If you’re only at Saratoga a few times this summer and want my selections and analysis for every day of the summer meet, head to my website, AndrewChampagne.com. The folks at The Saratogian have been nice enough to let me post my stuff there, and new to my site tomorrow will be the first installment of a weekly column. “The Dark Day Files” will attempt to give some insight into the routines and musings of a public handicapper, and I sincerely hope you enjoy it.
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: I wouldn’t have traded places with anyone going down the backstretch in the fifth race, as John Velazquez slowed the pace down aboard my best bet, Thebigfundamental. However, he was collared in the stretch, my plays went up in smoke, and I dropped $30.
MONDAY’S PLAY: There’s a longshot I like right off the bat. #3 THADDEUS appears to be the controlling speed in the opener, and he may relish the drop in class at a price (8-1 ML). I’ll put $5 on him across the board, and I’ll play $2 doubles using him and likely favorite #6 YOUR SECRET’S SAFE with #3 TIZNOBLE and #10 AZAR in the second race.
TOTAL WAGERED: $23
Best Bet: Blue Prize, Race #7
Longshot: Thaddeus, Race #1
Your Secret’s Safe
Nicholas and Me
THADDEUS: Takes a big drop in class after showing ample early zip in the maiden special weight ranks. This is an appropriate spot, and Rosario staying on is a plus; YOUR SECRET’S SAFE: Cuts back to a sprint distance on the huge class drop and will likely be a considerable favorite. He could wake up at this level, but there’s a chance he wants more ground than he’ll get; NICHOLAS AND ME: Showed speed when third in his debut at Churchill Downs. Top speed rider Paco Lopez hops on, and improvement is logical at second asking.
Morning Buzz (MTO)
TIZNOBLE: Has not run a bad race in his career, and many of those outings have come against much better horses. The drop in class is a bit odd, but his best race would make him tough to beat; AZAR: Topped allowance foes two back at Gulfstream and is multiple stakes-placed. He’s another for whom the drop is alarming, but he breaks from a tough post and may be bet heavily; SPORTSCASTER: Fits at this level, and his last-out effort on dirt is a throw-out. The post is unfortunate, but he fits based on past form and could be a price. DIRT SELECTIONS: MORNING BUZZ, AZAR, TAOISEACH.
Dancing All Night
LIBBY’S TAIL: Missed by a head in last year’s Grade 1 Frizette, but she hasn’t been seen since running second in a minor stakes race back in January. There doesn’t seem to be a ton of early speed signed on alongside her, so she could conceivably get an easy lead; LANEY: Ran third in back-to-back graded races two and three back and probably bounced last out. She loves this distance and would benefit from a speed duel should a horse go with my top selection; DANCING ALL NIGHT: Cuts back in distance after a disappointing first try against winners. That said, her win two back was solid, and Shug McGaughey’s horses likely get better with experience.
DOUBLE DOSE: Won three in a row earlier this year and comes back to the claiming ranks after a pair of tries against much better allowance company. She loves this distance, and her flexible running style is a big plus; HOT YANKEE: Hasn’t won in a while, but has held her own against slightly better of late at Churchill Downs. The lack of a published worktab is unfortunate, but Saez signing on indicates she’s well-meant by an underrated barn; SLAM CHOWDER: Is another that hasn’t won in a while, but she was a close-up third at a higher level last out and attracts Javier Castellano.
In It for the Gold
COVENANT: Seems best in what looks like a two-horse race on paper. She hooked eventual graded stakes winner Salty in her lone start to date, and most Mott trainees tend to improve with experience; TAPELLA: Hammered for $750,000 two years ago and makes her long-awaited debut in this spot. She possesses several live works and a pedigree to match, but the rail isn’t always the best place for debuting runners; IN IT FOR THE GOLD: Merits a chance at a piece of it at a big price. She showed speed in her seasonal debut last month, and her form from last year may be good enough to best the rest of this bunch.
SLY BEAUTY: Chased eventual Schuylerville winner Dream It Is in her debut before romping at second asking. This filly was actually a heavy favorite in her unveiling, and she was certainly flattered by what happened on opening day; FAIRYLAND: Is one of two Ward trainees in this field coming back from Royal Ascot. She showed speed that day before fading and should find these waters much more agreeable; PRINCESS PEGGY: Is the other Ward runner. She beat my second selection last out, but I wasn’t as floored by her debut, which may have come against a suspect field. DIRT SELECTIONS: FAIRYLAND, SCHIANTI, PRINCESS PEGGY.
BLUE PRIZE: Nearly won in her U.S. debut despite a slow start. She was a Group 1 winner in her native Argentina, and her works since that American bow have been sharp; JOSEPHINE’S MOMENT: Steps up in class after recording her fourth straight victory last out at Parx. Parx shippers sometimes have trouble maintaining that form here, but it’s tough to say she’s ever been better; FUHRIOUSLY KISSED: Merits a longshot look second off the layoff for Ian Wilkes. She’d benefit from a speed duel up front, and she’s worked very well since shipping here earlier this month.
MISS ELLA: Gets my reluctant top pick in a race where almost any horse entered can win. She loves this 5 1/2-furlong trip, though, and she should benefit from the cutback in distance; RUBY NOTION: Won an allowance race at Churchill last month and was a solid third behind all-world turf sprinter Lady Aurelia two back at Keeneland. She has tactical speed, but does not need the lead, which helps; FAIR POINT: Would likely be my top pick with a better post. If there’s any sort of speed duel, she’ll likely come flying, but will such a rally be enough to overcome breaking from that far outside? DIRT SELECTIONS: RUBY NOTION, SUMMER READING, PRETTY PERFECTION.
Royal Power (MTO)
Joe’s Smokin Gun
JOE’S SMOKIN GUN: Is a logical favorite in a race full of question marks. Unlike his opponents, he has a solid turf race on his resume, and he’ll likely show early speed; FOX STRIKE: Boasts a solid worktab in central New York, and this barn has shipped 2-year-olds to Saratoga successfully in the past. He’s a half to New York circuit veteran Fox Rules, and Lonhro can certainly throw a good turf horse; FAIR ARCHER: Is worth a longshot look based on his pedigree, even if the post isn’t great. He’s a half to Brilliant, a multiple graded stakes winner on turf, and his dam is a half to Furiously, another multiple graded stakes winner. DIRT SELECTIONS: ROYAL POWER, BIG GEMMY, JOE’S SMOKIN GUN.