There are a ton of jobs on the front side of a racetrack that I would really enjoy. Racing Secretary is not one of them. Everyone lines up to bash the racing office when a card isn’t to their liking, and rarely are they praised for doing the dirty work necessary to fill fields in tough environments.
I don’t envy the position the office has been in ahead of certain graded stakes races. For instance, Friday’s Lake George drew a six-horse field. Three of the entrants are trained by Chad Brown, and two are trained by Wesley Ward. When the balance of power in certain divisions is tilted so heavily to a few particular barns, it creates a tricky situation.
Is it ideal, from the perspective of a racing fan, to have horses in those divisions running less because of who trains them? Of course not. Are racing offices to blame for that? No. Keep this in mind the next time you’re tempted to complain about short fields. In these instances, don’t rush to blame tracks or track management. There are other situations I’ll address where they get shorter leashes, but on this, I give them a pass.
THURSDAY’S RESULTS: The fifth race was taken off the turf, so our Pick Four play was cancelled.
FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’ll dive right back into the early Pick Four, which starts in the second race. My 50-cent ticket is as follows: 3,6,7 with 5,7,10 with 1,3 with 2,6. Additionally, I’ll play $3 doubles starting in the third race that use #5 DOLL and #7 PLINK FREUD with #1 JAVELIN and #3 SHAREHOLDER VALUE in the fourth.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30
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BEST BET: Bourbon Mission, Race 1
LONGSHOT: Cape Angel, Race 7
#5 BOURBON MISSION: Drops in for a tag for the first time and catches what seems like a weaker-than-average group for the level. Pletcher does well with similar droppers, and he seems like the one to beat; #6 LORCAN: Just missed last time out, and has been gelded since that event. He tries two turns for the first time, but he has a right to handle such a journey being by Mineshaft; #3 LEGION STORM: Makes his first start off the claim by Rob Atras, whose barn has been going very well. He’s 0-for-11, but does have a right to improve in new surroundings.
Destiny Over Fate
#6 CARRIZO: Drops in class first off the claim for an astute barn that’s off to a strong start to the meet. If she brings her Churchill form to Saratoga, she’s going to be a formidable favorite; #3 FIRST FOREVER: Has hit the board in each of her last five starts, two of which were winning efforts. She goes from one strong conditioner to another and could sit a perfect stalking trip; #7 DESTINY OVER FATE: Has been aggressively spotted and may have found the right level. She splashed home to a win in the slop two back and could benefit from the outside draw.
Blame It On Mom (MTO)
#7 PLINK FREUD: Comes back to the maiden ranks after a failed try in a stakes race last month. Her race two back was very good, and her debut effort at this route last summer wasn’t bad; #5 DOLL: Has shown ample speed in two prior starts and tries turf for the first time. The surface is an unknown, but based on Beyer Speed Figures, she’s probably the one to beat; #10 TATTERAZZI: Doesn’t draw particularly well in her debut, but she’s bred up and down for turf and comes in off of a few solid workouts. She’s got a shot to hit the board at a price. DIRT SELECTIONS: DOLL, BLAME IT ON MOM, NASTY AFFAIR.
#1 JAVELIN: Just missed against similar-level foes downstate, but gets back to his favorite distance at a track he’s won at before. The rail draw isn’t ideal, but there should be plenty of speed here to set up for his late kick; #3 SHAREHOLDER VALUE: Benefited from a perfect trip last time out, when he earned a big Beyer in romping over weaker opposition. A similar effort would make him tough, but this seems like a tougher spot; #7 BOLITA BOYZ: Figures to be running well late and gets the services of Irad Ortiz, Jr. The faster they go early, the more this one figures to like it.
#6 FINITE: Fetched $200,000 at auction and is bred to be a runner. Her dam is a full sister to graded stakes-winner Tapiture, and she’s been working well ahead of her unveiling; #2 KIAWAH SUNSET: Ran well in her debut and was probably the victim of a horrible post in her last start. Dirt is a bit of an unknown, but a repeat of her debut effort gives her a shot at a bit of a price; #8 SWEET KISSES: Chased the eventual Schuylerville runner-up in her debut last month and seems to have bounced out of that race well. She’ll likely be on the lead early, which could make her dangerous.
Soul Fight (MTO)
Clear for Action
#7 CLEAR FOR ACTION: Has won three of his last four starts and steps up in class for a barn that can move horses up off the claim. He has tactical speed, but doesn’t necessarily need the lead to run well; #11 CROSS BORDER: Ran well off of a long layoff last time out and stretches out to two turns. This may be a hair further than he wants to go, but his comeback race was very encouraging; #1 TACTICAL PURSUIT: Has won two of his last three starts and has back class to spare. He hasn’t run on turf in a while, but he’s won over the surface before and merits a look in the exotics. DIRT SELECTIONS: SOUL FIGHT, TACTICAL PURSUIT, HE IZ GONE.
Turco Bravo (MTO)
#9 PILLAR MOUNTAIN: Rallied from way back to prevail at this distance last time out. He was a solid second at this route last summer and seems to have moved forward since then; #2 CAPE ANGEL: Has back races that would make him a contender in this spot. He won here twice last summer and is eligible to fire a big shot second off the bench; #10 CRACKSPEED: Wired the field going long last time out at Belmont and seems like this race’s main speed. That running style can be dangerous in these turf marathons, especially for capable connections like these. DIRT SELECTIONS: TURCO BRAVO, CRACKSPEED, MIDNIGHT TEA TIME.
He Hate Me
#2 ENGAGE: Makes his 2019 debut and has been working well ahead of his first start in 10 months. He tried deep waters last year, and if he’s ready to run, he’ll be very tough to fend off; #1 SEVEN TRUMPETS: Was campaigned aggressively a season ago, but hit his stride around one turn in the summer and fall months. Six furlongs may be a hair short for him, and the layoff and rail draw are both concerns, but he’s fired three straight bullets ahead of this event; #6 HE HATE ME: Was edged by a talented sprinter last month at Churchill and would benefit from fast early fractions. His work over the Oklahoma track on July 13th was very good, and he could conceivably rally for a piece of it.
The Mackem Bullet
#7 BLOWOUT: Has yet to run a bad race, with two wins and two seconds in four career starts. She was beaten just a half-length by the ultra-talented Concrete Rose back in March, and she’s improved with every start; #2 THE MACKEM BULLET: Has won two of three since going to the Wesley Ward barn and was Group 1-placed in Europe. Her win in the Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland was very good, and we may get an overlaid price given the trio of Chad Brown trainees she’ll line up against; #4 DOGTAG: Came back running in an ungraded stakes race at Pimlico in May and returns to the graded ranks here. She won the P.G. Johnson here a season ago and figures to be running well late.
#6 RANGER UP: Takes the biggest drop in racing, from a maiden special weight to a maiden claimer, and looms large for powerhouse connections. Based on company kept and Beyer numbers, he’s strictly the one to beat; #5 FINAL SAY: Could very well comprise half of a Todd Pletcher-trained exacta in the Friday finale. He was second in his first start for a tag last time out and may appreciate two turns given his running style; #4 SUPER SILVER: Ran fairly well two back when third against similar foes at Churchill. A return to dirt could help him, and he’ll likely be a pretty big price.