Every year, I bring up the story of Bill Finley, who wrote for The New York Daily News for years and was a part of that paper’s “Battle of Saratoga.” This was a three-way duel between turf writers where all three did what I do each day: Provide a written blurb (usually with smack talk), followed by action for that day’s racing program.
One year, Bill exhausted his $1,000 budget before the meet was over and wound up having fans submit minuscule tickets for publication. It’s my goal to never hit that point of desperation. After cashing a ticket yesterday, things finally seem to be looking up!
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: Danny California was bet down a bit after scratches, but he never looked like a loser and returned $6.80 for every successful $2 wager. As such, my $25 investment returned $68, accounting for a $20 win ticket and a failed $5 cold double.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: I sincerely hope we get the 6-1 morning line price on #1 PAT ON THE BACK in the John Morrissey, which goes as the ninth race on the program. I’ll put a $10 win bet on him, and I’ll also play $3 exactas using him above and below #4 AMUNDSON and #5 BANKIT.
TOTAL WAGERED: $22.
Best Bet: Foxtail, Race 3
Longshot: Evaluator, Race 5
Little Red Frog
Punk Rock Princess
#4 SUGAR FIX: Has won five of 11 career starts ahead of her debut on this circuit and is riding a streak of three straight victories. Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride for a small barn, and if she’s brought her form with her, she’ll be tough; #7 LITTLE RED FROG: Has finished second in both prior turf starts and was an OK second against similar company downstate. She hasn’t won in a while, but she’ll likely be heard from late; #2 PUNK ROCK PRINCESS: Will make the rare Charles Town-to-Saratoga move in this spot but did run second in her lone prior turf start going a mile at Laurel last summer. She’s got some early speed, and that could make the rail draw an asset.
#6 MAJESTIC VIEW: Runs for a tag for the first time and attracts Joel Rosario in this wide-open maiden claimer for state-breds. He showed some early zip in his lone prior dirt start, and he may not have been fully cranked by his patient trainer; #7 LORD CAMDEN: Moved up after going back to the dirt last time out, when he ran third despite a troubled trip. The Casse barn is winless at the meet as of this writing, but a repeat of his last race would give him a shot here; #1 UNRELENTING FORCE: Comes off a layoff for a barn that quietly does great work with a smaller head count. The question here has two parts; is he ready for his first test since March, and does he want to go a bit longer than what he’ll get?
Daria’s Angel (MTO)
#2 FOXTAIL: Was claimed by top-tier claiming trainer Danny Gargan, who drops her down in class second off the bench. She’s run well against much better company and looks formidable in this spot; #6 VIP NATION: Might have needed her return race downstate, where she still rallied late to salvage fourth money. She’s got more early speed than she showed that day, and it’s logical to think she’ll be sharper for this race; #7 ROSEBUD’S HOPE: Drops way down the ladder in her first afternoon outing since April. Her lone prior start here was a win, which is encouraging (as is the presence of Jose Ortiz), but speed hasn’t been holding going long on grass so far this meet.
Our Lady of Loreto
#2 OUR LADY OF LORETO: Got caught after setting sizzling fractions in her first race back last month, but there’s still plenty to like. She seems like the quickest of the quick here, and if speed is holding, she may prove tough to catch; #5 ROUSEY: Looks like the best-meant closer in here. She comes back to the main track, and her races two and three back against similar groups saw her run second twice; #3 CHARLOTTE WEBLEY: Overcame a green run to find the winner’s circle as an odds-on favorite on Independence Day downstate. This is her first run against winners, and she may need to figure things out in a hurry.
Twisted Tom (MTO)
Graded On a Curve
#8 GRADED ON A CURVE: Came back with a bang when cruising home despite an unfavorable race shape downstate. There was no early speed in that race, yet he still rallied from eight lengths back to win by more than four. A similar effort will make this one tough; #1 EVALUATOR: Has plenty of back class and has a chance to do damage here if he’s ready to run. That’s a tough ask considering the 11-month layoff, but he has back form and would benefit from a pace meltdown; #5 RINALDI: Hasn’t run a bad race to this point in his career and won two restricted stakes races last summer. His comeback race was fine, and he could improve with that run under his belt.
#5 MORE MANGO: Was claimed by Mike Maker after running third against similar foes at Belmont. Maker moves turf horses up as well as anyone in the game, and between the barn change and this being her second start off the layoff, there are plenty of reasons to expect significant improvement; #7 CHECKSANDBALANCES: Was one-paced when fifth in her debut downstate, and that race has already produced a few next-out winners. I won’t be surprised if she wins, but this one’s been training at Monmouth with Chad Brown’s second-stringers, and that’s a red flag; #10 MALIBU ANTHEM: Has run second in both of her prior starts and tries turf for the first time. She’s by Malibu Moon, so there’s reason to believe she’ll take to the new surface.
My Man Flintstone
#5 MY MAN FLINTSTONE: Hasn’t won in a while, but has lots of early speed and doesn’t seem to come up against the toughest group for the level. I think he’ll go early and play “catch me if you can,” and I’m not sure these foes are up to that task; #8 MISTER BOBBY: Came back running when second against similar at Belmont earlier this month. He’s got the talent to win, but he’s also had plenty of chances at this level, which can be seen as a red flag; #3 FED FUNDS: Responded to the drop in class last time out with a maiden-breaking score and tries winners for the first time. This barn doesn’t have many runners, but it’s not often they lead a horse over that isn’t ready to run.
Barrel of Destiny
#8 BARREL OF DESTINY: Comes in in search of her fourth straight win after a successful return to New York-bred competition last month. Mike Maker claimed her two back, and I think she could sit a beautiful stalking trip and have first run around the far turn; #3 SHORT POUR: Seems like the main speed and was a good second in a solid race for the level last time out. She loves this turf course and may be tough to catch if she gets left alone early; #1 PECATONICA: Pulled off an 11-1 upset earlier in the meet and is wheeled back quickly. The “horse for course” theory is real, and she’s run the best races of her career going this route of ground.
Pat On the Back
#1 PAT ON THE BACK: Almost certainly needed his 2020 debut, and it’s safe to assume something went wrong in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile because we didn’t see him again for six months. Toss both of those races for those logical reasons, and you have an imposing force on the rail that may be under-bet; #4 AMUNDSON: Returns to the state-bred ranks and exits some fast races against open company at Belmont. His early speed will be an asset, though it’s worth noting some of his worst races have come away from that downstate venue; #5 BANKIT: Needs to be used by vertical exotics players, but using him on top is a risky proposition. Yes, if he gets a clean trip, he could win, but he seems to find trouble and this distance may be a bit shorter than he wants.
Boom Boom Kaboom
#2 EVERY MINUTE: Broke last in his debut, but showed late interest and was beaten less than four lengths. That race’s second-place finisher came back to win last weekend, and this barn is too talented to be sitting on the duck at this meet; #3 BOOM BOOM KABOOM: Exits that same race and adds blinkers for George Weaver on the slight drop in class. This is his third start since returning to the races, and he’s stepped forward in each of his last two; #4 TEMPESTA: Nearly wired the field at a price at Belmont before settling for third behind a next-out winner. The front end hasn’t exactly been the place to be, but he’s hit the board in all three of his prior turf starts and perhaps he’s turning a corner.