It can’t be easy living in the same apartment complex as a degenerate horseplayer. When Thin White Duke got nailed at the wire (by a solo Wise Owl winner, no less), my remote control went flying. When Mrs. Orb needed one more jump in the Union Avenue, it was my phone that was used as an outlet (thankfully, my couch provided a soft landing spot).
At some point, I fully expect a downstairs neighbor to come knocking on my door. If that happens, he or she will get a long, detailed summary of each bad beat at this Saratoga meet. I give it 45 seconds before I get a response akin to, “okay, I get it, I’ll go away.” Over-under bets on this are currently being accepted, and all Twitter followers will be updated promptly if and when this sequence of events plays out.
THURSDAY’S RESULTS: Mrs. Orb was a hard-luck second, and Favorite Impulse flattened out after making a bit of a move into the turn. After scratches, I dropped $25.
FRIDAY’S PLAY: #5 HURRICANE HILL has every right to improve off of a strong return to the races in the seventh. I’ll put $15 on him to win and single him in $4 doubles starting and ending in the seventh that use #1 EYE LUV LULU/#1A CLENCH in the sixth and #4 TALE OF THE UNION in the eighth. Finally, I’ll play a $2 cold Pick Three using those three betting interests.
TOTAL WAGERED: $25.
Best Bet: Brown entry, Race 9
Longshot: Hurricane Hill, Race 7
Ain’t None Lucky
Wishes and Dreams
#7 AIN’T NONE LUCKY: Drops way down in class in her first start for a tag, and does so returning to a track she ran well at twice a season ago. The outside draw should be a big help, and she should sit an ideal stalking trip; #4 TETRAHYDRO: Found two turns to be too long last time out at Keeneland. She returns to a one-turn route of ground, and a repeat of her two-back effort at Churchill against similar foes would give her a shot; #3 WISHES AND DREAMS: Ran an OK third in her first start over this surface last month. She’s shown an ability to pass horses late, and the presence of Joel Rosario is certainly noteworthy.
Notorious R B G
#6 NOTORIOUS R B G: Drops in to face allowance foes after finishing fourth in an overnight stakes race at Belmont in June. This certainly seems like a far weaker spot, and these connections have been running red-hot since the start of the meet; #5 TIPLE: Rallied to record her first win in a while last time out at Belmont. This is a tougher spot for her, but she won at this route a season ago and figures to be running well late; #3 STOP WAR: Is the other half of a powerful one-two punch for Christophe Clement, who also saddles my top selection. She was third behind a solid horse last time out and could be coming into peak form in her third start off the bench.
#7 MOSIENKO: Was an easy winner against a weaker group last time out and was claimed out of that race by a barn hitting its stride at the meet. Toss the turf races, and you’re left with a filly that’s won two of three dirt starts; #3 HETTY G.: Was a solid second at this level last time out, and she earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure with that effort. She figures to sit a stalking trip in here, and she’ll be tough if the extra furlong proves to be to her liking; #1 PERSIAN QUEEN: Didn’t run badly when fourth against better company earlier in the meet at a price. The rail draw isn’t ideal for a closer, but she was third at this distance two starts back and would benefit from a pace meltdown.
#1 CAFE AMERICANO: Ran in several tough spots a season ago before going to the sidelines following a fourth-place finish in a Grade 1 at Keeneland. She’s been training well and is strictly the one to beat if she’s ready to go; #6 CHALEUR: Won a photo finish downstate and steps up into stakes company. She doesn’t need to improve much on figures in order to run well, and with the lack of early speed on paper, she could lead them a long way; #7 SECRET MESSAGE: Won the Grade 3 Mint Julep two back before finding Grade 1 foes too tough at Keeneland. She was fourth in the Grade 1 Diana here last year and has the class to win this, but she may need more pace than she’s in line to get.
Ahead of Plan
Its a Wrap
#7 AHEAD OF PLAN: Runs for a tag for the first time in this spot and does so while returning to turf. He had a legitimate excuse in his lone prior turf start, when a terrible break compromised his chances here last summer; #5 ITS A WRAP: May have bounced in his second start off of a layoff, when he came up flat at this route last month. Like my top pick, he’s dropping in class, and perhaps the shallower waters are what he needs; #2 COLLOQUIST: Does have some back form sprinting on turf, though you have to dig a bit to find it. He was fifth behind a strong turf sprinter named Jack and Noah in his debut, and he did show a bit of early interest that day.
DUBB ENTRY: I prefer #1A CLENCH, who takes a big drop in class after being a bit one-paced for twice today’s tag a few weeks ago. Perhaps there were other reasons for his form with the Jason Servis barn, but a repeat of his last-out effort could be good enough to best this group; #4 COLTANDMISSISSIPPI: Was fourth in a salty race for the level that drew several veterans from the stakes ranks. The extra sixteenth of a mile may help him, as he’s more of a grinding type and has proven he can win at the distance; #2 TOPPER T: Was cooked on the front end last time out and had nothing left turning for home. He shouldn’t have to go as fast early on to be on or near the lead in this spot, and that could make things a bit easier on him.
#5 HURRICANE HILL: Looked impressive when winning on the class drop off the layoff downstate. Lezcano retains the mount for Linda Rice, and it sure looks like there’s plenty of speed signed on to set up for his late kick; #4 TENURE: Ran well here twice a season ago and was a hard-luck loser in his first race of the season last month. A repeat effort could put him right there again in his first start for new trainer John Toscano; #3 FIG JELLY: Has made a career out of coming close to winning and not getting the job done. He’s 2-for-25 with 12 second-place finishes, many coming at short prices. While his speed figures are sharp and the connections are top-tier, I simply cannot endorse him on top.
Tale of the Union
#4 TALE OF THE UNION: Looms large in this spot as one of the few East Coast-based runners trained by Bob Baffert, who takes advantage of his status as a New York-bred. If he repeats the last-out effort, one that saw him top non-winners of one in a swift time downstate, he’ll be tough; #5 LEAKY CUP: Hasn’t won since this meet last year, but ran a solid third against similar last month and seems like one of the main pace factors here. He should be able to make the lead here, and if he gets comfortable, he may have enough left in the lane; #2 THORNY TALE: Finished fourth in the same race my top selection exits, and that effort came on the heels of an impressive win in the slop at Belmont. He’s got some flexibility to his running style, which should give Javier Castellano plenty of options.
BROWN ENTRY: I prefer #1 VOTING CONTROL, who’s clearly had some issues but is a handful when he’s on his game. This will be his second start off the bench, and he should have plenty of pace to rate off of; #2 ARGONNE: Makes his second start off the layoff for H. James Bond, whose horses have been firing this summer. He tailed off a bit last year in two starts against graded foes, but his return wasn’t bad and a step forward is logical; #8 CURRENT: Hasn’t won since late-2018 but has been going up against strong company. He was third in the Grade 2 Pan American at Gulfstream back in March, and Todd Pletcher’s barn has heated up of late.
Big Al’s Gal (MTO)
Running On Entry
#8 LUCKY LATKES: Has hit the board in both of her prior starts and looms large in the Friday finale. She tries two turns for the first time, but her pedigree says that shouldn’t be an issue, and she’s beaten several of these opponents in the past; #9 RUNNING ON ENTRY: Almost certainly needed her comeback race last month and drops in for a tag here. She showed talent back in 2019 before going to the sidelines, and a return to that form could get the job done here; #10 UNICORN SALLY: Comes back to the maiden claiming ranks after finding state-bred special weight foes a bit too tough. She’s shown she may have the talent to win this, but the outside post position on the inner turf could be a problem.