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FRIDAY’S RESULTS: My Pick Five play was rendered null and void by the surface switch in the finale. Remember: Wagers given in this space assume turf races are run on that surface.
SATURDAY’S PLAY: Once again, I have a reasonably-priced Pick Five ticket, so I have to take a swing at it even though I usually don’t play those tickets. This time, I’ll go after the early sequence. My 50-cent ticket starting in the opener reads as follows: 3,5,6 with 1 with 7 with 2,5,6 with ALL. I’m banking on getting two prices home in the final two races of the sequence, which we’ll need to provide value if my two short-priced singles are the goods.
TOTAL WAGERED: $31.50
Best Bet: Yaupon, Race 7
Longshot: Me ’n Sap, Race 11
#3 MO MISCHIEF: Fetched $500,000 earlier this year and has every right to be a good one. He’s by top sire Into Mischief, hails from the barn of Todd Pletcher, and boasts a series of strong gate drills ahead of his unveiling in the Saturday lid-lifter; #5 HOLLAND: Didn’t do much running first time out at Churchill, but he didn’t have a great start and perhaps he needed a race. Improvement is logical at second asking for strong connections; #6 REPO ROCKS: Has been working very quickly for Bill Mott, who isn’t known for having horses fully-cranked first time out. History says he might need a race, but if the early money is in, watch out.
#1 MR. KRINGLE: Has been running against far better competition and looms large in this spot, assuming it stays on turf. He was last seen chasing multiple stakes-winner Decorated Invader in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge, and anything close to his third-place effort that day will make him tough; #7 ZIPALONG: Took to turf routing like a duck to water with an easy score downstate against maiden claimers. This is a much tougher spot, but it’s entirely possible he’s doing what he’s wanted all along; #4 BATTALION: Beat maiden claimers last time out at Gulfstream and figures to be prominent early. John Velazquez hops aboard and could have him in a strong position going into the far turn.
Money Moves (MTO)
#7 DECORATED INVADER: Is a logical favorite off of four wins in his last five starts. He strolled home in the Pennine Ridge, and he’ll likely be a similarly-short price here against what looks like an overmatched group; #5 GUFO: Gets a class test after four wins in a row, including one in the Grade 3 Kent at Delaware Park. Beyer-wise, he’s not far behind his stablemate, and the Clement barn certainly holds a powerful hand here; #6 EVER DANGEROUS: Might be a pace play in here given the likely race shape. There isn’t much gate speed signed on, and this one could inherit the early lead by default at a price.
Lady by Choice
Jump for Joy
#2 LADY BY CHOICE: Goes second off the layoff and first off the claim for Mike Maker here and hasn’t run a poor race in more than a year. Her tactical speed is a plus, and in a spot where I think the likely favorite is very beatable, she could present real value; #6 JUMP FOR JOY: Hasn’t won since this meet last year, but she likes Saratoga and goes second off the layoff after just missing in a similar spot downstate. Jose Ortiz rides back, and it’s not hard to see her taking a step forward; #5 ARCHUMYBABY: Is a fun horse to root for, having won 13 of 40 lifetime starts and banking more than $460,000 the hard way. She beat several of these runners last time out and has proven tough to beat in stretch battles.
#4 CONGLOMERATE: Is bred to be a good horse and makes his debut for Chad Brown. He’s by top turf sire Lemon Drop Kid and out of a stakes-winning mare with a strong pedigree and several classy full siblings, so it won’t be surprising if he’s ready right off the rip; #3 SUMMER TUNE: Has run well in a pair of prior starts and was third in his first time going long at Monmouth. The barn has been cold this year, but it does seem like this one’s headed in the right direction; #10 RED FLAG ALERT: Showed speed in his debut downstate over a yielding turf course. That early zip could prove useful on the inner turf, and Franco riding back for George Weaver is a solid sign.
#1 RIP IT: Has one of the best pedigrees on the grounds. He’s by Tapit and out of Grade 2 winner Riposte, a half to Grade 1 winner Powerscourt. Riposte’s dam is also the second dam of the legendary Frankel, so if this one can’t run, it’s not due to a lack of bloodlines; #9 GIRL DAD: Raced greenly in his debut at Belmont but showed interest late and made up ground. I think he could step forward at second asking, though two turns is certainly a question mark; #5 CATMAN: Makes his debut and is another with a strong pedigree. He’s inbred to the dam of sire Kitten’s Joy, and his female family has lots of class. His dam is a half to multiple Grade 1 winner Exotic Wood, who threw stakes-winning turfer Key to Power.
#1 YAUPON: Won his debut last month at Churchill, and that proved to be a salty race. Third-place finisher Savvy came right back to graduate at Keeneland, and this one doesn’t seem to have landed in a particularly strong race for the level; #5 CUCINA: Had a very wide trip last time out on turf at Belmont and comes back to dirt for Bill Mott. He was fourth in last year’s Grade 3 Sanford and tried Grade 1 company at Woodbine after that, so there’s some back class here; #6 THE SICARII: Has done his best work here at Saratoga and would benefit from a pace meltdown. He hasn’t run since March, but the recent strong drill at Belmont is encouraging and he’ll likely be a big price.
#3 CREATIVE STYLE: Is my top pick in a befuddling race solely because I have to have one. He’s won two of his last three starts, though, and he’ll be the one to beat if he can stretch his talent around two turns; #1 HOFFENHEIM: Hasn’t won in two years, but has run in some pretty tough spots. His race last time out was off a bit of a freshening, so it’s not hard to see some improvement coming here at a bit of a price; #6 MUSICAL HEART: Comes back to dirt after a failed try on turf against higher-level claimers. He cruised in an off-the-turf race at Gulfstream, and a repeat might be enough in a race where I have zero conviction (if you’re playing the late Pick Four, the “ALL” button might be your friend).
#6 SET PIECE: Ran in several big spots overseas a year ago (including the Group 1 2,000 Guineas) and flashed lots of talent in his U.S. debut. He inhaled a classy field at Churchill and should get a more solid pace to run at second off the bench; #4 NOBLE INDY: Has proven dangerous at this level and distance on turf, with two wins over similar foes in the past year. He’ll be part of the pace, for sure, and this is a much softer spot than the stakes race he exits where he simply went too long; #7 DIGITAL AGE: Disappointed when second at 6/5 in his comeback race, one he had every right to win if he was good enough. That wasn’t the first time he failed to pass horses late, and that’s concerning, but the Chad Brown trainee has back class and was a good second in a $1 million race here a season ago.
#6 PARIS LIGHTS: Has blossomed since shifting to two-turn routes with a pair of impressive wins at Churchill. The recent bullet drill hints that she’s still in good form, and I think she’ll be in great shape with a stalking trip behind horses that may not want to go this far; #3 ALTAF: Seems like this race’s lone stone closer. She does take a class jump out of the maiden ranks after a score in Kentucky, but it’s not like this came up as a strong Grade 1, and the race could set up for her; #2 ANTOINETTE: Is a classy sort that runs well on dirt and turf. She’s won one stakes race, finished third in three others, and may provide some value as the “other” Bill Mott trainee.
Top of the Mint
Me ’n Sap
#10 TOP OF THE MINT: Goes second off the layoff for Mark Hennig, who has strong numbers with similar stock. He came running late to be beaten only a length in his first start in more than 10 months, and logical improvement would make him formidable; #3 QUICK RETURN: Was second in his debut, which came against a short field downstate. However, the 61 Beyer Speed Figure he earned stacks up well against this group, and Carmouche sees fit to ride back; #6 ME ‘N SAP: Boasts an improving workout pattern for a sneaky barn that can pop at a price with first-time starters. There are no monsters here, and if he runs to the most recent work, he could stand a chance at blowing up the tote board.