It’s Friday.  Thank goodness.  Whirlwind week, but glad to put food on the green, green grass of home (to borrow a phrase sung by the late, great Porter Waggoner).  Today we take a look at two race cards: Saratoga and Ellis Park.

Here are our selections for Saratoga:

1st: 5-4-2-6…La Inseperada (5), trained by Steve Asmussen (his only winner this meet was Gun Runner), is 0-for-7 this year, but just claimed by this operation after running third in a $20,000-claimer at Belmont Park in her last.  Gets dropped to $12,000 today and that should move her up the ladder and the track, too.  Midnight Bounty (4) has hit the board in 15 of 27 lifetime starts, and has been ITM in 6 of 7 this year.  Can’t dismiss. I bet the 5 to win/place and then box the 5-4-2 in one exacta and the 5-4-6 in another.

2nd: 10-7-6-9-1-4…Dynamic War (1) gets the nod here in what should be a dynamite race at 1 mile on the Inner Turf.  The grass courses here could use a little rain, but if there is none, it will be super firm and that should be to this one’s liking. She is parked way outside yet again and they may be enough to compromise here in here, but she ran so well in her last effort that she deserves another shot. Lion in Wait (7) has run three straight seconds and gets the blinkers today.  That’s a positive equipment change for this barn. Artistic Quality (6) is 10-1 ML and could drift up the odds board.  I like this filly, who ran a solid race until weakening in the final stages.  Drops to MC for the first time and gets a huge rider switch.  Watch out. I bet the 10-6 to win/place/show and then wheel the duo over/under the rest of the numbers.

3rd: 6-2-4-5-2…Alaskan Prince (6) nearly won at this level last time out, but shortens up to 51/2F today.  He has 2 wins & 2 seconds in 11 starts at this distance, but he may want a tad more ground. Lone Trader (2) is another deep closer who has a shot in here.  Has hit the board in the last four and will be hunting at the end. Blue Belt (4) is all speed and will try to carry them to the wire.  I bet the 6 to win/place and then box the top three in the exacta.

4th: 5-1-2-4-6…Hard Hitter (5) just missed for trainer Linda Rice in his last out as the big favorite.  Led late in that one, only to get nipped at the wire. Will try again today. Pirellone (1) has tumbled down the ranks since he won an allowance and ran in a stake last November. Now goes for $14,000-claiming, again.  Had an awkward start in the last one and that compromised his chances.  Likes to be closer than where he was in that one. Play Big (2) was claimed out of his last race, which was a disaster.  Drops in class for a barn that does very well with first timers off the claim. I bet the 5 to win/place and then key over/under the rest of the numbers listed.

5th: 4-5-2-1-9-6-8…The top three choices in here are much the best, IMO, but some of the others could fiddle with the exotics.  I settle on Pocket Book (4) and Girl’s Night (5), both of whom come from the barn of Wesley Ward.  He has had a very chilly meet, but both of these have a big shot in here.  Bridaled Temper (2) is a first timer for the barn of Mark Casse, who has been very quiet, too (1 win in his first 40 starters). This one could step it up today.  I bet the 4-5 to win/place/show and then key over/under the rest.

6th: 4-5-1-3-6…Benevolence (4) comes from the barn of Kiaran McLaughlin, who got off a torrid meeting here.  He has 8 winners and 7 thirds in 31 starts.  This one can add to that total today, coming off 3 straight second place finishes.  He was wide in each of those deep closing efforts, but with a bit of racing luck can turn the tables today. Gaming (5) ran third to Mind Your Biscuits three back and there isn’t anyone in the world like that one. Beaten 121/2 lengths that day, but he can make it interesting.  I bet the 4 to win/place and then key over/under the rest of the numbers listed.

7th: 4-2-10-7-5-8…Pence will be stretching it out after her first try at 6Fs.  Ran a good race in that one, closing from deep off the pace, but ran out of ground and steam.  Should like the extra going today and the class drop, as well. Mr. Massena (2) will go to the gate as a first time gelding.  Made a nice run at this level when dropped for the first time.  Maybe the new equipment change will get him more focused. Uncle Chester (10) was 9-wide in his last try and gets a new rider, as well he should, after that debacle.  Has tried to break his maiden 16 tries before, but has 8 ITM finishes. Can’t leave out.  I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4-2 over/under all the numbers in the exacta.

8th: 6-7-1-3-4…Stallwalkin’ Dude (6) has never been one of my most favorite bets in his long and distinguished career, which has now reached over $1.4 million in earnings.  He has hit the board in 34 of his 54 lifetime starts. But…today he should tower over this field in the Tale of the Cat Stakes. He is 7-5 ML and will probably dip down lower, but if you can get even money or better…then I take it…My Best Bet of the Day. I bet the 6 to win/place and then key over/under all the rest of the numbers listed.

9th: 8-3-4-7-10…If you don’t like the chalk in the last one, then this could be my Best Bet of the Day II. I go strong with Objective Complete (8) for Casse (his troubles here have been previously documented). This one caught a couple of real good ones at Gulfstream Park in January and has worked like a bear at The Spa for her return.  Gets the HOF JJ Castellano in the saddle today and will get state-breds only, too.  I catch this one. Kinky Sox (3) goes for a trainer who is winless this year; High Jingo (4) doesn’t like to finish what she starts; Town Fair (7) really doesn’t come close enough to warrant another try after 10 efforts to break the maiden. So…I go with the 8 to win/place and then key over the “all button.”

10th: 4-2-6-9-10…Cashless Society (4) is a Chad Brown pupil. Enough written. Let’s move on.  I bet the 4 to win/place and then key over/under all the other numbers listed.

Let’s Move On to the “Spa of the South:” Ellis Park 

1st: 1-2-5-6…Xanto (1) has been idle since June 29 when he ran last at Gulfstream Park.  Has been competitive to some degree at the $10,000 level there and drops to $4,000 today.  Could air this crowd. Razorback Red (2) ran a good second and third the past two times out.  Wouldn’t take much today. Renn Lake (5) goes for a solid trainer and drops like crazy for the second time after trying Indiana-bred allowances. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key over/under the rest.

2nd: 5-3-6-7…Indysuglyduckling (5) goes for trainer & good friend Buff Bradley for the third career start.  Normally, this barn gets better with races and this one should be just about ready to pop. No Partners (3) goes for trainer John Hancock, one of the good guys in the biz.  Has faced some tough ones to begin her career and may be finding the right level now. Mistletoe (6) ships down from Belmont after a horrific run in her first and La Femme Royale (7) didn’t show much in her debut, either, but both get significant class drops in here.  That could move them into contention. I bet the 5 to win/place and then box the 5-3-6 and the 5-3-7 in exactas.

3rd: 3-2-6-1-5…Crawford (3) has run a couple of real good ones on the turf here and should be in a better position than the last, when 6 wide. Gets a huge rider improvement today and that may be enough.  Running Back (2) has three career wins and is coming off a real good effort on the dirt.  Can he translate that to turf? Dark Arden has won two in a row here, but moves over to the turf, too, and he’s really not bred for it.  I can’t throw out Major Munnings.  This one kicked some serious butt in his career debut, when romping to a 91/4 length victory over 51/2F when taken off the grass.  Jinks Fires and Jon Court team up again and both are doing well here.  I bet the 3-1 to win/place/show and then key the 3-1 over/under all the numbers.  I box a solid 3-1, too.

4th: 4-2-1-7…Candrasa (4) gets the huge class drop to a career low level for a good barn.  Anything close to her other tries this year will be good enough to swamp these out of the boat (nearby river) and race.  One has to wonder why the sudden garage sale, though.  My Mystery (3) had a huge win (by nearly 9 lengths) in her last here.  Was claimed out of that one by a barn that does real well (.25) with first off the pick up.  Stella Nova (1) loses her rider to My Mystery, but gets a solid jock in Jon Court, who is having a good meet.  I bet the 4 to win/place and then box the 4-2-1 in one exacta.

5th: 1-8-2-6-9…Serious Ink (1) nearly won her grass debut and gets a jock change to the meet’s leading rider in Corey Lanerie. Wathnan (8) ran just a 1/2 length behind the preferred choice in the last out and had trouble in the beginning of that one.  Those two figure to be the best in this race. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key the 1-8 over/under the “all button.” I take one solid 1-8 exacta box, too.

6th: 11-7-4-6-2-1…Much Trouble (11) is a first time starter for trainer Tom Amos and rider Corey Lanerie.  That duo has been deadly here, winning at .67 percent.  This one cost $145,000 as a yearling and has been training well at Churchill Downs.  Should like the outside post to spring from. Dream Baby Dream (7) is a first time starter who outworked his stablemate (Alexandros — 5) the last time out.  This Into Mischief cost $210,000.  Watch out.  John Tippmann (4) gets Lasix for the first time after a nice second to a runaway winner in the first outing.  I bet the 11 to win/place and then key over/under all the other numbers.

7th: 9-5-2-7-4…Big Dollar Bill (9) is my Best Bet of the Day at Ellis Park. I just hope the odds stay somewhere close to the ML of 5-2.  This one ran a close fourth to Blind Ambition, who just won a Stakes at Saratoga this week.  Stumbled badly in that one and still ran well.  I love this one today.  I bet the 9 to win/place and then key over/under in the exactas, in the Pick 3s and all Doubles.

8th: 10-8-3-1…Baby Run to Me (1) goes for the team of Asmussen-Shaun Bridgmohan and they have teamed up for a win percentage of .60 at this meet.  Was wide on both turns in the last, but a cleaner trip and this one scores off the drop.  I bet the 10 to win/place and key over/under the rest listed.

Good Luck &

All the Best/Gene