After my start to the meet, which mostly resembled Daffy Duck losing one “wabbit season, duck season” argument after another, it was nice to have a day where it looked like I knew what I was doing. Of six original top picks that actually ran Monday (three scratched), three won, one was second, and one of the off-the-board finishes came in a race where I correctly went against what turned out to be a bad favorite. Hopefully, this means I’m rounding into form.
As always, if you’ve got anything you’d like addressed in this space, send me a tweet at @AndrewChampagne. I’m taking questions and comments all meet long. Just make sure they’re good!
MONDAY’S RESULTS: The second race was rained off the turf, which means my double play was cancelled (remember, wagers in races carded for turf assume no surface switch). Unfortunately, we dropped $15 when the tote board exploded in Monday’s opener and we didn’t have the $232 winner.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I thought this was a very strange card from a betting standpoint, in that I could narrow most races down to a few contenders, but not feel too confident about singles. My plays come in the ninth, the Grade 2 Honorable Miss. I’ll play a $10 exacta box using #3 PAULASSILVERLINING and #5 FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM, and I’ll punch a straight $5 double singling Finley’sluckycharm and 10th-race selection #6 SHE REMEMBERED.
TOTAL WAGERED: $25
Best Bet: She Remembered, Race 10
Longshot: New Canaan, Race 2
SURPRISING SOUL: Has woken up with three straight decisive victories this year. He hinted at talent with a pair of runner-up finishes over fences last year, and he could be emerging as a very nice horse; MOSCATO: Has won two in a row and steps up in class in this spot. He’s yet to run a bad race since coming to America from Europe; SHOW COURT: Prevailed by a nose last out at Parx and won a stakes race by daylight earlier this year.
Sand City (MTO)
NEW CANAAN: Is a major threat if she draws in off the AE list. Linda Rice made a name for herself in these turf sprints, and the recent bullet workout inspires confidence ahead of this one’s debut; INDIAN GEM: Comes in off a long layoff and a trainer change to George Weaver, whose horses have come out running early in the meet. She’s a top contender if she’s ready to run; SHARP LACEY: Ran third when debuting at this route last summer. Her recent efforts haven’t been great, but maybe she just doesn’t like Belmont and needs a change of scenery. DIRT SELECTIONS: SAND CITY, INDIAN GEM, SONG FOR THE SOUL.
Hay Listen Up
BUNYAAN: Takes a massive class drop after faltering against much better in each of his past two starts. Anything close to his runaway win three back (which came in his last two-turn outing) would likely be good enough; COMBAT CONTROLLER: Is another taking a big class drop for a live barn. The win two back against lesser company was strong, and he ran against some big-name horses earlier this season; HAY LISTEN UP: Woke up two back with a wire-to-wire score and runs for D. Wayne Lukas, who has already won several races to this point in the meet.
FAYEQ: May not be as good as older half-sister Rachel Alexandra, but his last-out maiden win was very sharp. He ran against some very good horses earlier this year at Gulfstream, and indications are that he’s figuring things out; EMANCIPATION: Channeled older full brother Orb with his late-running debut win and ran well last out in his first start against winners. Two turns should be no problem, but will he get any sort of a pace to close into?; HAMMERIN AAMER: Has taken a substantial step forward as a 3-year-old and was a good second last out downstate. He could be forwardly-placed early, which may be beneficial given the likely race shape.
A Dixie Twister
Asian’s Way (MTO)
A DIXIE TWISTER: Drops in for a tag and loves sprinting on turf. She’s never run a bad race going this type of route, and she could sit a dream trip just off the speed; JAZZY JUDER: Woke up two back when switched to the turf and didn’t run badly in her first start against winners downstate. The slight cutback in distance could help, and she may be good enough to overcome the disadvantageous post; RUBY DUSK: Ships in from Arlington Park for a trainer that doesn’t run much at Saratoga, but means business when he does. Of 11 Catalano-trained starters here in the past two years, nine have hit the board (per DRF Formulator). DIRT SELECTIONS: A DIXIE TWISTER, ASIAN’S WAY, SISELLA.
GARGAN ENTRY: Either horse could win, but I prefer TROUBLE FOR SKYLAR, who fetched $225k at auction last summer. The past two works were very sharp, and offspring of Into Mischief can be precocious; SUPER STONE: Showed speed and faded in her career debut at Belmont. She was the betting favorite that day, and trainer A.C. Avila could have her ready to go at second asking; ASILIVEANDBREATHE: Possesses a sharp work two drills ago downstate and could benefit from the outside draw she gets here.
VINTAGE MATTERS: Is the only one of these with a marathon turf race under his belt. That particular race (four back) came up incredibly tough, he’s run well since then, and this gelding should be doing his best running late; VOODOO SONG: Was hammered late in the wagering Saturday and is run back quickly after cruising home well clear on that occasion. He’s 2-for-2 on turf, and Linda Rice has had success with quick turnarounds in the past; CLUTCH CARGO: Possesses the running style needed for races of this distance, could hang around for a piece of it, and is a win candidate if this is rained off the turf. DIRT SELECTIONS: CLUTCH CARGO, MAN OF WIREGRASS, VINTAGE MATTERS.
ELENZEE: Would benefit from the likely shape of this race given the closing kick he showed when second last time out. The Casse barn has started slow this meet, but this spot could set up for this horse; ANIMAL POSSE: May have bounced last time out after a good third two back in his 2017 debut. Irad Ortiz, Jr., signs on to ride, and he could be the speed of the speed; GEHRIG: Has not won in nearly two years, but, like my top pick, he stands to benefit from a pace meltdown and should be running well late. DIRT SELECTIONS: GAMING, WICKED MACHO, GEHRIG.
By the Moon
FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM: Is a perfect 5-for-5 at this six-furlong distance and has lost just once in nine one-turn efforts. She figures to be the controlling speed here, and if she brings her Churchill form with her, look out; PAULASSILVERLINING: Is 2-for-2 this year, with both wins coming at the Grade 1 level. She’s obviously got tons of talent and will probably be favored, but is it possible she wants longer than the six furlongs she gets today?; BY THE MOON: Is an easy horse to root for and comes in after two Grade 3 wins downstate. Her chances would improve over a wet track.
Scarlett Jo Hansen
SHE REMEMBERED: Has really improved since moving to turf as a 3-year-old. Her best effort came last out going a similar route of ground at Belmont, and a similar effort would make her tough to beat; PURE GEMMZ: Has run respectable races at this level going shorter and stretches out in this spot. The blinkers come off, and she could be forwardly-placed; SCARLETT JO HANSEN: Could be dangerous if she draws in off the AE list. She was a solid third at this level last out, and Michelle Nevin usually has them ready to run second off the layoff.