SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/29/20)



At its best, horse racing Twitter is a community of passionate people dedicated to supporting the sport both on social media and at the betting windows. At its worst, it’s a cesspool with drama reminiscent of a high school cafeteria, minus the lousy food and overdue chemistry homework.

It ticks me off when substandard behavior is considered acceptable solely because we’ve lowered the bar as a society. That’s where we’re at right now, and while racing itself is built on the backs of skeptics, critics, and those trying to find every possible bit of knowledge, it’s gotten to where racing’s most prominent social media platform just isn’t as much fun as it used to be.

Horse racing Twitter: Be better. This goes for everyone. Cultivate an atmosphere you want to be part of, and one you’d have no problem inviting friends to. The worse we act to people who have no idea about the sport, the less of a chance we have to create new fans, ones we desperately need.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: River Tiber may have some potential yet, but he raced very wide from his outside post and finished a distant third. Win and doubles tickets turned into confetti, and I dropped another $25.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: The more I look at the eighth race, the more I love #8 DANNY CALIFORNIA. He’s the only runner in here with a win over winners going two turns, and he sports several of those. I’ll play him on his own with a $20 win bet, and I’ll also single him in a $5 cold double starting in the seventh with heavy favorite #4 SAYYAAF.



Best Bet: Danny California, Race 8
Longshot: Niko’s Dream, Race 5


Hendriks entry
Critical Data

HENDRIKS ENTRY: I prefer #1A GLOBAL FREEDOM, who flashed talent late last year and lost the rider in his 2020 debut. However, #1 SIXTY FIVE can also win, especially considering he needed the last-out tightener at Laurel after such a long break; #4 CRITICAL DATA: Took to hurdles like a duck to water when graduating in his first start over fences last time out. This spot came up tough for the level, but he’s a contender if he’s ready to step forward; #2 ANTICIPATING: May have been a little short last time out when third against similar company. He wired a field two back before going to the sidelines and seems like the main early speed.


Cross Keys

#4 BELLEZA: Chased a runaway winner in her return to the races downstate and looms large second off the bench. Any sort of a step forward will make her very tough for the Rice/Irad tag team; #7 CROSS KEYS: Tired going longer against state-bred maiden special weight foes in her unveiling for a barn whose horses sometimes need a race or two to get going. If she has the speed to make the lead against sprinters, she could get brave; #2 WHISTLINGINTHEDARK: Broke last in a big field in her first start, but showed some late interest and passed more than half the field. Improvement is logical at second asking, and she may be a price.


New Day Dawning (MTO)
Positive Skew
Five Alarm Robin

#9 POSITIVE SKEW: Stepped forward in a big way when a fast-closing second in her first start beneath Joel Rosario. He’s aboard once again, and it helps her cause that she ran reasonably well over this turf course last summer; #4 FIVE ALARM ROBIN: Takes a drop in class in her first start since February. She’s run well on turf against better, but the layoff is a big concern, as is the significant plunge down the ladder; #10 GEA: Makes her first start for trainer Phil Serpe after running several OK races down in Florida. Luis Saez hops aboard for her first start on the circuit, and that seems like a positive sign in a wide-open event.


Pletcher entry
First Line

PLETCHER ENTRY: #1 AJHAR looms large, and #1A ASHIHAM could win as well. The former hooked a well-meant runner in Creed downstate and has some early speed, while the latter has run well going two turns multiple times; #2 HOMETOWN: Exits a key race that has produced several next-out winners. He’s bred to want two turns, and this barn’s runners tend to move forward at second asking; #3 FIRST LINE: Is another going two turns for the first time, and he does so second off the bench with a recent bullet workout to his credit. Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride, and this barn can pop at a price.


Love and Love (MTO)
War Canoe
Niko’s Dream

#1 WAR CANOE: Makes lots of sense second off the layoff for Chad Brown. She may have been a bit short in the Mount Vernon downstate, and the return to a two-turn route of ground could also move her up; #6 NIKO’S DREAM: Returns for her first start since March, but ran well against open company in Florida this past spring and is worth a long look for Team Tiz the Law. She won and finished second in two starts here a season ago, and she should be running well late; #4 CLASSIC LADY: Is one of two in here for Christophe Clement and hasn’t run a bad one in more than a year. She just missed in the Mount Vernon, but I wonder if she’s best going one turn as opposed to two.


Pete’s Play Call
Kantarmaci entry
Lone Rock

#3 PETE’S PLAY CALL: Chased stakes-caliber sprinter C Z Rocket at Churchill and drops back to a level he’s run well at several times. He has tactical speed but doesn’t need the lead in order to run well, which could put him in a great spot; KANTARMACI ENTRY: #1 REED KAN has won two in a row since coming off the bench and takes the next step up the class ladder. When he’s good, he’s very good, but when he’s bad, he’s very bad; #2 LONE ROCK: Goes back to the Bill Mott barn, and he had some success there over the winter. He was fourth in a pair of stakes races, including the Grade 3 General George at Laurel Park, and this represents a pretty significant class drop.


Kitten’s Cat

#4 SAYYAAF: May be the shortest-priced favorite on the card, and for good reason. He was a good second in his first start off the bench, and if he can sit off of likely pacesetter #8 VICI, I think he’ll be very hard to catch when the real running starts; #10 KITTEN’S CAT: Has won two in a row and goes first off the claim for Linda Rice. The outside post can be a problem in these turf sprints, but it’s tough to argue with his recent form (and that of his rider, Jose Ortiz); #9 GHOUL: Is worth a look if you’re going price-shopping. He exits a pair of classy allowance races in Kentucky and is entered for a tag by aggressive connections.


Danny California
Bebe Banker
Blackjack Davey

#8 DANNY CALIFORNIA: Stretches back out to two turns, where he’s done most of his best running, and does so against a field unproven at this trip. He won at this route last season, and the two races over the winter at Aqueduct at this distance were both very strong; #2 BEBE BANKER: Thumped weaker foes downstate after a three-month freshening and tries two turns on dirt for the first time. If the track is playing kindly to speed, this one stands to benefit; #6 BLACKJACK DAVEY: Showed significant improvement second time out in an easy win downstate. That was at a similar distance to this event, but can he show that same form going two turns in his first start against winners?



#8 DEVAMANI: Gets a narrow nod in an extremely competitive turf route. He exits the Grade 1 Manhattan, where he was beaten less than three lengths. His best race probably wins, but if his connections expected significant class relief, they didn’t get it here; #1 WISSAHICKON: Makes his U.S. debut and gets Lasix for the first time. The layoff of nearly a year is a big question mark, but he was a runaway Group 3 winner overseas and runs for strong horseman Jonathan Thomas, so it wouldn’t be a shock if he was ready; #3 GIDU: Hasn’t won in a while, but has shown significant speed against some of America’s better turf horses. There’s a layoff to consider here, too, but he’ll certainly be prominent early and could have something left if he’s yielded an easy lead.


Madaket entry

MADAKET ENTRY: I liked #1 ZACCAPA a lot earlier this month at Belmont, and she ran an OK second that day while racing greenly and seeming to wait on her foes. I think she needed that effort, and that she’ll be much sharper in the Wednesday finale; #4 SEQUIN: Ran second in three turf starts last year before going to the sidelines in late-October. She’s been working consistently for Wesley Ward, and this certainly doesn’t seem like the toughest return engagement; #6 SPECTACULARSUNRISE: Makes her debut for Chad Brown and has every right to be a good turf horse. She’s by More Than Ready, out of a Tale of the Cat mare, and fetched $225,000 at auction last year.

One comment

  1. Robert OConnell · July 29, 2020

    Thank you Andrew for Danny C in the 8th. Very impressed with Noda Brothers. Rob OConnell Coxsackie, NY


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