This section did not make it into the Opening Day edition of The Pink Sheet due to a print error, so some of this will be a rehash. For those of you seeing this section for the first time, I get a mythical $1,000 bankroll to bet any way I wish from now through Labor Day. I’ll also be using this space to expound on relevant matters, so if you have a question, comment, or concern, tweet it to me at @AndrewChampagne.
Also, two reminders: All of my content (picks, analysis, and bankroll plays/blurbs) is available online at AndrewChampagne.com, and all plays in the bankroll section involving turf races assume they stay on the grass. If they get rained off the turf, all plays in those races are voided.
THURSDAY’S RESULTS: Gosilently got to the lead but tired badly to finish off the board. As such, we dropped $20.
FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the early Pick Four, which starts in the second race and ends with my best bet of the day. I’ll play it for a dollar, and the ticket reads as follows: 2,5,6 with 3,5 with 3,8,9 with 4. I’ll also play $4 doubles starting in the fourth using the horses in the last two legs of my Pick Four play (which ensures action in case we’re rained off the turf).
TOTAL WAGERED: $30
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BEST BET: Lotta Ott, Race 5
LONGSHOT: Freudycatfever, Race 10
#8 OSO NEGRO: Takes a giant drop in class for powerhouse connections after burning a fair amount of money in two starts against straight maidens. It’s tough not to see this as an alarming drop, but he boasts the highest last-out Beyer Speed Figure by a clear margin; #2 LEGION STORM: Was a decent second in an off-the-turf event last time out. He was third going two turns (albeit on turf) earlier this year, and Saez returning to ride is a plus; #3 DERBY MEMORIES: Almost certainly needed his last start, which came off a layoff of nearly two years. The recent local workout indicates he’s ready to fire a bigger shot here.
Daddy Knows (MTO)
Worth a Shot
#2 WORTH A SHOT: Stretches out to two turns off a near-miss at Belmont, and his pedigree hints that two turns should not be an issue. He’s got plenty of early zip, which is always an asset on the inner turf course, and a step forward from the last-out effort would make him tough; #5 JIMMY JAZZ: Was beaten only a neck last time out despite a wide trip and a seven-pound weight gap. He beat the third-place finisher by three lengths that day, and he’s shown he can run well at this distance; #6 CRAZY LIFE: Ran pretty well when third in his first start since August. Several of that day’s rivals show up here, but this is the one that seems most eligible to improve off of that event. DIRT SELECTION: DADDY KNOWS.
Viva Forever (MTO)
#3 COMPLICIT: Hasn’t run since October, but has fired every time out and won off of a similar-length layoff last year. There should be plenty of pace in here to set up for her late-running style; #5 FERDINANDA: Hasn’t finished worse than second in her last six starts and is another that will be running well late. She’s been working well downstate and was second in a similar spot here last summer; #4 DREAM PASSAGE: Has won two in a row over yielding going at Belmont and will almost certainly be involved early. She likely won’t be alone up front, though, and the two-turn trip is a question mark. DIRT SELECTIONS: VIVA FOREVER, BROMAN ENTRY, TANYA’S GEM.
Soul P Say
#9 BIG MUDDY: Gets a tepid nod in one of the toughest $12,500 claiming races you’ll ever see. He’s won four of his last seven starts, the most recent of which came last time out downstate, and this barn has been firing on all cylinders this year; #8 LORD SIMBA: Took a step forward last time out in his first start for trainer Eddie Kenneally, when he won for the first time since the 2017 Los Angeles at Santa Anita. It’s tough to imagine a return to his 2017 form, but he could be coming around a bit for a very capable barn; #3 SOUL P SAY: Drops more than 50% in claiming price off of his last race and merits plenty of respect off of his back form. Given the large purse, there’s a chance this isn’t a panicky drop, although it’s jarring to see a $32,000 claim come back for $12,500.
#4 LOTTA OTT: Has turned heads in the mornings at Keeneland ahead of her unveiling. The gate work on June 26th jumps off the page, and this filly bred by former NYRA jockey Jose Espinoza sure looks like a runner; #2 GOOD SHABBOS: Has an experience edge on most of this group, having just missed last month at Monmouth. I’m not sure what she faced that day, but they ran pretty quickly that day, and this barn knows how to win with 2-year-olds; #1 APURATE: Draws the rail for the Pletcher/Velazquez duo and has a few solid drills over the training track. She’s logical, but the rail is a tough spot for a debuting runner to win from, and the pedigree screams turf, not dirt.
Repole entry (MTO)
#7 KEEP QUIET: Has had a productive 2019 campaign to date and makes his first start for Steve Asmussen. He’s run well here in the past, and while this isn’t an easy spot, he strikes me as the one to beat; #12 APPLICATOR: Has won three of his last five and may well have been my top pick with a better post. As it stands now, he’ll have to overcome a very wide draw in his first start for Linda Rice, but he may just have the talent to do it; #11 HAY DAKOTA: Is another that didn’t have any luck at the draw, but he ran a big race to win at this level last time out at Churchill. Any speed duel would certainly work to this closer’s advantage. DIRT SELECTIONS: REPOLE ENTRY, HEAVY ROLLER, SUPER DUDE.
Saloon Girl (MTO)
#9 FILLY DILLY: Romped in her debut, which came in an off-the-turf race last month at Belmont. Her pedigree says she wants grass, and any improvement in her second start would make her a formidable foe; #6 NOBLE JEWEL: Also makes her second start after springing an upset in a turf sprint downstate. That race didn’t have the best field, but she finished very quickly and Joel Rosario retains the mount; #1 SHORT POUR: Merits a look in the exotics at a price. She rallied to be beaten just two lengths in her 2019 debut, and I think she’s eligible to improve second off the bench. DIRT SELECTIONS: FILLY DILLY, SALOON GIRL, LEM ME HAVE IT.
#6 DOUPS POINT: Has six top-two finishes in seven lifetime starts and certainly seems like the one to beat. He was second despite a bad break last time out, and two turns shouldn’t be an issue; #2 DREAMZAPPER: Has taken a big leap forward as a 4-year-old, and has run three solid route races coming into this event. His tactical speed is a plus, and that could mean a perfect stalking trip; #3 BIG GEMMY: Has won two in a row for Linda Rice, albeit against weaker competition. I’m not crazy about him being entered for a tag, but he appears to be in good form and he did break his maiden over this surface back in 2017.
March to the Arch
#7 VOODOO SONG: Gets my top pick in the Forbidden Apple as arguably Saratoga’s most notable “horse for course” since Fourstardave. He’s won five of six starts over this turf course, and he should be prominent early in a race that seems pretty light on early speed (outside of #1 GIDU); #5 MARCH TO THE ARCH: Rallied to win the Grade 2 Wise Dan last month at Churchill and seems to be in career-best form. His chances would improve significantly with a speed duel, although I think he may truly want a bit more ground; #4 OFFERING PLAN: Hasn’t finished out of the money in nearly two years, although many of his races have come against state-breds. He’s won twice over this turf course, and his best effort would make him a contender in this spot.
Happy Sophia (MTO)
#6 LINDA’S BALLET: Gets back on turf and takes a big drop in class for a trainer who has had lots of success with similar stock. Repeats of her efforts two or three back would make her very tough to beat; #1 FREUDYCATFEVER: Missed the break in her debut against straight maidens and is certainly eligible to improve at second asking against a weaker group. If Noble Jewel (who won that June 7th event) runs well in the seventh, it bodes well for this one’s chances; #5 ABBY NORMAL: Has closed well in two of her prior turf tries, most recently earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure last month at Belmont. She should be moving well late at a fair price. DIRT SELECTIONS: HAPPY SOPHIA, SCARLET’S COMMAND, ABBY NORMAL.