Wednesday’s card is the 20th of 40 at Saratoga, and like every year, the meet seems to go by incredibly fast. At the same time, it’s both a whirlwind and an endurance test, which is something any handicapper looking at every race, every day can attest to.
One thing I’ll emphasize is the importance of trip handicapping. If you’re watching along, chances are you’re starting to see horses run for the second time this meet. Watch replays on your ADW of choice, take detailed notes, and act accordingly if they return in appropriate spots.
This may only make a true difference for a few horses, but that attention to detail can lead to big scores if you play your cards right. Don’t be afraid to put in the extra work. Your ADW balance will thank you.
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Fabulous Fanny ran third and Mainstay ran fourth. Both ran better than it may look on paper, but I still dropped $24.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to focus on the early Pick Five, as I’ve got a pretty budget-friendly ticket (which isn’t always the case and why I tend to focus more on Pick Four sequences). My 50-cent ticket starting in the opener reads like this: 5,7 with 1,2,7 with 2 with 1,4,7 with 1,2,3. Also, remember that trip handicapping note? #1 MISS DELICIOUS never had a chance with the trip she got last time out and may be a bit of a price in the seventh. I’ll have a $5 win ticket on her.
TOTAL WAGERED: $32.
Best Bet: Mr. Buff, Race 3
Longshot: Fauci, Race 9
Wild Appeal (MTO)
#5 CASTLE LEOCH: Ran well when second in his debut back in May at Gulfstream. He’s been outworking his stablemate that also shows up here, and I’m expecting improvement in his second career start; #7 ADMIRAL HALSEY: Has a world-class pedigree and sold for $230,000 last year at Keeneland. His dam was a Group 3 winner overseas, his second dam was a Group 1 winner, and he shares some of his female family with multiple Group 1 hero and sire Churchill, whose dam is a half-sister to his dam; #2 JAVA BUZZ: Debuts for Linda Rice and sold for $210,000 despite sire Mshawish commanding a modest $7,500 stud fee. He’s bred to want the turf, but I think he may be at his best going two turns, not one.
#1 EXTRA EFFORT: Gets a huge trainer switch in his first start off the claim for Rob Atras, whose barn is hitting at nearly 30% here this summer. In addition, this field sure seems weaker than the ones she’s been tackling, and she has the speed to make the rail draw an asset; #7 BUSTIN BAY: Cruised home at this distance downstate against a weaker group in her first start off the claim by Rudy Rodriguez. Both of her career victories have come going seven furlongs, and she’s certainly shown an ability to rate and pass others late; #2 ADDILYN: Found optional claiming foes a bit too tough last month at Gulfstream. Not only does she drop back down to an appropriate level, she goes back to a distance she’s had success at in the past, with four in-the-money finishes in as many seven-furlong efforts.
#2 MR. BUFF: Has danced a lot of dances over his career and looms large in the Evan Shipman. He’s proven his class and early speed time and time again, and if he’s able to get comfortable going into the first turn, I think he’ll be very tough to run down; #1 DANNY CALIFORNIA: Won at this route just a few days ago and gets wheeled right back by Rudy Rodriguez. It’s easy to see why given his 4-for-5 lifetime record at Saratoga, but that wasn’t an easy race over the weekend and it’s fair to wonder if he’s got enough gas in the tank; #5 WINSTON’S CHANCE: Didn’t do much running earlier in the meet but comes back to state-bred competition and may benefit from the likely race shape. He looks like the lone true closer, and that could help him clunk up for a piece of it.
Gotta Go Mo
Richies Great Girl
#4 GOTTA GO MO: Has chased multiple stakes-winning turf distaffer Caravel twice in a row and should appreciate the class relief here. She’s got plenty of early zip and could scoot clear early, which would make her the one to catch turning for home; #1 RICHIES GREAT GIRL: Ships in for Larry Rivelli, who must always be respected when he sends a horse east during the summer. This filly’s won four in a row and seven of 12 overall, so it wouldn’t be surprising if her best race was enough to get the money here; #7 TIPLE: Hasn’t run in nearly 11 months but returns to race at a route that’s been very kind to her. She’s 2-for-2 in turf sprints at Saratoga, she got pretty good last summer before going to the sidelines, and she could have a chance at a price if she’s ready to run.
#3 KADEN: Gets a reluctant nod in a race without much dirt route form apparent in the program. It’s not easy to debut going two turns, but he sold for $120,000 despite a modest pedigree, has been working well, and has plenty of stamina on the dam’s side of the pedigree; #1 TIVOLI TWIRL: Tries two turns for the first time and has enough pedigree to suggest he’ll take to such a route. His dam has thrown a pair of stakes-winning routers, and plenty of offspring of sire Twirling Candy have done well going long; #2 ANEJO: Has shown very little in two turf starts, but he adds both Lasix and blinkers and sports a very flashy four-furlong drill on dirt. It’s possible he’s just wanted dirt all along, and at his likely price, I need to include him.
#4 STARSHIP DREAMS: Had an adventurous journey in her unveiling last month at Finger Lakes, when she broke last, made a middle move, and tired to finish third. She adds Lasix and blinkers here, and recent drills indicate she’s sitting on a move forward; #3 MS PENELOPEPITSTOP: Dueled early in her debut at Monmouth, but tired to finish fourth. She’s logical, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s favored, but I’m just not sure what she ran against last time, and at her likely price, I’ll try to beat her; #2 SHINING COLORS: Has run second three consecutive times at this level, including once earlier in the meet. Her lone drill since that effort was a bullet drill downstate, and her experience may prove to be a plus.
Misty Veil (MTO)
#1 MISS DELICIOUS: Got caught wide in her most recent start and never had a chance because of it. However, she draws far more favorably in this spot. Inside speed can be very tough on the inner turf, and I’m expecting significant improvement at a square price; #11 TOWN AVENGER: Draws terribly but ran well when fourth against stakes foes at Churchill back in June. There was no early pace that day, but she still rallied to run fourth, and it’s clear she’s got plenty of ability; #7 ELLE EST FORTE: Came home exceptionally fast to break her maiden at Churchill, and that day’s runner-up has since come back to win. This isn’t an easy place to make one’s first start against winners, but Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride and she should be moving the right way late.
#2 BETSY BLUE: Hasn’t finished worse than second in six lifetime outings and merits respect in a wide-open event. She beat several of these rivals when second earlier in the meet, and her usual race would put her right there once again; #3 DIVA BANKER: Steps up in class after two consecutive wins. Most recently, she rallied to top first-level allowance foes downstate, and that wasn’t a dimension she had shown to that point in her career; #6 HONEY MONEY: Has won four of five, including a race here just a few weeks ago. In fact, this will already be her third start of the meet, and her lone recent misfire came over a muddy track she clearly did not care for.
Fire Sword (MTO)
Arrest Me Red
#8 ARREST ME RED: Is 2-for-2 in turf sprints and makes his first start for trainer Wesley Ward. He’s been working up a storm recently and could sit an ideal stalking trip from his outside post, one that would give him first run turning for home in the Mahony; #2 FAUCI: Ran too poorly to be true last time out in a stakes race at Monmouth. If you toss that race, he’s never run a bad one going short on turf, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be; #4 JAXON TRAVELER: Chased Golden Pal last time out in the Grade 3 Quick Call, and this is a softer spot solely because that world-class turf sprinter isn’t in the field. However, after recent repelled bids on turf and synthetic, I think it’s fair to wonder if he’s simply better on dirt.
#4 CLEVER FELLOW: Drops in for a tag for the first time and is probably in a “now or never” situation. He’s flopped as the favorite in four straight outings against maiden special weight foes, but he does have some early speed and should be forwardly placed in the Wednesday finale; #10 VIKING ZIM: Was a fast-closing fourth in the same race my top pick exits and is another trying maiden claimers for the first time. If there were more pace, he’d probably be my top pick, but given the likely race shape and the outside post, I can only pick him second; #8 GHOSTMON: Just missed against similar last time out at Belmont and stretches back out to two turns. He ran second at a similar route at Aqueduct back in April, and he has enough tactical speed to work out a trip beneath Ricardo Santana, Jr.