I’m a big fan of the Fox Sports talent and crew covering Saratoga this summer, and I consider many members of that team personal friends. However, I can’t help but worry about some of the occupational hazards in their midst as they cover this meet, and I’m not talking about COVID-19!
During socially-distanced interviews, there’s what we in the business call a “boom mic” that swings back and forth to pick up sound from the people talking. Every time it swings back and forth, I worry it’s going to conk someone in the face. Imagine a jockey coming away from piloting a thousand-pound animal without a scratch, yet having to get off a live mount after being examined due to a run-in with a microphone.
(Keep doing a great job, everyone. I love watching the shows every day!)
THURSDAY’S RESULTS: My Pick Four ticket was played to try to get value out of my best bet in the finale, but we didn’t get that far. My play went bust in the third leg, although scratches did reduce the bankroll hit to $13.50.
FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to take a swing here. I know the front end hasn’t been the place to be on turf so far this meet, but the more I look at the sixth, the more I like #2 NO MO TEMPER. The 12-1 shot ran fine in her first start in 18 months downstate, and I’m just not in love with the shorter prices. I’m putting $10 to win and place on her, and I’m hoping she lulls them to sleep on the front end in this turf marathon.
TOTAL WAGERED: $20.
Best Bet: Voting Agreement, Race 3
Longshot: No Mo Temper, Race 6
#5 ASSUME: Drops way down in class for aggressive connections after getting checks against straight maidens a few times at Gulfstream. Her debut going short was fine, and it seems like she’s found her friends; #4 HANDS UP: Ran second in a maiden claimer two back at Churchill but takes a steep drop after misfiring last month. She’s a consistent sort that seems to be working well; #1 SCARLET’S SONG: Stands a chance at improving and will likely be a square price. She showed some late interest in her debut at Laurel, and perhaps she’ll take a step forward with experience and a change in surface.
#1 KINKY SOX: Ran well when second in her first start at this level and looms large. She was well clear of the third-place finisher that day, and a repeat of that effort will likely make her pretty tough to beat; #3 HETTY G.: Didn’t break well last time out in the same race my top pick exits, so I don’t have much trouble drawing a line through it. She ran well to win two starts ago, and I think she’ll be closer to the pace here; #2 OVERTIME OLIVIA: May be well-bet but has not won in a while. She’s another with some early speed, and she was a tough-luck second two back downstate.
#6 VOTING AGREEMENT: Won her debut at this route and makes her second start off a long layoff here. She’s got some tactical speed and may get first run on the pacesetters as the field turns for home; #2 PEACEFUL: Is another that won here last summer, and she did everything but win last time out at Belmont. The question is, can she repeat that type of effort, or is a bounce in the offing?; #4 HENNI PENNY: Looks best of the rest and may be a bit of a price. She was third in the race Peaceful exits and has never been out of the money in four career starts on turf.
Cold Hearted Pearl
#6 STAY FOND: Came back running in her first start since February, when she rallied from last to first at this distance downstate. She has, however, shown much more early zip in prior starts, and I think she’ll be in a better spot down the backstretch; #8 BLUNT FORCE: Has shown she loves this seven-furlong trip, with two wins in her last three starts (both at this distance). Tom Amoss seems to have trained some speed into her, and the outside draw is a big help; #3 COLD HEARTED PEARL: Has tired in two starts since being claimed but may be worth another shot here. She’s won twice at this distance and has enough speed to be prominent out of the gate.
Jill’s a Hot Mess
Going Going Gone
#6 JILL’S A HOT MESS: Makes her third start for her third different trainer at a third different track, but seems like the one to beat. She was a good second against similar company downstate and is the only runner with experience that has shown early zip; #5 GOING GOING GONE: May have needed her debut, where she chased my top pick before fading. She goes to the Rudy Rodriguez barn, which adds blinkers (a powerful move for these connections); #9 SAMBORELLA: Fetched $500,000 at auction last summer despite a modest pedigree and has some solid works on the tab. With the exception of the most recent drill, though, they don’t jump off the page, and at her likely price, I’ll try to beat her.
No Mo Temper
Cap de Creus
#2 NO MO TEMPER: Is worth a long look, especially at her likely price. Her effort off a long layoff wasn’t bad, and she may inherit the early lead by default in this turf marathon. It’s not hard to see a scenario where she gets pretty comfortable on the front end; #9 CAP DE CREUS: Has significant back class and will likely be favored. However, she’s burned a lot of money in her career, and her only win was in a dirt race in the mud at Keeneland. At her likely price, I can’t back her; #7 EBONY: Misfired in her U.S. debut, but perhaps she needed that race after a long layoff. Her prior connections saw fit to run her in a Group 1 in France last summer, and Graham Motion does well with horses second off the bench.
Munnings Muse (MTO)
#8 SNICKET: Had a rough trip earlier this month at Belmont, and a case could be made that she should’ve been placed first that day. Rosario rides back for Clement, and a cleaner trip here would make her very tough; #10 QUANTITATIVBREEZIN: Rallied to be second in her debut downstate, and she raced a bit greenly that day. The experience should help her here, and she’s a contender despite the less-than-ideal outside draw; #7 MAGNOLIA’S LADY: Took a step forward when third last time out in the same race my top pick exits. She showed some early zip in that race, and she should be among the leaders going into the turn.
#7 FREE ENTERPRISE: Was third in his return to the races last month at Churchill, and based on back figures, he’s strictly the one to beat. He got really good late last year, and it’s logical to expect a return to that form in this spot; #9 STRIKE THAT: Hasn’t finished worse than second in five career starts and comes off the bench for Robertino Diodoro. He ran into Volatile last time out, and that one will likely be favored in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt this weekend; #1 MOUNT TRAVERS: Hasn’t won in a while, but his comeback race was fine, as he ran a good second in the mud at Belmont. Linda Rice’s barn has been going well, and the faster they go early, the more likely it is this one will be heard from late.
Jack and Noah
Power Up Paynter
#2 JACK AND NOAH: Has a lot of early speed and may be dangerous if he’s allowed to dictate terms. The fourth-place finisher from the Sir Cat has already come back to win, and this colt will likely be the one they have to catch; #4 OLD CHESTNUT: Hasn’t won in a while and was third in the Sir Cat, but is one to watch in case another runner goes with my top pick. There is some other speed signed on, and perhaps that softens up the chalk; #7 POWER UP PAYNTER: Didn’t do much running a few days ago when sixth against state-breds, but his race two back was a solid come-from-behind effort. A repeat of that performance could get him a check at a price.
Royal Suspect (MTO)
K. K. Ichikawa
#3 BRICCO: Ran quite well last time out, especially since that was his first start since October. That was his second time hitting the board in as many career starts, and his running style indicates a two-turn configuration won’t be a problem; #14 K. K. ICHIKAWA: Has to get lucky to draw in off the AE list, but will be a contender if he does. He debuted running third downstate and will get Lasix for the first time here; #1 AINTITFUNKYNOW: Runs for a tag for the first time, but I’m not sold. Yes, the class drop helps, but he hasn’t been running against world-beaters prior to this event, one that actually came up reasonably strong for the level. At his likely price, I’m going elsewhere.