The eve of Travers Stakes Day at Saratoga, and much of the attention turns to the NY-breds. Several key stakes have been carded and the action should be furious. Let’s take a closer look:
1st: 2-1-5-3…Codrington (2) is an 8-5 ML favorite, and should go off as the PT favorite, as well. Looks to be the best of this field by many, including a strong run against a repeat winner two back. Will be closing late, and that’s not normally good in a short field, void of speed. So, from that perspective, she is vulnerable. Look for a better run today from Purely Lucky (1), who will be saddled by Brad Cox. She was heavily bet in her career debut here on Aug. 2, but never made a serious run until it was too late. Gets a huge rider switch today and may be more aggressive from the start. Silverado Mist (5) showed a bit of lick in her career debut, when she tired late and was passed by the preferred choice. She may be a bit more fit for this try, which is a true stretch out. I bet the 2 to win/place and then box the 2-1-5 in one exacta. Winner and Second Place finisher cold. $3.80/$2.20 for win & place with a $3.70 return for a $1 Exacta. Great Start. Winner.
2nd: 2-5-3-7-4-1…Build to Suit (2) has jumped off to a good career start with 2 wins, a second and a third in his first four starts. (Should have been three wins, but was DQ’d in his career debut). Should add to that impressive resume today for trainer Chad Brown and regular rider Irad Ortiz, who have combined to win with nearly .30% of their tries together. Runaway Lute (5) stretches out off a 6F try in his last, and has already won a NY-bred Stakes. Should be tough off his last race here on July 30. Eye Luv Lulu (3) has had two tough runs in a row, but against top class competition. A return to the allowance ranks should help this one return to fine form. I bet the 2 to win/place and then box the 2-5-3 in one exacta, and then key the top 3 over (only) the other numbers in a small cover exacta. Another winner. Top four horses finish in top four, with an exacta with 15-1 shot running second. Winner pays $4 and $3 to win/place and the exacta returns $28 for $1. Winner.
3rd: 2-5-1…The Fleet Indian Stakes…Sunset Ridge (2) could give the “duce” three wins in a row to start the card. This talented filly by Algorithms is a perfect 3-for-3 and will look to stretch her speed out around two turns for the first time today. The competition has not even been close in the last two tries. Look out for this one. Bonita Bianca (5) could be the competition that has been lacking before. She got the blinkers for the first time in her last out and responded with a neck victory in a NY-bred stakes race. She is a closer with a kick, having run a respectable third to Miss Sky Warrior in a G2 event last November. Will take some beating. Five Each Way (1) is a dead closer from the barn of Graham Motion and looks to like two turns. I bet the 5 (take note) to win/place and then box the 2-5 solidly in one exacta. Ran second to my top choice, going for odds. But place pays $2.50 for $2 and the exacta returns $1.90 for $1. Winner.
4th: 3-5-6-7-2-4…Barbarossa (3), trained by Todd Pletcher, made a quick pace before tiring in his career debut on the dirt. The winner and runner-up in that event have already come back to win, and now this son of More Than Ready and out of a Stormy Atlantic gets to the grass for the first time. Bred to love this surface. Look for a better effort today. Sandlot Star (5) has been training lights out and cost $210,000 this year. The Shanghai Bobby foals are running well. Watch out for this one. Battle Station (6) goes for a trainer that loves to gear them up for turf sprints, and this one has been training well here. I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the top three choices. I key the top 3 over/under the rest of the numbers in another exacta, too. The 6 wins wire to wire, over the 3. We hit the place bet ($4.20) and two exactas ($25.50 for $1). Finish up the Pick 3, too ($14.40 for $1). Winner.
5th: 8-6-3-4-1-5…The Funny Cide Stakes…What A Catch (8), who drilled Barbarossa in his career debut, is a perfect 2-for-2 and looks tough in this spot, despite stretching out an extra 1/2 furlong. This son of Justin Phillip cost $265,000 earlier this year and appears to be worth every cent. Morning Breez (6) ran second to the preferred choice in their last meeting, even though this one was the prohibitive favorite. Now, this one gets a huge rider switch in hopes of turning the tables. Watch out. Aveenu Malcainu (3) is a son of Into Mischief and that sire has been lights out. This 2YO colt won his career debut despite a horrid trip, where he went 6 wide. The show horse in that race has already come back to win. I bet the 8 to win/place and then box the 8-6-3 in one exacta and key the top three choices over (only) the other numbers in another one. #8 tires to finish third, costing us the exacta…# 3 impressive in win…#7 splits us in all Exactas. No tickets to cash here.
6th: 1-5-6-9-4-12…Corey Q (1) will be saddled by Chad Brown and gets Irad Ortiz in a return to the saddle. Training well and looks to be the top pick here, despite tiring in his last two tries. New Canaan (5) goes for Linda Rice and this one ran pretty well after a slow start in her debut. Should fare better today. Grandpa’s Arianna (6) was bumped at the start in her career debut and really never recovered. A cleaner break could make this one dangerous in this group. Don’t leave out Hardly Mate (12), who goes for a trainer who hasn’t won a race all year. Long odds. I bet the 5 (take note) to win/place and then box the 1-5-6 in one exacta and then key the top three choices over/under the rest of the numbers in two small ones. The 1 runs enough to get third, with #9 on top. But we are split in the exacta by #7. #5 is a no show. Off the board.
7th: 8-7-4-2-10-3…Yaddo Stakes…Fourstar Crook (8) is 7-5 ML and is likely to drift lower on the tote board by post time. This one has won 8 straight races — including a stakes race against open company in her last out. She swamps the field on paper. Ack Naughty (7) is a dead closer who will try to mount an attack from well off the pace. This one loves Saratoga with 2 wins and 3 seconds in 6 starts over this grass course. Feeling Bossy (4) has won 5 of her last 8 races, and is another one that will make a huge effort at the end. There’s enough speed to set it up for the closers, but they will need racing room. I bet the 8 to win/place and then box the 8-7 in one exacta box solidly. I key the two of them over/under the rest of the numbers, too. Run second with the preferred choice, but catch the over Exacta. Pays $2.40 to place, but $14.90 for $1 Exacta. Winners.
8th: 8-9-7-3-5-1…The Seeking the Ante Stakes…I Still Miss You (8) is super talented, with two wins and a second in three lifetime starts for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. Was beaten, though, as the huge odds-on favorite in her last out by a filly who came right back to win again. This one is training well here, too. Look out at low odds. Trouble for Skylar (9) moves up the ladder after stomping her field in a MSW for NY-breds in her last. Was heavily bet in that one, too. This is a daughter of Into Mischief, who cost $225,000 as a yearling. Has plenty of speed. Newport Breeze (7) could be the one to benefit the most if the top two hook up in an unreasonable speed dual. This one has been running in California, and ships here for this one. Take note. I bet the 8 to win/place and then box the 8-9-7 in one exacta and then key the top three choices over (only) the rest of the numbers. We keyed the top 3 over only. Too bad. We missed a $74.25 exacta by not taking them under, as well.
9th: 3-9-2-5…The West Point Stakes…Get Jets (3) gets my top pick in here. He has not been worse than second in his last four outs and three of them were against open company. Offering Plan (9) is likely to be the post time favorite, and why not? Comes from the barn of Chad Brown and has hit the board in 9 of 14 lifetime starts. Was bested by our top selection in the last out, though. King Kreesa (2) is all speed and they all with have to try to run him down today. I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the 3-9 in one exacta and then key them over (only) the 2-5 in another. Winner and Exacta, cold. Winner pays $6.30 and $3.40, and we nail the Exacta cold, for a return of $10.10 for $1. Winners.
10th: 4-5-1-6-7-3…The Albany Stakes…Twisted Tom (4) has won four of his last five, with the only departure being a blowout loss to Tapwrit in the Belmont Stakes. Won the Frederico Tesio Stakes, against open company, at Pimlico. Looks to be the best in this tilt by several lengths. Broken Engagement (5) is a stalker by Scat Daddy and he may offer a challenge. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over/under all the rest. The Best Bet of the Day — 4. Winner, who pays $4.30 & $2.80 to win/place and we hit the exacta, which renders $8.10 for $1. Winners.
11th: 6-10-1-4-2-11 (13-14)…If the 13 & 14 draw into this one, I need to reshuffle the cards a bit, but if not, I go strong on Dab (6) in this spot. Has run two straight seconds as the favorite in his last two tries, but this son of Into Mischief will only be making his second start for trainer Steve Asmussen, who claimed him two back. Wheels right back just 13 days after his last race and looks to be the best of this group. Silky Way (10) drops from the MSW NY-bred ranks into the claiming ranks for the first time. Needs to improve, but the class drop could do that. Mr. Cat (1) may improve for Linda Rice in this spot, too. I bet the 6 to win/place and then key the 6 over/under all the rest of the numbers listed. #1, our third pick, wins. No juice. But end up with 4 winners/ 3 seconds and 7 exactas. Not bad.
1st: 6-4-1A-2…Numbers Game (6) gets a return to the same class where she nearly won at on July 30 here. A repeat performance today and she may not get caught this time. Family Label (4) was closing rapidly in the same race after going 6 wide. A real threat. Love Willie Love (1A) is part of an entry for Carol Cobb, who has named the same rider on both. If this one is scratched, I drop down to the 2 — Insidious. I bet the 6-4 to win/place and then box those two in the exacta. I key the 6-4 over/under the 1A-2, also. Hit the winner and second place finisher cold. Winner pays $3.60 & $2.20, while the exacta returns $3.10 for $1 bet. Winner.
2nd: 5-6-1-2-7-4…Nice race with well balanced field. I go with Rhythm Park (5), who is coming off a near miss here on Aug. 4. Gets leading rider Corey Lanerie back in the saddle and could be tough at this level. Royal Blessing (6) came running in his last from a 5-wide position. Couild get there with his normal run. Has been no worse than second in the last 4 starts. I bet the 5 to win/place and then box the 5-6 solid in one exacta and then key the 5-6 over/under the rest listed. Another winner. #5 pays $3 and $2.40 for win/place. Missed the exacta. Winner.
3rd: 4-6-7-8-2…Glennwood (4) is my Best Bet of the Day at Ellis Park. This 2YO son of Paynter has been training lights out for a trainer who cranks them up for a debut. Gets Lanerie up, and this trainer/rider combo has hit on .35% over the last two years here. Bigb’s Anniversary (6) is a first timer for Bret Calhoun, and is training better than his stablemate. Takedown (7) and Lngtermrelationship (8) both are firsters with a shot. I bet the 4 to win/place; key over/under the rest of the numbed in the exactas and then key in the Doubles and Pick 3s. The 4, a huge favorite, runs third behind two of our other numbers — the 2/8…Miss
4th: 3-6-5-9-8…Pontastic (3) nearly pulled off the win in his last try here, after a 6-wide move. A cleaner run today could be the difference. Doctor Lee (6) ran just behind the preferred choice in that one, but had an ideal trip and could be vulnerable today. I’m Chillin (5) and Polar Bear (9) could both make a run today. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key over/under all the other numbers listed. Nice closing victory by the 3 with a perfectly timed ride…Pays $6.20 & $3.29 for win/place. Hit the exacta too with top three numbers finishing in top 3…Pays $11.70 for $1. Winner.
5th: 2-9-8-4-1…Providence (2) should lap this field if he is anything close to what he once was and can run in the afternoon like he did on the morn of Aug. 12 at the Churchill Downs training center. He takes a huge plunge in class for this one, and looks to be the prohibitive choice. If he falters, though, look for either Sandhill Sammy (9) or Utmost Intensity (8) to apply the pressure. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key over/under the rest. I then take one exacta box (small) with the 9-8-4. After torrid fractions, the 2 backed up to third, but we did have a saver exacta. Which paid a tidy $44.60 for $1 bet. Winner.
6th: 8-2-5-7-4-3…No Fault (8) has hit the board in 5 of 11 lifetime starts but really struggles to get up for the win. Today may be her day, with Lanerie up for the first time ever. Kai Nalu (2) should run better in her first try for trainer Kenny McPeek and Kentucky soil. Cuddle Kitten (5) and I’m the Reason (7) could spoil the party, too. I bet the 8 to win/place and then key the 8 over/under all the rest listed. Winner with Lanerie up….Winner paid $3.60 & $2.60. Miss the exacta. Winner.
7th: 2-6-8-7-1…Sekondi (2) gets my pick in a slight upset in this spot. This colt was moved up to break his maiden in the last, after nearly being knocked off his feet in the deep stretch. Lanerie climbs off the ML favorite to ride this one back. And, I side with one of the top riders in the USA. Rock Shandy (6) gets another significant class drop and may wake up today at a price. Bowman West (8) goes for the hottest barn in town and Wicked Zar (7) is the likely favorite. I bet the 2 to win /place and box in the exacta with 2-6-8 and the 2-8-7. Another winner, but missed the Exacta, again. Winner paid $10/$4.40 to win, place. Winner.
8th: 7-2-9-8-5-10-11…Butter Up Katie (7) gets my top pick, coming off a near miss in her last out, when she was claimed by trainer Brendan Walsh at Gulfstream Park. Gets Lanerie today. But I give the “dot” to Gull Island (2) at 10-1 ML odds. Love the way this one is coming into the race after a horrendous trip in her last. Watch out. I bet the 7-2 to win/place show and then box those 2 in one exacta and then key those two over/under all the rest listed. The #11 was 33-to-1 odds and won on the lead (which we used), but we wheeled only over the top 2…not the top 3…that could have been nice. But not a bad day at Ellis Park: 5 winners with 3 exactas in the 8 races held.
Good luck &
All the Best/Gene