Several times in this section over the past few years, I’ve preached the value of some of the forgotten exotics wagers on the menu. Yesterday, one of them gave bettors a real opportunity to make some money. The fourth-race winner was The Caretaker, who came off the main-track-only list and won at odds of 8/5. The fifth-race winner was Uni, the 5/2 co-favorite in the De La Rose. The $2 daily double paid $17.80.
This may not sound like much, but turning two short prices into that sort of return is a way to create value. You won’t retire off of returns like that, but eagle-eyed handicappers that take a more grind-it-out approach to the game appreciate those opportunities.
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: I was right to play against Cuarenta, who didn’t run a jump in the third race. However, none of the three horses I boxed in exactas cracked the top two, meaning a loss of $30.
SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on another forgotten exotic, the Grand Slam. It starts in the seventh, assumes races carded for the turf stay there, and singles best bet #3 TIMELINE in the Alydar Stakes to finish it out. My $2 ticket is as follows: 4,7,8 with 5,6 with 1,3 with 3.
TOTAL WAGERED: $24
Saturday’s Results: 2 for 9
Meer Results (to date): 37 for 137
Best Bet: Timeline, Race 10
Longshot: Scarf It Down, Race 4
#5 INTO MYSTIC: Fetched $650,000 at auction earlier this year and has several sharp works to her credit. She may want a bit longer than this distance, but she could also be precocious enough to win at first asking given her sire, Into Mischief; SHARP ENTRY: I prefer #1 MO WHEELS UP, who’s been working very well of late. Having said that, #1A LADY T N T isn’t without a shot, as she lost all chance early on in her debut; #4 TWEEDIA: Has a very obscure pedigree, but looks the part of a runner in the mornings. We don’t see too many Arkansas-breds at Saratoga, but Brad Cox can win with horses from everywhere, and she may be a bit of a price.
#6 PACKED HOUSE: Didn’t break well last time out and was one-paced going longer. That running style leads me to believe he’ll like two turns, and this seems like a mediocre field for the level; #2 JIMMY JAZZ: Goes two turns for the first time and has been gelded since a fifth-place finish at this level downstate. Jose Lezcano hops aboard, and he has a right to improve at a price; #10 GAMBLER’S FALLACY: May be favored given the powerhouse connections. However, the workouts aren’t anything special, he’ll need to negotiate a trip from the far outside post, and it’s tough to win going two turns right off the bat.
O Shea Can U See
#6 MIGHTY ZEALOUS: Drops down in class after trying stakes foes earlier this meet in a spot that turned up incredibly tough for the level. It helps that he likes a wet track, as there may still be moisture out there following rain earlier in the weekend; #4 O SHEA CAN U SEE: May have figured things out judging by his two straight wire-to-wire wins at Belmont Park. He’ll be prominent early, although he’ll likely have company up front; #1 WINSTON’S CHANCE: Lit up the tote board here last year and returns to the Spa for this event. However, he’s winless in four starts at Finger Lakes, and this seems a bit shorter than his best game.
Scarf It Down
Win With Pride
Top of the Page
#2 SCARF IT DOWN: Hasn’t won in a while, but has been running against tough starter allowance foes and drops in for a tag here. His two starts at this route last season were both sharp, and Luis Saez returning to the saddle can’t be overlooked; #6 WIN WITH PRIDE: Returns to dirt after chasing swifter foes on turf earlier in the meet. He’s won his last two dirt starts against claiming company, and he should be rolling late; #3 TOP OF THE PAGE: Had a rough trip last time out when third against similar going two turns. He cuts back to seven furlongs in his first start for Robertino Diodoro, and he’s won at this distance before.
#3 DISCO PARTNER: Went further than he wants to go last time out at Belmont and returns to his preferred distance. He won this race two years ago, and he should get a perfect setup given his late-running style and an abundance of early speed in this field; #6 BLIND AMBITION: Also cuts back in distance, and is another that’s had success sprinting on turf at Saratoga. He has tactical speed, but does not need the lead and could get first run on the pace-setters turning for home; #2 HOLDING GOLD: Was a late-running third in the Grade 1 Highlander at Woodbine last time out. He’ll be going the right way in the stretch, but he’s won just one of his last nine starts, so I can’t use him on top.
#7 DOGTAG: Is one of two Chad Brown trainees in this field, and this one’s works impress me more. She’s bred to be a runner, and while debuting going two turns isn’t easy, she’s yet to do anything wrong in her training; #9 TULA: Had an adventurous trip when third in her debut. She was wide early and well back in a race with no early pace, yet still rallied to finish third. She may have gotten a lot out of that race; #3 SPEEDY SOLUTION: Also had a troubled trip in her unveiling, as she was a close-up third in a roughly-run race downstate. John Velazquez hops aboard, and while Wesley Ward isn’t great with stretch-outs, this filly is bred to want as much ground as possible.
What a Catch
Felix in Fabula
#4 WHAT A CATCH: Drops in for a tag after spending most of his career collecting checks in state-bred stakes races. There’s a chance he’s peaked already, but this is a steep class drop, and I doubt we’ll get the 5-1 morning line given the presence of Pletcher and Velazquez; #7 FELIX IN FABULA: Has yet to run a bad race around one turn and exits a win downstate at this level. He was claimed by Danny Gargan that day, and the recent works indicate he’s ready to run; #8 AMERICAN POWER: Snuck by the $25,000 level last time out, winning by nearly six lengths for aggressive connections. This is a step up in class, but he’s got two wins and a second in three one-turn outings and is a threat if he can repeat his last-out effort.
Bad Student (MTO)
#5 ROMAN APPROVAL: Drops way down in class after two failed tries against Grade 3 company. He’s got one way of going, and if he gets an easy lead, he could get brave against a lesser group than the ones he’s faced of late; #6 DECISIVE TRIUMPH: Exits a listed stakes race at Delaware Park where they flew home in the final quarter-mile. He’s got plenty of experience going this far, but he hasn’t won since late-2016, so it’s tough to endorse him on top with much confidence; #10 MASTER PLAN: Has back form that would trounce these, but his last three races haven’t been pretty, which explains the class drop. Two of those races were on dirt, though, and he could wake up if this stays on the grass. DIRT SELECTIONS: BAD STUDENT, HARDLY A SECRET, HALLOWEEN HORROR.
Clutch Cargo (MTO)
Team Valor entry
TEAM VALOR ENTRY: I prefer #1 PILLAR MOUNTAIN, who had every right to need his return race last time out. I think he’ll step forward in his second start off the bench, and this distance could suit him; #3 UNCLE GIO: Adds blinkers after having won two of his last four starts. He was a bit compromised last time by a fairly slow pace, and the blinkers could get him more involved early; #2 IM THE CAPTAIN NOW: Missed by a head at this level last time out downstate. He’s got plenty of experience at this distance, but has settled for minor awards more often than not. DIRT SELECTIONS: CLUTCH CARGO, CONVICT PIKE, HOLIDAY BONUS.
#3 TIMELINE: Was second behind Sunny Ridge last time out, but looms large in this spot as the main speed in the race. Additionally, he loves a wet track, which he could get in this spot; #2 OUTPLAY: Won the Curlin Stakes here last year and cuts back in distance after tiring in the Grade 2 Brooklyn. He’s got some early speed, but has shown he doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well; #5 PATCH: Will be well-supported at the windows, though for reasons that have nothing to do with his ability. He could come running late, but both of his wins have come in one-turn races, and it’s fair to wonder if that’s the trip he wants.
Naples Legacy (MTO)
Safe With Me
#10 SAFE WITH ME: Was second behind a next-out winner last time out downstate. The outside post is less than ideal, but she’s won at this route and should be running well late beneath Javier Castellano; #2 SAMARA: Comes back to the appropriate level after a failed try against starter allowance foes. Her races two and three back were solid, and repeats of those races would definitely put her in the mix; #9 JAZZY JUDER: Was fourth in the race my top pick exits, which doubled as her first start in more than 10 months. She could improve second off the bench for sharp connections. DIRT SELECTIONS: NAPLES LEGACY, MISS SIZZLE, PARANOIA.