Daily Racing Form compadres Nicole Russo and Joe Nevills are both in Saratoga this week for the Fasig-Tipton sale. If you’ve never met them, they’re very easy to spot. Nicole’s laugh can be heard in an area the size of whichever county she’s in, while Joe is probably wearing the same black hat he’s worn since birth. If you see them at the sale or at the track, please bring both gallon jugs of Big Red Spring water. They both find it delightful, and you will instantly become their best friend. Don’t be shy!
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: My aim yesterday was to extract some value from Rally Cry, who jogged in the Alydar at odds of 3/5. By hitting the double ending in the fourth race, we did that. Our $35 investment returned $77.50, thus turning the 3/5 favorite into an easier-to-swallow 6/5. I’ll expound a bit more on that handicapping strategy in this week’s edition of “The Dark Day Files,” which will be up on AndrewChampagne.com Monday night.
MONDAY’S PLAY: I’m treading a bit lightly today, but there’s a big price that I like a bit in the second. That’s #8 QUANIQUE, a 20-1 shot whose record looks much, much better if you only consider her turf sprints. I’ll put $5 across the board on her and hope this is the route she wants.
TOTAL WAGERED: $15
Best Bet: Javelin, Race 4
Longshot: Quanique, Race 2
Hay Listen Up
Le Grand Warrior
CANIFORM: Has closed in every one of his four dirt starts to date and could get an ideal setup here. There appears to be a ton of early speed signed on, and the faster they go early, the better this gelding should like it; HAY LISTEN UP: Was an even fourth going two turns and cuts back in distance. His lone win came going a one-turn route, and this trip may be more up his alley; LE GRAND WARRIOR: Comes back to dirt and drops way down in class. Toss the turf outings, and this one’s body of work looks substantially better.
MATINEE BABE: Has taken a substantial step forward in her last two starts and missed by just a neck last month. The race could set up for a closer, and Rosario riding back is a plus; DADDYISDOOLEY: Is one of many in here that will likely be sent early on. She seems to be the main speed, and she could lead them a long way; QUANIQUE: Looks much more interesting if you only consider her turf sprint efforts. She just missed at this route last summer and is another that would benefit from the likely race shape. DIRT SELECTIONS: COMMUNION MONEY, DADDYISDOOLEY, SPECIAL RISK.
PRIVATE CLIENT: Is 2-for-2 going a marathon distance and showed a new dimension last time out at Delaware. She led most of the way that day, and that tactical speed could come in handy here; QUEEN BLOSSOM: Was a solid second when last seen downstate. She hasn’t won in a while, but she’s run into some good horses in four North American starts; GRATEFUL: Has yet to run a bad race in six career outings. She went wire-to-wire last time out and may be the controlling speed in this event. DIRT SELECTIONS: SAME.
JAVELIN: Exits a very tough maiden special weight race and drops in for a tag for the first time. A repeat of any of his three efforts to date would make this 4-year-old very tough to beat; BORSA VENTO: Looks better if you toss the route races. Seven furlongs is probably his ideal distance, and Javier Castellano signs on to ride; LIKEITLIKETHAT: Stretches back out to seven furlongs for a trainer who has quietly had a strong meet to this point. The blinkers come off, and Joel Rosario hops aboard.
DUBB ENTRY: I prefer STREET HEAT, a winner of two in a row since being claimed by these connections. He’s in top form right now and could sit an ideal stalking trip for a high-percentage barn; MATCH UP: Drops down in class for a barn that’s meant business to this point in the meet. There’s a lot of early speed signed on, but the rail draw could be a plus given the short run into the first turn; SWIVEL: Has won three of his last five, albeit against weaker competition. This race could set up for a closer, and as such, this one could come picking up the pieces late at a bit of a price.
BARELY IMPAZIBLE: Is a half to Grade 3 winner Teeth of the Dog and has run to his lofty purchase price in the mornings. If that form shows up in the afternoon, he’s a logical debut winner for a red-hot barn; COLLECTIVE EFFORT: Is easily the most accomplished of those that have run before. He set a solid pace last time out and could once again find himself on the lead; HONOR UP: Goes out for a trainer whose horses sometimes need a race to get going. However, several of his workouts jump off the page, so this one cannot be ignored in the exotics.
NONNA MELA: Won a Grade 2 here last year but has not been seen in the afternoon since October. Her biggest win may have come over a suspect field, but progression from age two to age three is logical and would make her a major player; ANNIE ROCKS: Brings a six-win record into this contest and would certainly benefit from a wet track. She cuts back to seven furlongs and should be forwardly-placed early on; TEJANA: Likely needed her 2017 debut, which came off a long layoff. She dueled through fast fractions that day, and I’m willing to draw a line through that effort.
BLUEGRASS JAMBOREE: Hasn’t run a bad race in three career starts. This trainer doesn’t saddle a ton of horses, but he’s enjoyed lots of success here the past few years, and this filly strikes me as the one to beat; DECORATOR JENN: Hasn’t missed the board in seven career starts and recently turned in a sparkling local workout. Top rider Jose Ortiz will be in the irons, and this one’s usual effort could be good enough to win; SHIMMERING MOON: Makes her first start for Michelle Nevin and could be the controlling early speed. She was second to a good-looking winner in her last start, and the cutback in distance could help.
DREAM PASSAGE: Was beaten less than a length in a turf route when last seen. That was nearly a year ago, but this barn has had great success with runners off the bench, and it’s encouraging that Rosario rides back; PIQUET: Just missed in back-to-back efforts two and three back, but misfired last time out as an 8/5 favorite. Javier Castellano getting off does not help the cause, but a return to her best form would give her a big shot; PHOTOGRAPHER: Hasn’t shown much in her two-start career, but her entire pedigree screams distance, and she finally gets it here. Her dam was a graded stakes-winner going long on the turf, and we may get a bit of a price. DIRT SELECTIONS: DREAM PASSAGE, SMART AND SASSY, HALCYON.