In addition to Saturday’s big card at Saratoga, there’s also a huge day on tap at Monmouth Park. It’s Haskell Day, and the main event features a clash between Jack Christopher and Taiba. I sat in on PlayUSA’s Haskell preview show, which can be seen on the PlayUSA YouTube channel.
Dave Bontempo, Bill Gelman, and I were joined by morning line man Brad Thomas and Dallas Baker of BetMakers, and it was a blast. If you’re playing that race, you won’t want to miss it!
FRIDAY’S RESULTS: My Grand Slam tickets went up in smoke when my second-leg single was off the board. As such, I dropped $16.
SATURDAY’S PLAYS: This is an outstanding slate. My action starts in the opener with an early 50-cent Pick Five ticket that reads as follows: 7 with 6,7 with 3,6 with ALL with 5. I’ll also play an early 50-cent Pick Four starting in the second race that goes like this: 6 with 3,6 with 1,3,4,6,8,9 with 5.
TOTAL WAGERED: $24.
Best Bet: Activist Investing, Race 1
Longshot: Prisoner, Race 8
#7 ACTIVIST INVESTING: Fetched $313,000 at the Tattersalls sale and has some of the best turf breeding of any horse on the grounds. His 451 turf Tomlinson rating is exceptional, he’s been working steadily for Chad Brown, and he looms large; #5 COACH PETRO: Debuts for Brad Cox, who’s enjoyed a stellar meet to this point, and is another with plenty of turf in his pedigree. His dam was a stakes-winner on the lawn, and this female family also threw Grade 2 turf winner Speaktomeofsummer; #9 RECKONING FORCE: Was third in his debut overseas and makes his first North American start for Joseph O’Brien. He’s got an experience edge over the first-time starters, and this dam’s two other foals to race are both winners.
Risk Profile (MTO)
#6 PRIVATE LIFE: Ran too poorly to be true last time out in an off-the-turf event. He gets back to his preferred surface and drops in class, and anything close to his two-back win over starter allowance foes at Gulfstream would make him a tough customer; #7 BRAZILLIONAIRE: Capitalized on a perfect trip last time out with an easy four-length jaunt downstate, and his record looks far better if you focus on his sprint efforts. This isn’t an easy spot for the level, but he’s doing what he wants to do, and that matters; #2 ME ’N SAP: Drops back in for a tag on short rest after a start against higher-level competition last week. His win two back wasn’t bad, and David Donk’s horses are generally running pretty well to this point in the summer.
Bank On Anna
#3 JANE GREY: Had every right to need her first start since September of 2020, but ran a decent second behind an impressive winner. Bill Mott’s horses tend to improve second off the bench, and the presence of Luis Saez is intriguing; #6 REPEALING: Ran in probably the best maiden race of the season last year against champion Echo Zulu and stakes-winner Lady Scarlet, among others. She came back running with a win last month at Churchill Downs, and she goes against winners for the first time here; #1 BANK ON ANNA: Has won three of her last four starts against state-breds and tries open company here. She’s got some versatility and doesn’t necessarily need to be on the lead to run well, which could help her snag a piece of this at a price.
#1 MOZAY: Has been close on a number of occasions and draws favorably in this wide-open turf event. She just missed last time out, when she was involved in a three-way photo at Belmont, and she’s run well going two turns in the past; #6 VERONICA GREENE: Tries the turf for the first time and is bred to love it. Her two dirt outings have been a bit disappointing, but she continues to hint at talent in the mornings and Irad Ortiz, Jr., has been enticed to ride; #9 SIXTH STREET: Is a European export getting Lasix for the first time, which is always a notable angle. She’d been sprinting overseas and stretches out for a very capable barn, and this may not be the toughest race we see at this level this summer.
#5 SECRET OATH: Had a nightmare trip in the Grade 1 Preakness against boys, which came just two weeks after a smashing score in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. She’s been training forwardly for one of the best to ever condition a racehorse, and I think she’ll be tough in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks; #3 NEST: Wasn’t disgraced a bit when second behind stablemate Mo Donegal in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes going a mile and a half. She’s never missed the board in seven career starts and seems ready to fire again; #4 NOSTALGIC: Didn’t have a great trip in the Oaks, which came after a late-running score in the Grade 3 Gazelle at Aqueduct. She showed tactical speed in a few starts earlier this year, and I think she’s better than her last-out effort indicates.
Full Moon Madness
#5 POWERFUL: Gets a tepid nod in a puzzling 2-year-old maiden race that feels heavy on potential. This son of Nyquist hammered for $525,000 at auction, is out of a mare whose two prior foals to race are winners, and possesses a few eye-catching works for Steve Asmussen; #2 FULL MOON MADNESS: Debuts for Michelle Nevin, whose horses tend to need a race or two to get going, and the inside draw isn’t ideal. However, he’s out of multiple Grade 1 winner By the Moon, and his July 9th work at Belmont Park jumps off the page; #8 PHELPSY: Was a million-dollar baby at the Keeneland sale last September. This son of Into Mischief has an outstanding female family, with a dam that’s kin to multiple graded stakes-winner Private Mission. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because he may want longer than this six-furlong route of ground.
Quick Power Nap
#2 TOUGH STREET: Makes her 2022 debut off a long break, but adds Lasix for Chad Brown and finally gets to try turf. Broodmare sire Freud is an excellent grass influence, and her dam is a half-sister to stakes-winning turfer Jazzy Jessy; #8 WRITERS ROOM: Is one of several exiting the same maiden race on June 25th at Belmont and closed at first asking, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Linda Rice’s runners tend to improve at second asking, and a logical step forward gives her a big chance; #6 QUICK POWER NAP: Was second to a good horse in her debut at this route last summer, then went away for 11 months and came back to run third in the race my second choice exits. She figures to be prominent early for a barn whose horses always seem live.
#7 HIGHLY RESPECTED: Cuts back to a sprint after getting nailed at the wire in back-to-back races downstate, one of which was the Grade 3 Bay Shore. He’s fired back-to-back bullet drills ahead of this allowance race, and the cushy outside draw is a big plus; #3 PRISONER: Ran a clunker last time out after starting his career with three consecutive wins. Two recent bullets hint that he’s come back to form for Charlton Baker, and repeats of the races he ran earlier this year at Aqueduct would give him a shot at a very square price; #4 FAVORITE OUTLAW: Has a win and two seconds from three lifetime starts and most recently ran second behind a runaway winner at Churchill Downs. He’s run races that would make him very competitive in this spot, and this lightly-raced colt may still have some room to improve.
#1 UNCLE MOONLIGHT: Capitalized on a “lone speed” situation last time out at Belmont and posted a 95 Beyer Speed Figure, easily a career-best. A similar scenario could present itself here, as this one sure looks like the main pace factor in his two-turn debut; #7 STAGE RAIDER: Is best known as Justify’s younger half-brother, but has run several strong figures and may simply be better than this group. However, he’s 0-for-3 this year, and while he was second behind the talented Highly Motivated last time out, he was probably supposed to win the two-back race. At his likely price, I’ll take a stand against him; #3 RISING EMPIRE: Ran a clunker last time out at Churchill Downs, but adds blinkers and has enough back form to suggest that was an outlier. Brendan Walsh got this one going pretty well earlier this year, and the last-out dud may mean we get an inflated price.
#5 TOBYS HEART: Could provide some value in a wide-open renewal of the Grade 3 Caress. She was beaten four lengths in the Grade 3 Intercontinental, but early speed held well in that race. This one is 4-for-4 at this distance, likes Saratoga, and should get plenty of pace to chase; #1 CARAVEL: Became the Intercontinental champion (first wrestling reference of the season!) last time out, and we’ve seen her run some sensational races. She can run well on the lead or sitting just off the pace, and it wouldn’t be stunning if she won this race for a second year in a row; #3 STAR DEVINE: Has run second twice in as many 2022 outings, but has chased quality fillies home and could have room to improve. She won a minor stakes race at this route last summer, and John Velazquez certainly knows her very well.
Catch That Party
#8 CATCH THAT PARTY: Rated behind a pretty slow early pace last time out, but still rallied and was beaten less than two lengths. He ran well here three times last summer, and it’s telling that aggressive connections protect him rather than drop into a softer spot; #7 SHINSUN: Carries an unusual pedigree and bucked a big trend when he won his debut for Barclay Tagg, who doesn’t usually have his first-time starters fully cranked. This gelding by Japanese Group 1 winner A Shin Forward, out of a German mare, could have some talent, and Luis Saez riding back is encouraging; #1 FRONT MAN: Exits the same race as my top pick and was beaten a length by that runner on that occasion. This one has won his lone local start to date, and a repeat of his two-back winning effort would give him a puncher’s chance at a price.