Another great day. Another beautiful morn. Hope you have some time to enjoy the wonderful world of Thoroughbred racing, too.  If so, none better than the sights and sounds that are Saratoga. But today’s card is very difficult.  So, take heed and travel lightly today.

Here’s a closer look at today’s races:

1st: This is another race where the horses are required to negotiate the track and several hurdles.  I jump over this race, so to speak. No, really.  I jump over it.

2nd: 5-8-3-1-9-7…La Contessa (5) is switched to the main track after getting the grass course in her first out for trainer Todd Pletcher.  This daughter of Congrats cost $200,00 as a yearling, and ran a credible race in her debut on Aug. 11 here.  But weakened late after going 3-wide in the upper stretch. Only trained so-so for that opener, but should benefit from a time out. Bonnie Scott (8) gets a huge rider switch after huge problems at the start of her career debut here on Aug. 3.  Was snatched up at the start and then went wide. Had no shot. Trained well going into that disaster. Look out. Tied Up (3) is a second timer for Steve Asmussen, who quit after halfway of her debut here on Aug. 6. Trainer starting to heat up a bit here after a chilly start. I bet the 8 (take note) here to win/place and then box the top three (5-8-3) in one exacta and then wheel the top three over/under the other three (1-9-7) in another very small exacta. No solid choice in this one. Hit the exacta with the 7 covering the 3.  Nice payoff of $24.40 for $1 bet. Winner.

3rd: 5-8-6-10-2-7-1…Twenty Four Seven (5) ran three good ones in a row to finish out 2016, but hasn’t been seen in the afternoons since.  Now, she a huge class drop to a career low. Did turn in a nice work here on Aug. 4, but a demanding race for a return from that long of a layoff. Strike Midnight (8) gets a huge class drop, as well, and has a trip over the track on Aug. 5, in just his second out this year. This one is Graded Stakes placed a year ago and now shows up for C35K? Question mark. Djulpan (6) won his last out at Belmont Park and appears to be sharper than the top two at this point, but moves up in class having just won his second race in his lifetime. Will try to take them wire-to-wire with Jose Ortiz, Jr. back up.  I go with the 6 (take note) to win/place and then box the 5-8-6 in one exacta, and then wheel those three over/under the rest of the numbers in a small exacta, as well. Had the right idea, with the 8 running second.  But didn’t use the winner, a long, long shot in the 4.

4th: 1-4-2-7-6…Heavy Meddle (1) and The Caretaker (1A) both have a shot to hit the board in this battle, and, as such, get the edge here. The former comes in off a tiring second in his first try back on the dirt in the last four outs. He has gas. The latter will take a shot from a stalking position and has not missed the board in 4 lifetime tries. Been off since January, but goes for a trainer that can score right off the bench. Born for a Storm (4) is a closer for Chad Brown — who is still winning races here in bunches. This one ran a solid second to Diversify, who came back to run very well here recently. Watch out. Remstin (2) and Terry O Geri (2B) both go for trainer Gary Contessa. I bet the 4 (take note) to win/place in his second out this year and bet the 1-4-2 in one exacta.  I take those over/under the 7-6 in another. Hit another exacta with the cover bet. The 7-1 paid $22.30 and the place bet returned $4 for $2. Winner.

5th: 12-5-7-10…Merilore (12) goes for trainer Joe Sharp, who is struggling with just 1 win in 22 starts this meet. But this one nearly missed by a nose in her try here on July 31. A similar effort today, and the 7YO mare may just get the job done. Industrial Policy (5) gets the class plunge from the Mark Casse barn, and this operation only has 6 wins in 66 starts this meet. Never been this low. Miss Aja Brown (7) gets the plummet, as well, and does like this distance — with 2 wins and a second in 5 tries at 11/16 miles on the grass. Can’t dismiss at all. I bet the 12 to win/place and then box the 12-5-7 in one exacta and the 12-5-10 in another. The 12 was scratched…So I was left with the 5-7-10 box. 7 did run second, but didn’t have the winner.  Next race…

6th: 7-6-10-5-8-4…Indian Gem (7) goes for George Weaver, and she gets class relief for her 3 career try. Was the beaten favorite here on July 26 at MC40 and now goes for MC25. Should benefit from that drop. Iwishirish (6) was a tough-beat second in her last try here on Aug. 3 as a beaten favorite, too. Has hit the board in 4 of 5 lifetime starts. Desert Affair (10) has been ITM in 7 of 11 lifetime starts and been in the money in six of her last 7.  Will be close again. I bet the 7 to win/place and then box the 7-6-10 in one exacta and key those 3 over (only) the 5-8-4. Lose the win/place bet as the 7 finishes third, but do hit the exacta. Pays $6.50 for $1 bet. Winner.

7th: 8-6-10-11-7-3-1…If the first six races aren’t confusing enough, I note on my DRF that this one is “wide open.” Great. I land on Table for Six (8), who has hit the board in 9 of 11 lifetime starts — but only has 1 win to show for it. She will try, but will she push? Pinchbeck (6) has a win, a second and a third since getting Lasix. She will have to up here game today, but has a shot, too. Bareeqa (10) goes for a hot barn operation. If you toss the last dull effort, this one had hit the board in 5 of the previous 6 tries with 4 wins. She knows her way to the circle if back on her game. I bet the 6 (take note) to win/place and then box the 8-6-10 in one exacta and then wheel the those over (only) the 11-7-3-1. It comes in 10-6-1, so we hit the place bet and the exacta.  The place bet returned $4.50 for a $2 bet and the exacta was worth $23 for a $1.  Not bad. Winner.

8th: 8-3-1-5-6-7-2-9…Celtic Chaos (8) is a dead closer from the barn of Kiaran McLaughlin, and has won 3 in a row. Before that, he had run 3 straight seconds. Ultra consistent type who won here on July 27 and looks to be in top form. Weekend Hideaway (3) has been facing much tougher, and ran a really nice 3rd in the G1 Vosburgh at Belmont last Fall. Just ran a solid third behind Stallwalkingdude in the Tale of the Cat Stakes here. Could be real tough today. The entry of Ostrolenka (1) and Brimstone (1A) both have credentials, too. I bet   the 3 (take note) to win/place and then box the 8-3-1 in one exacta and then key over/under the rest of the numbers listed in two small exactas as well. Another cover exacta hits. This time the 5 — at 7-1 odds — beats the 3 & 8.  The place bet returns $3.70 for $2. Exacta pays $24.60 for $1. Winner.

9th: 12-11-8-7-10-4-3-1-5-9 — (13)…The Riskaverse Purse…Cherry Lodge (12) gets the nod in this spot, having never missed the board in 4 lifetime tries. Comes into this one off a win, but moves up in class for another try at Stakes company. Did run a good second in the G3 Matron and a solid third in the G1 Spinaway as a 2YO. Training well for this one, too. Defiant Honor (11) is another one caught wide out of the gate, but comes into this one with solid credentials.  Faded going 11/16 miles in her last, but should relish the turn back to the 1 mile distance today. My “dot” (must use) goes to Danceland (8), who moves into Stakes company for the first time off a nice win here on Aug. 3, closing from way back. Trainer knows this grass course very well and this Tapit filly is really good right now. One Note: if the 13, Rubilinda, draws into this race, I have to use in the top 3.  I bet the 12-8 to win/place/show and then key those two over/under all the rest in the exactas. Well, I should NOT have jumped over my second selection.  Defiant Honor swept past a tiring Cherry Lodge (who zipped to a commanding lead early for some strange reason) to an easy win over our 4th place selection.  Missed here by jumping over the #2 selection for the 3rd one. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

10th: 5-2-8-6-4-1…Phone Funky Munky (5) gets the nod, despite the awful name choice. Made a nice middle move in her career debut here on Aug. 9 and should benefit from that race. Can’tweallgetalong (2) had a nice work here on Aug. 20 and that may be an indication that she is getting ready after 3 poor performances in NY-bred MSW races. Fun Prospect (8) goes for a good trainer and gets blinkers today. Watch for improvement here. I bet the 5 to win/place and then box the 5-2-8 in one exacta and then key over/under the rest of the numbers, as well. Had the winner, who paid $5.80 and $3.10 for the top two placings. Hit the exacta for $14 for a $1 bet. Winner.

Not a bad day…Hit 6 exactas out of 9 races bet…See you tomorrow.

Good luck &

All the Best/Gene