During Wednesday’s races, I noticed the Saratoga feed advertising ways to host fantasy football drafts at the track. There are many marketing measures put forth by tracks that I completely disagree with, but I actually like this idea. Many of the same traits evident in fantasy football success (competitiveness and spotting candidates for improvement and decline, to name two) are also necessary to make money at the betting windows, so this seems like a natural fit.
Additionally, with more and more leagues offering cash prizes to winners, the gambling juices will be flowing, which could lead to opportunities to create new fans. Longtime followers of the sport are often quick to lament marketing measures that don’t necessarily produce handle or repeat customers. This one might, and I hope data is made available at the end of the meet so that we can see if it worked.
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: Our early Pick Four went up in smoke when two horses used in the second leg came up on the losing end of a three-horse photo, and win-place play Texas Music tired badly in the stretch of the fourth. We dropped $28.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the fifth race, which strikes me as one of the best betting races of the meet to this point (assuming it stays on turf). I’ll key #4 TUSK and #10 ASTOUNDING on top of $3 exactas that use those two, #6 GIANT RUN, and #7 LUCKY RAMSEY in the second spot. Additionally, I’ll box Tusk and Astounding on their own in $2 combinations, and I’ll put $4 to win and place on Tusk (since he’ll likely be the bigger price of my two top selections).
TOTAL WAGERED: $30
Best Bet: Doyouknowsomething, Race 2
Longshot: Tusk, Race 5
Throw the Fade
#3 THROW THE FADE: Runs for a claiming price for the first time and has been gelded since his last start. Either of these changes could wake him up, and I’m willing to toss his most recent effort; CHEYENNE ENTRY: I prefer #1 MANTLE, who ran OK at this level earlier in the meet. He showed an ability to rate that day and may improve in his third career start; #6 SOMEBODY: Is another horse whose connections are making many changes. He’s been gelded, and he’ll add blinkers here on the drop from two straight maiden events.
Let Me Go First
#3 DOYOUKNOWSOMETHING: Seems like the lone early speed horse in this compact field, and that alone could put him in the winner’s circle. Add in a significant class drop, and you have a horse that could prove very tough to catch; #5 SECURITIZ: Is another taking a significant drop, and he has plenty of back races that would be more than enough to beat this group. However, such a drop off of a five-month layoff is cause for concern, and this barn hasn’t had a great meet to this point; #2 LET ME GO FIRST: Hasn’t run in a while, but has spent time going against higher-class foes. He chased Grade 3 company last month at Monmouth, and he could appreciate shallower waters.
#5 PICCO UNO: Won this race last year and looms large once again. Her last-out win downstate was impressive, and a repeat of that effort likely puts her in the winner’s circle once again; #4 BONITA BIANCA: Returns to the state-bred ranks after misfiring last time out at Delaware Park. Her races at this level have been strong, and she could complete a Jason Servis-trained exacta; #1 ABSATOOTLY: Seems best of the rest and gets Jose Ortiz. She has a flexible running style, but she may need to show some speed from the rail.
No Stone Unturned (MTO)
Ruvies in Time
#5 TRADEABLE: Was beaten a half-length at boxcar odds in her debut, but in hindsight, she never should’ve been that kind of a price. She’s bred up and down for turf, and a repeat of that effort likely wins; #10 RUVIES IN TIME: Didn’t do much running in her debut, but she’s another bred to love the grass. She’s by The Factor and out of a Tapit mare, and this barn’s horses often improve with experience; #7 LOVE AND LOVE: Was an OK second in her debut downstate. That was far from a fast race, but she’s bred to be OK and gets Luis Saez. DIRT SELECTIONS: NO STONE UNTURNED, SASSY AGNES, DEVIL’S FLAIR.
#4 TUSK: Gets my top pick in what seems like an excellent betting race (provided it stays on turf). He’s done his best running on grass and won impressively here last year; #10 ASTOUNDING: Has won his last two turf starts and has only finished worse than third once in seven races run on grass. He’s certainly a contender, although he’ll need to work out a trip from his outside post; #7 LUCKY RAMSEY: Has hit the board in all seven of his starts this year and was claimed back by Mike Maker last time out. He could sit a stalking trip and get first run turning for home. DIRT SELECTIONS: EKHTIBAAR, BAD STUDENT, TUSK.
#7 PINK SANDS: Makes her first start since November and comes in off of two straight bullet workouts. She disappointed in a few races as a 2-year-old, but her pedigree says she’ll get better with age; #2 CHAMBER: Is by Tapit and out of a multiple Grade 1 winner named Sightseek, making her one of the best-bred fillies in the country. Her workouts look sharp, and she could be good enough to win on debut; #9 CURLISM: Has several strong works on the tab and draws a cushy outside post. This barn hasn’t made much noise this meet, but conditioner Ralph Nicks can win with first-time starters.
#5 HOLLYWOOD HANDSOME: Takes a big drop in class to run for a tag less than five months after finishing second in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap. This is a much weaker field than what he’s been running against, and the recent workout hints that he’s ready; #2 ADULATOR: Hasn’t won in a while but drops in class and stretches out to two turns. His two-turn races are arguably the best ones he’s ever run, and he sports a win at this route; #8 ADMIRAL BLUE: Showed speed at this level and route last time out before fading to second. He figures to be on or close to the lead early on.
Piedi Bianchi (MTO)
#7 ALTEA: Has hit the board in a pair of Grade 3 races and drops to run against allowance foes. Anything close to her run in last month’s Lake George, where she led briefly and wound up finishing second, would make her a formidable foe; #4 EMMY PERFORMANCE: Was the victim of a paceless race last time out and should get more speed to run at here. She’s bred to be very good, and she could be going the right way late at a price; #6 QUIVERY: Makes her American debut and gets Lasix for the first time. Her prior connections thought enough of her to run in a Group 1 race last October, and she won two in a row to start her career. DIRT SELECTIONS: PIEDI BIANCHI, COOL BEANS, MISS MIMOSA.
First Forever (MTO)
#2 ESPRESSO SHOT: Has a solid work tab ahead of her debut for a trainer that’s quietly done great work with debuting runners. She’s bred to be OK, and she may not have to be much against this group; #7 MIKE’S GIRL: Was a one-paced fourth in her debut last month for one of the top barns on the grounds. She could improve at second asking, especially given the slightly-friendlier post; #4 PLINK FREUD: Runs for a barn whose first-time starters often aren’t cranked up, but she’s by Freud, whose progeny tend to take to the turf. DIRT SELECTIONS: FIRST FOREVER, ESPRESSO SHOT, BANK EXAMINER.