SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/11/19)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $874.10

I’ll preface this by saying that Got Stormy is a classy racehorse. It takes class for a horse to come back quickly and win a Grade 1, as she did in Saturday’s Fourstardave. She’s an honest horse, and she can’t control what she runs against.

However, I can’t help but feel like this year’s group of American turf milers is a subpar one. When the world’s top horses come together later this year in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, I’m inclined to use every European runner I can afford in multi-race exotics that include the Mile. With all due respect to Got Stormy, who did something that’s very difficult to do, I just don’t think she beat that much, and I’m also not putting much stock into a time posted on arguably the fastest turf course in Saratoga history.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Turf War was left with too much to do late, and doubles and Pick Threes fizzled as a result. We dropped $33.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on doubles later on in the program. My $6 tickets start in the eighth with #1 FREE KITTY and #3 TALK VEUVE TO ME and finish with #3 SISTER PEACOCK and #9 BOHEMIAN BOURBON in the ninth.

TOTAL WAGERED: $24

– – – – –

BEST BET: Maker entry, Race 2
LONGSHOT: Bohemian Bourbon, Race 9

R1

Majority Rules
Four Ten
One Eyed Jack

#4 MAJORITY RULES: Was a solid second last time out in his first venture around two turns, and that race came back pretty fast for the level. His pedigree says he’ll improve with experience, and he’s a logical favorite; #3 FOUR TEN: Stretches out to two turns and has the pedigree to embrace such a journey. Blinkers come on, and he figures to be forwardly-placed at a nice price; #2 ONE EYED JACK: Was a bit one-paced when third in his unveiling downstate. That day’s runner-up came back to run OK earlier in the meet, and he’s another that could take a step forward given added maturity.

R2

Maker entry
Mo Maverick
Sentry

MAKER ENTRY: I prefer #1A NOBLE THOUGHT, who drops back to the right level after a failed try against Grade 2 foes going very long at Belmont. He’s a consistent sort that could get a perfect stalking trip; #8 MO MAVERICK: Sure seems like the lone speed, and that’s been dangerous on the inner turf in past years, but he hasn’t won in a while and speed hasn’t been holding. He may be favored, but I find him difficult to trust; #9 SENTRY: Cuts back in distance after running a one-paced fourth against a solid field earlier in the meet. This change could wake him up, and he did win at this route last summer.

R3

Sharing
Micheline
Morning Gold

#11 SHARING: Looks like the one to beat if she draws in off the AE list. She was beaten just a neck in her debut, and she’s bred to want every inch of this two-turn trip; #2 MICHELINE: Isn’t necessarily bred to win first time out, but she ought to love going two turns on turf. Her dam, Panty Raid, won several Grade 1 races, including the American Oaks going 10 furlongs on turf; #7 MORNING GOLD: Was second in her debut for a barn whose horses often need a race to get going. She may improve, but I’m a bit hesitant to endorse the quality of the field she ran against earlier in the meet.

R4

Sharpin
Destiny Over Fate
Takecharge Mirella

#10 SHARPIN: Draws favorably on the drop in class second off the claim and could sit an ideal stalking trip. Her efforts two and three back were both solid, and we may get the juicy morning line price; #4 DESTINY OVER FATE: Was a distant second against similar foes earlier this meet, but may have been compromised by her rider losing an iron at the start. She might be better on wet tracks, but she could easily move up a few lengths off of her last race; #1 TAKECHARGE MIRELLA: Takes a steep drop in class for capable connections and has won over this track before. Her races this past spring were sharp, and she’ll be a contender if she can channel that form.

R5

Saratoga Treasure
Mama Mary
Sadie Lady

#2 SARATOGA TREASURE: Has run pretty well in each of her last two starts and returns to the site of her maiden-breaking score two years ago. There’s plenty of speed signed on, which could set things up for her late kick; #8 MAMA MARY: Prevailed by a head in her first start off a long layoff and tries tougher company here. Luis Saez has ridden her several times, and he’ll likely have her on or near the lead; #6 SADIE LADY: Comes in off of a career-best race, and when this barn gets a horse on the right track, they tend to stay there. Joel Rosario keeping the mount is certainly a plus.

R6

Mundaye Call
Plea
Lotta Ott

#10 MUNDAYE CALL: Gets a cushy outside draw in her debut and has been working lights-out over this track. She hammered for just shy of $1 million last summer and has every right to be a very fast horse; #6 PLEA: Debuts for Bill Mott following a strong gate drill earlier this month. The Claiborne homebred is a half to solid sire Congrats, and we may get a bit of a price; #3 LOTTA OTT: Got shuffled back when beaten at 6/5 odds in her debut, but she has an experience edge over most of this field. She could easily improve at second asking, and a cleaner trip puts her right there.

R7

Cross Border
Graded On a Curve
Gosilently

#3 CROSS BORDER: Was very impressive earlier this meet, when he overcame a tricky post to cruise home in a starter allowance race. That day’s third-place finisher came back to win a few days ago, and the better post is a big advantage; #1 GRADED ON A CURVE: Has improved in all three of his starts and tries winners for the first time. The faster they go earlier, the better this closer’s chances figure to be; #4 GOSILENTLY: Was a pick of mine earlier in the meet, when he faded to fifth. However, he may have needed that race, and that was a strong field for the level.

R8

Talk Veuve to Me
Free Kitty
Cookie Dough

#3 TALK VEUVE TO ME: Was a close-up third behind Special Relativity last time out, and that one has since come back to win a stakes race. Blinkers come on, and I’ll give her another shot to recapture her strong 2018 form; #1 FREE KITTY: Seems like the main closer in a race with lots of early speed. She generally fires the same race every time out, and she may be the one they have to hold off late; #2 COOKIE DOUGH: Drops out of graded stakes company to run in this optional claiming event. She may be the main speed, but she hasn’t won in a while and figures to be an underlay.

R9

Bohemian Bourbon
Sister Peacock
Chelsea Cloisters

#9 BOHEMIAN BOURBON: Ran reasonably well when third earlier this meet and gets another favorable setup here. She’ll be running well late beneath strong turf rider Leparoux, and the likely price is a bonus; #3 SISTER PEACOCK: Ships in from Woodbine having danced plenty of dances up there against strong fields. She figures to be prominent early and could appreciate the cutback in distance; #6 CHELSEA CLOISTERS: Hasn’t won in a while, but has run plenty of solid races over the past year and merits respect. She has tactical speed but doesn’t necessarily need the lead.

R10

Cobble Hill (MTO)
Duress
Highway Flyer

#7 DURESS: Didn’t break well in his debut, but showed some interest late and was beaten just two lengths for second. He may appreciate the added distance he gets in the Sunday finale; #9 HIGHWAY FLYER: Unseated his rider last time out and may be an inflated price because of that. He has some back form and could contend with a less-eventful trip; #4 SANDY LANE KITTEN: Drops in class and adds blinkers for this event, which could make him more forwardly-placed in an event without a lot of apparent early speed. This barn has enjoyed a strong meet to this point, and there aren’t any monsters lined up against him here.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/10/19)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $907.10

Like many in the racing business, I keep count of how many tracks I’ve been fortunate enough to visit. That number is growing to 21 Saturday afternoon, as I’ll be in attendance at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa.

As some of my followers know, I’ve become quite enamored with the Northern California fair circuit, and I’m looking forward to the trip. If you’re on social media, follow me on Twitter at @AndrewChampagne, as I’ll likely have several photos from the fair (and maybe a selection or two, too!). Fair warning, though: Chances are this barrage will include several pictures of food that is both delicious and terrible for you. I assume no responsibility for any cravings that may result.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: We got knocked out of the Pick Four early after 9-1 shot Bolita Boyz took the seventh. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that a scratch cut our losses to $18.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: My action focuses on a horse that may provide some value in the sixth race. I like #4 TURF WAR, who may have been best last time out off of a layoff and was compromised by a wide trip. I’ll play $4 doubles singling her that start with #1 IRISH FRONT, #2 KITTANSETT, and #7 TUMBLING SKY in the fifth, as well as $4 doubles starting with her in the sixth and ending with #2 OPTION VALUE, #7 GOZILLA, and #8 CARDIAC KID in the seventh. Finally, I’ll play a $1 Pick Three starting in the fifth that uses all of these runners.

TOTAL WAGERED: $33

– – – – –

BEST BET: Uni, Race 9
LONGSHOT: Seven Is Heaven, Race 2

R1

Englehart entry (MTO)
Wicked Freud
Startup Nation

#5 WICKED FREUD: Drops down in class for a strong barn and has run pretty well in all four of his starts this season. He’s certainly taken steps forward since being claimed in December, and he looks like the one to beat; #2 STARTUP NATION: Has not won in nearly five years and has not raced since late-2017. He comes back at the lowest level he’s ever run at, which hits me as a gigantic red flag; #7 CLOONTIA: Hasn’t won in a while, but likes Saratoga and stretches back out to a two-turn route of ground. He ran into a tough field for the level last time out, and that race was almost certainly shorter than he wants to go.

R2

Quiet Out East
Seven Is Heaven
Bassman Dave

#9 QUIET OUT EASY: Has run second in three straight starts and is one of only a few in here that’s shown he can pass horses late. The faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be; #5 SEVEN IS HEAVEN: Cuts back in distance after being wrapped up in the lane last time out. His effort two back off of a layoff wasn’t bad, and a repeat of that race gives him a shot at a price; #6 BASSMAN DAVE: Was second against similar foes last time out at Belmont and figures to be stalking the pace. He owns the top last-out Beyer Speed Figure in this race, and a similar effort would make him a contender.

R3

Lucky Curlin (MTO)
Decorated Invader
Summer to Remember

#7 DECORATED INVADER: Came flying late to be second in his debut at this route earlier in the meet. Improvement is certainly logical at second asking, though the rider change is a bit curious off of the strong effort; #1 SUMMER TO REMEMBER: Fetched $200,000 at auction in 2017 and is bred to love the lawn. He’s worked steadily for Todd Pletcher and may very well be good enough to win in his unveiling; #8 FAME TO FAMOUS: Ran fourth at a big price in his debut and attracts Luis Saez for his second career start. He’ll be a much shorter price than the 51-1 he was in that event, and for good reason.

R4

Running Violence
Wicked Trick
Elios Milos

#5 RUNNING VIOLENCE: Has been gelded since his last start and drops down from an open $25,000 claimer to a $16,000 claimer for non-winners of two. He’s got plenty of speed and is a threat to wire this group; #8 WICKED TRICK: Put it all together after 15 straight winless starts earlier this meet and tries winners for the first time. It’s entirely possible he was a dirt horse all along; #1 ELIOS MILOS: Was one-paced when fourth against slightly better earlier in the meet. That effort came when the track was playing very kindly to early speed, though, and he figures to be going well late.

R5

Kittansett
Tumbling Sky
Irish Front

#2 KITTANSETT: Hammered for $1.4 million last September at Keeneland, and for good reason. He’s by American Pharoah and out of a multiple Grade 2-winning mare, and he’s worked incredibly well ahead of his debut; #7 TUMBLING SKY: Debuts for Steve Asmussen, whose first-time starters here have been ready to run. Offspring of young sire Competitive Edge have looked impressive to this point; #1 IRISH FRONT: Draws the rail, which is often a concern with first-time starters, but comes in with a steady work tab of solid drills for Todd Pletcher. What concerns me more than the post, actually, is that he may be better-bred for turf than dirt.

R6

Turf War
Saint Moon
Catch a Thrill

#4 TURF WAR: May have been best earlier this meet, when she was caught very wide off of a long layoff and rallied to be beaten just a length. She should step forward in her second stateside start, and it’s not a shock she gets a new rider here; #7 SAINT MOON: Was most recently second in a minor stakes at Monmouth and will likely be on or near the lead here. She’s taken a big step forward off of a freshening she got earlier this year; #5 CATCH A THRILL: Was second in the race my top pick exits and will likely be doing her best running late. Her only poor effort to date came in the Grade 2 Appalachian, which was likely further than she wants to go.

R7

Gozilla
Option Value
Cardiac Kid

#7 GOZILLA: Has turned heads in the mornings for the Steve Asmussen barn ahead of his unveiling. The bullet work on July 28th jumps off the page, and if he runs to that, he hits me as the horse to beat; #2 OPTION VALUE: Sold for $210,000 as a weanling and is another with a strong recent gate work. Offspring of Into Mischief are usually precocious; #8 CARDIAC KID: Debuted going two turns, which is never an easy thing to do. He cuts back in distance for a trainer whose second-time starters are usually well-meant.

R8

Green Light Go
Zyramid
Noose

#3 GREEN LIGHT GO: Earned an 84 Beyer Speed Figure in his debut and has been working lights-out for a trainer not known for pushing his 2-year-olds very hard. That race’s runner-up has since come back to win, which only serves to flatter him; #2 ZYRAMID: Improved to graduate at second asking earlier this meet and showed some maturity that day rating just off of the front-runner down the backstretch. His pedigree says the added furlong won’t be an issue; #1 NOOSE: Romped in a 12-horse field at Churchill back in June and comes in off of a bullet work there on August 2nd. The rail draw isn’t ideal for a closer, but this barn has quietly emerged as one of the better 2-year-old outfits in the country of late.

R9

Uni
March to the Arch
Raging Bull

#3 UNI: Goes up against the boys here and certainly deserves the shot. She’s won five races in a row dating back to April of last year, and there’s more than enough pace here to set up for her late kick; #1 MARCH TO THE ARCH: Was a fast-closing fifth over yielding going in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple. He’s far better over firm going, and a repeat of his two-back effort in the Grade 2 Wise Dan would give him a big shot; #4 RAGING BULL: Has been chasing better horses of late and cuts back in distance for this event. He won two graded stakes races here a season ago, and he may appreciate a return to his favorite track.

R10

La Chancla
Slimey
Alisio

#4 LA CHANCLA: Graduated when favored at second asking last month at Belmont and seems to be coming to hand for Rodolphe Brisset. She’ll be doing her best running late and seems like a logical favorite; #7 SLIMEY: Has won twice already this meet, although it’s unclear how much two muddy tracks helped her. She’s won over a fast track before, though, and she may just be peaking in the summer of her 3-year-old year; #3 ALISIO: Splashed home clear by more than seven lengths when last seen in December. She merits respect, although with her pedigree, I’m more inclined to think this may be a prep for a longer race down the line.

R11

Alphalfa
Magnesite
Wicked Grin

#5 ALPHALFA: Cuts back to a sprint distance and drops back into the maiden claiming ranks after a clunker going long against straight maidens back in June. His debut against similar foes was solid, and I’m inclined to think he’s the one to beat; #3 MAGNESITE: Will be running well late and has back form that makes him a contender. This barn is due to get rolling, and a repeat of his two-back effort may be good enough; #14 WICKED GRIN: Needs some luck to draw in off the AE list, but may be favored if he does. He’ll be dropping in class and would certainly be a threat to wire the field if he gets led over.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/9/19)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $925.10

Earlier this week, the implementation of the $20 million Saudi Cup was announced with great flair and panache. The first renewal will be run in February of next year, and at least one major set of connections (Phoenix Thoroughbreds, which owns Gronkowski) has already said the race is a target.

On one hand, I refuse to cast aspersions on those who opt to participate in the race next year. Like it or not, money talks, and the winner’s share of a $20 million purse is far more than almost every great horse in history made in their careers. On the other hand, this concept makes me queasy, and I know I’m not alone among racing people in feeling that way. Saudi Arabia oppresses the female and LGBTQ communities, and that country’s government was likely involved in the brutal massacre of an American journalist.

Here’s the compromise I’m making: I will not consider results of the Saudi Cup in voting for either Eclipse Awards or the Hall of Fame, nor will I support the race at the betting windows. If you’re an American owner and want to send your horse there, go ahead. I hope you win. However, I can’t support your journey beyond those well-wishes.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS: This may have been a first, as I got nosed in two different ways in Thursday’s ninth race. Not only did my top pick in the print box get nosed for the win, but Belgrano, my longshot of the day and key horse in exactas, got nosed for second. We dropped $20.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: This is a solid card, and I particularly like the late Pick Four sequence. My 50-cent ticket, which starts in the seventh, goes like this: 2,7,10 with 4,5,9 with 1,2,3 with 1,8.

TOTAL WAGERED: $27

– – – – –

BEST BET: Lone Sailor, Race 5
LONGSHOT: Uno Mas Modelo, Race 9

R1

El Dulce
Raphael (MTO)
No Regrets

#4 EL DULCE: Drops in for a tag off of a race I’m more than willing to throw out. He’s run well on both turf and dirt, and was beaten less than two lengths in a Grade 2 event early in his career; #9 NO REGRETS: Hasn’t won in a while and doesn’t draw a great post, but has been second in his last two tries at this level. Dermot Magner claimed him last time out and he’s got speed; #5 QUEST FOR FIRE: Has never tried turf before this event, and that’s puzzling given his pedigree. He’s by City Zip, out of a Freud mare, and has every right to love the lawn.

R2

Super Silver
Bebeau
Freedom Prince

#8 SUPER SILVER: Did everything but win last time out at this level and route and comes back for another try. That was a fast race, and his dirt efforts are miles better than his turf and synthetic races; #2 BEBEAU: Hasn’t been seen since January and drops in for a tag for powerful connections. If he’s right, he probably wins, but given the layoff and the $400,000 auction purchase running for a $40,000 claiming price, there are red flags; #7 FREEDOM PRINCE: Came back running off the bench when second against similar company at Belmont. Two turns is an unknown, but a repeat effort would put him right there.

R3

Derby Memories (MTO)
Much Trouble
Stock Trade

#6 MUCH TROUBLE: Came flying late when beaten just a neck in his first start off the claim last month at Belmont. He’s run well going two turns, and Irad riding back is a plus; #1 STOCK TRADE: Broke a long drought with a win last time out at Belmont and steps up in class. He’s in form, but his best efforts have come downstate, which is a concern; #5 RED RIGHT HAND: Ran pretty well when third at this level earlier in the meet. He got stuck in traffic briefly late and would be a contender with a clean trip here.

R4

Portfolio Hedge
Fly Fly Away
Love Me Tomorrow

#7 PORTFOLIO HEDGE: Is bred for turf and debuts for Chad Brown. He’s worked steadily ahead of this event and gets a tepid nod to graduate at first asking; #9 FLY FLY AWAY: Debuted in an off-the-turf event last month and was one-paced, but gets to the surface he probably wants here. If there’s any hesitation, it’s because the post isn’t ideal; #5 LOVE ME TOMORROW: Goes to the grass after tiring in a pair of dirt efforts. She has the experience edge, but stamina questions still linger.

R5

Lone Sailor
Spinoff
Backsideofthemoon

#1 LONE SAILOR: Has been running against far better horses, even with this race coming up tough for the level. The class drop should be a welcome one, and they’ll likely go fast enough early to set up for his late kick; #2 SPINOFF: Is another dropping in class, and does so off of three straight Grade 1 races. He should appreciate the shallower waters as well, although he may want to go even longer than this race’s distance; #4 BACKSIDEOFTHEMOON: Hasn’t won in a while, but is a closer in a race with lots of early speed. Based on the likely race shape, he could clunk up for a piece of it at a price.

R6

Divided Sky
Indochine
Voting Agreement

#8 DIVIDED SKY: Is bred up and down to be a strong turf horse and debuts for 2-year-old wizard Wesley Ward. She’s worked very, very well on the Oklahoma turf course, and if she runs to those works, she’ll be formidable; #7 INDOCHINE: Represents half of a powerful 1-2 punch for Chad Brown. She hammered for $470,000 last September at Keeneland and boasts some strong local drills (though she may want longer than this distance); #4 VOTING AGREEMENT: Is a filly by More Than Ready, and that alone gives her license to like the grass. She didn’t hammer for as much as her stablemate, but she’s another with several good workouts here at Saratoga.

R7

Shareholder Value
Big Muddy
Hollywood Critic

#7 SHAREHOLDER VALUE: Comes in on a two-race win streak, and one of those victories came at this route earlier in the meet. This barn has won twice already here, and a repeat of the last two efforts would make this gelding the one to beat; #10 BIG MUDDY: Rallied to defeat bottom-level claimers at this route in the first few days of the meet and was claimed that day by Linda Rice. The faster they go early, the better this one’s chances figure to be; #2 HOLLYWOOD CRITIC: Cuts back in distance and drops in class for a barn that’s due to get rolling at the meet. Horses that cut back from two turns tend to have success going seven furlongs, and he could get brave on the front end beneath Luis Saez.

R8

Pauseforthecause (MTO)
Malakeh
Andina Del Sur

#4 MALAKEH: Was a respectable fourth in a stakes race back in June and comes back to the allowance ranks here. She was Group 2-placed overseas, and she looms large in this spot; #9 ANDINA DEL SUR: Hasn’t won since March of 2018, but is a Grade 3 winner that has run some big races in bigger spots than this. She figures to be running well late; #5 DREAM PASSAGE: Was a good second over yielding going earlier in the meet. Brad Cox has lots of success with turf runners, and she seems to be in career-best form, but she may need some give in the ground to fire her best shot.

R9

Pat On the Back
Killybegs Captain
Uno Mas Modelo

#3 PAT ON THE BACK: Hasn’t run a bad race in a year and a half and comes in off of two straight wins downstate. He seems to be at his peack, and his flexibility is a big, big plus; #2 KILLYBEGS CAPTAIN: Chased Promises Fulfilled in a Grade 2 last time out and drops back to a level he’s run well at previously. In fact, he won a similar race at Tampa in February, and among those he beat was Imperial Hint; #1 UNO MAS MODELO: Looked like a very sharp sprinter here last summer, and his form looks fantastic if you simply toss the graded stakes races in which he was outclassed. He loves Saratoga and could easily channel his 2018 form to factor in this event.

R10

Slimey (MTO)
Foolish Living
Dancing Vega

#1 FOOLISH LIVING: Chad Brown likely runs 1-2 in here if this stays on turf. I prefer this second-time starter, as she won impressively in her debut downstate and is bred to be any kind; #10 DANCING VEGA: Has worked very impressively ahead of her North American debut. She was bet like a good thing in a Group 3 earlier this year, and if she runs to that billing here, look out; #10 PANTHER HIT: Seems best of the rest after a close-up third against a tough allowance group last time out. That day’s winner runs in the eighth, and the runner-up is a two-time stakes winner.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/8/19)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $945.10

We’re officially halfway through the 2019 Saratoga meet, as Wednesday’s program marked the 20th of 40 scheduled days. It’s always a shock when the halfway point hits, and it hits everyone differently. Given the short calendar length of the season, the meet goes by really quickly in some respects. In others, it’s a grind given the amount of races stuffed into the boutique meet.

We’ve got 20 more racing days (weather permitting, of course) to make a big score here. This happened last year, when we hit an $820 Pick Four in this section near the end of the meet, and I’ll be plugging away every day in hopes of a similar scenario unfolding. If you miss a day, check my website, AndrewChampagne.com, for picks, analysis, and bankroll plays.

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: Lead Guitar had every chance to get by Crack Shot in the third and couldn’t get by. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that playing to win and place cut our losses to just two dollars.

THURSDAY’S PLAY: This is another day where I’m treading pretty lightly. I simply don’t feel incredibly strongly about much on the Thursday card. I’ll focus my action on the ninth race, which houses my longshot of the day. That’s #5 BELGRANO, who I’ll key above and below #1A FINANCIAL SYSTEM, #2 HIERARCHY, and #3 WALKOFF in $2 exactas. I’ll also play Belgrano to win and place for $4 each.

TOTAL WAGERED: $20

– – – – –

BEST BET: Drawing Away entry, Race 3
LONGSHOT: Belgrano, Race 9

R1

Cuddle Kitten
Zena Rules
Stay Fond

#1 CUDDLE KITTEN: Has won two in a row since going to the Jorge Navarro barn, and before that had a solid winter/spring at Oaklawn Park. Toss the turf races, and you have a horse that’s won seven of 20 starts; #4 ZENA RULES: Was a close-up second last time out at Ellis Park and makes her local debut here. This barn is a smaller one, but it has already won here once this meet; #6 STAY FOND: Makes her first start since February, but hasn’t finished out of the money since last May. Jose Ortiz hops aboard, and she’s a contender if she’s ready to run.

R2

My Roxy Girl
Bertranda
Moondance Joy

#2 MY ROXY GIRL: Was claimed by Danny Gargan last time out, and few on the circuit are better with new acquisitions. She should appreciate the drop in class, and she’s worked well ahead of this race; #7 BERTRANDA: Drops back down to what seems like the right level after three failed tries against better horses. She was a good second against similar in May at Belmont, and she should go early; #5 MOONDANCE JOY: Merits a look at a bit of a price. She’s won here before, and while this race is a step up in claiming price, the one she exits was very strong for that level.

R3

Drawing Away entry
Bad Boy
Jerome Avenue

DRAWING AWAY ENTRY: I prefer #1 RHODE ISLAND, who had a wide trip in his first start against winners. He drops back in for a tag, and a repeat of his two-back effort would make him tough against what seems like a subpar group; #3 BAD BOY: Responded to the class drop earlier this meet, when he rallied to top maiden claimers. The faster they go early, the better his chances would likely be; #2 JEROME AVENUE: Drops in for a tag and gets significant class relief off of his prior outings. His connections thought enough of him to try stakes company at Tampa, and his best race would put him right there.

R4

California Night
Potomac
Diodoro entry

#4 CALIFORNIA NIGHT: Tried stakes company last time out, and those waters were simply too deep. This seems like a much friendlier spot, and the last time he was in for this tag, he cruised to a wire-to-wire victory at Aqueduct; #2 POTOMAC: Cuts back to one turn and drops in class after flopping at 8/5 earlier in the meet. If he recaptures his early-season form going this shorter distance, he’s absolutely the one to beat; DIODORO ENTRY: I prefer #1A CONQUERER, who exits a fast race for the level at Churchill Downs. He’s won twice at this distance and would benefit from a speed duel.

R5

Dangerous Edge
Tiz the Law
Dream Bigger

#8 DANGEROUS EDGE: Fetched $150,000 at auction earlier this year and has worked well ahead of his unveiling. Early returns on sire Competitive Edge have been strong, and the outside draw is a plus; #3 TIZ THE LAW: Is bred to be a runner and has worked like a solid horse. He’s worth a long look, even though his trainer’s horses tend to need a race or two to get going; #7 DREAM BIGGER: Hammered for $205,000 at auction despite a pretty modest pedigree. John Velazquez doesn’t ride for Rudy Rodriguez very often, and it’s intriguing to see him aboard this runner (who has been working well here over the past few weeks).

R6

Brittas Bay
Erin More
Prosperity

#7 BRITTAS BAY: Ran well when beaten just a neck downstate. She topped the third-place finisher by three lengths that day, and she seems to get the benefit of a so-so field for the level; #8 ERIN MORE: Debuts for Todd Pletcher and has hinted at some potential in the mornings. She’s a half-sister to McErin, who won his debut and tried tough company at Royal Ascot early in his career; #2 PROSPERITY: Was a one-paced fifth in her debut, but this barn’s firsters are rarely fully-cranked. She gets a big rider switch to Joel Rosario and may take a big step forward at second asking.

R7

H Man
Cerretalto
Binkster

#6 H MAN: Faltered at 2/5 after being outsprinted early in his last start. He got a bit of a rest prior to this event, and at his best, he’s absolutely the one to beat in what seems more like a state-bred stakes race than an optional claimer; #8 CERRETALTO: Almost certainly needed the race earlier this meet, which doubled as his first outing since December. This barn is quietly enjoying a stellar season, and this one could improve second off the bench; #2 BINKSTER: Was second here earlier in the meet and may have run the most impressive race that day. He was close to a fast pace and wound up beaten less than a length; the question is, can he find a way to best my top pick (who beat him twice earlier this year)?

R8

Lucky Move
Held Accountable
Fetching

#6 LUCKY MOVE: Rallied to win at this route earlier in the meet and may have relished the two-turn trip. Joel Rosario rides back, and there should be plenty of early speed for her to rate behind; #5 HELD ACCOUNTABLE: Came off the bench to run third in the mud just a short time ago. She didn’t have a great start that day, and this barn is due to get off the duck sooner rather than later; #2 FETCHING: Has won two of three starts on turf and tries dirt for the first time here. If her turf form translates to dirt, she could absolutely rally for a big piece of it.

R9

Brown entry
Belgrano
Hierarchy

BROWN ENTRY: #1A FINANCIAL SYSTEM has a habit of finding trouble, but he’s done his best running around two turns and could relish a return to that route here. Additionally, #1 GROWTH ENGINE will be tough if this is rained off the turf; #5 BELGRANO: Has won two of his last four starts, including a last-out victory at Belmont against starter allowance foes. He could sit a perfect stalking trip, and he may be a generous price; #2 HIERARCHY: Cuts back in distance in his first start for Joe Sharp. His plodding style hints that he wants to go longer, but he’s hung a bit of late, so maybe the change will wake him up.

R10

Tricky Magician
Lucky Bet (MTO)
Baffin Bay

#9 TRICKY MAGICIAN: Drops down in class in his second start off the bench. He tried very tough company as a 2-year-old, and this two-turn route could be just what the doctor ordered; #6 BAFFIN BAY: Has been busy this year, with four wins in seven 2019 starts. He makes his first start for this barn here, and his best race would make him a major player; #10 DAKOTA’S DUDE: Got back in the winner’s circle after dropping in class last time out. He sat a great trip stalking a moderate pace that day, but a similar scenario could present itself again here.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/7/19)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $947.10

It may seem incredibly early for such an announcement, but here in the Bay Area, kids are getting ready to go back to school. The same can be said for teachers, one of whom (a third-grade teacher at the Oakland Unified School District) happens to be my girlfriend. She busts her butt for her kids, and I’m extremely proud of her.

She’s got an Amazon wish list located here. It contains a bunch of supplies that would help the kids she teaches on a daily basis. If you feel generous and want to help some third-graders out, take a look. If you buy something, I’ll owe you a favor. One caveat, though: If we can avoid the sort of favor Don Corleone called in after Sonny was gunned down on the causeway, that’d be great.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: My doubles were total busts, and we dropped $30.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll keep things simple, as my best bet of the day may be an OK price. That’s #3 LEAD GUITAR in the third race, and she’s the subject of a $10 win/place bet.

TOTAL WAGERED: $20

– – – – –

BEST BET: Lead Guitar, Race 3
LONGSHOT: Evaluator, Race 9

R1

Wigwam Baby
Down Royal
Our Frosty

#1 WIGWAM BABY: Seems like a deserving favorite coming back to the steeplechase ranks after a prep at Parx. She was second in this race two summers ago, and a repeat of her two-back effort would make her tough; #3 DOWN ROYAL: Is a consistent sort over fences, and the flat-race prep is a complete throw-out. She generally runs the same race every time, although she does seem to enjoy picking up minor awards; #2 OUR FROSTY: Comes back to fences and would be a contender if she channeled some of her late-2018 and early-2019 form. Those efforts came against weaker groups, but it’s tough to completely ignore a 59-length romp.

R2

Bears Mafia
Legion Storm
Sobersick N Sorry

#1 BEARS MAFIA: Drops in for a tag and looms large against what seems like a weak group for the level. His turf try last time out is a toss, and Carmouche has ridden him well in the past; #7 LEGION STORM: Has picked up eight minor awards in 12 winless starts, but was an OK second at this level last time out. Blinkers come back on and he draws favorably towards the outside; #8 SOBERSICK N SORRY: Gets my pick in the “name of the day” category and could improve at second asking. He was a one-paced fourth last time out, but this barn’s runners usually need a race or two to get going.

R3

Lead Guitar
Qian B C
Alphastest

#3 LEAD GUITAR: Closed very well to be third in her debut, a race where the second-place finisher came back to win at next asking. She gets a huge rider switch to Irad Ortiz, Jr., and should improve for a barn that may be heating up; #6 QIAN B C: Was a close-up third going seven furlongs at Belmont and cuts back in distance. He seems to have matured a bit, but I have to wonder if this trip is a bit shorter than he really wants to go; #5 ALPHASTEST: Seems like the main speed and was reeled in last time out when beaten just a half-length. This shorter distance could suit him, and he may be a bit of a price.

R4

Connectivity
Decorated Ace
Warm

#7 CONNECTIVITY: Takes a colossal drop to the claiming ranks after running in a pair of stakes races earlier this year. Even a repeat of her two-back effort, when she was second in an allowance at Keeneland, would make her a formidable foe; #6 DECORATED ACE: Has recorded all three of her wins going two turns on turf, including her last-out victory against slightly weaker competition. She makes her second start since being switched to the sharp Mike Dini outfit and could sit a nice trip; #4 WARM: Comes back to turf in her first start off the claim. She ran well on it three back at Tampa, won on dirt earlier this meet, and recently fired a bullet drill.

R5

Thea’s Theme
Lady Kaza
Critical Value

#2 THEA’S THEME: Hammered for $145,000 last summer and has worked like a promising horse. Jose Ortiz likely had options, but chose to ride this Jeremiah Englehart trainee; #7 LADY KAZA: Has been working steadily for Chad Brown and merits respect. This barn can win with first-time starters, and her second and third dam were both stakes-winners; #6 CRITICAL VALUE: Is the second Englehart trainee in the field, and her pedigree shows speed top and bottom. She appears to have worked with my top pick a bit, and it wouldn’t be shocking if this barn runs 1-2.

R6

Uncle Benny
Archidust
Elektronic

#1 UNCLE BENNY: Makes his 3-year-old debut more than nine months after a troubled-trip second at the Breeders’ Cup. Jason Servis can have a horse ready to run off a long break, and he’s likely matured in his time off; #7 ARCHIDUST: Has won two in a row ahead of this event, including a minor stakes race at Monmouth Park. He earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure that day and could still be improving; #2 ELEKTRONIC: Ran well at a price in the Grade 3 Quick Call, where he was a fast-closing second at 11-1. The faster they go early, the better his chances appear to be.

R7

Lost in Manhattan
Brush Country
Liam Lets Go

#7 LOST IN MANHATTAN: Drops in class for Danny Gargan, who has enjoyed a very strong meet to this point. He likely needed his last start, which was his first outing since December, and he’s got plenty of early zip; #5 BRUSH COUNTRY: Was second last time out and got claimed out of that race by a barn that doesn’t drop many slips in. The solid local race certainly helps, and he could sit a great stalking trip; #3 LIAM LETS GO: Comes north from Gulfstream Park, where he’s been running against allowance and optional claiming foes. He may find these waters a bit more shallow, and Luis Saez climbing aboard is a plus.

R8

Clench
Laser Loop
El Asesino

#3 CLENCH: Was second behind Shancelot last time out, and that one has since run a hole in the wind over this track. He likes running second or third, but he could be coming into his own in the latter half of his 3-year-old season; #4 LASER LOOP: Rolled home against much weaker earlier this meet and was claimed that day by Gary Contessa. Unlike many others in here, he comes in off of a victory, and he may be closing at a bit of a price; #8 EL ASESINO: Hasn’t won in nearly a year, but he was most recently second in a stronger heat and cuts back in distance. He’s got some flexibility in his running style and should get every chance from an outside post.

R9

Mr. Buff
Evaluator
Dynamax Prime

#2 MR. BUFF: Has won five of his last seven starts and seems to be in top form. If he gets an easy lead, he’ll be very tough, but longshot players may point to the presence of other early speed in this race; #5 EVALUATOR: Makes his 2019 debut for new trainer H. James Bond and could get a perfect setup. Javier Castellano riding is a positive sign, and he’s worked well several times ahead of this race; #4 DYNAMAX PRIME: Ran second to my top selection last time out at Belmont and is another that could benefit from a fast pace. However, while he’s won going two turns in the past, he may be at his best at one-turn routes of ground.

R10

Ghostly Beauty
Teletype
Sweet Gisel

#10 GHOSTLY BEAUTY: Will have to work out a trip from a tough post, but she seems like the one to beat. She just missed behind a horse that has since come back to beat winners, and the third-place finisher won earlier this meet as well; #3 TELETYPE: Was claimed by Rudy Rodriguez last time out and was second behind another next-out winner back in June. She’s been rested since that start and is a contender if she’s ready; #8 SWEET GISEL: Finally tries turf and has a pedigree saying she’ll love it. She’s by Street Boss and out of a Dixieland Band mare, and her 320 turf Tomlinson rating hints that she could take a step forward here for Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.