SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/4/19)


BANKROLL: $977.10

The early portion of Saturday’s card at Saratoga featured at least two 2-year-olds to keep an eye on moving forward. Second-time starter Our Country had some trouble in his debut but stepped up in a big way in the opener, pulling away with authority late. He covered the two-turn race’s last sixteenth of a mile in less than six seconds, which is no small feat for even an older horse, let alone a 2-year-old making his second career start.

Meanwhile, first-time starter Glory Road reminded everyone that, yes, Todd Pletcher still knows how to train 2-year-olds. The first-time starter came from out of the clouds to win at the seven-furlong distance, which is never an easy one for a debuting runner to navigate. His female family is strong (his second dam is a full sister to Grade 1 winner Finder’s Fee), and sire Commissioner was no slouch, either.

One of the most fun parts of each Saratoga meet is seeing promising 2-year-olds flash immense potential. It looks as though these two could have bright futures, and there are undoubtedly more exciting 2-year-olds coming up later in the meet.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: We scratched out of everything when World of Trouble didn’t run in the Troy.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on midday doubles that may extract some value out of my best bet of the day. That’s #4 SANTA MONICA, who is a single for me in the fifth (the Grade 3 Waya). She starts $10 doubles that end with #4 BLUE BELT, #9 SUMMER BOURBON, and #10 SUNDAE ON SUNDAY, all of whom figure to be solid prices in the sixth.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Santa Monica, Race 5
LONGSHOT: Blue Belt, Race 6


Pure Wow
Ill Will
Daphne Moon

#1 PURE WOW: Showed speed when third in her debut earlier in the meet. Joel Rosario hops aboard, and experience is often a huge advantage in 2-year-old races contested at seven furlongs; #6 ILL WILL: Showed late interest on the turf last time out and has worked well since that effort. This barn’s horses often improve with experience, making her dangerous at a price; #4 DAPHNE MOON: Fetched $525,000 at auction and has worked well leading up to her debut. This barn can win with first-time starters, but it’s tricky to back debuting runners at this distance.


Data Driven
Curious Cal

#2 DATA DRIVEN: Makes his first start off the claim for new trainer Danny Gargan, who’s enjoying a strong meet. This is a class drop for him, and he should be running well late (good luck, Dan Feiss!); #5 CURIOUS CAL: Has won two of three starts this year for Jorge Navarro and comes up from New Jersey. He’s won here before and is a threat to go wire-to-wire; #1 ORPHEUS: Hasn’t won in a while, but was a good second at this level earlier in the meet. He should be running well late at a bit of a price.


Gold for the King
Celtic Chaos
T Loves a Fight

#6 GOLD FOR THE KING: Returns to the state-bred ranks after tackling the likes of Catalina Cruiser downstate. He’s got enough speed to press the pace, which will be helpful given the rail draw; #2 CELTIC CHAOS: Likes Saratoga and has a history of doing his best running in the final quarter-mile. His last-out win was impressive, and the 100 Beyer Speed Figure represents a new career-high; #1 T LOVES A FIGHT: Has run well at Saratoga and enters this event on a three-race win streak. This is a sizable class jump, but it’s tough to argue with the connections taking a shot.


Sketches of Spain
Sparkling Sky
Livin At the Beach

#5 SKETCHES OF SPAIN: Is bred to be a strong turf horse and debuts here for powerhouse connections. Irad Ortiz, Jr., rides for Chad Brown, and she’ll be tough if she’s ready; #8 SPARKLING SKY: Fetched $650,000 last September and may be prepared to run a big one right away. She’s worked well over the Oklahoma turf course, which makes sense given that she’s a daughter of More Than Ready; #7 LIVIN AT THE BEACH: Ran third in her debut downstate and stretches out here. Improvement is logical at second asking, and she may be a bit of a price.


Santa Monica
Gentle Ruler
Fools Gold

#4 SANTA MONICA: Looms large in this spot after two straight graded stakes wins this spring. If you toss her Breeders’ Cup dud last fall, she hasn’t run a bad race since coming to North America; #6 GENTLE RULER: Has won four in a row at four different tracks, including a Grade 3 at Delaware Park last time out. There isn’t much speed signed on here, and she may inherit the lead by default; #2 FOOLS GOLD: Was second in a stakes race last time out at Belmont, which came in her first start beyond a mile and a sixteenth. Javier Castellano rides back, and she’s another that could be close to a slow early pace.


Summer Bourbon
Blue Belt
Sundae On Sunday

#9 SUMMER BOURBON: Was claimed back by Rudy Rodriguez and could sit a great trip behind a fast early pace. He’s shown a solid closing kick in several starts at this level, including a romp at Aqueduct back in March; #4 BLUE BELT: Seems like the main speed and hasn’t finished out of the money since November. If you’re playing vertical exotics, he seems like a must-use; #10 SUNDAE ON SUNDAY: Has won two in a row at Finger Lakes and ships in for an astute barn. It helps that he’s a closer, and that could make it easier for him to pick up a check.


Ruler of the Nile (MTO)
Final Frontier
Battle Station

#1 FINAL FRONTIER: Was a close-up third in a swiftly-run race in May that doubled as his first outing since November. He’s crossed the wire first over this turf course before and draws favorably here; #9 BATTLE STATION: Chased the classy Om last time out at Churchill and loves this route. He’s 2-for-2 at Saratoga, including a solid win in an allowance last summer; #2 PAGLIACCI: Rallied to take a starter allowance less than a week ago and is wheeled back quickly by Linda Rice. That’s usually a sign of confidence, although this field seems tougher than what he beat last time out.


Behind the Couch (MTO)
Chiclet’s Dream
Star of the East

#8 CHICLET’S DREAM: Returns to the scene of an impressive victory last summer and almost certainly needed her most recent outing at Belmont. She was running very well late that day, and this two-turn trip should be more preferable; #3 STAR OF THE EAST: Rallied to earn the diploma last time out and tries winners for the first time here. There’s some speed signed on, so another strong effort could very well be in the cards; #2 WAY SMART: Hasn’t run since December but is dangerous if she’s ready. Jose Ortiz gets on for a barn that’s quietly had a stellar season to date.


Henley’s Joy

#4 ROCKEMPEROR: Was closing very well when third in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby and nearly overcame a terrible post. He draws much more favorably here and has every right to turn the tables in the inaugural Saratoga Derby; #10 MOHAWK: Ships in for Aidan O’Brien after capturing a Group 3 event last time out. He’s repeatedly tried some of the best horses in Europe and even won a Group 2 at Newmarket last fall; #1 HENLEY’S JOY: Pulled off a 20-1 shocker in the Belmont Derby and won’t be anywhere near that price here. A repeat effort makes him a contender, but a bounce is logical given that his last-out effort was by far the best he’s ever run.


Magic Dance
Frank’s Rockette
Miss Peppina

#8 MAGIC DANCE: Pulled away to take the Debutante at Churchill last time out and draws favorably in this event. When Asmussen gets a horse good, they tend to stay good, and she’s done very little wrong; #2 FRANK’S ROCKETTE: Romped in her debut in June and jumps into the graded stakes ranks. She’s worked well here and certainly merits respect for Hall of Famer Bill Mott; #6 MISS PEPPINA: Rallied from way back to graduate at first asking last month at Belmont. 2-year-olds don’t often close in their debuts, and she ran like she’ll appreciate the added distance she gets in this spot.


Patagonia (MTO)

#10 DOSWELL: Has been a beaten favorite in both of his starts this year, but doesn’t seem to run up against a strong field for the level in the Sunday finale. He’s got a strong closing kick and figures to be the one to hold off late; #3 MALTHAEL: Came back running when second in a similar spot on Independence Day. His running lines are dotted with the names of stakes-caliber runners, and he’s got plenty of back class; #8 STANDUP: Hasn’t run since a failed shot in stakes company back in February. He’s been gelded since then and is a contender if he runs back to his debut effort.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/11/18


BANKROLL: $622.50

Today’s big event on track is the Grade 1 Fourstardave, but it could very well be overshadowed by an annual event taking place at the Top of the Stretch. That’s the Saratoga Stumble, being run by our own Sam Hollingsworth. The premise is something like this: The entire town of Mechanicville shows up, buys matching t-shirts, and drinks itself into oblivion. Apparently, it’s a blast.

To those stumbling along today: Have fun and be safe. Most importantly, though, make sure Sam pulls through in one piece!

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: I bet Thirteen Songs thinking she’d close into a fast pace, not that she’d help make said fast pace. We dropped $20.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I apologize in advance to my editor, because my play comes late in the card. It sure seems like #5 MR CUB is the lone speed in the Lure Stakes (race 10), and I need to play him. I’ll put $10 on him to win and place, and I really hope we get the 6-1 morning line price.



Best Bet: Lyrical Lady, Race 3
Longshot: La Naturel, Race 7



#6 PROGNOSTICATION: Hasn’t run in 10 months, but is protected from being claimed, which is always an encouraging sign. He could benefit from the likely race shape and figures to be running well late; #1 LEMONIST: Has been gelded since his last start in December and sports a pair of flashy local workouts. This is the weakest field he’s faced since breaking his maiden in 2016; #8 GOSILENTLY: Has hit the board in each of his last 11 starts, most of which have come for today’s connections. He just missed here last summer and figures to be prominent early.


Chief Executive
Calumet entry

#4 CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Has several strong local works ahead of his debut for prominent connections. It’s tough to debut going seven furlongs, but he’s bred to be a good one and has worked accordingly; CALUMET ENTRY: #1A SOUTHERN PHANTOM could win at second asking, but he’ll be bet heavily for reasons that have very little to do with his ability. He may need to show more early speed here than he did in his debut; #8 EXCHEQUER: Fetched $150,000 at auction last fall and has worked well for red-hot connections. He may be bred better for turf, but his talent could be enough to get him home on dirt.


Lyrical Lady
Virginia Eloise
Mucho Amor

#3 LYRICAL LADY: Was one of the most impressive debut winners of the meet and figures to be favored in the Grade 2 Adirondack. She won by nearly six lengths and appeared to have plenty left in reserve; #5 VIRGINIA ELOISE: Finished well in her debut at Belmont and is bred to want lots of distance. She showed she could rate a bit that day, and that could come in handy here; #1 MUCHO AMOR: Graduated at Keeneland and sports a recent bullet workout on the training track. Wesley Ward is one of the top 2-year-old trainers in the country, and he cannot be ignored here.


Starting Point (MTO)
Teachable Moment
Noble Nebraskan

#8 TEACHABLE MOMENT: Closed to be third in his debut and has a pedigree that hints he could embrace more ground. Improvement is logical at second asking, especially for these connections; #12 NOBLE NEBRASKAN: Sports an impressive pedigree and merits respect if he draws in off the AE list. It’s tough to debut at this route, but he’s worked well and may be a nice price; #2 WINNING FACTOR: Was second in the race my top pick exits and stretches out after some solid local workouts. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because he’s not necessarily bred to want two turns. DIRT SELECTIONS: STARTING POINT, IAN GLASS, TEACHABLE MOMENT.


Payne (MTO)

#3 UNLOCKTHEPOTENTIAL: Stretches out after being beaten less than a length in his first start since October. He likely needed that race as a tightener, and that day’s winner ran well in the Quick Call earlier this week; #6 LUNAIRE: Hasn’t won in a while, but has shown an ability to run well late, and that’s valuable given the early pace signed on here. He could shake up the exotics at a price; #2 MOROCCO: Was almost certainly short last time out in his first start since the fall, and the blinkers come back on in his second start off the bench. That could get him more involved early at a big number. DIRT SELECTIONS: PAYNE, CLUTCH CARGO, MESOTHERM.


Road Home
Empire of War
Chase and Colorado

#5 ROAD HOME: Closed to be second in his debut for a barn that doesn’t often win with first-time starters. There’s reason to expect improvement here, and if that happens, he could be tough; #7 EMPIRE OF WAR: Has worked well on the training track ahead of his unveiling. Todd Pletcher’s runners must be respected, although this one may be better-bred for turf; #4 CHASE AND COLORADO: Is the other Pletcher-trained first-time starter. He’s by Tapit, which means he likely wants as much ground as possible.


Aunt Babe (MTO)
La Naturel
Conquest Tizfire

#5 LA NATUREL: Has yet to run a bad race in her career and is a closer in a race that seems to boast tons of early speed. She was third beaten less than a length earlier in the meet, and we may get a price given this trainer’s small barn; #2 CONQUEST TIZFIRE: Was second in the race my top pick exits, but has had ample chances to win and seems to prefer settling for minor awards. She looked like a winner in mid-stretch last time, but she let the eventual winner battle back; #4 MAJESTIC WON: Took to the turf well last time out, when she graduated by nearly three lengths downstate. Luis Saez signs on, and this one figures to be involved from the outset. DIRT SELECTIONS: AUNT BABE, DANYELLI, QUEEN MUM.


Delta Prince
Heart to Heart

#2 DELTA PRINCE: Has come out of the shadow of older sister Royal Delta and turned into a top-class turf horse. His win in the Grade 2 King Edward was strong, and he could sit a perfect stalking trip behind a hot pace; #5 HEART TO HEART: Is one of the most fun horses to root for given his longevity and the fact that he may be better than ever at age seven. He won two Grade 1 races earlier this year, but the presence of #6 VOODOO SONG means he almost certainly won’t be alone on the lead; #3 DIVISIDERO: Is a deep closer that will benefit from a fast pace. He may want a bit longer, but the quicker they go early, the more he’ll like it.


Breaking the Rules
Always a Suspect

#3 MASK: Cuts back to seven furlongs, which may be the trip he wants. He may not have turned into a top-class 3-year-old, but his best race could win this and he should be able to sit just off the pace; #5 BREAKING THE RULES: Was second in a swiftly-run allowance last time out and seems like a one-run sprinter that should get better as he gets older. A fast pace would benefit him, and this distance likely hits him right between the eyes; #4 ALWAYS A SUSPECT: Likes Saratoga and exits a win earlier in the meet (albeit against weaker foes). All three of his starts over this track have been solid, and Robertino Diodoro has a strong record with new acquisitions.


Mr Cub
Conquest Panthera

#5 MR CUB: Could be the lone speed in this race, which is always dangerous on the inner turf. He was beaten just a half-length in the Grade 2 Wise Dan last time out, and he could be talented enough to lead this field the whole way; #7 CONQUEST PANTHERA: Hasn’t won in a while, but chased Delta Prince in the Grade 2 King Edward and can show some early zip if he has to. Luis Saez hops aboard, and he’s riding as well as anyone at the meet; #9 ZENNOR: Has won three in a row, including this race last year, but he has not started in more than a year. If he comes back ready to run, he’s obviously a contender, but that’s a sizable “if.”


Shanghai Dreams
Hit a Provisional

#13 SHANGHAI DREAMS: Is emblematic of an oddity here, as several major contenders reside on the AE list and need scratches to run. She debuted with a fourth-place finish in a very solid race for the level and drops in for a tag; #12 HIT A PROVISIONAL: Rallied to be second at this level in her debut and is another that needs some luck to draw in. This barn has quietly gotten off to a solid start at the meet, and she could improve in her second outing; #10 FANCYCASE: Seems best of the main body of the field given the early speed she’s flashed of late. The body of the field seems light on horses that can pass others late, so the speed could be helpful.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/12/17


BANKROLL: $911.75

Longtime readers of The Saratogian will remember that I was a full-time sportswriter there for about a year and a half. Among the best perks of the job was where the office was. The front steps of that brick building on Lake Avenue were a full pitching wedge or less away from The Parting Glass, Gaffney’s, D’Andrea’s, and a number of other fun places, as well as the police station (which the news department certainly found handy!).

I’m not criticizing the decision to move, as the rationale for it makes sense. With that in mind, though, it was pretty tough to leave that building for the last time in October of 2013 after filing the recap of a Saratoga Springs-Shenendehowa football game. I imagine the friends and colleagues I have that work for The Saratogian felt similarly this week.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: We got blanked after neither of our key horses in doubles won (although longshot of the day Jewel Heist ran a huge race in defeat). As such, we dropped $24.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the fifth race, which houses my best bet of the day. That’s #4 AZAR, and I’ll key him in $5 exactas above and below #9 MADE IN DETROIT and #10 ITALIAN CHARM. I’ll also single him in $5 doubles that start in the fifth and use #3 CHANNEL CAT and #8 SPORTSWEAR in the sixth.



Best Bet: Azar, Race 5
Longshot: Promotional, Race 8


Scarly Charly
Will Did It
At Guard

SCARLY CHARLY: Takes a colossal drop in class, but if he’s anywhere close to his best, he’s strictly the one to beat. The recent bullet drill inspires confidence, and he ran well here twice a year ago; WILL DID IT: Makes his first start for Gary Gullo, who excels with new acquisitions. He hasn’t won in a while, but there’s some speed signed on and he’ll be running well late; AT GUARD: Beat weaker foes earlier in the meet and makes his first start for a new barn. The rail draw isn’t ideal, but a repeat performance may be good enough to win.


Base Command

AIRTOUCH: Fetched $450k at auction last summer, and for good reason. This dam threw Grade 1 winner Sweet Loretta, and this son of Tapit has been working very well ahead of his unveiling; BASE COMMAND: Made up a lot of ground in his debut, rallying from 11 lengths back to be beaten less than a length. This barn’s runners tend to improve with experience, and the added distance should be a plus; INDIMAAJ: Is by Tapit and out of a Grade 1 winner that’s produced a Grade 1 winner. He’s worked steadily, and while this barn’s runners tend to benefit from experience, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was ready to run right away.


Killybegs Captain (MTO)
Dr. Edgar
Driven by Thunder

DR. EDGAR: Stretches out on turf for the first time, which is unusual given his pedigree. He’s never been better than he is right now, and he merits my top pick in a confusing race with many horses stretching out; DRIVEN BY THUNDER: Ran well in his turf debut last time out. His best race came at a challenging, seven-furlong distance, so he could take to the distance; SIX SHILLINGS: Was a good second earlier in the meet going shorter. It’s unclear if he wants this sort of distance, but class-wise, he fits. DIRT SELECTIONS: KILLYBEGS CAPTAIN, DRIVEN BY THUNDER, PIONEER SPIRIT.


Pure Silver
Limited View
Sly Roxy

PURE SILVER: Has done nothing wrong in two starts, including a stakes win last time out. The rail draw is a concern, but she should have enough speed to overcome it; LIMITED VIEW: Scratched from the Schuylerville due to pre-race antics, but that may have been a blessing in disguise, as the winner freaked. This seems like a softer spot, provided she holds it together; SLY ROXY: Ran away with an off-the-turf race earlier in the meet. It’s unclear how strong that race was, but she’s bred to be a good one and could have untapped potential.


Old Upstart (MTO)
Italian Charm

AZAR: Spent most of 2016 against top-class competition, so it’s jarring to see him in for a $25k tag. Anything close to his best would make him very difficult to beat; ITALIAN CHARM: Makes his first start since March and has been gelded since his last outing. He reeled off three wins in a row last year and finished just two lengths behind eventual Grade 1 winner American Patriot two back; MADE IN DETROIT: Turned heads with a wire-to-wire romp downstate back in June. He had a dream trip that day, and these are deeper waters, but he seems like the main speed. DIRT SELECTIONS: AZAR, OLD UPSTART, RICH DADDY.


Variant Perception (MTO)
Channel Cat

SPORTSWEAR: Couldn’t possibly be bred any better. He’s by the undefeated Frankel, out of a Group 1 winner, and gets the two-turn turf route his pedigree screams for; CHANNEL CAT: Was a close second in his debut, which came last month at Gulfstream going much shorter. He’s bred up and down for more distance, and he should improve given that he gets it; HAVE AT IT: Is by Kitten’s Joy and out of a multiple Grade 3 winner. He’s worked consistently ahead of his debut. DIRT SELECTIONS: VARIANT PERCEPTION, SUPER SERMON, PETE MARWICK.


Wyatt’s Town
Song of the Nile

COLTANDMISSISSIPPI: Sold for $400k back in 2015 and has a strong series of five-furlong drills ahead of his debut. This is a tough distance to debut at, but the work tab tells the story of a horse who may want this trip; WYATT’S TOWN: Was third in his debut, but didn’t have the best of experiences that day. Improvement is logical at second asking, especially for a barn whose horses often improve with seasoning; SONG OF THE NILE: Fetched $575k last year at auction and has worked like a promising horse. This barn’s first-time starters don’t usually win, but he can’t be ignored in what looks like a loaded race.


Off Limits
Rachel’s Temper (MTO)

OFF LIMITS: Burned plenty of money in 2016, but seems to have figured things out in two 2017 starts. She was a good second in a stakes race last time out, and this seems like a much softer spot; PROMOTIONAL: Won here last year and has been facing top-class horses since then. She may want longer, and this may be a prep race, but if she’s right, she’s a contender at a price; ALL IN FUN: Hasn’t won in a while, but is another that’s been running against substantially better horses. She won here last year, and this barn merits respect. DIRT SELECTIONS: PUCA, RACHEL’S TEMPER, ALL IN FUN.


Gift Box
Lewys Vaporizer

GIFT BOX: Makes his 2017 debut and looks to pick up where he left off. He was fourth in the Travers behind Arrogate, and while this distance isn’t ideal, his talent may be enough to get him home; CERRO: Has won three of his last four and ran a big race last time out at Churchill Downs. John Velazquez rides, and it’s safe to assume his new owner claimed him with Saratoga in mind; LEWYS VAPORIZER: Is a proven sprinter with top-end early speed. His race here last year was forgettable, but his best effort would make him the one to catch turning for home.


Disco Partner
Time Test
American Patriot

DISCO PARTNER: Has reeled off three wins in a row, including a record-setting performance going six furlongs and a subsequent romp at a mile. He’s never been better than he is right now; TIME TEST: Cuts back in distance after two second-place finishes downstate. He won a Group 2 at this distance overseas, but the question is, is he past his peak?; AMERICAN PATRIOT: Flopped at Royal Ascot but won a Grade 1 at Keeneland two back over a top-class field. He appears ready to run, and his best race would make him a player in this top-class event.


Danny’s Rush
Source Control
Grand Valour

DANNY’S RUSH: Cuts back in distance after being badly beaten going much longer. His best races have come going short on turf, and a repeat of his effort two back (which came against better horses) could win this; SOURCE CONTROL: Rallied to be second at this level last time out at Belmont. The pace was fast that day, but with this large field, such a scenario could easily repeat itself; GRAND VALOUR: Is a bit of an unknown since he’s making his career debut, but this barn can get first-time starters ready, and Javier Castellano signing on is a big plus. DIRT SELECTIONS: DAB, QUAI VOLTAIRE, GREAT BLAKE.