A friend of mine told me this Monday, and I still can’t believe it: Wednesday’s card kicks off the fourth week of racing this summer at Saratoga. What’s more, Saturday’s card is the 20th program of the meet, marking the official halfway point. In a word…yikes.
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MONDAY’S RESULTS: We took a shot with longshot Quanique in the second, but the big price didn’t fire. As such, we dropped $15, but as you’ll see, that hasn’t deterred me from taking a similar approach with another horse I like that could be a very juicy price.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: For the first (and possibly only) time this summer, my bankroll play comes in a steeplechase race. #2 PLATED has shown an affinity for distances similar to this route of ground, and he’s been running against better groups. I’ll put $5 across the board on him, and I’ll gladly take his 12-1 odds if I can get them!
TOTAL WAGERED: $15
Best Bet: Sunset Ridge, Race 2
Longshot: Plated, Race 1
PLATED: Has shown an affinity for distances similar to this route. He’s also been running against some classy steeplechases fields of late, and given that this distance is a question mark for many in here, I’m inclined to take a swing; NO WUNDER: Chased stakes foes earlier in the meet and drops down in class. He hasn’t yet beaten winners over fences, but he graduated over a similar distance to one he’ll run here; SELECTION SUNDAY: Would be tough to beat if he channeled his 2014 and 2015 form. He won a stakes race at this distance back in 2015.
SUNSET RIDGE: Has won the first two starts of her career for a powerhouse barn. She’s worked well since an eight-length score downstate in June, and further improvement would make her tough to beat; SILLY SISTER: Has won two in a row since switching to dirt and seems like the main threat to my top pick (likely an odds-on favorite). Her tactical speed is a plus, especially given the rail draw; TIZNOW’S SMILE: Has not finished out of the money since her debut, and that stretch includes a half-dozen tries in state-bred stakes company. This barn has done well to this point in the meet.
Wildcat Belle (MTO)
LAMONTAGNE: Drops way down in class for this and is a threat to wire the field. Her running lines feature many stakes-quality horses, and this barn is due for a hot streak; SPECTACULAR ME: Likes this route of ground and is another dropping in class. She crossed the wire second in a minor stakes race two back, and her best race would make her a major player; DOUBLE DOSE: Won three in a row earlier this year and would benefit from an early battle up front. The main question marks are the post position and her poor record over this turf course. DIRT SELECTIONS: WILDCAT BELLE, RECKLESS HUMOR, SPECTACULAR ME.
Everybody Loves Me
Hint of Mint
EVERYBODY LOVES ME: Fetched $315k at auction and has been working very strongly ahead of her debut. The rail draw isn’t ideal, but if she runs to her recent drills, look out; HINT OF MINT: Ships in for Midwestern connections and also boasts a series of flashy preps. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because this pedigree seems to indicate longer races, perhaps on turf; PRINCESS CHAR: Boasts a recent five-furlong bullet workout as well as a strong pedigree. Her dam placed in numerous graded stakes races going short, and this one seems well-meant in her debut.
SIDD FINCH: Took a considerable step forward in his turf debut, running third going shorter downstate. A nod to brilliant scribe George Plimpton, this gelding could embrace the two-turn route he gets today; SINGAPORE TRADER: Faltered at even money in his unveiling on dirt and tries turf. The pedigree screams distance, and these connections merit plenty of respect; FOX STRIKE: Debuted in a race taken off the turf, which means the lackluster showing is easily forgiven. He’s bred to love the grass and could improve at second asking. DIRT SELECTIONS: SINGAPORE TRADER, CAN’TWEALLGETALONG, EVALUATOR.
Crimson Frost (MTO)
Tiz a Kitten
TIZ A KITTEN: Showed speed and stopped badly against better last out at Belmont, but ran very well in her previous four starts. Jose Ortiz piloted her to both of her wins earlier this season, and he’s back aboard; FAHAN MURA: Adds blinkers and has not run a truly bad race on turf since her debut. Clement’s numbers with horses adding hoods are very strong; CHA CHA HEELS: Hasn’t won in a while, but has shown a strong closing kick of late and should benefit from a class drop. The faster they go early, the more this one should like it. DIRT SELECTIONS: CRIMSON FROST, CHA CHA HEELS, NISHA.
Cool as You Like
Three Eighty Eight
COOL AS YOU LIKE: Has improved with every start and rallied from well off a slow pace last month at Belmont. This is a step up in class, but there seems to be speed signed on and this doesn’t seem like a strong race for the level; VERDANT PASTURES: Has worked very well of late ahead of her first start since March. Her best races have come around two turns; THREE EIGHTY EIGHT: Is a short price on the morning line, and her best is competitive, but she hasn’t won in a while. Her lone win came against maiden claimers, so if she’s a short price, she may be a favorite worth trying to beat.
On My Toes
ON MY TOES: Unsurprisingly took to the grass last time out and cruised home in a swift time at Indiana Grand. She’s by More Than Ready and out of a Theatrical mare, and while this spot is much tougher than her last one, there seems to be potential here; THRICE: Defeated a weaker group earlier in the meet and was claimed out of that race by Mike Maker. She’s yet to finish worse than second in four starts, and her usual race puts her right there; CITY SECTION: Was second against a starter allowance group at Belmont last month and attracts Javier Castellano, who doesn’t ride for this barn much. DIRT SELECTIONS: QUEENOFTHECHANNEL, INDYGITA, ON MY TOES.
The Money Monster
THE MONEY MONSTER: Has never tried turf, but is a pace play here. The other entrants will likely all be gunning for the lead early. If this one takes to turf at all, he should be running best of all late; EXPEDITED VISION: Has won the first two starts of his career, including a six-length romp on dirt last time out. This is a class test for him, but it helps that he showed he does not need the lead; BLIND AMBITION: Faltered when trying Grade 3 company last time out after winning two in a row. His lone turf effort earned a high Beyer Speed Figure, and these connections mean business. DIRT SELECTIONS: SAME.
LOOSE: Drops down in class and looks much more appealing if you only consider races run over fast dirt tracks. Her efforts two and four back were okay, and this seems like a far weaker spot than what she’s used to; DIVINE CAROLINE: Debuts in this spot and has several sharp workouts. Given the $75k purchase price, the $20k tag is a red flag, but she may not need to be much to beat these; OURO VERDE: Woke up a bit when dropped to this level last time out. Improvement is logical second off the brief layoff.