One of the perks of my full-time job at the marketing department of a chiropractic college is the ability to receive adjustments from upperclassmen at the on-campus health clinic. My intern got back from a trip to Australia and New Zealand to adjust me for the first time in a few weeks, and he asked me if there were any additional sources of stress in my life.
I thought to myself, “I’m in constant pursuit of Liam Durbin, I’m 0-for-4 in my bankroll section, and I’m repeatedly trying to prove certain people wrong by thriving when they’d rather I fail.” Instead, I simply said, “I’m doing a lot more writing about horse racing at Saratoga this summer.”
I was in no hurry to talk his ear off about my passion, so I didn’t go into much depth. Regardless of whether he initially thought I was being forthcoming or not, though, I think he got the idea when he adjusted my neck and every bone from my skull to my shoulder blades breathed a collective sigh of relief.
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Right idea, wrong horse. A closer did indeed win the seventh, but it wasn’t Zonic (third) or Cerretalto (fourth), so my exacta tickets went up in smoke.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I love the 2-year-old races on today’s card, and my action will focus on the fifth. My longshot of the day is #6 PROJECT WHISKEY, and I’ll keep things simple with a $10 win/place bet.
TOTAL WAGERED: $20.
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BEST BET: Talk Veuve to Me, Race 9
LONGSHOT: Project Whiskey, Race 5
#3 MARKHAN: Has won three in a row and is undefeated since coming to North America. He seems to be in career form right now, and he looms large as the one to beat in the first steeplechase of the meet; #5 RENOWN: Tossed his rider last time out, but has a solid body of work. Prior to becoming a solid steeplechase horse, he was stakes-placed on the flat and ran third in last year’s John’s Call; #6 WHITMAN’S POETRY: Always seems to fire, but is winless in his last eight starts. He can’t be ignored underneath, but he’s tough to trust on top.
#3 MISSION WRAPITUP: Crushed a field of fellow maidens in his debut and comes in off a very sharp work over this surface. A repeat of his prior race would make him tough in a race named after one of the sport’s good guys; #2 LISTENTOYOURHEART: Led every step of the way in his unveiling and seems like the main speed in here. He boasts the best last-out Beyer Speed Figure in the race and certainly merits respect; #4 SKY OF HOOK: Rallied to win his debut at a price back in May, and in doing so overcame a rough start. He may have learned something from that experience, and it’s encouraging that Luis Saez rides back.
Pete’s Play Call (MTO)
#9 FULLY VESTED: Took to turf pretty well when second at Monmouth despite a horrible post. He should step forward in his second start off the bench, and he’s displayed plenty of off-track form in the past (which could come in handy here); #7 DISCRETIONARY MARQ: Has come to hand of late, having won four of his last six starts. He came off a long layoff to wire a field at Belmont, and he figures to be prominent early; #4 PAGLIACCI: Topped a field of claimers last time out and makes his first start for new trainer Linda Rice. He could sit a perfect stalking trip here, although the jump up in class is an obstacle. DIRT SELECTIONS: FULLY VESTED, PETE’S PLAY CALL, STORM ADVISORY.
Flat Rate (MTO)
#12 TRICKY MAGICIAN: Drew terribly for this wide-open event, but does drop in class and should appreciate the two-turn route of ground. Irad Ortiz, Jr., will have his work cut out for him, but this one has hinted at plenty of talent in the past; #3 SEANOW: Broke his maiden here last year and defeated a similar-quality field two back at Belmont. He figures to be the main speed, and he could be dangerous if he’s left alone on the lead; #2 HOPE AGAIN: Rallied to defeat a much weaker group last time out at Monmouth. He’s never missed the board in five career starts and should be moving in the right direction late.
Ain’t None Lucky
#6 PROJECT WHISKEY: Comes in from Parx, and it’s always encouraging when an out-of-town trainer brings a jockey in to ride. She’s worked well, and her dam is a half-sister to Ready’s Image, who won a Grade 2 and was second in the Grade 1 Hopeful; #3 MYAWAYA: Goes out for the tandem of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez and comes in off a big work here last week. Her dam is a half to Grade 2 winner Sharp Humor, and she makes a lot of sense; #2 AIN’T NONE LUCKY: Blew the start in her debut at Laurel, but rallied to finish third behind a talented filly. She could move forward here, and her pedigree says she’d move up over a wet track.
#5 MATZO BELLA: Drops in for a tag after just missing in an allowance event downstate. She’ll likely be flying late, and she hasn’t run a bad race since being claimed by Jason Servis; #2 AVOCADO TOAST: Got nailed at the wire in her first start since February last month. That race came at this level, and she draws favorably in this event; #3 TIPLE: Put it all together last time out in the maiden claiming ranks, where she rallied from way back against a suspect group. She may be putting things together, and this barn is dangerous in turf sprints.
#9 BORDER TOWN: Is one of two in here trained by Chad Brown, and gets my tepid nod in a tough race. He’s been working consistently and is bred to be a good one; #6 GOOD GOVERNANCE: Will likely be favored judging by the morning line and is bred to be a good one. However, there’s a big gap in his works in June, and debuting at two turns isn’t an easy task; #7 EMBELLISHER: Was third in a swiftly-run maiden race at Ellis Park on Independence Day. Speed is dangerous on the inner turf, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he got a perfect trip. DIRT SELECTIONS: AZRAEL, OFF THE RECORD, CORCORAN.
#6 MAIDEN BEAUTY: Showed a new dimension when wiring a field of state-breds last month at Belmont. Most importantly, she loves wet tracks, and she may see such a surface in this spot; #5 MISS MARCELA: Comes back to the dirt in her second start for Phil Serpe and merits respect. She won a stakes race earlier this year at Gulfstream and is a contender if she gets back to that form; #3 DOVEY LOVEY: Cuts back in distance and looks a lot better if you draw lines through her route races. She’s run well over a wet track and was third in the Ruthless at Aqueduct this past January.
Talk Veuve to Me
#6 TALK VEUVE TO ME: Drops down to the allowance ranks after misfiring in Grade 1 company. Simply put, her best race would thump these, and anything close would still make her very tough; #5 HONOR WAY: Rallied to prevail at Belmont last month and always seems to fire a good shot. Linda Rice has gotten off to a great start this meet, and Jose Ortiz rides back; #2 CARRERA CAT: Has reeled off four wins in a row and gets a major class test. She’ll be flying early; the question is, can she withstand pressure from the likely favorite?
Light in the Sky
Colts Neck entry
#4 LIGHT IN THE SKY: Is bred to be a good one and debuts for the Rice barn. Her dam was a stakes-winner, and she’s already thrown six winners (including 2-year-old stakes-winner Iron Mizz); COLTS NECK ENTRY: #1 STRONGERTHANUKNOW showed speed in her debut, but I prefer #1A SILKY BLUE, who needs some luck to draw in. She fetched $220,000 at auction and is bred to be a strong turf horse; #9 VIOLENT POINT: Was a distant third when favored in her unveiling at Belmont, but she pressed a very fast pace that day and is certainly eligible to improve here.