Day Results 12 / 4-2-5
2020 Overall 930 930 / 326-310-374
Win % of Top Pick 35.05%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 36.20%
2020 Top Pick in the Money –595-930 63.98%
Top Selection ITM / SAR 37-55 67.27%
Top Selection Win / SAR 20-55 36.36%
Top Selection ITM / Ellis Park 44-64 68.75%
Top Selections Win / Ellis Park 18-64 28.13%
“Key Horses” @ SAR 7-2-1-1 28.57% Win / 57.14% ITM
“Key Horses” @ Ellis Park 9/3-3-1 33.33% Win / 77.78% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2020 124-42-27-18 33.87% Win / 7-.16% ITM


(Mac turns 1 today. Love him so. And, I am sure he is a great handicapper. I just know it / Photo by Mom — Alex McLean Sharp)

An interesting day at the ole’ ball yards at Saratoga and Ellis Park on Friday. We didn’t manage a lot of winners. But we managed to win money.

So? What’s most important, right?

At Ellis Park, we booted home only two winners out of the 9-race card. But we hit exactas that returned $86.60, $16.00, $57.50, $10.90, $13.60 for each $1 played.

How do you not make some cash with those pari-mutuels? Right?

At Saratoga, we only handicapped three races on the day. Won two of them and hit for exactas that returned $7.30 and $20.90 for each $1 played.

It was profitable, although the overall numbers suffered.

I’ll take the money.

Here’s a look at the Saturday plays for us:


1st: 3-1-7/4/8-2/6-1A-5…A very nice MSW event to open a great day of racing, and I will go with two first-time starters to key on top here — led by Reinvestment Risk (3). This 2YO son of Upstart cost a hefty $280,000 at the OBS-March Sale this year and has been training lights out for Chad Brown. The barn hits with .20% on the debut run and this one gets Irad Ortiz, Jr. up. The rider has won with .29% of the last 45 mounts for this barn. Connections here. Olympiad (1) cost $700,000 at the KEE September Yearling Sale last year and has been working well for the barn of Bill Mott. The barn only scores with .09% on debut, but this one has “the look.” Out of a Stakes-placed dam and the sire wins with .16% with offspring making the first start. Winformwithin (7) is one of the few “veterans” in this group. Has made one start for trainer Todd Pletcher, who is winning at a .29% clip this meet in the first 28 starts. This one ran 2nd as the odds-on favorite last time out going 5.5 furlongs. The extra distance should help this one, for sure. The one to beat, as the barn hits with .25% of those returning as a beaten favorite. I bet the 3-7 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 4 in two smaller units.

2nd: 1-4-3/2-6-5…Fog of War (1) will be making the 2020 debut and the first race since finishing 6th in the G1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park last August — a year ago. In 5 career starts, this troubled 4YO has two wins and a second. One of the wins — in the second start back in 2018 — this one beat War of Will. Nice. Not the soundest of individuals, obviously. But when good? He’s really good. Works indicate he is ready. En Wye Cee (4) is another coming off a layup and will be making the grass debut. Two strikes. But the barn hits with .15% of those making the sod debut. In 4 career starts, this 4YO has two wins and a third. Another one who has trouble staying on the track, but when ready? Ready. Dream Friend (3) ran in the G3 Poker Stakes last time out. Tired in that one at the end and gave way. But this one has the speed and will be the one to catch. May hold on for a piece. Maybe. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under with all the numbers listed above.

3rd: I skip

4th: 3-5/6-9-4/2-1-7/8…Dreams of Tomorrow (3) is my first Key Play of the Day. This 3YO son of Speightstown is coming off a near miss win at Belmont Park on June 20. The “show” horse that day came right back to win and this one was a beaten favorite. Barn hits with .22% of those kind and with .17% getting the blinkers for the first time. Gets a new rider today and moves to a jockey who has won with .32% in the last 19 rides for this HOF trainer. Has the look of a big winner here. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-5 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 3-5 over/under the 6-9-4-2-1-7 in two smaller units. 

5th: 3/6-4/2-1-5…G1 Personal Ensign Stakes…Midnight Bisou (3) is a Champ. She ran second to Maximum Security in the Saudi Cup and then ran off by nearly 9 to win the G2 Fleur de Lis Stakes when she got back to the fillies. How do you beat her right now? Most likely, you do not. Even at the “Graveyard of Champs.” Point of Honor (6) is really good. Really good. And, has two seconds in two previous runs here. Lost by a nose last time out in the G1 Ogden Phipps. But she is no Midnight Bisou. I bet Midnight Bisou (3) over the 6-4 in the exacta. Key the 3 in the horizontal plays — like Pick 4 and Pick 3…

6th: 2/7-6/1-3-4/5-8…Mister Winston (2) is another Key Play of the Day for me and a single here. This 3YO son of Lookin at Lucky has raced only twice — both coming this year. Has a win and a second. Makes the 2nd start off a layup today and the barn wins with .26% of those. Yes a HOF rider, and if he can avoid a brain fart then he should be able to handle this crowd. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key the 2 over/under the rest of the numbers listed here — with more over the 7-6-1.

7th: 10-7-8/2-6-9/4-1-5…Habitus (10) will stretch out to a route of ground for the first time and the barn wins with .18% of those. This one chase Fauci going just 5.5-furlongs at KEE. Made a huge late move in that one and this son of Kitten’s Joy should relish the extra ground today. Relish. King of Miami (7) is a 2YO son of American Pharoah and will get the grass for the first time and the route, for the first time, too. Ran a very nice second at odds-on. Barn hits with .20% in the 2nd career race. Modern Science (8) should not be dismissed. Ran a nice third on debut at Ellis Park going a mile for a barn that is known for using a race or two to tighten the screws. In 4 starts here this meet, the trainer is 2-1-0. Beware. I bet the 10-8 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 10-8 over/under the 7-2-6-9 in two smaller units.

8th: 8-7/1-6/4-5…Reigning Spirit (8) has run two very nice 2nds in row and the winner of the last race came right back to win the next outing, too. Son of War Front is out of a SW mare. She has produced three starters, to date, and 2 winners. Of those, one is a SW, too. Looks to be the one to graduate here. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the 8-7 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 8 over/under the “all button” in two smaller units.

9th: 5-3/1-2/4…G1 Whitney Stakes…Tom’s d’Etat (5) has certainly stamped himself as one of the best horses in the world today. The 7YO has won four races in a row. Two G2 and a G1. The last lost was in the G1 Woodward, when 4th, at this track last August. In 4 career starts over this track, though, he has 3 wins. So, can’t say it was “The Spa.” Will be tough to handle, for sure. In 9 starts at this distance, he has 6 wins and a third. Tough. Code of Honor (3) is my Upset Special of the Day, though. This 4YO son of Noble Mission is coming off a third in the G1 Met Mile. I wrote that day that the race was too short for him. In one previous run at this distance, he has a third. But lost to Maximum Security in the Florida Derby last year on a speed-favoring track. On this track, he is a perfect 2-for-2. If it is going to happen to Tom, it may happen here. I bet the 3 — take note — to win/place and then box the 3-5 solidly. I will key the 3 over (only) the rest of the numbers listed.

10th: 6/4-2-8/7-11-5/9-10…G1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes…No Parole (6), perhaps the best Louisiana-bred to ever race, is back for more sprinting today. And, he is one of the best in the land. No doubt. In one trip at this distance of 7 furlongs, he has a win. In all of his one-turn races, he is a perfect 5-for-5. Most have been easy wins, too. He will make the lead. He will run fast. He will dare them to catch him. Most cannot. I don’t know if any of these can. The one that may, though, is the Bob Baffert shipper — Eight Rings (2). He has had some time off since the last two debacles. Works indicate the 3YO son of Empire Maker is back. Look for this one to be more staunch today with the rest and he gets one of the hottest riders around. I bet the 6 to win/place and the 2 across the board. I box the 6-2 in one exacta. I key the 6-2 over/under all the numbers listed, too.

11th: 2-6-4/5-1/7…G2 Bowling Green Stakes…This is a marathon event that will contested at 13/8-miles over the sod. And, it is wide, wide open, IMO. I will give the slight edge to the NY-bred Cross Border (2), who just won here on July 22. A week ago. Easy win then when facing the NY-breds only. I guess you can say that was a nice “work” to blow out for this one. Ran 5th in the G1 Manhattan two starts ago, but lost by a length to Instilled Regard. Sadler’s Joy (6) is a war horse and has 8 career starts over this track. Is 2-1-2 over this sod. But in 4 starts this year, he has only 3 thirds. Maybe past the prime. Dot Matrix (4) comes form the barn of Brad Cox and has a win and a second over this turf. No threat last time out, but was 2nd the time before at this distance. Two tries at the long run and has a second and a third. Chance. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed.

12th: 7-2-9/6-8-3-1/5-4…Caress Stakes…Dalika (7) was the beaten favorite in the License Fee Stakes last time out and had to go way wide in that affair. Lost by less than a half-length. With a better trip, she probably could / should have won. Rider is hot now and this one has a second in only previous run over this track. Love the work on July 24. Looks best on paper to me, and the trainer wins with .25% in the third start off a layup. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 7 over/under all the numbers listed.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene