Prior to 2016, I had made it to Saratoga at least once per year since learning how to walk and talk. That streak ended last year, but thankfully, I’m starting a new streak Friday, as I’ll be in attendance for the 11-race program.
I’ll be in the backyard with my father, some of his golfing buddies, and a number of people from Scotland. It promises to be a good time. That said, if you see or smell haggis coming within 100 yards of the track, promptly send help.
THURSDAY’S RESULTS: We made it two winning days in a row, as best bet IWISHIRISH jogged in the sixth while both horses we used in exactas ran 2-3. It didn’t pay much ($13 for a $2 bet), but since we had it for $10, our $30 investment returned $65. I guess we should’ve played the trifecta!
FRIDAY’S PLAY: Because Fleet Indian favorite #2 SUNSET RIDGE appears to be the wagering equivalent of a “free space” on a bingo board, I’m hammering the early multi-race exotics. I’ll play a 50-cent Pick Five starting in the opener that uses the following horses: 1,2,3,8 with 2,5 with 2 with 3,6 with 3,4,6,8. Additionally, I’ll play a 50-cent Pick Four that starts in the second race and uses the same horses that are included in the last four legs of the Pick Five.
TOTAL WAGERED: $40
Best Bet: Sunset Ridge, Race 3
Longshot: Hardly Mate, Race 6
CODRINGTON: Has run well in two turf starts, including a near-miss last time out going long. A repeat of her last-out effort would almost certainly make her the one to beat; PURELY LUCKY: Was one-paced in her debut going short and has the pedigree to embrace a distance of ground. The rider switch to Javier Castellano indicates improvement could be on the horizon; JODY’S SONG: Fetched $250k at auction last summer and is bred to like the grass. She’s by Scat Daddy and out of a Speightstown mare, so don’t be surprised if she takes to the turf.
Build to Suit
Beyond the Green
BUILD TO SUIT: Has crossed the wire first in three of four lifetime starts, including a runaway win last time out at this route. To be fair, he had a perfect trip that day, but there’s some speed signed on here and he can certainly be closer to the pace than he was in that victory; RUNAWAY LUTE: Was a promising 2-year-old last year and may have found that form last time out. He was second in a swiftly-run race going six furlongs, and he’s certainly a contender on his best day; BEYOND THE GREEN: Hasn’t won in a while but has been very close in each of his last two starts. He cuts back from longer races, and the recent bullet workout is encouraging.
Five Each Way
SUNSET RIDGE: Tries two turns for the first time, but has given no indication that this will be a problem. She’s 3-for-3 and has improved with every start, and it would take significant regression for her to be threatened here; BONITA BIANCA: Has thrived against state-breds, going 4-for-4 in such races with three wins in stakes company. She seems best of the rest; FIVE EACH WAY: Tries dirt for the first time, but at least her previous races can tell you she’ll handle this distance, and someone has to run third.
BARBAROSSA: Showed speed and faded in his debut on dirt, which came against several horses that will run in a stakes race later on this card. He’s bred up and down for the turf, and this is his first start for new trainer Todd Pletcher; BATTLE STATION: Has worked pretty well here as of late for a conditioner that’s one of the best in the business at getting 2-year-olds ready to run. He’s bred pretty well, too, as his dam is a half to a Grade 3-winning turf sprinter named Vestrey Lady; CHASINDAMONEY: Fetched $72k at auction last summer and goes out for a barn that’s had a tremendous meet. The works don’t stand out, but this trainer/jockey combination merits respect.
What a Catch
WHAT A CATCH: Has beaten a number of others in this field in his two prior starts, one of which was a win in a similar stakes race downstate. He’s been working very well, and he’s proven he doesn’t necessarily need the lead to run well; MORNING BREEZ: Was second behind my top pick last time out, beating the rest of the field by daylight in the process. The rider switch to Irad Ortiz, Jr., is a plus, and he comes in off a bullet drill on August 20th; AVEENU MALCAINU: Rated and won at first asking, which isn’t an easy thing to do.
HOPE’S ROAR: Is 0-for-14, and I usually don’t like picking those horses on top, but her last race was visually impressive. She was rated off a very slow early pace, was rank beneath his rider, and still almost won. There seems to be a bit more speed signed on today; HARDLY MATE: Showed some early zip in her lone start to date, and will need to use it to clear this field from the outside post. However, Joel Rosario riding for a barn that doesn’t send out many horses is encouraging, and she could be ready to run off the bench; NEW CANAAN: Ran like a horse who needed his debut earlier this month. Still, he was beaten less than three lengths in that event while wide throughout, and improvement is logical at second asking, especially given the class drop.
Bar of Gold
FOURSTAR CROOK: Goes for her ninth consecutive victory here, and if she puts forth the effort we’ve come to expect from her, she should get it. She cruised to a win over graded stakes company last time out and has dispatched many of these foes in the past; ACK NAUGHTY: Could complete a Chad Brown exacta if she runs back to her most recent race. She was an impressive winner in open allowance company, and she made my top pick/her stablemate work for it two back in the Mount Vernon; BAR OF GOLD: Hasn’t won in a while, but has been running against much better horses. She was beaten less than a length in a stakes race earlier in the meet and can’t be ignored.
I Still Miss You
I STILL MISS YOU: Was undefeated before running into next-out Adirondack winner Pure Silver in the Lynbrook, and she was a city block clear of the rest of that field. If she runs back to that race, it’s likely that everyone else is running for second money; NEWPORT BREEZE: Ships in from the west coast for a barn that’s had success doing this with New York-breds this year. The jury’s out on how good the field she beat last time out is, but she ran into some good ones in her debut and has been working pretty well; PAUSEFORTHECAUSE: Led at every call in her debut earlier this meet despite a rough break. She figures to be prominent early, but given her pedigree, she may want even more ground than she gets today.
OFFERING PLAN: Won a similar stakes race two back at Belmont and has shown his best is good enough to get him home today. This race figures to set up for a closer, and the faster they go early, the better this one figures to run; GET JETS: Was second behind a top-class horse last time out at Belmont and has woken up since being switched to the turf late last year. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because he’s never gone two turns on the lawn until now; KHARAFA: Is an easy horse to root for, having made $1.1 million the hard way. He was third in a Grade 2 last time out at Monmouth, and is another that should be running well in the lane.
TWISTED TOM: Has won four of his last five, with his lone defeat in that stretch coming in the Grade 1 Belmont. He beat many of these last time out in the New York Derby and will likely be heavily favored to do so again; MINSKY MOMENT: Is one of just two in here not coming out of the aforementioned New York Derby. He couldn’t run down a perfect-trip winner at this route last time out, but he’s flashed talent and could complete another Chad Brown exacta; BROKEN ENGAGEMENT: Was second to my top pick last time out and beat the rest of the field by several lengths that day.
Shades of Brown
SILKY WAY: Showed speed against straight maidens last time out and drops in for a tag for the first time. He should be sharper second off the layoff, and strong turf rider Jose Lezcano retains the mount; DANNY’S RUSH: Is a major player if he draws in off the AE list. He was fourth behind an eventual stakes-winner two back, and a repeat of that race would put him right there; SHADES OF BROWN: Merits a longshot look. He woke up when switched to the turf last time out, and he figures to be prominent early.