In my travels Wednesday night, I came across a thread in a popular horse racing group on Facebook. It discussed a young analyst making a claim about Arrogate’s historical standing, and someone who disagreed said something so ignorant that I had to respond in writing. 1,200 words later, the finished product is online at AndrewChampagne.com and all of my social media outlets.
If you’re of the mindset that the younger people in this game have opinions that can be easily discarded, I urge you to read it. If you’ve got a reaction to it, tweet me at @AndrewChampagne. This is something I’m extremely passionate about, and it may be one of the most important racing-related things I’ve ever written.
THURSDAY’S RESULTS: If I could’ve updated my late Pick Four after scratches, I’d have thrown Ides of Arch into the first race following the defection of Grand Valour (and on a ticket I played in real-life, I did just that). However, in this section, that’s not possible, so the ticket I gave out fizzled right away. We dropped $18 after scratches destroyed the $37.50 ticket.
FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus my action on the seventh and ninth races. In the seventh, I’ll key horse-for-course #2 NEW YORK’S FINEST in $5 exactas above and below #8 WHATSTOTALKABOUT and #9 ANIMAL POSSE, and in the ninth, I’ll put $5 to win and place on longshot of the day #11 LEM ME DANCE.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30
Best Bet: Follow the Signs, Race 11
Longshot: Lem Me Dance, Race 9
ENDURING HONOR: Has run well in each of his last four starts, including a close-up second last time out. The winner that day just missed earlier this week; AUGIE’S COMING: Was third in that race and hasn’t missed the board since February of 2016. He figures to be prominent early, and this trainer/jockey combination merits respect; HELIODORO: Stretches back out to two turns, and the last time he raced at such a route, he won at a price. The connections are cold, but this one may be worth a look underneath.
CHIPOLINA: Had a series of very strong workouts at Keeneland earlier this summer for a barn that’s one of the best at winning with debuting runners. She’s bred up and down for turf, and she gets my nod in a very tough race; PUTTINYOUONTHENEWS: Comes back to the turf after running third in a race that was rained onto the main track earlier in the meet. Her debut on the grass was solid, and experience matters; RADIANT BEAUTY: Bounced in her second career start after a debut that was OK. She gets onto the turf, and given her pedigree (by Orb, out of a Mizzen Mast mare), that could be what she wants.
High Five Cotton
VALHALLA: Has five top-two finishes in six completed races this season, including a win last time out at this level. The likely race shape should benefit this late-running closer, and this smaller barn has quietly had a solid meet; ITALIAN SYNDICATE: Is one of many in here that will likely go early. He was third against slightly better two back and returns to the dirt after a failed turf experiment; HIGH FIVE COTTON: Ships up from Penn National and gets leading rider Jose Ortiz. This jockey riding for a small barn could signal good intentions, and he has some races from earlier this summer at Monmouth that were not bad.
All About Ashley
DRAXHALL WOODS: Has been popular at the claim box, and for good reason. He was second at this level earlier in the meet, beat a better group two back, and gets a rider switch to Luis Saez; ALL ABOUT ASHLEY: Prevailed at this level and route last time out at a price and shouldn’t sneak up on anyone here. He did sit a great trip near a slow pace, but this barn has enjoyed a very strong meet; IMPERIO ENTRY: I prefer TUG OF WAR, who adds blinkers following a disappointing run last time out. He won at this distance two back, and a repeat of that effort puts him right there in a wide-open race.
Scarf It Down
AVAST MATEY: Showed some zip in a fast race for this level last time out. That was his first effort in more than two months, so he may have needed the race, and he shouldn’t have to go that fast early on in this spot; DIVINE INTERVENTIO: Drops in off of a series of allowance races, and this seems like a much softer spot. He was well behind a very impressive winner here earlier in the meet, and he should appreciate the class relief; SCARF IT DOWN: Was second against a weaker group last time out and is aggressively jumped up in class by a new barn. That could signal confidence, and the recent workouts at Belmont Park look sharp.
Honor Way (MTO)
CITY SECTION: Was a solid third at this level last time out when rating off of a very slow early pace. There’s a lot of early speed signed on, which means she should sit a great trip and have every chance to run them down late; MADAME UNO: Was second in the race my top pick exits, but was right on a very slow early pace and couldn’t finish the job. She could win, but I don’t usually like to pick horses on top following a perfect-trip loss; DYNAMIC WAR: Was well clear throughout in an easy score against maiden claimers. Judging by an OK second two back, she probably doesn’t need the lead to run well. DIRT SELECTIONS: HONOR WAY, QUESTEQ, JONQUIL.
New York’s Finest
NEW YORK’S FINEST: Is 3-for-3 sprinting on turf at Saratoga, and two of those wins have come at this meet. This is probably a better field than what he’s been running against, but he figures to be the main speed, and he could be tough to run down; WHATSTOTALKABOUT: Cuts back after a third-place finish going seven furlongs at Belmont. The Servis/Ortiz combination has been lethal this summer, and his best race could certainly win this; ANIMAL POSSE: Prevailed at this route last time out. His record looks much better if you toss the seven-furlong race two back, and Javier Castellano jumps aboard. DIRT SELECTIONS: MARRIEDTOTHEMUSIC, D’FUNNYTHING, PROPER FREUD.
Zap Zap Zap
ZAP ZAP ZAP: Ran well in defeat last month, finishing second in a quick race for this level. This is a very difficult race, but a repeat of either of this one’s last two efforts would make him tough; TOMMY T: Was a good second in his debut for a barn whose horses sometimes need a race to get going. The winner came right back to win again, and the recent workouts here are very strong; PENDLETON: Fetched $600k at auction in 2015 and has worked well of late for powerhouse connections ahead of his debut. There are many first-time starters in here that could be runners, but I prefer this one the most of that group.
Lem Me Dance
LEM ME DANCE: Has improved in every start to date and made a strong middle move in her first effort going a distance of ground. This barn has quietly enjoyed a strong meet, and given the big field, we may get a square price; DUBB ENTRY: FROSTY LADY has won two in a row since being claimed by Jason Servis, while COTTON CANDY CUTIE is strictly the one to beat if this race gets rained off the turf; AMAZING ANNE: Generally runs the same race every time out, and that effort is usually enough for a piece of it at this level. She doesn’t win much, but if you’re playing the exotics, she can’t be ignored. DIRT SELECTIONS: COTTON CANDY CUTIE, ABOUT THAT BASE, MADISON BLUES.
DOWSE’S BEACH: Ran a huge race in defeat last time out in a Grade 2 at Woodbine. He’s found another level since being claimed by Brad Cox, and he’s the one to beat if he fires his best shot; BIG ROCK: Is undefeated at this route and comes in off a win over a solid field. He could sit a great trip just off the pace; DREAM MOVER: Debuted with authority earlier in the meet, rallying powerfully against a weaker group at this route. The rail draw is a bit of a concern, but if he steps forward in his second start off a long layoff, he could be right there when it matters most.
Follow the Signs
FOLLOW THE SIGNS: Takes a big drop in class off of a race earlier this meet that wasn’t bad. He was beaten less than two lengths despite hitting the gate, and his usual effort would make him extremely difficult to beat; O CAPTAINMYCAPTAIN: Found open company too tough last time out in his first start for trainer Rudy Rodriguez. This should be a better level for him, and note the addition of both blinkers and Irad Ortiz; BARTLEBY: Needs luck to draw in off the AE list, but could be worth using underneath if he does. This barn hasn’t had a great meet, but he ran OK at this level a few weeks ago.