Closing day is upon us, and there are plenty of people I need to acknowledge. First on that list (whether he likes it or not) is Stan Hudy, who took it upon himself to spearhead production of The Pink Sheet while also helping to produce content for the paper’s conventional sports section. This is not an easy thing for one person to do, especially when it’s tougher than ever to be a journalist at a smaller newspaper.
I also need to acknowledge my fellow Pink Sheet handicappers. Handicapping every race, every day, is a grind, especially when the horses you really like count the same as reluctant top picks. Heading into Sunday’s action, Liam Durbin and I were tied with 104 winners. It’s been a thrill to compete with him, as well as with Sam Hollingsworth, Dan Feiss, and our avian friend, and I hope we all get the chance to do it again next summer.
Last, but certainly not least, I need to thank you, the reader. Whether you bought a copy of The Pink Sheet or visited AndrewChampagne.com, it means the world to me that you read the content I’ve created. That’s a big reason why I look forward to doing this every year, and I sincerely hope I’ve helped you cash a few tickets this meet. We’ve got one more day of racing. Let’s make it a good one!
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Our win bets went 0 for 2, as Beach Front just missed in the second and Bella’s Game wanted no part of two turns in the fifth. We dropped $40.
MONDAY’S PLAY: Since I don’t have a deadline to worry about, I’m focusing on the late Pick Four and looking to go out with a bang. My 50-cent ticket starts in the eighth race and is as follows: ALL with 1 with 1,3,7 with 2,14. #14 SPRING DRAMA is an also-eligible in the last race, so the ticket cost could easily be halved from $33 to $16.50. Additionally, based on her last-out journey, I must bet #2 LADY CAMILLE in the 11th on her own. I’ll put $20 on her to win and hope we get the 5-1 morning line price. For the final bankroll total, check @AndrewChampagne on Twitter at the conclusion of Monday’s card!
TOTAL WAGERED: $53
Best Bet: Voodoo Song, Race 9
Longshot: Princesa Carolina, Race 6
Catch Me If U Can
Fly Away Birdie
#7 CATCH ME IF U CAN: Is one of several contenders exiting a race on July 30th, and this one impressed me the most. He was very green that day, but was gaining ground late after sputtering on the turn. He goes to Steve Asmussen and should improve at second asking; #5 GUMP: Was a one-paced third in that race, but did take a step forward off of his downstate efforts. Irad Ortiz sees fit to ride back, and getting off the rail could help him; #2 FLY AWAY BIRDIE: Drops in for a tag after shipping in from Woodbine. He was a prospect for this barn and was bet to 6/5 in his debut, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock if the drop wakes him up, but this barn’s been ice-cold for the past few weeks.
Class Won (MTO)
#3 ALL CLEAR: Was a competitive second behind a next-out winner in his turf debut back in May and gets Joel Rosario. He’s 8-1 on the morning line, but I’m guessing he’ll drop a bit by the time they load into the gate; #9 FAST GETAWAY: Showed speed against better earlier in the meet before fading to fifth. The yielding turf may not have helped him, and if he channels his two-back form, he’ll certainly be a major player; #11 LA MAQUINA GRIS: Hasn’t won on turf and doesn’t draw particularly well, but his lone recent one-turn turf sprint was a solid second at this level. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him run on late for a piece of it. DIRT SELECTIONS: CLASS WON, COMEONCOMEONCAT, WEGOTTOLDYOUGOTSOLD.
King for a Day
#2 COMPLEXITY: Fetched $375,000 last year at Keeneland and has been working very well ahead of his unveiling. The inside draw isn’t ideal, but he’s a half-brother to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Valadorna and has been working to the pedigree; #7 KING FOR A DAY: Is a half-brother to a stakes winner and is another with some flashy local drills ahead of his debut. The outside draw helps, and the Velazquez/Pletcher tandem certainly merits respect; CALUMET ENTRY: I prefer #1 SOUTHERN PHANTOM, who’s run two OK races to this point. He’ll get plenty of support at the windows for reasons that have nothing to do with his form, but he could certainly run well enough to be a factor.
#4 DEEP SEA: Has won three of five starts since being claimed by Jason Servis, who’s enjoyed a stellar summer. He actually drops in class off of his win at Monmouth, and if he carries that form up I-87, he’ll be the one to beat; #6 FULL SALUTE: Was claimed out of a race against higher-level claimers earlier in the meet by Gary Gullo, who connects at a high rate with new acquisitions. He won’t be alone on the front end, but he should appreciate the class relief; #1 ROCKFORD: Is a stalwart of the NYRA claiming scene and will make his 54th career start in this race. He was a close-up second against similar foes last time out, and Joel Rosario sees fit to ride him back.
#9 KULIN ROCK: Drops in for a tag after chasing allowance foes for most of the year. He’s a one-run closer, and that could benefit him given the abundance of early speed that appears to be signed on; #5 HONEY DONT: Bounced last time out in his first start against winners, but ran a big race two back in his lone effort against claimers. He will likely sit a stalking trip and could get first run on the pace-setters turning for home; #4 DOMINANT STRATEGY: Wired a field of maiden claimers earlier in the meet in a race that doubled as his turf debut. He may be coming around as a runner, but the chances of him sitting a perfect trip and setting a slow early pace aren’t great.
Seek and Destroy
#8 SEEK AND DESTROY: Is bred to be a turf horse, but debuted with a solid effort going seven furlongs on dirt. She’s a half to graded stakes winner Tammy the Torpedo, and she should improve with a start under her belt; #4 PRINCESA CAROLINA: Didn’t do much running in her debut on the main track, but she’s bred up and down for grass. Her dam is multiple Grade 1 winner Pure Clan, who did her best work going long on turf, and there are no quibbles with top sire Tapit; #7 TOY MOON: Has gotten plenty of seasoning, and this will be her sixth start of the season. Her lone turf route race wasn’t bad, and that experience could help her.
#7 BARELY IMPAZIBLE: Was impressive in his debut here last year, but went to the sidelines after that victory. He’s been working well at Monmouth and may have taken a step forward from age two to age three; #6 CHARLIE MCCOY: Exits a live race earlier in the meet, one where he ran second behind a next-out winner and directly ahead of another next-out winner. Manuel Franco returns to the saddle, and getting off the rail could help; #1 DISCREET MISSION: Responded to the sharp drop in class with a romp over a suspect group of claimers. He returns to a level he’s struggled at in the past, but there’s a chance he got some confidence from the recent victory.
#1 SARATOGA COLONEL: Gets a tepid top pick in a wide-open turf route. He exits a decent state-bred allowance race, and his efforts two and three back were both pretty sharp; #3 MAJOR ATTITUDE: Comes back to turf in his first start for Marcus Vitali, whose recent numbers with new acquisitions aren’t the best. However, his numbers over the years have been quite good in that regard, and it’s not like this is the strongest race for the level; #9 FOUR KNIGHTS: Put it all together last time out in his first start off the claim for Joe Sharp. He faces winners for the first time, but this barn may have him going in the right direction.
#1 VOODOO SONG: Is 5 for 5 at Saratoga and became a Grade 1 winner in this year’s Fourstardave. He seems like the lone speed in this race, and between the pace scenario and his back class, he’ll be very tough to beat; #5 INSPECTOR LYNLEY: Hadn’t won in more than a year before he took the Lure Stakes earlier this summer. He’s 2 for 2 at Saratoga and would be the chief beneficiary if another runner in here challenged my top pick early; #2 PROJECTED: Is a consistent sort and runs for the always-dangerous Chad Brown barn. He’s run second behind each of my top two picks in his last two outings.
#7 MUCHO: Put forth one of the most impressive efforts by a 2-year-old this summer when winning by nearly 10 lengths. This barn isn’t necessarily known for his success with young runners, but a repeat of his last-out effort would make him the one to beat; #3 NITROUS: Won a maiden race last time out that featured a pretty solid group. He’s worked well leading up to this race for an outfit that must be respected; #1 SOMBEYAY: Overcame some adversity to take the Grade 3 Sanford in the opening stages of the meet. The rail draw isn’t great given his running style, but he’s yet to run a bad race and should be moving in the right direction late.
#14 SPRING DRAMA: Is strictly the one to beat if she draws in off the AE list. She’s run well against maiden special weight foes in the past, and this certainly seems like a much softer group; #2 LADY CAMILLE: Was third when favored at this level, but she did not have a great trip that day. The added distance is a bit of a concern, but I’m betting that she sits a cleaner trip beneath new rider Manuel Franco; #10 GRAND BANKS: Is 0 for 21 lifetime and has run second in three of her last four outings. She’s impossible to endorse on top, but her usual race likely gets her a piece of the meet finale.