McLean’s Saratoga “Spot Plays” for Wednesday, Aug. 21

We are back for “Travers Week” at Saratoga, the beautiful “Spa” in upstate New York. Traditionally, the huge week of activities — highlighted by the running of the G1 Stakes — is the culmination of the meet and signals that Fall is not a faraway look into the future.

But before we turn the pages on another Saratoga Summer, let’s turn a few pages on the Brisnet.com past performances for today and the rest of this great week. And, let’s try our darnedest to find a few winners along the way.

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

Race 2: 1-3-5…This is a really nice grouping of 5 that will contest the 11/8-mile dirt test today. Two of the horses are trained by Chad Brown — who has been on a world-wide and whirlwind tour winning races. Two are trained by Todd Pletcher. So, narrows the field pretty good. South of the Shore (1) looks to be the best on paper. This 4YO daughter of Union Rags ran second to Dunbar Road last time out, and that filly just impressed all with a huge win in the G1 Alabama Stakes here. Three races back, she tangled with Coach Rocks. Misses a lot of time in-between races, but she has the talent and “the man” at the helm. Won’t be huge odds, but figures best. Mo Moxie (3) could add some value to the exacta play, though. This 4YO daughter of Uncle Mo ran second to our top pick three races ago, and this one was the odds-on favorite. Went way wide in that one, and now gets the same rider back. And, the jockey? Has won only .04% of his races here this meet. Go figure. But the barn hits with .27% of those returning as a beaten favorite, and with .21% of those coming off a short layoff of this nature. Has the ability to close late. Chance. I bet the 1 to win only and then box the 1-3 in the exacta.

Race 4: John’s Call Stakes…5-6-4-1…This is an endurance test that will be challenging at the 15/8-mile distance over the Saratoga sod. I will give the edge to Red Knight (5), a 5YO Pure Prize gelding from the barn of Bill Mott. Although there does not seem to be much speed in this tilt at all, and that may allow for someone and some thing to steal away on an easy lead, Red Knight appears to have the serious class edge in this one. The NY-bred has run in three Graded Stakes events in a row, and was a near-miss second to Bigger Picture in the G2 Elkhorn at Keeneland in April. If he can find that form again? Should dominate in here, especially with the addition of Jose Ortiz back in the saddle. I bet the 5 to win/place and then box the 5-6-4 in one exacta, and key the 5 over/under the other numbers in two smaller versions.

Race 6: 7-2-1…This is a MSW event for 2YOs that will be contested at 11/16-miles over the inner turf course. And, I love Flute Maker (7) in this spot. The son of Sky Mesa comes from a winning Pleasantly Perfect mare, and this is her first foal to run. Ran a “spotty” race on debut for a barn that normally does not have them fully cranked for the debut. Broke slowly in that one, and moved up to lose by over 9 lengths. Winner that day, though, was Night Time — a 2YO who came right back on Saturday to run a very game 3rd in the Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes. This guy has been moved to Saratoga now, and gets a huge lift with the rider selection. Love the work here on Aug. 2, as well. Should improve greatly. Montana Man (2) ran just 7 days ago over the main track here for trainer Dale Romans. Didn’t fire much of a lick in that one. Now, gets over to the grass for the first time and the dam of this one has produced 3 turf winners from 5 starters. Son of Constitution comes from a King of Kings mare. Grass on the bottom side, for sure. Should improve, and love the jockey change here, too. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the 7-2-1 in the exacta.

Race 7: Golconda (5) is the 2-1 favorite and should run a big race against this group, since she is in for the $50,000 price tag. Ran fourth in a Stakes two back and was 6th to a real good one in a G3 three races ago. Was trained by Chad Brown back then. The French-bred may be a nice claim pick up for this price tag. Still a 3YO and has some ability, it appears.

Race 10: Appreciate (13) is on the Also-Eligible List for trainer John Toscano, but she could be an interesting claim prospect for the $40,000 tag today, as well. She ran for $30,000 last time out and was 3rd at that level here on Aug. 1. Daughter of Tiznow and bred by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone. Comes from a winning Mr. Greeley mare, who has produced a turf winner from 3 starters to date. Has been a little more consistent since the blinkers were added 7 starts ago. Has only the one win in 16 starts, but does have 5 seconds and 3 thirds. Could be a good one to run in Starter Allowance at KY Downs’ upcoming meet? Money to be made there, if you can get in.

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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