Social media was in an uproar over the weekend due to events that transpired before Saturday’s Alabama. Jockeys made entrances akin to professional wrestling, complete with a smoke machine, and many people lost their minds.
I honestly have no opinion on this whole thing. If it doesn’t spook the horses and jockeys haven’t been strong-armed into it, whatever. What I find curious is the alarming number of people complaining about the smoke machine when their real complaint is not getting a smoke machine and/or entrance music for themselves.
(P.S.: Next week, when I come to Saratoga, I expect a valet following me around with one of these machines, as well as a Bluetooth sound speaker blasting The Ultimate Warrior’s theme music on a loop. If NYRA cannot provide such accommodations, I will need to force Pink Sheet editor Stan Hudy into service.)
WEEKEND ACTION: It’s been a while since we’ve had a total in here due to an incredibly busy weekend at my day job. We dropped $30 on Friday, but had no action Saturday and Sunday due to late surface switches. Remember, all bets involving turf races assume those events stay on the grass.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the sixth race, where I really like the 9/2 third choice. That’s #7 FLUTE MAKER, who stretches out in his second start for Ken McPeek. I’ll put $10 on him to win, and I’ll single him in doubles beginning in the fifth and sixth races. My $10 double starting in the fifth singles #7 JEWEL OF ARABIA, and $5 doubles ending in the seventh use #2 AUTOSTRADE, #4 AIR ON FIRE, and #6 KEEPING THE PEACE.
TOTAL WAGERED: $35
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BEST BET: Jewel of Arabia, Race 5
LONGSHOT: Morissette, Race 8
#5 SPORTSWEAR: Is 2-for-2 since switching to steeplechase racing and tries stakes company for the first time. Any jump horse hailing from this barn merits respect, and he’s done nothing wrong this season; #3 CITE: Won here earlier in the meet and adds blinkers for this event. He ran well on the flat earlier in his career, so he may simply be a “horse for course;” #7 CHIEF JUSTICE: Was a close-up fourth in his American Debut, which came off of pretty short rest given the journey from Europe. That day’s third-place finisher came back to win a Grade 1 here earlier this summer.
Smooth With a Kick
South of the Shore
#5 SMOOTH WITH A KICK: Put it all together last time out in her first effort going two turns. This is the route she’s been bred for all along, and she seems to be coming to hand late in her 3-year-old year; #1 SOUTH OF THE SHORE: Chased Grade 1 winner Dunbar Road home at Belmont and completes a strong 1-2 punch for trainer Chad Brown. She’s never finished out of the exacta in five career starts; #4 TEAM WIN: Won an off-the-turf event earlier in the meet and may be figuring things out. That was her second win in a row, and Todd Pletcher’s as good as anyone at keeping horses on the right track.
#4 REJECTED AGAIN: Was a close-up second in his debut, which came against similar-level company. Irad Ortiz hops aboard, and a repeat of his last-out effort would make him tough; #7 SHACKLEFORD’S JOY: Didn’t do much running in his debut, but adds Lasix and drops in class. This Hall of Fame barn popped at a price with a second-time starter last week; #6 BYCHANCE: Hails from a low-percentage outfit but comes in off of two straight bullet workouts. He’s bred to be a runner and could grab a piece of it at a price.
#4 PILLAR MOUNTAIN: Has won two in a row and prevailed here last month in impressive fashion. He’s shown a bit of tactical speed in the past, and he may need it given the lack of early zip elsewhere in the field; #5 RED KNIGHT: Was very wide in the Grade 2 Bowling Green last time out and drops in class a bit for this event. He’s won going very long before, and he owns a win over this turf course, too; #6 NAKAMURA: Has won three in a row and gets wheeled back on short rest for a barn that doesn’t often do that. He runs like he’ll enjoy this marathon journey, and this outfit has heated up of late.
Jewel of Arabia
#7 JEWEL OF ARABIA: Got some black type when third in a stakes race in her debut. She’s the only runner in the body of the field with any experience, and she figures to be a very, very short price; #2 SOPHIE RULES: Debuts for a solid first-out barn and comes in off of a bullet work downstate. Her pedigree isn’t anything to write home about, but she may be precocious; #6 BE MAGIC: Has some solid drills at Belmont ahead of a debut for a barn that has won with similar debuting runners in previous Spa seasons. Junior Alvarado gets the mount, and trainer/jockey numbers are very strong.
Legend of Bam
#7 FLUTE MAKER: Makes his second start for a barn whose horses often need a race to get going. He’s bred to love this distance (his second dam is multiple Grade 1 winner Flute), and his 304 turf Tomlinson number implies he’ll like the lawn; #1 SMITE: Ran pretty well when fourth in his debut going shorter earlier this summer. He stretches out to two turns and makes sense, but this hits me as a bit longer than he may want to go; #4 LEGEND OF BAM: Is bred to want distance and could be a factor. There are some solid drills in his work tab, and the presence of Irad Ortiz, Jr., inspires some confidence.
Air on Fire
Keeping the Peace
#4 AIR ON FIRE: Was second to a well-meant runner earlier this meet. He was claimed by Linda Rice that day, and he could sit a perfect stalking trip in this spot; #6 KEEPING THE PEACE: Has won twice already this meet and gets wheeled back quickly for aggressive connections. If he goes here, he’ll be dangerous and could easily win his fourth race in a row; #2 AUTOSTRADE: Has run well at this distance in the past and comes back to his preferred surface after two failed outings on turf. He should be running well late and would benefit from a fast early pace.
#8 MORISSETTE: Was fairly close to a swift early pace against better horses earlier in the meet. Joel Rosario hops aboard, and you oughta know that she prevailed against similar-level opposition two back at Monmouth; #5 GOLCONDA: Drops in class after running third at Monmouth in her first start for Jason Servis. Her prior connections thought enough of her to run her in tough spots, and if she realizes that potential, she’ll be tough; #12 MERLINS MUSE: Will have to work out a trip from a dreadful post, but drops in class a bit and has back form. She’s won at this route before and gets the services of Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez.
Our Last Buck
#8 SIX PERCENT: Comes back to dirt after a failed turf experiment against stakes foes. His win two back was quite good, and the recent bullet work implies that he’s in good form ahead of a very tough race to handicap; #3 OUR LAST BUCK: Had a rough trip in a turf sprint earlier this meet, which doubled as his first start since February. He should improve second off the bench for a barn that’s due to turn second and third-place finishes into wins; #6 LEAKY CUP: Ships up from Florida and tries state-bred competition for the first time. He’s shown a lot of early speed in several tries down there, and he could dictate terms early on at a price.
Saloon Girl (MTO)
#8 MATZO BELLA: Comes back to turf and looks like a strong favorite in the Wednesday finale. She just missed against allowance foes two back at Belmont, and she ran well at this route when third in her debut a season ago; #4 AVOCADO TOAST: Was a sharp second against similar earlier this meet and makes her first start for a new barn. Luis Saez sees fit to ride, and she could improve given a much-improved post position here; #12 SOMETHING JOYFUL: Drops in for a tag for the first time and could appreciate the class relief, despite the far-outside draw. Her best race would give her a shot, although the post is definitely a red flag.