SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/29/21)


BANKROLL: $1,023.60

Steeplechase racing opens the door for things we don’t see often, and I’ve never seen anything like what happened in Wednesday’s Jonathan Kiser. The Mean Queen was the 1/2 favorite, and she looked home after hitting the stretch in front by open lengths. However, she veered in with less than a furlong to go, and in the process of correcting her course, jockey Tom Garner was dislodged.

Thankfully, Garner walked off and appeared to be okay as of this writing, and The Mean Queen also seemed no worse for wear. The connections involved have my sympathies, as do any bettors who needed The Mean Queen for any of their wagers. That’s an all-time bad beat, and a story those affected will be telling for a long, long time.

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: As the tout in “Let It Ride” shouted ad nauseam, “had the daily double!” Bell’s the One was as good as advertised, and Jose Ortiz gave Caribbean Gold a terrific ride to steal the finale on the lead. Our $21 investment wound up returning $78.60.

THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the fifth race of the day, a maiden claiming event with a big field. #1 TRIPLE AMERICANO is my tepid top pick, but I also think #6 RAVIZZOL is a must-use at or near his likely price. I’ll box those two in $5 exactas, and I’ll also use them to finish $2 doubles that start in the fourth with #6 VINEYARD SOUND and #9 HIGH HEATER. Finally, I’ll put $3 to win and place on Ravizzol to ensure that, if he wins, I make money (regardless of other outcomes).



Best Bet: Gabby Squared, Race 10
Longshot: Ravizzol, Race 5


Mo Heat
Bourbon Rising

#7 MO HEAT: Sure looks like the main speed in the Thursday opener, and a repeat of his last-out effort would make him tough. In a field with many horses that don’t seem to want to pass others, his early zip is a real asset, and I think he can lead them all the way around; #4 JOHNNYPUMP: Goes two turns on dirt for the first time since January, and that effort wasn’t bad. He was a close-up fourth at Aqueduct, and that day’s winner came right back to win again, so perhaps he’s back to what he wants to do; #5 BOURBON RISING: Ran third in the race my top pick exits and should sit just off that one’s flank early. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because his lone two-turn dirt race was one of the weakest efforts of his career.


Control Group (MTO)
Cold Hard Cash
Straw Into Gold

#1 COLD HARD CASH: Ran well twice against similar downstate and has enough speed to use the rail draw on the inner turf to his advantage. His best efforts have come going two turns, and this configuration should play to his strengths; #7 STRAW INTO GOLD: Drops back into a state-bred race after finishing third in the Manila at Belmont. He hasn’t run a bad one in four career starts, but his figures don’t dwarf those of his competition, and it’s sometimes tough for fairly-inexperienced 3-year-olds to run well against older competition; #2 MO FAITH: Is better than his last-out effort would indicate, and it’s safe to assume he didn’t take to the yielding going. His races prior to that one were pretty sharp, and the last-out clunker may drive up his price a bit.


Shoe Shine (MTO)
Auburn Hills
Mystery Bank

#3 AUBURN HILLS: Hasn’t run a bad one since being claimed by Mike Maker earlier this year at Gulfstream. He was third against what was probably a better group last time out, and it looks like there’ll be enough pace to set up for his late kick; #2 MYSTERY BANK: Had every right to need his 2021 debut on Independence Day at Gulfstream and returns to the site of his maiden-breaking score last summer. His best race would likely be good enough here, but my one hesitation is that he may want even more ground; #10 RECKLESS SPIRIT: May have found the right level, as he was a decent second against similar company last month. He was wide that day and is another that will benefit from the likely race shape, which should include a solid pace.


Vineyard Sound
High Heater
The Queens Jules

#6 VINEYARD SOUND: Has plenty of speed and exits a classy $20,000 claiming event where he checked in third. That day’s runner-up came back to win a few days ago, and these waters are probably a bit more shallow; #9 HIGH HEATER: Won for this claiming price twice earlier this year in Florida and was probably in a bit over his head in his last two outings. Luis Saez should have him on or near the lead, and the outside post should give horse and rider plenty of options; #8 THE QUEENS JULES: Ran third for a $32,000 tag last time out and, on paper, takes a drop here for aggressive connections. However, I don’t think that was a particularly strong heat for the level, and given that he’s won just once in his last 10 starts, I think he may be overbet.


Triple Americano

#1 TRIPLE AMERICANO: Made a big move when third last time out and gets a tepid top pick in a wide-open maiden claiming event. It makes me nervous to pick a closer breaking from the rail, but he does have a bit more early speed than he showed that day and may be able to work out a trip; #6 RAVIZZOL: Faded in his debut downstate, but has worked well in upstate New York for a trainer whose charges tend to improve with experience. Saez haș been enticed to ride, and I’m expecting a move forward against a suspect field at a price; #7 SHINJUKU: Goes back to the dirt, cuts back in distance, and drops in for a tag, and any one of those moves could move him forward. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because I’m just not sure he wants to go quite this short (he hits me as a one-turn miler rather than a sprinter).


Her World
Wonder entry
Empress Tigress

#5 HER WORLD: Has a bunch of things going for her ahead of her unveiling. She’s trained by 2-year-old maestro Wesley Ward, is by red-hot young sire Caravaggio, boasts a world-class female family, and has been showing precocity in the mornings; #1 THE CLUB: Debuted with a good second-place finish where she showed some maturity and made up ground late. That experience edge should help her, and she’s bred to get better as she goes along; #4 EMPRESS TIGRESS: Debuts for Jonathan Thomas and could be live at a nice number. She hammered for $410,000 at auction earlier this year, and her dam is kin to turf stakes winners Stays in Vegas and Miss Technicality.


Identifier (MTO)
Abiding Star

#1 ABIDING STAR: Is far, far better than he showed last time out, when he dueled through suicidal fractions and had nothing left late. He should not need to go nearly as fast early on here, and if he gets comfortable, I think he’ll be tough to run down; #3 HIEROGLYPHICS: Has won three of six starts over this turf course and four of his last six overall. He goes first off the claim for Dominick Schettino here and has back races that would make him a real handful; #9 TROUBLING MOON: Takes a drop in for a claiming tag, and that may be what he needs to wake up. He’s winless since late-2019, but strong turf rider Jose Lezcano rides and he should be moving in the right direction late.


Brown entry
Regal Retort
Anna’s Fast

BROWN ENTRY: Both #1 SECONDARY MARKET and #1A MOTIVATED SELLER can win this race. They have graded stakes experience and possess every right to move forward from age three to age four. However, while I think their collective talent and strength in numbers is enough to put them on top, I’d urge you to demand more value than you’re likely to get; #6 REGAL RETORT: Did everything but win a classy optional claimer at Churchill last month, and among the runners she beat was Reagan’s Edge, who was entered in Wednesday’s Grade 2 Honorable Miss. She seems like she’s going the right way and could sit an ideal stalking trip here; #9 ANNA’S FAST: Has won two in a row and five of 11 lifetime, with three of the misfires coming against stakes foes. Rob Atras saw fit to claim her last time, and he’s hitting at a robust 32% clip with new acquisitions.


Foolish Ghost
My Boy Tate
Wudda U Think Now

#7 FOOLISH GHOST: Has one way of going and could lead the John Morrissey field from gate to wire. His last-out win over open company at Monmouth was sharp, and the presence of Joel Rosario is noteworthy, as he likely had a few options in the Thursday feature; #3 MY BOY TATE: Ran third in this race last year and has not missed the board in four local starts. His last race at Parx is a throw-out given the wide trip and the very wet track, and his winning efforts two and three back came at this level; #5 WUDDA U THINK NOW: Ran fourth in a loaded allowance race earlier in the meet and may well see this race as a class drop. The horses he’s chased in his last two efforts are stakes-quality runners, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to climb aboard.


Gabby Squared
Wicked Happy
Hard Won

#8 GABBY SQUARED: Was left with too much to do last time out and could only manage a rally to third. The two-back race, though, has turned out to be a key one, as she chased a number of solid horses. Her two-turn efforts are some of the best of her career, and I think she’ll be formidable; #4 WICKED HAPPY: Has had plenty of chances, which is usually a red flag, but she makes her first start off the claim for a barn that connects with 20% of similar stock. Her last several efforts have been fine, and maybe the new connections will move her forward; #6 HARD WON: Found her form last fall when she was competitive in multiple tries at this level. She hasn’t run since October, and maybe she needs a race, but her best effort is certainly good enough for a piece of this.

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