Greetings from the northeast! When you read this ahead of the Friday card, I’ll be in Boston for a wedding. It’s the first of four such events in a six-week stretch for yours truly, which is what happens when nobody gets married for an entire year (thanks, COVID!). If, for some reason, the soon-to-be bride and groom happen to be reading this, know that I extend my warmest congratulations and that I’m happy to be in attendance for the occasion.
I tried to make a Saratoga trip work, way back before I decided to come for Fourstardave Day two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the logistics just didn’t check out and Sunday flights back to California were ridiculously expensive. If you’re headed to the track tomorrow, have a good time for me!
THURSDAY’S RESULTS: In a bad beat story as old as time, I went two-deep in the finale to finish out the late double, only for my third choice to rally for the win. I dropped $30.
FRIDAY’S PLAY: Because of my respect for both this wedding and my editor’s Travers Eve deadline, I’m going to need to keep my action to the first part of the card. Let’s focus on the early Pick Four, where my 50-cent ticket starting in the second goes as follows: 1 with 5,7 with 1,5,8 with 2,5,6,7. I’ll also play a cold $8 double singling #1 MISS ALACRITY in the second and #7 BARRAGE in the third.
TOTAL WAGERED: $20.
Best Bet: Rinaldi, Race 8
Longshot: My Girl Annie, Race 6
Open Til Midnight
Blue Deja Vu
#10 OPEN TIL MIDNIGHT: Ran well when third in his unveiling earlier this month and had an adventurous journey that day. Even with the disadvantageous post position draw, I’m expecting significant improvement at second asking, and that would make this one the one to beat; #4 SURPRISE BOSS: Is set to try turf for the first time and has a pedigree that hints he’ll like the surface. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because regular rider Jose Lezcano hops off to ride my top selection, which is a bit curious; #2 BLUE DEJA VU: Debuts for Jeremiah Englehart and has a few works that suggest he has some talent. He’s also got a pretty strong turf pedigree and boasts a 331 turf Tomlinson rating, which can’t go completely ignored.
#1 MISS ALACRITY: Has won the first two starts of her career and looms large in a return to state-bred competition. She topped open company in the Colleen at Monmouth in her last outing, and a similar effort would make her tough to top; #3 NOVEMBER REIN: Ran very well to graduate at second asking in the opening days of the meet. She earned a 76 Beyer Speed Figure that day, and while I think she may well be best on turf given her pedigree, she’s shown enough talent to merit plenty of respect here; #2 LAOBAN’S LEGACY: Splashed home clear by nearly eight lengths in her unveiling last month. That race didn’t come back particularly well on speed figures, but it was very impressive visually and there’s nothing saying she can’t take a significant step forward here.
#7 BARRAGE: Drops back into the maiden ranks after two tries against stakes foes, and I think he’ll appreciate the shallower waters here. Leading rider Luis Saez will hop aboard for trainer Danny Gargan, and those two mean business when they team up; #5 YARROW: Debuted with a decent third-place finish at Tampa in February and hasn’t run since. The talent level isn’t a concern here, but the layoff is. If he’s ready to run, he’ll have a big chance, but that’s a sizable “if”; #9 KING MOONRACER: Returns to a route distance and could be forwardly-placed early on. His lone other race going long saw him run a decent third at Belmont back in April, and the blinkers coming off may mean he’s maturing midway through his 3-year-old season.
#5 MONTEBELLO: Led from wire to wire in his unveiling at Del Mar against straight maidens and ships cross-country for Bob Baffert to face fellow New York-breds. It sure seems like he’s been working well, and this may well be a weaker group than the one he beat in his debut a few weeks ago; #8 DAUFUSKIE ISLAND: Romped by five lengths in his debut here and is wheeled back pretty quickly for this event. The outside post should give Dylan Davis plenty of options, and he showed he didn’t necessarily need the lead to run well in that first-out score; #1 SENBEI: Wired a field in the mud last month in his debut, and that’s no shock given his mud-friendly pedigree. This is a tougher spot, and the rail draw won’t make things easy for him, but he should be prominent early and have every opportunity to carry his speed.
I’m Perfect Too (MTO)
#7 CAUMSETT: Gets another shot from me here, and this strikes me as a “now or never” spot for her at this level. The blinkers go on, and she has plenty of early zip already. I think the game plan is simple, and that she may prove extremely tough to catch; #5 BAUDI MOOVAN: Clunked up for fourth in her debut despite a fairly slow start and a wide trip throughout. Saez sees fit to ride, and improvement is logical at second asking for a barn whose horses usually move forward with seasoning; #6 ESCAPEWITHFRIENDS: Cuts back to a sprint distance after tiring going two turns earlier in the season. She ran very well when second in her debut downstate. I think she wants to sprint and could recapture her first-out form in a return to one-turn racing.
My Girl Annie
Lot of Honey
#5 MY GIRL ANNIE: Ships in from Finger Lakes and is slated to bring her jockey, which always makes me perk up. She hasn’t run a poor race in New York this season, has a win going seven furlongs, and could present plenty of value in this wide-open allowance event; #8 BUSTIN BAY: Does her best running at this seven-furlong distance and merits respect even considering a significant class jump. This is her first start off the claim for Karl Broberg, who’s very good with new acquisitions, and she should be going the right way late; #2 LOT OF HONEY: Draws an inside post and has plenty of early zip in a race that doesn’t seem to have much of that elsewhere. Joel Rosario will ride for the first time, and if early speed is holding in the early part of the card, her chances improve considerably.
#9 MAKE MISCHIEF: Takes a big class drop after spending most of the season going up against graded stakes company. She ran third in both the Grade 1 Acorn and Grade 2 Eight Belles, and while two turns is an unknown, her sheer talent may well be enough to carry her to the winner’s circle; #2 PAY GRADE: Re-rallied to top allowance foes going a mile downstate in the final days of Belmont’s spring/summer meet. Her pedigree says two turns won’t be an issue, and jockey Eric Cancel’s aggressive tendencies could make her the one to catch; #8 COFFEE BAR: Was beaten at 2/5 last time out, but, to be fair, that was against older horses and she was wide for most of that race. Blinkers come on, Flavien Prat’s presence can’t be ignored, and perhaps she’s ready for a stronger effort in her third start off a long layoff.
#2 RINALDI: Snuck away early in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple and led every step of the way. He’s proven to be very, very dangerous when he gets that kind of trip, and I think that’s the journey he gets in this spot as well. If he does, the race is for second; #8 MO READY: Was a good second here earlier in the meet when he contested a solid optional claiming event. He ran third in last year’s Grade 1 Belmont Derby and won races over this turf course in both 2019 and 2020, so we know there’s plenty of talent here; #1 THERAPIST: Has been a stalwart in these state-bred stakes races, and for good reason. He’s a consistent sort that generally runs the same race every time out, and he’d stand to benefit if one of his rivals goes with my top pick out of the gate.
#5 BOBBY BO: Is another Baffert shipper that flies cross-country to run with his New York-bred brethren. He took a significant step forward when stretched out to a mile last time out, and he seems like the speed of the speed in the Albany; #2 AMERICANREVOLUTION: Has taken significant steps forward in each of his outings, the most recent of which saw him run away with the New York Derby at Finger Lakes. I’m not entirely sure what he beat that day, but he looked great doing it and the breeding sure says he was always going to get better when he got to two-turn races; #4 BINGO JOHN: Won his local debut in come-from-behind fashion and tries winners for the first time in this spot. He’s shown an ability to pass others late, and the faster they go early, the better this Brad Cox trainee’s chances figure to be.
#3 MYHARTBLONGSTODADY: Gets some class relief after four straight starts against open company in stakes races. Prior to that stretch, she won four in a row against New York-breds, including the 2020 renewal of this very race, and she reunites with top turf rider Jose Lezcano; #10 KILKEA: Looks an awful lot better if you draw a line through the last-out clunker in an off-the-turf race downstate. She won three of five starts from last summer through February of this year, and she’s got enough speed to give Flavien Prat some options out of the gate; #8 PECATONICA: Didn’t have a great trip last time out in an open allowance race, but has shown a clear affinity for this turf course. She’s chased my top pick on a number of occasions, but there’s enough speed in here to set up for her preferred running style, and I can’t ignore her in the exotics.
Eight Weeks Long
#8 FAST GORDON: Did everything but win last time out, when he was dropped to this level and got beat by a nose. He’s got plenty of tactical speed and could sit another dream trip beneath Lezcano in the Friday finale; #5 TACKLE: Merits plenty of respect coming in off a long layoff for Mike Maker. He ran several strong races against maiden special weight foes last summer and fall and has every right to win if he’s ready, but that’s no certainly and he’ll likely be a pretty short price; #1 EIGHT WEEKS LONG: Has had a bunch of chances, but seems to have found a home going long on turf at this level. The jockey switch to Prat cannot be ignored, and that may be enough to wake him up and get him home in his 11th career outing.