One bit of advice to any kids/struggling adults who read this: Bet on yourselves. You’ll win far more than you lose.
Five years ago, AndrewChampagne.com was born after one person at my then-employer told me, in no uncertain terms, that my handicapping contributions were not appreciated. Since then, it’s provided an outlet for me to write anything from analysis to satire, including an epic, 50-pronged clap-back at a bloodstock agent who thought he could push me around and was proven wrong very quickly (hi, Bradley).
Through four racing days, with no publicity other than my social media and plugs in this space, my little site got nearly 2,000 hits. Sustaining that clip would crush all records for Saratoga, and I’m grateful to all of you for reading my stuff and supporting me each year. Let’s see if we can keep this good start going!
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: We were washed out of our $27 late Pick Four ticket when the Coronation Cup was moved off the turf. Remember, all wagers in this space assume races carded for the lawn stay there.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: The back half of the card excites me more than the front, so we’ll focus on the seventh. I think #5 AMISTAD has a big chance at a square price, and I’ll start with a $10 win bet plus $2 exactas using that one above and below #4 JUSTINTIMEFORWINE, #7 ABSAM, and #9 PREFECT. Finally, I’ll single Amistad in $2 doubles that end with #4 ALPHALFA, #5 SWASHBUCKLE, #6 SHIRAZ, and #10 THREE OUTLAWS in the eighth.
TOTAL WAGERED: #30.
Best Bet: Brown entry, Race 3
Longshot: Amistad, Race 7
The Mean Queen
#3 THE MEAN QUEEN: Is 3-for-3 over fences and looms large in the first steeplechase race of the summer. Not only has she not lost in these races, she’s never truly been tested, and she’s a legitimate favorite; #4 FAST CAR: Almost certainly needed his return last month and won over fences here last summer. He was 3-1 in a race at this level in August when he was eased, and a return to his mid-2020 form would make him logical; #7 BODES WELL: Hasn’t won in quite a while but sure looks like the lone early speed in this race. He’s not without form, and he could lead them a long way at a nice price.
#6 COPA: Comes back into the claiming ranks after showing speed against far better horses going a mile at Churchill. He went wire-to-wire two back at Keeneland, and that sort of effort would make him tough to beat here; #4 DEMOCRATIC VALUES: Moves back to the dirt after a failed turf experiment last time. A throwback to his early-2021 form would make him a legitimate favorite, but it’s worth noting he’s winless away from Aqueduct; #3 FROSTED INDIAN: Goes back to the right level second off the claim for Linda rice and is better than he showed last time out against a classier group. His wins two and four back were pretty good, and while he probably needs to improve in order to win, it wouldn’t shock me if he hit the board at a nice number.
BROWN ENTRY: One of the meet’s top trainers seems to have this field surrounded. #1 COALITION BUILDING drops in for a tag and has run up against a number of next-out winners in the maiden special weight ranks, while #1A FEDERALIST PAPERS adds blinkers for her New York debut; #5 PEACEBETHEJOURNEY: Didn’t run poorly in her debut, when she was second and claimed by a solid outfit. The pedigree says she’ll stretch out, and improvement could be on the horizon at second asking; #9 EVVIE JETS: Gets Lasix for the first time second off the bench and was fourth behind a next-out winner in her first try since November. Javier Castellano sees fit to ride back for Tony Dutrow, and those two don’t team up much.
Ready A. P.
Run Curtis Run
#5 READY A. P.: Goes against the boys in the Rick Violette and strikes me as the one to beat. She was professional in her debut win, when she stormed home to win by more than eight lengths, and the recent July 15th workout jumps off the page; #1 RUN CURTIS RUN: Is one of two Mike Maker trainees in this field and overcame a bit of a slow start to win his debut. His recent bullet drill here was the fastest of 139 half-mile moves that morning, so it sure seems like he’s moving forward; #3 COINAGE: May very well go off favored given his pedigree, but I have my doubts. I simply don’t think he beat much last time, and he’ll likely be far too short a price for me to recommend. If he beats me, I’ll live with it.
Live in Five
#7 RAFFINITY: Takes a big drop in class and looms large in what looks like one of the weakest races you’ll see for this level. She was second last time out going a mile and a sixteenth downstate, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride back; #5 GALLINA: Responded to the drop to this level with a late-running second, and this barn is off to a strong start at this stand. Saez rides back, and she’d benefit from a faster-than-expected early pace; #4 LIVE IN FIVE: Makes her career debut here, and it certainly seems like she couldn’t have asked for a softer spot. She’s worked steadily downstate, and while this barn’s runners usually need a race, I just can’t see a reason to trust those who have run before other than the top two.
Let’s Be Clear
Take the Backroads
G Money Liv
#6 LET’S BE CLEAR: Was 4/5 in her debut at Churchill and did everything but win, as her late rally came just a head short. She showed some maturity that day, and Brad Cox can certainly move second-time starters forward; #10 TAKE THE BACKROADS: Exits that same race and was third, just a neck back of the winner. The outside draw can be a real boon to younger horses, and if you like my top pick, you sort of have to pay attention to this one, too; #1 G MONEY LIV: Has been working very well ahead of her career unveiling and may be good enough to overcome the inside draw. Her works at Churchill Downs were consistently in the upper tier of times on those days, and Luis Saez landed here when he probably had several options.
Prime Time Player (MTO)
#5 AMISTAD: Ran well enough two starts ago to merit a long look at a big price. He was second against a similar group, didn’t have a great trip last time out, and will be reunited with top turf pilot Jose Lezcano for this event; #7 ABSAM: Runs for a claiming tag for the first time and wasn’t disgraced in a pair of tries against allowance foes at Churchill. I don’t think he beat a lot in his lone victory, but he’s run well enough often enough to be a legitimate favorite here; #4 JUSTINTIMEFORWINE: Has been caught multiple times going two turns, but gets a massive jockey switch and sure looks like the main speed. The inner turf course often rewards those with early zip, and it wouldn’t stun me if this one got comfortable up front going into the first turn.
#6 SHIRAZ: Returns to Saratoga and has run very well at this route several times. He broke from a tough post last time at Belmont, but draws a bit more favorably and should sit a perfect stalking trip; #10 THREE OUTLAWS: Hasn’t run a poor race since going to the Rob Atras barn in the spring, and he exits a strong second against similar company. The far outside post isn’t ideal, but he’s won here before and is certainly in good form; #4 ALPHALFA: Ships back to New York for this state-bred event after spending most of this season in Illinois and Indiana. Indiana’s races have gotten considerably tougher over the past few years, and he won one of them two back with a solid 79 Beyer Speed Figure.
Forza Di Oro
#2 FORZA DI ORO: Makes his 2021 debut off a long layoff and has flashed considerable talent. He won the Grade 3 Discovery back in November with a 101 Beyer Speed Figure and has been working steadily for Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott; #4 CORE BELIEFS: Has multiple graded stakes wins on his resume and goes second off the bench here. He was one-paced in his 2021 debut, but he had every right to need that tightener and exits a five-furlong bullet drill on July 14th; #3 HIGHEST HONORS: Stepped forward after a two-back clunker to cruise home in an optional claimer downstate. He’ll get support off of that race, especially given his connections, but I just don’t think he beat much in that race and I feel like he’ll be overbet.
GENERAZIO ENTRY: I prefer #1 MOMMIE’S JEWEL, who goes second off the bench and ran well in his first start since August. I’m expecting a move forward here, especially since Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride back; #4 FAST GORDON: Came on late in a race without much early zip and finished just a length behind the winner. I’d be more enthusiastic about his chances had the runner-up run a more inspired race during the meet’s first week; #9 DISTRACTANDATTACK: Comes back to the turf, and you can draw a line through the last-out clunker over Belmont’s sloppy main track. His two and three-back efforts were competitive, and it certainly seems like he’ll be prominent early in what appears to be a wide-open finale.