SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/26/19)



Earlier this week, The Daily Racing Form reported that trainer Marcus Vitali was suspended for one year by officials at Delaware Park, and that he allegedly confiscated a package of suspected contraband. Shortly after the initial story broke, The Paulick Report added more details, reporting that Vitali dashed out of the room and somehow evaded security personnel.

I’m all for due process, especially in a sport where percentages of medications are measured in picograms and nanograms. Having said that, if this story is proven true, many racing jurisdictions have a lot of explaining to do regarding Vitali’s ability to have stalls and enter horses. Trainers who cheat give the ones who don’t a bad name, and at a time when racing is constantly under a microscope, shouldn’t we be doing all we can to clean up the sport?

NYRA has already shown an ability to bar trainers from running horses at Saratoga. I sincerely hope those in power do their due diligence and, if these details prove accurate, take appropriate action.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS: Ratajkowski settled for second, which turned doubles and Pick Threes into losing wagers. We dropped $30.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to take a stand against #3 COUNTENANCE in the opener. 3/5 just seems way too short. I’ll use #2 HANDLE WITH CARE, #5 G. T. SONIA, and #7 KNOW POINT GIVEN in $3 doubles that end with the #1/1A/1X entry and #8 ASSAULT BREAKER.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Queen of Beas, Race 4
LONGSHOT: Know Point Given, Race 1


Handle With Care
G. T. Sonia
Know Point Given

#2 HANDLE WITH CARE: Has run second in consecutive starts since coming back to the dirt. The cutback in distance to seven furlongs should suit her, and if you’re taking a stab against the likely favorite (as I am), she seems like a logical alternative; #5 G. T. SONIA: Returns to dirt and drops down in class for this event. A repeat of her race three back, when she ran second for a $30,000 tag, would put her right there; #7 KNOW POINT GIVEN: Is tough to endorse on top given her 0-for-19 career mark, but her recent form looks slightly sharper if you toss the wet-track races. Her two-back effort, when she was second against similar, was fine.


Assault Breaker
Repole entry
Victory Built

#8 ASSAULT BREAKER: Ran well when second in his debut on dirt and goes to turf, which he’s bred to love. He holds an experience edge over most of these and seems like a formidable favorite; REPOLE ENTRY: I most prefer #1A MO READY, who flopped at 2/5 odds in his debut but is bred to like the lawn. If this race somehow gets rained off the turf, #1 MICROSECOND may be tough; #7 VICTORY BUILT: Is an intriguing price in his debut. He fetched $40,000 at auction earlier this year despite a pretty modest pedigree, and his 290 turf Tomlinson figure is above average.


Missle Bomb (MTO)
I Can Do Anything
Bourbon in May

#6 I CAN DO ANYTHING: Was third in his first start against winners despite a far outside post last time out at Churchill Downs. He draws much better here and looks very tough; #8 BOURBON IN MAY: Makes his first start since January, when he was beaten three lengths in a stakes race at Gulfstream Park. His two-back maiden win was sharp, and he may have matured in his time off; #4 ALL SYSTEMS GO: Showed speed in a swiftly-run event downstate and figures to be prominent early on. The slight cutback in distance could help him here.


Queen of Beas
Held Accountable

#1 QUEEN OF BEAS: Exits the Grade 1 Acorn, where she chased the likes of Guarana and Serengeti Empress. She tries two turns for the first time, but comes up against what seems like a soft field for the level; #5 HELD ACCOUNTABLE: Has not run since December, but won two in a row late last year and may be capable on her best day. She’s worked well of late and may be a price; #3 NONSENSICAL: Exits a distant third-place finish in a minor stakes race at Delaware Park. She took advantage of a perfect trip two back at Belmont, and she may be on or near a reasonable pace early on.


Tiz R Bella
Elizabeth Nicole
Wildcat Belle

#9 TIZ R BELLA: Has won two in a row coming into this race and may have simply been a dirt horse all along. The outside post should be a big help, and she’ll loom large if her Belmont form travels with her; #2 ELIZABETH NICOLE: Took a step forward for new connections last time out at Belmont and returns to her favorite track here. Carmouche rides back and figures to have her running hard out of the gate; #6 WILDCAT BELLE: Beat a number of these foes last time out at Belmont and seems to be an upward trajectory in form. Her best race is certainly good enough to win.


Balon Rose
Ocean Fire

#9 BALON ROSE: Fetched $1.6 million at auction back in 2017 and was second in her debut earlier this year. She’s bred up and down for this distance and has every right to improve at second asking; #7 OCEAN FIRE: Made a strong middle move in her unveiling last month before flattening out late and fading to third. She’s another that should enjoy the added distance she gets in her second career start; #2 MONHEGAN: Has made a habit out of collecting minor checks in similar turf routes. She seems well-positioned to do that here as well given her stalking style and experience edge on most of her opponents.


Righteous Ruby
It Was Considered

#7 RIGHTEOUS RUBY: Has won two in a row and makes her first start for Danny Gargan, one of the best in the game with new acquisitions. This is a bit of a class test, but she’s in form and this barn must be respected; #5 IT WAS CONSIDERED: Was third behind my top pick last time out, but she may have needed that race coming off of a long layoff. She’s run well at this distance before and could be primed for an improved performance; #6 SLIMEY: Pulled off a 15-1 upset earlier in the meet when she rallied from far back in the slop. The faster they go early, the better her chances figure to be.


Show Prince (MTO)
New York’s Finest
Dowse’s Beach

#6 NEW YORK’S FINEST: Has four wins in five local starts and merits respect on the drop in class. We figure to know his chances right out of the gate; if he breaks well, he’ll be tough, and if he doesn’t, well…; #4 DOWSE’S BEACH: Is another that has had a lot of success here, having won four of seven starts in upstate New York. Irad Ortiz, Jr., gets back aboard, and he piloted this gelding to three straight scores late last year; #8 BANANA THIEF: Won at this route a season ago and figures to be doing his best running late. He’s been competitive at this level in the past and would benefit from a speed duel.


Looking At Bikinis
Highest Honors

#3 LOOKING AT BIKINIS: Comes into the Curlin undefeated in two starts, having most recently topped a solid allowance group downstate. The recent work jumps off the page, and two turns should not be an issue; #7 ENDORSED: Came off the bench running last time out, winning a six-furlong allowance at Belmont in his first start since flopping in the Grade 1 Champagne. He’s bred to love this route, and he graduated at first asking here last summer; #8 HIGHEST HONORS: Won a swiftly-run maiden race last time out, and the runner-up has since come back to graduate as well. He completes a powerful 1-2 punch for trainer Chad Brown.


Later Cat (MTO)
Awesome Adversary
Prince Halo

#5 AWESOME ADVERSARY: Was second in a similar spot last time out, and this seems like a “now or never” spot for this 15-start maiden. He’s taken a step forward since being switched to the turf, and gets my nod in a challenging race to handicap; #8 PRINCE HALO: Was fifth in the race my top pick exits and tries two turns on grass for the first time. He’s got the running style to appreciate this route, and Luis Saez signing on is a plus; #9 THE GRAND CANAL: Was beaten just a length at Belmont last time and came running late despite a wide trip. This draw is another one that’s less than ideal, but two turns could be what he’s looking for.

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