McLean’s Saratoga “Spot Plays” for Friday, Aug. 30

We kick off the last weekend of yet another Summer-time festival at Saratoga today. Where has the time gone, right?

And, as expected, “The Spa” will be hit a hot tub-like gear as it finishes up the final furlong.

Here’s a look at our “Spot Plays” for today:

Race 5: Dream Passage (1) has drawn the rail for this 1-mile contest over the inner turf, and that should not hurt this speedster from the barn of trainer Brad Cox. In two previous runs here this meet, this 5YO Stormy Atlantic mare has run two close seconds — the last time as the favorite. The barn hits with .32% of those returning as a beaten fan choice, and she certainly looks like she should garner a lot of betting support again today. Gets Joel Rosario back in the saddle, and in 4 previous runs here at “The Spa,” she has a win and 2 seconds. They will have her to catch. Which may be tough in this field today. Low price, but don’t leave out if you get even money or more.

Race 7: I’m really looking forward to watching Sixth Street (1), the 2YO filly by Tapit and trained by the heady Mark Hennig. This one cost $525,000 at the KEE September Sale a year ago, and has been training nicely for the debut. Love the last work, especially. This one comes from a dam who has 5 winners from 6 starters — including one Stakes winner. Barn hits with .14% making the career debut, and this one has the looks of being a good one for a “great guy trainer.” She will have to have her running shoes on today, though, and I would really not prefer the rail for the first out. Can be a bit intimidating. The horse to beat may be Steve Asmussen’s Hallajoori (6). This daughter of Bayern broke on top and ran a good one before tiring late and finishing third here on July 31. Gets Lasix for the first time today and that can only help. She will be tough. I bet the 6 to win, place, show and then box the 6-1 in one exacta. I key the 6 over/under the “all button” in two smaller versions.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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