(NOTE: Most days, the bankroll section will be edited in after my picks are posted, as it must wait until the races in question are run the previous day. This doesn’t apply for opening day, obviously, and it won’t apply for Wednesdays either, since Tuesday is the dark day.)
It’s great to be back! For those who missed this segment when it debuted last summer, I’ll be making bets in this space all summer long, hopefully growing my starting bankroll as the meet rolls on (NOTE: All wagers on turf races are contingent on those races staying there).
Additionally, the kind folks at The Saratogian have given me some space to expound with some thoughts, and that’s where you come in. Got a question, comment, or rant? Tweet me at @AndrewChampagne, and I may answer it in print. Some ground rules: No politics, and no potshots. Breaking these rules could get you mocked and/or ridiculed. You’ve been warned.
FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’ll wait until the final two races of the day and play $10 doubles. Mark Casse holds a strong hand in the ninth (the Lake George), and both of his entrants are reasonable prices on the morning line. I’ll use #10 VICTORY TO VICTORY and #11 DREAM DANCING there and single Chad Brown class-dropper #8 SWEET CONNIE GIRL in the 10th and final.
TOTAL WAGERED: $20
Best Bet: Sweet Connie Girl, Race #10
Longshot: Victory to Victory, Race #9
INDYCOTT: Was second in the slop against slightly better last time out downstate. He’s won twice here, including a race at this level and route last summer, and he should sit a dream trip just off the speed; RICH DADDY: Is a 10-time winner with 30 in-the-money finishes in 45 career starts. He’s relished the class drop he took earlier in the year and would benefit from a pace meltdown; MARRIAGE FEVER: Has run some of his best races around two turns and could relish a return to such a route today. He could hold on for a share at a bit of a price.
Trouble for Skylar (MTO)
SCATBACK: Is by strong turf sire Scat Daddy and seems to have found a fairly soft spot for her unveiling. She’s a half to three winners, and her dam is a half to Grade 3 winner Z Humor; MISTY FOREST: Fetched $67k at auction last year and has a few workouts downstate that hint at some talent. Trainer John Kimmel can pop at a price with 2-year-olds; BEAUX ARTS: Was second at a big price in her debut at Monmouth Park and tries turf here. Sire Freud can throw turf runners, but the cold barn is a concern. DIRT SELECTIONS: TROUBLE FOR SKYLAR, BEAUX ARTS, SCATBACK.
POINT HOPE: Took a big step forward in his first start for Robertino Diodoro, romping against a weaker group. Regression is logical, but his record looks considerably better if you toss the inner track and turf races, so it’s not like his last effort is totally out of place; OFFLEE BRAWN: Is the main speed in this race on paper and routed lesser company at Monmouth when last seen. Paco Lopez and Kelly Breen do great work together, and he could be tough to run down if he shakes loose early; PLANET TRAILBLAZER: Has never missed the board in six dirt starts and was third behind a next-out winner last month downstate. The lack of a win since the debut is discouraging, but he can’t be ignored in exotics wagers.
Reason to Soar
PATTERNRECOGNITION: Chased possible Amsterdam favorite Coal Front last out after winning his debut in April at Aqueduct. He’s worked very well since then and looms large for powerhouse connections; REASON TO SOAR: Didn’t take to the turf downstate but ran several strong races against restricted stakes company earlier in the season. He’d benefit from a fast early pace, which could happen given the speed signed on; VIA EGNATIA: Makes his U.S. debut for Bill Mott and gets Lasix for the first time. He’s a half to sire First Defence, the dam is a half to Belmont winner Empire Maker, and the workouts indicate he could be well-meant.
AMAZING BELLE: Has run two strong races in as many career outings. She’s a half to Grade 1 winner Unrivaled Belle, the dam of Unique Bella, and experience counts; HONEY GLOW: Is a regally-bred Todd Pletcher trainee who could win on debut. The worktab is solid, but the pedigree suggests she may want to go longer, and I doubt we’ll get the 7/2 morning line odds; SUNNY’S FUNNY: Was a decent third on debut at Churchill Downs for a trainer whose horses sometimes need a race or two to get going. Improvement is logical at second asking.
ITSINTHESTARS: Ran a clunker last time going long, but cuts back to a distance that should be more to her liking. There’s a ton of early speed here on paper, and she should be rolling late; SWAYED: Is another coming in off a dull effort, but she likely needed the race off a long layoff. She gets Lasix for the first time and is another who would benefit from rating off a hot pace; BUFFALO MISS: Romped at this route last summer. Her best race could win this, but John Terranova isn’t great off of this type of layoff, and she figures to have company up front early on. DIRT SELECTIONS: INGRID, SWAYED, MO PROMISE.
BLACK SEA: Likely needed his North American debut, which came going shorter than his preferred distance. He’s been gelded since that effort, and anything close to his 2016 form would make him a major player; HIGHLAND SKY: Has had the misfortune of being a stone closer in a paceless race twice this year. He’ll be formidable if he gets a setup in front of him, but the fear of another dawdling pace means I can’t endorse him on top; MESSI: Was third in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy two back before running a distant ninth in the Grade 1 United Nations. He may be a hair past his peak, but he wouldn’t be a shock in what’s turned out to be an incredibly tough optional claimer. DIRT SELECTIONS: SPLASHTASTIC, RED RIFLE, BACKSIDEOFTHEMOON.
Buy Sell Hold
SNOWFIRE: Has something the rest of this field doesn’t, which is a win at today’s six-furlong distance. She drew away powerfully that day and turned in a strong local workout on July 14th that could bode well for today’s co-feature; BUY SELL HOLD: Prevailed against boys in stakes company last time out at Churchill Downs and is a logical favorite. She turned in a bullet three works back and showed an ability to rate in the aforementioned win; STAINLESS: Was an easy winner on debut at Gulfstream, and the runner-up came back to win at next asking. Trainer Todd Pletcher swept the local graded stakes for 2-year-old fillies last year, and this one could continue the winning streak.
Victory to Victory
VICTORY TO VICTORY: Is one of two Mark Casse trainees in the field and should love the two-turn route and race shape she should see here. She figures to be the main speed, she shouldn’t have to go as fast early on as she did two back against similar, and we may get a bit of a price; DREAM DANCING: May have bounced last time out after a very strong second two back to La Coronel, who’d probably be favored here. She should appreciate the return to a two-turn route, and she may be talented enough to overcome the bad post; SWEEPING PADDY: Broke through in a big way last out when taking the Grade 3 Regret. A repeat would put her right there, but that was a substantial jump from her prior form, meaning a regression could be coming here.
Sweet Connie Girl
SWEET CONNIE GIRL: Drops in for a tag for the first time after a pair of evenly-run races at Monmouth. This doesn’t seem to be the toughest field for the level, though, and the addition of Javier Castellano is a big plus; SUBMIT: Ran an OK fourth at this level downstate when returning from a long layoff. Jose Ortiz hops aboard, and she should be running well late; JOYFUL JOYFUL: Merits a look at a big price. She has some races from 2016 that would make her competitive in this spot, and she didn’t embarrass herself when third last out at Monmouth in her first start for a solid barn. DIRT SELECTIONS: PINCHPENNY, GRAND BANKS, MIZZENCAT.