Trying to crank out the info early on today. It is “Eclipse Day,” and we are right in the path of the “Totality,” here in West KY. We will be floating the boat onto the lake in preparation for the “Big Event.” It reminds me of a Carly Simon song (was it about James Taylor?). About going to Saratoga, “and your horse naturally won.” Oh well…here is a closer look at today’s card at The Spa:
1st: 4-9-8-1-7-3…The Berber (4) had a nice run in his career debut, and despite going a tad wide at the upper stretch, the colt was a solid second. Flattered by the fact that the show finisher in that one has already come back to win. Picks up a good rider switch, too. Chad Brown sends out High Risk Strategy (9), and this one will get bet heavily. But hit the “pause button” for just a second. With horses debuting in MCL ranks, this guy — who has won with .30% of his starters all year — has a win percentage of .07. Hmmm. Michael Wonderful (8) goes first out for Rudy Rodriguez, who hits with twice that percentage on firsters in MCL ranks. I bet the 4 to win/place and then wheel the 4-9 over/under all the rest.
2nd: 5-4-12-7…She Remembered (5) comes right back at this level after 2 narrow defeats in this spot. Nipped by a nose at the wire in her last. If she duplicates that effort, running back the back of the pack, she will be very tough in here today. Grand Banks (4) is another deep closer who will need racing room. Joe Bravo is back today to ride. Don’t forget to look at the last horse in the field, too. Grande Beso (12) is 15-1 ML, but was 8 wide at one point in her last. Same rider gets back, but a better trip puts this one closer. I bet the 5 to win/place and then key the 5-4 over/under the rest. I also box the 5-4 in one exacta.
3rd: 7-4-3-2-5…Charis (7) ships up to the great Northeast from Prairie Meadows for trainer Ron Moquette. This one comes to town for a reason, and has some credentials to support her claims. Drops to a career low price in the claiming ranks and picks up Robby Albarado, who is in town from KY. Madam Aamoura (4) comes back at the same level, where she has been very consistent. Has five races in a row where she has been either second or third. Marnesia Big Girl (3) goes for Linda Rice, and she has already saddled 7 winners, 4 seconds and 7 thirds in 36 starts this meet (ITM with half). I bet the 7 to win/place and then box the top three choices (7-4-3) in one exacta and then wheel the top three over/under the 2-5.
4th: 4-3-2-8-9…This Bird Can Sing (4) was claimed the last time she was out and goes for the new barn of Brad Cox today. His win percentage is off the charts with these (.38 win), and this one had run 5 straight seconds before spitting the bit in the last one. Watch out. Tres Charmant (3) goes for Rice and ran well with blinkers for the first time in her last try, before tiring out. Should do better with the glasses today. Starship Rockette (2) came late with a furious run, only to fall a bit short in her second lifetime try. Could improve today. I bet the 4 to win/place and then box the 4-3-2 in one exacta and then wheel those 3 over (only) the 8-9.
5th: 1-7-9-3…Hembree (1) drops into the claiming ranks for the first time and probably will get nabbed by one of the ultra aggressive “claiming trainers” today. This 3YO colt came running with a true purpose in his last out, but couldn’t get by the winner — who was very impressive. Kelly Clawson is called in to ride? Really? He’s Cheeky (7) drops back down into the claiming ranks today, where he won by 51/4 lengths two starts back. Patriot Drive (9) goes for trainer Danny Gargan for the first time after being moved from the barn of Tom Amoss. Interesting and noteworthy transition. I bet the 1 to win/place and then box the 1-7-9 in one exacta and then key the 1-7 over the 9-3 in another.
6th: 6-3-4-5-8-1…Awestruck (6) is a very talented Tapit filly, who lost all chance in the deep G3 Indiana Oaks in her last try when she bore out at the 7/8ths pole and really lost her action and any chance of making a serious run. Bravo gets the mount back (why?), and she could get the jump on these today from a nice stalking position. Run and Go (3) ran away and hid in her career debut at Gulfstream Park in January (when all the good ones were in FLA). She hasn’t been seen in the afternoons since, but obviously can run a good one from off the bench. Has been working good here. Will get bet down hard. Knarsdale (4) goes for James Jerkens. He doesn’t start many, but when he does — watch out (3 winners, 2 seconds and 2 thirds in 12 starts). This one gets Lasix for the first time today and beat Holy Helena in her career debut. Look out. I bet the 6 to win/place and then box the 6-3-4 in one exacta and then key the 6-3-4 over (only) the other numbers.
7th: 7-(11)-2-8-3…Converge (7) goes for the barn of Chad Brown and gets the complete plunge today, all the way to C25K, and is back in against NY-breds only, too. The lat time he was in restricted company (May this year), he won. This one won a G3 in February 2016. Likely to get haltered today, but only after a picture in the winner’s circle. My Best Bet of the Day. The real competition could come from a horse currently parked on the AE, in Hidden Vow (11). If this one, trained by Jason Servis, gets in, then watch for him to stalk the pace and make a serious run in the stretch. He has four straight ITM finishes. Vintage Matters (2) goes for the highly unusual and highly talented trainer Michael Dickinson. This one has four straight ITM finishes, too, and will be coming from the clouds. I bet the 7 to win/place and then key over/under all the other numbers listed. I key in the Doubles & Pick 3s, too.
8th: 1-5-6-2…The Evan Shipman Stakes…This stakes, reserved for NY-breds only, is led by Governor Malibu (1), IMO. Even though he is not the ML favorite, I still think this one can get the job done. He comes out of the G2 Brooklyn Handicap, which was won by the ultra talented War Story. This one can make a stalking run or come from deep out of it. Hasn’t won this year, but looks ready after a bullet work here on Aug. 18. Diversify (5) is the ML favorite and has run 3 huge ones in a row. Iran Ortiz gets on boar again today, and this one will be laying very close to the front and have first run on the rest. Ostrolenka (6) has had a good year and ran a good one at Monmouth Park in the Decathlon Stakes back in June. If he can duplicate that effort today, he will be tough. I bet the 1 to win/place and then box the 1-5-6 in the exacta and a smaller 1-2 in another.
9th: 1-8-10-5-9-3-2 (11) (12) — I go with Performance Bonus (1) in the today’s finale. This one drops to the claiming ranks for the first time ever for trainer Chad Brown, and although he hasn’t won in two starts this year, he looks to be sitting on go after a nice run in June and some solid works at Saratoga since. Conquest Sandman (8) has a good shot for Mike Maker, who selects HOF John Velasquez to ride this one. Tricked Up (10) is another Brown horse falling into the claiming ranks. I bet the 1 to win/place and then box the 1-8-10 in one exacta and key the 1-8-10 over/under (small) in another.
Good luck &
All the Best / Gene
P.S.: Be sure to use your special “Eclipse Glasses” today.