To be honest, I didn’t plan on handicapping Saturday night and giving out some “Spot Plays” for today. Thought my great friend and handicapping fanatic, Ryan Dickey, could handle the job solo today. (And, of course, he could).

But my mind changed on Saturday night when the family rolled in from a day on Kentucky Lake, full of life and fun. My mind and attitude changed when I got to the computer and read my first of several emails from my “#1 Fan” in Maine — James F. Day. (I do have an opinion on what the “F” stands for, if you would really like to know.)

It’s not the first time I have heard from the wannabe barrister. From time to time, he will raise his ugly head and “voice” his concerns over my handicapping abilities and talents. (I never professed to making a “living” at betting horses, mind you. I just enjoy it, a lot, and think I’m OK.)

But Saturday’s retort from Mr. Day crossed the line, in my opinion. Here is what he had to write:

“Ryan & Gene.  –    you’re both f****** assholes!!!!
Does Twinspires wire funds into your overseas tax shelter?”
And, this guy pretends to be an attorney?
A professional who makes a living in front of the courts?
I studied on the email for awhile before I finally decided to respond. As I have done on previous occasions, I told Mr. Day — in so many words — that betting on horse racing is what we like to call “gambling.” It is not an exact science. It is not an assurance. The only thing that you can expect on a regular basis is the unexpected.
But the truth is that does not wire many any money. Not here. Not anywhere. If James truly understood the pari-mutuel system, the track and its’ accompanying Advace Deposit Wagering platforms really don’t care who wins a horse race. They subtract their “take out” off the top.
But here was my response to Jimmy:

“Dearest James, my favorite part-legal (meant to write para-legal):

Your welcome. 
We are doing well! 
Thanks for asking. 
Yours Truly…”

To be frank, neither Ryan nor I had a good day on Saturday. In 3 races, Ryan had a second and a third. In 3 races, I had a second and a third. (I did tout Tax, in my Jim Dandy selections, by the way!)

Not good. Granted.

But does that warrant the obscenities?

I’m sorry that James has never had the good fortune of reviewing our selections on a “good day.” If he has, he has not shared those views. But my sincere hope in the future is that James never looks to our picks for “advice and counsel” in the future. Even though that I’m positive that it is better than his legal opinion.

If you care to reach out to James, here is his email address:

Now, on to more fun — let’s hope. Here’s my “Spot Plays” for Saratoga on this most wonderful and beautiful Sunday. Just because one person protests too much, I found the energy to get right back on the saddle today:

Race 1: I don’t normally bet on races that are carded and reserved for New York-breds only. I prefer “open company” and have a better feel for those competing against all. But as I perused the initial race on the Sunday card, something jumped out at me. The name of a horse. Cleon Jones (4). I don’t know if this horse is actually named for the former New York Mets’ star outfielder of yesteryear or not, but I have not seen that name since I was a kid and collected baseball cards. Memories. The more I look at the pedigree and the past performances, I think this son of Tale of the Cat may have a good shot, too. He was bet down to “odds-on” favoritism in the first start at Belmont Park on June 23. Ran 5th out of 7 that day. Wide into the turn and into the upper stretch. Made “no impact.” But the barn is 3-4-3 in 19 starts here this meet, and wins with .31% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Look for more from this one today. Brian’s Last Song (7), a 2YO son of Cairo Prince and trained by Todd Pletcher, is the one to beat. For sure. First timer, but training well for a barn that wins with .22% of those making the debut. Jose Ortiz up. And, he is on fire.

Race 3: The odds don’t promise to be good, or, maybe, even acceptable for a wager, but I like Fooch (3) in this spot. Trained by Wesley Ward, Fooch has been the favorite in each of the last 3 outs. Has not returned to the winner’s circle in any of them, though. Does have a 1-2-0 mark in 5 previous grass races, and will face much softer competition in this spot today. And, this barn really excels with grass sprinters. But…My pick is Tenure (6). This one is graduating to face winners for the first time after running off to an easy win down at Monmouth Park. Impressive in that one, and a son of Uncle Mo. Dam has 8 — count ’em — turf winners from 11 states and a Stakes winner. Don’t know exactly when this one was gelded, but if it was in-between the two starts? Could have made a difference. Look out.

Race 7: This is a MSW event for fillies 3YOs & Up and will be contested over the inner turf track at the 1-mile distance. Chad Brown has two in this event, and both are likely to be well supported at the windows. And, why not? The man has a 9-12-12 record in 45 starts this meet, and he likes to dominate the green. Both Queen Medb (4) — who has 4 seconds in 5 career starts — and New and Improved (6) — who is a first time starter –– look imposing. But I will go with a pair that may have a shot at upsetting here. Aymara (9) gets back on the grass for trainer Bill Mott today, and this 3YO daughter of Speightstown is out of a mare who has thrown 2 turf winners from 3 starters and has 1 Stakes Winner, too. Ran OK over the grass in the first start, closing ground late. Moved to the dirt last time out, and failed as the favorite. Back on sod today, and I think we can see improvement. I like the last work and the 8-1 ML odds here. A lot. Confessing (1) hails form the barn of Steve Asmussen, and this one ran a real good one last time out — losing to a filly that has already returned to win again. Has caught two good ones to start the career. Dam of this one has 2 turf winners from 9 starters and a SW, as well. I’m going with 9-1 over/under the Brown pair.

11th: G2 Amsterdam Stakes…Honest Mischief (5), the beaten favorite in the G1 Woody Stephens Stakes last time out, figures to get another chance from the bettors today. The Chad Brown-trainee really spit the bit when the real running began in that last one, which was won by a huge longshot in Hog Creek Hustle. The win at Keeneland was impressive, but it was only a MSW triumph. Overrated? Nitrous (6) is a funny sort. Has a 3-2-1 record in 9 starts — including a win over this track. Has learned to really rate and make a huge run late for trainer Steve Asmussen. Will need some racing room late, but his resume seems to be a lot more complete than Honest Mischief’s. Strike Silver (10) is a speedball, who will relish the small cut back in distance today. Has a nice second in a Stakes over this track a year ago. Was OK on grass, with a win and a third, but is back on the track surface that he may prefer best. They will have to catch him, for sure. Shancelot (12) ships in for Jorge Navarro. Is a perfect 2-for-2, and the barn has a second and a third in just 3 starts this meet. Last win was by over 6 at Monmouth, but the win at Gulfstream Park in February was the most impressive to me. The best of the speedsters and can carry it out to 7 furlongs, it seems. Will be a force. No doubt. But…Always a but, right…I like Garter and Tie (8). Gets a huge rider switch, and this one has a nice 3-4-2 record in 13 starts. A little on the inconsistent side, but has faced some tough ones in the past — like Maximum Security, Harvey Wallbanger, and Well Defined. So far wide in the last out that I can toss that one. Will be coming late and the speed may set it up nice for this one’s late run, too. One-for-one at this distance. I go with the 6-8-12.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

And, when you get the chance? Say “Hi” to my good friend, James F. Day. I have an opinion on what the “F” stands for.