Two things: Firstly, Andy Serling tweeted Wednesday that he’s tested positive for COVID-19 and will be away from the track for a few days as a result. Regardless of whatever he thinks of me, I’ve always thought highly of him. I hope he gets well soon and is back on the grounds in short order.
Secondly, the weekly YouTube show I co-host, “Champagne and J.D.,” is on the ballot for America’s Best Racing’s Fan Choice Award for Favorite Podcast/Radio Show. Voting continues through the end of the month, and we’d really appreciate your support. An initial ballot that was blasted out via social media didn’t have us on it, so other shows (several whose hosts/producers we love and respect!) got a head start.
I’d put the work J.D. Fox and I do up against that of anyone else in the industry. We’ve gotten an outstanding lineup of guests and have been fortunate to put together some really cool stuff with people from all over the sport (and, for that matter, from all over the world, too). If you’ve enjoyed what we do as much as we’ve enjoyed doing it, go vote for us!
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: My late Pick Four play fizzled in the John’s Call, but honestly, it should’ve been toast after the second leg, which featured a puzzling “no change” call from the stewards. Scratches reduced my losses to $24.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: I don’t love waiting until the last few races of the day (sorry to those on deadline!), but I need to do so here because the late double looks especially juicy. I’ll play $5 tickets starting with #4 THIRD DRAFT and #7 RASTAFARA in the ninth and ending with #3 FAST GETAWAY and #8 THREE OUTLAWS in the finale. Three Outlaws is also my longshot of the day, and I’ll have a $10 win bet on that one as well.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30.
Best Bet: Orchestration, Race 3
Longshot: Three Outlaws, Race 10
Let Her Inspire U
Twist Just Right
#1 LET HER INSPIRE U: Faded after pressing a legitimate pace in her debut, a race won by a well-meant Kelly Breen trainee. She’s one of just two runners in here with experience, and that seasoning could prove vital in the Thursday opener; #2 TWIST JUST RIGHT: Has been working well for strong first-out trainer Jorge Abreu and attracts Hall of Famer Javier Castellano. If the likely favorite stubs her toe or can’t work out a trip from the rail, she’s probably the most likely winner; #4 REGAL REBEL: Fetched $120,000 earlier this year and may take considerable support at the windows given the MyRacehorse connections. Rob Atras has enjoyed plenty of success this summer, but offspring of Tiznow generally improve with experience, so she may need a start or two to get going.
First Line (MTO)
Bourbon in May
#2 BOURBON IN MAY: Won twice in a row in Florida before going to the sidelines and comes back running for a claiming tag. This is a pretty significant drop for a runner that has plenty of talent and boasts eight wins in 21 career starts, and if he’s ready, I think he’ll be tough; #4 SPIRIT ANIMAL: Is another class-dropper that was last seen chasing the likes of Hit The Road in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita. He hasn’t run since March, he may be a very short price, and I think he may be better going one turn at Belmont, but his best race could certainly win this; #10 SMILE BRYAN: Found optional claiming company too tough last time out but found the winner’s circle on Opening Day. The outside post is a bit of a problem, but he’s reunited with leading rider Luis Saez and may be fast enough to clear most of these going into the first turn.
#4 ORCHESTRATION: Came flying late in his debut at Ellis Park, where he was beaten less than two lengths after racing well back in the early going. Everything about him says he’ll love the added distance and is likely to step forward at second asking, and I think he’s a very formidable favorite; #8 WIN WORTHY: Has emerged as a grinding type that should relish the added distance he gets in this spot. He’s got the early speed necessary to sit close out of the gate, and the presence of the aggressive Saez should help him work out that kind of trip; #1 CAMBI LION: Came back running off a brief freshening and missed by a half-length downstate. He’s had a history of wide trips, but draws the rail here and showed a bit more early zip last time out. Jose Ortiz rides back, and maybe he’s doing what he wants to do in this spot.
#3 MISS LIANA: Unseated Manny Franco last time out earlier in the meet, but that pilot sees fit to ride back and she drops to an even lower price here. She had won three of five starts before that incident, and a recent four-furlong drill shows she may be sitting on another big effort; #7 QUALITY STONES: Ships in from Finger Lakes after three wins and two seconds in her last five outings. These are probably deeper waters, but the outside draw is certainly a plus and she should be forwardly-placed from an early stage; #1 CATHY NAZ: Almost certainly needed her last-out effort, which doubled as her first race in six months. She won over this surface a season ago, her best efforts would make her competitive, and Saez sees fit to ride back for Bond when he almost certainly had a few options.
Rattle N Roll
#8 KEEPCALMCARRYON: Stretches out for an old-fashioned 2-year-old maiden race going two turns (more of these, please!) after a pair of seconds going shorter. He’s by Belmont winner Union Rags, out of a Scat Daddy mare, and has run like a horse crying out for more distance. He gets it here and looks very logical; #4 RATTLE N ROLL: Made a significant move in his debut, when he broke 11th of 12 at Churchill and rallied for third. He’s been working very well since shipping to Saratoga, and if he takes to the two-turn distance, he could have a big shot; #2 LUNI SIMA: Made a bit of a middle move in his debut at Ellis Park, which came going a mile. It’s not easy to debut going long, so he’s certainly eligible to improve, and trainer Jack Sisterson has popped at a price with several runners to this point in the meet.
Halo of Fire
#5 HALO OF FIRE: Has been working lights-out over the Oklahoma training track’s turf course and merits respect for 2-year-old maestro Wesley Ward. Few in the game are better with first-time starters in turf sprints, and if she runs to her works, we could see something special here; #7 THE CLUB: Has run second twice in as many starts, and she rallied from last to do so in her unveiling on the lawn downstate. Her most recent effort came in an off-the-turf race, and I think she’ll step forward going back to what seems like her preferred surface; #2 JAZZ TIME GIRL: Has a pedigree that says she’ll love the turf. Her dam, Daring Kathy, was an exceptional grass runner that won multiple stakes races. She exits a recent five-furlong bullet drill at Ellis Park and has attracted Irad Ortiz, Jr., for her unveiling.
Glory Road (MTO)
#9 MONTAUK SUMMER: May have found 10 furlongs a bit too far last time out, when he was fourth against allowance foes at Belmont. He drops back in for a tag in this spot, and he has early speed in a field very light on that attribute. If he makes an easy lead, he could prove tough to catch; #2 MOLIERE: Makes his first start on the turf and has a pedigree that suggests he’ll take to it. He’s by all-surface superstar Curlin, out of a Theatrical mare, and boasts a 323 turf Tomlinson figure, one of the highest such numbers in the field; #5 MR. VINCENT: May be a pretty big price, but he drops back into the claiming ranks after drawing wide in an allowance event a few weeks ago. This seems like the correct level, and his two-back race has proven to be a key one, as several runners have bounced out of it to perform very well.
Easy to Bless
#5 MOVIE MOXY: Makes her first start for George Weaver and is a tepid top pick in what hits me as a very puzzling race to decipher. She hasn’t won in a while, but she’s also never run a bad race and has finished in the money in all of her 10 lifetime outings. Weaver does great work with new acquisitions and should have her ready to run; #3 EASY TO BLESS: Has won five of her last six starts, including an allowance race first off the claim earlier this month. This is certainly a much tougher spot, but she’s in very good form and has shown she has the speed to sit close and the flexibility to not need the lead in order to run well; #2 THOUGHTFULLY: Won her first two races impressively, and one of them was the Grade 2 Adirondack. She then found two turns to be too much to ask and has been off since November. If she’s ready to run off of the long break, she could be a factor at a surprisingly nice price.
Love and Money
#7 RASTAFARA: Won what’s proven to be a very classy maiden race last month. That day’s runner-up, Ego Trip, came back to hit the board in a graded stakes race over the weekend, and this one could still have plenty of room to improve. Further progression would make her a top contender in the Riskaverse; #4 THIRD DRAFT: Came flying late to win by a nose in the opening week of the meet and takes a logical step into stakes company. If she gets a solid pace to run at, she should once again be moving the right direction late when the real running starts; #10 LOVE AND MONEY: Certainly looks like the most likely early leader in this event. She probably went too fast early on last time out when fourth behind my second section. I don’t think she’ll need to go nearly as quickly early on here, and Saez turning up here is certainly encouraging.
Happy Farm (MTO)
#8 THREE OUTLAWS: Almost certainly did not care for the yielding going last time out, when he was caught five-wide going around the turn. A return to firmer footing should suit him, and the addition of John Velazquez is never a bad thing to see in the form; #3 FAST GETAWAY: Did everything but win that same race in his last outing, when he set the early fractions and was beaten a neck by a perfect-trip winner. Mike Maker saw fit to claim him out of that race, and he’s worked very well at Belmont since the trainer switch; #9 MYSTERY MESSENGER: Has won just once in his last nine outings, but was a competitive second against similar-level opposition a few weeks ago. Vladimir Cerin saw fit to claim him back in that event, and Joel Rosario takes the call here in the Thursday finale.