SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/11/22)

BANKROLL

Check back Wednesday evening!

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Empress Tigress, Race 9
Longshot: On Palm Sunday, Race 5

R1

Patrick the Great
Catching Cupid
Salt Cay

#4 PATRICK THE GREAT: Just missed last time out in a similar spot downstate and was nearly six lengths clear of that day’s third-place finisher. Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride back for the new connections, which is certainly a plus; #6 CATCHING CUPID: Adds blinkers after running third in his first try against maiden claimers earlier this summer. This is the third start of his form cycle after a long layoff, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s sitting on a career-best effort; #5 SALT CAY: Will likely take plenty of betting money because of trainer Chad Brown, but I have my doubts. It seems like they were salivating to get him on turf after a pair of off-the-turf races last season, but he was 10th as an 8/5 favorite last time out and now gets dropped down the ladder. At his price, I’ll try to beat him.

R2

Invaluable (MTO)
Angelinka
Violent Point

#2 ANGELINKA: Runs for a tag for the first time and seems to have found a very weak field for the level. Neither stateside start is inspiring, but she’s got some back class from her time in Europe and has been chasing much, much better horses here; #4 VIOLENT POINT: Broke through to win for the first time in a while last time out and comes back to the turf. I’m not sure what she beat that day, but she earned an 81 Beyer Speed Figure in doing so, and she’d be competitive if she can repeat that performance; #5 BAY JEWEL: Hasn’t won since May of 2021 but goes first off the claim for a barn that doesn’t sport bad numbers with new acquisitions. The jump up in class hints at some confidence, and the two races she ran at this route last year against allowance foes weren’t terrible.

R3

Dame Cinco
Preposterous
Belarus

#5 DAME CINCO: Ran well when second for a slightly higher tag at Keeneland in April. He’s shown he likes this one-mile distance, and Luis Saez rides back when he likely had a few options in this event out of the Wilson chute; #2 PREPOSTEROUS: Goes first off the claim for Antonio Arriaga, who’s already found the winner’s circle a few times with his small string of runners. She was second last time out behind a major class-dropper, and she won going a mile last fall at Belmont; #1 BELARUS: Tries winners for the first time after breaking through downstate in June. I don’t think she beat a ton that day, but her form looks considerably better if you assume she just doesn’t like the Aqueduct surface she floundered over twice during the winter. 

R4

Nicky the Vest (MTO)
Barrage
Ruse

#2 BARRAGE: Ran well to finish second behind a “horse for the course” last time out in a similar spot, one that featured a bunch of horses that show up here. He seems to have moved forward in his 4-year-old campaign, and he’s a very logical favorite given this closer-friendly race shape; #3 RUSE: Is 0-for-4 this season, but did the best work of his career here last summer, when he won twice in three local starts. Of the probable pace-setters, he’s the one the hits me as the most likely winner; #7 STRAW INTO GOLD: Figures to benefit from a lively pace and retains Joel Rosario for Christophe Clement. That tag team merits respect, but it’s worth wondering if he prefers the downstate tracks given his 0-for-3 record at the Spa.

R5

On Palm Sunday
Sense a Giant
Mr. Connecticut

#9 ON PALM SUNDAY: Certainly looks like the main speed in a race largely devoid of early zip. He comes back to his preferred surface after his local debut was washed off the turf, and I think he could get very comfortable and prove tough to catch at a big of a price; #7 SENSE A GIANT: Drops in for a tag at second asking and adds blinkers following a one-paced debut at Belmont. It’s not easy to make a first start going a route of ground, so improvement could certainly be in the cards; #10 MR. CONNECTICUT: Runs for a tag after finishing third earlier this summer, but the race he exits has not aged well. The second and fourth-place finishers both came back to run poorly over the weekend, the far outside post doesn’t help, and I just prefer others (especially at this one’s likely short price).

R6

Curly Larry and Mo
Donegal Surges
Impressor

#4 CURLY LARRY AND MO: Ran well to be second in his debut earlier at this stand and has every right to move forward at second asking. This barn’s numbers with second-out maidens are strong, and his experience edge over this entire field isn’t a small asset; #6 DONEGAL SURGES: Sold for $150,000 last year at Keeneland and debuts for Todd Pletcher. The most recent drill is impressive, as is his pedigree, but it’s worth wondering why he was worked twice on turf after a string of so-so drills earlier this summer; #8 IMPRESSOR: Sold for $335,000 earlier this year despite a modest pedigree and has every right to be a runner. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because Steve Asmussen trainees often need a race to get going, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this one went favored and he’s not without a shot.

R7

Winter Pool
Kershaw
Claytnthelionheart

#8 WINTER POOL: Ran well here twice last summer in a pair of races at this route. He’s been off since being claimed by Norm Casse in June, but an impressive series of drills ahead of a return to his favorite track has me encouraged; #4 KERSHAW: Was second in the very first race of the meet, one that fell apart due to a very fast pace for the level. He was probably a bit too close to it, but has every right to improve here in his first start for a barn that hits with 29% of runners first off the claim; #6 CLAYTNTHELIONHEART: Has cracked the exacta in five of six local starts and was third last time out in a pretty strong race for the level. He’s a pretty versatile runner, one that could give Julien Leparoux plenty of options early on in this two-turn event.

R8

Bella Principessa
H. T. Xena
Echo Foxtrot

#5 BELLA PRINCIPESSA: Is a tepid top pick in a wide-open starter allowance race for older fillies and mares. She’s spent time on the turf of late, but ran well on dirt downstate earlier this season and has won at this tricky seven-furlong distance; #2 H. T. XENA: Cuts back from a mile in her first start for new trainer Matt Shirer, who protects her from being claimed in this spot. She romped going seven furlongs at Keeneland this past spring and may be figuring things out in her 4-year-old campaign; #1 ECHO FOXTROT: Is 2-for-2 after a pair of victories on the Mid-Atlantic circuit and ships up for a barn that must be respected. This is a pretty significant class test, but it does help her cause that the last-out runner-up has since come back to win.

R9

Empress Tigress
Makin My Move
Breeze Easy

#7 EMPRESS TIGRESS: Has done nothing wrong to this point and handled a major class hike with aplomb to win the Coronation Cup last month. The Galway is a logical next step, and many runners she beat last time out will try her again here; #8 MAKIN MY MOVE: Has won two in a row since being switched to the turf and would benefit from a pace meltdown. One of those wins came at this route of ground, and when this barn gets horses on the right track, they tend to stay there; #6 BREEZE EASY: Cuts back after two stakes placings going longer downstate. She came over here after starting her career in Europe, where she placed in several stakes races going short against decent runners.

R10

Jocosity
Lem Me Drink
Succulent

#9 JOCOSITY: Was one-paced in her debut, which turned out to be a pretty fast race for the level. Bill Mott trainees usually move forward with experience, and I’m expecting progression here in the Thursday finale; #2 LEM ME DRINK: Showed some late interest in his debut going shorter and stretches out to a route of ground. There’s stamina in his pedigree, so the distance shouldn’t be a problem, and Javier Castellano is making the most of every mount so far this summer; #11 SUCCULENT: Rallied late to be fourth in the same race my top pick exits and earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure in doing so. The faster they go early on, the better this one’s chances figure to be.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/10/22)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $930.95

Josh Rodriguez from “On The Wrong Lead,” a show I’ve done some work for in the past, posed an interesting question Monday. He was second-guessing his wagering strategy from Saturday, when he missed out on a gigantic Pick Five score despite leaning on Lure winner Dynadrive, and he ended his post asking about how to maximize value on a strong opinion.

It’s an interesting question, and I personally think Josh did almost everything right. When you play Pick Fives, it’s a process-based game, and if your processes are correct, you’ll put yourself in position to connect with big scores. In this particular instance, he has 98% of the sequence pegged before both runners he used in the Grade 1 Test got run down.

That’s the hard part about this game. You can be right about almost everything and still lose. The allure of solving that puzzle and seeing that final piece click into place, though, is a big reason why we all keep coming back!

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: I was nowhere close in this section. A scratch did reduce my losses to $22, but that was as good as it got.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: The fifth hits me as one of the better betting races on the program. I’ll lean on #10 SKYLANDER, who I’ll use in $5 exactas above #5 TONAL IMPACT and #9 INFLATION ADJUSTED and $2 exactas below those runners. I’ll also single Skylander in $5 doubles that end with #7 SECURITY CODE, #8 MAPLE LEAF MEL, and #11 IM JUST KIDDIN in the sixth.

TOTAL WAGERED: $29.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Southern District, Race 8
Longshot: Tiz a Giant, Race 10

R1

Baltimore Kid
Grey Giant
Hurtgen Forest

#5 BALTIMORE KID: Looked like a very strong steeplechase prospect when he won his debut, and I’m willing to draw a line through his last-out effort. The top rider on this circuit sees fit to ride back, and if he can forgive that second-out clunker, so can I; #3 GREY GIANT: Finished third in a similar spot earlier this season and gets a few pounds from each of his rivals in this event. The faster they go early on, the better this one’s chances figure to be; #2 HURTGEN FOREST: Wired a field of maidens last month at Colonial Downs and tries winners for the first time. He certainly looks like the main speed in the Wednesday opener, and his preferred trip would make him the one to catch when the real running starts.

R2

Offutt Cole
Drink the Wind
Kobe’s Legacy

#3 OFFUTT COLE: Chased a much-the-best winner earlier this meet and comes back at this level. While the victor was nearly nine lengths clear, it’s worth noting this one was almost 10 clear of the third-place finisher, so it’s not like he ran poorly; #5 DRINK THE WIND: Takes a big drop in class for this event after starting his career in four straight maiden special weight races. The question is, will the class drop alone be enough when he hasn’t shown much in the way of stamina?; #2 KOBE’S LEGACY: Has some ground to make up on speed figures but seems like one of only a few closers in a race otherwise full of early speed. The race shape could give him a chance to clunk up for a piece of it at a nice price.

R3

General Banker
Makar
King of Comedy

#3 GENERAL BANKER: Was second at a big price in his debut and has every right to improve off of that performance here. Unlike several of his rivals, we know this one can run on the lawn, and he may not have to move forward much at all in order to beat these; #9 MAKAR: Was one-paced in his debut downstate but has worked well since that event. The outside draw isn’t ideal, but Irad Ortiz, Jr., has been enticed to ride when it’s logical to think he had some options; #8 KING OF COMEDY: Has every right to be a strong turf runner given the presence of sire Oscar Performance. This barn’s first-out numbers are just so-so, but there’s plenty of precocity on the bottom of this one’s pedigree, so perhaps he’s ready to run right away.

R4

Mexican Wonder Boy
Kinetic Sky
Prime Factor

#3 MEXICAN WONDER BOY: Tried turf first off the claim last time out, and that didn’t work out so well. He goes back to his preferred surface, and he sure looks like the speed of the speed. A repeat of his two-back effort downstate would make him very tough; #6 KINETIC SKY: Hasn’t won in more than a year and, in fact, makes his 2022 debut in this spot. However, he may be the lone closer in a race with plenty of zip inside of him. If he’s ready off the bench, he’s got a big chance; #4 PRIME FACTOR: Faded to seventh last time out, but that field he faced that day was probably a better one than this bunch. He’s inconsistent, but his best race gives him a chance, and the recent four-furlong bullet drill inspires some confidence.

R5

Skylander
Inflation Adjusted
Tonal Impact

#10 SKYLANDER: Comes back to the grass and takes a big drop in class after chasing Keepmeinmind on the dirt a few weeks ago. This is clearly the weakest field he’s tackled since breaking his maiden, and I think he’ll appreciate the shallower waters; #9 INFLATION ADJUSTED: May have needed his 2022 debut last month at Monmouth, when he flopped against allowance goes. He adds blinkers second off the bench for Chad Brown, and he’s got every right to move forward now that he’s got the tightener under his belt; #5 TONAL IMPACT: Didn’t get a lot of pace to run at last time, when he was eighth in a tough race for the level. I expect things to be a bit more lively up front, and Maker giving him another shot against these types hints at some confidence.

R6

Maple Leaf Mel
Im Just Kiddin
Security Code

#8 MAPLE LEAF MEL: Hammered for $150,000 earlier this year despite a pretty modest pedigree, and she’s been working like a very good horse ahead of her unveiling. The recent bullet drills imply she’s got a lot of potential, and Joel Rosario landing here backs that up, too; #11 IM JUST KIDDIN: Was beaten just a length in her debut earlier this summer for a barn whose first-time starters often need those efforts. She needs a scratch to draw in off the also-eligible list, but she can’t be ignored if that happens; #7 SECURITY CODE: Makes her debut for Phil Serpe, who isn’t known for first-out success but is 3-for-8 so far this season. Her dam was Grade 3-placed as a 2-year-old, so there’s some precocity in her pedigree, and the last two workouts seem to indicate she’s revving up for this fun-looking baby race.

R7

King Moonracer
Just Say When
Rice entry

#6 KING MOONRACER: Was forced to rally extremely wide last time out and, naturally, flattened out after flying into contention turning for home. Javier Castellano rides back for George Weaver, and I expect significant improvement provided he’s able to save any ground at all; #2 JUST SAY WHEN: Has never been out of the exacta in four career starts and has enough speed to turn the inside draw into an advantage. He just missed last time out in the same race my top pick exits, and he’ll likely be prominent right from the jump; #1 VOCALIZE: Is protected in his first start for new trainer Linda Rice and didn’t have a great trip last time out. That day’s rider sees fit to ride back, which should help, and he figures to be moving the right way late.

R8

Southern District
Mr Phil
Isolate

#3 SOUTHERN DISTRICT: Seems the most likely to benefit from the probable race shape of the Tale of the Cat. He’s won three in a row, all in late-running fashion, and he should have plenty of pace to chase beneath regular rider Manny Franco; #5 MR PHIL: Won three in a row before locking horns with Jackie’s Warrior in the Grade 2 True North. Predictably, that didn’t end well, but this spot should be far more suitable for him, and the outside draw seems like a big plus; #1 ISOLATE: Has won three of his last four, including a minor stakes race at Hawthorne. He posted a bullet drill here not long ago, and it seems likely he’ll be gunned to the front by jockey Tyler Gaffalione out of the gate.

R9

Blitz to Win (MTO)
Frank’s Art
Front Line Dancer

#5 FRANK’S ART: Rallied from last to first to win his debut downstate, and you don’t see many horses do that at first asking. I’m not sure what he beat that day, but he looked very good doing it, and his pedigree says the added distance he gets here shouldn’t be an issue; #8 FRONT LINE DANCER: Didn’t get much pace to run at here last month, but still ran well to be second behind a talented filly that day. Irad Ortiz, Jr., rides back for Todd Pletcher, and she’s lightly-raced enough to where further improvement wouldn’t be shocking; #3 WAR TERMINATOR: Hasn’t raced since December and has never gone two turns, but there’s reason to believe he’ll be ready to fire here. Luis Saez sees fit to ride for a high-percentage barn, and his mount will run as a first-time gelding here in his 2022 debut.

R10

Running Bee
Tiz a Giant
Most Wanted Man

#7 RUNNING BEE: Settled for second behind a much-the-best winner last time out, and that day’s third-place finisher has since come back to win. Everything about his pedigree says the added distance this race presents will be right up his street; #2 TIZ A GIANT: Ran well to be second at a big price earlier this summer and attracts John Velazquez for his second start of the meet. He’s improved on speed figures with each of his most recent starts, and he may be a square price once again in the Wednesday finale; #8 MOST WANTED MAN: Rallied to finish third last time out at Belmont Park and gets Irad Ortiz, Jr., for his second start off the bench. He’s eligible to improve and certainly bred to be any kind, but it doesn’t help his cause that that day’s winner came back to run poorly earlier this summer.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/7/22)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $952.95

I’m making an executive decision here. I’m typing my content for Sunday on Friday night out here in California before going back to packing boxes ahead of a move. Between Saturday’s bankroll blurb being a late Pick Four play on a loaded card and the uncertainties moving brings, I’m hammering this out now so I don’t leave my long-suffering editor on the hook on deadline.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: The post-deadline update, unfortunately, isn’t a positive one. Matareya losing as an odds-on favorite knocked out a bunch of Pick Four tickets, mine included. After scratches, I dropped $30.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ve got two tickets I’ll punch in hopes of finishing out the week with a bang. I’ll start $5 doubles in the fifth with #1 JUST AN ANGEL and #5 TRIBAL QUEEN, ones that finish with #9 DELIGHT as a single in the sixth. Additionally, in the eighth, I’ll play a $5 win ticket on #8 PORTILLA, and use that one in $3 exactas above and below #4 EMPIRE HOPE and #5 COLORFUL MISCHIEF.

TOTAL WAGERED: $27.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Goodnight Olive, Race 3
Longshot: Portilla, Race 8

R1

Talkin Pharoah
Certified Loverboy
Chiringo

#8 TALKIN PHAROAH: Ran very well in his debut, where he finished a stubborn second at Keeneland after dueling through solid fractions. Being by American Pharoah, he should love the turf, and the July 19th bullet drill in Kentucky jumps off the page; #7 CERTIFIED LOVERBOY: Flashed brief speed in his unveiling at Belmont Park and is another going dirt-to-turf for his second lifetime start. He’s by Mendelssohn, out of a Malibu Moon mare, and has every right to relish the lawn; #3 CHIRINGO: Hammered for $260,000 earlier this year and has been training forwardly for George Weaver, whose barn has started to heat up this week. Javier Castellano has been making the most of his mounts this season, so seeing him aboard this one is encouraging.

R2

Critical Threat
Blue Jays
Majestic Tiger

#1 CRITICAL THREAT: Was claimed for double today’s tag last time out, but that doesn’t concern me given the aggressive nature of these connections (especially when it comes to this meet). He has several one-mile races on his sheet from earlier this year at Gulfstream that are very good, and repeats of those races would make him tough; #3 BLUE JAYS: Takes a similar drop for the same barn, one that looks to have the rest of this field over a barrel. He hasn’t won in quite a while, but he attracts Luis Saez and could appreciate the shallower waters; #5 MAJESTIC TIGER: Came from well back to be beaten just a neck going seven furlongs here earlier this summer. He’s run well at a mile in the past, and he’d benefit from several of these challenging one another out of the Wilson chute.

R3

Goodnight Olive
Liberty M D
Dr B

#2 GOODNIGHT OLIVE: Has won three races in a row and has not been tested at all during that stretch. She did sit a perfect trip last time out, but she’s also pretty flexible and doesn’t need an easy lead in order to run well. If she moves forward second off the bench, I think she’ll crush this field; #5 LIBERTY M D: Has a record that looks far better if you toss her clunker in last year’s Grade 3 Shuvee going a two-turn route she clearly didn’t like. She rallied to win last time out in a race that fell apart late, and this is another spot that seems heavy on early zip; #4 DR B: Has a ton of back class and ships up from Parx for a barn that’s proven dangerous when it shows up. She makes her third start off the bench here, and she exits a fourth-place finish in a stakes race at Monmouth Park.

R4

Naughty Gal
Promise of Hope
Sabra Tuff

#2 NAUGHTY GAL: Broke her maiden in runaway fashion and seems well-meant heading into the Grade 3 Adirondack. That day’s runner-up has since come back to win, and two of the top three finishers in her June debut also graduated next time out; #3 PROMISE OF HOPE: Won first time out in professional fashion and has been working well here for Tom Amoss, whose barn is due to get going. She’s bred to get better with experience and distance, and I’m expecting her to fire here; #4 SABRA TUFF: Went wire-to-wire in her debut before breaking last in a stakes race at Churchill. Despite the wildly-different setup, she rallied to finish a decent second that day, so there may be plenty of untapped potential here.

R5

Just an Angel
Tribal Queen
Peace Cruiser

#1 JUST AN ANGEL: Did very little wrong in her debut, where she dueled through legitimate fractions before settling for second. That day’s third-place finisher won the race declared a no-contest a few weeks ago, and Steve Asmussen trainees tend to move forward considerably with experience; #5 TRIBAL QUEEN: Finished second in her debut as the 7/5 favorite, but I’m willing to give her another shot. Her last two workouts are exceptional, Javier Castellano rides back for Tony Dutrow, and that experience should help given this quirky seven-furlong route; #8 PEACE CRUISER: Sports a pretty flashy work tab for connections that don’t often rush horses along. She sold for $180,000 this past May, and while seven furlongs is a tough trip for first-time starters, it’s possible she’s ready to navigate it.

R6

Delight
Gifted
Pink Hue

#9 DELIGHT: Was all but eliminated at the start of her debut, but she stayed interested enough to salvage third money. Her pedigree says stretching out to two turns won’t be an issue, and if she gets clear sailing this time around, I’m expecting a big performance; #3 GIFTED: Has every right to be a strong runner for an ownership group that’s excelled with homebreds. She’s by Tapit, out of a mare that was Grade 1-placed at two, and has a female family that includes champion Dreaming of Anna, the dam of sire Fast Anna (among others). Bill Mott’s numbers with firsters are just so-so, but ignore this one at your own peril; #4 PINK HUE: Figures to take money in her debut for Chad Brown, and for good reason. She’s a three-quarters sister to Group 1-placed turf sprinter Man of Promise, and her dam is kin to a pair of stakes winners as well.

R7

McKulick
With The Moonlight
Walkathon

#2 MCKULICK: Has never run a poor race and put forth a career-best effort to win the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks last month. She did so rating behind a moderate early pace, and given that this barn has half the six-horse field in this Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks, I’m expecting one of her barn buddies to go early; #3 WITH THE MOONLIGHT: Shipped across the Atlantic and ran second to McKulick that day. William Buick sticks around for the mount, and he piloted her to a very impressive score in her 3-year-old debut this past spring at Newmarket; #4 WALKATHON: Comes in on a three-race win streak and bested my top pick in the Grade 3 Regret. That was a quirky turf course that Churchill Downs has since stopped running on, but there’s no denying the progress she’s made since being switched to the grass by Ian Wilkes earlier this year.

R8

Portilla
Colorful Mischief
Empire Hope

#8 PORTILLA: Ran a big race in her 4-year-old debut, when she battled through the stretch to just miss at Churchill. That day’s third-place finisher came right back to win at Horseshoe Indiana, and I think this one figured some things out in her time away from the races. A move forward gives her a big chance at a nice price; #5 COLORFUL MISCHIEF: Tried winners and two turns for the first time a few weeks ago and settled for third money. She cuts back to one turn and won at this distance two back over an impressive next-out winner; #4 EMPIRE HOPE: Won at first asking for Chad Brown and steps up in class. Second-out improvement is never out of the question with this barn, but her lone race to date didn’t come back with the best speed figures. I think she’ll need to move forward considerably, and that I’ll need more value than I’m likely to get.

R9

Plum Ali
Love And Thunder
Jouster

#4 PLUM ALI: Chased some very nice fillies last time out when fourth in the Grade 2 Nassau at Woodbine, which boasts a one-turn mile. This horse’s best recent efforts have come around two-turn configurations, including a score in a similar-level stakes race at Aqueduct in April; #1 LOVE AND THUNDER: Runs the same race every time out, it seems, and it wouldn’t be stunning if her usual effort got her the money here. However, her running lines indicate she regularly finds trouble, and the rail draw on the inner turf course isn’t kind to horses like this. Still, if I’m asked to take a short price, I prefer this one to…; #5 JOUSTER: …who did run well to win the Perfect Sting but did so with a picture-perfect trip. Prior to that effort, she hadn’t won in more than a year. It’s possible she’s moved forward, but I just can’t stomach the short price she’ll likely be come post time.

R10

Digital Software
Merci
Skylander

#1 DIGITAL SOFTWARE: Comes back off a long layoff and is protected from being claimed, which is one of my favorite angles in racing. It hints at some confidence from the barn, and this one has run well here in the past. He’s clearly had his issues, but if Chad Brown’s got him going the right way, the 4-1 morning line could be an overlay; #10 MERCI: Takes a big drop in class and keeps Joel Rosario, which are both noteworthy ahead of the Sunday finale. He fits on figures, but Christophe Clement has won with just one of his last 10 “allowance to claiming” droppers on this circuit since July of 2020; #13 SKYLANDER: Needs a scratch to draw in off the also-eligible list but deserves a long look if he does. He’s never run for a tag before, and his last-out effort was a dirt allowance race won by graded stakes winner Keepmeinmind. This is a far, far softer spot, and he’s a contender if he’s allowed to run.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/6/22)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $982.95

Two things: First, I had a blast doing a guest appearance Thursday night on the HHH Racing Podcast. We went through the Saturday late Pick Five, and all three of us took some pretty strong stances along the way. It’s always fun talking horses with passionate people!

Also, Saturday’s a special day at the track for reasons other than the Whitney. The 10th annual Saratoga Stumble, helmed by our very own Sam Hollingsworth, descends upon the Spa for mayhem, debauchery, hijinks, and shenanigans. One of these years, my annual trip east will align with it. If you’re partaking in the festivities, have fun and be safe!

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Lil Commissioner scratching unfortunately cancelled my Grand Slam play.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the late Pick Four and try to extract some value out of #1 MATAREYA in the Grade 1 Test. My primary, 50-cent ticket starts in the ninth and goes as follows: 1 with 4,6 with 2,4,5,6,10 with 1,4,5,7,10. Additionally, I’ll play a skinnier, $1 ticket that goes like this: 1 with 6 with 4,10 with 1,4,5,7,10.

TOTAL WAGERED: $35.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Matareya, Race 9
Longshot: Conquist, Race 12

R1

Mullinger
Alexis Zorba
Battle of Normandy

#4 MULLINGER: Almost certainly needed his debut, and this two-turn turf route should be right up his street. His pedigree screams turf, and Bill Mott trainees tend to move forward considerably at second asking; #2 ALEXIS ZORBA: Was one-paced in his U.S. debut and ran like a horse that wants more ground. He gets it here, John Velazquez sees fit to ride back, and blinkers going on is noteworthy; #7 BATTLE OF NORMANDY: Hammered for $500,000 last summer and is bred to be any kind. His dam was a multiple stakes winner on turf, so this could be right up his street, but it’s not easy to go long at first asking and this rider doesn’t team up with this barn much, which is curious.

R2

She Caught My Eye
Toosweettobesour
Tekila

#4 SHE CAUGHT MY EYE: Didn’t do much running in her debut going two turns over Turfway Park’s synthetic surface. She comes back for Bill Mott, adds Lasix, and sports a recent half-mile drill at Belmont that indicates there may be some talent here; #7 TOOSWEETTOBESOUR: Was second for a slightly lower tag downstate and may be figuring things out midway through her 3-year-old season. I’m not sure we’ll get the 12-1 morning line price, and a repeat of the last-out effort gives her a chance to spring a mild upset; #8 TEKILA: Goes out for a barn on an epic cold streak, but sure seems like the controlling speed and could lead them a long way. That could make him comfortable in a race with several horses that don’t seem interested in passing others.

R3

Khali Magic
Pretty Clever
Mosienko

#2 KHALI MAGIC: Rallied from off the pace to win going away earlier this season and could get the exact same closer-friendly setup here. He hasn’t run a poor race on dirt in more than a year, and her usual effort would make her tough to beat; #5 PRETTY CLEVER: Misfired in the same race my top pick exits, but she has enough back form for me to give her a shot. The faster they go early, the better her chances figure to be, and I think she could absolutely clunk up for a piece of it; #7 MOSIENKO: Was second behind my top pick last time out and worked hard to make the early lead. She’s not one-dimensional, though, and the favorable draw should give returning rider Luis Saez plenty of options out of the gate.

R4

Swiftsure (MTO)
Good Governance
Dubb entry

#2 GOOD GOVERNANCE: Looms large in his first start since February for powerhouse connections. He sports a pair of graded stakes placings over this turf course and is a real handful when he’s right; DUBB ENTRY: Both #1 EYES ON TARGET and #1A DREAM WORKS are live here. The former hasn’t run a bad race since being claimed by Mike Maker in December, and the latter kept strong company overseas and has a right to be a good one for a barn that’s as good as any with European invaders; #8 TURN OF EVENTS: Hasn’t run a bad one in a very long time and comes in off of a nice win going two turns at Monmouth Park in her 2022 debut. Jose Ortiz knows this one well, and she’s got a win and a second in two local outings.

R5

Somelikeithotbrown
Public Sector
Sifting Sands

#8 SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN: Has loved Saratoga for a very long time, ever since he won the infamous maiden race run at the long distance several years ago (never forget!). His tactical speed is a gigantic plus, and he shouldn’t have to go nearly as fast as he ran last time out at Horseshoe Indiana, when he was run down by the talented Ivar; #1 PUBLIC SECTOR: Has won three of four local starts and checked in third in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple earlier this summer. It’s fair to wonder, however, if he’s moved forward off of a strong 3-year-old campaign, and he may need to in order to win this tough edition of the Lure; #7 SIFTING SANDS: Represents the second half of a strong 1-2 punch for Chad Brown and exits an optional claiming score downstate. That day’s runner-up came back to win on Thursday, and this one won here twice last season at overlaid prices.

R6

Repole entry
Disarm
Perform

REPOLE ENTRY: Both of these runners can win, but I probably prefer #1A POINT PROVEN, who’s been training lights-out ahead of his debut. This son of Gun Runner is a half-brother to a Grade 3 winner, so there’s class on both sides of the pedigree, and the presence of Irad Ortiz, Jr., cannot be ignored; #2 DISARM: Draws a tricky inside post but ran into eventual Sanford winner Mo Strike in his debut and should welcome the added distance he gets here. This barn’s runners tend to improve with experience, and he showed professionalism rallying past horses in that unveiling; #3 PERFORM: Held second behind a much-the-best winner in his debut for a barn that doesn’t prioritize first-out success. The recent four-furlong drill over the Oklahoma track jumps off the page, and he’s another that could improve with more distance at second asking.

R7

War Like Goddess
Virginia Joy
Flanigan’s Cove

#6 WAR LIKE GODDESS: Is a special turf marathoner that looms very large in her attempt at a repeat in the Grade 2 Glens Falls. Her lone start this season was a win in the Bewitch where she could’ve been clear by much, much more, and her best race crushes these; #2 VIRGINIA JOY: Was a close-up fourth in the Grade 1 New York behind Bleecker Street and represents the biggest threat to the overwhelming favorite. She won a Grade 2 by 14 lengths two starts ago and gets a massive jockey switch to Irad Ortiz, Jr., who piloted her to a Grade 3 score back in March; #4 FLANIGAN’S COVE: Merits a long look in the vertical exotics at a big price. She has not run a poor race since being stretched out to marathon distances last summer, Luis Saez rides back, and she’d benefit from a lively pace scenario.

R8

Saint Tapit
Perfect Munnings
Osbourne

#8 SAINT TAPIT: Ran to his lofty pedigree with an impressive debut score at Belmont in late-June. He tries winners for the first time in a tough spot, but that first-out 93 Beyer Speed Figure is a big one, and any forward movement would make him a formidable favorite; #1 PERFECT MUNNINGS: Goes second off the bench for Todd Pletcher and ran a big race at this route last summer, when he romped by nearly six lengths and earned a 92 Beyer. He had every right to need his 2022 debut, and I’m expecting a move forward at a bit of a price; #9 OSBOURNE: Hasn’t won in a while but has been competitive against good groups and was second in a similar seven-furlong race at Churchill Downs. Irad Ortiz, Jr., lands here when he almost certainly had multiple options, and that’s encouraging.

R9

Matareya
Chi Town Lady
Wish You Well

#1 MATAREYA: Looks like the class of the field in the Grade 1 Test, where she’ll look for her fifth straight victory. That stretch includes three consecutive graded stakes wins, one of which was the Grade 1 Acorn, and I think she’ll get out early and prove very tough to catch; #7 CHI TOWN LADY: Seems a bit slow on figures, but also hits me as one of this race’s few closers in a race full of horses that want to go early. Joel Rosario should be able to take her back and make one run, and that could allow her to clunk up for a piece of it; #4 WISH YOU WELL: Looked like a future star when winning her debut and ran too poorly to be true last time out. She’s been working very well here for a barn that’s starting to get going, and it wouldn’t be a shock if she was well-meant here.

R10

Life Is Good
Olympiad
Hot Rod Charlie

#6 LIFE IS GOOD: Simply looks much faster than the rest of the field set to go postward in an outstanding renewal of the Grade 1 Whitney. If he’s able to clear the field early from his outside post, I think he gets very comfortable and proves very, very difficult to reel in; #4 OLYMPIAD: Has won five straight, including an impressive score in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster last time out. If another runner goes with Life Is Good and he sits his preferred stalking trip, he may benefit and prove tough to fend off; #2 HOT ROD CHARLIE: Adds blinkers after coming up maddeningly short in his comeback race at Monmouth Park. He’s got some “hang” to him, and he has issues passing others late, but he’s also shown an abundance of talent when he puts it all together.

R11

Stone Age
Nations Pride
Annapolis

#10 STONE AGE: Was rated very far behind a slow pace in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby and should sit a far better trip in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby. This horse was 7/2 in the Epsom Derby, one of Europe’s classic races, and I’m expecting a step forward given what should be a far friendlier race shape; #4 NATIONS PRIDE: Was second in the Belmont Derby, beaten less than a length by a loose-on-the-lead horse that stole the race. Like my top pick, he should benefit from a faster pace, one he can sit off of beneath regular pilot William Buick; #6 ANNAPOLIS: Stretches out for this event after cruising home in the one-mile Manila at Belmont. This distance is a genuine question mark, but he’s moving forward at the right time for Todd Pletcher, and if he wants this trip, he’ll have every shot to rally for the money.

R12

Walk Em Down
Action Jackson
Conquist

#7 WALK EM DOWN: Debuts in a spot that seems to lack teeth and is bred to be a runner. His dam won a stakes race on the lawn, offspring of Nyquist seem to like the turf, and he’s been working steadily for Chad Brown ahead of his unveiling; #4 ACTION JACKSON: Has been off since November but sports several strong drills in the morning and has attracted Flavien Prat. Jorge Abreu’s horses have been firing lately, and this one seems ready to go ahead of his 2022 debut; #10 CONQUIST: Ran reasonably well in his turf debut, when he was fourth behind a much-the-best winner. He’s very lightly-raced, with just three prior starts under his belt, and I think there’s more room for him to grow. A step forward could get him a big piece of this at a nice price.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/5/22)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $982.95

It’s induction day at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and the 2022 class is a big one. It’s headlined by a pair of world-class distaffers, Beholder and Tepin, and it’ll be outstanding seeing these equine legends take their well-deserved places alongside others that fit that description.

I have a Hall of Fame vote, and it’s one of the biggest honors of my career. If you haven’t ventured across the street from the track, go. They just made some significant renovations not long ago, and there’s something for racing fans of all ages and experience levels.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS: My late Pick Four ticket was cut in half after a scratch, and it paid off handsomely. Miss Domina finished off a six-win day for me in the pick box with a score in the Thursday finale, one that returned $184.25 on a $12.50 ticket that also boasted two winning singles.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: Assuming we stay on the turf, #5 GOLDEN PAL should not lose the penultimate race of the card, the Grade 3 Troy. As a result, it’s a great opportunity to play the Grand Slam. My $3 ticket starting in the sixth reads as follows: 1,2,10 with 3 with 1,5,9 with 5. Hopefully, having multiple combinations alive to one of the best turf sprinters on the planet will help me extract value from that runner.

TOTAL WAGERED: $27.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Golden Pal, Race 9
Longshot: Jay’stalker, Race 3

R1

Well Spent
Indian Bella
Customerexperience

#1 WELL SPENT: Romped last time out at Churchill Downs and was claimed back by a barn that had plenty of success with her late last year. When she’s good, she’s very good, and she’s a logical favorite in the Friday opener; #6 INDIAN BELLA: Has emerged as a very consistent mare and hasn’t missed the exacta in her last five starts. This includes a second in a small stakes race at Aqueduct, and her last-out second behind a next-out winner was a nice effort; #5 CUSTOMEREXPERIENCE: Hasn’t won in quite a while, but did record a victory at this route last summer (albeit against a much weaker group). This distance seems to suit her, and if the new barn can help her recapture her winter form, perhaps she’ll be right there when it counts.

R2

Maybe Later (MTO)
Command Point
Our Jessica

#7 COMMAND POINT: Has been off eight months but returns for a very capable outfit and faced much better horses for most of last year. There should be plenty of speed in here for her to chase, and if she’s ready, she could prove tough to hold off; #2 OUR JESSICA: Earned the diploma last time out and makes her first start against winners. That’s not an easy ask, but David Donk’s runners are firing with regularity, Jose Ortiz rides back, and she should be a square price; #3 MAMA RINA: Placed in a pair of stakes races as a 2-year-old and takes a big drop in class here. She also gets Lasix for the first time here, and there’s every chance she gets this barn going with a win here.

R3

Capt’ Remington
Jay’stalker
Devil Or Angel

#6 CAPT’ REMINGTON: Is a tepid top pick in a confusing bottom-level maiden claiming event. He’s run second in a pair of starts against straight maidens at Finger Lakes, attracts Javier Castellano, and boasts a race over this surface last summer that wasn’t bad; #5 JAY’STALKER: Debuts for Bruce Levine, whose numbers with first-time starters aren’t bad. He’s got a few solid gate drills, and as unveiling spots go, this sure seems like a soft one; #2 DEVIL OR ANGEL: Showed early zip in a similar spot last time before fading to finish fourth. This event doesn’t seem to have much gate speed signed on, and it’s possible he leads them a long way here.

R4

Tapizearance
Magnetron
Gandy Dancing

#3 TAPIZEARANCE: Drops back to the level of his best recent showing, when he ran second two back at Belmont. He lost all chance at the break last time out against a better group, and between that and the significant class relief, I’m expecting an improved performance here; #5 MAGNETRON: Won a photo finish last time out at Finger Lakes and has proven to be an astute $10,000 claim by this outfit. He sports a win at this seven-furlong distance earlier this year, and his flexible running style could give Javier Castellano some options; #7 GANDY DANCING: Hasn’t won in a while and it’s possible he’s over the top, but he loves this track. I simply can’t ignore a local record that consists of two wins and a second in three Saratoga outings, and it’s not like he’s been horrible in races at this level downstate.

R5

Madaket entry
Rheaume
Hail To

MADAKET ENTRY: I’m banking on strength in numbers in this wide-open turf marathon. #1 SHAD NATION has been competitive against stakes foes and attracts Irad Ortiz, Jr., while #1A SANTA GIULIA probably needed her U.S. debut earlier this summer and is eligible to improve should she draw in off the AE list; #5 RHEAUME: Did everything but win in each of her last two starts, when she fell short by a head on back-to-back occasions at Belmont. Michael Dickinson doesn’t ship many horses up here, so it’s very noteworthy when one shows up in a big spot; #10 HAIL TO: Exits the same race as my second selection and did the dirty work up front. She was beaten just a neck that day, but she’s shown an affinity for this turf course and has every right to improve.

R6

Love Tank
She’ll Never Know
Run for Cover

#2 LOVE TANK: Moved forward in a big way last time out, when she ran second beaten just a length. Luis Saez hops aboard, and she certainly seems to have an early speed advantage over the rest of this bunch; #10 SHE’LL NEVER KNOW: Was bet down to 3/5 in her debut, but ran a one-paced fourth while wide on the main track. Her bottom-side pedigree has some turf to it, and while the far outside post is a problem, she may have matured enough to overcome it; #1 RUN FOR COVER: Sports several strong works ahead of her debut, including a recent bullet drill going a half-mile over the Oklahoma track’s turf course. She didn’t fetch much at auction (just $20,000), but this barn can win with first-time starters and she’s preparing like she has some talent.

R7

Lil Commissioner
Ragtime Blues
Direct Order

#3 LIL COMMISSIONER: Responded to a big class drop with a win going seven furlongs last month at Belmont. He’s got four wins and four thirds in 10 career starts going a mile, so this distance shouldn’t be a problem, and it sure seems like he’s found his friends; #5 RAGTIME BLUES: Has three wins from his last five starts and has come to hand for trainer Jeffrey Englehart after being claimed in February. He’s been freshened up ahead of this effort, and he’s got enough speed to be a primary pace factor; #4 DIRECT ORDER: Goes first off the claim for Gustavo Rodriguez, who does excellent work with horses first off the claim and has won several races at this stand already. He’s 5-for-16 at this one-mile distance, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be.

R8

Tiz the Bomb
Stolen Base
Chanceux

#9 TIZ THE BOMB: Ran too badly to be true in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby, where he was up against it all the way due to the slow pace set by Classic Causeway. We’ve seen him put together high-level races before, and I think he returns to form here in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame; #5 STOLEN BASE: Is another who was compromised in the Belmont Derby and is far better than what he showed that day. His race two back to win the Grade 2 American Turf was a very good one, and that day’s win rider, Flavien Prat, is back aboard here; #1 CHANCEUX: Looks like the controlling speed, which is always tough in route races on the inner turf course. Irad Ortiz, Jr., has been aboard for each of his two wins, and he’ll get a leg up from trainer Todd Pletcher in this event.

R9

Golden Pal
Yes and Yes
True Valour

#5 GOLDEN PAL: Was unfortunately compromised by one of the worst starts at the Royal Ascot meet in the Group 1 Kings Stand, which was won by world-class Australian sprinter Nature Strip. The Grade 3 Troy isn’t a bad race for the level, but it represents significant class relief for one of the best turf sprinters in recent memory, and if he’s right, the race is for second; #2 YES AND YES: Presents genuine value in the exotics cutting back in distance after tiring going a mile in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple. He’d won three straight turf sprints prior to that race, and unlike many others in here with tactical speed, he doesn’t need the lead in order to run well; #6 TRUE VALOUR: Set the pace in the Grade 1 Jaipur and finished a close-up third that day behind Casa Creed and Arrest Me Red. He’s another globetrotter, having run a decent sixth in the 2021 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan, and his best race could at least warm Golden Pal up.

R10

Wicked Lady
Kukaro
Big Bean Christine

#6 WICKED LADY: Runs for a tag for the first time and has back races that would be enough to beat these. Her two-back clunker looks a bit better now, since that day’s top three runners have all come back to win, and her last race is a throwout given she clearly hated the turf; #2 KUKARO: Debuts for a barn whose horses are competing well at the meet, and she may not have to be much in order to be a major player here. This outfit’s first-time starters often need a race to get going, but again, it’s not like she’s facing any world-beaters in here; #4 BIG BEAN CHRISTINE: Just missed in a similar race earlier this summer, which almost gave this barn its first win of the calendar year. Luis Saez sees fit to ride back, and unlike others in here, she’s shown an ability to pass horses late.