I got back home at 1 am Pacific time Monday morning after last weekend’s whirlwind trip to the East Coast. When I woke up for work about seven hours later, I didn’t feel exhausted, or run down, or anything like that. Instead, I felt fulfilled thanks to seeing my family, visiting the Spa, and running into a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in quite a while.
I’ll remember every bit of that day for a really long time. It didn’t hurt that I picked five winners in print and made some money, but that honestly didn’t matter nearly as much as the other stuff. I loved seeing people I wanted to connect with (especially my mom and my dad, who I don’t get to see nearly enough), and I’m still laughing about my girlfriend’s experience at the Big Red Spring.
Ladies and gentlemen…my girlfriend at the Big Red Spring. #Saratoga pic.twitter.com/LvRb0dL6YK
— Andrew Champagne (@AndrewChampagne) August 14, 2021
If you’re reading this and we met up, know that I appreciate it. I love where I live, and moving enabled me to do a lot of really cool stuff, but upstate New York’s home. It always will be.
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: This one hurt. Alpha Babe was my longshot of the day and ran a huge race in the finale, but came up a head short. That was the difference between a $120 profit and a $20 loss, the latter of which goes in the ledger.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll head to the sixth, which houses the latest longshot of the day. #4 LET THEM EAT CAKE ran a few sneaky races at this route last year and has been working well ahead of her second start off the layoff. I’ll key her in $5 exactas above and below #6 GAILHORSEWIND and #7 CROWDING OUT, and I’ll also have a $5 win bet on her as well.
TOTAL WAGERED: $25.
Best Bet: Clear Humor, Race 10
Longshot: Let Them Eat Cake, Race 6
The Mean Queen
#6 THE MEAN QUEEN: Suffered one of the worst beats of the meet in the Kiser, when she dumped her jockey when well clear in the stretch. That jockey sees fit to ride back, which is noteworthy because he won a Grade 1 on the second choice, and I think she atones for the last-out sins in this spot, the Grade 1 Jonathan Sheppard Handicap; #3 BALTIMORE BUCKO: Wired the field in the A.P. Smithwick last time and should be on or near the lead in this spot as well. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because of the jockey situation, but his best effort is certainly good enough to complete a Grade 1 sweep; #2 GIBRALFARO: Generally runs the same race every time out, and that effort is usually good enough for a piece of it. He’d stand to benefit if another went with Baltimore Bucko early, as that would set things up for his late kick.
Flat Out Beautiul
#6 FREE ENTERPRISE: Broke a long drought last time out, when he hung on at this route of ground. He drops a bit in claiming price, stays at his preferred distance (where he’s 2-for-2), and draws a cushy outside post; #2 CANTRELL HILL: Rallied for second here last month and generally runs the same race every time out. He’s got seven top-two finishes in eight 2021 outings and was claimed by Danny Gargan after his most recent effort, so there’s reason to expect him to be right there again; #3 FLAT OUT BEAUTIFUL: Hasn’t won in a while but has been running against much better horses for most of his career. He may not have taken to the mud at Belmont last time out, and the faster they go early, the better this closer’s chances figure to be.
Call Sign Charlie
#4 MORNING MATCHA: Was flying late last time out against similar and was third beaten just a length. That day’s runner-up has since come back to win, and further progression would make this filly a formidable favorite; #9 MONSHUN: Has been working well ahead of her unveiling and has a strong bottom-side pedigree. Her dam is a full sibling to stakes winner Flat Bold, and the presence of Joel Rosario and the outside draw are both big pluses; #7 CALL SIGN CHARLIE: Debuts for Jorge Abreu, whose barn enjoyed a stellar weekend. This outfit can certainly win with first-time starters, and the recent half-mile gate drill hints that this Mission Impazible filly may have some talent.
#3 BLEWITT: Finds himself in a pivotal spot, as he drops down significantly after being well-beaten by stakes-caliber horses in his last several starts. However, he sure seems like the lone speed in an otherwise paceless event, and if he’s ever going to get his mojo back, this seems like the spot to do it; #1 UNIVERSAL PAYDAY: Won at this route last summer and likely needed his last-out effort in which he was protected from being claimed due to the layoff. He goes back to two turns here, and a return to his mid-2020 form would give him a chance; #6 HEAVY ROLLER: Took a big step up into the $40,000 claiming ranks but didn’t run badly that day. He’s hit the board in five of six starts at this distance and could sit an ideal stalking trip at a bit of a price.
#8 VAGARIES: Fetched a bit more than $217,000 at the Tattersalls sale and, like most of Chad Brown’s acquisitions from that sale, is bred to want this route of ground. Her dam is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Mail the Desert, and she’s a tepid top pick in a fun 2-year-old maiden race; #3 DIAMOND HANDS: Hammered for $425,000 earlier this year and is bred up and down to be a good one. He’s by Grade 1 winner Frosted and out of a multiple stakes-winning mare, one who did most of her best work going long on the lawn; #2 SHINE: Is another expensive auction buy and has been working very well ahead of her unveiling. Her female family includes the dam of multiple stakes winner Icabad Crane, and the tab includes a recent bullet drill (which isn’t common for Bill Mott trainees).
Let Them Eat Cake
#4 LET THEM EAT CAKE: Goes second off the bench and has been training very well ahead of a return to the turf. She ran well at this route a few times here last season, and her speed figures indicate she’s good enough to win this at a nice price; #6 GAILHORSEWIND: Adds blinkers for this event, which could help her focus and navigate a clean trip. That isn’t something she’s been able to do to this point in her career, but the equipment change makes sense and Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride; #7 CROWDING OUT: Will take plenty of money as a Chad Brown trainee in a turf sprint, but I have my doubts. She’s spent her time at Monmouth Park, and Brown’s Monmouth horses haven’t done a lot when shipping up to the Spa. At her likely price, I’ll try to beat her.
Cadeau de Paix
#3 CADEAU DE PAIX: Was second last time out behind a very well-meant runner and should get an ideal race shape in this spot. There’s a lot of early speed signed on, and this consistent mare does her best running from off the pace. She’ll certainly be moving the right way late; #5 CHLOE ROSE: Takes a big step up in class but has absolutely done her best running over this surface. She won for fun two starts ago before falling a half-length short last time out, and this claim box favorite will make her third straight start for a new trainer in this event; #1 BAYSHORE FOXES: Cuts back to a sprint after running second in a two-turn, off-the-turf event last time out. Her one-turn races have been fine, this barn means business here, and she may be talented enough to work out a trip from her tricky inside post.
#5 SEISMIC WAVE: Has a lot of back class and is my top pick in a $40,000 claimer that looks way more like an ungraded stakes race. He’s placed in several graded events, and while the inner turf course isn’t usually kind to closers, there seems to be enough pace in here to keep things lively early on; #1 TAOS: Is a very, very tricky horse to handicap. On one hand, he hasn’t run since May of 2020 and comes back for a tag. On the other, he’s been working very well for Danny Gargan, whose record with horses off of long layoffs is top-notch, and he has the speed to capitalize on the inside draw; #10 HIEROGLYPHICS: Does his best running at Saratoga, where he’s won in three of six local tries. He has every right to run well here despite the outside draw, and his best effort would put him right there.
Averly Jane (MTO)
Flip My Id
#3 DERRYNANE: Ran to the billing when she cruised home as the even-money favorite in her debut last month. The recent bullet drill hints that she’s moved forward since that race, and this daughter of Quality Road and stakes winner Portmagee sure looks well-meant in the Bolton Landing; #4 FLIP MY ID: Boasts one of my favorite names of any 2-year-old I’ve seen this season and exits a solid debut at Belmont where she overcame a wide trip. This filly by Freud (hence the id reference) retains Irad Ortiz, Jr., and she should be able to save a bit more ground here; #9 CHI TOWN LADY: Debuted with a win at Keeneland back in April and exits a strong four-furlong turf drill on the training track. Wesley Ward-trained 2-year-olds can’t be ignored, and this one wouldn’t be a shock even though the pedigree hints she may want a bit more ground.
#1 CLEAR HUMOR: Ran well here when second at this level last month and was claimed that day by a 23% outfit. Luis Saez likely had several options, but he lands here, and I think the cutback to six furlongs will really help him (especially since this seems like a weaker group); #3 MULTIPLE EXPANSION: Was bet to favoritism in his unveiling going long on turf, but he didn’t run well that day against a group that wasn’t bad. He drops in for a tag and changes surfaces, and at least the workouts hint that he hasn’t lost interest after the first-out misfire; #6 DAMILANO: Has hit the board in each of his last two outings, and his record does look better if you toss the non-sprint races. His efforts over off tracks haven’t been bad, and maybe a faster surface will allow him to move forward.