Friday’s main event isn’t at the track, but at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It’s there that Heavenly Prize will lead this year’s class of honorees, two decades after a career that saw her hold her own against one of the best groups of distaffers in recent racing history.
Initially, I didn’t plan to vote for her, but the more I researched, the more she won me over. She never ran a bad race when going up against the likes of Inside Information, Serena’s Song, and Paseana, and all of those horses are Hall of Famers. She deserves a plaque, and it’s cool that she’s getting one.
THURSDAY’S RESULTS: Diva’s Revenge got shuffled back, and when she didn’t make the lead, she lost all chance. We dropped $23.
FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the early part of the card and try to extract some value from #3 SUDDEN SURPRISE (my best bet of the day) in the third race. I’ll play $6 doubles starting in the second race that use #1 LIP SYNC, #2 SATURDAYS VAPOR, and #9 JORDY’S READY in the opening leg. Additionally, I’ll play a $1 Pick Three starting in the second that uses #1 MIDNIGHT BOUNTY, #5 MAJESTIC KINDNESS, and #7 ZEVEN in the fourth.
TOTAL WAGERED: $27
Thursday’s Results: 3 for 10
Meet Results (to date): 33 for 108
Best Bet: Sudden Surprise, Race 3
Longshot: Lip Sync, Race 2
#4 VAMPISH: Gets a tepid nod in a complete mystery of a race that features each entrant making a career debut. This one will likely be favored given the flashy pedigree, solid workouts, and the combination of Rudy Rodriguez and Javier Castellano; #2 BALLYBRACK LASS: Has been working out at the training track since May with few interruptions, so she should at least be fit ahead of her debut. She’s by Super Saver and out of an Elusive Quality mare, so she’s got a right to be OK; #5 CASSIES DREAMER: Goes out for an owner/trainer combination that popped with a price last weekend. Ricardo Santana’s been riding as well as anyone of late, though it’s fair to wonder if she wants to run much longer than today’s route.
#1 LIP SYNC: Makes her career debut in a race that doesn’t appear to be very strong for the level. It’s a bit of a red flag that she debuts running for a $20,000 tag after hammering for $100,000 last March, but these are aggressive connections that have had an unlucky start, so it’s at least plausible; #2 SATURDAYS VAPOR: Seems like the main speed in this race and drops down to the lowest level maiden claiming race this circuit provides. Many of these runners haven’t shown early zip, so she could carve out an easy trip; #9 JORDY’S READY: Has been second in two straight starts since switching to the dirt, and both of those races were won by horses that repeated in their next starts. She’d benefit from another runner going with my second selection out of the gate.
#3 SUDDEN SURPRISE: Has never lost at Saratoga and makes his first start for Gary Gullo, who’s very strong with new acquisitions. He’d benefit from a wet track, and he’s been running against significantly better horses of late; #7 OSTROLENKA: Has back races that would make him a major player. However, it’s fair to wonder if his best days are behind him, and he’s winless both at Saratoga (0 for 7) and over wet tracks (0 for 9); #2 H MAN: Is a hard-trying, consistent gelding that generally runs the same race every time out. He’s fallen into a habit of picking up minor awards, and that seems like his ceiling in this spot.
#5 MAJESTIC KINDNESS: Has won two in a row, including a last-out win over several rivals that show up in this spot. Nick Zito’s barn has woken up a bit as of late, and she’s shown an ability to pass horses late (not a common trait in this field); #1 MIDNIGHT BOUNTY: Was an OK second to my top selection last time out in her first start for Falcone, who’s had a very strong year with a smaller barn. She could step forward here, but she’s winless in her last six starts and may not love two turns; #7 ZEVEN: Has woken up since coming back to dirt two starts ago. She was an OK second last time out at Monmouth, and it helps her cause that the third-place finisher from that race has since come back to win.
Give Me a Hug
She Will Rock
#5 MORE MISCHIEF: Hammered for $350,000 at auction earlier this year and has been working very well here ahead of her unveiling. If she runs to her drills for one of the top barns in the country, she could be tough to deny; #6 GIVE ME A HUG: Didn’t do much running at 3/2 in her debut, but her last three works seem to indicate that she’s figuring things out. The blinkers come off, but John Velazquez stays on; #7 SHE WILL ROCK: Has had some gate issues in both of her prior outings, but she was a solid second last time out at Churchill, and anything Asmussen and Santana team up with can’t be ignored given their recent hot streaks.
#8 STONEFACTOR: Has lots of early speed and led every step of the way last time out at Belmont. This is her first try against winners, and it isn’t a bad field, but it certainly seems like the early lead is hers for the taking; #6 HANNAH’S SMILE: Was a good second against similar-level opposition last time out downstate. She figures to be running well late, and she’d benefit from a faster-than-expected clip going into the turn; #5 MISS MYSTIQUE: Cuts back in distance after a pair of seven-furlong races at Belmont. She lost a photo for fourth to my second selection two back, yet will almost certainly be a much bigger price.
We Are Family
#6 WE ARE FAMILY: Is the recipient of possibly my most tepid top pick of the meet to date. She’s run reasonably well in two dirt routes, and with the other two likely short prices making their dirt debuts, this seems like the safest option; #3 BAZOOKA GIRL: Did next to no running in her debut, but she adds Lasix and blinkers at second asking for a barn whose horses usually improve with experience. She’s bred to love this two-turn route of ground; #1 ANNE DUPREE: Was reeled in late after leading most of the way over soft turf at Pimlico last time out. How she’ll take to the dirt is anyone’s guess, but the most recent workout looks flashy on paper and Jonathan Thomas is one of the most promising young trainers on the grounds.
#4 HOLLAND PARK: Nearly overcame a troubled trip when second in the Federico Tesio at Laurel last time out. He was beaten less than a length that day despite being much further back than he probably wanted to be, and there are signs this 3-year-old is getting better with experience; #10 WEATHER WIZ: Put it all together last time out when wiring a field of maidens downstate. He looks like the main source of early speed in here, and if he can clear most of this group going into the first turn, there’s a chance he could get brave once again; #6 UNCLE SIGH: Is one of the easiest horses to root for on the circuit, as he chased California Chrome in the 2014 Kentucky Derby and is still running solid races as a 7-year-old. He was most recently third behind Diversify at Belmont Park, and his usual effort would likely get him a piece of the purse here.
#4 RAGING BULL: Fell victim to a very slow early pace last time out, but should get a more lively opening half here assuming the Friday feature stays on turf. He figures to be flying late, and two turns shouldn’t be an issue; #6 GIDU: Was beaten less than three lengths in a Group 1 at Royal Ascot. He may be at his best going a bit shorter, but he could be in career-best form right now, and that’s tough to ignore; #7 COMBATANT: Comes back to turf and is bred to like it. He’s mainly in my top three, though, in the event this race is switched to the main track (which could happen given the forecast).
#9 REGALIAN: Was claimed back by Chris Englehart last time out and shortens up a bit here. He does take an aggressive drop, but given the owner involved here, it doesn’t seem as panicky as it could; #7 LAURA’S POSSE: May not have beaten much last time out, but he did so in visually impressive fashion. Joel Rosario stays aboard, and Gary Gullo does solid work with last-out winners; #4 MR. FIXIT: Has shown early speed and makes his first start for Linda Rice, which could move him up. The class drop makes sense, and he’s won over a wet track in the past.