With the conclusion of Saturday’s card, half of the Saratoga meet is in the books. We’ve seen a lot in the first 20 cards, including plenty of precocious 2-year-olds (such as yesterday’s Adirondack winner, Pure Silver), a tremendous performance from Gun Runner in the Whitney, and the emergence of Good Samaritan as a major player in the 3-year-old division. The best thing about Saratoga, though, is that it only gets better as the days go by.
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Azar never threatened in the fifth, and since he was the key horse, our plays fizzled out. We dropped $30.
SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on a first-time starter that has every right to be an exceptional horse. That’s #3 DWIZARD in the fifth race. He’s out of a dam that has produced two Grade 1-winning sprinters, and the worktab says this horse may be ready to run at first asking. I’m not sure we’ll get the 7/2 morning line price, but I’ll put $20 to win and place on him in hopes that we do.
TOTAL WAGERED: $40
Best Bet: Dwizard, Race 5
Longshot: Itsinthestars, Race 9
Friend of Liberty
FRIEND OF LIBERTY: Drops way down in class for a barn that’s gotten pretty aggressive of late at this meet. She was 3-1 in a stakes race two back, and her best race beats these; MAKEALITTLELOVE: Should get an easier setup here after dueling for the lead in a race that drew a full field earlier in the meet. She’s probably the main early speed; LEAH’S DREAM: Found the starter allowance ranks too tough last time out but cruised home against maiden claimers two back. She should be prominent early.
City Day (MTO)
Miss Mo Mentum
MISS MO MENTUM: Was a strong second to a well-meant runner in her turf debut earlier in the meet. This barn has struggled to find the winner’s circle, but the second and third-place finishes tell you their runners are firing; KINGDOM’S QUEEN: Is bred up and down for turf. Her dam was a Grade 3 winner, and said dam has already thrown another graded stakes winner; CRITIQUE: Fetched $155k at auction last year, and these connections must be respected. The question is, does she want turf? DIRT SELECTIONS: CITY DAY, NIGHT OWL, LYNAH RINK.
C ISLANDSURPRISE: Looks much better if you draw a line through the Fair Grounds races four and five back. This barn excels with new acquisitions and can be sneaky up here; MADDIZASKAR: Won a stakes race earlier this year at Aqueduct and has four top-two finishes in six career dirt starts. A return to her winter/spring form would make her formidable; KELSOCAIT: Has not won in a while, but has also been running against much better horses. She was fourth in a Grade 3 three back and could be worth a look in a race I found very difficult to handicap.
PLETCHER ENTRY: CARIBBEAN looks like the one to beat if this stays on the turf, while DECORATED SOLDIER drops way down in class and has been gelded since his last effort; MAKER ENTRY: I prefer DJULPAN, who has woken up since being stretched out on the turf. He should be prominent early, and there doesn’t seem to be much other early speed signed on; HALLOWEEN HORROR: Was third behind Voodoo Song last out, and that one came right back to win another turf race just a few days later. This barn has done very well this meet, and this gelding may be a bit of a price. DIRT SELECTIONS: DECORATED SOLDIER, CONTROL GROUP, DJULPAN.
My Boy Tate
DWIZARD: Is out of a dam that’s produced Grade 1 winners Paulassilverlining and Dads Caps, which means he has every right to be a top-notch sprinter. The workouts indicate he’s ready to run, and this doesn’t seem like a very tough spot; MY BOY TATE: Hasn’t been seen since April, but has run well in three starts to date. He just missed two back, and of the ones that have run before, he seems the most imposing; QUAI VOLTAIRE: Is 0-for-12, but has hit the board seven times, including three straight runner-up finishes coming into this event.
SWAYED: Was part of a four-horse photo finish earlier in the meet. She may have needed that race off a brief freshening, and she’d benefit from a fast pace given her late-running style; TIFFANYS FREUD: Was also involved in that photo and seems to have found her form in her last two starts. She also ran well at this route last year, and she may be a price; VICTORIAS FIRE: Ships in after winning two in a row in wire-to-wire fashion. Turf is an unknown, but she did run well on a synthetic track last time out. DIRT SELECTIONS: VICTORIAS FIRE, ZIPPITY ZOOM, SWAYED.
Pas de Soucis
GALILEO’S SONG: Makes her 2017 debut here after a strong 2016 campaign. She just missed in a Grade 3 two back, and if she’s ready to run, this race is hers to lose; PAS DE SOUCIS: Runs in North America for the first time and adds Lasix for powerhouse connections. She won a stakes race in France last year, so there’s no doubt about her talent; SPIGA: Took a step forward last time out and was third behind a real runner two back. Continued improvement would make her a formidable foe. DIRT SELECTIONS: THIRSTFORTHECUP, NOW POWER, NOT TAKEN.
COPPER BULLET: Was second in a Grade 3 to one of the top 2-year-old males in the country last time out. He’s got plenty of speed, and the recent bullet workout over the training track inspires confidence; BARRY LEE: Looked the part of a $380k auction purchase in his debut, where he cruised home at Laurel Park. This barn has meant business when shipping up here; HOLLYWOOD STAR: Rated and won at first asking, which isn’t common for 2-year-olds to do. The third-place finisher that day came back to win at next asking.
NOBLE FREUD: Was third to eventual Test winner American Gal in a Grade 3 when last seem. Sire Freud’s progeny usually take to the turf, and if she does, she’ll be extremely tough to beat; ITSINTHESTARS: Had a rough trip earlier in the meet. She was wide throughout and only beaten a neck that day, and she adds blinkers here; FIRST APPEAL: Is 3-for-3 since going to the Linda Rice barn and beat starter allowance foes earlier in the meet. The faster they go early, the more prominent this one should be late. DIRT SELECTIONS: NOBLE FREUD, PALLADIAN BRIDGE, ANDROMEDA’S RISK.
BROWN ENTRY: DATA ROOM is definitely the horse to beat dropping in class. His best races have come going two turns, and that’s the route he gets in the Sunday finale; WINGMAN: Couldn’t stay with a runaway winner at the $75k level last time out, but should find this company more to his liking. The post position isn’t ideal, but he’s talented enough to win on his best day; STRONG SIDE: Wanted no part of a marathon distance last time out. His races going more conventional routes haven’t been bad, and he runs for a tag for the first time. DIRT SELECTIONS: ITSABIGBOY, STRONG SIDE, HOLLAND ROAD.