Day Results 6 / 3-0-1
2020 Overall 866 866 / 308-285-347
Win % of Top Pick 35.57%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 36.18%
2020 Top Pick in the Money –556-866 64.20%
Top Selection ITM / SAR 17-22 77.27%
Top Selection Win / SAR 9-22 40.91%
Top Selection ITM / Ellis Park 27-33 81.82%
Top Selections Win / Ellis Park 10-33 30.30%
“Key Horses” @ SAR 2-2-0-0 100.00% Win / 100.00% ITM
“Key Horses” @ Ellis Park 3/1-1-0 33.33% Win / 66.67% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2020 113-40-24-16 35.40% Win / 70.80% ITM

OK day up at “The Spa.” We tried to handicap for both a wet day and a dry day. We had an OK day.

But we will be looking for some better prices and a few better tickets on Friday. We will do a tour of duty on Friday, traveling both to Ellis Park and Saratoga (virtually, of course) to handicap a few races at both of the venues that are known as the “Saratoga of the South,” and “The Saratoga, Period.”

Here’s a closer look at our picks at each locale:

Ellis Park:

2nd: 6-3-5/2-4…This is scheduled as a 5.5-furlong sprint over the firm grass course for the 3YO & Up fillies and mares at the MCL level of $30,000. I will give the edge to Carson Reserve (6). This 3YO Shackleford filly is a square price in the ML at 4-1 and will be making the career debut for trainer W. Bret Calhoun, who knows his way to the winner’s circle. Barn hits with .13% on debut, but is a firm 0-for-29 with those that debut on the grass this year. About time for the first win, don’t you think? Gets a solid grass rider in the saddle, and this one has been working well over at the KEE facility. Looks like she could be ready. Abramax (3) has started three times so far and now will drop into the MCL ranks for the first time. Barn has made only 13 starts this year, with a win rate of .15%. this one ran OK in the 2020 debut, but tired mightily at the 1 mile distance. Now, cuts back and should be able to use her speed to maximum here. Osprey Court (5) returns at the $30,000 love for a trainer that is a true friend of mine and one of the best hard-boot barn operators in the world. Having a tough year, but does have a win in 6 starts here this meet. Interesting spot. I bet the 6-3 across the board and then box the top 3. I will key the 6-3 over/under the numbers listed in two smaller units.

4th: 2-3-7/4/1-5-6…Pat Daddy (2) was claimed last time out at Churchill Downs for $25,000. Returns at the same level today for a barn that wins with .29% of those making the initial start after the purchase. Ran well at Oaklawn Park this Spring, and those horses have spread out over the globe to run well since departing Hot Springs. Gets a top rider in the irons and that should help, too. Live. Prince Pierce (3) will make the drop into the claiming ranks for the first time. Ran a bang-up at Oaklawn Park on April 17. In too tough at Churchill Downs on June 7. Should find this group much easier. Gets a new rider, too. Live. Degrom (7) was claimed last time out for $20,000 and now moves up a notch in the price tag. New trainer, and I don’t know much about. Has not won a race yet, but today could be the day? I bet the 2-3 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 2-3 over/under the rest of the numbers — but more with the 4.

5th: 3-4/6-1-7-8/2-5…We return to the sod here, and the distance is the flat mile. I will give the edge to Strut the Ring (3). This 8YO gelding gets back to the grass and the distance where he won at over the Fair Grounds’ grass on March 12. In 7 turf starts, to date, he has 4 wins. Barn hits with a whopping .43% on the third start off a layup, and that is with a sample size of 21 horses. When going from the dirt to the turf, the barn wins with .30%. Like this one. A lot. Knight’s Cross (4) is the ML favorite, and won against much, much better at Churchill Downs two starts ago. Look at the comment line in the last out. Stumbled badly at the start of that one, and this guy loves the lead. That’s a disaster for this type. Look for much more today. I bet the 3-4 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I go solid. I will key the 3-4 over/under the 6-1-7-8-2 in two shorter units.

6th: 7-9/6-2-5-8/3-4-1…I am loading up here on the first time starter from the Dale Romans’ barn — Girl Daddy (7). This 2O daughter of Uncle Mo cost the Albaugh Family (Dennis’ Moment, Thousand Words, Brody’s Cause, and many others) a hefty $500,000 at the KEE September Yearling Sale last year. Works are spot on. Brilliant, in fact. I go with this barn, which as a second and a third in 3 starts here so far. I load up at 5-1 odds. Load up. Malibu Bird (9) is another first time starter. This one comes from the Norm Casse barn, and this 2YO daughter of Malibu Moon has been working very well for the debut, too. Rider teams up well with this barn, and this one could be gone early. Dam of this one has 2 winners from 5 starters. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the 7-9 in the exacta. I go rather stern. I key the 7-9 over/under the 6-2-5-8-3 in two smaller units.

7th: 5-3-2/1/4-6…New Roo (5) is my Upset Special of the Day. This one is 8-1 in the ML, and I would be thrilled with that number at PT. This one has a 2-2-2 mark in the first 9 starts. But…Last time on the fast dirt? Won against much, much tougher at Churchill Downs last June. Connections put this one in the Stakes race over the AW at Turfway Park on March 14. Had a world of issues at the start of that one and lost all chance. I look for more today and pile on. Rockin Ready (3) won two starts ago at Oaklawn Park. Flashed a ton of speed in that one and ran off to an easy win. Caught a tough group at Churchill Downs in the last out. Should run a better one today. Barn wins with .21% when making the 2nd start off a layup. Sara Sea (2) is the ML favorite, and has 3 thirds in the last 4 races. So? I put third. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 5 over/under the numbers listed — with more on and with the 1.

8th: (16)-(15)-(13)/5-3-2/(14)-6-7-10/8-9/1-4…This is scheduled to be a 11/16-mile event over the grass course, and the best of this field may be hung out — literally and figuratively. The best three, on our numbers, may not make the race. If they do — any or all — then we have to utilize in our mix. If not, we will go to the next threesome — led by Raison d’être (5). This 3YO daughter of Medaglia d’Oro will be making the third start of the career. She ran second to a monster on debut in Ocean Breeze. Next time out, this one was bet down to the favorite and had traffic issues. Now, she finds a route of ground and the grass. Barn hits with .13% of those trying the sod for the first time. Gets a top lawn jockey and the dam has produced 4 winners from 5 starters — including a turf winner. Looks best to me. Violenza (3) could be a nice Upset Special of the Day play, too. This one is 8-1 in the ML and will be making the 2nd start off an extended layoff. Barn hits with .13% of them. Ran much better than looked last time out and the cut back in distance should really help. If she can moderate off the speed numbers last time out, she could be salty at the wire for a top barn operator. Daddymademedoit (2) has run 2 seconds and 3 thirds in the first 12 starts. Has had plenty of chances, but has settled for the minor rewards. Could be in that familiar territory again today. If the AE horses draw in, I use. If not, I go with the 5-3 across the board and box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the 5-3 over/under the 2-6-7-10-8-9 in two smaller units.

9th: 4/1-2/9-5…The Key Play of the Day at Ellis Park comes in the finale with Mr. Unusual (4), who is the ML favorite. This one will be making the second start after a claim and this barn wins with .18% of those. Gets back to the level where the claim took place, and he ran a tough 2nd in that one. Could be a really tough out at this level, again. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under the numbers listed and over (only) the “all button.”

Saratoa:

3rd: 6-2/4-3-1-7…This is a 5.5-furlong speciality sprint over the grass, and I will go with Chad Brown and his steed Voting Agreement (6). This 3YO daughter of More Than Ready won here on debut last August. Was off until June, and when she returned to the ring she ran a solid 3rd while way, way wide. With a cleaner trip, this one should be a tough out today. Peaceful (2) is a 4YO and has the age advantage in this one. In 2 trips at the distance, she has a win and a second. Was nipped in the 2020 debut at Belmont Park on June 28. Cuts back in distance after tiring late in that one. Works solid. Jockey is hot, too. I bet the 6 to win/place and then box the top 2 in the exacta. I key the top 2 over (only) the rest of the numbers.

6th: 9-7/(8)/3-6-2-1/4…Unlike the previous grass tilt, this one is an endurance test and will be contested at 13/8ths miles. I go to the far outside and land with the even-money ML favorite, Cap de Creus (9). This 4YO daughter of Tapit gets the red-hot Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle. All he did was win 5 on Thursday’s card. This one nearly won last time out off an extended vacation. Change in rider today and Ortiz has hooked up with the Pletcher barn this week to tear down the barn. Over the last 14 rides together, they have won over .36% now. Took another on Thursday. Ebony (7) will be making the 2nd career start in NA today. Ran OK in the debut. But never a threat. Probably needed that race after a 7-month layoff. Gets HOFer Johnny V in the saddle here. Look for a better effort today. I bet the 9 to win/place and then box the top 2 in the exacta. If it comes off the turf, watch out for the MTO horse. I key the top 2 over (only) the rest of the numbers listed.

8th: 7-9/1-5/3/6-2…Free Enterprise (7) comes from the Chad Brown barn, and these connections are off to a .33% win streak after the first 18 races. This 5YO son of Curlin came back off the layup to nearly win last time out. Barn hits with .29% when a beaten favorite returns, and the cut back in distance sure should help this speedy type, too. My pick. Strike That (9) raced very well at Oaklawn Park this Winter/Spring, after being claimed at Del Mar last August. In 5 starts, he has 3 wins and 2 seconds. Steady beat. Will push the leaders or direct the pace. Loves the front. Come catch me, if you can. I bet the 7-9 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 7-9 over (only) the rest of the numbers listed.

9th: 2-8/7-5/4-3/1-6…G3 Quick Call Stakes…This is a 5.5-furlong Stakes event for the 3YOs, and I will land on the even-money ML favorite — Jack and Noah (2). This one won the Sir Cat Stakes at Belmont Park in the last outing and does have a second in only previous try at this shorter distance. French-bred should be able to handle this surface just nicely, and gets the HOF rider back aboard. No reason he can’t duplicate the last winning effort. Turned Aside (8) ran 2nd to the top pick in the last Stakes. Was in the 2nd spot all the way around. Worked brilliantly on July 14 and probably needed the last race off an extended layup. This trainer is red hot, too, and despite the fact that he has run behind our top pick on three previous occasions? Could upset with the right scenario. I bet the 2-8 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I key the 2-8 over (only) the 7-5-4-3-1-6.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene