Well, it took about twice as long as it should have, but I have arrived in plush, green, sunny (for the time being) Saratoga. The drive over from Boston was eventful, for the lack of any event. Bumper to bumper traffic from those leaving the seaboard to return inland, I suppose. Whatever, the snail’s pace left me tired, bored and ready to go racing on Monday.
I will go out to the Fasig-Tipton sales grounds early tomorrow and I will make a few rounds there. Back to the hotel, for a quick change, and then out to the track. After the races, a quite bite and then to the sales for the evening.
Whirlwind day. Yet, fun.
Here are my picks for Saratoga on Monday:
1st: 3-1-7-2…Caniform (3), who we last saw running a fast-closing third on June 30 at Churchill Downs, is well drawn in this field, and, as a result, has been made the 2-1 ML fav. This son of Scat Daddy should like the comp, and has been training well. Gets one of this meet’s top riders in Irad Ortiz Jr. I like the Iowa-bred Shine Bright (1) second best in this heat. He is lightly raced, but has hit the board in 3 of 5 lifetime starts and has run a second in one start at this 6.5F distance. Ships in from Maryland, and is like to be long odds. Open Bar (7) gets a huge drop in class and that, alone, should make this one tough in here. I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the 3-1-7 in one exacta and a 3-7-2 in another.
2nd: 4-9-7-12-2-6…Wide open race at 5.5F on the turf. I go with Thomas Bush’s Daddyisdooley (4). Despite getting a cold jockey, this one has run two tough losses in a row and shortens up just a bit. A similar effort today makes this one awfully tough. Matinee Babe (9) was beaten just a neck for all the marbles, and less than that by the preferred choice. Has run two straight thirds, but will need some racing luck coming from far back. Special Risk (7) gets a new rider, but has hit the board in 7 of 11 lifetime starts. Another closer who will need to find some air late. Blinkers go on Emerald Quality (12), and that’s a great angle for this outfit. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4-9 over/under all the other numbers listed.
3rd: 2-3-4-1-5…Short field, but a solid race for this 11/2-mile marathon on the grass. If it comes off, it is anyone’s guess, but if we stay on the green, then I go to Achnaha (2). The Irish-bred mare has run in a number of stakes — and is Graded Stakes placed. She has faced some really, really good ones, like Suffused. She has to get the edge, although she is a deep closer in a short field. Normally, not the best combo. Grateful (3), on the other hand, looks to be the controlling speed in this one and may not have much company out there. If Private Client (1) doesn’t pay attention and press here, Grateful could run off and hide. I bet the 2 to win/place and then box the 2-3 solid in one exacta, and then key the 2-3 over/under the 4-1-5, as well.
4th: 3-1-8-7…Mohican (3) gets the nod here, despite running a dull 8th in his seasonal debut here on July 31. Obviously, he needed that one and he should benefit from a return trip over this surface. He has run 3rd to Cowboy Culture and a second to Profiteer — two really good ones. A return to that form makes this one very tough in here, and, at 8-1 ML, he is very attractive. Borsa Vento (1) has faced some good ones, too, and picks up a huge rider switch to JJ Castellano. Look out. Javelin (8) is the huge ML favorite, and will likely be the post time fav, as well. Gets the blinkers for the first time today and that should give him more focus. Likeitlikethat (7) loses the glasses and that is a huge angle for this barn. Drops in class like Javelin and that could be enough to shove these two to the top of the class today. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key over/under all the numbers listed.
5th: 1-4-6…Castaway (1) gets the nod in this one for trainer Michelle Nevin, who is looking for her first win of the meet. She picked this one up for $12,500 in his last race, when he faltered late as the 2-1 favorite. Has run the distance three times prior with a second and a third. Should be competitive with these today. Branded Hand (4) was claimed for $16,000 last time out by Bruce Levine, who wins with .12% on first outs afterwards. This one caught a sloppy track last out and faded going 7F. He will be moving on the front end in this one. Fleetwood (6) will try dirt for the first time in the last five starts today. Trainer really good with the surface switch. I bet the 1 to win/place and then box the three of them in the exacta.
6th: 10-2-1-3-9-4…Collective Effort (10) has run two seconds in his first two career starts and any improvement, at all, today and he should graduate. Barely Impazible (2) is a Chad Brown student and that’s about all the instructions I can give you. Contender. Ultimateenticement (1) ran second in his debut at Golden Gate on the West Coast in June. Since then, he was moved East and into the barn of Richard Violette, who is 1-for-3 with new horses in his barn. Could like the trip here. I bet the 10 to win/place and then key over/under all the rest of the numbers listed.
7th: 2-4-3-1-5…Tejana (2) goes for trainer Shug McGaughey for the second time this year. This one flashed a tremendous amount of talent in three starts last year, and was revved up to go on June 15. But he pushed too hard, too fast in that one and fell apart late as the odds-on favorite. Should benefit from that run and be better fit for the 7F today. No easy spot, though. He faces Annie Rocks (4), who has already won 6 times, and Improv (3), who is Graded Stakes placed just two starts back. Tough spot if not ready. I bet the 2 to win/place and then box with the 2-4-3 in one exacta and then bet the 4-3-1-5 in a trifecta box.
8th: 3-5-8-7-2-1…Passporttovictory (3) is 12-1 ML, but I think has a huge chance to upset this field today. This one has been running in State-bred Stakes races, and, after a break from February to now, should be really fresh for this one. Gets JJ Castellano up, too. Bluegrass Jamboree (5) has never run a poor one yet, and figures to be the one to beat. Decorator Jenn (8) has never been off the board in 7 lifetime starts, and had a heck of a workout on July 29. Watch out for this one. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-5-8 in one exacta. I also key the 3-5-8 over the 7-2-1 in another exacta.
9th: 9-3-12-11-5-10-7…It took all day, but we got there. In the finale comes my Best Bet of the Day and it is Dream Passage (9). This Stormy Atlantic filly ran a huge one in her first try on the grass last September, and led deep into the stretch before tiring. She has been on the shelf since then, but has been working like a terror for a trainer who knows how to get them ready off works alone. This one cost $130,000 at the Fasig-Tipton October Sales in 2015. I think she is ready to pay dividends today. Photographer (3) gets in against state-breds only for the first time in her career and she should benefit from that move. Trained by Tom Proctor, who knows how to get them ready and he has been prepping this one at Fair Hill. Could surprise at a price. Don’t ignore. Piquet (12) ran two solid seconds before hitting a wall in her last on June 22 at Belmont Park. She has burned some money in her last two, but she could put it all together today. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key over/under all the other numbers.
Good Luck &
All the Best/Gene