SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/15/21; OPENING DAY)


BANKROLL: $1,000

Happy Opening Day, everyone! I’m excited to be back for another year, and I’m looking forward to hopefully helping you have some fun times at one of horse racing’s last remaining cathedrals.

If you’re new, here’s how this works: All of my stuff will be available in print in The Pink Sheet and online at I’m in California and work a day in advance to mitigate the time difference. Wednesday’s content will be online Monday night, Thursday’s content will be up Tuesday night, and so on.

In addition to my selections in the pick box and detailed analysis of every race, I’ll have this space, which offers room for some quick thoughts and a bankroll play for each day of racing. If you’ve got any questions or comments you want me to address, tweet me at @AndrewChampagne. I’m an easy guy to connect with, and I’m always happy to engage with folks who enjoy my stuff. Let’s make some money!

THURSDAY’S PLAY: We begin with a reminder that all action assumes races carded for the turf stay there, and that surface changes render tickets null and void. With that in mind, if the sixth race stays on the lawn, I love #2 ALBA’S STAR, who looks like the lone speed second off the bench and returns to a two-turn route she’s shown she loves. I’ll kick off the meet with a $25 win bet on that one.



Best Bet: Lady Scarlet, Race 5
Longshot: Skyro, Race 3


Wagon Boss
Grit and Glory

#4 WAGON BOSS: Gets a tepid nod in a pretty wide-open lid-lifter. He beat a similar-level field last time out at Churchill and may get the type of stalking trip he’s shown he prefers beneath world-class jockey Joel Rosario; #7 GRIT AND GLORY: Has a chance to win the first race of the meet for the second year in a row. He’s got back races that are good enough to win this, and he’s shown he can rally late, which could come in handy in a race that appears to have plenty of early speed; #5 CHARLIE’SARCHANGEL: Finished a half-length behind my top pick last time out and has since moved to the barn of Robertino Diodoro, who’s very strong with new acquisitions. He may go favored, and he’s not without a chance, but he hasn’t won in a while and sure seemed like he lost with a perfect trip when we last saw him run.



#9 SPEEDOMETER: Ran like a horse that needed her debut effort in last month’s unveiling at Churchill Downs, when she was third behind a good-looking winner that’ll take money in today’s co-feature. She’s a full sister to hard-knocking sprinter Nitrous, her experience should help her, and the outside draw should allow her to settle down a bit; #7 ZMUDA: Made a mild move to be fourth in her first start, and she did so for a barn whose first-time starters often need a race. Her work tab includes some fast moves at Keeneland, and she’s another eligible to move forward; #4 MICROBIOME: Hammered for $100,000 at auction last September and is working like a good horse. Pay attention to the track condition, as her pedigree (by Twirling Candy, out of a Smoke Glacken mare) says she’ll move up over a wet surface.


Wudda U Think Now (MTO)
St. Joe Louis

#9 ST. JOE LOUIS: Came north after a frustrating debut at Tampa Bay Downs and walloped a field that included a next-out winner. This is his first try out of the maiden ranks, but he’s bred to be a very good horse and it’s not like this field has any monsters in it; #4 SKYRO: Tries turf for the first time and has a bottom-side pedigree that says he’ll love it. His dam is kin to a horse named Jambalaya, who was one of the better turf routers in the country in his day, and this one’s shown enough talent on dirt to intrigue at his likely price; #7 SO SUAVE: Makes his U.S. debut off of a long break, but gets Lasix for the first time and is certainly in capable hands. His best races overseas came over firmer going, which may be the reason he was sent here after showing enough promise to be 4-1 in a Group 3 last summer.


Gem Key (MTO)
Ocean Air
Big Bad Diva

#12 OCEAN AIR: Has run well twice at this level downstate and goes back to two turns, a configuration she won over in Florida. It sure seems like there’s a lot of early zip in this field, and I think she’s likely to be rolling late; #10 BIG BAD DIVA: Comes in off a freshening and will make her first start since March. She has tactical speed but doesn’t necessarily need the lead to run well, and she’s yet to miss the board in five career starts; #1 CLADDAGH’S RUN: Certainly moves up in class after several wins against claimers at Tampa, but there’s no denying she’s in good form and would benefit from a pace meltdown. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez sees fit to ride for George Weaver, and nothing says she can’t get a piece of this at a bit of a price.


Lady Scarlet
Echo Zulu

#3 LADY SCARLET: Dueled through fast fractions in her debut, when she was second beaten less than two lengths and topped the third-place finisher by four. Her recent bullet drill over the training track jumps off the page, and between her experience and evident talent, I think she’ll be quite imposing; #6 SOLASTA: Sold for $300,000 at auction last year and sports several fast works over this track. She’s a half-sister to Grade 1-winning sprinter Mia Mischief, and everything here says she’s got lots of talent; #7 ECHO ZULU: Also sold for $300,000 a year ago and is by promising first-crop sire Gun Runner. Among her half-siblings are Grade 1 winner Echo Town and Grade 3 winner J Boys Echo, and if there’s any hesitation here, it’s because I think she may want a bit more ground.


Courageous Girl (MTO)
Alba’s Star
Jazzy Lady

#2 ALBA’S STAR: Looks like the lone speed in this inner turf event, and that’s always incredibly dangerous. She set a pretty fast pace for the level last time out and was third behind a next-out winner. A return to two turns should help her, and she could sit a very easy trip; #11 JAZZY LADY: Was claimed back by Ray Handal last time and exits a win over a weaker group at Churchill. The outside post is far from ideal, but she overcame a funky trip when we last saw her, and Rosario’s presence is a plus; #10 TWO CENT TOOTSIE: Drops into restricted claiming company after knocking heads with solid state-breds in her two most recent outings. This sure seems like an easier spot, and perhaps she can use her tactical speed to clear most of the field going into the first turn. 


Pletcher entry
Dack Janiel’s
Dust Devil

PLETCHER ENTRY: I prefer #1 ARHAM, who’s run several races fast enough to get the job done here. He tries two turns for the first time, and his pedigree says he’ll love that journey; #4 DACK JANIEL’S: Got pretty good late last year when third beaten two lengths in a Grade 2 on the Breeders’ Cup undercard. His most recent effort at Churchill was pretty good, and he’d certainly benefit from any moisture in the track (rain, not whiskey); #8 DUST DEVIL: Makes his first start for Bill Mott and does so while returning to two turns. He splashed home to a six-length score in his last two-turn outing and was most recently third in the same race my top pick exits. 


Golden Pal
Jaxon Traveler
Rebel Posse

#3 GOLDEN PAL: Ran one of the most impressive races of the 2020 season here when he romped in the Skidmore Stakes at this route. We haven’t seen him since the Breeders’ Cup, but he’s working well ahead of his return and would be a handful if he’s ready to run; #9 JAXON TRAVELER: Looms the main danger and has not finished worse than second in seven career starts. He was a decent second on a synthetic surface last time out, and there’s every reason to believe turf won’t be a problem; #8 REBEL POSSE: Is undefeated in two turf starts and showed an impressive turn of foot last time out. If you believe Golden Pal needs a race, or that he could be compromised by a speed duel, this one makes sense as a price play.


Pretty Birdie
Happy Soul
Cartel Queen

#1 PRETTY BIRDIE: Won her debut impressively, and if that day’s third-place finisher runs well in the second race, it could bode well for this Norm Casse trainee. She appears to have bounced out of her unveiling well, and she’d be a popular winner given the name on the “owner” line; #7 HAPPY SOUL: Romped in two races downstate for 2-year-old maestro Wesley Ward and will almost certainly go favored. This daughter of a horse I will not name (not until I get the same money everyone else is getting, Mattress Mack!) has shown precocity, but this seems like a far stronger group, and any regression would make her vulnerable at a short price; #9 CARTEL QUEEN: Adds blinkers after a professional victory last time out at Churchill. She’s fired back-to-back bullets ahead of her first try against winners, and seeing Tom Amoss and Irad Ortiz, Jr., at 12-1 is undoubtedly enticing.


Big Georges Kingdm
Clever Fellow

#12 RUSE: Stayed on well when pressing a very fast pace for the level in his first start since January. He adds Lasix for this race, and his lone two-turn effort saw him run a close-up second at Aqueduct; #10 BIG GEORGES KINGDM: Makes his turf debut and has a pedigree that says he’ll like the footing. He’s by Animal Kingdom, out of a Big Brown mare, and comes in off of back-to-back second-place finishes this past spring against OK groups on dirt; #8 CLEVER FELLOW: Will likely be a pretty heavy favorite given his connections, but I see several red flags. He’s been a beaten chalk in each of his last three starts, it’s his first time going two turns, and why have they waited until now to add blinkers? At his probable price, I can’t endorse him on top.

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


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).



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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



#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.


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.


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.


Pedro Cara
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?



#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.


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.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/18/20)



Cheap plug time: At the start of the whole COVID-19 thing, I started the “Champagne and J.D.” YouTube show with my friend J.D. Fox. We’ve put together four months of shows with a great lineup of guests, and we’re proud of what we’ve built.

To check out this week’s show featuring TimeformUS figure guru and longtime friend Craig Milkowski, as well as analysis of today’s late Pick Four sequence, head to my Twitter page (@AndrewChampagne) or search for “Champagne and J.D.” on YouTube. Our goal is to put together content horseplayers of all types will enjoy during what’s been a stressful time for everybody. I think we’ve done that, and I hope you give it a listen. If you like what we’re doing, hit the “subscribe” button so you don’t miss any of our weekly uploads.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: My Pick Five play was rendered null and void by the surface switch in the finale. Remember: Wagers given in this space assume turf races are run on that surface.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: Once again, I have a reasonably-priced Pick Five ticket, so I have to take a swing at it even though I usually don’t play those tickets. This time, I’ll go after the early sequence. My 50-cent ticket starting in the opener reads as follows: 3,5,6 with 1 with 7 with 2,5,6 with ALL. I’m banking on getting two prices home in the final two races of the sequence, which we’ll need to provide value if my two short-priced singles are the goods.



Best Bet: Yaupon, Race 7
Longshot: Me ’n Sap, Race 11


Mo Mischief
Repo Rocks

#3 MO MISCHIEF: Fetched $500,000 earlier this year and has every right to be a good one. He’s by top sire Into Mischief, hails from the barn of Todd Pletcher, and boasts a series of strong gate drills ahead of his unveiling in the Saturday lid-lifter; #5 HOLLAND: Didn’t do much running first time out at Churchill, but he didn’t have a great start and perhaps he needed a race. Improvement is logical at second asking for strong connections; #6 REPO ROCKS: Has been working very quickly for Bill Mott, who isn’t known for having horses fully-cranked first time out. History says he might need a race, but if the early money is in, watch out.


Mr. Kringle

#1 MR. KRINGLE: Has been running against far better competition and looms large in this spot, assuming it stays on turf. He was last seen chasing multiple stakes-winner Decorated Invader in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge, and anything close to his third-place effort that day will make him tough; #7 ZIPALONG: Took to turf routing like a duck to water with an easy score downstate against maiden claimers. This is a much tougher spot, but it’s entirely possible he’s doing what he’s wanted all along; #4 BATTALION: Beat maiden claimers last time out at Gulfstream and figures to be prominent early. John Velazquez hops aboard and could have him in a strong position going into the far turn.


Money Moves (MTO)
Decorated Invader

#7 DECORATED INVADER: Is a logical favorite off of four wins in his last five starts. He strolled home in the Pennine Ridge, and he’ll likely be a similarly-short price here against what looks like an overmatched group; #5 GUFO: Gets a class test after four wins in a row, including one in the Grade 3 Kent at Delaware Park. Beyer-wise, he’s not far behind his stablemate, and the Clement barn certainly holds a powerful hand here; #6 EVER DANGEROUS: Might be a pace play in here given the likely race shape. There isn’t much gate speed signed on, and this one could inherit the early lead by default at a price.


Lady by Choice
Jump for Joy

#2 LADY BY CHOICE: Goes second off the layoff and first off the claim for Mike Maker here and hasn’t run a poor race in more than a year. Her tactical speed is a plus, and in a spot where I think the likely favorite is very beatable, she could present real value; #6 JUMP FOR JOY: Hasn’t won since this meet last year, but she likes Saratoga and goes second off the layoff after just missing in a similar spot downstate. Jose Ortiz rides back, and it’s not hard to see her taking a step forward; #5 ARCHUMYBABY: Is a fun horse to root for, having won 13 of 40 lifetime starts and banking more than $460,000 the hard way. She beat several of these runners last time out and has proven tough to beat in stretch battles.


Vicarage (MTO)
Summer Tune

#4 CONGLOMERATE: Is bred to be a good horse and makes his debut for Chad Brown. He’s by top turf sire Lemon Drop Kid and out of a stakes-winning mare with a strong pedigree and several classy full siblings, so it won’t be surprising if he’s ready right off the rip; #3 SUMMER TUNE: Has run well in a pair of prior starts and was third in his first time going long at Monmouth. The barn has been cold this year, but it does seem like this one’s headed in the right direction; #10 RED FLAG ALERT: Showed speed in his debut downstate over a yielding turf course. That early zip could prove useful on the inner turf, and Franco riding back for George Weaver is a solid sign.


Rip It
Girl Dad

#1 RIP IT: Has one of the best pedigrees on the grounds. He’s by Tapit and out of Grade 2 winner Riposte, a half to Grade 1 winner Powerscourt. Riposte’s dam is also the second dam of the legendary Frankel, so if this one can’t run, it’s not due to a lack of bloodlines; #9 GIRL DAD: Raced greenly in his debut at Belmont but showed interest late and made up ground. I think he could step forward at second asking, though two turns is certainly a question mark; #5 CATMAN: Makes his debut and is another with a strong pedigree. He’s inbred to the dam of sire Kitten’s Joy, and his female family has lots of class. His dam is a half to multiple Grade 1 winner Exotic Wood, who threw stakes-winning turfer Key to Power.


The Sicarii

#1 YAUPON: Won his debut last month at Churchill, and that proved to be a salty race. Third-place finisher Savvy came right back to graduate at Keeneland, and this one doesn’t seem to have landed in a particularly strong race for the level; #5 CUCINA: Had a very wide trip last time out on turf at Belmont and comes back to dirt for Bill Mott. He was fourth in last year’s Grade 3 Sanford and tried Grade 1 company at Woodbine after that, so there’s some back class here; #6 THE SICARII: Has done his best work here at Saratoga and would benefit from a pace meltdown. He hasn’t run since March, but the recent strong drill at Belmont is encouraging and he’ll likely be a big price.


Creative Style
Musical Heart

#3 CREATIVE STYLE: Is my top pick in a befuddling race solely because I have to have one. He’s won two of his last three starts, though, and he’ll be the one to beat if he can stretch his talent around two turns; #1 HOFFENHEIM: Hasn’t won in two years, but has run in some pretty tough spots. His race last time out was off a bit of a freshening, so it’s not hard to see some improvement coming here at a bit of a price; #6 MUSICAL HEART: Comes back to dirt after a failed try on turf against higher-level claimers. He cruised in an off-the-turf race at Gulfstream, and a repeat might be enough in a race where I have zero conviction (if you’re playing the late Pick Four, the “ALL” button might be your friend).


Set Piece
Noble Indy
Digital Age

#6 SET PIECE: Ran in several big spots overseas a year ago (including the Group 1 2,000 Guineas) and flashed lots of talent in his U.S. debut. He inhaled a classy field at Churchill and should get a more solid pace to run at second off the bench; #4 NOBLE INDY: Has proven dangerous at this level and distance on turf, with two wins over similar foes in the past year. He’ll be part of the pace, for sure, and this is a much softer spot than the stakes race he exits where he simply went too long; #7 DIGITAL AGE: Disappointed when second at 6/5 in his comeback race, one he had every right to win if he was good enough. That wasn’t the first time he failed to pass horses late, and that’s concerning, but the Chad Brown trainee has back class and was a good second in a $1 million race here a season ago.


Paris Lights

#6 PARIS LIGHTS: Has blossomed since shifting to two-turn routes with a pair of impressive wins at Churchill. The recent bullet drill hints that she’s still in good form, and I think she’ll be in great shape with a stalking trip behind horses that may not want to go this far; #3 ALTAF: Seems like this race’s lone stone closer. She does take a class jump out of the maiden ranks after a score in Kentucky, but it’s not like this came up as a strong Grade 1, and the race could set up for her; #2 ANTOINETTE: Is a classy sort that runs well on dirt and turf. She’s won one stakes race, finished third in three others, and may provide some value as the “other” Bill Mott trainee.


Top of the Mint
Quick Return
Me ’n Sap

#10 TOP OF THE MINT: Goes second off the layoff for Mark Hennig, who has strong numbers with similar stock. He came running late to be beaten only a length in his first start in more than 10 months, and logical improvement would make him formidable; #3 QUICK RETURN: Was second in his debut, which came against a short field downstate. However, the 61 Beyer Speed Figure he earned stacks up well against this group, and Carmouche sees fit to ride back; #6 ME ‘N SAP: Boasts an improving workout pattern for a sneaky barn that can pop at a price with first-time starters. There are no monsters here, and if he runs to the most recent work, he could stand a chance at blowing up the tote board.

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


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.


– – – – –

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Green Light Go

#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.


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.


La Chancla

#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.


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: 9/3/18 (Labor Day)


BANKROLL: $1,178.20

Closing day is upon us, and there are plenty of people I need to acknowledge. First on that list (whether he likes it or not) is Stan Hudy, who took it upon himself to spearhead production of The Pink Sheet while also helping to produce content for the paper’s conventional sports section. This is not an easy thing for one person to do, especially when it’s tougher than ever to be a journalist at a smaller newspaper.

I also need to acknowledge my fellow Pink Sheet handicappers. Handicapping every race, every day, is a grind, especially when the horses you really like count the same as reluctant top picks. Heading into Sunday’s action, Liam Durbin and I were tied with 104 winners. It’s been a thrill to compete with him, as well as with Sam Hollingsworth, Dan Feiss, and our avian friend, and I hope we all get the chance to do it again next summer.

Last, but certainly not least, I need to thank you, the reader. Whether you bought a copy of The Pink Sheet or visited, it means the world to me that you read the content I’ve created. That’s a big reason why I look forward to doing this every year, and I sincerely hope I’ve helped you cash a few tickets this meet. We’ve got one more day of racing. Let’s make it a good one!

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Our win bets went 0 for 2, as Beach Front just missed in the second and Bella’s Game wanted no part of two turns in the fifth. We dropped $40.

MONDAY’S PLAY: Since I don’t have a deadline to worry about, I’m focusing on the late Pick Four and looking to go out with a bang. My 50-cent ticket starts in the eighth race and is as follows: ALL with 1 with 1,3,7 with 2,14. #14 SPRING DRAMA is an also-eligible in the last race, so the ticket cost could easily be halved from $33 to $16.50. Additionally, based on her last-out journey, I must bet #2 LADY CAMILLE in the 11th on her own. I’ll put $20 on her to win and hope we get the 5-1 morning line price. For the final bankroll total, check @AndrewChampagne on Twitter at the conclusion of Monday’s card!



Best Bet: Voodoo Song, Race 9
Longshot: Princesa Carolina, Race 6


Catch Me If U Can
Fly Away Birdie

#7 CATCH ME IF U CAN: Is one of several contenders exiting a race on July 30th, and this one impressed me the most. He was very green that day, but was gaining ground late after sputtering on the turn. He goes to Steve Asmussen and should improve at second asking; #5 GUMP: Was a one-paced third in that race, but did take a step forward off of his downstate efforts. Irad Ortiz sees fit to ride back, and getting off the rail could help him; #2 FLY AWAY BIRDIE: Drops in for a tag after shipping in from Woodbine. He was a prospect for this barn and was bet to 6/5 in his debut, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock if the drop wakes him up, but this barn’s been ice-cold for the past few weeks.


Class Won (MTO)
All Clear
Fast Getaway

#3 ALL CLEAR: Was a competitive second behind a next-out winner in his turf debut back in May and gets Joel Rosario. He’s 8-1 on the morning line, but I’m guessing he’ll drop a bit by the time they load into the gate; #9 FAST GETAWAY: Showed speed against better earlier in the meet before fading to fifth. The yielding turf may not have helped him, and if he channels his two-back form, he’ll certainly be a major player; #11 LA MAQUINA GRIS: Hasn’t won on turf and doesn’t draw particularly well, but his lone recent one-turn turf sprint was a solid second at this level. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him run on late for a piece of it. DIRT SELECTIONS: CLASS WON, COMEONCOMEONCAT, WEGOTTOLDYOUGOTSOLD.


King for a Day
Calumet entry

#2 COMPLEXITY: Fetched $375,000 last year at Keeneland and has been working very well ahead of his unveiling. The inside draw isn’t ideal, but he’s a half-brother to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Valadorna and has been working to the pedigree; #7 KING FOR A DAY: Is a half-brother to a stakes winner and is another with some flashy local drills ahead of his debut. The outside draw helps, and the Velazquez/Pletcher tandem certainly merits respect; CALUMET ENTRY: I prefer #1 SOUTHERN PHANTOM, who’s run two OK races to this point. He’ll get plenty of support at the windows for reasons that have nothing to do with his form, but he could certainly run well enough to be a factor.


Deep Sea
Full Salute

#4 DEEP SEA: Has won three of five starts since being claimed by Jason Servis, who’s enjoyed a stellar summer. He actually drops in class off of his win at Monmouth, and if he carries that form up I-87, he’ll be the one to beat; #6 FULL SALUTE: Was claimed out of a race against higher-level claimers earlier in the meet by Gary Gullo, who connects at a high rate with new acquisitions. He won’t be alone on the front end, but he should appreciate the class relief; #1 ROCKFORD: Is a stalwart of the NYRA claiming scene and will make his 54th career start in this race. He was a close-up second against similar foes last time out, and Joel Rosario sees fit to ride him back.


Kulin Rock
Honey Dont
Dominant Strategy

#9 KULIN ROCK: Drops in for a tag after chasing allowance foes for most of the year. He’s a one-run closer, and that could benefit him given the abundance of early speed that appears to be signed on; #5 HONEY DONT: Bounced last time out in his first start against winners, but ran a big race two back in his lone effort against claimers. He will likely sit a stalking trip and could get first run on the pace-setters turning for home; #4 DOMINANT STRATEGY: Wired a field of maiden claimers earlier in the meet in a race that doubled as his turf debut. He may be coming around as a runner, but the chances of him sitting a perfect trip and setting a slow early pace aren’t great.


Seek and Destroy
Princesa Carolina
Toy Moon

#8 SEEK AND DESTROY: Is bred to be a turf horse, but debuted with a solid effort going seven furlongs on dirt. She’s a half to graded stakes winner Tammy the Torpedo, and she should improve with a start under her belt; #4 PRINCESA CAROLINA: Didn’t do much running in her debut on the main track, but she’s bred up and down for grass. Her dam is multiple Grade 1 winner Pure Clan, who did her best work going long on turf, and there are no quibbles with top sire Tapit; #7 TOY MOON: Has gotten plenty of seasoning, and this will be her sixth start of the season. Her lone turf route race wasn’t bad, and that experience could help her.


Barely Impazible
Charlie McCoy
Discreet Mission

#7 BARELY IMPAZIBLE: Was impressive in his debut here last year, but went to the sidelines after that victory. He’s been working well at Monmouth and may have taken a step forward from age two to age three; #6 CHARLIE MCCOY: Exits a live race earlier in the meet, one where he ran second behind a next-out winner and directly ahead of another next-out winner. Manuel Franco returns to the saddle, and getting off the rail could help; #1 DISCREET MISSION: Responded to the sharp drop in class with a romp over a suspect group of claimers. He returns to a level he’s struggled at in the past, but there’s a chance he got some confidence from the recent victory.


Saratoga Colonel
Major Attitude
Four Knights

#1 SARATOGA COLONEL: Gets a tepid top pick in a wide-open turf route. He exits a decent state-bred allowance race, and his efforts two and three back were both pretty sharp; #3 MAJOR ATTITUDE: Comes back to turf in his first start for Marcus Vitali, whose recent numbers with new acquisitions aren’t the best. However, his numbers over the years have been quite good in that regard, and it’s not like this is the strongest race for the level; #9 FOUR KNIGHTS: Put it all together last time out in his first start off the claim for Joe Sharp. He faces winners for the first time, but this barn may have him going in the right direction.


Voodoo Song
Inspector Lynley

#1 VOODOO SONG: Is 5 for 5 at Saratoga and became a Grade 1 winner in this year’s Fourstardave. He seems like the lone speed in this race, and between the pace scenario and his back class, he’ll be very tough to beat; #5 INSPECTOR LYNLEY: Hadn’t won in more than a year before he took the Lure Stakes earlier this summer. He’s 2 for 2 at Saratoga and would be the chief beneficiary if another runner in here challenged my top pick early; #2 PROJECTED: Is a consistent sort and runs for the always-dangerous Chad Brown barn. He’s run second behind each of my top two picks in his last two outings.



#7 MUCHO: Put forth one of the most impressive efforts by a 2-year-old this summer when winning by nearly 10 lengths. This barn isn’t necessarily known for his success with young runners, but a repeat of his last-out effort would make him the one to beat; #3 NITROUS: Won a maiden race last time out that featured a pretty solid group. He’s worked well leading up to this race for an outfit that must be respected; #1 SOMBEYAY: Overcame some adversity to take the Grade 3 Sanford in the opening stages of the meet. The rail draw isn’t great given his running style, but he’s yet to run a bad race and should be moving in the right direction late.


Spring Drama
Lady Camille
Grand Banks

#14 SPRING DRAMA: Is strictly the one to beat if she draws in off the AE list. She’s run well against maiden special weight foes in the past, and this certainly seems like a much softer group; #2 LADY CAMILLE: Was third when favored at this level, but she did not have a great trip that day. The added distance is a bit of a concern, but I’m betting that she sits a cleaner trip beneath new rider Manuel Franco; #10 GRAND BANKS: Is 0 for 21 lifetime and has run second in three of her last four outings. She’s impossible to endorse on top, but her usual race likely gets her a piece of the meet finale.