Today’s big event on track is the Grade 1 Fourstardave, but it could very well be overshadowed by an annual event taking place at the Top of the Stretch. That’s the Saratoga Stumble, being run by our own Sam Hollingsworth. The premise is something like this: The entire town of Mechanicville shows up, buys matching t-shirts, and drinks itself into oblivion. Apparently, it’s a blast.
To those stumbling along today: Have fun and be safe. Most importantly, though, make sure Sam pulls through in one piece!
FRIDAY’S RESULTS: I bet Thirteen Songs thinking she’d close into a fast pace, not that she’d help make said fast pace. We dropped $20.
SATURDAY’S PLAY: I apologize in advance to my editor, because my play comes late in the card. It sure seems like #5 MR CUB is the lone speed in the Lure Stakes (race 10), and I need to play him. I’ll put $10 on him to win and place, and I really hope we get the 6-1 morning line price.
TOTAL WAGERED: $20
Best Bet: Lyrical Lady, Race 3
Longshot: La Naturel, Race 7
#6 PROGNOSTICATION: Hasn’t run in 10 months, but is protected from being claimed, which is always an encouraging sign. He could benefit from the likely race shape and figures to be running well late; #1 LEMONIST: Has been gelded since his last start in December and sports a pair of flashy local workouts. This is the weakest field he’s faced since breaking his maiden in 2016; #8 GOSILENTLY: Has hit the board in each of his last 11 starts, most of which have come for today’s connections. He just missed here last summer and figures to be prominent early.
#4 CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Has several strong local works ahead of his debut for prominent connections. It’s tough to debut going seven furlongs, but he’s bred to be a good one and has worked accordingly; CALUMET ENTRY: #1A SOUTHERN PHANTOM could win at second asking, but he’ll be bet heavily for reasons that have very little to do with his ability. He may need to show more early speed here than he did in his debut; #8 EXCHEQUER: Fetched $150,000 at auction last fall and has worked well for red-hot connections. He may be bred better for turf, but his talent could be enough to get him home on dirt.
#3 LYRICAL LADY: Was one of the most impressive debut winners of the meet and figures to be favored in the Grade 2 Adirondack. She won by nearly six lengths and appeared to have plenty left in reserve; #5 VIRGINIA ELOISE: Finished well in her debut at Belmont and is bred to want lots of distance. She showed she could rate a bit that day, and that could come in handy here; #1 MUCHO AMOR: Graduated at Keeneland and sports a recent bullet workout on the training track. Wesley Ward is one of the top 2-year-old trainers in the country, and he cannot be ignored here.
Starting Point (MTO)
#8 TEACHABLE MOMENT: Closed to be third in his debut and has a pedigree that hints he could embrace more ground. Improvement is logical at second asking, especially for these connections; #12 NOBLE NEBRASKAN: Sports an impressive pedigree and merits respect if he draws in off the AE list. It’s tough to debut at this route, but he’s worked well and may be a nice price; #2 WINNING FACTOR: Was second in the race my top pick exits and stretches out after some solid local workouts. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because he’s not necessarily bred to want two turns. DIRT SELECTIONS: STARTING POINT, IAN GLASS, TEACHABLE MOMENT.
#3 UNLOCKTHEPOTENTIAL: Stretches out after being beaten less than a length in his first start since October. He likely needed that race as a tightener, and that day’s winner ran well in the Quick Call earlier this week; #6 LUNAIRE: Hasn’t won in a while, but has shown an ability to run well late, and that’s valuable given the early pace signed on here. He could shake up the exotics at a price; #2 MOROCCO: Was almost certainly short last time out in his first start since the fall, and the blinkers come back on in his second start off the bench. That could get him more involved early at a big number. DIRT SELECTIONS: PAYNE, CLUTCH CARGO, MESOTHERM.
Empire of War
Chase and Colorado
#5 ROAD HOME: Closed to be second in his debut for a barn that doesn’t often win with first-time starters. There’s reason to expect improvement here, and if that happens, he could be tough; #7 EMPIRE OF WAR: Has worked well on the training track ahead of his unveiling. Todd Pletcher’s runners must be respected, although this one may be better-bred for turf; #4 CHASE AND COLORADO: Is the other Pletcher-trained first-time starter. He’s by Tapit, which means he likely wants as much ground as possible.
Aunt Babe (MTO)
#5 LA NATUREL: Has yet to run a bad race in her career and is a closer in a race that seems to boast tons of early speed. She was third beaten less than a length earlier in the meet, and we may get a price given this trainer’s small barn; #2 CONQUEST TIZFIRE: Was second in the race my top pick exits, but has had ample chances to win and seems to prefer settling for minor awards. She looked like a winner in mid-stretch last time, but she let the eventual winner battle back; #4 MAJESTIC WON: Took to the turf well last time out, when she graduated by nearly three lengths downstate. Luis Saez signs on, and this one figures to be involved from the outset. DIRT SELECTIONS: AUNT BABE, DANYELLI, QUEEN MUM.
Heart to Heart
#2 DELTA PRINCE: Has come out of the shadow of older sister Royal Delta and turned into a top-class turf horse. His win in the Grade 2 King Edward was strong, and he could sit a perfect stalking trip behind a hot pace; #5 HEART TO HEART: Is one of the most fun horses to root for given his longevity and the fact that he may be better than ever at age seven. He won two Grade 1 races earlier this year, but the presence of #6 VOODOO SONG means he almost certainly won’t be alone on the lead; #3 DIVISIDERO: Is a deep closer that will benefit from a fast pace. He may want a bit longer, but the quicker they go early, the more he’ll like it.
Breaking the Rules
Always a Suspect
#3 MASK: Cuts back to seven furlongs, which may be the trip he wants. He may not have turned into a top-class 3-year-old, but his best race could win this and he should be able to sit just off the pace; #5 BREAKING THE RULES: Was second in a swiftly-run allowance last time out and seems like a one-run sprinter that should get better as he gets older. A fast pace would benefit him, and this distance likely hits him right between the eyes; #4 ALWAYS A SUSPECT: Likes Saratoga and exits a win earlier in the meet (albeit against weaker foes). All three of his starts over this track have been solid, and Robertino Diodoro has a strong record with new acquisitions.
#5 MR CUB: Could be the lone speed in this race, which is always dangerous on the inner turf. He was beaten just a half-length in the Grade 2 Wise Dan last time out, and he could be talented enough to lead this field the whole way; #7 CONQUEST PANTHERA: Hasn’t won in a while, but chased Delta Prince in the Grade 2 King Edward and can show some early zip if he has to. Luis Saez hops aboard, and he’s riding as well as anyone at the meet; #9 ZENNOR: Has won three in a row, including this race last year, but he has not started in more than a year. If he comes back ready to run, he’s obviously a contender, but that’s a sizable “if.”
Hit a Provisional
#13 SHANGHAI DREAMS: Is emblematic of an oddity here, as several major contenders reside on the AE list and need scratches to run. She debuted with a fourth-place finish in a very solid race for the level and drops in for a tag; #12 HIT A PROVISIONAL: Rallied to be second at this level in her debut and is another that needs some luck to draw in. This barn has quietly gotten off to a solid start at the meet, and she could improve in her second outing; #10 FANCYCASE: Seems best of the main body of the field given the early speed she’s flashed of late. The body of the field seems light on horses that can pass others late, so the speed could be helpful.