SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/31/20)



I’m an animal lover and a proud pet human of a once-sheltered cat, so I have a large soft spot for any efforts made to publicize the fantastic work done by true animal rescue groups. Yesterday’s Fox Sports broadcast featured a segment highlighting the Saratoga County Animal Shelter, which partnered with NYRA on a virtual dog adoption event. This hit home with me for a lot of reasons, so I’m using my space today to help them however I can.

If you’re in Saratoga County and want to help, you can do so online by visiting That site also features information on adopting and fostering animals and how to schedule an appointment, which is mandatory due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS: Unfortunately, Pat On the Back’s best days may be behind him. He loomed a bit going into the far turn but spun his wheels going into the stretch, so I dropped $22

FRIDAY’S PLAYS: I really like both Pick Four sequences today, so I’ll punch a pair of 50-cent tickets even though the final pre-scratch total goes beyond my usual daily budget. My early one starts in the second and reads as follows: 6,8 with 3,6 with ALL with 4,8. My late one, meanwhile, begins in the seventh and goes thusly: 4 with 8,9 with 2,3,4,6,9 with 1,3,5,7,9,11.



Best Bet: Blanket of Roses, Race 7
Longshot: Devils Rendezvous, Race 5


Stylish Rags
Spring Break

#6 PAZZION: Debuts for Todd Pletcher after a steady series of local drills. She’s a full sister to a winner, and the outside draw could help her in what seems like a salty race for the level; #2 STYLISH RAGS: Debuts for Wesley Ward and has the bottom-side pedigree to be a runner. Her dam is a half-sister to both Group 1 winner Mozu Superflare and Grade 3 winner Sacristy, and Ward can get 2-year-olds ready to run as well as anyone; #3 SPRING BREAK: Sports an interesting gate drill earlier this month at Keeneland and ships up for her unveiling. Sire Outwork had a 2-year-old win here last weekend.


Brush Country
Missle Bomb

#8 GETOFFMYBACK: Is part of a powerful 1-2 punch for trainer Michelle Nevin and will be going for his third win in a row. He’s got plenty of speed but doesn’t necessarily need the lead, which could give Manny Franco plenty of options from the outside draw; #6 BRUSH COUNTRY: Comes in off a layoff for Nevin but sports a win over this track going seven furlongs last summer. He’s certainly a contender if he’s ready to fire off the bench; #2 MISSLE BOMB: Has won 10 of 33 starts and takes a big class drop in his 2020 debut. He has back races that would make him formidable against this bunch, but it’s fair to wonder if he’s lost a step ahead of his first race as a 7-year-old.


Sursum Corda
Prairie Wings

#6 SURSUM CORDA: Has responded to gradual increases in distance and gets a marathon route here. She’s bred to love it, this barn has hit a few times already at the meet, and Joel Rosario sees fit to ride; #3 PRAIRIE WINGS: Is an intriguing case in her turf debut. She’s by Tapit, and her dam is a half to the great Giant’s Causeway, so she could want this route of ground. However, she’ll need to go 11 furlongs in her first start off a brief freshening, which may not be easy; #8 SENGEKONTACKET: Responded to a new surface well when second beaten a nose in her first start since February. There is the possibility of a bounce second off the bench, but she’s also got tactical speed and could lead this bunch a long way.


Pacific Gale
Lady T N T
Unholy Alliance

#5 PACIFIC GALE: Hasn’t won in a while but ran third in the Grade 3 Vagrancy and could sit an ideal stalking trip. Several of these runners need the lead, which could set things up for this classy mare to have first run; #2 LADY T N T: Is one of the speedballs in here and should improve after a needed race last time out. She won a Grade 3 two back, and she’ll be dangerous if she’s ready to take another step forward; #3 UNHOLY ALLIANCE: Misfired in the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream and hasn’t been seen since. However, she’s another who’ll do her best running late, and the faster they go early, the better her chances figure to be.


Silent Empress
Devils Rendezvous
Love Me Tomorrow

#4 SILENT EMPRESS: May have found a soft spot in which to debut for red-hot connections. Both of her dam’s prior foals to race have won, she’s worked consistently downstate for Christophe Clement, and Joel Rosario will be aboard; #8 DEVILS RENDEZVOUS: Piques my interest second off the bench. She may have moved a bit early in her return to the races, but the recent local work is pretty strong and I think she’ll be in line to take a step forward at a nice price; #5 LOVE ME TOMORROW: Faded on dirt last time out and comes back to the grass here. She hits me as this race’s most likely pace-setter, and in a race with many horses who don’t seem to want to pass others, that could be a nice spot.


Empire Line
Jerome Avenue

#3 ZEALOUS: Comes in off a long layoff, but has several sharp works ahead of his first start since February. His win at this route last year was very good, and if you believe he didn’t like the Aqueduct surface this past winter, his two most recent races (both duds) become much easier to digest; #1 EMPIRE LINE: Was beaten less than a length in his first start in a year last time out. He was a stakes-caliber 3-year-old two seasons ago, so it’s possible he’s just better than this bunch, but at his likely short price, I’ll try to beat him on top; #8 JEROME AVENUE: Got caught in the first race of the meet going two turns. He was claimed by a barn that does strong work with new acquisitions, and perhaps this elongated sprint will suit him better.


Villainous (MTO)
Blanket of Roses

#4 BLANKET OF ROSES: Accomplished a lot earlier this season, when he won twice at Gulfstream before finishing second in a $100,000 event at Turfway. He takes a drop back into the claiming ranks, and between the likely closer-friendly race shape and the presence of Jose Ortiz, I think he’ll be a handful; #10 DYNADRIVE: Is another closer who could get an ideal setup, and like my top pick, he runs for trainer Mike Maker. He beat similar company at Gulfstream in an off-the-turf event, but has shown ability on the lawn and stands a chance if Irad can work out a trip; #1 KING OF RANCH: Didn’t do much running in his last two at Belmont, but stretches back out to two turns and gets a friendly inside draw. The new configuration could be what he wants, and he has a chance at a piece of it if he can channel his early-2020 form.


Jewel of Arabia
Fair Lassie

#9 JEWEL OF ARABIA: Finally earned the diploma in a jog last time out at Belmont. She ran well here twice last summer, and while this is technically a step up in class, it’s not the most imposing field for the level; #8 FLASHPACKINBARBIE: Came back running when beating claimers downstate in her first start since last summer. She’s won two of three and has worked well here, but her one clunker came at this route; #4 FAIR LASSIE: Didn’t make the least last time, and it cost her. However, there doesn’t seem to be quite as much early zip signed on here, and Luis Saez hopping aboard is encouraging.


She’s My Type
Fly So Pretty

#9 SHE’S MY TYPE: Has yet to run a bad race to this point in her career. She rallied to be second downstate and could get a perfect setup given the ample amount of early speed set to go postward in the Friday feature; #2 KARAK: Was highly-regarded enough last year to earn a trip to Royal Ascot, and she’s done fine since returning to the U.S. for Wesley Ward. She gets back to turf here and may be able to sit just off the pace; #3 FLY SO PRETTY: Wanted no part of the dirt last time out in her first start since November. She’s won two of three starts going short on the grass and could liven up Mark Casse’s summer if she gets enough pace to run at.


Hurricane Breeze
Lido Key
Corey Scores

#1 HURRICANE BREEZE: Seems well-meant in a wide-open finale. She was a bit one-paced last time out at Belmont, but the return to a two-turn configuration could be just what she wants, as she’s done her best running at similar routes; #3 LIDO KEY: Was beaten less than three lengths last time out at Keeneland despite a rough start. Her morning line odds seem like an underlay, but she could certainly run well with a cleaner trip; #11 COREY SCORES: Is worth a look if she draws in off the AE list. Her return downstate was solid, she’s run well going two turns in the past, and there’s plenty of pace in her for her to rate behind.

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