Saturday was a pretty horrible day for those in charge of determining both which races would stay on the turf and when to make those decisions. Two races in the middle of the card were taken off the turf just 40 minutes before post time of the day’s first race, while the 11th was taken off the turf after the eighth race was run. The latter decision meant that several multi-race wagers ending in that race ended with an “ALL” payout, which is far from ideal.
We can’t control the weather. I understand that. With that being said, it’s not like those in charge didn’t know about the condition of the turf course and incoming threats to it. If you had a strong opinion in yesterday’s finale on the grass and played it as such in the Pick Six or late Pick Four, you got hosed, as your “ALL” tickets were worth less than others who used multiple horses (and as such hit for multiple combinations). Simply put, there has to be a better way to do this moving forward.
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: I can’t complain with the trip Mr Cub got in the Lure Stakes, but he folded turning for home. The losing streak continues, as we dropped $20.
SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll take a shot at the late Pick Four (assuming races carded for turf stay there). It looks like a fun sequence, and I’ll try to extract some value out of #3 SANTA MONICA in the Waya. My 50-cent ticket is as follows: 4,7 with ALL with 3 with 1,2,6,7,9,10.
TOTAL WAGERED: $36
Best Bet: Malibu Stacy, Race 4
Longshot: Liora, Race 5
#5 SLOT: Drops in for a tag for the first time after a failed turf experiment last time out. The Pletcher barn has been unusually aggressive of late, so the drop isn’t necessarily a red flag, and his usual dirt race would make him tough; DIODORO ENTRY: I prefer #2B YOU’RE KILLIN ME, who drops back in for a tag after a pair of OK races against starter allowance foes. Having said that, Cohen’s listed aboard both parts of the entry, meaning one part of it is likely to scratch, and I can’t pick it on top with that uncertainty in mind; #4 TAKE NOTICE: Gets a positive rider switch to Joel Rosario after fading at this route earlier in the meet. That was against a better group, and the lone work since hints that he bounced out of it well.
Joe’s Smokin Gun
#9 SINGAPORE TRADER: Drops into the maiden claiming ranks after several failed tries against special weight foes. He was second behind an eventual stakes winner here last year, and two turns could be the route he wants; #5 JOE’S SMOKIN GUN: Is 0 for 12 with three straight second-place finishes coming into this event. He’s shown improvement of late, though, and Ricardo Santana, Jr., hops aboard; #7 SIR FROST: Merits a look at a price. He likely needed the race last time out off the long layoff, and he showed significant improvement in his first start for Barclay Tagg, whose runners have been firing this meet.
Big Guy Ian
#6 DATA DRIVEN: Was claimed by Robertino Diodoro following a second-place finish against similar foes last time out. His dirt sprints have been solid, and he’d benefit from a wet track if one was to present itself; #1 YOURDREAMSORMINE: Hasn’t won in more than a year, but drops in for a tag for one of the highest-percentage barns in the country. He has back races that would win this if repeated, although those races took place over Gulfstream Park’s surface (which is very different from Saratoga); #2 BIG GUY IAN: Has ample early speed and was claimed back by Rudy Rodriguez. He’ll likely set the early fractions, but the winless local mark is a major concern.
#2 MALIBU STACY: Seems like the lone true early speed horse in this turf sprint. She hasn’t won in a while, but she’s run against stakes-quality horses all year and will likely relish the class relief; #3 FIRE KEY: Was 2 for 2 at this route last summer and caught a very wet turf course a few weeks ago, rendering that race irrelevant. She could sit a great stalking trip beneath the rider that piloted her to both of those 2017 victories; #7 RUMBLE DOLL: Is a late-running closer that likes this route and would benefit from a speed duel. There’s a chance she’s past her prime, but this is a high-percentage barn that can’t be ignored.
#6 MULTI STRATEGY: Fetched $240,000 at auction as a weanling and is bred to be a very good turf horse. Her turf Tomlinson rating of 341 is the highest in the field, and trainer Chad Brown must be respected; #8 LIORA: Closed powerfully in her debut, which was rained off the turf. She’s bred up and down for grass and could improve at second asking; #1 SPEEDY SOLUTION: Didn’t have the easiest of trips in her debut downstate, but was beaten just two lengths despite a pedigree that suggests she wants to go long. A cleaner trip could be enough to put her right there.
#1 WINANDYOURIN GIN: Gets a tepid nod in an incredibly competitive 2-year-old race. She raced evenly going shorter and should improve with experience and added distance; #8 KISKA: Has worked well ahead of her debut for Todd Pletcher. Her local drills are solid, and progeny of Into Mischief are usually precocious; #3 FEEDBACK: Has been working steadily ahead of her unveiling, and the recent five-furlong drills are telling. She’s hinted at talent, but may want to go even longer than today’s distance.
Frostie Anne (MTO)
#7 SWEET STING: Chased the talented La Moneda last time out and was third in a stakes race two back. If this stays on the turf, she’s strictly the one to beat based on her recent form; #4 TRANSACTION TAX: Clearly figures to be the one to catch, given her ample early speed. She was third last time out at this level, and while she may be better around one turn, she’s won going two turns in the past; #3 GONDORA: Makes her American debut and gets Lasix for the first time. Her prior connections thought enough of her to try her against some of Germany’s best fillies a season ago. DIRT SELECTIONS: FROSTIE ANNE, STAY FOND, MAXIMUS BEAUTY.
#4 TIGHT TEN: Cruised to victory in his debut, where he easily dispatched 11 other rivals in wire-to-wire fashion. He’s bred to be very good, and it’s tough to argue with these connections given the success they’ve had this summer; #2 CALL PAUL: Earned this field’s highest last-out Beyer Speed Figure in a debut win at Delaware Park. He sold for $210,000 earlier this year despite a very modest pedigree, and there’s a chance he could be a freak; #5 SIR TRUEBADOUR: Wired the field in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor last time out and certainly has lots of early speed. They did crawl home that day, though, and Santana opts to ride the other entrant from this barn.
Mom’s On Strike
#3 SANTA MONICA: Has won two of three starts since coming to America and most recently took the Grade 2 Dance Smartly at Woodbine. She beat a pretty good group that day, and a similar performance here would likely make her a formidable foe; #5 MOM’S ON STRIKE: Has won five of her last seven starts and was beaten just two lengths in the Grade 2 New York, a race whose second and third-place finishers have already come back to win. Joe Sharp has gotten off to a great start at the meet, and she’s shown she can get this distance; #1 LOTTIE: May be a cut below these, but is one of only a few that’s ever shown early speed. She was up close throughout last time out, and a similar trip here seems likely.
Ayers Rock (MTO)
Girl at War
#2 GIRL AT WAR: Ran well in her debut despite being bred up and down for turf and forced to run on a wet main track. She’s by promising sire Declaration of War and out of a Galileo mare, and she should step forward at second asking in a tough-to-figure finale; #1 STRUCTURAL DEFICIT: Is one of the better-bred 2-year-olds on the grounds, being by the late Scat Daddy and out of a Tapit mare. The pedigree says she’ll take to turf, and she merits respect coming from the powerhouse Chad Brown barn; #6 TRISH THE DISH: Raced evenly in her debut after a slow break and was not helped by a very slow pace. She’s bred to want two turns, and Luis Saez sticking with her is a plus. DIRT SELECTIONS: AYERS ROCK, GIRL AT WAR, STRUCTURAL DEFICIT.