Add another issue to the “problems that arise when you’re 3,000 miles away” list. I handicapped today’s card with the weather forecast (lots of rain) in mind. Maybe I’ll be right, maybe not, but most of my top three selections in turf races include at least one horse that would improve if those races were moved to the dirt.
As tough as it was to put those together, it’s even tougher to compile a bankroll section. How can you put bets in when you don’t know what surface the races will be run on? It’s a difficult puzzle to solve, and hopefully, we’ll do alright amidst the challenging circumstances.
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Separationofpowers was dueled into defeat in the Spinaway, and our Woodward exacta ran 1-3. As such, we dropped $50.
SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll cross my fingers, hope the races in question stay on the turf, and focus most of my action on the middle part of the card. I’ll play $8 doubles starting in the sixth with the #1 entry and #2 CAMPAIGN and finishing with #8 PINK SANDS and #11 MOCKERY. Additionally, I’ll take a $5 across-the-board swing in the Prioress with #2 SISTER KAN, just in case the race falls apart given all of the speed that’s signed on.
TOTAL WAGERED: $47
Best Bet: Blue Atlas, Race 11
Longshot: Sister Kan, Race 10
SUDDEN SURPRISE: Is a perfect 3-for-3 at Saratoga, including a win last time out at this level going slightly longer. These connections must be respected, and he’s 2-for-4 over off tracks, so the anticipated rain wouldn’t hurt him if it showed up; SMOKEM’S CHARM: Has won three of his last four at Finger Lakes, with the lone loss coming to a horse that won here earlier in the meet. This barn has a history of success when shipping horses like these to Saratoga; PROPER FREUD: Likely needs to improve to win this, but is worth a look underneath given the likely race shape. He appears to be the lone closer in a race full of early speed.
WAY SMART: Seems like the horse to beat if this race stays on the turf. She was a good second in her debut for a barn whose runners often need a race to get going, and note the rider switch to Jose Ortiz; DREAM PASSAGE: Seems like the main speed in here and could have a perfect trip on the lead. Additionally, she’s the lone runner in this race with an OK dirt effort, which could be handy if rain hits; LA MONEDA: Made a middle move in her debut and flattened out late. This barn has had a strong meet, and improvement is logical at second asking. DIRT SELECTIONS: DREAM PASSAGE, KAT O MINE, SMART AND SASSY.
Conquest Bigluck E
RICH DADDY: Hasn’t run a bad race in his last five starts, four of which have come for Eddie Kenneally. He exits an OK optional claimer at Monmouth, and he may be forwardly-placed in an event that lacks early speed; TURCO BRAVO: Cuts way back in distance after running fourth in the Birdstone earlier in the meet. He hasn’t won in a while, but this spot represents class relief, and he’d benefit from an off track; CONQUEST BIGLUCK E: Ships in from Canterbury, so there’s no gauge of how he’ll handle this track. However, he’s 6-for-15 lifetime, and his only start over a wet track was a win against similar foes at Oaklawn Park.
Jump for Joy
JUMP FOR JOY: Ran an OK race in her first effort in more than a year last time out. She likely needed that race, and further progression would make her tough to beat here; ANNA RAE: Hasn’t won in a while, but take a big drop in class after spending most of her career running against much better horses. She didn’t break well last time out, so there’s reason to believe she’ll step up here; ENTERPRISE VALUE: Adds blinkers following a third-place finish at Delaware Park in her first start for this barn. The recent workouts are sharp, and note the presence of Jose Ortiz, who doesn’t ride for this outfit much.
CASHLESS SOCIETY: Is 2-for-3 in her career and hasn’t done much wrong. She beat a weaker group last time out, and she’s the one to beat for powerhouse connections if this stays on the turf; UNBRIDLEDADVENTURE: Has to be placed here given the high likelihood of this race being moved to the main track. She cruised home in a similar situation last time out, and her dirt form is miles ahead of the rest of the field; WOUNDWITHHEREYES: Hasn’t won in a while, but is a consistent sort who’s picked up plenty of minor awards on turf and dirt and can’t be thrown out. DIRT SELECTIONS: UNBRIDLEDADVENTURE, WOUNDWITHHEREYES, CHA CHA HEELS.
CAMPAIGN: Fetched $675k at auction last year and has been working very well ahead of his debut. He’s bred to handle either surface, and it wouldn’t stun me if he’s left in even if this race gets moved to dirt; BROWN ENTRY: Both VOTING CONTROL and TRANSFER PRICING have worked well, with the latter drawing in if this race is moved off the turf. Either way, it wouldn’t be shocking if that barn runs 1-2, since Brown also trains my top pick; JOHNNY ACTION: May have needed his debut, where he was one-paced and ran into Untamed Domain. That rival came back to run well in a Grade 3, so it could have been a very live spot. DIRT SELECTIONS: CAMPAIGN, TRANSFER PRICING, LONE SAILOR.
MOCKERY: Merits lots of respect if she draws in off the AE list. She was a late-running third in her debut, and the second-place finisher has since come back to graduate; PINK SANDS: Was a $625k auction purchase last year and has worked to that purchase price. This barn’s horses often need a race, but the presence of Javier Castellano could signal good intentions; ELENATHENA: Has worked well leading up to her unveiling for a barn that hits at a high percentage with first-time starters.
RUBILINDA: Has done little wrong in two career starts, winning her debut and running second behind a perfect-trip winner last time out. If this daughter of Frankel steps forward, she should be moving best of all late; REPOLE ENTRY: OVERNEGOTIATE was a good second last time out at this level, while THIRSTFORTHECUP is the lone main-track-only entrant in this field and looms large if the race is moved to the main track; KAHRUMANA: Set a pretty fast pace last time out, yet still hung on for third money. She may not be alone up front, but if she makes an easier lead, she could get brave. DIRT SELECTIONS: THIRSTFORTHECUP, RILEY’S CHOICE, MAJESTIC BONNIE.
LIBBY’S TAIL: Came off the bench running last time out, finishing a close-up second in her first start since January. She’s worked well since then, and further progression is logical second off the layoff; LUZ MIMI: Has found a new level in four starts for Jeremiah Englehart and was third behind my top pick last time out. She could benefit from a wet track, as she won on one two back at Belmont; KIRBY’S PENNY: Has won three of four career dirt starts, although two of those victories came over much weaker fields. Still, she figures to be the main early speed, and she could lead them a long way.
VERTICAL OAK: Gets some class relief after chasing American Gal in the Grade 1 Test last time out. Her races before that were sharp, and while she should be prominent early, it helps that she does not necessarily need the lead; NONNA MELA: Rolled home in her 2017 debut, improving to 2-for-2 over this surface. She also won the Grade 2 Adirondack here last year, and these connections merit respect; SISTER KAN: Takes a big step up in class but has crossed the wire in front on four straight occasions. In a race with lots of speed signed on, a closer could pick up some pieces late, and as such, I think this one could get a slice of it at a big price.
BLUE ATLAS: Is strictly the one to beat if this race stays on the turf. She found two turns too far last time out and cuts back to her preferred route in the Sunday finale; BILINSKI ENTRY: This is mainly because STONEY BENNETT is the lone main-track-only runner in the field. He’s worked pretty well, and none of the others in here have anything resembling dirt form; SCOOPSIE PATATO: Debuts for a barn that has had plenty of success with first-time starters. Javier Castellano doesn’t ride for this outfit much, so it’s notable that he’s signed on here.