here last year.  I bet the 7 to win/place and then key over/under all the numbers listed.

7th: 11-8-7-2-10…Awesome Song (11) is 6-1 ML and may drift up from there, but she has been right there all year with three seconds (losses by two noses and a head) and a win.  HOF rider JJ Castellano has two tough head-bob losses in a row with her, but they could put it down at the right time today.  Ack Naughty (8) is a NY-bred in Open Company, but can run for Chad Brown.  Mom’s On Strike (7) hasn’t been out this year, but is training well and could show some lick in this one, too. I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then key over/under all the rest.

8th: 4-8-5-2…G1 AG Vanderbilt Handicap…A.P. Indian loves Saratoga, with two wins in three starts here.  Has been a bit snake bitten with two seconds this year, but still can run age 7.  Limousine Liberal (7) has ripped off three Stakes (2 of them Graded) wins in a row at Churchill Downs and has never been better.  But look out for Bird Song (5), who is dropping back off three straight route races for trainer Ian Wilkes.  This one has run seven races in a row that have been at least a mile in distance, but he did win a 6F allowance at Saratoga in 2016.  Could be the shocker in this group today.  I bet — get this — the 5 across the board and then box the 4-8-5 in the exacta.  I use the same three numbers in the Pick 3s and Doubles.

9th: 1-4-7-2-3…G2 Bowling Green Stakes…Bigger Picture (1) has never run two huge Beyer Speed Figures in a row and ran his career best 103 in winning the G1 United Nations in his last out. That being written, he gets the nod in this field today.  Just appears to be on the op of his game and has a win over this grass. Sadler’s Joy (4) had a rough go of it in the G1 Manhattan in his last, going 6 wide at the upper stretch and having a tough time getting headed up the track.  A cleaner trip with JJ today and they could be tough.  Ascend (7) took advantage of a golden trip along the rail in the Manhattan and ran off to an impressive victory at 27-1 odds.  Won’t find the trip nearly as easy today and is suspect. I bet the 1 to win/place and then box the 1-4 exacta.  I then wheel the 1-4 over/under the “all button.”

10th: 2-5-1…G2 Jim Dandy Stakes…As you can hear in our Audiocast this morning, this will feature the first matchup of Kentucky Derby winner (this time Always Dreaming) and the Preakness winner (Cloud Computing) in a stakes race at Saratoga since 1991 when Strike the Gold and Hansel faced off in the Travers Stakes.  At no time have the winners of the first two legs of the Triple Crown ever come back to meet in the Jim Dandy.  And, this one should be a Jim Dandy.  I go with Cloud Computing (2), who is well rested since his victory in the Preakness.  He took advantage that day of the fact that Classic Empire eye-balled Always Dreaming early on and wore that one out.  But the same scenario could happen again today, if Johnny V is not careful on Always Dreaming.  Pavel and Giuseppe the Great both will push the early pace, and if Always Dreaming is too keen to go with him, he may be compromised again.  That may set up perfectly for Good Samaritan, a son of Harlan’s Holiday who will be making his first dirt appearance in the afternoon — ever.  After five straight ITM finishes on the grass (including 4 Graded Stakes), he ran fourth in the G1 Belmont Derby.  Now, a try on the dirt.  He may just like it.  I bet the 2 to win/place and then key over the 5-1.

11th: 2-3-4-1-11-6-7…A MSW event on the grass to finish the day.  Another Chad Brown festival of racing, it appears.  Both Durable Goods (2) and Wake Island (3) appear to be the class. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key the 2-3 over/under all the rest.

Good Luck &

All the Best/

Gene