McLean’s Saratoga “Spot Plays” for Wednesday, Aug. 14

After a rather fruitful and successful weekend in Chicago for the Arlington Million, we will delve back into the handicapping game today for a few “Spot Plays” up at “The Spa.” Always tough finding and betting a winner at Saratoga, but we think we may have a couple of horses that merit our attention and a chance at cashing a profitable ticket today.

Here’s a closer look:

Race 2: This is a MSW event for the 2YOs, going the sprint distance of 6 furlongs over the main dirt track. While trainer Ken McPeek has the prohibitive favorite in this group with Beyond Gone (5), I think we may have a shot at a bit of an upset with the first time starter Montana Man (1). I never like betting a first timer that draws the rail position. Just too many obstacles and distractions for a newbie. But this colt is by a hot, young stallion by the name of Constitution (a son of Tapit) and has been showing signs of some early speed in the a.m. drills for trainer Dale Romans. Constitution is off to a tremendous beginning with his first crop at the racetrack, and has sired .33% winners on the first try, so far. The dam of this one was a Stakes winner, too, and had thrown 3 winners from 4 starters — to date. Love the work here on Aug. 2. Could be tough, if he can break sharply from the rail. Will have to hold off Beyond Gone, who should be coming late and like the extra 1/2-furlong today. I bet the 1 across the board and then key the 1 over/under the “all button.” Trying to land the big one.

Race 5: This is another MSW event, for the fillies and mares 3YOs & Up. Tough group with a lot of potential contenders to join the ranks of winners today. But I love the way My Happy Place (1) comes into this one. Again, don’t love the rail spot, but the 3YO daughter of Tapit is trained by the HOFer Shug McGaughey, who normally takes his time coaching the horses into and out of the first few races. This gal ran 2nd on debut at Belmont Park on June 6, and followed that up with a 3rd downstate on July 7. Was angled far too wide to make a serious and contending move in that one. Now, adds an extra 1/2-furlong and she should love the extra distance. Looks like she may be ready for a big effort. The filly to our immediate outside, Katama Moonlight (2), has not raced since last December, but is training lights out for the world-beater Chad Brown. Can’t dismiss this guy right now, either. But I go across the board with the 1 and try her over/under the 2-4-6-3-7 in here.

Race 7…The Bolton Landing Stakes: This is a 5.5-furlong sprint over the turf course for the 2YO fillies, and, as these races often do, should be an exciting one at the wire. The pre-game hype has been all about Kimari (5), a daughter of Munnings who ran 2nd by a head in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot back in June for trainer Wesley Ward. She won on debut at Keeneland in April over the dirt track by a whopping 15 lengths. Game is there, obviously. And, undoubtedly, she figures to be the heavy favorite and the one to beat. But…There’s always a “but,” right? I will try to beat her with one of three choices. Abscond (4), a daughter of Blame and trained by Eddie Kenneally, ships up from Ellis Park fresh off an impressive, closing MSW win at the “Pea Patch.” But make no mistake. This is not your grandfather’s Ellis Park. Top runners there this summer. Top. And, the runner-up in that race has already returned to win the next out. This one is training lights out, too, and gets Javier Castellano in the saddle today. Watch out. Champagne Humor (6) ships up from Gulfstream Park for trainer Antonio Sano. This daughter of Distorted Humor won on debut in May. Been off since, but had a monster work over this dirt track on Aug. 10. Looks super sharp, and both of the horses that she beat in the first race returned to win the next out. Vast (1) a daughter of freshman sire Lea, gets to the grass for the first time after winning on debut here on July 12. Pushed the pace in that one and figures to go right to the front from the rail here today. Gets blinkers for the first time and that should sharpen her up even more. Nice work on Aug. 9. Looks primed and ready to fire. Will have to catch her. I play the 4-1 across the board and then key the 4-1-6 over the 5. I play a smaller 4-1-6 exacta box. Maybe the long trip across the pond took a little out of the 5. If not, she may be way too tough to fend off. I’m taking a shot.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

 

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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