Whew! Back in the old Bluegrass State after a whirlwind tour of the Upper Northeast — with a little side trek over to beautiful Saratoga Springs, N.Y. — for the past week or so. But we won’t turn our attention away from the “The Spa.” Not for a little while.
Today, we take a closer look at the card and offer our picks. Here you go:
1st: 5-4-1-2-7…Small Fortune (5) goes for a trainer that has two in here. That’s always interesting and dangerous, when they are not coupled in the betting. This one is sure to take all the money. And, this one should make all the lead. Shortens up off a 7F effort in the last, when he tired at the end to run second. Has 4 wins in 7 tries at this distance. Will be the PT favorite. But…The trainer’s other one is Uno Emayo (4), who has not been close of late and faded completely out of contention when trainer Rudy Rodriguez dropped him into this level the last out at Belmont Park on July 2. But…there’s always a “but,” right? Despite the tiring run, he posted his best Beyer Speed Figure of the year and he started to act like the racehorse that we saw here last September, when he closed going long to win over this turf. Drops back to a sprint today, and he’s 1-for-1 in these kinds of sprints. This one is 8-1 ML and gets a rider who has won 20 races this meet compared to the rider on the favorite, who has won 8. Interesting? Natural Order (1) gets the blinkers off after two unsuccessful tries with the glasses. Goes for an ice cold barn and an ice cold rider, who did win a race on Monday. Questionable. Scout’s Honor (2) and Francis Freud (7) are both dead closers, who will be running late, despite the drop in class. I go with the 5-4 to win/place/show and then key the 5-4 over/under all the others.
2nd: 5-6-1-3-2…Battle Ready (5) gets a huge drop from trainer Todd Pletcher, who is battling Chad Brown for the trainer’s title here (and, yes, they do take notice of such things; believe me!). This one has had trouble leaving the gate in the last two, but if he can get a little urging from the beginning from new rider, who just so happens to lead the country in purses earned this year, then he should be tough at this level. Kid From New York (7) drops out of MSW ranks for trainer Nick Zito and has been training well since his last race in June. This one was beaten handily, but did run third to Battalion Runner (one of Pletcher’s really good ones). Hy Brasil (1) is another Pletcher entry, and this one is dropping from MSW to MC30. Can’t seem to finish a race after getting into contention. Maybe the drop fixes that today. I bet the 5 to win/place and then box the 5-6-1 in one exacta and then key the 5-1 over/under the rest of the numbers listed. Pletcher is hunting wins.
3rd: 4-8-7-6…Dooder (4) is a Chad Brown trainee and cost $260,000 as a yearling here. Training great, like most of his do. Looks ready to rock and roll. Pletcher counters with Blue Atlas (8), who does have a nice race under his belt. She stretches out on the second try and Pletcher wins with .32% when this happens. Bred for the grass, too. Single Mission (7) or Codrington (6) couldn’t split the duo. I bet 4 to win/place and then key the 4-8 over/under the other numbers listed. I also box the top two.
4th: 5-6-1-9-3-2…Big Exchange (5) gets the edge in this grass sprint for trainer Brad Cox, who has hit the board five times out of 8 starters. This one had traffic issues on a loose grass course last out and backs up to a sprint for the first time today. Interesting move for an outfit that wins with .27% on the move back in distance and .34% with turf sprinters. They know one when they see one. Valdocco (6) gets a class drop in the MC ranks for the first time after running second on four occasions in 7 MSW tries. Ran a close enough 5th to the likes of Timeline, Giuseppe The Great and Fayeq at Gulfstream this spring. Tries the grass for the first time today. Beware. Consumerconfidence (1) is another Chad Brown pupil. This one likes to close, but must navigate the rail issue. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key over/under all the others.
5th 2-1A-1-3-5…Pawleys Express (2) gets the rail, and that may cause his HOF rider to go quicker than normal, but this one has the ability to dominate this crowd. She has never missed the board and ran a good one against Indulgent four back. Take note. Discreet Señorita (1A) and Summer House (1) both have a shot for the David Jacobson barn. Both will be close to the pace, with the latter trying to take them wire to wire. Swing & Sway (3) tries older for the first time after tearing up the front end in the Iowa Oaks. Shortens back up today. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key over/under all the other numbers listed.
6th: 2-7-10-5-9-3 (watch to see if either the 13 or 14 draw in; contenders if they do)…Munchkin Money (2) ran a huge one in her last try over a lawn with moisture in it. That was her first out of the year, and she must avoid the bounce theory. If she moves up off that race, then look out. Pinchbeck (7) shortens up a bit for a barn that knows how to win races. Driven by Speed (10) moves up after a MC victory, which is an “avoidable” note in my handicapping world. But she improved greatly in that effort and it was her first try over grass. Maybe she loves the new surface? I have to use now. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the two three in the exactas and wheel the 2-7-10 over (only) the 5-9-3.
7th: 1-4-2-6-7-5…Sudden Surprise (1) gets a class drop and shortens up a bit. Both should help this NY-bred gelding in this restricted race. He has won in “open company,” before and ran a huge one to Governor Malibu back in the winter of 2016. Wakes up today? Saratoga Heater (4) has run two good ones before, winning his last as the big favorite. Looks to be getting good again. Rodriguez has two more entered in this spot — Manipulated (2) and Marriedtothemusic (2b). Both have run good enough in the past to warrant a shot here. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top three in the exacta.
8th: 4-6-1-2-8…A Stakes for NY-breds only has attracted a nice field, led by Lady Joan (4). Her trainer, Phil Serpe, hasn’t hit the board this meet with 7 horses, but this one has the talented to break that cycle. Will be stalking from the get go, and can sustain her speed — even though she has never been this far. Lover’s Key (6) has four wins and a close second in her last five outs. The lone loss was to the preferred choice in here. Paz the Bourbon (1) would be my top choice if her name was “Paz the Beer.” Just kidding. Sorta. She has been ITM seven times in nine starts, but loves to run third. That’s why I put her third. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4-6 over/under the other three numbers — hoping for a split.
9th: 9-2-8-7-5 (watch to see if the 13 draws in; contender here)…Lulu’s Pom Pom (9) ran a good one last out, despite having to squeeze in-between and around horses. A cleaner trip could put this one on top today, and gets a positive rider switch. Andretta (2) was a huge 20-1 odds last out and ran a good second from well off the pace. That learning experience could help her today. New Canaan (8) is a first timer for a top barn and has been working lights out. Bettors will gravitate here, IMO. Nothingbutasmile (7) is a firster for trainer Mike Maker and I like Amber Dancer (5), too. Throw out her two tries on dirt, and she may figure in the exotics. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9-8 over/under all the others.
Good luck &
All the Best/Gene