Several representatives of the Copake Country Club will be in attendance at Saratoga Race Course this afternoon. I was at the gathering they held on Travers Eve last year, and even without the Scots that were in attendance a season ago, this year’s trip promises to be a fun one.
One note to those people: If your reigning, defending, undisputed club champion even so much as thinks about running a tournament again, immediately revoke his bar privileges and/or whack him in the knee with a 6-iron repeatedly until he reconsiders. His son worries about him and is tired of pointing out that such a responsibility is a reminder of the old axiom, “no good deed goes unpunished.”
THURSDAY’S RESULTS: It only takes one score to make up for 29 days of horrible wagers. Fixed Point wired the field in the finale and brought home a Pick Four that returned $856.25 for our $40 investment.
FRIDAY’S PLAY: This is a program fit for the Grand Slam, as there’s a heavy favorite in the payoff leg and sizable fields in the earlier legs. My $2 ticket starts in the seventh and looks like this: 1,4,6 with 2,7 with 2,3 with 6. On its own, one $2 combination may not pay much, but if I hit it multiple times, I can extract some value out of #6 OFFERING PLAN, who may be odds-on in the West Point.
TOTAL WAGERED: $24
Best Bet: Offering Plan, Race 10
Longshot: Speightful Kitten, Race 6
Mister Muy Bien (MTO)
RICE ENTRY: Either #1 BEACHSIDE or #1A SOUNDS GOOD could win, but I slightly prefer the latter. Both are bred for turf success, but Sounds Good is probably bred to be more of a sprinter, while his stablemate may want a bit more ground; #3 PIPES: Debuted running third in an off-the-turf event last month and is bred to like the lawn. He may have gotten something out of the debut, and Rosario rides back for Contessa (whose barn has heated up a bit of late); #7 ANALYZETHISANDTHAT: Goes back to the turf and faces state-breds for the first time after two OK runs against open company at Monmouth Park. It’s worth noting that Garcia comes up from the shore for the mount. DIRT SELECTIONS: MISTER MUY BIEN, PIPES, ANALYZETHISANDTHAT.
#4 H MAN: Broke a long winless drought with a victory last time out and was claimed by Rudy Rodriguez. There’s a ton of early speed signed on, which could set things up for his late kick; #5 CANDY ZIP: Improved last time out off a dud two back and could take another step forward here. He cuts back in distance and doesn’t necessarily need the lead to run well; #3 FREUD’S AFFAIR: Didn’t fire here earlier in the meet but may have been compromised by the sloppy track. His fast track form is fine, and if he channels that, he could hit the board at a price.
#1 EVALUATOR: Ran a big race here last month when he closed to be second on a track that was tilted towards speed. The rail draw isn’t ideal, but there’s a lot of speed signed on, which should set things up for his late kick; #7 SEA FOAM: Beat a number of these runners last time out at Finger Lakes in a race that doubled as his two-turn debut. A repeat effort gives him a shot, but it’s unlikely that he gets an easy lead here; #4 SPEKE: Didn’t break well at all last time out and adds blinkers today. The race shape doesn’t favor his front-running style, but he’s certainly eligible to improve off of his most recent effort.
Shak’s Hidden Gem
Shady Shady Shady
#3 SHAK’S HIDDEN GEM: Was fourth at 32-1 in her debut going shorter earlier in the meet. She’s by Shackleford and out of a Tiznow mare, so she’s bred to go long; #10 SHADY SHADY SHADY: Was second in her unveiling last month and is another that may want more distance. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s due to the far outside post; #7 MENSA MEMBER: Fetched $200,000 last summer and debuts for powerhouse connections. She could be a runner, but the lack of a turf work is pretty puzzling.
Bustin to Be Loved
#5 BANKIT: Was impressive in victory earlier in the meet, when he toyed with state-bred maidens following a second-place finish in open company. A repeat performance would likely make him the one to beat; #7 LA FUERZA: Is 2 for 2, and both of his wins have come by daylight. He hasn’t faced the strongest fields, but the last two works look sharp and it wouldn’t be shocking if he was still improving: #4 BUSTIN TO BE LOVED: Wired a field of maidens at 19-1 earlier in the meet. He’ll likely go early once again, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride him back.
Stoney Bennett (MTO)
#9 BANANA THIEF: Picked up the pieces last time out when winning a photo finish in a turf sprint that fell apart late. This race should have a similar shape to it, and a repeat effort could get him another win; #4 SPEIGHTFUL KITTEN: Broke dead last in his first start since November, and that meant he lost all chance given his preferred running style. He’s run well at this route in the past, and the 15-1 morning line odds hit me as an overlay; #6 FRISKY MAGICIAN: Was beaten by my top pick last time out, but is another that could be passing plenty of tired ones late. His best race could win, but he’s had plenty of chances lately and has just one win in his last 12 starts. DIRT SELECTIONS: STONEY BENNETT, THE CARETAKER, ETHAN HUNT.
Party Like Grandma
#4 COLLEGEVILLE GIRL: Graduated at first asking in a live race that has already produced a few next-out winners. She’s worked well since that effort, and she certainly seems like the one with the most early zip; #6 TIME WARP: Exited that very race to win going away in a seven-furlong event. That was a solid victory, and even though she might want more distance, she figures to be a major player; #1 PARTY LIKE GRANDMA: Boasts both one of the best names on the grounds and a runaway first-out win at Finger Lakes. Andre Worrie comes in to ride, and she should show speed from the rail.
#7 FIFTY FIVE: Has significant back class and figures to be running well late in a race with lots of early speed. The tandem of Chad Brown and Javier Castellano is always tough to ignore, and she’ll likely be a short price; #2 LA MONEDA: Has won three races in a row and certainly seems to be in career form. She’s got enough tactical speed to sit a stalking trip, although Castellano hopping off isn’t ideal; #8 LADY JOAN: Went wire-to-wire going much longer earlier in the meet. She’s won at distances ranging from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 3/8 miles, and she’s shown an affinity for this turf course.
Take Charge Aubrey
#3 SPLIT TIME: Overcame a troubled trip to best a number of these foes last time out at Finger Lakes. She’s won five of her last six starts and has shown that she can go two turns; #2 TAKE CHARGE AUBREY: Bounced back from a loss to my top pick with a romp last time out going seven furlongs. Jose Ortiz rides back for Bruce Levine, who’s enjoyed a strong meet to this point; #11 ENGLISH SOUL: Seems like the main speed and will be reunited with Manuel Franco, who has piloted her to two of her three wins. She’ll almost certainly need to go from the outside post, but she may have enough zip to clear most of the field going into the first turn.
J J’s Dreaming (MTO)
#6 OFFERING PLAN: Looms large on class, ability, and running style. He’s beaten many of these rivals in the past, and seems like the lone closer in a race full of early speed; #11 RAPT: Is another that will drop back and make one big run. He hasn’t won in more than a year, but the faster they go early, the more he figures to like it; #10 KHARAFA: Makes his 50th career start here and is easy to root for given his longevity. He may be past his peak, but his late-running style could prove helpful in this event.
#9 CAUSFORCELEBRATION: Was second in a similar spot earlier in the meet, and he was wide most of the way that day. This isn’t a great post, but he’s a bit closer to the rail, and his primary competition draws an even worse spot; #12 BROCKMONINOFF: Was beaten less than a length by my top pick last time out, but got no help with the post position. His best chance may be to clear the field from the get-go, and that’s not easy to do from the far outside; #5 CROSS MULTIPLY: Comes back to the turf after running second on the main track earlier this month. He gets a decent post position, which isn’t a luxury he’s had in many of his prior outings.