SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/21/22)


BANKROLL: $915.20

The Grand Slam is a wager that’s very, very useful in certain situations. If you like a horse in the payoff leg, it’s a way to extract value out of that runner. Additionally, it’s a cheap way for beginning or novice horseplayers to get some fun out of a longer wager, since one only needs to have a horse run third or better in the first three races to stay alive.

There are some days where it’s not as attractive of a bet. However, the Thursday program, headlined by what looks like a two-horse race in the Rick Violette, caters to it. My advice: Single one of those horses there, take some stances in earlier legs, and fire away.

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: I was counting my money at the three-eighths pole of the eighth race, as Mischievous Diane looked set to swoop by the early pace-setters. However, she flattened out, and I dropped $19.

THURSDAY’S PLAY: My $3 Grand Slam ticket starting in the sixth reads as follows: 2 with 3,6 with 2,6 with 4. Additionally, because I like two prices in the Thursday finale, I’ll play $2 doubles starting with #3 COINAGE and #4 DAKOTA GOLD in the ninth and ending with #1 TELL ME WHEN and #7 STRUT in the nightcap.



Best Bet: Perceived, Race 2
Longshot: Tell Me When, Race 10


Up to the Mark
Drink the Wind
Frat Pack

#6 UP TO THE MARK: Has been training forwardly for Todd Pletcher ahead of his debut. He sold for $450,000 back in 2020, there’s plenty of class on both sides of his pedigree, and the cushy outside draw is a plus; #1 DRINK THE WIND: Cuts back in distance after running third going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs. Both of his races this year have been fine, and the local four-furlong move last week is encouraging; #2 FRAT PACK: Will get plenty of betting money as a first-time starter from Chad Brown’s barn, but I have some doubts. The long tenure at Monmouth with Brown’s second string is often a red flag, and while the works time out OK, I’ll need more value than I’m likely to get.


Grumps Little Tots

#5 PERCEIVED: Has won three of his last five starts, including a similar handicap race late in the Belmont meet. His late-running style should fit this race like a glove given an abundance of early speed elsewhere in the field, and when Rudy Rodriguez gets horses on the right track, they tend to stay there; #1 GRUMPS LITTLE TOTS: Was protected from the claim in his first start off the bench, and for good reason, as he rallied to win his 2022 debut. He’s run well up here in the past, and Joel Rosario sees fit to ride back for Charlton Baker; #2 KUMAR: Is another coming in off of a win, having won a photo finish against $20,000 claimers in early-June. Two turns has been a bit of a problem, but I like that he doesn’t need the lead to run well, and he could sit an ideal stalking trip.


Hometown (MTO)
Cash in a Flash

#5 ICARUS: Takes a massive drop in class after being beaten three lengths against far tougher competition. That day’s runner-up came right back to win last week, and these connections aren’t shy about dropping way down in order to win; #3 CASH IN A FLASH: Ran too poorly to be true last time out over Gulfstream Park’s synthetic surface. This is actually his first start on the grass, and he may benefit from being the lone speed horse in this inner turf event; #6 ST. JOE LOUIS: Has been favored in every one of his nine career starts and has burned money in eight of them. He’s been odds-on in four starts this season with no luck and ships in from Monmouth for Chad Brown, which isn’t often a profitable move.


Run Poppy
Smart Prize
Clear the Deck

#1 RUN POPPY: Debuted running second at Churchill Downs and has a right to improve at second asking. Both of this dam’s foals to race are winners, and offspring of this sire tend to be precocious, too; #2 SMART PRIZE: Rallied to be third in his debut, where he didn’t break well. Flavien Prat will be in the saddle, and if there’s hesitation here, it’s only because I think he really wants to go longer given his stamina-heavy pedigree; #6 CLEAR THE DECK: Has an experience edge over most of this field and has run third in both of those outings. The most recent work over the Oklahoma track was solid, and Ken McPeek trainees tend to move forward as they get older.


Greatest Love

#2 AIDANIKE: Has won three of her last four and goes first off the claim in this event. The early pace should be solid, and she’s shown she’s very tough with the stalking trip she’s likely to get in her local debut; #5 DOMINEER: Represents the most likely pace presence and drops in class for a high-percentage barn. Stamina is definitely a question mark, but there’s also a chance she’s fast enough to clear out of the gate and get comfortable; #4 GREATEST LOVE: Drops in half after a $25,000 claim, and while that should help, this isn’t an easy race for the level and she hasn’t won since last September at Monmouth. She fits on speed figures, but her likely price hits me as an underlay.


Ee Yah
Jeremy’s Jet
Three Zero

#2 EE YAH: Picked a tough spot to debut last month at Monmouth, when he ran into Great Navigator. That one ran second in the Grade 3 Sanford, the third-place finisher has come back to win, and this one seems to be facing a lesser group here; #8 JEREMY’S JET: Ships in from Churchill Downs, where he’s already run four times in two months. That experience could prove valuable, and he’s shown some early zip in Kentucky against some decent groups; #7 THREE ZERO: Has improved with every start, including a third-place finish in a rich race at Churchill late last month. His lone local drill was a strong one, and another step forward would give him a shot at a bit of a price.


Big Package
Maxwell Esquire
Artemus Citylimits

#6 BIG PACKAGE: Is a stone closer in a turf sprint that seems full of early speed. He’s 2-for-3 with a second over this turf course, has every right to fire a big shot third off the bench, and retains Jose Ortiz when he probably had several options; #3 MAXWELL ESQUIRE: Is another closer to watch, and while he needs a lot to go right, that scenario could easily materialize. His lone poor run here came against a very strong field in a stakes race late in the meet, and Mike Maker excels with high-priced claiming horses like this one; #5 ARTEMUS CITYLIMITS: Is a hard-knocking, hard-trying gelding with 18 top-three finishes in 19 lifetime starts. He’s shown an ability to be effective sitting just off the pace, and that could prove helpful given some of the speedballs set to go postward.


Reigning Chick
U Guys Are No Fun

#2 CAPTAINSDAUGHTER: Gets a tepid nod in what hit me as a puzzling race to handicap. She hasn’t won in a while, but her stretch of minor awards includes several stakes placings, and perhaps she’ll appreciate what looks like class relief; #6 REIGNING CHICK: Got some black type at this distance when third in the Busanda back in January. Her two efforts since then were clunkers, but a return to that form off a three-month break would give her a big chance; #1 U GUYS ARE NO FUN: Was a close-up second last time out at Finger Lakes and runs for a barn that has enjoyed great success both here and there. However, she has a history of slow starts, and while the distance gives her time to get settled, the rail draw is a legitimate concern.


Dakota Gold

#4 DAKOTA GOLD: Made his return a winning one downstate, when he captured a similar stakes race in his first try since November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He’s looked like a good horse since breaking his maiden here last summer, and I’m expecting a step forward second off the bench for Danny Gargan in the Rick Violette; #3 COINAGE: Was third in the Rick Violette last year when it was a sprint for 2-year-olds. Since then, he’s won a pair of stakes races going long on the turf, and this is a far cry from chasing Annapolis home on Independence Day; #5 TIMBUKTU: Has improved on figures with each start and broke his maiden in his lone prior try at this route. The return to two turns could clear the way for future improvement, and it’s not often we see a Brad Cox trainee at 8-1 in a stakes race.


Tell Me When
American Rockette

#1 TELL ME WHEN: Is one of two prices I feel have big chances in the Thursday finale. She was a decent second in her debut and has a pedigree that screams turf. Her dam is kin to a stakes-winning turf sprinter, and the lofty 346 turf Tomlinson figure hints she’ll love the lawn; #7 STRUT: Debuts for a barn whose horses tend to need a race or two to get going. However, she comes in off of three straight bullets, and the dam’s three prior foals to run are all winners (including Grade 3-placed sprinter Chasing Time); #6 AMERICAN ROCKETTE: Is another bred in the purple debuting for a barn whose horses are known more for patience than precocity. She’s a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winner Frank’s Rockette, and the works hint she’s got some talent.

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