Monday’s feature was the Cab Calloway division of the New York Stallion Series. Therapist was a heavy favorite when entries were drawn, and his presence was a factor (though perhaps not the only one) in the race scratching down to a field of just two other runners. Naturally, Therapist cruised home in a romp.
I had a similar complaint last year when the Grade 3 Shuvee ran with just a three-horse field, and I’ll bring it out of the mothballs here: Stakes races at Saratoga should never, EVER go with a three-horse field. This is supposed to be the biggest meet of the year on the east coast, and it should represent the best of what this sport has to offer. Three-horse fields do not fit that description, and they never will.
MONDAY’S RESULTS: We ended a bit of a slump in the pick box, but both mid-priced horses given out in this section failed to fire. We dropped $20.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I found this card pretty tough, and I’m not in love with anything. I’ll attempt to make some money with $5 doubles starting in the eighth. #2 SPEKE is bred up and down to love two turns and may be the lone speed in the field. I’ll single him and use #1 WORLD OF TROUBLE, #2 MAJESTIC DUNHILL, #6 SHANGROYAL, and #10 STOLEN PISTOL in the ninth (the Quick Call Stakes).
TOTAL WAGERED: $20
Best Bet: Speke, Race 8
Longshot: Held Accountable, Race 6
#3 BROCKTON GEORGE: Takes a big drop in class and presents an intriguing alternative to the likely favorites. He has back form that would be good enough to win, and two turns won’t be his undoing; #1 SUMNER: Takes a nosedive in class after running fifth in a $100,000 stakes race last time out. He’ll take money based on his connections, and the shallower waters here could be a relief, but he’s yet to show that he can handle this distance; #6 KENYAN: Hasn’t won in a while, but has made a habit of picking up minor awards at this level. His lone start here was a win, and he’d benefit from a lively pace up front.
Promise Me Roses (MTO)
#2 FIVEINTHEMORNING: Just missed when dropped to this level last time out at Belmont. Her debut at this route last summer saw her run a decent third against an OK group, and she should be running well late; #5 TRULY COURAGEOUS: Took a step forward when third last time out downstate, and the lack of other serious early speed in here could move her forward even further. She could be the one they have to catch turning for home; #4 PAZ THE WINE: Is 0 for 13 and impossible to endorse on top, but she’s been very competitive at this level and adds blinkers for a barn that’s due to get going at the meet. DIRT SELECTIONS: PROMISE ME ROSES, PUFFIN PATTY, CATANIA ROSE.
#4 BEAUTIFUL BUZZ: Adds blinkers first off the trainer switch to Rudy Rodriguez and seems like the main speed in here. Rodriguez has gotten a bit aggressive of late, so this barn could start racking up wins pretty quickly; #1 TIFFANY’S VISION: Seems to have figured things out of late and was third against similar company earlier in the meet. She figures to be the one to provide opposition to my top pick early on, especially given the rail draw; #2 SHE’SAKITTYKAT: Would benefit from a speed duel given her late-running style. She was second against similar-level foes downstate and gets a rider switch to Joe Bravo.
#2 FACTOR THIS: Was fourth against much better last time out and handily beat this level of competition two back. He should benefit from the likely pace scenario and figures to be prominent; #10 KILLEEN: Made a huge middle move before flattening out against allowance foes. He’s 2 for 2 when running for a claiming tag, and he could be good enough to overcome the outside draw; #9 JAILHOUSE KITTEN: Won two in a row before checking in third last time out, and Mike Maker reached in to claim him back. Irad Ortiz hopping aboard can’t be overlooked. DIRT SELECTIONS: TRANSISTOR, FACTOR THIS, HOARD.
#1 CRAZY LIFE: Fetched $145,000 at auction and has worked steadily ahead of his debut. He’s bred to like turf, and this doesn’t strike me as the strongest field for the level; #9 PIER FORTY: Hammered for $250,000 earlier this year and is bred to be a good one. He’s by City Zip and out of an A.P. Indy mare. This is a barn that can win with first-time starters; #2 SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN: Clearly didn’t take to a sloppy dirt track in his debut, and I’m willing to throw the race out. He’s bred to like the grass, and this barn’s runners tend to get better with experience.
#3 LADY BERGEN: Disappointed when favored last time out at Monmouth, but that turned out to be a very fast heat. There are many need-the-lead types in here, and this one appears to be fastest out of the gate; #6 HELD ACCOUNTABLE: Has excuses for each of her last three starts (sloppy track, layoff, too far), and she could benefit from a lively pace. This seems like the right combination of route and level, and we may get a price; #1 TIZNOW’S SMILE: Hasn’t won in a while, but gets the services of Joel Rosario, who may take her off of a fast pace.
#3 HIGH MOON: Projects as the main speed in this inner turf race, and those horses are always dangerous. He’s won three of his last five starts, and top turf rider Geroux gets the call here; #5 FLYOFF: Responded to the drop in class last time out with a runaway victory and tries winners for the first time. He’s never been two turns before, but he has the pedigree to handle such a trip; #9 FUEL THE BERN: Stretches out after running third in a turf sprint earlier in the meet. Irad Ortiz has ridden him to both of his career wins, and he hops aboard here. DIRT SELECTIONS: MESOTHERM, TRES EQUIS, HIGH MOON.
New York Hero
J J’s Dreaming
#2 SPEKE: Stretches out to two turns and is bred to run as long as possible. He was second in a solid race for the level last time out and seems like the main speed in here; #5 NEW YORK HERO: Makes his first start for Jonathan Thomas and has a pedigree that suggests he wants this trip. He may have needed his most recent race and could improve here; #1 J J’S DREAMING: Earned a pair of big Beyer Speed Figures downstate and could be favored, but he’s winless in his last five starts, and his two-turn races don’t seem as sharp as his one-turn efforts.
World of Trouble
#1 WORLD OF TROUBLE: Scratched out of the Grade 2 Amsterdam to await this spot and is bred to like the turf. He’s very fast early and could give the rest of this field a lot of work to do turning for home; #10 STOLEN PISTOL: Has won two in a row against state-breds and is 3 for 4 going short on turf. Joe Sharp’s figured out what he wants to do, and he should be going the right way late; #2 MAJESTIC DUNHILL: Is 2 for 2 this season and won a minor stakes race at Monmouth last time out. His maiden win came at this route last summer, and he doesn’t need to be too far back early, which could help him.
Giant Boo Boo
Wild Colonial Boy
#8 GIANT BOO BOO: Was claimed by Jeremiah Englehart last time out and seems like the most logical selection in a very confusing finale. Throw out the turf experiment two back, and his body of work looks considerably better; #12 WILD COLONIAL BOY: Ships up from Gulfstream for a trainer that doesn’t run many in New York. The addition of blinkers could help him, since he’s been slow into stride in both of his prior outings; #2 DAB: Has had plenty of chances, but seems like the main early speed here and can’t be totally ignored. He’s never finished worse than third in three prior starts over this main track.