I had something witty cued up for this section before the fatal breakdown of Fall Colors in Thursday’s steeplechase race. No matter how long you’ve been in this game, there’s never a point where that stuff doesn’t affect you. My heart goes out to the connections of the fallen horse, who went through unimaginable pain yesterday.
One quick thing: If you think steeplechase racing is at fault for this, you’re wrong. Science has shown that most steeplechase falls are much, much safer than those that occur on the flat, and this part of the game gives many at-risk horses a second career. Being sad about the breakdown is rational, as is abstaining from betting steeplechase races because of the added jumps involved. Blaming the nature of those races for the breakdown we saw Thursday is not.
THURSDAY’S RESULTS: We were alive to some pretty nice doubles heading into the fifth, but the horses we used in that race did not include 15-1 shot Tarawa, who won going away. As such, we dropped $30.
FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the eighth race of a very difficult card. #4 PETROV was nearly my best bet of the day given his back class, and given the big field that will go postward, we may get his 3-1 morning line price. I’ll put $5 on him to win and place and key him in $2 exacta plays that use him above and below #7 POCKET SQUARE, #9 PORTFOLIO MANAGER, #10 DIVINE INTERVENTIO, and #11 LENSTAR.
TOTAL WAGERED: $26
Best Bet: Switzerland, Race 3
Longshot: Team Colors, Race 5
SAND CITY: Has run just one bad race on dirt, and that effort was followed by a six-month layoff, so it’s safe to assume something went wrong that day. This barn has quietly had a very strong start to the meet; COREY Q: Drops down in class and goes back to dirt for one of the top barns on the grounds. Her debut on dirt wasn’t bad, but demand value on this one before moving forward; LIGHTWORKER: Was a good second in her debut at Delaware against weaker foes. This is a class test for her, but she could improve at second asking and may be a bit of a price.
Talkn Til Midnight
LUNA RISING: Showed interest early on in the meet against better before fading late. She was up close to a pretty fast pace that day, and she should sit an easier trip here; BAHNAHNO: Takes a huge class drop and may benefit from some speed having signed on. The rail isn’t ideal for her running style, but the faster they go early, the better this one figures to like it; TALKN TIL MIDNIGHT: Cuts back in distance, returns to dirt, and is another taking a big drop in class. This barn must be respected in spots like these.
Fully Vested (MTO)
SWITZERLAND: Completely missed the break last time out, and as such, you can draw a line through that effort. His dam was a strong turf runner, so he should take to the lawn just fine; SETHARY: Woke up in his turf debut, running a good second against maiden claimers. This is a tougher field, but he does figure to be the main speed; FACTORIAL: Probably needed his last race, which came off a layoff of nearly five months. The top three finishers from that event have all come back to win at next asking. DIRT SELECTIONS: SWITZERLAND, FULLY VESTED, UNCLE PANCHO.
My Roxy Girl
PAUSEFORTHECAUSE: Has worked well ahead of her unveiling. This barn isn’t the best with first-time starters, but this one was bred to be a real runner (her dam was Grade 1-placed); BIG EXPENSE: Is another who may need a race, but she’s flashed potential in several downstate drills. The ones that have run before don’t impress me much, so I’ll use this firster at a bit of a price; MY ROXY GIRL: Probably has the most potential to move up of all the runners who have race experience. The jockey switch to Castellano is huge, especially since he doesn’t ride for this barn much.
FORGE: Broke through last time out at Churchill, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. He’s flashed potential dating back to his time in Europe, and he may be reaching a high level; TEAM COLORS: Would be a tremendous value play at anywhere close to the morning line. He comes back to the turf, where he’s run a number of high-quality races, and he gets significant class relief; MONSTER BEA: Is another accomplished turf runner who drops in from graded stakes company. This barn got off to a cold start to the meet, but this gelding is a contender in this spot. DIRT SELECTIONS: SCHIVARELLI, TEAM COLORS, LINE JUDGE.
Barrel of Dreams
TIZELLE: Came back running off the long layoff, winning an entry-level allowance downstate. She’s done very little wrong in three career starts, and we may not have seen the best of her yet; BARREL OF DREAMS: Loves Saratoga, having won here twice a year ago. Her last-out effort was an improvement, and her best race could win this; STYLE DRIFT: Hasn’t been seen in nearly two years, but did not run a bad race in four starts before the extended break, and the Chad Brown barn merits respect. DIRT SELECTIONS: YOUNG ANNA LEE, BARREL OF DREAMS, IRON MIZZ.
LIFELONG DREAMER: Probably lost all chance at the break last time out in his search for a third straight win. Gary Gullo does excellent work with new acquisitions, and top rider Jose Ortiz will be in the irons; CURTIS: Takes a big drop in class for aggressive connections after running against some tough 3-year-olds in each of his last two starts. The recent bullet drill could indicate he’s sitting on a nice race; ITALIAN SYNDICATE: Was a spectacular flop at 3/5 when last seen. He was claimed out of that race by a high-percentage barn, and if you draw a line through that race, he certainly fits.
PETROV: Spent most of the spring on the Derby trail and has run against graded stakes foes in each of his last five starts. He was fourth behind likely Allen Jerkens favorite American Anthem at this distance two back, and a similar race wins this; DIVINE INTERVENTIO: Hasn’t run a bad race since cutting back to sprint distances last fall. He was third behind Coal Front in his last start and should be coming late; POCKET SQUARE: Went wire-to-wire in his first start off a long layoff. His July 22nd work was very sharp, and given his relative inexperience, we may get a price.
Bricks and Mortar
BRICKS AND MORTAR: Is a perfect 3-for-3 and beat several of these foes last time out in a stakes race downstate. He won going two turns in his debut and could be another top-class turf runner for this barn; YOSHIDA: May not have wanted the Belmont Derby distance, and the slow pace set in front of him didn’t help. He showed tons of talent in his stakes win two back and cannot be ignored; SNAP DECISION: Was second behind my top pick two back and most recently won a solid optional claimer. The runner-up has since come back to win, and this one could sit a perfect stalking trip here.
Set Me Up
SET ME UP: Needs lots of luck to draw in but looks imposing on the drop in class if he does. His turf races last year against straight maidens were not bad, and these connections mean business; CALCULATED RISKER: Also drops in class off of a solid last-out effort going shorter. This barn hasn’t gotten off to a great start, but this seems like a logical spot for this morning-line favorite; CAPTAIN KIDD: Was handed no favors when rating off of a slow pace last time out, yet rallied to be beaten just a length. Two turns is a question mark, but this gelding seems to be in good form. DIRT SELECTIONS: ARTHUR AVENUE, MR. MASSENA, CALCULATED RISKER.