SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/4/20)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $646.20

If you’re handicapping Friday’s all-stakes late Pick Five at Churchill Downs, you won’t want to miss the discussion I had with Gino Buccola and Darin Zoccali earlier this week on Gino’s podcast, “That’s What G Said.” We talked for nearly two hours about the sequence, which is headlined by the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. It’s up wherever you get your podcasts, and I’ve linked to it on social media, too.

Also, “Champagne and J.D.” returns with a vengeance this week, and that will be online during the day Friday. We sat down with Joe Nevills from The Paulick Report to discuss Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, and we also got some thoughts from several friends of the program who submitted videos with picks, insights, and stories of past Runs for the Roses. Specifically, I’d suggest you listen to one story in particular about the 1986 Kentucky Derby, which saw Ferdinand rally to get the money thanks to an all-time ride by Hall of Famer Bill Shoemaker.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS: For the second straight day, my action was wiped out by a surface switch.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to have tickets at both Saratoga and Churchill Downs. My Saratoga action focuses on the sixth race, where I’ll play a $20 win ticket on #6 RAVEN ROCKS and single him to finish a cold $5 double starting in the fifth with #2 FIFTY FIVE. Meanwhile, at Churchill Downs, I’ll have some fun singling #8 MONOMOY GIRL in $4 doubles starting and ending in the 11th race, the Grade 1 La Troienne. These doubles start in the 10th (the Grade 2 Alysheba) with #3 OWENDALE, #6 BY MY STANDARDS, and #7 TITLE READY, and end in the 12th (the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks) with #1 SWISS SKYDIVER, #2 TEMPERS RISING, and #3 DONNA VELOCE.

TOTAL WAGERED: $49.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Fifty Five, Race 5
Longshot: Raven Rocks, Race 6

R1

Rossa Veloce
Make Mischief
Queen Arella

#2 ROSSA VELOCE: Prevailed at first asking for a barn whose horses often need a race or two to get going. That sharp victory earned her a 77 Beyer Speed Figure, and any forward movement at second asking would make her tough in the first of six stakes races on this program; #1 MAKE MISCHIEF: Has earned black type with a pair of graded stakes placings at the meet and drops in to face state-breds here. The experience and back class could both be big assets for her, and I think there’s a good chance she goes favored; #6 QUEEN ARELLA: Made up a lot of ground in her debut at Gulfstream before suffering from a horrible trip in the Grade 3 Schuylerville. The outside draw should move her up, and the recent four-furlong drills look pretty solid.

R2

Saratoga Flash
Judge N Jury
Skippingandajumpin

#5 SARATOGA FLASH: Will look to give Team Tiz the Law a thrill on Kentucky Derby Eve in his debut. Among others, he’s a half-brother to stakes-winner Nine Route, and the recent five-furlong bullet workout jumps off the page; #8 JUDGE N JURY: Showed some speed in his debut despite a stumble after the break. He hammered for $200,000 last year, and I think he might have gotten a lot out of his debut effort; #4 SKIPPINGANDAJUMPIN: Ships up from Monmouth for Kelly Breen, who can certainly get first-time starters ready to run. Whether or not the morning form will travel north is anyone’s guess, but 10-1 hits me as an overlay in a wide-open event.

R3

City Man
Microsecond
Chestertown

#6 CITY MAN: Hasn’t won in a while but comes back to the state-bred ranks and has shown he can go two turns. Both of his wins have come over this dirt course, and we may get an inflated price given the presence of the morning line favorite (more on him later); #1 MICROSECOND: Broke his maiden in his first try going two turns earlier in the meet. Yes, that was on turf, but his pedigree says he wants to go as long as possible, and Luis Saez will likely have him on or near a pretty slow early pace; #4 CHESTERTOWN: Has been a buzz horse ever since selling for $2,000,000 last year. However, his lone win came over a suspect field at Aqueduct. He does exit a far tougher race, but at his likely price, I simply cannot endorse him on top. If he beats me, I’ll live with it.

R4

Martinez
I’m Blaming You
Chrome Dixie

#5 MARTINEZ: Had a lot of trouble in his debut, where he broke last and did enough to get third money despite the trip he had. Two turns should fit him like a glove, and he runs for a barn whose horses usually improve with experience; #12 I’M BLAMING YOU: Needs some luck to draw in but will be a major player if he does. Like my top pick, he was third in his debut going shorter and is bred to improve with distance and seasoning; #3 CHROME DIXIE: Debuts for Christophe Clement and will get plenty of attention at the windows, due in no small part to sire California Chrome. It’s tough for a horse to debut going two turns, but Joel Rosario sees fit to ride and he’s a half-brother to a pair of winners.

R5

Fifty Five
Classic Lady
Myhartblongstodady

#2 FIFTY FIVE: Won her return to the races off a long layoff downstate and looms large against a field of many runners she’s dispatched in prior events. Graded races have proven just a bit too tough for her, but this is absolutely the right level, and this millionaire’s usual race beats these; #4 CLASSIC LADY: Won a similar race earlier in the meet and hasn’t finished out of the top two since March of 2019. I maintain she may be best around one turn, but perhaps she’s in career-best form as a 5-year-old; #1 MYHARTBLONGSTODADY: Came back running off the bench with a four-length score against optional claiming foes. This is a class test, but she showed a new dimension last time out and may be another getting better as she gets older.

R6

Raven Rocks
Advanced Strategy
Papa Luke

#6 RAVEN ROCKS: Sold for $220,000 two summers ago and finally debuts as a 3-year-old. She has several solid workouts downstate, Jose Lezcano sees fit to ride, and anytime one can get 15-1 odds on a first-time starter by Into Mischief, it’s attractive; #3 ADVANCED STRATEGY: Has run reasonably well in all three of her starts to this point. She comes back to dirt after being a beaten favorite in a pair of turf sprints, and perhaps the surface switch will move her forward; #5 PAPA LUKE: Was probably supposed to win last time out when he hit the front in the stretch as a 6/5 favorite. However, he hung badly to finish third, and while he’s got plenty of early speed, we’re getting to a point where he’s becoming hard to trust.

R7

Market Alert
Hold the Salsa
Lookin for Trouble

#3 MARKET ALERT: Beat several of these rivals in a debut victory downstate before finding the Grade 2 Saratoga Special too tough. The blinkers come on for this event, and I think he’ll relish the drop in class; #7 HOLD THE SALSA: Rallied from way back to win his debut before coming up empty in the Saratoga Special. The faster they go early, the better this one’s chances figure to be, and it sure looks like there’s some speed signed on; #4 LOOKIN FOR TROUBLE: Stepped forward second time out to break his maiden in a wire-to-wire score last month. This is certainly a tougher spot, but Jose Ortiz rides back for Mike Maker and perhaps he’s the speed of the speed.

R8

Astoria Kitten
Morning Colors
Summer At the Spa

#6 ASTORIA KITTEN: Sure seems like the main speed in here and did everything but win against similar company last time out. She was nosed by a genuine “horse for the course” that day, and this certainly seems like a weaker spot; #7 MORNING COLORS: Won going two turns at first asking back in March, which isn’t easy to do. That makes her misfire last time out at Belmont a bit puzzling, but if she runs back to her debut, she’s got a shot at a bit of a price; #8 SUMMER AT THE SPA: Exits the same race as my top pick and was one-paced that day. I think that may have been a bit of a bounce off of a strong second back in June, which doubled as her first race since November.

R9

Rodriguez entry (MTO)
Freewheeler
Three Outlaws

#8 FREEWHEELER: Ran like a horse in need of a race earlier this summer, when he was second against similar company as an odds-on favorite. I think he’ll move forward second off the bench, and a return to his 2-year-old form would make him very tough to beat; #11 THREE OUTLAWS: Topped starter allowance foes at this route two back before a non-threatening effort in an off-the-turf event. He should move forward coming back to the grass, but the outside post might be a tough obstacle to overcome; #9 LUNA’S IN CHARGE: Hasn’t won this year but has run second twice at this stand and was beaten a nose last time out. He gets a big rider switch to Jose Ortiz and may be the one they have to hold off late.

R10

Critical Value
Makingcents
Ice Princess

#5 CRITICAL VALUE: Has done very little wrong to this point in her career and looms large in this spot. She was very good in her 2020 debut, when she smashed older state-breds in the Bouwerie, and facing her fellow 3-year-olds may make for a significant class drop; #1 MAKINGCENTS: Completes a powerful 1-2 punch for trainer Jeremiah Englehart and sure seems like the main speed. She was third against open allowance foes earlier in the meet, but won her prior two starts against state-breds by a combined margin of greater than 18 lengths; #2 ICE PRINCESS: Chased Swiss Skydiver in the Grade 3 Fantasy at Oaklawn, and these waters are significantly shallower. Two turns is still a major question mark, but if she gets the trip, she’s absolutely got a big shot.

R11

Dot Matrix
Gucci Factor
Rinaldi

#1 DOT MATRIX: Gets significant class relief after chasing top-notch turf horses for most of the season. The highlight of his campaign was a win in a Grade 3 at Sam Houston, and he has enough tactical speed to use the inside post to his advantage; #4 GUCCI FACTOR: Accomplished a lot in 2018 and 2019 before going to the sidelines. He almost certainly needed his return in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy, but while a return to his best form could win this event, it’s fair to be skeptical given how little he showed in his 2020 debut; #5 RINALDI: Loves this turf course and went wire-to-wire against optional claiming company earlier in the meet. That day’s third-place finisher has since come back to win, and this barn has been firing on all cylinders for the entire meet.

R12

Imperio D (MTO)
Smite
Tempesta

#4 SMITE: Has shown plenty of early zip against straight maidens and drops in for a tag for the first time. The “speed against better” angle is a powerful one, and with top gate rider Luis Saez in the saddle, the game plan certainly appears clear; #2 TEMPESTA: Has run well twice since returning to this circuit and rallied to miss by a neck at this level and route last time out. He’s got some versatility to him, which should give jockey Jose Lezcano plenty of options depending on how the race unfolds; #9 FLUENT IN SARCASM: Dueled through very fast fractions last time out, but was beaten just a length despite doing all the dirty work. He’s got the talent to win, for sure, and he’ll have a big chance if he can clear the field early from his outside post.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/3/20)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $646.20

This space features a public service announcement the racing world needs to hear. No, it’s not about Barclay Tagg saying some regrettable things in Kentucky. That deserves far more space than I have, and I won’t do my disagreement with what he said justice in 100 words or less. Want to talk about it like rational, level-headed adults? Find me.

Instead, I’ll focus on something I spend lots of energy on every year. “Thurby” is not a word. It’s a marketing concept with no place in either horse racing or the English language as a whole. It should not be used by anyone, at all, ever.

Somehow, this became part of racing’s lexicon, and I hate it. The Thursday prior to the Kentucky Derby is indeed lots of fun. The word I shall not use is an abomination that should be terminated immediately.

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: We got washed out when the steeplechase was cancelled due to weather.

THURSDAY’S PLAY: I really like the late Pick Four, which hits me as a sequence that could pay stacks given the presence of a few beatable favorites. My 50-cent ticket starting in the seventh reads as follows: 1,3,5,8,10 with 1,4,5,6,7 with 4,8 with 2,6. It’s a bit more expensive than I usually play, but given that I have just one morning line favorite on the ticket, I’ll likely be in line for a nice score if it gets home.

TOTAL WAGERED: $50.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Long Term Thinking, Race 2
Longshot: Miss Lily B, Race 8

R1

Lost in Rome (MTO)
Maker entry
Holy Emperor

MAKER ENTRY: I prefer #1 GLYNN COUNTY, who drops back to the right level after rating in a paceless race against straight maidens. It certainly looks like there’s more speed signed on here, and such a race shape would make him very imposing; #5 HOLY EMPEROR: Did everything but win last time out going far longer, and this certainly seems like a softer spot. Luis Saez rides back, and it certainly seems like he’s got the early speed to make his own trip; #7 COMPLIANT: Exits the same race as my top pick and is another dropping in for a tag for aggressive connections. However, I think he wants even longer than this route of ground, and I can’t endorse this one on top given his likely short price.

R2

Long Term Thinking
Cause I Said So
Dreamonmebaby

#3 LONG TERM THINKING: Has several concerns but could win by a city block if he’s anywhere close to the runner we saw last year. He hasn’t raced since November, and the plunge to the bottom is a red flag, but these connections are clearly going for the owner and trainer titles and don’t mind losing horses in claiming events; #4 CAUSE I SAID SO: Was second against similar last month, and it helps that that day’s winner has since come back to repeat. He’s got enough early speed to be prominent out of the gate in a field of runners who may not want to pass others; #2 DREAMONMEBABY: Comes back to dirt after a failed turf experiment, which doubled as his first start for trainer Danny Gargan. He’s run reasonably well on dirt in the past and could grab a piece of it at an OK price.

R3

Plum Ali
Mischievous Dream
Invincible Gal

#2 PLUM ALI: Cruised home to win at first asking going two turns, which isn’t an easy thing for a 2-year-old to do. That day’s runner-up has since come back to run well, and I think this Christophe Clement trainee has plenty of potential to improve in the P.G. Johnson; #3 MISCHIEVOUS DREAM: Ran into a very good horse when fourth behind Tobys Heart in the Bolton Landing last time out. She tries two turns for the first time, but her dam was a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Presious Passion, who did his best work at marathon distances; #1 INVINCIBLE GAL: Came running late to graduate in her unveiling and stretches out to two turns. I’m not sure what she beat that day or if she can stretch out, but the presence of Jose Ortiz is certainly a plus.

R4

Blunt Force
I’ll Take the Cake
Cotton Candy Cutie

#4 BLUNT FORCE: Ran second against similar company last time out and may have bounced a bit off of a lifetime-best effort two back at Churchill Downs. She should sit an ideal stalking trip, which would give her first run on the tiring pace-setters turning for home; #5 I’LL TAKE THE CAKE: Tired badly last time out and takes a gigantic drop in class. She was pretty good in 2019 and the first part of 2020, and a return to that form makes her the one to beat, but the last two outings don’t inspire confidence; #7 COTTON CANDY CUTIE: Hasn’t won in a while but certainly looks like the main speed in here. She has back races that would make her competitive in this spot, and she may be on the lead going into the turn at a price.

R5

Classic Colors
Herald Angel
Schwartz entry

#8 CLASSIC COLORS: Was wrangled back to last in a paceless race last time out, yet she was beaten less than a length by a promising filly named Seasons. Rosario rides for Clemente, and she’ll be a contender with any sort of pace to chase; #7 HERALD ANGEL: Ran a good second in her debut for Mike Maker, whose horses tend to need a race or two to get going. She stretches out and has the pedigree to love two turns, being by Exaggerator and out of a Harlan’s Holiday mare; SCHWARTZ ENTRY: #1 MENDHAM comes in off a strong dirt work for Todd Pletcher. There’s some stamina in her pedigree, as her dam is a full sister to stakes-winning router Tiz Now Tiz Then.

R6

Spin a Yarn
The Important One
Officer Hutchy

#3 SPIN A YARN: Has done nothing wrong in four starts at Finger Lakes and heads to Saratoga looking for her fifth straight win. When these horses ship in from central New York, they often mean business, and it’s telling that Jose Lezcano sees fit to ride; #6 THE IMPORTANT ONE: Comes back to dirt after chasing older foes in a turf sprint, and that field was pretty salty for the level. She started her career on dirt and won her debut, so we know the surface won’t be a problem; #7 OFFICER HUTCHY: Takes a jump in class first off the claim for Rob Atras, and there are excuses for her clunkers two and three back. The outside post could be a plus, but that last race was a big move forward, and that has me concerned about a possible bounce.

R7

Wedontbelieveher (MTO)
Music of Life
Five Alarm Robin

#10 MUSIC OF LIFE: Gets a reluctant top pick in a wide-open turf route where one can go many different directions. She hasn’t run a bad race in three starts this year and drops a bit in class after running a close-up third in an optional claiming event at Gulfstream; #5 FIVE ALARM ROBIN: Wired a lesser field in her first start off the bench earlier this meet, but that effort wasn’t a fluke. She’s got 2019 races that would also be competitive here, and we may once again get a juicy price; #1 KITTEN BY THE SEA: Can’t be ignored given the connections and the aggressive drop in class. Perhaps she didn’t like a wet turf course last time out, and her two-back effort at this route saw her run third beaten a neck against allowance foes.

R8

Fair Regis
Miss Lily B
Kept True

#6 FAIR REGIS: Is as consistent as they come, having hit the board 26 times in 36 career races. She was second last time out and beat several horses who also show up in this event, and this may be the spot where she breaks through for her first win since September of last year; #7 MISS LILY B: Has won six of her last seven starts, and the lone clunker is an easy throw-out because she went to the sidelines for 10 months after that performance. She has tactical speed but doesn’t need the lead to run well; #5 KEPT TRUE: May have needed her last-out race, when she tired to fourth after dueling through fast fractions early on. She’s a stakes-winner who has every right to step forward second off the bench.

R9

Foxtail (MTO)
Orglandes
Traipsing

#8 ORGLANDES: Is one of two Chad Brown trainees making their American debuts in this spot, and she got pretty good overseas. She won two in a row going long in France, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., lands on this Brown trainee rather than #7 MISS TEHERAN; #4 TRAIPSING: Didn’t take to dirt when a distant third in an off-the-turf event last month. I liked her on turf that day, and anything close to the form she showed earlier this year at Gulfstream would make her a contender; #1 NIKO’S DREAM: Has run several strong races over this turf course and may have found the waters a bit too deep last time in a state-bred stakes race. She’s got enough speed to be forwardly-placed along the rail, and she may still be improving as a 4-year-old.

R10

My Sweet Wife
Red Light Racer
Apurate

#6 MY SWEET WIFE: Was wide most of the way downstate last time out, and that day’s third-place finisher has since come back to win. This barn has had a very strong meet, and she’s bred to want this two-turn route of ground; #2 RED LIGHT RACER: Hammered for $525,000 at auction and has every right to run well in her unveiling. She’s by Medaglia d’Oro, out of Grade 1-placed mare Street Band, and debuts for Chad Brown in a spot where the returning runners don’t seem too imposing; #9 APURATE: Wanted no part of the dirt in her first start of the season and comes back to her preferred surface. She ran well going two turns multiple times as a 2-year-old; the question is, can she work out a trip from her outside post on the inner turf?

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/2/20)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $646.20

It’s bizarre to say that this is the final week of the Saratoga season. It’s even more surreal, however, to say that it’s also Kentucky Derby week, but here we are. In just a few days, Belmont and Travers winner Tiz the Law will look to add the Run for the Roses to his ever-growing list of conquests. Meanwhile, those in New York will be preparing for races like the Woodward and the Jim Dandy, among others.

I’ll be making daily judgment calls for this section. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re handicapping both Saratoga and Churchill anyway. If I see something I like in Kentucky, I will give it out here. It’s an unconventional step, to be sure, but this is anything but a conventional year.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Orlando Noda’s stellar summer continued when Zonic rallied from way back to take Sunday’s sixth race. We unfortunately didn’t get the 4-1 morning line price, but that wasn’t going to happen after several key scratches. Still, he paid $6.80 to win, which meant a $68 return on a $20 investment.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I haven’t made my obligatory wager involving a steeplechase race yet this summer, so I’ll do it here. I’m boxing #1 IRANISTAN/#1A TAPER TANTRUM and #5 BODES WELL in $5 exactas and using both betting interests in $10 doubles that single #6 HEY IT’S TATI in the second.

TOTAL WAGERED: $30.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Voting Agreement, Race 6
Longshot: Justintimeforwine, Race 10

R1

Sheppard entry
Bodes Well
Cracker Factory

SHEPPARD ENTRY: Both parts of the entry look pretty tough. #1 IRANISTAN responded to a class drop early in the meet with a gritty score, while #1A TAPER TANTRUM makes his first start since April of 2018 and won a stakes race during that campaign; #5 BODES WELL: Did the dirty work when third behind the talented Snap Decision in the Kiser earlier this meet. He gets weight from several other contenders in here, and his best race could win this; #2 CRACKER FACTORY: May have needed his return to the races a few weeks ago, when he was fifth behind Iranistan. He could improve at a price second off the bench, and this barn has had a very strong season to this point.

R2

Hey It’s Tati
Madam Deputy
Empress Luciana

#6 HEY IT’S TATI: Comes back to dirt and drops back into the maiden claiming ranks after a failed experiment on turf last time out. Her debut against similar saw her finish second beaten just a half-length, and the presence of jockey Jose Ortiz is notable; #5 MADAM DEPUTY: Ran third in her debut downstate and was claimed out of that event by Rudy Rodriguez. She sports a flashy recent local work and could be dangerous if she shows improved early speed at second asking; #4 EMPRESS LUCIANA: Comes back to dirt after two clunkers on the grass. She’s had plenty of chances, sure, but the three and four-back efforts on the main track weren’t bad, and the last two efforts may inflate the price on a horse who could easily rally for a piece of it.

R3

Nashville
Searing Chase
Breithorn

#4 NASHVILLE: Hammered for $460,000 two years ago and has trained forwardly for Steve Asmussen ahead of her unveiling. She’s by Speightstown and her dam is kin to five winners, so she has every right to be a runner; #1 SEARING CHASE: Got cooked on the front end last time out before fading to fourth. The slight cutback in distance could help him, and he’s got enough early zip to make the rail draw an asset; #5 BREITHORN: Just missed against maiden claimers earlier in the meet and makes his first start for Linda Rice, whose numbers with new acquisitions are very solid. Toss the two clunkers on turf, and his career looks significantly better.

R4

Rejected Again (MTO)
Megacity
Bad Beat Brian

#8 MEGACITY: Chased a loose-on-the-lead winner last time out at this level and gets a rider switch to top turf pilot Jose Lezcano. He’s got enough tactical speed to be on or near the lead, and that could give him a shot at an ideal trip in a wide-open turf race; #7 BAD BEAT BRIAN: Did everything but win last time out in what was truly a bad beat for his backers. He lost a photo finish after being on or near the lead every step of the way, and a similar effort could give him a big shot once again; #5 TWELFTH LABOUR: Hasn’t won in a while but was claimed by Mike Maker and tries turf for just the second time in his career. He’s bred to love the lawn and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride. I can’t be too enthusiastic about him at his likely price, but it wouldn’t stun me if he won.

R5

Royal Suspect
Brunate
Gratto Swing

#2 ROYAL SUSPECT: Had a rough trip last time out and takes a slight drop in class to run here. He’s run in some fairly tough races for their levels this season, and a smoother journey gives him a big chance in what hit me as a tricky race to handicap; #5 BRUNATE: Has hit the board against similar twice at the meet and once again looks like a top contender. Luis Saez rides for H. James Bond, and that combination has had plenty of success here this summer; #9 GRATTO SWING: Is admittedly a pretty big swing, especially coming off a six-month layoff. However, he’s got early speed in a field that seems light on tactical zip. I like the two most recent works, and if you’re playing vertical exotics, he hits me as a must-use at what could be a gigantic price.

R6

Voting Agreement
Mo Me Mo My
Corey Scores

#8 VOTING AGREEMENT: Comes out of a classy allowance race won by Peaceful, a stakes-caliber turf sprinter. These $40,000 claimers constitute a much weaker group, and I simply can’t get past what looks like a very formidable favorite; #6 MO ME MO MY: Makes her fourth start of the meet and ran second against similar two starts back. She comes back to her preferred surface and is another who may benefit from a drop in class; #11 COREY SCORES: Cuts back in distance to this route, one she ran second at twice a season ago. Irad Ortiz, Jr., hops aboard, and she should be running well late; the question is, can she overcome the wide draw?

R7

Unrighteous (MTO)
Tide of the Sea
Succeedandsurpass

#7 TIDE OF THE SEA: Was second the whole way around at this route a few weeks ago but certainly looks like the lone speed in this turf marathon. If he gets loose early through comfortable fractions, I think he’ll be very tough to catch; #8 SUCCEEDANDSURPASS: Makes his first start for Graham Motion, who immediately stretches him out to a marathon distance for the first time. He’s got the pedigree to go long, and he ran second in a Grade 2 last year, so the back class is present as well; #5 JUNKANOO: Ran well when third in his first start since October of 2018 last time out. They came home very fast that day, and while this route is a question mark, he’s certainly in the right hands to improve in his second start off of a long layoff.

R8

Control Group
Evaluator
One Last Buck

#3 CONTROL GROUP: Loves Saratoga and seeks his third win of the summer in this race. It’s not an easy spot, but he’s in great form for red-hot trainer Orlando Noda, who tends to keep horses on the right track; #4 EVALUATOR: Hasn’t won in nearly three years but has had several long breaks in that time and ran reasonably well when third in his 2020 debut last time out. He’s run well at this route in the past, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be; #5 OUR LAST BUCK: Won two in a row before falling by a neck in the slop last time out at Belmont. His best race can win this, but he’s never gone two turns before, and that’s a major question mark.

R9

American Monarch
Blame the Booze
Nathan Detroit

#2 AMERICAN MONARCH: Won at first asking earlier in the meet, and that’s not something many Bill Mott trainees do. His horses tend to get better with experience, and if he’s sitting on a bigger effort in the Grade 3 With Anticipation, he’ll be strictly the one to beat; #1 BLAME THE BOOZE: Owns both the best name I’ve seen all summer and a debut win in an off-the-turf race at Belmont. He’s bred up and down for the lawn, comes in off a very fast work over the Oklahoma turf course, and may be the one they have to catch; #6 NATHAN DETROIT: Won his debut at Ellis Park, and that day’s third-place finisher has since come back to win. Jose Lezcano has the mount, and if you’re looking for a price on a contender in this short field, you may find one here.

R10

True Palace (MTO)
Justintimeforwine
Bricco

#3 JUSTINTIMEFORWINE: Has had a bunch of chances but drops in for a tag and certainly looks like the main speed in the Wednesday finale. Add in that top-tier speed rider Kendrick Carmouche hops aboard, and the tactics seem pretty clear here; #8 BRICCO: Has run second three straight times at this level and didn’t seem to have an excuse when run down by a big price last time out. The Bond/Saez duo is formidable, and this one’s probably supposed to win this race, but wasn’t he supposed to win last time, too?; #11 K. K. ICHIKAWA: Had an unlucky trip last time out when he raced wide most of the way. The draw doesn’t do him any favors, but if Jose Lezcano can work out a trip and he can channel his decent debut form, he’s got a shot at a bit of a price.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/30/20)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $598.20

I wish I could provide something that is, at a minimum, mildly amusing in this space today. I enjoy doing that, especially for people who really enjoy reading my stuff. However, a family emergency makes that impossible. Thankfully, all parties involved in this particular situation are physically okay, so things could be far worse.

It’s been a lousy year for a lot of people, and being divided on seemingly every possible issue hasn’t helped. My plea in this space today: Be nice to each other. We don’t know most of the struggles our fellow human beings are going through, and there may not be a whole lot we can do in those instances. However, being there to listen goes a long way. Do that.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: When your best result is a scratch, you know it’s been a lousy day at the office. My three remaining win-place bets all fizzled, and I dropped $30.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: Once again, it’s tough to dive in without being 100% sure of the track condition. However, I think we may get a fair price on #5 ZONIC in the sixth. I’ll put $20 to win on him and hope trainer Orlando Noda continues his hot streak.

TOTAL WAGERED: $20.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Dubb entry, Race 4
Longshot: Sol Del Sur, Race 10

R1

Thin White Duke
Sam and Sy
Boss Bear

#13 THIN WHITE DUKE: Needs some luck to draw in off the AE list, but he’ll be very tough if he does. He’s run well in all four of his prior starts and took a step forward figure-wise when a tough-luck second last time out; #3 SAM AND SY: Comes in off a pair of bullet drills ahead of his unveiling. He’s by promising young sire Speightster and from the same female family that produced Group 1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Sakhee; #2 BOSS BEAR: May have needed his debut earlier this month, and the rough start certainly didn’t help. Mike Maker’s horses often need a race or two to get going, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride back.

R2

Blood Moon
Super Wicked Charm
Buona Fina

#2 BLOOD MOON: Hasn’t won this year but takes a gigantic drop in class for aggressive connections. He’s run third against a pair of starter allowance fields at this route and should be on or near the lead early. If he gets comfortable, he’ll be tough to catch; #1 SUPER WICKED CHARM: Tried turf at Monmouth last time out and gets back to his preferred surface here. Red-hot reinsman Luis Saez has the mount, he’s won going two turns in the past, and he’ll likely be a pretty nice price; #3 BUONA FINA: Won a pretty ugly maiden claiming event a few weeks ago and faces winners for the first time. He did, however, run a decent second two back in the slop when chasing a next-out winner, so perhaps a step forward is in the offing.

R3

No Mo’ Spending
Elusive Site
Rosey’s Peach

#4 NO MO’ SPENDING: Was third beaten less than two lengths in her local debut and has turned in two strong drills since that effort. This seems like a weaker group than the one she faced last time, and another step forward could make her tough to beat; #6 ELUSIVE SITE: Can’t be dismissed given the barn she comes from and the solid gate work on August 21st. However, that work was a pretty sharp improvement from months’ worth of prior drills, so I’m not sure how much confidence can be gained from it; #2 ROSEY’S PEACH: Debuted by running fourth in the same race my top pick exits. She’s got some ground to make up on that rival, but it’s not inconceivable to think she can step up to grab a piece of it.

R4

Dubb entry
Ian Glass
Golden Decision

#1A HIEROGLYPHICS: Responded to a big drop in class last time out with a romp over several foes that also show up here. He’s won three of six starts on this turf course, and if this race stays on the grass, a fourth victory looks likely; #9 IAN GLASS: Wired a weaker group last time second off the bench beneath a heads-up ride from Joel Rosario. That pilot gets back aboard, and the Ray Handal barn has been sending out live runners for most of the meet; #2 GOLDEN DECISION: Hasn’t won in a while, but drops down in class for this race and won his most recent start for anything close to this claiming price. The faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be, and there’s some early zip signed on here.

R5

Cease and Desist (MTO)
Red Ghost
So Enchanting

#5 RED GHOST: Sports several strong works ahead of her debut for world-class 2-year-old trainer Wesley Ward. She’s a half-sister to six winners, and her second dam is a Grade 2-winning full sister to the great Alysheba, so there’s plenty to like from a pedigree standpoint; #9 SO ENCHANTING: Sold for $275,000 at auction last September and debuts for top-notch connections. She’s by top turf sire More Than Ready, has been working well for Chad Brown, and may be talented enough to overcome the wide draw; #7 PERFECTION: Is bred up and down for turf and is worth a look at a big price. Her second dam is champion Possibly Perfect, and sire Malibu Moon has been known to throw horses with ability on the grass.

R6

Zonic
Summer Bourbon
Lazarus Project

#5 ZONIC: Rallied late to be third against similar company last time out in his first start for this barn. Improvement is logical second off the bench, especially for a hot trainer, and it helps that he’s never been worse than third in three local starts; #2 SUMMER BOURBON: Ran third when in for twice this tag last time out. The drop from a state-bred $25,000 claimer to an open $12,500 claimer isn’t huge, but his tactical speed is an asset; #4 LAZARUS PROJECT: Hasn’t won in a while but showed significant improvement when third against similar early in the meet. Renowned gate rider Kendrick Carmouche should have him on or near the lead early, and perhaps being able to save some ground will help.

R7

Good Credence (MTO)
Barrel of Destiny
Dancingwthdaffodls

#2 BARREL OF DESTINY: Ran too poorly to be true last time out, so I’m drawing a line through that effort. She won three in a row before that, gets the services of Irad Ortiz, Jr., and may be a bit of a price given the last-out clunker; #7 DANCINGWTHDAFFODLS: Came flying late to take an allowance event going shorter downstate. Two turns is a bit of a question mark, but there’s certainly plenty of speed in this event, so if she’s ever going to get this route, it may well be in this spot; #1 SHORT POUR: Lost all chance when hard to handle early several weeks ago. When she’s right, she’s got a ton of early speed, and Luis Saez will likely send her to the front to capitalize on the inside draw.

R8

Gandy Dancing
Harris Bay
Flying Finish

#4 GANDY DANCING: Chased a well-meant returnee last time out at this level, but still managed to run a solid second. With so much early speed on paper, I’m exclusively going with closers in this race, and he seems like the best of the bunch; #8 HARRIS BAY: Was third in the race my top pick exits and hasn’t really run a bad race to this point. He’s spent most of his career against stakes foes to this point, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be; #6 FLYING FINISH: Came storming home with, well, a flying finish to graduate two back at Belmont. I think the cutback to one turn and the return to state-bred competition will help him here, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., coming back to ride is also encouraging.

R9

Royal Flag
Letruska
Golden Award

#9 ROYAL FLAG: May not have liked the Monmouth Park surface when a distant third in the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher. She won three in a row at three different tracks before that and has worked steadily ahead of her run in the Grade 3 Shuvee; #3 LETRUSKA: Wants to go as fast as she can for as long as she can, and that strategy has led to three wins since coming to the states late last year. She’s shown she can get a two-turn route of ground, and if she gets left alone on the lead, look out; #5 GOLDEN AWARD: Was second in the Summer Colony earlier this summer, but should sit her preferred trip here. She seems a bit better when she has a target to chase, as opposed to being on the lead. That situation should materialize here, and she could have every chance to win this event for the second year in a row.

R10

Modern Science
Sol Del Sur
American Diamond

#3 MODERN SCIENCE: Hit the front in the stretch last time out, but had to settle for second that day. He bested the third-place finisher by daylight, and a similar effort here will likely put him in the winner’s circle for the first time; #5 SOL DEL SUR: Showed late interest when fifth in his debut, which came in that same event. Bill Mott’s runners usually step forward with experience, and this son of Medaglia d’Oro is bred to get better as he gets older; #12 AMERICAN DIAMOND: Merits a look at a price if he draws in off the AE list. This son of American Pharoah is bred up and down for turf and sports an impressive 369 turf Tomlinson rating, the highest such number in this field.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/29/20)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $628.50

Today’s Grade 1 Forego presents an interesting “would you rather?” question for horseplayers. The race didn’t draw Volatile or Vekoma, which is a bummer. However, it did draw a competitive 11-horse field led by Whitmore, who won this race two years ago and is one of the most fun horses in training to root for.

Had Volatile and/or Vekoma shown up here, it’s safe to assume many runners would have gone elsewhere (possibly even several who figure to get bet). Here’s the question: Is it best to have a small field led by horses such as Volatile and Vekoma, or what we have, an 11-horse field with no overwhelming favorite and, thusly, square prices ensured on whichever horse you like?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. However, with field sizes being dissected on a daily basis, I think it’s a fascinating question. If you’ve got an opinion, tweet me at @AndrewChampagne.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: New York’s Finest stalked a very fast pace and had nothing left late, so my $20 win ticket went up in smoke.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: With the last race scheduled to go off at nearly 7 pm Eastern time, I can’t in good conscience play my late Pick Four. That puts this section in danger of missing the print deadline (you will, however, be able to find it online on social media). Instead, I’ll play four $5 win/place tickets throughout the card on horses that seem well-meant. I’ll back #6 BALLAGH ROCKS (race #2), #4 L’IMPERATOR (race #3, the Grade 3 Saranac), #4 ARCHUMYBABY (race #5), and #7 PEDRO CARA (race #9, the Grade 1 Sword Dancer).

TOTAL WAGERED: $40.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Archumybaby, Race 5
Longshot: Pedro Cara, Race 9

R1

Enough Love
Happy Sophia
La Negrita

#7 ENOUGH LOVE: Hasn’t run a bad race in five starts this season and was second against slightly better foes last time out. This barn has hit the board with 10 of 14 runners to this point in the meet, and regular rider Luis Saez stays aboard; #6 HAPPY SOPHIA: Drops in for a tag for the first time after fading in a few starts against state-bred allowance foes. She’ll certainly be prominent early, and perhaps the shallower waters will wake her up; #2 LA NEGRITA: Was a distant second behind a runaway winner at this level earlier this month. Irad Ortiz, Jr., rides back for Rudy Rodriguez, and she’s got enough early speed to sit close going into the turn.

R2

Dynamax Prime (MTO)
Ballagh Rocks
En Wye Cee

#6 BALLAGH ROCKS: Did everything but win last time out at Belmont Park against similar, when he lost a photo finish after rating behind a slow early pace. I think he’s better around two turns than one turn, and there should be enough pace in here to set up for his late kick; #10 EN WYE CEE: Was somehow five-wide in a six-horse field last time out, yet was beaten just a neck in his first outing since November. He seemed to take to the turf fairly well, and he’s another who may benefit from the likely race shape; #7 KING CAUSE: Pulled off a 17-1 upset earlier in the meet and has won three of his last four starts. He’ll be one of the main pace factors in here, and he may be a price once again given the quality of opposition he’ll face.

R3

L’Imperator
Vanzzy
Don Juan Kitten

#4 L’IMPERATOR: Gets Lasix in his North American debut, which is one of my favorite angles. He won three in a row overseas before being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean and has worked impressively ahead of his American unveiling in the Grade 3 Saranac; #1 VANZZY: Cruised home in the Jersey Derby at Monmouth, which doubled as his third career stakes score. He was third in the Grade 3 Kent two back behind the talented Gufo, and Joel Rosario has the mount; #5 DON JUAN KITTEN: Won a weirdly-run allowance race earlier in the meet where the early leader ran off while setting wicked fractions. That’s unlikely to happen twice, but his lone misfire came in his first start off a long layoff, so consistency certainly isn’t an issue.

R4

Englehart entry
Stay Fond
Bustin to Please

ENGLEHART ENTRY: I prefer #1A TIED UP, who certainly seems like the main speed in here. She’s won 12 of 23 career starts, rolled home against weaker opposition earlier this month, and may have plenty left late if she’s left alone out of the gate; #4 STAY FOND: Has won four of her last five starts and returned to the Linda Rice barn after a last-out victory going seven furlongs. She may be best with a speed duel, but she’s shown a bit more early zip than what she’s displayed in her last two outings; #2 BUSTIN TO PLEASE: Drops back down in class after misfiring against state-bred optional claiming foes last month. That was a pretty solid bunch for the level, and a repeat of her winning effort two back at Belmont would give her a shot.

R5

Archumybaby
Letmetakethiscall
Prairie Fire

#4 ARCHUMYBABY: Has won 14 of 42 career starts and banked nearly a half-million in career earnings the hard way. She’s got two victories in her last three starts and has four victories and two seconds in six tries at this seven-furlong distance; #1 LETMETAKETHISCALL: Hasn’t won in a while and had every chance when clear late last time out. She got caught in the final strides, but gets a big rider switch to Jose Ortiz and has the speed to utilize her inside draw; #7 PRAIRIE FIRE: Lost all chance at the break last time out and stretches out from six to seven furlongs. I think she’ll respond well to that, and her chances will improve if they fly down the backstretch.

R6

Happymac
Founder
Newbomb

#10 HAPPYMAC: Hammered for $360,000 last year and is a reluctant top pick in the first of two loaded 2-year-old races on the card. He’s been working very well for 2-year-old maestro Steve Asmussen, and if he runs to his work tab, you’d better prepare to see it in commercials for his sire over and over and over and over…; #5 FOUNDER: Has worked very well for Chad Brown, who touted young sire Upstart earlier in the meet when barn buddy Reinvestment Risk romped in his debut. He was a $600,000 purchase in March and has every right to run big here; #1 NEWBOMB: Comes in after a series of strong five-furlong drills for Todd Pletcher and is another who could be sitting on a big first-out effort. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because of the rail draw, which can be a lot for a debuting runner to overcome.

R7

Yaupon
Basin
Premier Star

#2 YAUPON: Turned heads with a big win over older allowance foes last month, one where he earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. This is another step up the class ladder, but he may well be the quickest of the quick in the Grade 2 Amsterdam; #1 BASIN: Cuts back to one turn after running in the wrong races for the right reasons. He won the Grade 1 Hopeful here last year and may benefit from being the lone closer in a race full of early speed (I’d love him at 6 1/2 or seven furlongs); #4 PREMIER STAR: Earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure with a nice win at Laurel Park last time out. This is a much tougher spot, but it’s worth noting that Irad Ortiz, Jr., lands here when he likely had options.

R8

Whitmore
Mind Control
Funny Guy

#2 WHITMORE: Ran second to Volatile in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt despite breaking through the starting gate prior to the race. He also rated behind one of the top sprinters in the country when that one was gifted an easy lead. There are no such monsters here, and I think he’s got a big shot to notch his second win in the Grade 1 Forego; #10 MIND CONTROL: Was third in the Vanderbilt and finished just a half-length back of my top selection. He won Grade 1 races at two and three at this very route of ground, and he should respond well to the added furlong; #4 FUNNY GUY: Certainly deserves this shot after two strong wins over state-bred stakes foes. He earned Beyer Speed Figures of 101 and 98 for those victories, he’s 2-for-2 over this track, and his best race likely gets him a piece of it.

R9

Pedro Cara
Aquaphobia
Cross Border

#7 PEDRO CARA: Makes his first start for Graham Motion after spending the lion’s share of his career overseas. He just missed in a million-dollar race at Belmont last year and was third in another in Qatar back in February. With the American turf horses not knocking my socks off, I’ll take a shot with this one and see if Motion can get his third win in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer; #2 AQUAPHOBIA: May have wanted to be a turf marathoner all along. He won the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth and has found his form since being claimed for $62,500 earlier this year by trainer Mike Maker; #6 CROSS BORDER: Was put up in the Grade 2 Bowling Green to improve to 5-for-5 at Saratoga. He’s another Maker trainee in top form and certainly a “horse for the course;” the question is, can he successfully navigate this 12-furlong distance against Grade 1 competition?

R10

Jouster
Rookery
Zainalarab

#3 JOUSTER: Sold for $360,000 last summer, and for good reason. Her second dam is Storm Flag Flying, which means she traces back to one of the best female families in racing history (third dam My Flag and fourth dam Personal Ensign). The recent five-furlong gate work indicates she’s a good one, and Velazquez rides for Pletcher; #9 ROOKERY: Came up a neck short at big odds earlier this summer, and that’s notable because Wayne Catalano’s first-time starters very rarely win. I think she’s in line to take a big step forward at a nice price, and the outside post should provide plenty of options for Jose Lezcano; #5 ZAINALARAB: Was a million-dollar baby last year at Keeneland, and that’s not surprising given her pedigree. She’s by War Front, out of a Grade 3-winning Tapit mare, and is one of two debuting Chad Brown runners with very solid work tabs.

R11

Midnight Surprise
Eloquent Speaker
Miss Jimmy

#7 MIDNIGHT SURPRISE: Gets a reluctant top pick in a very intriguing Saturday finale. She won her debut here last month, and the runner-up from that race came back to break her maiden a few days ago. Improvement is logical at second asking, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., rides back for Todd Pletcher; #3 ELOQUENT SPEAKER: Cuts back to a sprint after nine furlongs proved to be too far for her. In breaking her maiden two back at Belmont, she beat Jewel of Arabia, who has since come back to win twice; #8 MISS JIMMY: Ships in from Finger Lakes and is worth a long look at a big price. She’s run first or second in all but one of her 11 starts, and this is her third start off a long layoff. This filly always tries hard and cannot be ignored.